Like Broken Glass

Story: Like Broken Glass
Category: Harry Potter
Genre: Adventure/Romance
Author: MiaMill
Last updated:
Words: 176910
Rating: M
Status: In Progress
Content: Chapter 1 to 35 of 35 chapters

Summary: Very AU. Fem!HP. Many thought the war between the Light and Dark over the night the killing curse rebounded yet the sweet promises of peace remain elusive. Magic is fading. The last cry of a dying world rings out begging for a Champion. All Violet Potter ever wanted was freedom and the ability to make her own choices. Unfortunately, fate has other plans. Starts in Year 1.

*Chapter 1*: Chapter 1

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise and do not seek to make any sort of profit from the distribution of this fictional work.

Rated: M


Chapter 1

Sometimes she forgot her name.

It was fairly easy to do so when the only names she heard from her relative's mouths were "girl" or "freak." She often wondered if they had perhaps forgotten it too, after all they didn't need to know it to order her about. She cooked, she cleaned, she gardened and most importantly she did as she was instructed. Anything less than would have unpleasant and painful consequences, she learned early on. Hers was a life of servitude; a life of obedience; a life of shackles.

Sitting in the dark cupboard underneath the stairs at Number 4 Privet Drive in Little Whinging she tested the sound of it on her tongue.

"Violet," she breathed saying it as slowly and clearly as possible.

It sounded strange and unfamiliar but somehow right, as if some part of her being recognized and rejoiced at hearing the sound those six combined letters made. It was the only thing she had from her parents. The only proof that at some point in time there were people who loved her, or at least she hoped they loved her. She had been at the Dursley's for as long as she could remember. She would have thought that she had always been there; if not for her Aunt and Uncle constantly reminded her how grateful she should be that they took her in after her parents died in a car accident.

Heavy footsteps on the stairs above her head let her know that her Uncle Vernon was awake and would be expecting breakfast shortly. A few minutes later the cupboard was unlocked revealing Petunia's long horse-like face.

"Get up girl! Vernon has an important meeting this morning that won't be ruined by your laziness" Petunia barked.

Sighing to herself, Violet got up and made her way into the kitchen where she began to prepare breakfast for the family. Vernon sat at the kitchen table reading the newspaper while Petunia sipped on tea as Violet served them the eggs and bacon she had made. Since it was summer vacation she wouldn't have to prepare a meal for Dudley until the early afternoon, as he usually slept in until at least 11:00. That was one small relief as he usually ate three times the amount of anyone else in the family so his meals always took the longest to prepare.

She began to wash the breakfast pans and hoped that the sound of running water would drown out the voices of her aunt and uncle. By the time she was done they had left the table leaving a few scraps of toast on their plates which she hungrily gulped down as if afraid they would suddenly disappear. She was not allowed to eat with the family nor was she permitted to take any food from the kitchen for herself. Violet survived on the scraps of left behind food and the occasional tomato or cucumber stolen from the garden when her aunt wasn't paying attention.

The day was spent much like every other day in her short 11 years of existence by cleaning every inch of the house until her hands were raw from scrubbing and vacuuming and trying to avoid the Dursley's at all possible costs. Everything in their home was neat and organized and most importantly normal. Pristine beige wallpaper and spotless eggshell white carpets covered the two story house. The normality of the suburban home had been painstakingly put together by Petunia. Beige furniture, a plaster fireplace, stainless steel appliances, and tacky animal sculptures all created an environment of comfortable predictability. Every item had a designated spot; Petunia wouldn't tolerate even one speck of dust ruining the carefully crafted order of her home. As such she insisted for it to be thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom every day.

After the house was cleaned, Violet would escape to the garden in the backyard. It wasn't that large and all of the plants in it were rather common, but it was her only escape; a place where she could lose herself among the leaves and flowers and pretend to simply fade into the scenery.

Lying in the grass partially hidden by several tomato plants Violet relished the feel of the soft grass underneath her fingertips as she marveled at the openness of the sky above her and the sounds of the garden around her. Everything seemed possible when she stared up at the sky. She adored the abnormalities that seemed to exist within nature. All around her everything was unique, special. Each and every plant, tree, and even blade of grass in the backyard possessed some amount of individuality; an inherent rebelliousness that refused to conform to the Dursley's need for perfect uniformity in their home and neighborhood.

Turning her head away from the cloudless sky, she spotted a large grass snake draped around one of the rocks of the small stone wall that enclosed her aunt's garden. It seemed to be enjoying the late afternoon warmth of the sun's rays and the relative peace that the garden offered to any creature that took the time to appreciate it.

"Hello there," Violet said.

"It's nice to see that someone else seems to like the garden as much as I do. You should be careful though, if Petunia saw you she would have an absolute fit. She's afraid of snakes. Well, really she's afraid of anything that's even the tiniest bit unusual."

Violet didn't know why she had decided to talk to the snake. It wasn't uncommon for her to go days without uttering a single word much preferring to simply blend into the background of the Dursley's lives rather than be an active participant within the household. But she supposed that if she were going to talk to someone, it might as well be with a snake, yet another misunderstood lonesome creature.

She continued to prattle on about Petunia's fears when she suddenly realized that the snake seemed to be staring directly at her as if it had actually been listening. "Wait…can you hear me?" Violet felt foolish as soon as she asked the question but to her complete surprise the snake nodded and lifted its head even higher. She had to take a minute to fully absorb the fact that the snake could understand her.

"Oh, well that's…" she trailed off suddenly unsure of herself. "I'm sorry. It's just that well I've never talked to a snake before. Well I've never really talked to anyone before. Do you…I mean…do you talk to people often?" The snake shook its head.

As she was about to ask another question a rather large shadow appeared from behind her. Suddenly she was grabbed and shoved roughly to the side by her enormous cousin Dudley.

"Woah! Look at that snake! Mummy, dad, come here. You won't believe what's in the backyard," he yelled towards the house. Dudley always had a cruel nature and seemed too often take delight in tormenting anything that was smaller than he was, which given his size most things were. As Violet began to sit up she noticed that Dudley had a large stick in his hand which he was beginning to raise over his head.

"Don't you dare," she seethed in a tone of voice that both she and Dudley had never heard before. It sounded much stronger and calmer than the meek and whisper-like voice she normally used when speaking. If he was surprised, he didn't show it. Dudley simply sneered at her and then returned his attention back to the snake.

Violet gave him a glare of her own and suddenly felt an immense wave of electric power pulsing through her body. Her hair began to stand up on its ends and if anyone had been looking they would have seen her eyes begin to glow and turn to a vibrant shade of molten gold. Before she could even process what was happening an incredible and angry wind began to tear its way through the yard. The plants violently swayed back and forth and the house began to groan as it was hit with the unyielding pressure of the wind.

Hundreds of leaves were ripped from the trees and began to swirl around Violet and Dudley. It was as if a small tornado had formed around the two of them. Suddenly the leaves stopped their circling and began to build into a towering wall that separated Violet from her cousin. The leaves and wind then surged forward throwing Dudley into the oak tree in the corner of the yard where he fell into a dazed heap as shredded leaves casually rained down upon him. It ended as quickly as it began, as the Dursley's backyard once again became as identical and normal as every other yard in Little Whinging.

Violet let out a breath she didn't know she had been holding and turned her head back to the snake who hadn't been disturbed in the slightest from the sudden and violent windstorm. It began to slither passed Violet but stopped when it was just about to pass her.

"My thanksssssssssss," it hissed before continuing on its way out of the yard.

"Any time," Violet replied even though she really wasn't sure what had happened. A shrill scream coming from the house alerted her to the fact that her Aunt and Uncle had witnessed at least some of the display.

*Chapter 2*: Chapter 2

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise and do not seek to make any sort of profit from the distribution of this fictional work.

Rated: M


Chapter 2

Trigger Warning! (For depictions of violence).

"My baby," Petunia shrieked as she dashed across the yard to the now dazed Dudley. Violet couldn't help but to smile at the dumbstruck expression now dawning across the enormous boy's face. The abject confusion looked much better than his normal dull and expressionless features. It seemed he had the ability of critical thinking after all.

Violet's smile lasted the ten seconds it took for her Uncle to cross the yard and come to stand in front of her. He grabbed her shoulders causing her to wince from the pressure of his meaty fingers digging into her skin as he began to shake her.

"What did you do, girl?" Her Uncle's eyes were narrowed in anger but Violet could see that beneath that there was the slightest hint of fear.

"I don't know! I didn't do anything on purpose, I swear," she pleaded. She knew this was going to end badly for her. Realizing that the neighbors might have been able to see the display, Vernon grabbed Violet by her hair and dragged her into the house.

"Please," Violet begged, "I don't know what happened. It was like magic."

As soon as the words left her mouth she knew she had said the wrong thing. Before she could move to defend herself, her Uncle slapped her across the face, then continued to drag her towards the cupboard.

"There is no such thing as magic! What did you do to him?"

"I didn't do anything. Not on purpose, I swear. I don't know what happened or how he ended up on the other side of the yard."

Vernon's meaty fingers were wrapped around her throat in an instant, squeezing lightly enough for the smallest amount of air to travel down Violet's lungs. "Don't you play games with me, girl." Vernon continued to tighten his grip and Violet began to see stars as he refused to lessen his hold. Before her vision completely blacked out, he released her.

"Now, I'll ask you one last time. What did you do?"

Violet knew that Vernon wanted her to say that she had pushed Dudley or that he had somehow tripped and fallen backwards, even though they both knew that it was a lie. Whether it was for Vernon's sake or her own, she didn't know. What she did know was that she couldn't lie about whatever had happened. Something deep within her refused to retreat from this.

"I don't know. One second he was there and the next he was gone. You can hate the word all you like but it was like magic," she managed to spit out between heaving breaths.

Vernon answered her small act of defiance with a backhanded slap to the face, his wedding ring catching on Violet's lip, splitting it in the process. The metallic taste of blood instantly clouded her senses. Vernon pushed her into the small cupboard and soon Violet was encased in darkness as the lock to the door clicked into place.

Violet's daily chores, except for gardening, resumed the following day even though she couldn't go more than a few minutes of cleaning without feeling lightheaded. In perhaps their cruelest punishment to date, the Dursley's forbade her form going outside and even went so far as to install bells above each of the doors leading outside to ensure that anyone's comings and goings would be heard.

Unable to feel the grass's soft touch or the soothing embrace of the wind, Violet began to become even more withdrawn until she practically began to blend into the beige wallpaper that decorated the house. Here, inside the walls of the Dursley's home, there was no escape, no release from the bitter reality of her life. At times throughout the following days, she felt like Vernon's fingers had never really left her throat and no matter how hard she tried to breathe, she was suffocating.

Things continued on in this manner for about a month until one morning as Violet was leaving her cupboard she spotted a curious looking letter falling through the mail flap. It was very unusual for mail to come so early. Shrugging, Violet picked up the letter. A look of surprise passed over her features as she realized it was addressed to her from a place called Hogwarts. She had never gotten a letter before. Making sure that none of the Dursley's were in the hallway, she quickly ripped it open.

Dear Ms. Potter,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.Term begins on 1 September. As you have no magical guardians a representative from Hogwarts will be sent to your home on 31 August to help you prepare for the school year.

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall

Deputy Headmistress

Violet snored as she finished looking at the so called list of books and equipment. 'Where would I even find a cauldron,' she thought to herself. Dudley certainly put a lot of time and effort into this prank. It was kind of sad, really; although she preferred this kind of harassment from him than his normal punching, kicking, and shoving tendencies. Stuffing the letter under her pillow, she made her way into the kitchen to begin breakfast.

Even though she knew it was just a cruel joke, Violet couldn't help but reread the letter again and again over the course of the next week. A small part of her, though she would never admit it, desperately wished for the contents to be real. It would mean that she belonged somewhere. That there was some kind of life for her outside of the beige prison that was number 4 Privet Drive.

The 31 of August arrived and Violet was careful not to display any type of emotions around the Dursleys. Keeping her expression blank she served them their breakfast as usual and went to begin washing the dirty pans now accumulating in the sink. She knew the second part of Dudley's prank would be happening today and she refused to give him any kind of ammunition to use against her. It was honestly surprising that he had the patience to wait an entire week for the prank to play out.

"Girl, more coffee," Vernon barked.

Violet began to make her way over to Uncle but stopped when she heard an impatient knocking at the front door. Both Vernon and Petunia looked up while Dudley continued stuffing his face with various breakfast pastries.

"Who could that be, dear? And at this hour? Oh, I hope the neighbors aren't awake yet." Petunia fretted turning towards her husband.

Vernon grumbled a response as he made his way to the door. "Alright! Alright, hold your hors-."

Violet had never seen her Uncle speechless before but she found she rather enjoyed the sight. It was quickly her turn to look surprised when the visitor swept into the front hallway. A man dressed in strange long black robes stood before her. He had a rather large hooked nose, long greasy black hair, and dark eyes that reminded Violet of staring into a deep hole. His face was cold but displayed no signs of whatever emotions or thoughts might have been running through his head. He had an energy around him that Violet had never noticed on another person before; it was as if she could feel his very essence. It made her feel like she had just stepped onto barren tundra where the only company was the howling wind.

Whatever Severus Snape had been expecting when he had gone to collect Violet Potter, it was certainly not this. He had expected the daughter of James Potter to be living a life of spoiled ignorance among the muggles. He thought she would be an arrogant little brat just like her father. But he saw none of James when he looked at her.

Before him stood a wisp of a girl staring up at him with guarded but curious eyes. She was dressed in tattered clothing that seemed to be about ten times too big for her. She was practically drowning in it. Her dark brown hair was in a braid with loose strands carelessly framing her heart shaped face with cheeks that were slightly sunken in and a small scar on her bottom lip. What startled Snape the most, however, was how hollow she seemed to look, as if she was an inch away from a dementor's kiss. Her eyes were devoid of life as if they had never lightened up with laughter or shone with joy before.

"I demand that you leave at once, sir! You are not welcome here;" Vernon ground out recovering from his momentary stunned silence.

Snape gave Vernon a nasty sneer in response and then turned to Violet. "Are you ready to depart," he asked unceremoniously.

"I'm sorry sir but who are you," she inquired in a small and quiet tone.

"Severus Snape. Potions instructor at Hogwarts. I assume you've at least done a minuscule amount of research about the school."

Violet looked down at the ground. "I'm sorry but I don't know anything about Hogwarts. I only received that letter a few days ago."

A quick look of surprise passed over Snape's features. "Excuse me," he asked in disbelief, "You were never curious about where your mother and father studied magic?"

At her continued look of confusion Snape sighed and simply said, "you are a witch Violet."

She wasn't sure what had shocked her more; the fact that another person had said her name aloud or that the person had claimed she was a witch.

"Haven't you ever made something happen that you couldn't explain? What about when you were frightened or angry?"

A sudden look of realization and then understanding passed between her features and after a moment she gave Snape a slight nod in confirmation.

"She'll not be going! We swore that when we took her in we would put an end to this rubbish," Vernon bellowed.

Something inside Violet broke at his declaration. "You knew," she cried, "You knew all along and you never told me!"

"Of course we knew. How could you not be? My perfect sister being who she was. Oh, my parents were delighted to have a witch in the family. How they would brag about her. I saw her for what she really was. A freak! An…an abomination! Then she met that Potter and had you. I knew you'd be just as strange, just as wrong. Then she went and got herself blown up and we got saddled with you." It might have been the most candid that Petunia had ever been with her niece.

"You told me they died in a car accident," Violet said flatly.

"You dare," began the cold and lethal sounding voice of Snape. "You dare to say that she died in some kind of muggle accident."

Petunia began to cower at the harshness of his tone.

"Muggle?" Violet asked.

"Non-magical people," Snape said in clipped tones as he struggled to reign in his temper. "You will not keep this child from her rightful heritage."

"She belongs to us and I won't pay for her to run off and learn how to do magic tri-," for the second time that day Vernon was rendered speechless but this time it was because his mouth had completely vanished. Both Petunia and Dudley screamed as Vernon, with wide horror struck eyes, placed his hands to where his mouth had been.

Totally unaffected by the scene, Snape looked down at Violet. "Come," he commanded and turned towards the door. Realizing that she had been waiting and hoping her entire life for something like this to happen, Violet hurried down the hall after him without sparing the Dursley's a second glance.

Snape waited at the end of the Dursley's driveway and made sure that there were no muggles around. He extended his arm and Violet took it with a puzzled expression. "Try not to move," he offered as an explanation. All of a sudden the ground gave way and the world around Violet began to spin. She felt like she was being shoved through a straw. It was over in about a second but it took a full minute for her breathing to return to a normal pace.

"Welcome to Diagon Alley," Snape said and just like that Violet's life began.

*Chapter 3*: Chapter 3

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise and do not seek to make any sort of profit from the distribution of this fictional work.

Rated: M


Chapter 3

Diagon alley was one of the most wondrous things that Violet had ever seen. All of her doubts about the existence of magic vanished the second she allowed herself to really look around. She could feel the hum of magic pulsing through the busy cobblestone streets like it was seeped into the stones themselves. Men and women dressed in elaborate robes, similar to Snape's, wandered in and out of the numerous shops that decorated the street. It was so busy that day that it was almost impossible to stand on the street for more than a minute without getting jostled by a passerby.

The buildings were all varied in a rich sea of different sizes and colors of every imaginable shade. Everything looked so old, like it had been around for at least a hundred years but somehow new as if it was full of never ending energy.

Shop windows were stock full of whimsical wondrous displays that drew the eye directly to them. Twirling robes and glittering charms beckoned customers forward in one shop. Hovering broomsticks lined one massive window farther down the street, while dried herbs and bat wings hung from yet another shop on the opposite side. Cauldrons and ladles spilled out of the doorway and onto the sidewalk in front of her as she passed a smoke filled doorway that smelt of lotus and lavender. It was all so beautifully chaotic.

Violet's attention was soon turned back to herself when she felt her clothing beginning to shift and change in shape around her. Glancing down she saw that Dudley's oversized hammy downs had been transformed into a simple yet pretty grey dress with long sleeves.

"Thank you," she softly whispered to Snape. Uncomfortable with gratitude he nodded and began to walk down the street.

After a quick visit to Gringotts, Violet's world was turned upside down yet again. She couldn't believe how much gold had been in her vault. She was in near tears when the goblin had told her that her parents had set up it all up specifically for her. They had cared. At one point in her life, Violet had had people who loved her and that realization alone was worth more than all the gold in the world. From there Violet and Snape shopped for her school supplies in comfortable silence, it seemed neither of them was too keen on socializing.

The more they walked through the Diagon Alley, the more awed she became. There was brightness to the Wizarding World and an exuberance from its people that she had never experienced before. From the colorful and varied sized buildings, to the light music that hung in the air, everything just felt so alive. She was amused to find that the fashion trends of the muggle world had leaked into the Wizarding world. Older witches and wizards favored the robes that Snape wore but the younger people who they passed were all dressed in clothing that could be found in any store in England. Even the messenger bag she had purchased was the exact same one she had seen in an advertisement in one of the Petunia's fashion magazines.

Stepping into Flourish and Blotts, Violet sighed to herself.

"What's the matter Ms. Potter? Not a fan of reading," Snape asked. He had spent most the morning observing, testing, and waiting for her to show some hint that she was just as terrible, arrogant, and lazy as her father.

"I wasn't allowed to read at the Dursleys. I'm not even sure I would know how to read if they hadn't been forced to send me to primary school," she admitted easily as she began to run her fingers down the spine of a book.

It bothered Snape how casual she was about it; "Well then we shall take as long as you like here," he said, surprising himself. She gave him a small half smile and began to wander off towards the back of the store.

Violet had no trouble finding the books on her school list and soon she began to browse the shelves for things to read in her spare time. She had never had this amount of freedom before but she vowed to herself that she was going to make the most of it.

In each aisle she found something that sparked her interest. It was incredible how many different subjects there were. From Pure-Blood Traditions and history, to runes, to protective wards, to defensive spells, it didn't matter; she wanted to know it all.

As she reached the back of the shop she realized that these aisles were particularly empty, especially compared to the business at the front of the shop. Picking up one of the books off the shelf she began to flip through the pages and immediately understood why this part of the store was devoid of customers. It was full of various curses and hexes along with very detailed descriptions of each of their effects. She knew she should put it back and make her way back to the front of the shop but she couldn't seem to tear her eyes away from the book, as if it was sucking her in. It was fascinating to see the multitude of ways that magic could be used.

"Well, well, what have we here," a smooth voice drawled from behind her. Slamming the book shut, Violet whirled and faced the stranger. He was remarkable in the sense that every one of his features was unremarkable. His short hair was a sandy blonde and his eyes were the most average shade of brown she had ever seen. There was absolutely nothing noteworthy about his appearance, even his clothing was simple and plain by wizard standards. It reminded her of the Dursley's wallpaper. If she had passed him on the street, Violet was sure she and most people wouldn't have spared him a second glance, if they even noticed him at all. 'It made him all the more dangerous' she thought.

"Are you lost little bird?" It was clear from his tone that he was mocking her. Years of living with the Dursleys taught her that in situations like this it was best to keep your head down and remain docile and eventually your tormentor would grow bored and leave you alone. Violet was about to mumble a fast apology and run away when she accidentally looked the man straight in the eyes. In an instant her magic came alive and surged through her giving her a renewed sense of confidence.

"No. I know exactly where I am, thank you. It's not like this shop is all that large," she replied in a matter of fact tone.

"Unless my memory misleads me, I don't recall Hogwarts teaching the dark arts. It's rather peculiar to find a little bird reading a book on some rather…. advanced curses," he said as he glanced at the book in her hands. His voice was mesmerizing. He spoke in a soft but commanding way that made the listener want to lean in towards him, as if every word he said was a secret that would be the most important thing they would ever hear.

"Who says I'm going to Hogwarts?"

"Your basket full of Year One textbooks. The curriculum at Hogwarts is quite static."

"Good to know," she responded in a dismissive tone before turning her attention back to the dark book in her hands hoping that the stranger would take the hint.

"I would be careful with that. Your school might be the best for magical study but the current environment isn't exactly friendly to those who fall outside the realm of their approved subjects. Not to mention that the Dark Arts consume those who aren't ready for it. What a shame it would be for a little bird to have her wings clipped the moment she leaves the nest."

Based on her reading list Violet knew that Hogwarts didn't teach anything close to the Dark Arts. Despite his warnings, she could not shake the overwhelming urge she had to talk back to the man. She could feel her magic refusing to retreat from him.

"Speaking from personal experience?" she asked in a voice much steadier than she currently felt. "And don't call me little bird. It's rude," she snapped and instantly cursed herself for not being able to think of anything cleverer to say. His answering chuckle sent a shiver down her spine.

Before the conversation could continue there was a loud commotion towards the front of the shop. "IT'S NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM!" a witch screamed. "THE BOY WHO LIVED!" another wizard shouted. In a flash the entire population of the shop rushed towards the main floor, knocking several stacks of books over in the process, to try and get a glimpse of the boy. Violet turned back to the stranger but saw that he had vanished while she had been distracted by the commotion.

Making her way down the stairs she found Snape standing in a corner of the shop glaring daggers at the crowd. "Who is that," Violet asked getting a glimpse of Neville Longbottom for the first time.

He was pudgy, though not as large as Dudley, and had ears that were too big for his face. It was obvious that he carried himself with an immense amount of confidence as he began to pose for the crowd, his mouth forming into a charming crooked smile exposing perfectly straight white teeth. The crowd erupted in murmurs of delight and enthusiasm for him as he began shaking hands and signing autographs. Violet thought he looked rather silly.

"An imbecile," Snape sardonically responded causing Violet to let out a light chuckle. Snape smiled down at her for the briefest of moments, though he would crucio anyone who dared to point it out.

*Chapter 4*: Chapter 4

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise and do not seek to make any sort of profit from the distribution of this fictional work.

Rated: M


A/N: This is my first attempt at writing a fanfic. I'm going to be deviating from canon but am trying my best to keep the story line and pieces of the world intact with a few new twists and turns thrown into the mix to (hopefully) keep things fresh and interesting.

Chapter 4

The pair made their way out of the crowded bookstore and into the potions supplies and ingredients shop a little farther down the street. It was clear to Violet that Snape was in his element as he began to talk with the shopkeeper about a list of ingredients he had ordered earlier in the summer that he was expecting to have delivered to his lab at Hogwarts. It was the most animated that she had seen him.

Violet began to browse the cauldrons laid about the shop while she searched for the specific one listed in Hogwarts's Recommended Supplies List. The shop was packed full of cauldrons all coming in various metals and sizes, each claiming to brew the most potent of elixirs, potions, and poisons. After several minutes of searching, she was able to find the starter cauldron.

"Potter, do not get that cauldron," Snape said as she had begun to reach for it. "That cauldron is designed for the most mediocre of potions students to produce the most mediocre of potions." He paused for a moment as if debating with himself and gave Violet a piercing look. A moment later he seemed to have come to some kind of conclusion. "Your mother," he began in a quiet tone, "was exceptionally talented with potions. She had an instinctual understanding of the subtleties and exact sciences that go into the craft."

He pointed towards a smaller set of charcoal colored cauldrons tucked in the corner of the shop, his voice taking on its usual hard quality once again, "those cauldrons would be better suited for someone who wished to push their intellectual capabilities and magical talents in brewing."

Without hesitating, Violet immediately went for the cauldron that Snape had recommended and began to ask him all kinds of questions about potions which he found he did not mind answering.

"Sir, why are there so many different kinds of cauldrons? They all claimed to do the exact same thing," Violet inquired as they continued to walk through Diagon Alley.

"Each metal lends itself better to whatever type of potion you are trying to brew. There is no such thing as one cauldron that can expertly brew everything. Anyone who claims otherwise is simply hoping to make money off of ignorance and laziness."

Their next stop was to Eeylops Owl Emporium where Violet fell in love with a beautiful snowy white owl that she promptly named Hedwig. As she carried Hedwig out of the shop Violet realized that for the first time in her life she wouldn't be completely alone.

"Now, the last thing that you need is your wand." Snape pointed to a small unassuming corner shop. "I have some school business to attend to so I'll meet you here when you're done."

Violet entered the dusty old shop but found it completely empty. The walls were lined with a seemingly never ending assortment of wands that each felt like they were calling out to her magic. They varied in sizes and colors forming a beautiful array of various rich shades of browns throughout the dingy shop. She began to feel overwhelmed as her magic began to surge outward longing to make a connection.

"Hello," she managed to call out but no one appeared. "Hello," she tried again in a louder voice.

An ancient man with erratic white hair appeared from behind the counter and kindly smiled at her. "Ah, Miss Potter. I was wondering when I would see you. It seems like yesterday that your mother and father were here picking out their wands."

He handed her a wand off the counter and looked at her expectantly. Violet flicked the wand with her wrist causing all of the shelves in the shop to shatter. Looking slightly startled, Ollivander quickly handed her another wand which promptly caused the chairs behind her to burst into flames.

"No! No, definitely not," Ollivander said as he plucked the wand out of her hand. His mouth set in determination as he placed yet another wand into Violet's hand. A second later the two had to jump out of the way as a massive pine tree grew to life in the center of the shop. Violet dropped the wand and began to apologize when Ollivander cut her off.

"Happens all the time," he said a bit frantically, "Let us try this one." He handed Violet a light brown wand which he quickly grabbed back when it began to rain indoors washing away all the dust and cobwebs that had accumulated in the shop over the years. The pair quickly went through two more wands; one which caused all the candles to burn down instantly leaving them in complete darkness and the other which produced a lightning bolt that left a large scorch mark in the floor.

Violet was worried that Ollivander was going to kick her out of the shop but when she looked at him she found him eyeing her critically. He was silent for a moment and wore a thoughtful expression on his face before he retreated to the back of the shop and came out with yet another wand. He held it out to Violet without saying a word. She nervously picked it up and gasped as her magic began to sing and swirl around her. Her hair began to stand up on its ends as her skin and eyes began to glow so bright that soon the shop was engulfed in different hues of gold and silver. She felt as if she had found some part of her that she hadn't even realized was missing, a piece of her soul. All too soon, the golden light began to retreat back inside of her and soon the shop returned to its rather dark and dingy interior.

Ollivander spoke first, "Curious. Very curious."

"What's curious," she asked.

"I remember every wand I've ever sold Miss Potter. The phoenix whose tail feather resides in your wand gave only one other feather. It is curious that you should be destined for this wand."

"Who has the other wand," she inquired.

"We do not speak his name. It's not always clear as to why but I believe that we can expect great things from you Miss Potter. After all, the dark lord did great things….terrible things yes, but great."

"I'm sorry about…all this," Violet said gesturing to the ruined chairs, pine tree, and shattered counter that now decorated the shop." Based on the damage done she assumed that Ollivander was probably anxious to get her out of there as soon as possible. As Violet left the shop she quickly decided that it would probably be best not to mention any of what Ollivander had said to anyone. She really wasn't looking for trouble and she certainly didn't want any unnecessary attention.

Rejoining Snape the pair began to make their way towards the Leaky Cauldron in search of some light dinner.

"Severus? What a delight to see you" came the cultured voice of Narcissa Malfoy. Violet thought that she was the most elegant person she had ever seen, like one of the movie stars that decorated the covers of the magazines that Petunia liked to read.

Next to her stood a boy who looked to be about the same age as Violet. He had slicked back pale blonde hair and grey eyes which reminded Violet of the sky before a thunderstorm. Both mother and son had sharp distinctive facial features which would make them recognizable anywhere. She noticed the fine fabric of their clothing and the snake emblem on the clasps of each of their cloaks. It was obvious from how they held themselves that they were purebloods.

Violet might have just entered the Wizarding World but she was an exceptionally observant child; she had to be to survive at the Dursleys.

"Lucius was just about to pop over for a visit. We haven't seen you all summer, you know. You've been spending too much time cooped up in the lab again, haven't you?"

"I can't picture myself anywhere else, Narcissa."

"Well you should certainly try to. I can scarcely believe my eyes seeing you out and about and in broad daylight to. Lucius won't believe me when I tell him." Narcissa's eyes fell on Violet for the first time, "and who is this?"

Violet silently thanked the universe that the first book she had picked up and briefly skimmed at Flourish and Blotts was on pureblood etiquette. Before Snape could respond she swept into a deep curtsy as this was their first meeting.

"Violet of the House of Potter. May good fortune and blessed magic fall upon you," she answered repeating word for word the phrase she had read in the book.

Narcissa eyes flashed with approval as bent into a slight curtsy, "The Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy greets you, Lady Potter. May good fortune and blessed magic fall on us all," she responded in a musical tone. "This is my son, Draco," Narcissa said putting a hand on her son's shoulder. "It will be his first year at Hogwarts as well. Severus, we were just about to head to dinner and would be delighted if you and Ms. Potter joined us."

From his slight grimace it was clear that Snape wanted to say no but one look at his godson's hopeful expression crumpled his resolve. He offered her his arm and the two adults began to walk down the street with Draco and Violet following behind.

Violet wrung her hands nervously as they walked; after all this was the first time she was speaking to a magical person that was her age. She had never had a friend before so the thought of conversing with someone her age was daunting.

Draco was equally as nervous though he would never admit it. His parents had given him everything he had ever wanted growing up, he wanted for nothing. He didn't even have to try to make friends as his last name was usually enough to earn him the loyalty of the select peers his parents deemed it appropriate for him to socialize with. He didn't know how to make friends; he was usually just given them.

However, in this situation his last name meant nothing. Draco would have to earn the friendship of the girl walking next to him and found he rather liked the challenge that it presented. He wanted someone to value him, as a person, and not just his last name.

"Are you excited to go to Hogwarts," she asked startling him out of his musings.

"I always knew I would be attending but yes, I'm looking forward to going," he replied. "Father said that the quality in education has gone down in recent years but my mother insisted I go there. Know what house you'll be in yet?"

Violet remembered Snape mentioning the Hogwarts houses but knew nothing about them, "no" she responded.

"Well I suppose no one really knows until they get there but I know I will be in Slytherin. Everyone in my family has been in Slytherin. It's the best of the all the houses and only lets the right sort of wizards in."

"Right sort?" she asked.

"Witches and wizards like you and I. Not ignorant muggleborns," he sneered, "who continue to ruin wizarding society with their disregard for our sacred beliefs and traditions," he responded repeating word for word what his father always said. He expected her to agree with him but she looked away.

"My mother was muggleborn."

Draco instantly realized his mistake and said in a rush, "Well, I'm sure not all muggleborns are bad. I mean, they can't all be." They both knew that Draco probably didn't fully mean the statement but Violet gave him a slight smile for his effort.

You know, I was raised by muggles," she began but stopped when she saw how large his eyes had gotten at her statement.

"But you used a proper greeting with my mother," he interjected.

"I'm a fast learner," she said. "Anyway, I was raised in the muggle world but I have to admit that before today I had never seen anything as amazing as all this," she said gesturing to the street around her. "I don't think anything in the muggle world could compare," she finished. Draco nodded in understanding and was relieved that she hadn't been offended.

They passed a shop with the word Quidditch above it and Violet stared up puzzled. "Draco, what's quidditch," she asked.

Draco spent the rest of the walk and dinner enthusiastically telling Violet all about the rules of quidditch, which teams were best and different types of flying maneuvers that were his favorite. Violet listened attentively and asked as many questions as she could think of. She found that Draco had a rather sarcastic sense of humor that had her chuckling throughout the evening. For the first time in her life she realized that she was exactly where she was meant to be and there was a certain comfort in that.

*Chapter 5*: Chapter 5

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise and do not seek to make any sort of profit from the distribution of this fictional work.

Rated: M


Chapter 5: New Beginnings

After a short but pleasant goodbye with Snape the next morning, Violet stared at the bright red Hogwarts Express. It would take her to her new home for the next seven years.

'Home' she thought wistfully. She had one once and was nervous to have one again. The more Violet gained the more she was afraid to lose. She still wasn't convinced that all of this was really happening; that any moment she would wake up back in the cupboard. She remembered Vernon's fingers around her throat and gave an involuntary shudder. Shaking away the melancholy thoughts, she took a deep breath and boarded the train in search of a compartment. Snape had insisted that they arrive at the station early so she had no trouble finding an empty compartment. Violet pulled out Hogwarts: A History and curled up on the train bench, soon losing herself in text. Before she knew it the train let out a whistle and had begun moving. A few moments later the compartment door opened.

"Excuse me but do you mind if I join you? All the other compartments seem to be full," a bushy haired girl with brown hair and eyes asked. Violet shook her head with a smile and waved the girl in.

"Hermione Granger," the girl said and held out her hand.

"Violet Potter, nice to meet you," she said as she shook Hermione's hand.

"Oh! You're reading Hogwarts: A History. I've probably read it about five times already. I can't wait to see the great hall's enchanted ceiling. Did you know that it shows the weather outside?"

Violet smiled at Hermione's enthusiasm and was pleased to meet another person who seemed as obsessed with knowledge as she was. The two soon fell into an easy conversation about what they had read and heard about Hogwarts.

"It was such a surprise when I got my letter. No one in my family has magic but my parents are really happy for me. Was your family pleased when you got your letter?" The compartment door opened again sparing Violet from a conversation she wasn't ready to have and revealed the platinum blonde hair of Draco Malfoy.

"Draco," she said happily and waved him in. Draco strode gracefully into the compartment and took a seat next to Violet. "Draco Malfoy meet Hermione Granger."

Violet was testing Draco and they both knew it. She wanted to see how much he actually meant from their conversation the night before. While she might agree with him on some of his pureblood views, she could not stand blind prejudice. It was just another form of ignorance and Violet had already spent too much time being in the dark.

Hermione held out her hand and waited for Draco to shake it. A heartbeat later, but what felt like a lifetime to Violet; Draco took Hermione's hand and gave it a swift shake. "Pleased to meet you," he said in his aristocratic tone.

"I was just about to tell Hermione the rules of Quidditch but I can't seem to remember them all." Violet spent the rest of the train ride happily watching Draco and Hermione discuss wizard sports.

The train soon came to a stop and let out one last whistle to signal that they had arrived. The three of them stood. "We leave our trunks on the train," Draco said. The two girls nodded and the trio headed towards the exit. The platform was crowded as older students were making their way to horseless carriages. It was easy to spot all the small first years as they all stood, fixed like statues, in various spots on the platform looking around nervously.

"First 'ears over 'here," a deep voice bellowed across the platform. Violet, Draco, and Hermione followed the voice, jaws dropping when they saw the man, or well giant, it belonged to. He smiled at them and continued calling the first years over to him. "Right you lot, 'ead to the boats. Follow me," he said and began walking down the platform. As soon as the trio sat down, the boat began to move of its own accord. Violet smiled at the magic. She heard Hermione gasp and looked up to have her breath taken away. Even Draco couldn't hide his admiration of the sight.

Hogwarts. It sat comfortably atop a jagged cliff side with stairs that seemed etched into the stone emerging from the water and leading up into the castle. It was simply magnificent and made even more so by the starless black night. The glow from the windows illuminated the unique architecture. The multiple towers throughout the castle seemed to disappear into the clouds. Violet could feel the magic pulsating from the building. She focused on the feeling of the school's magic and suddenly she could see the magic that surrounded Hogwarts. The castle was awash in rich colors of green, red, yellow and blue that all seemed to twist and swirl amongst themselves and formed a complex multi-colored globe around the building. She blinked and a second later the colors vanished.

"Did you see that," she whispered to Hermione.

"See what?" Violet shrugged and soon the boat arrived on the opposite side of the lake.

There were lead up a grand staircase to be greeted by an older looking witch in forest green robes standing in front of an ornate set of doors. "Good evening and welcome to Hogwarts," she began. "In a few moments you will join your classmates but first you must be sorted." Violet and Hermione shared a nervous glance. "There are four houses here at Hogwarts. Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin." Draco smirked at Violet causing her to playfully roll her eyes at him.

"Now while you are here, your house will be like your family. Your successes will earn your house points and any rule breaking," the witch paused and pinned the crowd with her stare "will lose your house points. At the end of the year the points are added up and the house with the most points will win the house cup. We will begin the sorting shortly," and with that the witch disappeared through the doors. The crowd began to murmur amongst themselves.

Violet was about to ask Draco a question when Neville Longbottom pushed his way to the front of the crowd where they were standing. A red haired boy with freckles stood next to him and soon he and Draco were glaring at one another.

"You might want to be careful who you talk to," Neville began looking straight at Violet. He made sure that he had the crowd's attention before he went any further. "You'll soon learn that some families are better than others. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort."

"Yeah, you don't want to talk to slimy snakes like that one," Ron interjected jerking his head towards Draco.

"I'm sorry but who are you," Violet asked. She was getting annoyed that all of the first years seemed to watching the exchange.

"Red hair and a hammy down robe. Why he's a Weasley," Draco announced haughtily.

Annoyed that the attention was no longer centered on him Neville sighed heavily; "Anyway," he started "like I said you don't want to make friends with the wrong sort, the dark sort. I can help you there," he finished with an arrogant smile that Violet found revolting.

"Thanks but I think I can tell the wrong sort for myself," she said and began to turn away.

Unused to rejection, Neville grabbed her by the shoulder and hissed in her ear so no one else could hear; "It's a good thing your parents aren't alive to see you associating with dark scum."

She shrugged off his hand and walked as fast as she could to the back of the crowd with Draco and Hermione following right behind her.

Violet didn't know it but her decision to stick by Draco had earned her his unwavering loyalty. When the encounter began a very large part of Draco believed that she would chose to be friends with the so called 'boy who lived' over him. He was afraid to lose the first friend he had ever made for himself. After all, the entire wizarding community idolized the stupid git. Longbottom was Dumbledore's poster boy and being friends with him, especially at Hogwarts, would come with enormous benefits and celebrity status but Violet hadn't wavered in the slightest in her support of Draco.

When she reached the back of the crowd Violet let out a sigh of relief and sagged against a stone pillar. She hated attention and she hated people staring at her. The Dursleys' had taught her that attention usually came with humiliation and/or pain. It was never a good thing. No, she much preferred to be invisible and unnoticed.

"Draco, what did he mean by dark families," Hermione asked after they had caught up with Violet who also looked at him with a puzzled expression. Draco sighed and prepared himself for a lengthy conversation.

"Hogwarts teaches that magic is divided into three categories: light, neutral, and dark. Light magic is thought of as being 'good' while dark magic is considered 'evil' but that is only because the light side is currently in power. The truth is that every wizard is born with a certain disposition to one kind of magic or the other but that doesn't determine if the wizard is good or evil. Light and dark wizards have been fighting for the control of magic since Hogwarts was founded but in the last one hundred years the fight has become especially vicious." Draco saw the Hermione had a least a dozen questions she wanted to ask but he held up his hand, "let me finish," he said. She heaved a frustrated sigh but nodded.

"The Lord of the light side is Dumbledore who is the current headmaster of Hogwarts thus most of the lessons at Hogwarts are centered on light magic and cater to those who are lighter in nature. My family is dark so naturally my parents and he do not get along."

"And the dark side's leader?" Violet interrupted, remembering her conversation with Ollivander.

Draco looked away from the two girls for a moment. "The dark side has two lords. Lord Grindelwald and the Dark Lord Voldemort. Grindelwald has led the movement for as long as Dumbledore has led the light. He picked Lord Voldemort as his apprentice but everyone knows that the Dark Lord's power surpasses Lord Grindelwald," he finished.

"Where are they now," Hermione asked.

Draco looked at Violet apologetically. "Has anyone….has anyone told you how your parents died," he questioned in a soft voice. Hermione's eyes grew wide and she looked at Violet in disbelief and then concern.

"My aunt told me my mother got herself blown up."

"There were a large number of deaths on both sides but Grindelwald always seemed to take it personally when people defied him….your parents were two of those people. They fought for the Light. Not many people who stood up to him lived."

"He killed them." she said flatly.

Draco nodded apologetically and continued "he attacked the Longbottom's the same night he attacked your parents. Longbottom's parents were murdered but when he fired the killing curse at Longbottom it rebounded."

"So he's dead then?" Hermione questioned. Draco shook his head, "I don't think so. I think he is still out there but that's why Longbottom is famous. He's the boy who lived." Draco said with a sneer.

"But what about Violet? She's still alive too."

"I don't know," Draco said. "The Ministry is very hush hush about what happened that night but I overheard my father telling my mother that Grindelwald burned the Potter Estate down in a fit of rage and the next morning Violet was found amongst the ashes, completely unharmed."

"And Voldemort? Where is he?" Violet asked.

"No one knows. The light claims that he was simply a high ranking follower of Grindelwald and like Grindelwald's other followers went into hiding after that night. They call him a coward and a fraud but my parents told me that Lord Voldemort always had everything planned to the last detail and that he was more vicious and powerful than both Grindelwald and Dumbledore. He probably had plans in place if Grindelwald failed. I think he's just waiting for the right moment to gather the dark again," Draco said in a whisper.

Hermione might have kept asking Draco questions but Violet had stopped listening. Knowing that her parents had been murdered was somehow worse than just knowing that they were dead. They were stolen from her. She wasn't sure what to make of the claim that she had somehow survived her family's home being burned down but she was relieved that it wasn't common knowledge. Violet had no interest in joining the Light or the Dark. She had experienced the ugliness of both sides. After being a prisoner for so long at the Dursleys, all Violet longed for was freedom.

She was so lost in thought that she didn't even notice that the first years had already begun to file into the great hall. She didn't see the beautiful night sky and hanging candles enchanted above her head and she blocked out the sorting hat's song. She even missed most of the sortings before she heard her name being called out by the older witch who had given them the welcome to Hogwarts speech. In a daze she walked up to the stool and sat down. She snapped out of her stupor when her vision was blocked by the hat being placed on her head.

"Hmm. Difficult. VERY DIFFICULT! Plenty of courage and a very inquisitive mind. There's talent and power. Oh yes, much power and underneath that a thirst to prove yourself but where to put you?"

Violet could feel the hat's magic combing through her mind as it hummed thoughtfully until it's searching came to an abrupt halt and its tone of voice lost its playful edge.

"To light and dark you will be drawn. Each side will make a claim for to hold magic is to win the game. So chose a house and chose it well."

"I wish to walk my own path," Violet thought.

"Even inaction is a decision but if freedom is what you seek…. I think it better be RAVENCLAW."

The hat was pulled from Violet's head and she was greeted by the applause of her fellow students. She walked over to the Ravenclaw table and was surprised to see Hermione already sitting there.

"Oh! I'm so happy that you're in Ravenclaw," Hermione said excitedly. "I was worried I was going to be here all by myself," she laughed.

"I'm happy too," Violet said in relief as she smiled at Hermione.

She then glanced up at the head table and made eye contact with Snape who was seated to the right of a wizard with a white long beard in periwinkle robes, who must have been Dumbledore. She smiled at Snape who nodded at her in return.

After the sorting was finished Dumbledore stood up to give his annual welcome speech. "Welcome! Welcome to another year at Hogwarts! Before we begin the feast I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you!" As soon as he finished food appeared on all the tables of the hall.

"Is he mad?" Violet asked aloud.

"Mad? He's a genius! Best wizard in the world! But.. I guess he's a bit mad. Potatoes?" a boy across from Violet offered. "I'm Michael by the way," he said as Violet began to spoon potatoes onto her plate.

"I'm Violet and this is Hermione" she said inclining her head towards the girl sitting next to her. The rest of the first years at the table took this as their cue and each went around introducing themselves to one another. In total there were seven new Ravenclaw students: Violet, Hermione, Michael Corner, Anthony Goldstein, Terry Boot, Padma Patil, and Lisa Turpin; making them the smallest house of all the first years. The tiny group conversed throughout the meal and unsurprisingly their conversation revolved around which courses they were most excited to take.

As the dinner food was replaced with sweets Dumbledore rose once again. "I have just a few more words now that we are all fed and watered; a few start of term notices to give you. The first years should note that the Forbidden Forest is forbidden to all pupils. I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors. Quidditch tryouts will be held in two weeks and anyone interested in joining should contact Madam Hooch. Additionally I must tell you that the third floor corridor on the right hand side of the castle is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death," Dumbledore's eyes twinkled at the last part of his speech as it sent murmurs throughout the student body. "And now it's time for bed! Off you trot," he ordered.

Violet found Draco as the students were departing from the great hall. "Congratulations. I'm sure your parents will be proud," she told him. Draco gave her a warm smile. "I'll see you tomorrow," she said and headed towards the Ravenclaw prefect impatiently waiting for the first years to reach her at the end of the hall. She praised them all on being placed into Ravenclaw and began to lead them to Ravenclaw tower, explaining the rules of the castle as they went. The group climbed a tight spiral staircase and reached a large door that only had a large bronze eagle knocker which asked,

"I can bring tears to your eyes; resurrect the dead, make you smile, and reverse time. I form in an instant but last a lifetime. What am I?"

The prefect looked at the group of first years expectantly.

"A memory," Violet answered and the door to the common room swung open.

The common room was wide and circular in shape. It was lined with beautiful stained glass gold arched windows. Blue and bronze silks hung from the wall which was painted in a warm white shade. The dome shaped ceiling was painted like the nights sky with each star twinkling down reflecting in the thick midnight blue carpet that covered the entire room. Tables, chairs, sofas, and most importantly bookcases were spread throughout the space. It felt light and airy and smelled of vanilla and citrus.

After spending her life in a cupboard, it was exactly what Violet needed. She silently thanked the sorting hat again. A statue of Rowena Ravenclaw stood next to the doorway as if she were guarding the common room. There were two marble archways on the left and right side of the common room which led to the boys and girls dormitories.

Completely exhausted from the last two days Violet made her way to the first years girl's bedroom. Like the common room the girl's dormitory was circular in shape. Four white four poster beds lined the back wall of the room. The floor was a cool white marble but had an ornately patterned white rug over it to keep the girls feet warm during the winter months. The walls were lined with windows that stretched from the floor to the ceiling giving an excellent view of the Hogwarts grounds and lake below. A pale red tapestry which depicted various mythical animals and forest scenes hung from the walls. Surrounded by the sky and a tapestry of the forest, Violet felt like she was laying in her beloved garden again except now the possibilities really were endless.

*Chapter 6*: Chapter 6

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise and do not seek to make any sort of profit from the distribution of this fictional work.

Rated: M


Chapter 6: First Month

Violet awoke to the morning sunlight slowly streaming its way into the bedroom. She saw that the rest of her roommates were still asleep and decided not to wake them. She had expected for there to be more than just four girls in Ravenclaw, but then again it seemed that the entire First Year class size was relatively small. If the Wizarding war was as vicious as Draco had said, then it made sense that the Hogwarts student population had been much smaller in the past eleven years.

She climbed out of bed and made her way into the girl's washroom where she began her morning routine. When she finished buttoning up the black Hogwarts sweater and straightening the blue and bronze tie, Violet allowed herself to really look at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. She never bothered to look at herself at the Dursleys; her appearance didn't matter there. In fact, nothing about her mattered there as long as she continued to do her chores.

Thick and wavy dark hair fell well below her shoulders. It seemed to have a mind of its own and all she could really do to manage it was keep it in a tight braid, even though loose strands often broke free throughout the day, much to her annoyance. The features on her heart shaped face were slightly sunken in due to years of malnourishment, but she could tell that she had broad high cheekbones and a pointed chin, and a small upturned nose. Her deep set eyes were hazel as if they couldn't make up their mind whether they wanted to be green or brown. A pale pink scar on her plump bottom lip was the only imperfection marking her face and yet another reminder of her life with the Dursleys. Trying and failing to give herself a smile, Violet huffed out a frustrated breath and stormed from the washroom.

When the rest of her roommates were dressed and ready they descended the stairs to find the first year Ravenclaw boy's waiting in the common room.

"We thought we might all go down together," Michael said by way of greeting the girls.

"Michael just doesn't want to get lost," Anthony Goldstein commented causing the small group to laugh and Michael to scowl as they exited the common room.

The first day went by in a blur as Violet and the other Ravenclaws raced from class to class while trying to understand the layout of the castle. Unfortunately, and much to Michael's displeasure, the group did get lost one or two times but still managed to make it to each class with a few minutes to spare. Being in Ravenclaw was certainly challenging as every member of their house was determined to be the first to raise their hand and answer every question correctly. There was an unspoken agreement between the house members that knowledge was the key to power and they were all going to push each other to be the best. The group might have been competitive but there was a sense of comradery amongst them all; that they had finally found people who valued intelligence, creativity, and drive as much as they did.

Much to Violet's dismay, Ravenclaw shared most of their classes with Gryffindor which meant she was subject to the Neville Longbottom show much more than she would have preferred. He had already formed a group of followers and was never far from adoring students hanging on his every word. As the two houses took their seats in the Transfiguration classroom he shot Violet a glare telling her he hadn't forgotten her previous rejection of him the night before.

Violet found Professor McGonagall to be a stern but fair woman. Even though she was head of Gryffindor House she made sure to be unbiased in her awarding of house points and expected the same amount of work and effort from all the students that she taught. Their first assignment was to turn matches into needles which turned out to be more difficult than it appeared. Transfiguration was not only just about the will of the caster but required a solid knowledge of the object you were trying to make take shape. The caster literally had to change reality. Violet had spent most of her life dreaming, so altering reality wasn't all that different to her, which allowed her to transform the match on her third try.

"Oh well done, Miss Potter! Your father was particularly good at Transfiguration as well," the woman said fondly causing Violet to blush slightly under the praise. Hermione managed to transform her match as well and by the end of the lesson the two girls had earned their House ten points.

By the end of the week, it was apparent to most of the faculty that Violet and Hermione were the ones to watch, especially when they worked together. The actual practice of casting different spells came much easier to Violet while understanding the theoretical framework behind them was easier for Hermione. As they didn't have many classes together, Draco had taken to occasionally sitting with the girls during mealtimes. Draco already had complete command over the other first years in his house so if it bothered them, they certainly won't going to show it. It didn't cause an issue with the Ravenclaw students as they seemed to be the only house that wasn't constantly suspicious of their Slytherin peers.

"Violet, Hermione," Draco began one Friday morning as he sat down at the Ravenclaw table; "I'd like to introduce Theodore Nott."

"How do you do," a handsome looking boy light brown hair and pale green eyes asked the girls as he took the seat right next to Draco. Violet had seen him in the library a few times throughout the first few days of classes, but he was always alone and never seemed to be a part of the Draco's normal group of Slytherin followers.

"We were actually just wondering what to expect in our first potions lessons. I heard that Professor Snape made Hannah Abbott cry in the first fifteen minutes of class!" Hermione said. Both Draco and Theo shared a smirk as they looked at the teacher's table to find their head of house already scowling at the students pouring in for breakfast.

"Yes, but she's a Hufflepuff. Not like it would take much," Draco responded earning him a slight smirk from Violet and a disapproving frown from Hermione.

Gulping down the last of her pumpkin juice Violet began to stand up from the table; "Come on, Hermione. You can lecture Draco later. We need to get to the dungeons." She nodded goodbye to both Draco and Theodore and began to head towards the doors.

"Honestly Draco, could you at least try to be -" Hermione stopped her speech when she realized that Violet was already halfway to the doors. Sighing loudly, she hurriedly packed up her things and turned from the table. "It was nice to meet you, Theodore," she mumbled quickly before running after Violet.

They made it to the dungeons with a few minutes to spare and leaned against the cool stone wall as they waited for the rest of their classmates to appear. Violet turned her head to look down the hallway and groaned when she saw the familiar gold and red colors of Gryffindor.

"Why do all of our classes have to be with them?" She asked Hermione in an aggravated whisper. "I can't stand how high and mighty their house acts, like they run the school or something."

"Are you sure you're talking about the House and not just Longbottom?"

"Why not both?" Violet responded and took a deep calming breath as Neville and his gang neared them. It was frustrating that Neville seemed to be fairly proficient at spell casting and was towards the top of the Gryffindor class; it made his ego and fan group even larger.

"I can't stand the overgrown bat," Ron Weasley had just finished saying as the group of Gryffindor's stood behind them in line. "I mean everyone hates him," he said as he looked up at Neville for approval.

"Well, of course. He takes points away from Gryffindor for no reason! It's so obvious that he just enjoys punishing our house. I ought to have a talk with Dumbledore about him," Neville said. At the mention of his close association with Dumbledore, several members of Neville's fan group shared excited glances. "Snape's a right git," another one said hoping for more approval from Neville.

"You shouldn't talk about a Professor that way," Violet hissed at the group behind her. Hermione and the rest of the first year Ravenclaws nodded enthusiastically in agreement. Hermione didn't know Professor Snape but the thought of being rude to a teacher horrified her.

Ron stepped between her and Neville; "Of course, you'd stand up for him. You're just as slimy as anyone in Slytherin. I'd say that-"

Ron was cut off by the acerbic voice of Severus Snape; "Ten points from Gryffindor and a detention with me, Weasley." Without sparing Ron another glance he marched to the front of the line and entered his classroom with the first years scurrying in after him.

Violet and Hermione took the table in the front of the room with the rest of Ravenclaw sliding in next to them. Unsurprisingly, the Gryffindor's kept to the back hoping to avoid Snape's ire. He stood at the front of the class with a bored look on his face which quickly turned into a look of contempt as he beheld the class.

"There will be no foolish wand waving or silly incantations in this class. As such, I don't expect many of you to enjoy the subtle science and exact art that is potion brewing. However, for those select few," he paused and gave Violet a meaningful look before turning back to the class, "who possess the predisposition; I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death."

He glanced around the room again as if he could tell just by looking which students would excel in his class; when his sight landed on Neville his smile became downright vicious.

"Mr. Longbottom. Our. New. Celebrity." Each word was pronounced slowly and carefully. It reminded Violet of watching someone sharpen a knife. "Tell me, what would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"

From the blank look on his face it was clear that Neville didn't know the answer. Violet could tell that Hermione's hand was about to shoot into the air so she grabbed it. Hermione looked at her questioningly, so Violet mouthed "enjoy the show."

"I don't know, sir," he replied.

"No? Let's try again with something a little easier," he said clearly enjoying how uncomfortable he was making Neville. "Tell me where you would look if I asked you to find me a bezoar?"

Neville's face was becoming slightly red in frustration as he repeated "I don't know, sir" for the second time.

Without missing a second, Snape pressed on "and what is the difference between Monkshood and Wolfbane?"

"I don't know, sir" Neville ground out, clearly reaching his limit as his hands curled into fists.

Snape flashed a triumphant smirk, "Pity. Clearly, fame isn't everything. Is it, Longbottom?"

The rest of the class proceeded without incident and Violet found that she had indeed inherited her mother's potions instincts. Brewing came naturally to her and she only needed to read the instructions once before starting the brewing process. She felt like she had some inherent instinct when it came to understanding the different properties of different ingredients, like they were all speaking to her in a secret language.

The next few weeks were probably the most peaceful in Violet's life. So many years had been spent without being given any opportunities. The Dursleys had made sure that any agency had been stripped away from her the moment she had arrived on their doorstep, but here at Hogwarts Violet was encouraged to excel. She took every opportunity the school offered her and ran with it. Having grown up with nothing, she appreciated everything.

Violet, Hermione, Draco, and surprisingly Theodore Nott had taken to studying together every day in the library when their free periods overlapped. Draco instantly took a liking to Theo as he was one of the few people who didn't seem to care about the 'Malfoy' last name. It was clear that Theo was different from most of his fellow Slytherins as he didn't bother with the social posturing that took place within his House and spent most of his time with his nose in a book. The four could often be found tucked in the corner of the library bent over a large text, debating with each other on different theoretical magical theories, or simply enjoying one another's company.

The group was on their way back to their respective common rooms from the library one night when the stairs in the grand hall began to move.

"Oh, it's going to take us forever to get back now," Violet sighed.

"Well, let's just go this way," Draco said pointing in the direction of the corridor that the stairs had turned to. The group walked through a few darkly light corridors covered in spider webs. It was clear that this part of the castle wasn't used by students on a regular basis.

Hermione shifted nervously and glanced back in the direction they came; "Where exactly are we? Does anyone else feel like we shouldn't be here?"

"That's because we're not supposed to be here. It's the third floor. It's forbidden." Theo whispered.

Before the group could decide if they wanted to continue forward or head back to the stairs, they heard the mad cackling of Peeves the poltergeist.

"Run!" Violet said with urgency; "if he sees us he'll report us to Filch for sure." The group began running towards the end of the corridor with the torches on the wall lighting up as they ran. There was a single door at the end of the hall, which unlocked with a simple 'alohomora' from Hermione. They held their breaths the few moments it took for them to be sure that Peeves hadn't spotted them.

"Um, guys?" Violet said in a meek voice that was quickly drowned out by the sound of growling. The other three students turned around to see a giant three headed dog staring directly at them. Drool dripping from its fangs as it began to lunge for them. Screaming and running even faster than before the group bolted from the room. They didn't stop running until they all reached their own common rooms.

Violet gripped the side of a couch in the common room as she tried to catch her breath. It was late at night and most of the occupants of Ravenclaw tower were asleep, so luckily no one else had noticed the state that she and Hermione had arrived in.

"Did you see what it was standing over," Hermione asked when she had finally caught her breath.

Violet nodded; "it has to be guarding something. There is no other reason to keep that thing locked up in a school."

Hermione agreed as the two made their way up to their dormitory, both deciding that they had enough excitement for one night.

*Chapter 7*: Chapter 7

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise and do not seek to make any sort of profit from the distribution of this fictional work.

Rated: M


A/N: So this is where a lot of the AU/Canon divergence begins. First Year is going to be somewhat short with each year becoming longer. Thanks so much for reading and for the reviews! :)

Chapter 7: Halloween

If Violet knew how difficult the day was going to be when she had woken up that morning, she would have stayed in bed. As she was attempting and failing to braid her hair, she realized that it was eleven years ago, to the date, that her parents had died. She had never known the date before as Petunia couldn't be bothered to give her any actual details about her parents; so the reality of their deaths was always safely tucked away into her subconscious, floating around but never at the forthright of her thoughts.

However since she had entered the Wizarding World her parents had become more and more real to her. She could feel their presence in so many aspects of her life: her talents for transfiguration and potions, the ease with which she could ride a broom, her wild stubborn hair, and her fierce loyalty to those she cared for. The more she discovered about her parents the harder the loss of them hit her. It was both comforting and isolating to know that she was so much like the two of them, that the short time they had all spent together had so fundamentally shaped who she was as a person. She felt like she was meeting them for the first time after she had already said goodbye.

Hermione had noticed that Violet was looking forlorn on the way down to breakfast but decided that she would talk to her about it when she was ready. It didn't take a genius, which Hermione was, to know what today meant to Violet. The two girls found Draco and Theo sitting at the Ravenclaw table with grimaces on their faces as they looked at the floating jack-o-lanterns, plastic bats, and neon orange streamers that hung from the enchanted ceiling.

Desperate to save her friend from her melancholy thoughts, Hermione quickly took charge of the breakfast conversation: "You two should be careful or your faces might get stuck like that and then what would poor Pansy do if 'Drakey' and 'Teddy' were suddenly ugly?"

At the mention of Pansy both boys groaned. It seemed that Pansy had developed quite a crush on both Draco and Theo and was often found hanging all over them and giggling at every other word they said. Needless to say the constant giggling was beginning to drive everyone in Slytherin house a little crazy.

"Don't say her name or she might come over!" Theo frantically whispered. "She spent all of History of Magic yesterday trying to wink at me. It was so distracting that even Professor Binns noticed and he's dead."

Hermione saw Violet crack a small smile at the image of the most boring and oblivious professor in Hogwarts stopping his lecture to scold Pansy Parkinson for her attempts at flirting.

The breakfast conversation flowed easily after that and Hermione was relieved to see Violet's mood brightening with each sarcastic comment from Draco and witty observation from Theo. An enchanted plastic bat flew between the group's heads as they were finishing breakfast causing Draco and Theo to once again scowl.

"Seriously, what is it with you two?" Hermione asked. "You'd think you two were allergic to Halloween or something."

"It isn't Halloween for us," Draco said as he contemplated hexing the fake bat.

"What do you mean?" She asked as she began to look around the Great Hall to see many of the pureblood students glaring at the decorations with the same contempt as Draco and Theo. The conversation peaked Violet's interest and she too was looking at Draco and Theo with a puzzled expression.

"It's Samhain, a Spirit Night," Draco began. "The veil between the worlds is lifted as the dead make their journey through our world to the next, meaning talking with ancestors and the departed will be easiest tonight. Witches and wizards have been honoring the dead this night since before Morgan le Fay and Merlin formed the first peace between the Dark and the Light," he finished while glaring at Dumbledore's jack-o-lantern inspired robes.

"We build bonfires to cleanse the previous year and prepare for the new and perform rituals to honor the Dark mother. We feast in the name of the dead and leave extra seats at our tables. Every dark creature feels the touch of magic on this day. It's a holy night; a night of magic and chaos."

"So it's only for wizards and witches with a dark affinity?" Hermione asked uncertainly. She couldn't believe that she hadn't read about any of this in her textbooks. She made a note to go to the library after charms to take out every book she could find on Samhain.

"There is light and darkness in each of us, Hermione. Magic does not pick a side. It reminds us to honor the dual nature of man. Every witch and wizard owes a debt to magic for the gift which they have been given. To shun one side is to shun magic. Tonight, we honor the darkness for without darkness one cannot appreciate the light," interjected the faraway sounding voice of Violet. The three students looked at her in surprise to find Violet staring blankly into the distance with eyes the color of molten gold. She blinked owlishly causing her eyes to return to their usual hazel.

"Um, sorry," she mumbled awkwardly and began to gather her books while avoiding any eye contact with her friends. "I don't know where that came from. I'll see you guys later." Violet practically ran from the Great Hall and proceeded to lose her breakfast in the closest girl's bathroom.

Violet sat away from Hermione in Charms and avoided looking at her friend throughout the class. She was too embarrassed from what happened at breakfast and she didn't know how to explain what exactly had happened. She remembered listening to Draco explain the Old Ways when she suddenly began to feel her magic surge, it had made her feel like she had just woken up from a long sleep. What happened from there was a bit hazy. The Dursley's had constantly reminded her how different she was from them. They used it as way to illustrate how she would and could never be accepted by anyone. Violet was finally finding a sense of belonging in the Wizarding World but she worried that her display at breakfast would cause her friends to abandon her. 'No one wants to be friends with a freak,' she thought sadly.

"Now remember the wrist movement we've been practicing. Swish and flick," Professor Flitwick squeaked while standing atop a high pile of books; drawing Violet out of her thoughts. She was endlessly fond of her Head of House. He had a very hands off approach to leading, seeming to trust the Ravenclaws enough to leave them to their own means but his door was always open to them. She could tell he was a kind, if eccentric, soul.

Violet was soon able to lose herself in the concentration of the spell. Trying to make an object float was more difficult that she had thought. She swished and flicked with the rest of the class but nothing happened. She tried to channel her magic but her thoughts were too unfocused, so instead she took to glaring at the feather in front of her.

"Stop. Stop. Stop. You're going to poke somebody's eye out and you're saying it all wrong." Violet heard Hermione snap at Ron Weasley. "It's win-gar-dium levi-o-sa. Make the 'gar' nice and long. Have you been paying attention at all?"

Ron's face turned bright red until it completely matched his hair color. He reminded Violet of a sunburnt tomato. "Well why don't you do it if you're so damn clever," he spat at Hermione.

Hermione gave Ron a condescending look and turned to the feather in front of her. "Wingardium leviosa," she spoke confidently and moved her wand perfectly in the swish and flick motion. The entire class watched as the feather began to rise and float in the directions that Hermione waved her wand.

"Oh well done! Well done indeed, Miss Granger! Ten points to Ravenclaw!" Flitwick excitedly squeaked, the books he was standing on dangerously wobbling under his enthusiasm.

Before Violet could try the spell again there was a small explosion next to her as Seamus Finnegan caused his feather to explode. Both Violet and Seamus were absolutely covered in ash, one look at each other and they burst out laughing. It was the first pleasant interaction between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor since Neville had more or less declared war on Violet and her house back in September. Much of the tension seemed to leave the air as the two houses joined in laughing at the sight.

"Professor, could I be excused early to go and clean up? Violet asked as her laughter was dying down.

"Yes, I think that would be alright," Flitwick squeaked as he tried to regain his composure as the explosion had caused him to fall off his stack of books. Violet packed up her belongings and headed for the door. She didn't see the murderous looks that Ron was giving Hermione.

After she was cleaned up Violet headed to the Ravenclaw common room to find Hermione as it was Friday and charms had been their last class. Not seeing her, Violet shrugged and headed to the library as Hermione was bound to end up there sooner or later. She worked on her transfiguration essay for a few hours until she the growling of her stomach altered her that it was time for dinner. Violet frowned as she entered the great hall and didn't see Hermione sitting at the Ravenclaw table.

She slide in next to Michael and began to pick at a pumpkin pastry. Perhaps it was what Draco had said about Samhain earlier or her odd display at breakfast but Violet had a bad feeling that she just could not shake.

"Has anyone seen Hermione since charms?" Violet asked her housemates.

Padma Patil leaned across the table, eager for a chance to gossip; "Pavarti said that she overheard Weasley saying some really cruel things to her as they were leaving Charms. Lavender told me that she saw Hermione crying in the bathroom, but you know how Lavender can be."

Violet didn't know how Lavender could be but took Padma at her world since she usually spent her time with the girls in Gryffindor.

Violet was just about to get up from the table to look for her friend when Professor Quirrell, perhaps the oddest and most ineffective professor at Hogwarts, came bursting through the Great Doors; "TROLL! TROLL… the dungeon. Thought you might want to know," he said before he passed out.

It took less than a minute for the mass panic to begin as students began screaming and running towards the door. Dumbledore quickly took control of the student body with a very loudly yelled "silence."

"Prefects escort your houses to their dormitories immediately," Dumbledore commanded as he and the other teachers began to file out the side doors. Students began to follow their prefects out of the hall in an orderly but somewhat frantic fashion. Violet had to make a split second decision; she could either follow the rest of her House to assured safety where she could blend in and be forgotten in the crowd, or she could run into the danger and risk it all for Hermione, her friend. It was the easiest decision she ever made.

Once by the stairs, Violet turned and snuck away from her housemates who were still too shaken to notice her absence. She assumed that Hermione would probably be in the bathroom closest to Charms but a quick search found the bathroom empty. She searched the rest of the main bathrooms, except for the ones closest to the dungeon. 'Just my luck,' she thought to herself. As Violet rounded the corner that would take her to the corridor the dungeon bathroom was in, someone grabbed her arm and pulled her back.

"What are you doing down here?" Theo hissed as he and Draco looked at her with concerned and annoyed eyes.

"I could ask you the same question," she responded while shrugging out of his grip.

"We happen to live down here," Draco haughtily replied which earned him a glare from Violet.

He sighed; "Fine. We noticed the calculating look on your face when we were leaving the great hall and knew you were going to run off and do something stupid."

"Why would you go looking for a troll? You're supposed to be in Ravenclaw, not Gryffindor. Of all the-," Theo's lecture stopped mid-sentence as the group was hit with the most repulsive smell in the entire world. It was like rotting meat mixed with an overwhelming amount of raw sewage added for good measure. The three poked their heads around the corner to see an ugly and enormous creature with skin the same color and texture as a rock wandering down the hall. It dragged a large club which scraped against the floor creating an awful and shrill sound. Violet watched with dread as the troll turned and began to head into the girl's bathroom. She went to run after it as Draco and Theo held her back.

"Hermione is in that bathroom!" Violet said frantically as she tried to break out of their grip.

The boys released her instantly and pulled out their wands, "why didn't you just say that to begin with," Theo yelled as the three made their way into the bathroom.

They found Hermione hiding under a sink surrounded by total destruction while the troll swung its club against the wooden bathroom stalls, smashing them instantly. Splinters of wood and water from broken pipes began to fall around the bathroom like rain. The troll began to raise its club to hit the sink that Hermione was hiding under when Theo threw a piece of the shattered wood at its head. Draco and Violet both picked up pieces and threw them as well, which finally caused the troll to turn its attention on them. It swung in their direction but the three were able to dive out of the way as the troll hit nothing but air. Unfortunately, this began to infuriate it and it began to swing again and again in random and violent motions. Mirrors shattered, porcelain sinks split into millions of pieces, and even more water from broken pipes began to pour into the bathroom. Theo had managed to crawl over to Hermione while Violet and Draco were stuck on opposite sides of the bathroom wall.

Violet watched as the troll turned its full attention on her. She tried to run to the other side of the bathroom but it reached out and managed to catch her in its grip. Hermione screamed as it began to raise its club to hit Violet.

"WINGARDIUM LEVIOSA!" Draco shouted at the club which caused it to float out of the trolls grip. The troll looked up stupidly at the now floating club, as Draco released the spell causing it to hit the troll atop the head. It stumbled back slightly but still remained standing.

Violet began to have trouble breathing as it tightened its grip around her waist. Her entire life had been spent suffocating at the Dursleys, so she supposed it would be fitting for her to die by suffocation as well. She was almost ready to give in to the darkness forming around her eyes when she saw the horrified and desperate looks on Hermione, Draco, and Theo's faces. They weren't horrified because of the troll, they were horrified for her; they cared about her. They would notice if she just disappeared.

Her magic came alive. The hazel eyes turned gold as power surged through her veins. She could see everything in perfect clarity as if the world had stopped for just a moment. Her hair began to stand on its ends as electricity filled the air. Lightning began to surge its way out of her skin until she was covered in purple strands of electric energy that formed perfectly over her body. Lightning took over her form.

The troll began to wince in pain as it couldn't understand what was happening. Violet grabbed the troll's arm with both of her hands and concentrated on extending the lightning bolts outward like the web of a spider until the troll was completely surrounded by the bolts. She then let go of its arm collapsing the electric web of energy in on the troll; it screamed in pain as the lightning bolts fell on its skin, completely electrocuting it. The surge of energy caused the rest of the mirrors and windows in the bathroom to shatter. The troll fell to the ground taking Violet with it and as her head hit the marble of the floor she was wrapped in blissful darkness.

Violet found herself in a cozy sitting room that she had never seen before. It was beautifully decorated in various shades of golds and creams. The walls and floors seemed to be made of stone but the roaring white marble fireplace ensured that the room felt warm and welcoming. The high ceiling and arched bay windows made the small space seem infinitely larger as golden sunlight poured in and reflected against the stone walls. The furniture consisted of two elegant but comfortable looking wingback chairs that were turned in front of the fire. Various orchids of all different colors lined the walls. The air smelled of cypress and saffron. Violet looked down and saw that instead of her school uniform she was wearing a simple white silk dress that elegantly hung from her small frame. She examined her hands and arms and found no injuries.

"Am I….am I dead?" She wondered aloud. If this was the afterlife it didn't seem so bad, it was definitely peaceful but it wasn't what she had expected.

A soft feminine chuckle alerted her to the fact that she wasn't the only person in the room. She turned around to see a beautiful woman with long white hair and pale skin in shimmering black robes that were reminiscent of a starless night. The woman wore a circlet of woven silver in the shape of small leaves which sparkled as the sunlight hit it. Her robes seemed to attract the sun's rays as sunlight followed her about the room. Her face was ageless and serene like she had never experienced the mortal concept of time. Soft golden eyes stared back at Violet as she finished her observations of the woman.

"You are not dead, Violet Potter. You will awaken shortly" she softly spoke as she glided over to one of the chairs and gracefully sat down. She gestured for Violet to take the other chair.

"But where are we"; Violet asked as she cautiously took the empty seat.

"The in-between," the woman responded without explanation.

Violet couldn't tell if the woman was being intentionally vague or if that was just how she spoke. She decided to try a more direct approach; "who are you?"

The woman looked into the fire before responding; "I am a guardian of magic. I preserve the natural balance of the earth, the sea, and the sky. I bring the dawn and the dusk. I have not had a name for many decades but you may call me Ione."

"A guardian?" Violet had never heard of magic having protectors but then again she hadn't been in the Wizarding World very long.

"There are an infinite amount of guardians. We protect and serve magic. We are the conduit which allows mortals to have a small piece of this gift. Magic chooses those to bless and we ensure her power is gifted." Ione turned back to Violet and stared at her with an endless sadness in her eyes: "The world of man has forgotten. The connection severed."

Violet was unsure how to respond. After all, she had only been aware of her magic for two months, she wondered if the woman viewed her as part of the problem. "I'm sorry," she said and looked down at her hands while she gathered her courage to ask the question she most wanted to know but dreaded hearing the answer for; "why am I here?"

"You are the needle and the thread. The Bringer of Light and the Savior of Darkness. Like me you are connected to the earth, the sky, and the sea. The balance must be preserved and magic embraced."

Violet felt her heart sinking with each word that the woman spoke. She just wanted freedom, a quiet life away from the Dursleys. She didn't need or want some grand adventure. "No," she whispered and pleadingly looked into Ione's golden eyes; "I'm...I'm just Violet. I'm nobody. This must all just be some mistake."

Ione gave her a soft smile, "We are never just one thing, Violet Potter. We cannot be put into just one box. We cannot hide from who we truly are, not really. This path would not have been given to you if you were unable to walk it. I have seen the pain which you have had to endure and I see the pain that yet waits. Know that I am always with you even in your most desperate hour."

Violet tried to control her breathing; "No. You're wrong. This must just be in my head or something. I can't do this. I don't know how to 'bring balance and embrace magic'. I don't want to be a part of this war. I don't want any of this," she whispered while clenching her hands into fists. In her panic she could feel tears threatening to fall from her eyes.

Ione stood and kissed the young girl on her forehead. "You can do anything if you dare. The elements respond to your call and shape to your will; as will the creatures of earth and sky if you ask them. The friends you have will keep you close and be your guides. Have faith in them. Have faith in yourself. We will meet again, Violet."

Violet awoke with a gasp to the stark white walls of the Hogwarts infirmary. She felt the wetness of tears on her cheeks but as she went to wipe them away she noticed her right arm was in a sling. In fact it seemed like her whole body was either bandaged or sore or both. Her head had a dull ache that probably meant the pain-away potion was wearing off.

As her senses were coming back to her, she realized that she wasn't alone. Hermione was curled up next to her while Draco and Theo were asleep in chairs right next to her bed. Violet couldn't help but smile when she realized how innocent the two Slytherin's faces looked when they were asleep. She doubted she would ever be able to express to the three of them how much it meant that they were here, that she wasn't alone.

Madam Pomfrey, the ever diligent nurse, seemed to notice the second Violet awoke and began to bustle over to examine her patient; "Alright dear, let me change the bandage on your arm and you're due for another dose of potion."

As she began her examinations, Hermione, Draco, and Theo quickly woke up with concerned eyes.

"What did I tell you, Mr. Malfoy? Ms. Potter will be perfectly fine. I'll allow you three to continue to stay but if you cause any distress to my patient you'll be out of here faster than you can flick a wand," Pomfrey said sternly as she shoved a pain-away potion into Violet's hand and began to head back to her office.

"Hey guys," Violet managed weakly as the effects of the potions began to dull her senses. Hermione rushed to hug her as Draco and Theo both let out breaths they seemed to have been holding since they had woken up.

"I'm so relieved you're all right. We couldn't get you out of the troll's hand after you both had fallen. We're lucky that the teachers were right down the hall," Hermione cried as she released Violet and leaned against the headboard of the hospital bed.

"How did you get Pomfrey to let you stay;" Violet asked as it was unusual for the matron to allow her patients to have visitors for more than 10 minutes.

Draco smirked, "I threatened to tell my father about how much danger Dumbledore had let four first years be in. He's on the Hogwarts Board of Governors. I think Dumbledore decided it wouldn't be worth the effort to keep us from the infirmary," he finished in his usual aristocratic tone. "Of course, I'll still be telling my father, but let Dumbledore believe what he wants."

"Why am I not surprised?" Violet playfully chided.

Draco shrugged unapologetically as he stretched his legs out from the underneath him. Violet began to remember how exactly she had stopped the troll from crushing her and swallowed nervously, "what did you tell the professors about how...about what happened to the troll?"

"We told them Draco hit it on the head with its club and then it fell," Theo said simply. He leaned in and quickly looked around the room to make sure Pomfrey was still in her office; "whatever spell you used didn't leave any marks on it so as far as the teachers are concerned it died when it fell. We thought it would be better if the professors weren't aware of what you did." Hermione and Draco nodded in agreement.

Violet turned her head to Hermione; "You lied to a professor? I'm shocked Hermione," she teased.

Hermione rolled her eyes and stuck her nose haughtily up in the air; "We didn't lie. Draco did hit the troll on the head and it did fall to the ground. Besides, whatever you did was most definitely against the rules. I wasn't going to let you get into trouble for saving me," she finished quietly.

"What did you do?" Draco asked.

Violet thought back to her conversation with Ione and decided she wasn't ready to even begin to address what had happened, but she owed her friends some honesty.

"I don't know. I remember my vision darkening and then it was like my magic just came alive. I could feel it surging through me. I knew I wanted the troll to stop so I sort of released my magic outward and then you know the rest;" Violet was afraid to look at their faces. She was still worried that they would reject her.

"It was brilliant!" Draco said eagerly.

Theo nodded in agreement as he began to comb through his memory for any information he might have read about magic like that; "Has this kind of thing ever happened before?"

"Only when I'm really angry or upset. I can't really control it and I can't just bring it out whenever I want." Theo nodded in understanding.

"So, it doesn't bother you all?" Violet asked quickly and scanned their faces for any hint of anger or fear.

She felt Hermione put her hand on her arm; "We're your friends, Vi. Please have a little faith in us."

Violet smiled at the nickname and at the sentiment. The conversation soon turned to much lighter topics until Madam Pomfrey decided that Violet needed to rest more and shooed the three from the infirmary. Even though the previous two days had completely turned Violet's world upside down, she dozed off in the infirmary feeling much lighter than she ever had.

*Chapter 8*: Chapter 8

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise and do not seek to make any sort of profit from the distribution of this fictional work.

Rated: M


Chapter 8: Heart's Desire

The crisp fall surrounding Hogwarts soon turned to a winter chill as frost began to decorate the endless amount of windows about the school. The walkways around the grounds were coated in fresh snow and icicles hung from almost every archway. It was beautiful but painfully cold with many students opting to stay indoors where crackling fires and warm butterbeer put everyone in cheerful moods.

Violet, Hermione, Draco and Theo were all seated at their usual table in the library. The events on Halloween had brought the group even closer. Violet had thought she had caught Dumbledore staring at her more frequently over the last month but she decided not to pay it too much attention. Most of the other professors continued to treat her as they always had, except for Snape, who had lectured her for more than fifteen minutes on the foolishness of her actions and suggested she should have been put in Gryffindor for her idiotic heroic tendencies. He then awarded her five points for 'sheer dumb luck.' Draco and Theo received similar lectures from their Head of House and five points each as well.

As the group finished their charms homework the conversation turned to what everyone was doing for the holidays. At the request of Hermione and Violet, Draco and Theo had begun to tell the girls about traditional wizard culture and soon both girls had a somewhat detailed understanding of the Old Ways. Hermione was fascinated to learn about how each wizarding holiday revolved around one's connection to magic; it made Violet nervous.

"Why don't they offer a Wizard Study Course? We've got Muggle Studies but nothing for muggleborns to have the opportunity to learn about wizard culture. I've searched the library for tomes on Samhain and Yule but the only things I can find on them are vague descriptions," Hermione complained as she rolled up her charms homework and began packing her bag. She was horrified at the thought that she was being kept from learning something.

"Because Dumbledore," Draco sneered at the name, "wants everyone to think that the Old Ways are only for purebloods and those who practice the Dark Arts. Our families have had to watch our beliefs and traditions slowly die because the old coot doesn't accept them. It's easier to have the loyalty of the muggleborns if he appeases them." Draco had heard his father give that similar speech several times but the more he saw of how Dumbledore ran Hogwarts the more he began to understand and feel his father's anger.

Hermione and Violet were always unsure how to respond when the topic fell to Dumbledore. They were both raised in the muggle world but they had both felt like outsiders in it. They could feel the rightness of practicing the Old Ways but Dumbledore had never seemed like a threat to them. With his eccentric robes and twinkling eyes, he reminded Violet of someone's grandfather. Her parents had fought on the side of the Light so they must have seen something worth following in the man. However, Draco and Theo both swore that Dumbledore was just as vicious and ruthless as the Dark lords. Thinking about the Light and the Dark made Violet's head hurt; she didn't want any part in their war. The girls left the library and began to make their way back to Ravenclaw tower.

"Are you going home for the holidays?" Hermione asked Violet as she began to shake off the enchanted snow that had fallen into her bushy hair.

Violet stopped her walking and looked out one of the frost colored windows that had a grand view of the school's grounds. She could see that some students, led by the Weasley twins, were having an intense snowball fight in the courtyard below. "I'm not exactly welcome at the Dursleys;" she shivered and pulled her cloak tighter around her.

Hermione waited for her to elaborate but the corridor was getting fairly crowded with students trying to make their way to the snowball fight. Violet opened her mouth to speak but was jostled by two second years carelessly racing to the courtyard. She sighed, "I can't talk about this here. Let's go to the common room."

Later that night the two girls curled up on their favorite couch in front of the roaring fire of the Ravenclaw common room and Violet shared a little bit of what her life was like with the Dursleys. She left out how she was basically their slave, and she left out the physical abuse. There were somethings that she just wasn't ready to talk about, with anyone, but she told Hermione of her cupboard and how her Aunt and Uncle had reacted when Snape had burst through their front door.

"Oh, Vi," Hermione said and she grabbed her friend's hand; "I'm so sorry. I can't imagine how I would feel if my parents had rejected my magic and I can't believe they make you sleep in a cupboard. That's...that's absolutely barbaric! You should tell Dumbledore. There must be something he could do."

Violet shook her head and looked down at the midnight blue carpet of the common room. She began to pluck at the seams of the faded sky blue couch; "It's not so bad. At least I have my own room," she tried to joke.

Hermione didn't find the situation funny but she gave Violet a weak smile in return and decided to share a part of her past. "You know when I was in primary school I didn't have a single friend. Most of the students called me a 'know-it-all' and they loved to tease me about the 'birds nest' on top of my head;" Hermione pulled a strand of her hair for emphasis."One day I was so angry that I accidentally set a boy's hair on fire. I knew that I had done it, but I wasn't sure how. What scared me though wasn't that I had done it, but that I didn't feel bad about it and I still don't. When I got my Hogwarts letter for the first time in my life, I felt special, I felt like I was better than those kids who teased me, because I have magic and they don't," she confessed. "Does that make me a bad person" she nervously asked.

"Hermione, the house elves are terrified to go near you because you keep trying to free them. You tutor Michael and Anthony in potions every week just because they asked you for help once. You're probably the nicest person I've ever met, but that doesn't mean you have to be nice all the time. Magic is a gift and you're right; it does make you special. That's nothing to feel bad about," Violet said.

The two girls became silent as they were content to simply watch the fire burn in front of them as snowflakes bounced off the arched windows around the common room.

Violet was awoken by someone gently shaking her shoulders; "mmm five more minutes," she mumbled and nestled deeper under her soft pale blue duvet cover. Violet gasped a moment later as the covers were yanked off her bed.

"Vi, it's already 11:00. Time to get up!," Hermione said as she dodged a pillow that Violet had chucked at her. She had decided to remain at Hogwarts during the holidays much to Violet's surprise and delight.

"Fine. Fine. I'm up," Violet said between yawns and the two girls proceeded down to the common room to find a pile of presents awaiting each of them. They shared a smile before grabbing a handful of presents to begin opening.

Each girl had received a silver package with the Malfoy family crest on the wrapping paper; it was clear that Draco had certainly kept his parents well informed on his friendships with both Violet and Hermione. The Malfoy's had given Hermione a very rare book about the Hogwarts and it's founders that went into far greater detail than 'Hogwarts: A History' ever did. They gave Violet an elegant new winter cloak in a vibrant forest green shade; its clasps were in the image of a stag's head, the Potter Family crest.

From Draco they each received a simple but beautiful silver bangle with a charm on the end; a feather for Hermione and a lily for Violet. Theo sent each of the girls' books on traditional wizard customs and a few books detailing the various holidays in the Wizarding world with a note;

'Now you two can stop pestering me. Happy Yuletide.

"He complains but you know he loves to any opportunity to lecture at people," Hermione joked.

"Kind of like someone else I know," Violet teased as she handed Hermione her gift.

Hermione unwrapped the blue and bronze packaging and smiled as she pulled out an ornate leather bound notebook with a tree on the cover. The tree's branches and roots covered the entire outside of the journal in a twisting canopy of knots.

"It's enchanted so that only you can read what you've written in it, and I ordered an extension charm on it so you never run out of pages."

"The branches and roots remind me of vine wood like my wand. It's beautiful," Hermione said as she ran her fingers over the image of the tree. She gasped when the tree's colors began to change and glow at her touch.

"It responds to your magic." Violet had also gotten Draco and Theo similar journals, each one specially customized based on the type of wood found in the boys wands.

Violet unwrapped the gift that Hermione had gotten for her. Hermione nervously waited for her reaction. In her hands Violet held an intricately carved golden photo frame. The frame itself was beautiful but it was the photo inside it that left Violet speechless.

It was her parents. They were in their Hogwarts uniforms and looked to be in their seventh year. They were in one of the school's courtyards laughing as James spun Lily around. She twirled and twirled, her long bright orange hair creating a fiery halo around her head. Her face shone with joy as she extended her arms wide while she spun. James was softly smiling as he watched; the total love and adoration apparent in his eyes. He laughed and reached out to catch her before she stumbled. He pulled her to him and placed a soft kiss on her lips as autumn leaves fell down all around them. Violet watched the scene five more times before she could tear her eyes away and look up at Hermione.

"I had asked Madam Pince if Hogwarts had yearbooks and they do, but not like muggles. They just keep a collection of photos that had been taken each year and categorize them. I went through all the photos of the years your parents went to Hogwarts and found that one. It's from their Seventh year," Hermione said quickly, "I'm sorry if-."

"It's perfect," Violet interrupted, "I never knew what they looked like. It's nice to see them happy." Her hands tightened around the frame as she went back to re-watching the scene. She wanted to memorize their faces.

"You have one more Violet," Hermione said.

Violet reluctantly put the photo down and ripped open her last gift. A silvery cloak fell out of the plain wrapping paper and pooled around Violet's feet. She shrugged and swung the cloak around her shoulders. When she looked down she saw that her entire body had become invisible.

"That's an invisibility cloak! They're incredibly rare. Do you know who gave that to you" Hermione asked.

Violet picked up the shredded wrapping paper and found a note written in large loopy cursive:

'Your father left this in my possession before he died. I believe it is time I return it to its rightful owner. May you use it well.'

She passed the note to Hermione who placed it on one of the tables in the common room after she had read it. Violet looked at her with mischief in her eyes that would have made her father proud; "Well Hermione, why don't we go and put this cloak to good use?"

The two girls spent the rest of the day wandering all around the castle under the cloak. They even managed to steal some pumpkin pastries from the kitchens. It was a relief being able to walk the halls without having to worry about being pranked by Peeves or having to explain themselves to Filch.

It was late in the day when they walked by a door that was slightly ajar. "I've never noticed this room before," Violet whispered as she poked her head in to make sure it was empty. The only object in the entire room was a large mirror tucked in the corner. The girls entered and pulled off the cloak as they went to examine the mirror.

"Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi," Violet read the inscription atop the mirror out loud. "I show not your face but your heart's desire."

Hermione nodded; "It's mirrored writing."

Violet stepped back and allowed Hermione to look at the mirror first. She saw Hermione's eyes go wide as the girl pressed her hand against the glass, "I'm older and I'm head girl! I've passed all my N.E.W.T.S. with top marks! I'm being offered a job at the ministry. I'm even older now but still at the ministry. I'm the chief witch of the Wizengamot!"

Hermione's eyes soon became ones of longing and Violet assumed that the mirror was showing her friend other images of a more personal nature and decided not to pry. Hermione stared at those images the longest before she reluctantly stepped away from the mirror.

Violet took a deep breath before stepping in front of the mirror. She saw herself reflected back but behind her stood a man with soft hazel eyes and wavy dark hair and a woman with vibrant green eyes and bright red hair. Even if she hadn't seen their picture she would have been able to tell that they were her parents. She could see that she had her father's hair and eyes while she had mothers nose. They were looking at her with equal parts love and sadness in their eyes, like they knew they weren't really all together.

Then the mirror swirled and Violet saw fire. Through the fire she saw winds of change sweep through the Wizarding World. There were flashes of war. She saw the glowing lights of spells being fired back and forth. Light and darkness clashed and the scene turned to ashes. From the ashes, Violet saw herself but older and more confident looking. She wore long ivory robes that pooled around her feet; a golden leaf crown sparkled atop her dark hair. Hermione, Draco, and Theo were all standing behind her looking on proudly. They were dressed in battle robes and looked to be some kind of advisers.

The scene froze and she felt like she was looking through the ice of a frozen pond. When the image thawed, Violet still saw her older self but she was in a garden. Flowers were blooming around her feet and the golden aura of her magic was shining around her like the sun. There was a man next to her but Violet couldn't make out his face as he was encased in the blackest darkness that rolled off him in waves. His pale skin shone like the moon. Her older self and the man reached for each other; when his darkness collided with her sunlight the world exploded in a vibrant clash of reds, oranges, blues and purples. Violet gasped and fell back from the mirror. Her hands stinging as they caught her fall onto the hard stone ground.

"Ah. I see you two have discovered the Mirror of Erised" spoke a voice full of wisdom and disarming kindness.

Violet was still trying to regain her bearings so Hermione spoke first; "Yes, we're sorry Headmaster. We didn't mean to intrude but the door was open." She cast a worried glance at Violet who looked like she was going to be sick.

Dumbledore also noticed Violet's distress; "Tell me what you saw, child," he kindly said but both girls could hear the underlying command in his tone.

She looked down at the ground. She didn't want to lie to the Headmaster but something in her gut told her not to tell him the specifics of what she had seen. It would be difficult to explain anyway. Wringing her hands she decided to tell him a half truth. If there was one thing being friends with Draco had taught her it was the most believable lie had some amount of the truth in it.

"I saw myself earning top marks on my N.E.W.T.S. and then becoming a Potions Mistress," she lied. Violet sighed and looked up at Professor Dumbledore's twinkling eyes. "I also saw my parents," she said quietly.

The twinkle in his eyes had dimmed slightly and he gave her a sorrowful smile; "It does not do well to dwell on what could have been and forget to live in the present. Now, I think you two ought to run off to bed."

Relieved that they hadn't been punished Violet and Hermione set off quickly for Ravenclaw tower. Exhausted from exploring the castle all day they headed up to their dormitory to get some much needed rest. Violet climbed into her plush four poster bed and fell asleep clutching the framed picture of her parents.

*Chapter 9*: Chapter 9

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise and do not seek to make any sort of profit from the distribution of this fictional work.

Rated: M


Chapter 9: March and Onward

Draco and Violet were finishing their DADA homework in the library as they joked about how foolish Neville had looked at breakfast that morning.

"The sad part is I think he was actually posing while he was trying to eat his breakfast. I've never seen anyone try so hard to look so serious while eating pancakes," Violet whispered. Madam Pince had already lectured the duo to keep their voices down several times.

"He's a buffoon. I didn't tell you this at the time because I didn't want a lecture from you and Hermione but I challenged him to a Wizard's duel earlier in the year. He agreed but then never showed up. Pathetic." Draco said. He sighed when he saw that Violet was getting ready to lecture him anyway.

Draco was saved from hearing about how he needed to control his temper by Hermione and Theo walking into the library with triumphant smiles on their faces. When they reached their table Hermione slammed the book she had gotten from Draco's parents down on the table in excitement. "We've figured it out," she announced enthusiastically.

"SHH," came the hissing voice of Madam Pince, "If I have to remind you again then I'm banning you lot from the library for the rest of the week." Hermione blushed and quickly apologized to the angry librarian.

"Figured out what," Draco asked.

"What that three-headed dog is guarding," Theo whispered excitedly. Madam Pince's threat hadn't lessened his excitement in the least.

Draco and Violet shared a look; it wasn't that they had forgotten about the incident with the three-headed monstrosity but they were both content to pretend it had never happened. Hermione and Theo on the other hand couldn't stand mysteries of any kind. They both had to know everything about well, everything.

"And," Draco asked in a bored tone. He wanted to get back to his favorite pastime of making fun of Longbottom.

Hermione rolled her eyes; "It's guarding the Philosopher's Stone! Don't you see? The break in that happened at Gringotts at the beginning of the year, the three-headed dog, the troll, and the banned corridor? It's all connected." She let out a frustrated sigh when she saw the blank expressions on both Violet and Draco's faces.

Theo was the more patient out of the two of them so he took over explaining; "Dumbledore is famous for three things: leading the Light, his discovery on the twelve uses of dragon's blood, and his work in alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel." Theo pointed to the book that Hermione had slammed on the table. "That book mentions that Flamel is most famous for his creation of the Philosopher's Stone which is used to create the Elixir of Life."

Theo paused and glanced around the library to make sure no one else was in earshot; "We asked McGonagall if she knew anything about the stone and she told us not to concern ourselves with it and that it was well protected. Flamel must have asked Dumbledore to keep it safe for him since they are such good friends," Theo finished triumphantly.

"From the break-in at Gringotts, it's clear that somebody else wants the stone. Badly." Hermione whispered. She looked at Theo who gave her a solemn nod; "Grindelwald," they said in unison. Draco's eyes went wide and Violet felt the whole world stop.

It was early May and Violet had been debating with herself for months about what she should do with the information that Hermione and Theo had discovered. If Grindelwald really was after the stone then didn't Longbottom have a right to know? After all as 'the Boy Who Lived' he was higher on Grindelwald's revenge list than she was. The only problem was that every time she had decided she was going to warn him, he would act like a complete prat. It was possible that he could already know if he and Dumbledore really were as close as he always bragged.

She frowned as she stared at the blank parchment at the table in front of her. She was sitting in her usual spot in the library and was attempting to begin to study for her end of term finals. Running her fingers along the faded wood of the table, she thought about what it would mean if Grindelwald returned. The war most certainly would begin again; a war that she wanted no part of. She hadn't seen Ione since their first encounter but the words that she had spoken had been burned into her memory. Violet crumpled up the blank parchment in frustration.

"I see studying is going well," Theo joked as he sat down across from her. His brown shaggy hair was ruffled as he usually forgot to comb it. From the way many first year girls seemed to sigh whenever he walked by it was clear that Theo was going to be very handsome when he was older. He had the makings of a chiseled jaw line and pale green eyes that showed the intelligence of the boy underneath. He was handsome in a careless kind of way which contrasted perfectly to the always put-together appearance of Draco.

Violet half-heartedly glared at him and went back to examining the faded wood of the table. Theo un-crumpled the parchment and began to use it for his own study notes. The two sat in companionable silence as Theo studied and Violet continued to glare at inanimate objects and occasionally at him. He knew she wasn't actually mad at him, but Violet always seemed to have a hard time expressing herself. Their peace and quiet was disturbed by a bunch of laughter coming from the entrance of the library.

"Great. Here comes Longbottom and his fan club," Theo sighed and began to pack up his books. He wasn't in the mood for a confrontation today but it seemed luck wasn't on his side as Violet had gotten up and marched over to Longbottom. He couldn't hear what she said but saw that Longbottom was sporting an arrogant smirk after she had spoken. The two then left his fan group and moved farther back into the library.

"Look Longbottom," Violet sighed when she had made sure that none of his cronies had followed. "I know that we don't exactly get along but I think there is something that you should know." She was unable to say anymore as Longbottom had cut her off;

"I knew you'd come crawling back. Finally figure out that dark scum and Slytherin filth make for poor friends?" He sneered at her before continuing; "I don't make the same offers twice, but for you I might make an exception but you'd have to convince me that you're worth it." He began to examine his fingernails like he was already bored with their conversation.

Violet was already in a foul mood but Longbottom's little speech put her over the edge. Before he could react she pulled out her wand and hurled a stinging hex right at his arrogant face. She felt an immense amount of satisfaction at the look of pure shock that flashed across his features when the force of her spell caused him to fall backward. She prepared for his counter-strike but failed to see Ron Weasley running up behind her. Ron raised his want to fire a jinx straight into her back but he was interrupted by Theo throwing a leg-locking jinx at him. Ron tripped and then turned his full attention on Theo. He shot a bat-boogey hex at him but Theo managed to duck in time; the spell hit a bookshelf behind him, causing all of the books to fall out onto the floor. The two then began to fire a multitude hexes and jinxes at one another.

Meanwhile Neville had recovered from his fall. His face was swollen but he could still see just fine. "You'll pay for that! Flippendo," he hissed and waved his wand.

"Protego," Violet yelled and barely managed to get her shield up in time. He had put a lot of force into the spell; it rebounded off of Violet's shield and into another set of bookshelves knocking them over. She twirled her wand and fired the tempest charm at Neville who this time managed to dodge it. It hit another bookshelf, singeing several books in the process. Books and torn pages began to rain down among the four dueling students who, in their inexperience with dueling, were doing more damage to the library than to each other.

The high pitched scream of Madam Pince stopped all four in their tracts. "Look what you've done," she shrieked. "These are priceless, priceless tomes, and you've used them for spell practice! The nerve! You are all banned from the library for the rest of the school year. FIFTY POINTS from each of your houses and detention! Detention for all of you!" The library probably hadn't seen or heard that much excitement since Madam Pince began her reign as head librarian.

News of the infamous duel had spread throughout the entire school by dinner time. Draco couldn't stop laughing and found the whole affair endlessly amusing. The cherry on top was that the swelling in Longbottom's face hadn't yet gone down by dinner causing him to look like an over inflated balloon.

"Oh, that's hilarious," he said as he wiped the tears from all his laughter from his eyes. "I only wish I had been there to see Vi hex that prat. I bet the look on his face was priceless."

They were all sitting underneath a large oak tree in one of the many courtyards on the Hogwarts grounds. The warm spring weather drew most of the students outside who wanted to enjoy the fresh breezes and sweet smells of the blossoming spring after being cooped up inside during the harsh winter months.

"Draco!" Hermione scolded. She then narrowed her eyes and turned her full glare on Violet and Theo; "I honestly expected better from the two of you! That kind of stunt has Draco's name all over it-"


Hermione ignored Draco's interruption; "How are you two going to study for finals now? Because of your antics, Madam Pince isn't letting anyone check books out for the rest of the year! You just had to duel in the library. The Library!" she fumed.

Her face turned thoughtful after a moment and she looked at Theo. "You did hit Weasley with a few jinxes, right?" Theo nodded and Hermione's eyes took on a vengeful quality as she remembered all the cruel things he had said to her earlier in the year. "Good," she said simply and gave him a small smile.

Madam Pince had taken her time to think of the worst possible detention to give the four students for desecrating her sacred library. So it was with dread that Violet and Theo made their way to Hagrid's hut to serve their detention.

"Why we have to be down here so late at night is beyond me," Theo yawned.

"I don't know but I have a really bad feeling about this," Violet sighed. Theo patted her on the back in a brotherly sort of way and Violet felt herself relax slightly. It was amazing what having the support of others could do for one's self-confidence. They found Hagrid already waiting outside with Neville and Ron.

Hagrid smiled at them and began to explain that they would be going into the forest. Ron's face became paler and paler with each word that Hagrid spoke; "We c-c-can't go in there," he stuttered and gestured to the dark forest in front of them. "It's f-f-forbidden and I heard that….there are werewolves in there," he whispered the last part as if afraid that speaking their name would summon the fearsome creatures.

"Don't be such an idiot. There isn't even a full moon tonight," Theo said. Ron glared at him and began to open his mouth to hurl an insult before Hagrid cut him off.

"Listen carefully 'cause what we're doin' tonight is dangerous. 'Yer need to take it seriously," Hagrid said as he began to lead them to the edge of the forest. He held his lamp over a puddle of silvery fluid on the ground; "See this shinin' on the ground? That's unicorn blood and it means that it's been hurt by somethin'. We're goin' to find the poor thing, might have'ta put it out of its misery," he said solemnly.

"And what if we find the thing that hurt the unicorn first," Neville asked in his usual bored and arrogant tone. Violet thought he was a fool for not noticing the magic that seemed to pour out of the forest. There were many creatures lurking in the forest tonight and to underestimate them would be deadly.

"Nothing that lives in the forest will harm ye as long as yer with me or Fang," Hagrid said as he shone the light on his faithful, well sometimes faithful, hound. "We're goin' to split into two groups to cover more ground. There's blood all over the forest so just stick to the trail and you'll be fine."

Hagrid looked them over thoughtfully before splitting them into two groups; "Neville and Violet will go with Fang. Ron and Theo, yer with me." Ron let out an audible sigh of relief as Violet tried to hold in her groan of annoyance. "Now if ye find the unicorn, send up green sparks," and with that Hagrid set off down the trail with Ron trailing after him. Theo gave Neville a threatening glare before running off to catch up with Hagrid and Ron.

Violet and Neville began to make their way down another path and headed deeper into the forest. It seemed darker than ever as there was no moon out that night and the thick canopy of the trees blocked out most of the starlight. The forest was silent, like it was holding its breath. Violet could feel the magic thrumming between the trees. This forest was very old and the magic ancient. She supposed to most people it would feel hostile but to her the forest felt like an old friend who she hadn't seen in many years. She respected but had no fear of the wood.

Neville seemed unable to stand not having someone pay attention to him for more than ten minutes and began to poke at Violet by criticizing her favorite professor, Snape. She somewhat admired his ability to use 'evil' and 'slimey' so many times in just a few sentences. However, she didn't rise to the bait. She might have no fear of the wood but the creatures in it were a different story.

Frustrated by not getting any kind of reaction, Neville tried a last ditch effort to get her full attention on him; "You know, I overheard Snape and Professor Quirrell having an argument the other night. He even threatened him a few times and eventually Quirrell gave in."

Now this caught Violet's attention but she had to remain calm if she wanted to get any useful information out of Neville. "Oh? Is that so," she asked. Neville nodded and was pleased that he finally had her attention.

"And what exactly was this argument about? Snape's 'evil' plan to steal Quirrell's job," she asked sarcastically. Neville flushed in anger at her tone. 'Good,' Violet thought, 'he loses control when he's angry.'

"I only heard a few snippets from it," he said in clipped tones, "but he definitely said 'no, not again' and he began to cry, but eventually agreed to whatever Snape wanted to force him into doing. Before Snape left he threatened to expose what side Quirrell was really on." Neville hoped that this would cause Violet to begin to doubt the overgrown bat. He always got what he wanted and her rejection of him on their first night at Hogwarts was simply unacceptable. He was the 'Boy Who Lived' and he deserved to be respected for the sacrifices he had made to be the Savior of the Wizarding World.

Before Violet could process what Neville had said they came upon the most heartbreaking sight she had ever seen. There in a dark grove was the body of a pure white unicorn. Even in death its white fur and horn were covered in an ethereal glow that seemed to chase away the darkness of the forest. A hooded figure hovered over the body and pressed its mouth to the animal's wound.

Neville screamed at the sight and began to frantically scratch at his scar. He looked like he was in immense pain. Fang took off running back into the forest. 'So much for that,' Violet thought. The hooded figure looked up and turned its head to stare at Violet and Neville, the silver blood dripping from its mouth and onto the forest floor.

Seeing the blood of the creature and the foul act that the hooded figure had committed caused Violet's temper to flare and her eyes began to turn from hazel to gold. "You have slain something pure and defenseless in an act of selfishness. Your crime is unforgivable and I curse you in the name of the forest," she spoke in cold anger. She could feel the forest's magic begin to obey her curse as it turned on the hooded figure. He screamed in both anger and pain as he fled from the grove and forest. Whatever Violet had done to get the forests magic to follow her orders, had completely drained her of both magic and energy. With one last glance around the grove to make sure the hooded figure was gone, Violet promptly fainted.

She awoke to the clear blue eyes of a centaur and Neville's pale face staring down at her. Seeing her awake, the centaur turned towards Neville; "You should not be here. The forest is not safe right now, especially for you." The centaur whistled and a few moments later another one appeared. "He will lead you to the others of your kind. Now go." Neville spared Violet a quick glance but quickly followed the other centaur out of the forest.

The centaur turned his attention back to Violet and she could tell that his eyes were seeing more than just her face. "I am Firenze."

Violet sat up and brushed the dirt and some leaves from her braided hair; "Pleased to meet you. I'm Violet."

Firenze continued to stare at her while she stood up. He then turned his attention to the sky and was quiet for a long moment. "The moon and stars are hidden tonight but they are not the only lights that illuminate the forest." Not quite sure how to respond, Violet chose to remain silent.

"Get on my back and I will tell you what I see," he offered. Anxious to get out of the forest, Violet nodded and Firenze allowed her to climb on his back. They began to trot away from the grove as Firenze asked her if she knew what unicorn blood was used for.

"Something unnatural," she whispered with sadness tinging her voice as she recalled the sight of the slain unicorn.

"That's because it is a monstrous thing to slay a creature as pure and defenseless as a unicorn. Only one truly desperate, with nothing to lose, and everything to gain would commit such a crime. The blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price. You will live a half-life, a cursed-life," he said knowingly. "Can you think of someone that desperate to gain back their power?"

"Grindelwald," Violet shuddered as she said the name, realizing how close she had been to the thing that had murdered her parents. It seemed that Hermione and Theo were right after all about their theory regarding the Philosopher's Stone.

Before they could reach the end of the forest, two more centaurs jumped out of the bushes cutting off the trail. Firenze came to an abrupt halt as the larger of the two centaur's began to speak in harsh tones; "Firenze! What are you doing allowing a human to ride on your back? You look like a common mule."

"Do you not realize who this is? The forest answered her call. Her eyes are of the sun," he answered cryptically.

The other two centaurs began to intently stare at her. Violet felt uncomfortable under their gaze as it felt like they were looking into her very essence and judging it. After what felt like a lifetime, they turned their gaze back to Firenze; "You speak the truth. The forest awaits her call as do the sky and earth" one of them said and then they both inclined their heads to her. Violet didn't know a lot about centaurs but she knew the proud creatures had just shown her a gesture of respect. She nodded back at them, even though she wanted to deny their words. Once they reached the edge of the forest, Firenze allowed her to climb off his back. She thanked him for his help and turned to head towards the welcoming lights of Hagrid's Hut.

"Do not fear what is written in the planets for they all revolve around the sun."

Violet began to ask him what he meant but when she looked behind her, he was gone.

*Chapter 10*: Chapter 10

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise and do not seek to make any sort of profit from the distribution of this fictional work.

Rated: M


A/N: Thanks again for reading and for the reviews. I have up to year four already written..I just need to edit the crap out of them. And yes poor Violet is going to go through the wringer but she'll make it through, I promise. :)

Chapter 10: Trials and Tribulations

Violet hadn't told anyone what happened in the forest. It reminded her of her conversation with Ione. She had firmly decided that she wanted no part in whatever 'destiny' Ione and the centaurs seemed to think that she had. She wanted freedom and she couldn't get that if she was shackled to fate.

One decent thing that had come from the detention debacle was the Neville was slightly less unpleasant to be around. He seemed to realize that Violet had saved him in the forest, so relations between the two became a little less antagonistic in the following weeks. He also was absent from most of their classes and the less Violet saw of him, the less his constant arrogance and rude attitude got on her nerves. The gossip mill around school said that Neville was in the infirmary most of the day due to severe migraines but Violet knew it was because of his scar, which meant that Grindelwald was near.

Hermione and Violet were sitting in their favorite courtyard as they lazily began to enjoy the first few days of the summer weather. It was a nice reprieve from the frantic studying that the two had been doing as finals began to draw near. Everyone in Ravenclaw was on edge; simply opening the main door to the common room was enough to earn you several glares from students trying to study.

"He's got to be going after the stone soon. I bet he's just waiting for the right moment" Hermione said as she stretched out like a cat on the grass underneath a sprawling oak tree.

Violet was lying next to her and absentmindedly plucking up blades of grass, "Dumbledore knows that he's after it. I don't think he would be dumb enough to just leave it unattended or something."

Hermione gasped and shot straight up; their peaceful reprieve from the stresses of school coming to an abrupt end. "Didn't you hear? Dumbledore's been called away on a conference. He's left late this morning and won't be back until tomorrow night!"

"Hermione, how do you know all these things" Violet asked as she reluctantly sat up and brushed the torn blades of grass off her lap.

"I pay attention, and I also ran into Dumbledore as he was leaving the Great Hall," she mumbled the last part of the sentence.

Violet looked at her friend quizzically; "and he just told you this?"

"Well…no," Hermione said defensively as her bushy hair was rustled by a cool passing breeze. "I may have overheard him telling Professor McGonagall to inform the other Professors."

Violet gasped in mock shock, "You mean that you were eavesdropping, Hermione Jean Granger? I think you've been spending too much time with Draco and Theo." Hermione playfully swatted at her friend.

Their conversation quickly turned serious as the two girls agreed that Grindelwald would probably be going after the stone tonight as it would be the only time that Dumbledore would be away from Hogwarts. They both knew what they had to do but they'd be lying if they said they weren't both terrified.

They waited until eleven o'clock that night before sneaking out of the Ravenclaw common room underneath the invisibility cloak and making their way to the forbidden third floor corridor. As they approached the locked door at the end of the corridor they saw the forms of Neville and Ron standing outside. Ron looked like he was about to throw up and Neville seemed to have lost most, but not all, of his confident swagger.

"What the bloody hell are you two doing here," Ron sneered. Hermione bristled at his tone as she began to glare daggers at him.

Violet decided that it might be easier to try and reason with Neville than with Ron so she turned her full attention on the Boy Who Lived; "He's going after the stone and you know it. We need to get to it before he does," she pleaded.

Neville took a moment to weigh her words before he shook his head and looked down his nose at her. "Why should we trust you? You're probably working for him." Hermione gasped at his accusation while Ron nodded his head in agreement.

Before Violet could fully think about what she was doing she grabbed Neville by his shoulders and pushed him against the wall with all of her strength. She had put on a considerable amount of weight thanks to the unlimited food at Hogwarts and was finally in the normal weight range for her age.

"That bastard killed my parents," she hissed at her nails dug into his shoulders. "I want him dead and gone just as much as you do. We can go back to hating each other after this is over but right now we need to get that stone." She spoke with a deadly edge that brooked no room for argument.

"Fine," Neville spat as Violet released him. The two nodded at each other and turned towards the door. "Hagrid told us that Fluffy can be put to sleep using music," Neville said as he pulled out a wooden flute.

The group made their way to the door and cautiously stepped inside. They heard a rather beautiful melody playing from an enchanted harp in the corner of the room and saw that the great beast was already fast asleep."He's here," Hermione whispered as the four students tiptoed over to the trapdoor. They opened it as quietly as they could and stared into the darkness below. It was impossible to tell what waited for them in the black depths.

"Ladies first," Neville said as he gave Violet a sleazy smile. She sneered at him as she sat down on the edge of the door and jumped down into the darkness. She was falling and falling until she was caught by a slippery writhing mass of green plant tendrils. She could feel the vines begin to wrap around her legs and snake their way up towards her torso. Hermione, Neville, and Ron soon joined her and gasped as they felt the plant begin to grab hold of each of them.

"W-what's it doing," Ron whispered nervously as he began to try and struggle out of the plants grasp.

"Stop that! This is Devil's Snare. The more you move, the faster it tightens around you," Hermione hissed in annoyance. Ron paled but listened to Hermione's advice and stopped squirming..

"It doesn't like light or fire! We can use that to get it to let us go!" Neville said triumphantly. He wasn't at the top of their class in Herbology for nothing.

"No, wait," Violet said. "If we don't move, it'll let us go," as if to emphasize her point, Violet began to sink further down into the plant as it uncurled itself from around her ankles. Soon she disappeared completely underneath the plant and fell to the cold hard ground with a large thunk, landing on her rear.

"Ouch," she breathed as she began to stand up. Hermione soon fell through the plant as well but she landed much more gracefully than Violet and only stumbled a little. Next came Neville who someone managed to dive roll onto his feet, much to Violet's annoyance.

"Weasley. You need to relax and it will let you go," Violet yelled up at the boy. The only response she got was Ron screaming as he tried to struggle out of the plants grasp. The three students on the ground each held up their wands toward the plant and cast 'Lumos.' Ron fell to the ground in a heap of limbs shortly after.

The group continued along the dark and dusty corridor until they came to another closed door. On the other side they heard what sounded like a hundred pairs of flapping wings. They opened the door to find a room with an incredibly high ceiling. It was full of keys with attached wings that were flying about the room. On the opposite side was a door with a clear lock. Hermione walked over to examine it; "We're going to be looking for a large key...probably old fashioned." She paused for a moment, "Oh and silver to match the lock!"

It didn't take long for the four sets of eyes to find the key they were looking for. It was hovering in the corner and one of its wings was crumpled as if it had been handled roughly. Violet grabbed one of the brooms on the side of the wall and easily caught it. The door unlocked and the group quickly made their way to the next room. As soon as the four stepped into the gigantic chamber, fire erupted around them. It illuminated a giant chessboard. Towards the back of the room was another door.

"I think we have to play to get across," Ron said as he examined the board with a renewed interest and confidence in his eyes. He walked up to a black chess piece; "Do we need join you?" The piece nodded and Ron turned back to the group. It was interesting to see him leading them as Violet and Hermione had only ever seen him as Neville's lackey.

"Right then. Neville you take the king. Potter go be the Queen. Granger, you're going to be the Bishop and I'll take the knight," he said in an authoritative tone.

The white side took the first move and soon the board became a mini war zone as black and white ceramic pieces clashed. Each time two opposing pieces met there was an explosion of dust and debris that showered over the students. Soon Violet's piece was in a position to capture the white side's King. The only thing in her way was the white Queen. Ron looked at the board thoughtfully like he was running through every possible move in his head before he took a long and heavy sigh; "I've got to be taken. It's the only way. Once I'm down, you'll be in a position to take the King. Do you understand what you have to do, Violet?"

She was surprised that he had used her first name but she supposed there was nothing like a few near-death experiences to really bring people together. Violet nodded and Ron made the move. The Queen didn't hesitate and the three remaining students screamed as they saw Ron fall to the ground in a heap of dust and stone. Violet moved three spaces to the left, in the move Ron had instructed, and she watched in satisfaction as the White King threw his crown at her feet. The sound of it hitting the floor echoed within the now silent chamber. With the game won, the three remaining students rushed to Ron's side. He was still breathing but he was unconscious and had a few cuts.

"We need to keep moving," Neville said as he turned from his unconscious friend and headed for the door.

"Hermione, go and grab one of the brooms from the last room and find any Professor you can. Ron needs medical attention. We can't just leave him here," Violet ordered.

Hermione looked like she wanted to argue but as she looked down at Ron's unconscious form she realized that her friend was right. She gave Violet a quick hug and whispered "be careful," in her ear before she took off towards the other room.

Violet then caught up with Neville who was impatiently waiting at edge of the chessboard. They opened the door and almost closed it again as they were hit with an overwhelming stench. Violet remembered that smell; "troll," she gagged to Neville as the two of them stepped into the room. It wasn't moving. It was lying head down in the far corner of the room with an ugly red bump on the back of its head. Deciding not to wait around for it to wake up the two bolted through the door on the other side of the room and slammed it shut.

They now stood in a circular stone room; before them lay a table with an array of potions on it. The potions were arranged in a variety of mismatched vials and there seemed to be no logical order to them. As soon as Neville and Violet stepped up to the table a wall of purple flames erupted behind them while a wall of black flames sprung up in front.

"Looks like we won't be turning around," Violet mumbled as she picked up a piece of parchment that sat next to the vials. "It's a riddle," she said as she read it out loud to Neville who look totally confused by the time she finished.

"Well you're the one in Ravenclaw. Which do we drink?" He asked impatiently.

"There are seven bottles: three are poison, two are wine, one will get us through the purple flames and one will lead us through the black." Violet picked up the smallest vial and handed it to Neville; "there's only enough for one," she said quietly.

He grabbed it from her hand and quickly gulped it down. "Wait here, after I'm done with Grindelwald we'll go back up together," he ordered before he headed through the black flames. Violet admired his confidence but she had a feeling this encounter wasn't going to go as smoothly as Neville thought it would.

She waited in the room alone for about a minute before she heard Neville scream. She might not have liked the prat but that didn't mean she wanted him to die. Violet stepped up to the black flames but quickly backed away as she felt the blistering heat radiating off of them. She took a shaky breath as she realized what she had to do.

Violet turned her thoughts inward as she searched to find her connection with her magic. It only took a few seconds before she could feel it weaving its way throughout her body. It was always there; it had always been a part of her. It was just waiting for her to notice it. The longer she felt the connection to her magic the more she was able to visualize it pulsating and pouring out of her. She could see her aura as it ebbed and flowed around the room. Its brightness overshadowed even the light from the flames.

She closed her eyes and focused on gathering the tendrils of her magic up in front of her. As the strands began to gather before her, she reached out to hold them in her hands. When she opened her eyes she saw that her outstretched hands had begun to glow, as they were literally holding a ball of her magic. She threw her arms wide and pictured water in her mind. The golden light of her hands shot forward and from it a rushing wave of water poured out completely extinguishing the black flames.

She felt tired but not as exhausted as she previously had when she used her magic in such a way. Not taking a moment to gather her thoughts she rushed into the room that was now filled with the sounds of Neville screaming. She found him panting on the floor as he gripped his head in pure agony. When she looked up she saw the intrigued face, well sort of face, as it was attached to the back of Professor Quirrell's head, of Gellert Grindelwald staring at her.

*Chapter 11*: Chapter 11

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise and do not seek to make any sort of profit from the distribution of this fictional work.

Rated: M


Chapter 11: Unravel

Violet was surprised that Quirrell had been the one supporting Gellert Grindelwald but when she thought about it, it made sense. After all who would expect a man who was afraid of his own shadow? She stepped in front of Neville hoping that he would be able to recover slightly faster if she kept Grindelwald distracted.

"Well, this is quite a surprise. Although not an unpleasant one," Grindelwald said cordially as he snapped his fingers and conjured ropes that began to wrap tightly around Violet's wrists. He then turned his attention to the mirror in the back of the room and began to inspect it from top to bottom. "Of course Dumbledore would think of something like this. He was always so clever," Grindelwald mused as he circled the mirror. "I wonder if I should just break it. Patience has never been a particular talent of mine" he said as he turned back to Violet.

"Clearly," Violet hissed as she struggled to get her hands out of the binds but all she succeeded in doing was rubbing her skin raw.

Grindelwald's eyes narrowed at her clear disrespect; "Come here," he ordered. Of course she stayed planted right where she was. "You know, I never returned the kindness you showed me in the forest last month," he hissed as he marched over and grabbed her by the neck, before he tossed her down in front of the mirror. She hissed in pain as her knees collided with the stone floor; "Tell me what you see," he said and pressed her head against the glass. It cracked slightly under the pressure.

Violet looked into the mirror and saw the heart's desire of a girl who had spent eleven years of life neglected and abused; "I see my parents," she said through gritted teeth. They were both smiling down at her as each put a hand on one of her shoulders. Violet desperately wished she could actually feel their touch.

"Ah yes, I remember them. Seems so long ago now. Funny how time works. They died in each other's arms, if it's any consolation. It was really quite touching" he said sincerely from behind her as he released her head.

"You murdered them," she yelled as she turned away from the mirror to glare at him.

He gave her a long look; "I don't deny it. Though, I suspect there is much you do not know. That's not surprising, considering that you've put your faith in Albus. He's loves to keep his pawns in the dark. So much easier to move the strings if your little puppets can't see them."

"I've put my faith in no one," Violet said heatedly, "but at least Dumbledore doesn't murder people in cold blood!"

The almost face of Grindelwald began to laugh; "Oh, you idealistic little fool! This is war. You don't think the Light simply throws stunners during battle do you? Both sides will, and are going to do whatever it takes to win. The Lord of the Light didn't get where he was without getting his hands dirty," he spat. Grindelwald looked down and tilted Violet's chin up with the tip of his wand so that she was looking him straight in the eye. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest and she stared at the man who had stolen the world from her; "Grow up girl, if you want to survive more than five minutes in this world."

Violet's shoulders sagged; she was really beginning to feel the effects of the water spell she had cast earlier. "What are you even fighting for," she asked wearily while still keeping eye contact with Grindelwald.

He gave her a thoughtful look before releasing her chin; "For wizards and witches with a dark affinity to be able to practice the Dark Arts without facing persecution. To restore the proper customs and rituals given to us by the Guardians themselves. For magic…." he trailed off as her eyes had begun to turn the color of molten gold at the mention of the Guardians. He snapped his fingers and the ropes around her wrists dissolved; "Look in the mirror again child and tell me what you see." It was still a command but it was much more softly spoken.

Violet turned her head away from Grindelwald and back to the mirror; her parents smiled at her before the images swirled again.

"I see a new world arise from smoke and ash. A world of equality and peace. A world full of magic and all her creations," Violet whispered as the golden glow of her eyes began to spread throughout her whole body. She stood up to face Grindelwald with a renewed sense of confidence as her magic pulsed through her veins.

"I wonder if you even yet know what you are," he mused as he realized just how valuable she would be in the war to come. He needed to tell Marvolo as soon as possible that a new player had just entered the game.

Before Violet could question him further, the side door to the room burst open revealing Dumbledore, Snape, and Hermione. The scene quickly turned chaotic as the three newcomers were completely taken off guard by Violet's golden eyes and the matching aura that radiated from her. With all the attention on her, no one had noticed Neville skulking through the shadows that hung on the side of the room. He crawled behind Grindelwald and made sure he was in the perfect position before lunging. The golden color instantly vanished from Violet's eyes as she was drenched in the deep red color of blood sprouting from Quirrell's open neck as Neville slit his throat from behind.

Now completely drained and totally exhausted, Violet looked down at her blood stained skin and sank to the floor. Quirrell's body fell with an unceremonious thud as a black cloud arose from his body and escaped from the room.

Snape and Hermione rushed to escort her from the chamber while Dumbledore had gone to Neville's side. As soon as they entered the hallway, Snape cast a quick diagnostic spell over her to check for injuries. He breathed a sigh of relief when he found none and cast a quick 'scourgify,' over her. They then led her to Ravenclaw Tower where she simply walked away from them as soon as they passed the threshold without so much as a backwards glance. She fell into her bed and refused to move from it. No words left Violet's mouth for two days, and even after she had begun speaking again she was noticeably quieter than before.

She couldn't get the image of Quirrell's open throat out of her head. No matter how hard she scrubbed she could still feel the sticky blood coating her skin. It didn't help matters that her conversation with Grindelwald had made her even more confused and afraid. 'I wonder if you even yet know what you are.' She couldn't get his last words out of her head. She began to nervously run her fingers through her tangled black hair as she looked out the girl's dormitory window at the Hogwarts grounds below. Students were lounging about on the grass as they enjoyed the warm sunny day. It always amazed her how life just seemed to go on.

"Violet," Hermione said gently as she sat down on her own bed "Professor Dumbledore has asked to see you in his office. He said to tell you that his favorite candy is lemon drops."

Violet nodded and gave her friend a small smile; "Will you meet me outside of his office so we can go to the end of year feast together?" She knew it wasn't fair to her friends that she had been so removed lately, but she didn't want to burden them with her problems.

Hermione's eyes lit up and she nodded enthusiastically. She was glad to see some semblance of the bright and lively girl that had become her best friend this year returning. When Hermione began the school year she never thought that she would be leaving it with three new friends who didn't seem to mind her 'know-it-all' attitude, in fact they even encouraged it. They accepted her as she was and to a girl who had spent her early year's only being able to find friends in books, it meant the world. She felt like she could accomplish anything with Violet, Theo, and Draco at her side and she was determined to make sure they felt the same. No matter what came their way in the next few years, Hermione knew that the four of them would be able to handle it.

As she caught her reflection in a glass display on her way to Dumbledore's office, Violet regretted that she hadn't bothered to comb her hair. It was a mess of tangles and hung in lifeless clumps around her face.

"Lemondrops," she sighed as she began to walk the spiral staircase that led to Dumbledore's office. The large room had high arched ceilings and wide windows that allowed the early summer light to pour in throughout the office. It was richly decorated with a variety of spinning gadgets and two large bookcases that reached the ceiling on either side of an ornately carved mahogany desk. Dumbledore sat behind the desk and gave her a grandfatherly smile as he gestured for her to sit in one of the worn leather chairs in front him. Violet eyed the sorting hat, watching the proceedings atop one of the shelves, as she took her seat.

"Greetings, child. I am pleased to see that you are recovering well from the incident last week," He said in a soothing and calm voice. He needed her to trust him. "The events of what happened with Professor Quirrell are a complete secret… naturally the whole school knows," he said with twinkling eyes.

Violet gave him a slight smile in response; "Sir, how much does the school actually know?"

"Certain details have been purposefully left out and others skewed as the tale grows. All the school knows for certain is that a group of first years worked together to defeat a Dark Wizard," Dumbledore said as he watched Violet relax slightly after he had finished speaking. Sensing her next question, Dumbledore spoke before she could ask; "As for the stone, it has been moved to a new location that only a select few are aware of." He wasn't about to destroy a potentially powerful weapon that could be used in aid of the Light. She nodded in understanding as she nervously folded her hands in her lap. Violet couldn't shake the feeling that she was being interviewed but she wasn't sure for what.

"I have to say that I am quite impressed by the team that you and Mr. Longbottom made. I doubt that many other students would have been able to take Gellert down as efficiently and smoothly. It is extraordinary the things that one can accomplish when they have the aid of friends," Dumbledore said. "With both of your personal histories, I am not surprised that you two worked so well together. Common ground is the key to understanding one another after all."

"But Grindelwald isn't truly gone, right? He'll find another body and some other way to come back…," Violet trailed off and looked up at the headmaster.

He was pleased that she was already beginning to see the bigger picture of the game that was being played. "Yes, you are correct Violet. I would be surprised if he wasn't already forming another plan to get his body back," he said solemnly. "Gellert paints a rather pleasant picture of the kind of world he wants but you must remember that the only thing Gellert fights for is his himself."

"And what do you fight for, sir?" Violet watched in curiosity as Dumbledore's face transformed from one of kindly grandfather to seasoned leader. The soft lines of his face became hard, the twinkling in his eyes dimmed, and his mouth was set in a firm line.

"For too long the Wizarding World has been divided. We must unite if we wish to preserve the integrity of our community. The other side believes that our increased integration with the muggle world is destructive to our ways but surely you can see that if one doesn't move they can make no progress. Child, you must understand most things in this world do not fall into solely good and solely evil. But make no mistake; the choices that we make can put us on the path of one or the other. For now, however, clear your mind of these unpleasant thoughts. I believe Ms. Granger, Mr. Malfoy, and Mr. Nott are waiting for you outside of my office. I shall see you at the feast," he said as his eyes began to regain their twinkle. She gave him a genuine smile then, and bid him goodbye as she left his office to rejoin her friends.

Dumbledore frowned as he watched her retreating form disappear down the stairwell. He had been observing her throughout the school year. It was clear from her habit of nervous fidgeting and her avoidance of drawing too much attention to herself in her courses, that the girl lacked confidence. She was desperate for approval but shied away when the spotlight was on her for too long. He knew he could use that to his advantage. It was the reason after all why he allowed her to remain in the Dursley's care.

She had so much potential but she needed to be crafted in the right away. She could be so powerful, a beacon for the masses to follow. With her and Neville fighting side by side, the Light would have the advantage. They could eradicate the Dark once and for all. True peace and order could finally return. He sighed as he realized that in order for that to happen, he needed to get her away from her current friends. He could see the positive changes that they brought out in her; she would be harder to advise if she became too sure of herself. Dumbledore's life was full of regrets; a series of never ending disappointments and personal tragedies. In his darker moments, he wondered if it was all even worth it. If the future he had asked so many to sacrifice their lives for was even attainable, and at what cost. The faces of those who had died in service to the Light followed him everywhere. He truly regretted what he had to do, but he would make sure that she would be well rewarded for her service to the Light in the end. She would come to understand that everything he had done was for the greater good.

With a heavy sigh Dumbledore pulled out a blank piece of parchment from his desk and began to write to the girl's relatives. Once it was complete he summoned a Hogwarts house-elf; "Deliver this to the Dursleys and I trust you remember to make sure that Violet Potter does not receive any letters this summer?" The house-elf nodded and disappeared with a quiet pop.

He leaned back in his chair reluctantly content with his current course of action. It had been over eight hundred years since the last known record of an Elemental in the world, but he now had one right within his grasp.

Violet and Hermione giggled as Draco and Theo puffed out their chests in pride at the green and silver decorations hanging from the Great Hall indicating that Slytherin had won the House Cup. Ravenclaw seemed to be the only house that wasn't actively disturbed by the Slytherin banners that hung from every corner of the hall. Hufflepuff seemed to be taking the loss in stride while the Gryffindor's were unable to hide their open contempt.

As she sat down at the Ravenclaw table with Hermione, Violet gave Professor Snape a congratulatory smile. For once he was sitting at the head table without an intimidating scowl on his face. He wore a neutral expression and inclined his head toward her. For him, that meant that he was positively beaming.

Professor Dumbledore was the last to arrive to the feast. He wore robes the colors of burgundy and gold which made the white of his hair and beard all the more apparent but Dumbledore was always known for his rather eccentric taste in robes. All conversation in the hall died down as he stood up at the front of the hall to give his end of year speech;

"Another year gone and what a year it has been! Before we sink into our delicious feast I must bother you all with the thoughts of an old man. Hopefully your heads are all a little fuller than they have the whole summer ahead to get them nice and empty before next year starts," Dumbledore paused to allow for the quiet laughs of the students to subside before continuing.

"Now, as I understand it, the House Cup here needs awarding and it would appear that Slytherin is in the lead with an impressive four hundred and seventy two points."

Applause and cheering erupted from the Slytherin table. Violet rolled her eyes as she saw Draco and Theo clinking their glasses together. Snape's face hadn't moved from its neutral expression but Violet could see the happiness and apparent pride in his eyes as he looked at his House. It was a nice change. He might have been stern, and he definitely delighted in torturing students but he was the first person to show Violet any kind of kindness or respect. She would always have a soft spot for him.

"Yes, yes, well done Slytherin," Dumbledore said as he gave the table a genuine smile. "However, recent events must be taken into account." The cheers from Slytherin came to an abrupt halt. They all knew where this was headed. It was the kind of stunt that Dumbledore loved to pull.

"I have a few last minute points to hand out. Let me see...yes, to Mr. Ronald Weasley…" Ron's face had turned a most vibrant shade of red that was even brighter than his hair as he was struggling to both look prideful and not choke on his pumpkin juice. "...For the best game of chess that Hogwarts has seen in many years. I award Gryffindor House fifty points." Their table erupted in cheers and Violet saw one of Ron's brothers yelling something but she couldn't hear what he was saying.

Dumbledore then turned his attention directly to Violet and she contemplated if it was too late for her to run out of the hall. She opted to stare bashfully down at her empty plate instead as she could feel hundreds of eyes fall on her. "Second, to Miss Potter for the use of cool intellect and logic in the face of fire and showing tremendous loyalty to her friends in Gryffindor...I award Ravenclaw House fifty points." Violet's housemates all cheered and clapped her on the back while all the color had drained from her face.

Dumbledore smiled down at her before turning his attention back to the Gryffindor table, "and lastly to Mr. Longbottom," the room instantly became silent as everyone turned to stare at the Boy Who Lived, who was sporting his usual arrogant smirk. "...For pure nerve and outstanding courage, I award Gryffindor House sixty points."

Dumbledore looked up at the entire school, "I applaud these three students for showing us the extraordinary things we can accomplish when we work together. They are a shining example of inter-house unity and true friendship that we all can take inspiration from. I think this calls for a change in decorations," and with that Dumbledore flicked his wand. The silver and green disappeared from the hall to be replaced by the red and gold of Gryffindor.

Gryffindor house erupted in boisterous cheers and enthusiasm while throwing their hats up into the air. The faces of Slytherin House were an equal mix of disgust, anger, and disappointment. Dumbledore was fortunate that looks couldn't kill. Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff politely clapped for Gryffindor as neither had had the Cup taken away they weren't all that upset at the changing in banners.

Hermione stared at the Headmaster with narrowed eyes full of suspicion. It didn't escape her notice that he had completely left her involvement out. She wasn't sure what he was up to but he obviously wanted the attention to be on Neville, Ron, and Violet. She turned to her friend to find her glaring at her plate with her hands clenched into fists; "Are you alright," she whispered.

Violet sighed and then shrugged. She reluctantly unclenched her hands and looked at Hermione who was taken aback by the hopeless expression on Violet's face. "Dumbledore just publically announced that I helped Neville Longbottom. The poster-boy of the Light. Do you understand what that means? He just picked a side for me. As far as the public is concerned, I stand with Neville," she said bitterly. Violet hated having decisions made for her and Dumbledore had just thrown her into the spotlight that she had spent all year trying to avoid.

The next day as they boarded the Hogwarts Express to go home for the summer, the four friends were much quieter than usual. Draco and Theo were still irritated by having the House Cup stolen from them while Hermione was trying to understand why Dumbledore wanted to distance Violet from her. A bitter heaviness seemed to hang in the air as the Hogwarts Express departed from the school that had now become the source of both Violet's hopes and fears. Once the train arrived in London, the group departed from their compartment with great reluctance. None of them had realized how difficult saying goodbye, even it was for just three short months, would be. They promised to write one another over the summer and hugged each other tightly. Violet's shoulders slumped in empty resignation as she made her way back to Number 4 Privet Drive.

*Chapter 12*: Chapter 12

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise.

Rated: M


A/N: Trigger Warning (disturbing depictions of violence)

Chapter 12: Cake & Blood

Violet sat in the familiar darkness of the cupboard as she waited for Petunia to unlock the door for her to begin to daily chores. She braided her long black hair while she watched the picture of her parents laughing in the courtyard of Hogwarts. She hadn't heard from Hermione, Draco, or Theo throughout the summer and she had begun to wonder if she had imaged the entire year. It was easier to pretend that none of it actually had happened then admit that her friends had forgotten about her. She didn't blame them. It was nice that they had spent any time with her at all. The photo of her parents was the only thing that kept her grounded in reality; the only proof that for the briefest of moments there had been love in her life. It was almost too easy to fall back into the shell of a person she had been before Hogwarts. The Dursley's had made sure that nothing had changed in her living arrangement and in their treatment of her. It was impossible to feel like a person when you weren't treated like one.

The cupboard door unlocked and Violet got up to begin her daily regime of chores. The weight that she had put on at school had quickly disappeared as the Dursley's only gave her scraps of food that had been left over from their dinners. She had to constantly keep stopping her chores in order to pull up Dudley's hammy down shirt. It kept sliding off her shoulders, as it was about ten times too large for her. It was obvious that Dudley was eventually going to surpass his father in size one day; 'probably being his greatest achievement,' Violet thought as she vacuumed the family's tacky beige living room. She wondered if they would give him some kind of trophy when it happened. Would there be an awards ceremony?

She was so amused by the thought that she didn't notice Petunia snapping her fingers at her to get her attention until Petunia pulled the vacuum cord from the wall. Petunia wasn't an attractive woman by any means and the pursed lipped scowl she always wore seemed to heighten her ugliness. The set frown lines only served to make her impossibly long and narrow face seem even longer. It must have been difficult for her to grow up with Lily, whose hair was like wildfire and whose smile lit up any room. Petunia's hair was the color of mud and her small circular eyes were hard and cold, at least when they looked at Violet.

"Listen here, girl," she hissed as she stared down her nose at Violet. "Vernon's boss and his wife are coming over for dinner tonight and it is very important that we impress them," she paused to shove a hideous yellow dress into Violet's hands. "You are to be seen and not heard. You will smile and serve them their food and make sure that they are comfortable. I don't want to see any of that freakishness," she spat the word, "or you'll regret ever having been born." Petunia left the living room without so much as another glance at Violet.

"I already do," she whispered to the empty living room.

Violet grimaced as she looked down at the sunflower yellow taffeta monstrosity that she was wearing. It hung loosely from her petite frame with long flowing sleeves and an uncomfortably high and conservative neckline. The dress fell to her knees which only served to highlight how skinny and knobby her legs were. A thick fuchsia sash tied around her waist violently clashed with the bright yellow of the dress both of which were too large for her body. The sash kept dipping below her waist making her torso look disproportionately long compared to the rest of her body. She wasn't sure whether Petunia had picked this dress because she had liked it or because she had wanted to humiliate Violet. She found both options to be equally depressing.

It was a small relief that the Dursley's had actually given her a hairbrush to use for the evening or she would have had to comb her hair with her fingers like she normally did. It had much more bounce when she used a brush. Her long dark hair hung in waves that framed her heart-shaped face and highlighted her high cheekbones. She preferred to keep her hair natural for any formal occasion she was forced to attend and opted to just let it fall around her in a careless cascade of loose curls. She could see beauty whenever she caught her reflection in passing but there was little use in dwelling on it. Nothing about her mattered here.

She had been waiting in the living room for several minutes for Vernon's esteemed guests to finally arrive. It was bound to be a boring night of forced small talk and fake laughter while her Uncle tried to schmooze and con his way into a promotion. Once Vernon's mind was fixed on something, it was impossible to reason with him and with the new salary that could come as a result from tonight, Vernon was determined to make sure the evening went well.

The doorbell rang at exactly seven, with one last grimace at her dress and a resigned sigh, Violet began to prepare various cocktail glasses for the new arrivals. Mr. and Mrs. Robertson arrived at the Dursley's house with much enthusiasm from Vernon and Petunia as they led them to the living room where Violet was waiting with a fake smile plastered to her face. She had to fight an overwhelming urge not to roll her eyes when she saw the fake enthusiasm leaking out of Vernon.

"This is our niece, Violet," Petunia crooned while trying to fix Violet with a look of overly done motherly affection. It made her sick. The yellow dress Petunia was wearing was much more subdued than Violet's but still just as hideous.

"Meet Mr. and Mrs. Robertson." It seemed Vernon was still having a hard time trying not to outright order Violet about in the presence of strangers. An elderly man with salt and pepper colored hair and a soft face full of wrinkles stepped forward to shake her hand as curious yet friend light brown eyes regarded her. Violet quickly shook his hand and offered him a drink. She could feel Petunia's stare on her back reminding her not to forget her place.

The conversation quickly turned to the recent political scandal, golf, and other mundane topics that Violet easily tuned out. Her Uncle made sure there was never a lull in the conversation excelling in the role of charming host. Violet tried not to flinch whenever his hard eyes fell on her throughout the evening. Dudley was angrily sulking in the corner frustrated that he had to spend an entire evening away from the television.

The dinner was probably the nicest meal that Violet had ever had at the Dursleys as they actually allowed her to sit at the table. She made sure to give herself extra helpings of all the food that was served and dutifully listened to Mr. Robertson lecture them all about the importance of having a diversified stock portfolio, whatever that was. It was also endlessly amusing to watch Petunia try and fail to impress Mrs. Robertson who would only respond to her with an 'indeed' or a 'quiet right,' before turning back to her husband. Violet couldn't help but notice that her uncle hardly touched his meal, instead choosing alcohol over any kind of solid food. It helped make his charming host act significantly more convincing as he would heartily laugh at every bad joke that Mr. Robertson made with his cheeks turning red from amusements and spirits. After dinner, the party retired to the living room once again where Violet made sure to refill all of the adult's glasses once they were all comfortably seated. The evening seemed to be progressing very well if Vernon and Mr. Robertson's pleased flushes were anything to go by, or that might have been caused from each of them having far too much brandy.

"Violet, fetch the cake for dessert," Petunia ordered barely able to keep the contempt out of her voice. She could see Mrs. Robertson raise an eyebrow at the tone but Petunia played it off with a polite cough followed by a deep drink from her martini.

"She seems like such a sweet thing," Mrs. Robertson commented as Violet began to enter the living room with a three tiered vanilla cake in hand.

"Yes, Yes. A dear girl….dreadfully quiet though," Mr. Robertson agreed.

Vernon swayed slightly in his seat, making it clear that he had definitely too much brandy; His small brown eyes having difficulty focusing on one object or person for too long. "She's a bit touched in the head, you see. Violet's a very slow girl. Been that way ever since she was a babe," he managed to say miraculously without slurring a single word. Violet was too focused on not dropping the cake to bother to be offended at what he said. After all, he and Petunia frequently loved to degrade her intelligence.

"Oh, the poor dear," Mrs. Robertson said, giving Violet a pitying look. "Where are her parents? I believe you mentioned earlier that she was your niece?" Violet sucked in her breath at the mention of her parents, suddenly feeling like she had been plunged into ice water.

"They're dead," Vernon said gruffly. "The father was a no good drunk and crashed the family car into a tree one night," he finished in a voice that showed all the disdain that he felt for Violet's parents.

Before the Robertson's could respond the entire room was covered in pink frosting as the cake that Violet had been holding exploded in her hands.

Petunia shrieked while the Robertson's eyes became large in confusion and fear. Dudley began to lick the frosting off of his fingers in gluttonous delight. The whole scene would have been rather funny if not for the furious expression in Vernon's eyes. Violet ran out of the room mumbling about paper towels but not before hearing the words 'deeply troubled,' and 'halfwit' from Vernon as he tried to calm down his boss.

She heard the front door close with a loud bang before she returned to the living room. Standing at the door with paper towels in hand she took a deep breathe before reentering the now cake-covered room. Vernon was turning purple in rage while Petunia looked completely horrified at her now ruined furniture. She took a minute to collect herself and mourn her stained furniture before she grabbed Dudley from the living room and marched him upstairs to clean him and herself up. Violet's hands began to shake as she realized she was alone with her Uncle.

"I'm so s-sorry," Violet sputtered as she realized the full extent of the murderous rage that was present in Vernon's eyes. She was covered in cake and frosting but that was the least of her current problems. She tried to take a few steps back before he lunged for her with his meaty hands.

She could smell the brandy on his breath as he leaned in so his face was only a few inches from hers. "You little bitch," he hissed as he grabbed her roughly by the shoulders.

"I'm s-," she was cut off by a slap to the face, the strength of which caused her to fall to her knees in pain, dropping the glass cake platter and paper towels as she fell. The platter shattered beneath her; the tiny pieces scattering and disappearing into the white carpet. How she envied them.

"Do you have any idea what you've just cost me," he screamed as he slapped her again. "It took me weeks to convince him to come to dinner. There are at least three other people gunning for that promotion. I was so close and you just ruined it with your freakishness."

Violet tried to curl into a ball to protect herself but Vernon was having none of that. He grabbed her by her hair and used it to pull her back up to her feet. He spun her around before he threw her at the plaster and wood fireplace at the front of the room. She whimpered in pain as she fell hard onto the plaster; the back of her head banging against the wooden frame with considerable force. She lay there in a daze as Vernon began to throw a variety of cocktail glasses at her from the liquor cabinet. He had a crazed look in his eyes as he became lost in his rage. Glass and wine rained down over her as she tasted the sickeningly sweet combination of cake frosting and blood mixing in her mouth.

One of the brandy glasses he had thrown hit her square in the temple. It exploded on impact and Violet watched in disinterest as the vision in her right eye began to change until everything in the room was painted in a deep red sheen. Soon, all she could see and taste was blood. The sweet taste of cake long since vanishing from her tongue. Vernon continued to scream and rant. She wondered if he was going to kill her; it's not like anyone would have noticed if she was gone, she supposed.

She heard him taking off his belt buckle and a moment later she felt herself being lifted up so she sat on her knees with her back exposed to him. She felt the sting of the buckle piercing her skin before she heard the crack of the belt. He whipped her with the buckle over and over again. She lost count, and soon the world faded in and out of her vision. Her blood felt cool as it dripped down her back, especially compared to the heat of the open welts forming where he struck her. The whipping seemed to last a lifetime, but then again it always felt that way. Twelve years of his hate, of his rage, and it always felt like time froze the moment she heard the buckle sliding off him.

All she could focus on, the only thing that seemed real anymore was the pain of the buckle tearing her apart. She fell onto her face and screamed in agony as Vernon kicked her in the back, his shoe rubbing on her open wounds. With his need for respect and blood satisfied, he became bored with punishing her. "Clean this mess up," he ordered before dropping his belt in exhaustion and marching upstairs.

And so she did. Her face betrayed no signs of emotion while she swept up the shattered glass and wiped up the blood and wine stains from the plaster fireplace. The pieces of cake and frosting smeared throughout the room were more difficult but she managed using wet paper towels to blot up the crumbs and remove the stains. Lastly, she scrubbed her blood from his belt buckle and watched in morbid curiosity as the rusty red swirled in the pure white sink before disappearing down the drain. She left it by the stairs. It wasn't until early in the morning that she finally finished cleaning and went quietly into her cupboard.

She wept then as her dress, her skin, her soul lay in tatters all around her.

*Chapter 13*: Chapter 13

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise.

Rated: M


Chapter 13: Secrets

It had been over two weeks. They only let her out of the cupboard for under an hour each day to see to her most basic needs. Most of her day was spent in darkness. The only light she had came through the tiny cracks in the vent of the door. She watched the dust particles flitter around in the weak light as she lay on her stomach with her head turned towards the door. Her arms draped carelessly to her sides. It still hurt too much for her to put any pressure on her back. Violet thought she heard raised voices coming from the hallway but she was only half-listening. Nothing outside of that locked door held any interest for her anymore. She had lost track of the days and time, and she didn't care.

Her apathy was suddenly disturbed by the cupboard door being blown off of its hinges. She flinched back as light and dust poured into her small room. The smoke cleared and revealed the faces of Narcissa and Draco Malfoy. Narcissa looked just as elegant as Violet remembered; her pale blonde hair swept into an elegant updo with dark groomed arched brows and almond shaped eyes. She and Draco had the same thin and long aristocratic nose and stormy grey eyes. She was dressed in an elegant black silk robe which showcased the paleness of her skin and hair. Draco was slightly taller than when she had last seen him. His hair was still in the same slicked back style but his skin was tanner. He probably had spent most of his summer outside playing quidditch. His sharp features were becoming even more prominent, the older he got as he was finally losing his baby weight. He had obviously inherited the Malfoy good looks.

Narcissa frowned as she took in Violet's living conditions. "Violet? Are you alright, dear?"

"Y-yes," Violet mumbled. Her throat was coarse and dry. Words felt heavy and out of place in her mouth as she hadn't spoken in so long.

Draco looked at Violet in concern. She was too pale; too thin from the girl he remembered. Those hazel eyes that used to hold the promise of a sharp wit and intelligence looked empty and lifeless. Her hair was matted and tangled. It had lost all shine, like it just wanted to fade into the darkness of the cupboard. She had a deep red gash on her right temple and her right eye was completely bloodshot. Draco suspected that she had other injuries that were either hidden by the dimly lit cupboard, her clothing, or both. He was originally hurt, and a little angry, when she hadn't responded to any of his letters over the summer. Now all of that anger was replaced with worry for her. He should have told his mother about her not responding to any of his, Theo's, and Hermione's letters sooner but he didn't want to seem dramatic.

"We are leaving now. I'll send a house-elf to collect your belongings. Come along," Narcissa said as she held out her hand for Violet to take.

This must have been a dream but Violet decided to go along with it. It was better than sitting around waiting for nothing. She sat up and hesitantly reached out and took Narcissa's hand. Neither Narcissa nor Draco missed her wince when she stood up. Violet had to clutch Dudley's oversized shirt with her free hand to keep it from falling down around her shoulders as Narcissa led her into the hallway and over the unmoving forms of Vernon and Petunia.

"Are they….are they dead?"

"Unfortunately not. Simply stunned, I'm afraid. Though I have a rather overwhelming desire to end their pathetic existences," Narcissa said as she opened the front door and led Violet and Draco to the edge of the driveway to apparate them to Malfoy Manor.

They apparated into an extraordinarily beautiful foyer. The entire hall, floor to ceiling, was covered in black, white, and grey marble. The black marble so dark that it's surface was as reflective as a mirror. There were two grand curved staircases on either side of the hall with high onyx candelabras atop the balusters at the foot of each staircase. The wrought iron railing was a pale grey in color which made their intricate curved design stand out and sparkle, further illuminating the stark beauty of the hall. There were very few decorations in the foyer but it didn't need any. The staircases were clearly the focal point of the room. Violet was too exhausted from the apparition and pain in her back to appreciate the beauty of the hall. She stumbled as they landed but Draco managed to grab her elbow before she fell onto the marble floor.

"Thanks," she mumbled as she adjusted Dudley's shirt once again.

"You're welcome," he said but he didn't let go of her elbow. He was afraid that she was going to fall.

"Draco darling, why don't you help Violet to her room? I need to speak with your father."

Draco nodded at his mother and began to lead his friend away from the hall. Their plan when they had gone to the Dursleys was to invite her to stay at Malfoy Manor for the rest of the summer so they had already had a room prepared for her. Malfoy's didn't take no for an answer. When Hermione had told Draco that Violet's relatives had her live in a cupboard, he didn't want to believe it. After what he saw today, his hatred of the muggle world only increased.

Narcissa frowned as she watched Draco lead Violet up the stairs. She knew that Hogwarts was supposed to keep watch over all of its students who lived in the muggle world so she didn't understand how no one had noticed the kind of treatment that Violet received at the hands of her relatives. It made her sick to think of a witch, especially a witch from proper stock, being so abused by filthy inbreds. Her frown deepened when she saw the growing bright red color of blood staining the back of Violet's shirt as she and Draco turned the corner.

She turned from the entryway, the black silk of her robes swirling elegantly with her, as she began to head for Lucius's study. She knew she would find him there as it was his favorite room in the house. There he worked on his plans for the ministry, met important guests, and continued to advance the Malfoy name in whatever way he could. Narcissa liked to playfully chastise her husband for his workaholic tendencies but in truth his ambition and commitment to his family were some of the things she loved most about him.

"I assume that by the addition to our wards Miss Potter has agreed to stay?" Lucius asked by way of greeting. He could always tell when his wife was near from the soft tapping of her heels on the marble floors.

"I didn't give her much of a choice, but yes. She will be staying," Narcissa said. This caused her husband to reluctantly look up from the ministry contract he was reading and raise a curious eyebrow at her. It was one of her favorite pastimes to give her husband purposefully vague details about something until he eventually became frustrated and just outright asked her. It was great fun to ruffle his feathers.

Those who didn't know Lucius would describe him as cold and arrogant, and perhaps he was to the outside world. He was a Malfoy after all. Their family didn't maintain their position in society by playing nice and fair. However, when his eyes were fixed on Narcissa, there was nothing but warmth and love in them. Theirs was one of the few marriages in the Pureblood world that was a love match.

"As I know that you won't tell me until I ask you," he paused as he finished reading the last few lines of the contract in front of him, "please elaborate."

"You should have seen the conditions those disgusting muggles," she sneered, "had her living in. A cupboard, Lucius! They had her sleeping in a cupboard! The poor thing is starved and has gashes and bruises all over her body. She could barely handle the apparition to the manor."

Lucius had never met Violet Potter but he already knew a great deal about her. She had managed to impress Narcissa on their first meeting which was a near impossible feat. Draco had also been giving him and Narcissa constant updates about her in his letters home. It appeared that the two were incredibly close and Draco constantly bragged about how she had snubbed 'The Idiot Who Lived' for him. She had also caught the attention of both of his Lords, which was certainly intriguing. So when Draco had begged for them to allow her to stay at their home for the summer, it was an easy choice.

"It seems that Hogwarts has failed to protect one of its students, either they were ignorant or complacent. Both are equally damning. It's most certainly an issue to bring before the board of Governors, I think," Lucius said thoughtfully as the wheels in his mind began to turn at all the possible ways he could use this information to his advantage.

"I agree. It's impossible that someone at the school was not aware of how she was being treated. I remember Severus telling me that he had drawn up a formal complaint against those muggles last year."

Lucius hummed in agreement as he decided on the course of action that he was going to take in order to smear and discredit Dumbledore's name with this.

Narcissa entered the bedroom that she had selected for Violet and was glad to see the girl fast asleep under the pale blue duvet cover. She wouldn't have been surprised if the last time the girl had slept in a bed had been at Hogwarts. As she stepped further into the room she saw that the house elves had finished retrieving what little belongings she had from her relative's house. Draco was seated in a blue and gold chair that he had dragged across the room so that he could sit right next to the bed. He was reading a schoolbook but kept looking up, every few seconds, to make sure that she was still comfortably sleeping.

"How is she?" She whispered as she came to stand next to her son. The angry red gash on the side of the girl's face stood out even more against the different shades of blues and whites that made up the bedroom.

"She wouldn't talk other than to say 'thank you.' I don't think she knew what was happening or where she is. She just fell asleep right when she came in here. I had the house-elves change her clothes, while I grabbed her some food from the kitchens," he sighed and turned to anxiously look at his mother. Narcissa began to stroke Draco's hair as she tried to give him a reassuring smile.

"What did they do to her? Dobby gave me the shirt, well rag, that she was wearing and it's covered in blood! Look!" he said as he bent over and picked up the extremely over-sized shirt for his mother to examine.

Narcissa began to feel her blood boil as she took the blood stained rag from her son. Oh how she wished that she had killed those muggles rather than just stun them. "I'll send for the family medi-witch to examine and treat her at once. She is safe now, Draco. I promise," Narcissa said as she looked down at the sleeping girl.

"But why didn't she tell any of us? She told Hermione that her relatives didn't approve of magic and that she slept in a cupboard but she never….she never…..," he trailed off as the images of what she had probably gone through were beginning to flash through his mind. He was going to be sick. Draco had lived a fairly sheltered and extremely safe and comfortable life. This was the first time he was being exposed to its harsh and ugly side.

"She had her reasons, dear. It wasn't because she didn't trust you. Sometimes there are things in life that are very difficult to speak about. She probably wasn't ready to face those demons yet. Talking about them makes them more real" Narcissa said softly. "We should let her rest."

She took Draco's hand and began to lead him from the bedroom. She turned back once she reached the doorway and snapped her fingers. The thick blue curtains instantly closed and the girl was tucked in tighter under the covers. Narcissa gently closed the door and began to make her way to the nearest fireplace to floo-call the family's medi-witch.

The medi-witch had put Violet into a magically induced sleep as she had begun to run diagnostic spells over the girl and didn't want to startle her. She was running a high fever and it was apparent that there was some kind of infection. The gash on her temple had begun to scab over, so it wasn't coming from there.

"Check her back," Narcissa suggested as she stood on the opposite side of the bed. She had forbade Draco from coming into the bedroom during the examination as she knew Violet would want privacy and she didn't think her son would be able to handle seeing the full extent of damage that had been done to his friend. It touched her to see how protective Draco was of her but she didn't want him to feel responsible for what had happened to Violet.

The witch lifted up the back of the girl's shirt and both women in the room gasped at what they saw. It was even worse than Narcissa had feared. Violet's back was covered in ugly deep red gashes. There was hardly a spot of skin that wasn't marked, marred in some way. Her back was completely torn apart. It was a canvas that depicted the sick abuses and violent habits of one man. The small sections of her back that weren't currently covered in open gashes had deep raised scars.

"This isn't the first time that this has happened," the medi-witch plainly said as she bent down to get a better look at the damage done to the girls back. "Based on the scar tissue, I'd say that this has been going on for at least six years."

"But she's only twelve," Narcissa said horrified.

"There's nothing I can do about the scarring. Those current welts, based on the state of the infection, are going to leave particularly deep marks. She has a high fever but it could have been much worse. Her magic must be particularly potent to have kept her from falling to infection for this long," the medi-witch mused. She finished her examination with professional dedication and left several potions to be administered to the girl every few hours.

The next few days passed in a blur for Violet. She was stuck in a semi-conscious state as the world seemed to fade in and out around her. All she could see were fuzzy shades of blues, whites, and golds. There were soft voices and cool liquids down her throat. There was sweet blissful darkness and then there was light. Violet gave a dejected sigh as she saw the familiar white marble of the circular sitting room. It was just as she had remembered. Sunlight poured in through the high arched windows as the pale gold curtains swayed gently in the breeze. The air smelt like an exotic blend of lemon and cypress and there, sitting before a small fire, on a throne of woven gold and bronze branches was Ione in all her ethereal glory.

She looked just the same. Her organza robes were the same absorbent black color that seemed to draw all the sunlight in the room directly to them. Her pale face showed no signs of her age as her golden eyes stared serenely at Violet. Her long white hair fell to just above her waist, refusing to move even for the breeze which stirred throughout the room. Upon her head was a circlet of woven branches to match the ornate chair she was sitting on. She reminded Violet of a statue; frozen and beautiful.

"Hello, Violet Potter." Ione greeted her in a musical voice that was soft yet still seemed to fill up the room.

"Hello," Violet replied, still unsure of herself. She went and took the open chair next to Ione while nervously running her hands through her hair.

"I apologize that we have not seen each other sooner. Time works differently here and I'm afraid I'm still not accustomed to the rules of the mortal realm. It has been a long while since I observed your world."

"Why is that?"

"Last we spoke; I mentioned that the connection has been severed. Our realm is full of magic, our bonds to her unbreakable. The connections and ties that bind us to mortals are disjointed. It is difficult to see through the eyes of blind men," Ione responded cryptically.

Violet sighed. These conversations were always so aggravating, as the things Ione said could be interpreted in about a million different ways. Violet always felt like she was getting only half the story and that Ione assumed she would figure out the rest on her own.

"I don't understand most of the things you say," Violet said in frustration.

Ione responded with an airy laugh; "Understanding is usually gifted as hindsight. One day you will see all of the pieces." She soon became serious. "I am sorry for the pain you have gone through, and the pain that yet awaits. You will endure."

Violet looked at the ground. She wasn't sure how much more she could handle before she shattered completely and irrevocably. She could feel Ione's gaze becoming more intent. "I felt you use your powers during the trials to reach the immortal stone. Your natural instincts are impressive. You will soon grow fully into your gifts but you need guidance if you wish to master them. When you return to your school, seek out the chamber where secrets are held.

"And what if I don't want to master them? What if I don't want anything to do with any of this?"

Ione gave her a sad smile. "We seldom have choice when it comes to fate. Go to the chamber and become who you are meant to be. You are not a pawn, Violet Potter. You would do well to remember that."

Before Violet could ask any more questions, she woke up with a start to find herself in a beautiful bedroom, which was most certainly not the cupboard.

*Chapter 14*: Chapter 14

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise.

Rated: M


A/N: This chapter is a bit lighter than the previous two :) . I thought Violet could use a break. Thanks for reading and reviewing!

Chapter 14: Small Talk

Besides, her conversation with Ione the last thing Violet remembered was laying in the dark of the cupboard. It had been days or maybe weeks that she had been left to rot in there, she couldn't quite remember.

She sat up in what had to be the most comfortable and elaborate bed she had ever slept in. It was huge. Even if she stretched her arms out as wide as she could they still wouldn't have come close to reaching the edge. The deep sky blue curtains that draped around the golden canopy of the bed were drawn back giving Violet a full view of the room. The wallpaper depicted a rather delicate and soft white flower pattern which against the deep blue backdrop looked like fallen snow. The room was lined with tasteful golden trimmings that went all the way to the top of a very high ceiling. A black marble end table sat at the foot of her bed with a variety of potions on top of it.

Violet pushed off the thick sky blue comforter and swung her legs over the side of the bed until her feet touched the shaggy royal blue Persian rug that covered the entire floor. Her legs were weak. How long has she been here for? She managed to slowly make her way to the end table to read the potions labels, they were all medicinal in nature.

There was a soft knock at the door as Violet turned to see Narcissa Malfoy standing in the doorway. The memories of leaving the Dursley's came flooding back to her and Violet realized with a start that she must have been in Malfoy Manor.

"How are you feeling, dear?" Narcissa asked as she made her way into the room. Her pale green dress fluttered behind her as she gracefully took a seat in one of the room's many lounge chairs.

"I'm much better, thank you. I'm sorry to have caused you all so much trouble. I under-,"

Narcissa cut Violet off with a wave of her hand; "Not at all, Violet. We're all just so pleased to see that you are all right and recovering well."

Violet nodded and made her way to the large bay window on the side of her room. She looked out and saw that she had a spectacular view of the gardens. They were cast in a dewy haze as the early morning light began to rise over the estate. The window had a large bench built into it which she sat down on as she turned her attention back to Narcissa.

"How long was I asleep for?"

"About ten days. The medi-witch advised us to give you a potent sleeping draught as your body needed rest to...fight off the infection," Narcissa said softly. Violet thought about jumping out the window at the mention of infection. It meant that Narcissa knew about her back, her darkest and most private secret.

"We don't need to talk about what happened with your relatives right now," she began to say as she got up to stand directly in front of Violet, bending down so that their faces were at the same level. Violet sighed in relief, but that was short lived as Narcissa spoke again. "But we are going to need to talk about it sometime. The medi-witch and I are the only ones who are aware of the….extent of damage on your back. You don't need to talk about it until you are ready, but please know that you can confide in me," she said in a firm but kind voice.

Violet stared the woman directly in the eyes to see if she was sincere with what she said and could tell after a second that Narcissa was indeed telling the truth. She gave her a reluctant nod and Narcissa smiled warmly in return.

"Now you must be absolutely famished," she said as she snapped a finger and a house elf with large eyes and droopy ears appeared. "Dobby, Violet and I would like some breakfast. Bring us a bit of everything" Narcissa commanded as she gave Violet a mischievous smirk.

A second later a glass breakfast table appeared between the two with just about every breakfast food that Violet could think of on it. It made the food selection at Hogwarts looked limited. As soon as the delicious aromas hit Violet's nose, her stomach growled. She made sure to eat at a slow pace as she wasn't used to eating such rich food but Violet made sure to keeping eating until she was full, and then a little more after that. While Narcissa and she had a very pleasant conversation that ranged from what classes Violet enjoyed the most at Hogwarts to the layout of the Malfoy Manor and gardens.

Narcissa left her after breakfast and mentioned that Draco was probably at the quidditch pitch by now if Violet felt like being outside. Anxious to both see her friend and taste the fresh air, Violet quickly ran over to her wardrobe to search for some clothing. She gasped when she had opened the first drawer. The Malfoy's had purchased her an entire new wardrobe; she had never seen so many clothes in her life. Besides her Hogwarts uniforms, the only other clothing she had ever had were Dudley's hammy downs. These clothes, however, had been selected just for her. They were equal parts stylish and practical. She vowed to pay the Malfoy family back with gold from the Potter vault as soon as she was able to get to Gringotts. She opted for a simple and flowy short-sleeved cream colored shirt with dark tan trousers and kept her hair in its usual messy plait.

Violet followed the sounds of birds chirping and insects humming and soon she found herself in the Malfoy gardens. She walked down a gravel path until she could no longer see the estate over the towering trees and shrubs. In typical Malfoy fashion, the gardens were perfectly groomed and maintained. They seemed to go on for miles, highlighting the Malfoy's total dominion and control over their lands. Personally, she preferred the more rustic and wild gardens that just seemed to spill out onto a landscape, but she had to admit there was something especially grand about all the uniform flowers and shrubs around her. Violet was positive that she had even spotted a few peacocks wandering the grounds.

As she searched for the quidditch pitch she came upon a very small courtyard was that surrounded by high shrubs on three sides. It was tucked away on the right side of the path and if someone had been walking quickly they probably would have missed it completely. A wrought iron table with four chairs took up the entire space of the courtyard. A large maple tree planted behind the towering shrubs covered it with shade making sure that it would stay cool as the day warmed up.

The most interesting part of the courtyard however, was that there was a man sitting at the table. He had chosen the chair that directly faced the path so he would be able to see anyone who passed by. He was seated directly across from her, but Violet couldn't see his face; He was reading the newest edition of the Daily Prophet which perfectly obstructed his face from view. His legs were casually outstretched in front of him. His body posture totally relaxed as he turned the page of the newspaper. She could smell the aroma of dark coffee in the air.

"Hello little bird," he said without lowering the paper and Violet felt her heart stop and race all at the same time.

She knew that for as long as she lived she would never forget that voice. It was just as mesmerizing as it had been when she had heard it at Flourish and Blotts last year. She instinctively leaned in to it before catching herself and taking a step back.

"I don't know if you're aware but my name is not Little Bird. What are you doing here?" She asked him as she crossed her arms. It bothered her that she couldn't seem to recall what he had looked like but that his voice had stayed with her.

"Such a rude question," he tsked and turned another page of the paper as he continued to read.

"It's rude to read the newspaper when you're talking to someone," she snapped back. She normally never talked to strangers, well sort of strangers, with that tone but he was the one being rude, not her.

"It would seem that we are at an impasse then," he said. She still couldn't see his face but she had a feeling he was smirking.

"Yes. It would seem that we were destined to be rude to one another. Quite sad, really." she quipped. He gave a genuine laugh in response which she thought had a pleasant sound to it. She noticed she had unknowingly taken a step towards him and mentally slapped herself.

"I'll answer your question if you'll answer one of mine," he said after his laughter had subsided.

"Are you going to stop reading the paper?"

"I can talk and read," he said and turned another page to emphasize his point. She narrowed her eyes at him, even though he couldn't see it. She wondered how he would react if she turned his paper into ashes. "And to answer your first question, I'm here visiting Lucius. We work together."

"At the ministry?"

"You've asked three questions and I've yet to ask one. That hardly seems fair." Violet snorted; she doubted that anyone who worked closely with Lucius had a strict moral code.

"What house are you in at Hogwarts?" Oh. She hadn't thought that he was going to ask her such a basic and banal question. It made her nervous. He was clearly up to something, she was sure of it.

"Ravenclaw…." she said suspiciously; "What house were you in?"

"Guess," he said with amusement lacing his voice.

"I thought we were answering a question for a question. You can't just change the rules halfway through the game!" she said in exacerbation.

"By my count you've asked four questions now and I've only asked one. In fact it seems tha-,"

"Slytherin," she interrupted. Conversing with the man was like being locked in a verbal battle of wits and cunning. Even though she had asked more questions, she felt like he was the one in total control of the conversation. It didn't help matters that she was still talking to the back of the stupid newspaper.

"Well done. What gave me away?" Violet had noticed that the gardens seemed to have grown silent during the conversation. The chirping of birds and hum of insects seemed far off.

"Only Slytherin's turn what should be pleasant small talk," she paused to emphasize the words, "into infuriatingly vague conversations with no clear point," she snapped. Violet's mouth seemed to be working faster than her brain. She just felt compelled to talk to him, or snap at him, or both. His voice had just the right amount of arrogance, amusement, and disinterest to thoroughly vex her. For the first time in months, she could feel her magic surging through her body again and something in it told her not to back down from him. She felt alive.

He laughed again and she turned to leave to go and find Draco, who she hoped was still at the quidditch pitch. Between wandering through the gardens and this current conversation, she had lost track of the time.

As she went to step around the corner, his laughter subsided and his voice took an icy edge; "I heard what happened at Hogwarts at the end of last year. It sounded like quite the trial by fire. How did you manage to handle all those flames and not get burned?"

She stopped dead in her tracks; the witty and light hearted banter disappearing completely. The atmosphere suddenly felt tense as one opponent sized up another. The courtyard felt like it was caving in around her, the air electric. To anyone else and from anyone else, it might have seemed like an innocent turn of phrase but to Violet, it was a loaded question. There was no way that anyone could have known what she had done to get by Snape's enchanted flames. She had told Dumbledore that after Neville had left the vial, she had miraculously found a drop of the potion left inside. She knew it was a weak lie, but Dumbledore hadn't questioned her more about it. She had to answer this carefully so she decided to do the one thing the man would never expect, tell the truth.

"With water," she said simply as she walked away from their conversation and into the peaceful serenity of the gardens. She thought she heard the crinkling sound of the Prophet being folded and placed on the table but she didn't look back.

Much to her relief, Violet finally made it to the quidditch pitch where she instantly spotted Draco trying different flying maneuvers high up in the air. She waved at him and began to walk onto the pitch. It was much hotter on the field than in the gardens as it sat directly in the sun but after being cooped up in the darkness of the cupboard for so long, Violet found that she didn't mind the sweltering heat.

Draco dismounted elegantly from his broom and quickly walked up to meet Violet in the middle of the field. Before she could speak, Draco enveloped her in a fierce hug. Like his parents Draco presented the world with the haughty and cold Malfoy mask but to those who were lucky enough to see underneath it, they would see a fiercely loyal and protective boy. He still had his snobbish qualities but being friends with Violet and Hermione had managed to somewhat temper Draco's arrogance. The two stayed locked in their hug for a few moments before feeling the effects of the summer heat and breaking apart. Violet knew that Draco wanted to ask her about the Dursley's and she knew she wasn't ready to talk about them yet, but instead of asking her about the thing she most dreaded, he surprised her.

"Vi, let's go flying" he said with a slight smile and began to head back to his broom which he had dropped in his haste to get to Violet. She smiled after him and grabbed another broom from the equipment shed.

She shot straight up into the air as her hair whipped out of her braid and flew wildly around her face. The sharp uptake graced her with a strong cooling breeze, a welcome reprieve from the summer heat, as she shot higher and higher into the sky. She evened out as she flew well past the tree line and was greeted with an exquisite view of Malfoy Manor. Seeing it, in its entire splendor, made her understand why Draco was always bragging about his home. It was simply extraordinary. She laughed as she began to take her broom up even higher over the grounds and began to fly in large loop-de-loops before diving straight for the ground, evening out well before she came even close to reaching the field, and then spiraling upwards again.

It was liberating to fly. Violet always found a sense of freedom and peace when she was in the air, as if all of her troubles were stuck on the ground. To ride with the wind with nothing but your broom separating you from plummeting towards the earth produced a rare and exquisite sense of exhilaration that couldn't be found anywhere else. It was also one of the few connections that she had to her father, who according to numerous Hogwarts professors was quite the flyer in his day as well.

Draco rode up beside her and gave her a long stare; "Do you want to talk about it?" He asked over the soft summer breeze.

Violet sighed; "Not really. I can't. Not yet at least…I'm sorry."

Draco nodded in understanding. "Don't ever apologize for what happened to you, Violet. It isn't your fault. You know that right? Just tell me the truth; are you going to be alright?"

Violet looked at the first friend she had ever made. He had rescued her, in more ways than one. In more ways than she could ever adequately express to him. His eyes were full of concern, concern for her. She'd be okay, if he was there. "I will be someday, Draco." She smiled at him.

Draco returned the smile and pulled a small golden ball from his pocket. "First to five?" He asked.

Violet nodded and laughed before darting off after the snitch leaving Draco in the dust. The two spent the rest of the afternoon playing quidditch and just lounging on their brooms while floating idly through the air. It wasn't until sunset that their feet touched the ground, both exhausted but content.

The rest of the summer was the happiest and most carefree that Violet had experienced in her twelve years of life. Draco and she had spent most of everyday playing quidditch or lounging about the manor. One of their favorite pastimes was slightly rearranging the objects in Lucius's office. They would leave things just off center enough that he would be able to tell that something was different but not what. It would drive him crazy. They had run out of his study laughing more times than they could count as Lucius yelled after them. Narcissa often joined the two of them for lunch where she would amuse them with tales about her and Lucius's days at Hogwarts. It seemed the couple at originally gotten off to a rocky start as Narcissa had first found Lucius to be humorless while he had found her to be utterly ridiculous. There was so much joy and warmth in the manor and in its occupants that Violet was constantly in a state of disbelief. She hadn't known that life could be this peaceful, this simple. Violet was looking forward to returning to Hogwarts but she would miss the routine she had become accustomed to at the manor.

The late summer breeze flittered through room carrying with it the faint sounds of rustling leaves from the garden. Violet was delighted to find that the large bay window in her room opened allowing her to hear and smell the gardens below; the scents of pine and lilac filling her room each and every day. The bench in front of the window had quickly become her favorite spot to spend her mornings. She was already dressed in a fitted black blouse with light tan wide leg trousers as she waited for Draco to join her for breakfast before they headed to Diagon Alley for school shopping.

He entered her room without knocking, as usual, dressed in a black shirt with black pants, and grabbed a muffin from the breakfast table before taking a seat on one of the lounge chairs in the room. Their rooms were across from one another and most nights the two would sit in their respective doorways and stay up talking about anything and everything that crossed their minds. It wasn't uncommon for Narcissa to find them both asleep in the hallway rather than their beds each morning as they had dozed off while talking.

Violet leaned her head back against the wall as her thoughts, again, turned to the man who she had talked to in the garden. It had been almost a month but she couldn't stop thinking about it and that bothered her. Well, everything about him bothered her. He was just a uniquely bothersome person, she supposed. That must have been why she couldn't stop thinking about their encounter.

"Draco, do you remember a man who visited your father last month? He was in the gardens. They work together…" Violet trailed off as she realized she didn't know anything else about him.

Draco gave her a puzzled look before continuing to eat his muffin; "Father gets a lot of visitors. It's impossible to remember them all. He prefers to do business at the manor, something about his office at the Ministry not meeting his standards, or something." He shrugged.

"Well, this man was...odd. He was in Slytherin at Hogwarts, if that helps."

Draco snorted, "Vi, pretty much everyone my father does business with is odd and was in Slytherin. You're going to need to more specific."

Violet sighed in frustration as she got up from the bench. "It doesn't really matter. I doubt we'll ever cross paths again, anyway. Are you ready to go yet? It's going to take us all day to buy all the books we need for DADA." Draco and she had originally thought the Hogwarts's reading list they received had been a joke, but when none other came they realized in abject horror that the list was legitimate.

"Honestly, what kind of professor assigns his own books?" She fumed as she and Draco headed to the front hall were Lucius would apparate them all to Diagon Alley.

*Chapter 15*: Chapter 15

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise.

Rated: M


A/N: Thanks for reading and reviewing! I'm glad/hope you guys like Violet and Tom's interactions. They're definitely going to challenge each other... a lot :p

Chapter 15: Reunions

Diagon Alley was its usual hectic and crowded self as families rushed from shop to shop to prepare for the upcoming school year. It seemed that everyone had chosen that day to do their shopping as the street was packed full of families rushing about with arms full of books and the usual assortment of school supplies. Violet still felt the same sense of awe and wonder as she gazed down the street. Diagon Alley just seemed to embody everything that was special about the Wizarding world. Everything looked so old but somehow felt new. The exquisite towering buildings, shop displays that defied sense, and smells of incense still astounded her. Everything on the street, including it's people, was equal parts chaos and order. The sounds of music and laughter drifted to Violet's ears; she smiled to herself. It was good to see such an abundant amount of carefree happiness in one place.

"I need to go run a few errands on Ministry business. I trust you two to act with all the decorum that is expected from a Malfoy and to stay within the confines of Diagon Alley. Do not go wandering off. I'll meet you in Flourish and Blotts in one hour." Lucius paused as he looked at the duo and gave them a small conspirator's smile, "try not to get into too much trouble." He then took off in the direction of Knockturn Alley. People seemed to recognize him on the street and would give him space as he walked. Being the Minister's right hand certainly came with benefits. Violet wasn't sure what kind of Ministry business would require him to go to Knockturn Alley but she was quickly pulled from her thoughts by Draco dragging her towards the nearest Quidditch Shop.

Draco rushed towards the brooms while Violet made her way over to the glistening golden pile of snitches. She knew she had the body and flying skills of a seeker, and a very large part of her ached to have yet another connection to her father. She was going to try out last year but Ravenclaw had already had a seventh year seeker, and she had no interest in any other position. This year however she knew the spot was open. She smiled as she grabbed one of the balls from the pile and felt the silvery soft wings fluttering against her palm. The shop owner gave a relieved sigh as he saw that she knew how to properly hold it. Based on his frazzled appearance, it seemed that he had spent the entire day chasing after rogue snitches that shoppers had accidentally activated.

"Vi, if you don't try out for Ravenclaw, I am not going to speak to you for the rest of the year," Draco said as he came up next to her with a new case of broom polish. He couldn't stand to see her waste her potential. Draco was planning on trying out for the Slytherin team and he knew that if Violet was on Ravenclaw, the matches between the two teams would be epic. Draco wanted to win everything but that didn't mean that he didn't enjoy a good challenge.

Violet laughed at the image of Draco trying to hold his tongue for an entire year. "I don't know what I would do without your hilarious commentary."

"I'm thinking that you would probably die of boredom, most likely. With just Hermione and Theo for company, you'd probably be driven to insanity as they debated some random useless fact for hours on end. Since I wouldn't be there, with my amazing charm, to break them up. So it seems that it really would be in your best interest, both mentally and physically, to try out for Ravenclaw," he concluded as he paid for the supplies and they left the shop.

"Fine. Fine. You've convinced me! Anything to protect me from a Hermione and Theo debate," she laughed as they continued down the busy street. They spent the next half an hour joking and giggling as they wandered in and out of shops to get all their necessary school supplies.

The pair frowned when they reached Flourish and Blotts as there was an enormous crowd forming outside the door. Draco groaned as he pointed out the sign in the window that said the famous Gilderoy Lockhart was inside for a book signing. "It's bad enough that he's our Professor but now he's invading what's left of our vacation," he moaned as the duo pushed their way into the crowded shop.

It was a madhouse inside the small shop as spectators and fans rushed to get a front row view of Gilderoy Lockhart. Violet and Draco continued to push past the numerous bodies until they reached the much less crowded second floor of the shop. Violet was half-tempted to see if the mysterious bothersome man was in the dark arts section, like last year, but she forced herself not to so much as glance in that direction.

"Oh, good. 'The Idiot Who Lived' is here," Draco seethed as the crowd down below got even more frantic with two such large celebrities in one place. Violet tensed as she knew that Draco was going to cause some type of scene. She looked down at the shop and found Neville along with Ron Weasley, with what must have been the rest of the Weasley clan, if all the bright red hair was anything to go by. Violet wasn't too familiar with the Weasley's but since Ron was Neville's sidekick, she tended to avoid him during the school year. The only Weasleys who she was on good terms with were the twins, Fred and George. Like the rest of the school, she found their pranks hilarious, and the two had always been genial with her when their paths crossed hers.

Neville had grown over the summer but he had lost none of his baby weight. His short cropped brown hair and chubby cheeks made him look rather harmless and slightly dopey. Violet shuddered as she remembered the savage way in which he had slit Quirrell's throat open. She had to look at her arms quickly to reassure herself that she still wasn't coated with Quirrell's sticky warm blood. Violet knew that regardless of his appearance, Neville was ruthless. She grabbed Draco's arm to keep him from going down to confront him; "Please. Don't," she whispered in a pleading voice.

Draco gave her a soft look of understanding before his mouth twisted into a smirk; "Don't worry. I'm not going to challenge him to a formal duel or anything…..but if he or a certain red haired weasel were to get provoked into a fight, well then I don't think anyone would mind if I used a hex to defend myself."

Violet sighed in defeat, without Hermione or Theo here, it would be impossible to talk Draco down and a small, okay not so small, part of her wanted to hex the pudgy prat again. The hatred between Draco, Neville, and Ron boarded on obsessive sometimes but she knew that Draco never forgot or forgave anyone who insulted his family. "Fine, but we confront them together," she said. Draco nodded with a delighted smirk and the two made their way down into the crowd.

They finally reached the signing area where Violet, for the first time, got a look at the famous Gilderoy Lockhart. Violet found him to be handsome but in a rather generic way. His wavy blond hair was perfectly styled while his baby blue eyes rivaled Dumbledore's for twinkling. His off blue and silver robes were of a rich quality and extravagant in make. A large portion of witches and wizards in the shop were swooning at him as he began to smile for them, exposing an absolutely picture perfect smile. Violet noticed his eyes take a calculating glint when they fell on the 'Boy Who Lived.'

"It can't that Neville Longbottom?" Lockhart exclaimed as the crowd separated allowing Neville to confidently walk up to meet the man. The two shook hands and began to smile at the crowd. To everyone but Violet and Draco, the smiles looked like they were full of admiration and kindness. The scene of the two celebrities, smiling together, caused the excitement in the shop to reach even higher heights.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is truly a fortuitous occasion! The timing of this meeting could not possibly be any better…" Lockhart paused to look over the crowd once again to make sure that he had them hanging off of his every word. Once he was sure he had them, he shot them another charming smile. Violet and Draco shared a look of mutual disgust as several people in the room fainted at the sight.

"When Neville Longbottom came into Flourish and Blotts today to buy a copy of Magical Me he had no idea that he would be leaving with an entire signed collection of my total works. Free of charge of course." He paused to allow the crowd to clap and graced them with another award winning smile. Violet had to admit that the man knew how to work a crowd.

"Furthermore, he had no idea that he would be getting so much more than that! And not just him, oh no! You see, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will soon be getting the actual Magical Me. It is with extreme pleasure that I announce that I will be taking the position as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor for the upcoming term," he announced to the near-frenzied crowd with a look of complete pride and satisfaction.

"I'm glad your father warned us beforehand," Violet yelled to Draco over the cheering crowd. The pair had known for weeks about their new DADA professor so they weren't thrown off balance by his announcement. Lockhart and Neville began to pose for the press in earnest. She thought the display was a bit much but the press and crowd seemed to be eating it up. When they were finally done posing, the two celebrities shared a final handshake, and Neville made his way back to the Weasleys.

"Ready to have some fun?" Draco whispered with a malicious look in his eyes as he watched Neville.

"I suppose," she said as she wrapped her fingers around her wand. The holly wand thrummed happily at her touch. She couldn't wait to get back to Hogwarts so she could actually use it again.

The crowd in the bookstore was still enraptured with Lockhart so the duo was able to reach Neville quickly and with minimal pushing. Violet watched in fascination as Draco's face transformed into the haughty and cold sneer that the world expected from a Malfoy. "Bet you loved that didn't you, Longbottom? The famous Neville Longbottom, can't even go into a bookshop without making the front page. You're just bursting for attention, aren't you?" Draco spat.

Violet couldn't help the giggle that escaped her lips at Draco's insult. Draco had the rare talent of knowing the exact right way to phrase an insult in order to get the maximum amount of anger from the recipient. She quickly tried to cover her laugh by coughing but she knew that Neville wasn't fooled. A small red headed girl stepped in front of Neville as she glared furiously at Violet. It didn't bother her in the slightest; nothing the girl could do, would be worse than what Vernon had already done.

"Leave him alone! He was called up by Lockhart! Neville wasn't looking for attention," the small girl proclaimed. Both Violet and Draco snorted at the idea of Neville not looking for attention.

"He may not have been looking for it but he most certainly enjoyed it. I don't think I've had the pleasure," he sneered at the word, "of meeting you before. It seems that Neville has got a little girlfriend. Isn't that sweet?" Draco drawled as he turned his head toward Violet. The little girl turned a deep shade of red while Neville's eyes began to narrow in anger.

Ron appeared from out of the crowd and quickly stood next to Neville. As he took in Violet and Draco his faced turned into a disgusted grimace. "Oh, it's you two. I bet you didn't expect Lockhart to pick Neville over you, eh? Shouldn't you two be in Knockturn alley buying books on dark magic?" Poor Ron didn't know just how outmatched he was when Draco turned his full attention on him. Violet had yet to see anyone beat Draco in a verbal battle and she knew that she wouldn't witness it today, as Draco gave the red haired boy a nasty smirk.

"I'm surprised to see you here, Weasel. I imagine your parents will be starving after today, what with outfitting the entire brood. Although, that might not be such a bad thing," Draco said as he looked behind Ron at Mrs. Weasley. As expected Ron turned deep red and dropped his books into his sister's cauldron. Her arms struggled to maintain the weight of them.

Violet whipped out her wand while positioning herself so that she stood slightly in front of Draco. She knew that he could handle himself but the thought of something happening to him was unbearable. Violet was just getting used to the concept of having people in her life who she cared about and she would die before she let anything happen to them. Before the situation could escalate further, Violet felt a hand gently grasp her shoulder as she was moved behind the imposing figure of Lucius Malfoy.

"Well, what seems to be going on here?" Lucius drawled as he made sure that both Violet and Draco were behind him. He had to reluctantly admit that he had grown fond of her throughout the course of the summer. She respected the Old Ways and showed a keen desire to learn everything there was about the Wizarding world. He found her asleep in the library more times than he could count, hunched over some obscure tome, with the candle light long since burned out. She was also fiercely protective of his son, as Draco was of her. True loyalty in the world was rare to come by and should be valued as the wonderful oddity that it is.

"Ah. It would seem to be the Weasleys and Neville Longbottom. Draco has told me so much about you all," he coolly said. Lucius fixed his icy blue stare solely on Neville as he brushed the boy's bangs aside with the head of his silver snake cane. "Your scar is quite legendary, as is the man that gave it to you," Lucius said as he leaned in slightly to better see the scar.

Neville drew back with a gasp as he glared with vehement hatred at the senior Malfoy. "Grindelwald murdered my parents! He was nothing more than a pathetic murderer!" Neville yelled as his hands clenched into fists. In this instance, Violet couldn't help but agree with Neville.

"Ron! We're leaving now! What's the holdup…?" Mr. Weasley, a tall and thin man with bright red hair approached the group before fully taking in the scene.

"Well, well, well. If it isn't Arthur Weasley," Lucius drawled in a disinterested tone. Inside, he was gleeful. Lucius loved to take advantage of every opportunity he could get to belittle Arthur Weasley, especially in a public setting. The man's fascination with muggles was disturbing and infuriating.

"Lucius," Mr. Weasley responded.

"Busy time at the ministry, it seems. All those raids….I do hope they are paying you overtime for that," Lucius paused to pick up a battered and old version of 'Guide to Transfiguration' from the Weasley girl's cauldron and sneered in disgust, "...evidently not. What's the use of being a disgrace of a wizard if you aren't even paid for the humiliation of it," he asked in a bored tone tinged with distaste.

"We have very different ideas on what disgraces a wizard, Malfoy," the elder Weasley said in a slightly raised voice.

"Clearly," Lucius drawled, like it was the most obvious statement in the world. He turned his attention towards Draco and Violet while completely dismissing the Weasleys; "Come along, children. It's best not to dally among the less desirable." Lucius led Draco and Violet from the shop without so much as another glance at Arthur Weasley and his offspring. They soon apparated back to the Manor, where Violet and Draco spent the remainder of the day excitedly organizing their school supplies and packing for the upcoming year.

Violet followed behind the Malfoy's as they made their way onto the platform and over to the Hogwarts Express. She was grateful to them for taking her away from the Dursley's and giving her the most wonderful summer of her life. Narcissa had stoutly refused any form of repayment that Violet offered to give them for her clothing and boarding. She stepped back to give Draco and his parents some space as they said goodbye to each other. The last thing Violet wanted was to wrongly insert herself into their lives. She didn't want them to feel obligated to take care of her; she didn't want to be a burden to anyone. Violet turned away from Draco hugging his parents as she looked over the crowded platform. It was full of similar displays of affection and Violet's heart ached as she fantasized about what it would have been like if her parents had been there. She imaged her father ruffling her hair and lifting her up to hug her tightly. Her mother would be scolding him but laughing at the same time as she kissed Violet atop her head.

Her vision was suddenly obstructed by the light grey silk robes of Narcissa Malfoy who enveloped her into a maternal hug. Violet hesitantly returned the hug. She wasn't used to affection from adults. "We expect at least one letter a month about your schooling and daily goings on. I don't want to hear about any dueling in the library or you can expect a howler," Narcissa said in a strict yet kind voice. "We know that you'll excel in your classes, as usual, and keep an eye out for a care package from me within the month," she said as she brushed some of the stray strands of hair out of Violet's face.

"I'm sure that we'll be hearing about you making seeker for Ravenclaw within the next few weeks," Lucius said as he gave Violet a warm smile. She returned the smile and nodded at the two of them; relieved that they didn't see her as an annoyance. Violet turned to get on the Hogwarts Express feeling much lighter than a few moments before.

Draco had gone ahead to secure a compartment as they filled up quickly with students anxious to find somewhere to sit that had some privacy. Violet found him easily enough and made her way into the small compartment. She barely had a moment to notice that Draco wasn't alone before she was attacked by the bushy haired Hermione Granger who shrieked in delight as she jumped on Violet. "I can't believe I haven't seen you since last year! Oh, I've missed you! How was your summer? I hope you and Draco didn't get into too much trouble..." Hermione cried while Violet returned her hug with equal enthusiasm and a laugh. Hermione soon released her as Theo gave her a much quieter but no less warm hug and greeting.

The four students easily fell into a good-natured conversation about their various summers. Draco and Violet purposefully left out what had happened at the Dursleys as Draco knew that Violet would talk about it when she was ready. He didn't want her to close herself off to them if they pushed her too hard.

"Did you ever receive any of our letters?" Theo inquired after the train had begun to move.

Violet shrugged and looked out the window; "They probably just got lost or something."

"So every single letter that Hermione, Draco, and I wrote you just is lost in the post? Hermione probably wrote you over fifty letters in two months. There's no way that each one of those was lost."

"Well, I was worried," Hermione interrupted.

"You really think someone is what…stealing my mail?" Violet looked at the faces of her three friends and realized that was indeed what they thought. "What kind of sad person would steal letters that a bunch of twelve year olds wrote?" Everyone's faces turned contemplative in thought as they brainstormed possible suspects. They sat in silence for a few minutes before Theo attempted to lighten the mood.

"So, Draco told me what happened at Flourish and Blotts last week. Is it just something about Longbottom and books that make you want to duel?" Theo asked with a smirk as he recalled the now infamous library duel that Violet had dragged him into last year. Hermione raised her eyebrow at Violet as she waited for her friend to answer. Violet turned her head towards Draco to explain, as the whole thing had been his idea.

"We didn't duel or anything. I just noticed that Longbottom's head was getting too big so I kindly decided to help bring him back down to reality. Of course the Weasleys were there and rushed to defend their hero, so things got a little heated but no spells were actually thrown," Draco casually said as he began to pull out money for the candy cart. Violet nodded in agreement while Hermione and Theo laughed at Draco's nonchalant expression.

As the train ride progressed, Draco and Theo became immersed in a game of exploding snap while Hermione and Violet continued to catch up about how their summers had been. Violet made sure to ask Hermione the most questions about her family's trip to America as she wasn't too keen on answering questions about her summer; being around her friends again made Violet begin to feel calm and content in a way that she hadn't felt since last year. She hadn't let herself realize how much she had missed them until they were all right back in front of her.

They soon arrived at Hogwarts and made their way back onto the busy platform, except this year they knew exactly where to go. Violet smiled to herself as the four climbed into a carriage and began their journey up to Hogwarts, where a whole new year of adventures waited for them.

*Chapter 16*: Chapter 16

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise.

Rated: M


Chapter 16: Chaos and Classes

Violet and Hermione sat at the Ravenclaw table while they and the rest of the school waited for the sorting to begin. Hermione and Padma were discussing their summer while Violet kept her attention focused on the teacher's table. Professor Snape was missing while Professor McGonagall had a worried expression on her face. Violet noticed that the professor's eyes kept glancing over to the Gryffindor table.

She nudged Hermione and whispered; "I think Longbottom and Weasley are missing." Hermione's eyes quickly darted around the room and she came to the same conclusion as Violet.

"Where do you think they could be?"

Violet shrugged as the great doors to the hall opened and a bunch of terrified first years made their way into the room. The sorting hat sung a song similar to last years and soon the hall erupted into loud sounds of cheering and applause as first years began to be sorted. Violet and Hermione clapped loudly whenever anyone was sorted into Ravenclaw and soon the empty spaces at the end of the table began to fill up. Beside Hermione sat a girl with ash blond hair that fell to her waist and round light blue eyes that seemed to be examining the ceiling. She wore radish earrings and a necklace made from butterbeer caps. Violet thought that she would fit right in, Ravenclaw was the house of eccentrics after all.

Hermione held out her hand to the girl and greeted her warmly. "Welcome to Ravenclaw! I'm Hermione Granger and this is Violet Potter. We're second years."

The girl turned her serene stare from the ceiling to Hermione; "Thank you. It's nice to be welcomed. I am Luna Lovegood," she said in a dreamy voice.

"Er, right. Pleased to meet you," Hermione said as she gave Violet a concerned look.

The girl seemed unperturbed and continued to stare dreamily about the room. Luna's face formed into a frown when she looked at Violet; "Oh dear. It seems you have an infestation of nargles. I can give you some radish earrings to keep them away."

Hermione choked on her pumpkin juice as Violet gave the girl a slight smile; "that'd be great, Luna."

Violet and Hermione excitedly made their way down to the common room for the first day of classes. The room was full of students anxiously checking to make sure that they all had their supplies and summer homework with them before leaving the room. The circular room with its light blue walls and high ceilings still reminded Violet of being in the sky among the clouds. It was probably one of the most peaceful places in all of Hogwarts.

The girls ate their breakfasts quickly since their first course was Herbology which was quite the trek from the Great Hall. Violet groaned as she saw the red and gold colors of Gryffindor's making their way to Herbology as well. "It looks like all of our classes are going to be with them again," she sighed.

Hermione chuckled at her friend's displeasure as she adjusted the overflowing book bag on her back; "It's not that bad, Vi. Just think of it as an opportunity to show them all up," she said with a mischievous smile.

Professor Sprout stood at the head of the greenhouse as the second years began to pour in. The Ravenclaws took the right side of the room while the Gryffindor's took the left. 'Well, it looks like the battle lines have already been drawn,' Violet thought to herself as she saw the glares being directed at her from most of Neville's friends She still didn't know where Neville and Ron had been during the feast but based on the howler that Ron had received this morning, she assumed that they had gotten into some kind of trouble.

"All right, second years! Approach the table," The slightly round and peppered haired Professor Sprout said as she motioned the students forward. There were brown potted plants running down the table in front of each student. "Today we will be repotting mandrake plants. Now can anyone tell me about them?"

Hermione's hand shot up first and the Professor nodded at her to answer; "the mandrake or mandragora, is a powerful restorative. It is used to restore people who have been transfigured or cursed back to their original state."

"Well done, Ms. Granger. Take ten points for Ravenclaw," Sprout said as she smiled fondly at the girl. "Now, can anyone tell me why we might be needing these?" She asked as she held up a pair of black earmuffs.

Violet raised her hand and Sprout pointed at her to answer. "The mandrake's cry is fatal to anyone who hears it. However, if the mandrake is still young, its cry will just knock a person unconscious for several hours."

Sprout beamed at both her and Hermione. "Take another ten points for Ravenclaw, Miss Potter. As Ms. Granger and Ms. Potter have pointed out the mandrake is a key ingredient in restorative potions. These mandrakes are still juveniles, so have no fear, and as long as your earmuffs are securely on, you will be fine. Now let us begin," she said as she lifted the mandrake from its pot.

Every student in the class quickly put their hands over their ears as the earmuffs did little to cover the shrill scream of the mandrake. Unfortunately, Neville was too busy glaring at Violet, instead of making sure that his earmuffs were firmly attached, and quickly fainted when the students began to pull the mandrakes out of the soil. Violet burst out laughing as she watched his eyes rolling back as he fell completely backwards into the dirt. Hermione and several other Ravenclaws were trying to stifle their own giggles.

Violet was still snickering as she and Hermione left the greenhouse to return back to the castle. It felt very satisfying to leave behind an unconscious Neville Longbottom. Transfiguration proved to be just as difficult as always. Their first assignment was to turn beetles into buttons which only Hermione and Violet were able to accomplish by the end of the class, earning even more points for Ravenclaw in the process. Violet could feel her confidence rising with each point that was awarded.

The duo entered the Great Hall for lunch to find an amused Draco and a horrified looking Theo already seated at the Ravenclaw table next to Luna Lovegood.

"No, wrackspurts aren't real," Theo said in exacerbation as he glared at Luna. Draco began to laugh as he watched how frustrated Theo was getting. The two had been arguing back and forth for ten minutes about the existence or non-existence of wrackspurts.

"I don't know, Theo. It would explain why you didn't earn us any points in charms today." Theo narrowed his eyes at Draco in response.

"Hello everyone," Violet said as she and Hermione sat down next to Luna. She began to help herself to the roast chicken on the table but soon stopped when she felt a pair of eyes glaring at her. Violet looked up to see Ginny Weasley staring at her with a clear look of hatred on her face. She was seated at the Gryffindor table, next to Neville with the rest of his friends gathered around.

"Well, it seems I've made a new friend," she said in a chipper voice as she gave Ginny a mocking smile that she had learned from Narcissa over the summer.

"She's just jealous that Neville spends all his time staring at you," Hermione responded as she glared at Ginny.

Violet choked on her chicken as she turned to Hermione with wide eyes. Both Theo and Draco nodded at Hermione's assessment of the situation. Violet stared at her friends in disbelief; "Well it's too bad that she's too dumb to notice the difference between a stare full of hate and one full of love," Violet said in a heated tone. She didn't want anything to do with Neville. She shuddered as she once again thought of Quirrell's open throat.

"I think Violet's right. But you'd do well to remember that love and hate are two sides of the same coin," Luna dreamily said as she gave Violet a sad look and drifted away from the table.

"...great," Violet sighed as she went back to eating her chicken. "Could we talk about something less upsetting?"

"Okay, what class do you guys have next?" Theo asked as his pale green eyes began to go over his schedule for the rest of the day. Theo and Hermione were definitely the most studious of the group and planned their days around reading and their coursework. Violet wouldn't be surprised if the two actually penciled in a 'free time: socialize with friends' hour into their schedules.

"We have DADA," Hermione said in an excited voice. "I can't believe that the Gilderoy Lockhart is our professor! We're going to learn so much this year."

Theo snorted: "Please, don't tell me that you have a crush on Lockhart, Hermione."

Hermione's cheeks turned bright pink as she glared at Theo. "Of course not. He just seems like such a learned man," she snapped in annoyance. Obviously, Theo disagreed with her and the two then spent the remainder of the lunch hour debating Lockhart's intelligence.

Hermione stormed away from the lunch table in frustration at the end of the hour. Violet had to run to keep up with her as they made their way to the DADA room. They sat together in the front of the class as Violet looked in horror at the room around her. It was covered in both pictures and paintings of Lockhart. There wasn't a spot in the classroom that wasn't in some way covered with an image of Lockhart smiling, winking, or both. Violet rested her head on the table as she groaned in annoyance.

"Don't you start in on him too," Hermione snapped.

"Hello, Hello," the booming voice of Lockhart sounded from behind the class as he began his grand entrance into the classroom. He was in full form today with golden robes that perfectly matched his wavy blond hair. "Welcome to Defense Against the Dark Arts! I am your new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart: recipient of the Order of Merlin, third class; honorary member of the Dark Force Defense League; and five time winner of Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smile Award," he said as he graced the room with that award-winning smile. Violet could have sworn that she heard Hermione audibly sigh at that smile. "But of course, you all already know that," he added with a robust laugh as he made his way to the front of the room.

"I thought we might begin with a small exam to see how much you all have absorbed from Magical Me," he said as he began to pass out a thick stack of test packets to the room. Violet felt her ire rise as she began to flip through the lengthy exam; all of the questions were about Lockhart's favorite color or what his ideal birthday present would be. There was no way she was taking this but she had to be crafty about it.

She raised her hand and tried to emulate the look of total adoration that Hermione had been wearing since Lockhart had stepped into the classroom. "Yes, Miss Potter?" Lockhart asked from the front of the room where he had been admiring one of his many photos.

"Excuse me, sir. I know the exam is important but... it's just that you're such an…..extraordinary wizard. I mean, you're simply legendary! I was hoping that we might get to witness you in action. It's not every day that one of the greatest wizards who ever lived is teaching you. Maybe we could do a practical exercise, instead of a written exam, where we would really be able to….appreciate your magical prowess in person," she said in what she hoped was a star-struck voice.

Lockhart began to beam under her compliments and it wasn't long before the other girls in the class joined in. Violet smirked at her handy work. "Oh please, Professor! Please show us how you banished Brandon the Banshee," Lavender Brown cried from the back of the room.

He shot the room another award-winning smile; "Well, I suppose we could do something more practical. It is my job to prepare you for the real world but I must warn you that with me as your teacher, you will face your darkest fears and be exposed to some of the foulest things on the planet," he said dramatically. Everyone in the room tensed at his words as he tapped on a large object hidden under a dark red sheet. It began to rattle and emit sounds of frantic murmurs and fluttering wings.

Violet's smirk quickly faded as she realized that this might actually be worse than the exam. Lockhart pulled the sheet back and the class let out a relieved sighed as they saw that there were only Cornish Pixies in the cage. "You might think they're harmless now but these are tricky little blighters. Let's see how you handle them!" He said as he opened the cage door.

The pixies shot from the cage in a chaotic horde of electric blue and descended upon the classroom before any of the students could prepare themselves. Pictures were being flung from the walls, books were being ripped apart, and windows were shattered covering desks and the floor in shards of glass. Violet and Hermione looked up to see Neville being dragged up to the ceiling by several of the pixies. He tried to swat at them which earned him a several bites from their sharp needle-like teeth. They left him hanging from the chandelier as they continued on their path of mischievous destruction.

"Alright! Alright! Round them up!" Lockhart said with a slight panic tinging his usual bravado as he surveyed the damage being done to the room. This would be difficult to explain to Dumbledore. The students ignored him as they began to scream and rush towards the door causing even more destruction in their panic to leave the classroom as quickly as possible.

"Peskipiksi Pesternomi!" Lockhart shouted and swished his wand at the pixies. Unsurprisingly, nothing happened. This spurned the pixies on and they quickly grabbed his wand and threw it out one of the broken windows. Lockhart began to back towards the door with the rest of the class; "I'll just let you two catch the remaining ones," he said quickly to Violet and Hermione before he darted from the room, closing and locking the door behind him.

Throughout the whole ordeal the pixies had avoided flying too close to Violet and by proximity Hermione. She had a sinking suspicion as to why but she wasn't sure what Hermione was making of the whole thing. She hoped that her friend was too distracted by the general chaos to pay too close attention but she knew the game was up when one of the pixies flew right in front of her and looked at her intently. It gave her a slight bow. Violet held out her hand for it to land on; "The time of fun and mischief is over for now, little beast. Take your siblings and leave through the window. Be free and enjoy your wicked wildness," she whispered in a voice full of confidence and poise. The pixie grinned and nodded. The electric blue horde quickly flew out of the room through the shattered window.

"Vi, your eyes," Hermione said in a concerned voice as she realized that they had turned golden once again. The last time Hermione had seen Violet's eyes change color had been when she had confronted Quirrell. She knew from last year that Violet's magic was the same but different from the other students. It was the one puzzle that Hermione couldn't figure out. The girls were soon distracted by the sound of fabric ripping as Neville fell onto a desk with a large thud, knocking it over in the process. They raced over to him to see that he was fine but had landed awkwardly on his wrist.

"It's just not a good day for you, eh Neville?" Violet said with a smirk. "Let's get you to the infirmary." Neville nodded, as he was still in a daze, and let the two girls lead him to the infirmary. Hermione kept shooting Violet concerned looks but decided to let the issue drop as her eyes had quickly gone back to their normal hazel color.

Violet stood on the quidditch pitch as the sun had just begun to rise over the Hogwarts grounds. The grass was still dewy and she could feel the wetness sinking into her shoes as she waited for the tryouts to begin. She inhaled the sweet smell of grass and earthy wood smell from her broom as she began to take deep breaths to calm her nerves. They used the school brooms for tryouts to ensure that no one had an unfair advantage, which worked just fine for Violet. She could make any broom spectacular. Her hair was in its usual tight braid but she knew the second she took to the air it would whip out around her.

Cho Chang, a third year, stood next to her, glaring daggers at her as they waited for Roger Davies, the captain, to finish telling the students trying out to be beaters and keepers where to wait. 'Well, there goes the house unity,' Violet thought when Roger finally turned his attention to the two wanna-be-seekers.

"Alright guys, I'm going to release the snitch as we try out the other players. Your job is obviously to catch it. I'll be paying attention to your flying skills and whatever maneuvers you do in the air as well. Best of luck to you both," he said as he reached into the Quidditch chest to release the fluttering golden snitch. It danced about their heads for a second before flying off into the empty stands. Violet didn't hesitate as she leapt onto her broom and shot straight up into the air, laughing all the way, as the wind caressed her face and freed her hair.

Everyone on the ground gaped at the girl with wild dark hair as she spiraled high into the sky and became lost among the clouds before shooting down in a beautifully executed tight spiral. Meanwhile, Cho was unsuccessfully combing the stands; her flying looking chunky and forced compared to the effortless grace of Violet's broom skills. Cho kept circling the stands as she searched in the last place that the snitch had been seen. Violet knew that it was already long gone as it never liked to stay in one place too long. The snitch was a fickle thing. It would appear again when it was ready, so for now she would enjoy the air, and the sky, and the wind. She belonged up there in that light blue of the sky. Violet pushed her broom as fast as it would go until she became a blur to those on the ground as she launched into her favorite wide loop-de-loop patterns over the pitch.

A golden glimmer caught the corner of her eye as she finished another loop-de-loop. The snitch was fluttering a few feet from the Quidditch goal posts. Violet saw that Cho had also spotted the snitch and was much closer to it than she was. She narrowed her eyes in determination as she shot towards the goal posts, reaching them a few seconds after Cho. The snitch just out of both of their grasps shot upwards and across the field in the opposite direction. The two girls chased after it before it stopped going upwards and began to head straight for the ground.

They quickly changed direction and began the downward descent after the snitch. Cho tried to shove Violet off course, but Violet held on tightly to her broom and managed to keep her flying line perfectly straight. They plummeted towards the ground and Violet could tell that Cho was getting nervous as she kept casting glances between the ground and the sky. At the last moment, Cho pulled up, while Violet continued to dive straight for the ground with her hand outstretched. When she was only fifteen feet away from colliding with the hard earth, she was rewarded with the feeling of the fluttering wings against her palm as she grasped the snitch in her hand. She pulled her broom up softly becoming completely parallel with the ground before she flew over to Roger and handed him the snitch.

"Welcome to the team," he said with stars in his eyes as he realized that Ravenclaw might actually have a good chance of winning the cup that year with Violet as their seeker. "We practice every Wednesday and Thursday evening...but I'm thinking that we should probably increase our training schedule…" he trailed off as he began to formulate a much more rigorous training regime in his mind. Cho hadn't even stayed to congratulate Violet and was already halfway to the castle before anyone even noticed she wasn't at the pitch any longer. It didn't bother Violet though; she was beaming as she realized that she was a seeker at Hogwarts, just like her dad.

*Chapter 17*: Chapter 17

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise.

Rated: M


Chapter 17: Enemies of the Heir Beware

Violet and Hermione were on their way to the library as usual when they entered a relatively empty corridor. Violet groaned in annoyance when she saw Pansy Parkinson and Millicent Bulstrode walking in the opposite direction. Most of Slytherin House's members were either friendly or at the very least polite to Violet and Hermione but Pansy Parkinson was the one exception. It wasn't uncommon to find her sneering and attempting to provoke Violet or Hermione whenever they came across one another. Pansy had become even more of a nuisance this year as her engagement to Theo had been announced. The two wouldn't actually wed until after they graduated from Hogwarts and there had yet to be a formal announcement but to Pansy they might as well have already been married. Arranged marriages were one of the most important aspects and traditions of Pureblood life as the goal of each Pureblood Family was to protect their bloodlines and maintain their lands and power with an advantageous match.

"Let's just ignore her?" Violet asked Hermione as they continued to walk down the hallway. Hermione nodded in agreement as she shouldered her overflowing book bag more securely on her back.

They managed to pass by Pansy and Millicent with little incident and Violet breathed a sigh of relief. They were already running late to Transfiguration and she knew that McGonagall had a no excuses policy when it came to tardiness.

"Ew. I think I can actually smell her dirty blood," Pansy said in an over-exaggerated stage whisper to Millicent. The two began to snicker. Hermione's eyes narrowed and Violet stopped walking and immediately turned around.

"What did you say?" Hermione asked as Violet pulled out her wand.

Pansy glared at Hermione. For whatever reason, she seemed to have singled Hermione out and would always try to find the absolute cruelest things to say to her. Most of the time her insults were superficial in nature and Hermione was able to brush them off but this newest verbal attack felt different.

"You heard me. You have dirty blood, Granger. We shouldn't even be talking to you. I better warn Teddy and Draco…don't want your filth to rub off on them. I don't think you can catch Mudblood but better safe than sorry." Pansy wrinkled her nose for effect as she looked Hermine up and down in disgust.

Hermione gasped at the word and took a step back with her eyes now cast on the floor. Violet already had her wand out. "Flippendo," she hissed. Pansy shrieked as she was instantly thrown back by the jinx. Her school books scattering around the floor as she fell.

Millicent was fumbling to get her wand out as Violet pointed hers. "Are you sure you really want to duel Bulstode. I heard you failed your DADA final. You'd be better off walking away. Now" Violet said in heated anger. The little sense that Millicent had was enough for her to realize it was now two against one as Hermione's wand was pointed at her as well. She mumbled a fast goodbye and quickly left the hall.

Violet began to slowly walk towards Pansy as she went through every nasty jinx she'd ever learned. She could turn her hair green or give her pimples. Maybe she'd just cast Flippendo again and watch her get thrown down the hallway. There were so many options. She could feel her magic thrumming in agitation as she looked at Pansy. A hand on her arm stopped her in her as she turned to see Hermione shaking her head with slightly watery eyes.

"Let's just go," Hermione said in defeat as she turned and left the hallway.

Hermione was silent throughout Transfiguration shocking everyone in the class. Even McGonagall seemed confused when she asked question after question and Hermione just continued to sit there with a blank look on her face. At the end of the hour Violet pulled Hermione into an empty classroom.

"Are you okay? Pansy's an idiot. Everyone knows it."

"It doesn't matter what I do. I can be at the top in every class, know the Old Ways, and still that won't be good enough."

"Good enough for whom?"

Hermione sighed in frustration and slammed her book bag onto the floor: "It won't be good enough for anyone in the Wizarding World…not really. At the end of the day all people will see is my dirty blood," Hermione spat the words.

"That's nonsense. There isn't a witch or wizard alive today who has 'Pureblood.' Not unless their family has several generations of inbreeding…which might actually explain why Pansy is such an idiot." Violet moved to stand in front of Hermione as she put her hands on her friend's shoulders. "Don't ever believe a word of what they say, Hermione. Blood doesn't matter. Anyone who thinks otherwise is an out of touch and outdated moron. You're already being called the brightest witch of the age and there isn't a spell that you can't do. You're more of a witch than Pansy will ever be. Don't let idiotic words said by idiotic people bring you down."

Hermione took a deep breath and wiped her eyes. "It hurt to be called that and to know that my blood has been a topic of discussion in Slytherin," Hermione fumed, "but…you're right."

"I have my moments," Violet joked to try and lighten up the moment.

Hermione playfully rolled her eyes and looked down at her watch. "Oh no. We're going to be late for Potions. Snape's going to murder us," she cried as she rushed to pick up her bag and drag Violet out of the empty classroom.

"More likely he'll give us detention and murder Neville just for fun," Violet said as she followed after Hermione.

Violet was making her way back into Hogwarts after a late evening quidditch practice. Roger hadn't been joking when he told the team about the increased training schedule and tougher workouts that he expected from them that year. They had practice every day and Roger was constantly cornering players in the common room to go over new game strategies. It wasn't uncommon to find a large portion of the team hiding on the dormitory stairs to try and avoid him during the week. Violet had already missed dinner so she began to head towards Ravenclaw tower. She knew Hermione would grab her something anyway. Violet and her aching muscles were fantasizing about a warm bath as she entered an empty corridor that would take her to up the spiral staircase to the common room.

She stopped in her tracks when she noticed the torches along the wall beginning to flicker and rattle like something behind the wall was moving them. Her blood went cold when she began to hear a strange hissing fill the corridor. It sounded ancient and every instinct in her body told her that this was a fearsome creature. She could just barely hear the words.

"Kill….hunt….kill…..hunt…." The words filled the hallway as the torches continued to flicker and rattle. It sounded massive. Violet could tell that whatever it was, it was behind the wall, as its chanting began to move farther down the corridor, and farther away from her; the words getting more and more difficult to hear. She turned around to begin to chase after the chanting when she collided right into Luna.

"Oh! I'm sorry Luna. I didn't see you there," Violet said distractedly as she looked down the corridor past Luna. The chanting was getting even farther away as the torches around her returned to their normal state.

"That's alright. Have you noticed the spiders acting differently lately?" Luna asked in her usual dreamy voice as she smiled at Violet. Luna hadn't made many friends as most students found her to be too odd and had taken to teasing the girl, but none of it seemed to bother her. She simply floated around the castle with a serene smile on her face and eyes that seemed to be seeing more than anyone else.

"Um….no. Do you hear that voice?" She asked as she began to walk down the corridor in the direction that whatever the creature was had gone. Anything chanting 'kill' and 'hunt' couldn't be a good thing for any living thing that crossed its path. She quickened her pace as she realized it was headed towards the Great Hall.

"I don't hear anything. That doesn't mean that it isn't there though," Luna said as she began to follow after Violet.

"It's moving! We have to hurry!" Violet exclaimed while breaking into a run. Her sore muscles quickly forgotten as the adrenaline began to pump through her veins. The two girls raced down the corridor but came to an instant stop as they rounded the corner and saw Neville and Ron standing in front of a pool of blood that was slowly spilling out of the cracks at the bottom of the stone wall.

As Violet looked up from the blood soaked floor she saw that there was deep red writing on the wall. "The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the Heir…..beware," she read aloud in a horrified whisper. Blood continued to leak from the wall until it completely coated the floor in front of the message. The light of the torches reflected back from the pool. All the color drained from Violet's face as she remembered the words Ione had spoken to her over the summer about becoming who she was meant to be. Well, if all this blood and chanting had to do with the chamber; Violet certainly wasn't going to follow that advice.

"What did you two do?" she asked in an accusatory voice as she had to step farther away from the wall so her shoes weren't coated in the still pooling blood.

"We didn't do anything! We just got here!" Ron frantically yelled. The corridor began to grow louder as students leaving dinner began to file into the hall. All chatter stopped when the students began to reach the bloody message and floor. The small space becoming pack full as almost every student in Hogwarts was trying to see what was happening. Violet was instantly surrounded by Hermione, Theo, and Draco who pushed their way to the front of the crowd in order to get to her.

"Enemies of the heir beware? What kind of game are you playing at?" Theo hissed at Neville and Ron who were positioned closest to the message; the pooling blood separating them from the rest of the students in the corridor.

"Where….where is all that blood coming from?" Hermione asked as she pointed at the ever growing puddle.

"Students return to your dormitories. At once," came the booming voice of Dumbledore as he made his way to the front of the corridor with several other professors' right behind him. The crowd began to reluctantly disperse and head to their respective dormitories much quieter than before. "Mr. Longbottom, Mr. Weasley, Miss Potter, and Miss Granger; please remain," Dumbledore said in a stern voice. He had seen Hermione at dinner but he realized she would be a useful tool in getting Violet to his side as Hermione was more likely to support the Light compared to Draco and Theodore. The professors waited for the crowd to completely disappear before they began their interrogation of the four remaining students.

"We didn't do anything, we swear!" Ron pleaded, "We were on our way to dinner when we came across this," he said as he gestured frantically to the message and blood.

"Mr. Longbottom?" Dumbledore prompted at the boy who hadn't stopped staring at the message on the wall. "Ron is telling the truth, sir. We had just left detention with Professor Lockhart when we saw the blood on the floor. The message had already been written but the blood...just kept coming," he said in a far off sounding voice. Violet couldn't tell if Neville was in shock or if he was fascinated by what was happening.

"I can vouch for the boys," Lockhart said in his cocky baritone, "It's a shame I hadn't been here. I know the perfect counter curs-,"

"Do be quiet." McGonagall snapped at Lockhart while Snape began to cast different detection spells over the message and blood. She turned to Violet with worry clear in her eyes; "Ms. Potter, can you elaborate as to why you were here?"

Violet stepped closer to Hermione to gather her confidence. "I was heading back to Ravenclaw from quidditch practice when I noticed the torches along the wall there was a sudden gust of breeze in the corridor. I turned around and began to follow them and that's when I came upon Neville and Ron." She decided to keep out that she had heard a voice behind the wall as she didn't want to be involved in this anymore than she needed to be. Violet was also positive that nothing good every came from someone claiming they heard a disembodied voice speaking to them.

"The message was hand written," Snape concluded, "the blood appears to be coming from something behind the wall."

"There's too much of it for it to be a small rodent," McGonagall said. She began to swish her wand in an intricate pattern while chanting under her breath. The four students watched in fascination as the bricks of the wall began to become transparent. It was incredibly advanced magic to transfigure stone into glass. The fascination quickly turned to horror when the ghost white corpse of the school's caretaker, Argus Filch, was revealed behind the glass. He was on his back with his head turned towards the hallway; his lifeless eyes staring unseeing into the corridor. His mouth frozen in a scream. He had a long open cut running down the length of his arm which looked like it had refused to clot, causing him to bleed to death. His fingernails were bloody like he had been trying to crawl his way out of the wall. Based on the amount of blood in the corridor his body had been there for at least thirty minutes. Ron had fainted while Violet and Hermione grabbed onto each other and screamed at the sight.

"Girls, return to Ravenclaw immediately! Longbottom get Weasley to the infirmary." Snape commanded as the other professors still seemed to be in too much shock to take control of the situation.

"I trust you all not to let word of what exactly happened here to spread." The harsh uncompromising tone of Dumbledore rang out in the now silent corridor. He gave Violet and Hermione a hard look over his half-moon shaped spectacles. "We wouldn't want the student body to go into an unnecessary panic before we have a better idea of what is going on." The twinkle reappeared in his eyes as his voice became softer, "now, off to the tower you two."

Violet and Hermione nodded; both anxious to get away from the unseeing eyes of the caretaker. They walked in silence through the empty corridors, their footsteps echoing against the silent stones, both too lost in their thoughts to even begin to discuss what had happened. As Violet curled under her deep blue duvet cover in the safety of Ravenclaw tower, she thought she heard a quiet hissing seeping through the wall, expect this time it felt more soothing than menacing.

The next few weeks passed in a blur as the coursework in classes increased substantially. The professors were assigning an unusually large amount of homework in an effort to keep students from focusing on the Chamber of Secrets. Of course, the school was abuzz with rumors about what the Chamber of Secrets was but much to everyone's frustration, there was no information to be found regarding the chamber in any book in the library. There had yet to be another attack but Violet couldn't help looking over her shoulder wherever she went. She couldn't shake the feeling that she was being watched, that there was something or someone just out of her line of sight. She swore she could hear footsteps behind her but when she turned nothing was there. She and Hermione had decided to try not to walk through the castle alone, especially at night. They also had both agreed to go against Dumbledore's orders and tell Draco and Theo about Filch. There were no secrets between the four of them, especially when it came to something as potentially dangerous as this.

"I can't believe that all of the Professors are fine with lying about what happened to Filch and such a weak lie at that. He was suddenly called away on school business? Unbelievable! His job was to take care of the school." Theo snorted.

The four of them were seated around their usual table in the library trying to keep up with their never-ending assignments. Violet didn't miss the look of pure loathing that Madam Pince gave to her and Theo each time she passed by their table. It seemed the strict librarian wasn't the 'forgive and forget' type. Still, she had given them back their full rights to the library and even let the group reserve their favorite table. It was tucked into the far corner of the room; granting them complete privacy but also giving them a clear view of the main doorway. It sat right in front of one of the library's few windows which bathed the old mahogany table in sunlight and gave those seated around it a lovely view of the lake.

"Well everyone else seems to believe it, just fine. It's awful to say but Filch was a fairly nasty man. It's not exactly like he was well loved so I doubt anyone is going to miss him or be anxiously awaiting his return." Hermione responded while she furiously scribbled down notes from 'Hogwarts: A History' to prepare for their Charms essay. Due to the recent events, the book had become increasingly popular among the student body as every person was determined to discover the truth about the Chamber of Secrets. It was so sought after that Madam Pince had forbade it from being checked out and students were only permitted to use it for thirty minutes at a time. Hermione constantly cursed the fact that she had left her copy at home in order to leave space in her trunk for Lockhart's complete works. Even indirectly, Lockhart managed to be a complete nuisance to the students.

Draco looked up from his potions essay and quickly glanced around the room to make sure that no other students were within earshot. "Do you think Dumbledore lied to the Board of Governors? I left out mentioning Filch of course, but father didn't seem at all concerned when I wrote him about the chamber being opened." Draco didn't mourn Filch's loss and was even slightly glad the man was gone, but the fact that Dumbledore could so completely and effectively cover up the man's death was concerning. How much power and influence did Dumbledore have?

"It wouldn't be the first time he's lied. I'm sure," Theo said as he looked up from his book to see that Violet wasn't even remotely paying attention to their conversation. She was gazing out the window while her fingers were absentmindedly drumming against the deep brown table. "Are you alright, Vi? You seem to tune out whenever the Chamber of Secrets is mentioned." Her fingers instantly stopped drumming.

'Damn,' Violet thought as she tried to think up some excuse. Violet hated lying to her friends but there was no way that she could tell them about Ione and the chamber. Either they would think she was insane, or worse they would believe her. She could feel the pale green eyes of Theo assessing her. He was far too observant. Most people assumed him to be aloof as his nose was always stuck in a book and he never participated in any of the school's gossip but Theo possessed the uncanny ability to read almost everyone he saw. He could tell in a second if someone was worth his time, if they were upset or happy, and if they were hiding something. Nothing seemed to escape his notice, including Violet's avoidance of discussing anything related to the chamber.

"Oh, I'm fine. The whole thing is just…unsettling." Well it wasn't exactly a lie since she was definitely feeling unsettled.

Hermione gave her a sympathetic look and stopped her note taking to pat Violet's hand. "I know. I can't get Filch out of my mind. His eyes were just empty and all that blood." Hermione shuddered and drew her school sweater tighter around her body. "We need to find out more about the Chamber of Secrets, as soon as possible."

Violet could feel her heart sink as she saw Draco and Theo nod in agreement. When the three of them put their minds on doing something it was impossible to stop them. "Why would you want to do that? Clearly whatever is involved with the chamber isn't something to mess around with. I mean, a man is dead!" She was beginning to slightly panic. If they found out where the chamber was then that would mean that they would want to investigate, and there was absolutely no way that Violet would be stepping foot in the Chamber of Secrets. If she did, it would mean that she was following Ione's instructions. She didn't want any part of a preordained life. "I'm sure the professors have it all under control anyway," she said nonchalantly.

"Right...just like they had the whole Quirrell was really Grindelwald all along situation under control last year," Theo retorted sarcastically.

"This thing killed a full grown man and then used his blood to write a message! You really think that four second years would have better control over the situation than Dumbledore? Isn't that just the tiniest bit arrogant?"

"We're not talking about fighting it or anything. Just doing research to see if we can find anything out about the chamber. If the thing didn't want people to know about it then why would it have written the message?" Theo argued.

"No! You say that you're just doing research now but the second you find something out you're going to want to go and investigate!" Violet ran a shaking hand through her hair as she tried to convince her friends to stay away from anything involving the chamber. She could tell from their expressions that it wasn't working.

"Vi, when you realized that Grindelwald was going after the stone last year you rushed to stop him," Hermione said softly. "Why is this any different? I mean, we don't even know who 'enemies of the heir' would be. People's lives are in danger and we could help them. Shouldn't we at least try?"

"Why do you three care so much? This castle is full of deadly secrets that you could research. It's obvious the professors have control over the situation. There haven't been any more attacks so either the thing is gone or the Professors know what's happening. You three need to stop trying to play heroes. You aren't. You're just students." She regretted the hero comment the moment it left her mouth as she saw her friends visibly react to it. Violet began to pack up her belongings as she could tell she was losing this argument and her resolve to remain neutral was crumpling.

"Don't be so selfish, Violet. It's not like you to stand by and do nothing when you could help someone instead." Violet gasped at Theo's harsh words as she stood up from the table to leave. She'd never been called selfish before and it hurt. She looked at their faces and saw nothing but disappointment staring back at her. Violet could feel her heart breaking as she quickly left the library. Deep down she knew that Theo was right and that's what stung the most.

She went straight into her bed as soon as she reached Ravenclaw tower and pulled the covers over her head until she was enveloped in darkness. Violet hated herself for it, but for a moment she wished she was back in the cupboard. There she was invisible, just a forgotten fleck of dust waiting to be swept carelessly away. How could Ione and even her friends expect her to try and save the world, when she couldn't even save herself? She pretended to be asleep when Hermione came into the dormitory later that evening. The looks on her friend's faces wouldn't leave her thoughts as she tossed and turned throughout the night before eventually falling into a fitful sleep.

Violet was spared from having to face her friends that morning as today was the day of Ravenclaw's first quidditch game of the season. Roger had instructed them to meet him in the common room at dawn where they would eat breakfast together, as a team, and then head onto the pitch, as a team, to get in few last minute drills in before the match, as a team. Violet found flying to be the best thing to distract her from her melancholy thoughts.

It was a cool and cloudy morning. The first hints of the cold fall weather were in the air making everyone on the pitch murmur heating charms under their breaths. Students were bundled in their heavy cloaks as they made their way into the stands. Violet stared across the pitch at the sea of red and gold in the stands. It was fitting that her first game be against Gryffindor, she supposed. The Gryffindor team was good but Ravenclaw had been practicing relentlessly over the past month. They moved as a unit as each player had a thorough understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses on the pitch. Violet knew that her teammates were relying on her for the win and she vowed not to let them down as she began to circle over the pitch waiting for the game to start. She couldn't handle disappointing any more people that were relying on her.

Violet looked across the pitch into the stands and almost fell off her broom when she noticed the huddled forms of Hermione, Draco, and Theo in the Ravenclaw section of the stands. Hermione was decked out in her Ravenclaw cloak and a blue and bronze scarf while Draco and Theo were both holding mini Ravenclaw flags. The three of them were jumping up and down while cheering enthusiastically. It was a relief to know that they would support her no matter what. That even a fight wouldn't be enough to affect their loyalty to one another.

The whistle sounded signaling the beginning of the game. Violet flew to the top of the pitch and watched the players below her whirl into action. She could hardly hear the cheers from the crowd as the sound of rushing wind filled her ears while she shot even higher up over the pitch to search for the snitch. Before she could adjust to the new height, a bulger came flying through the air and straight at her. Violet narrowly missed it before it came hurling right back towards her. She jerked her broom to the right, just managing to avoid it again, before she shot straight down to the pitch.

She heard the announcer, Jordan Baker, yell that Ravenclaw was leading 80-60, as she began to weave between the stands in an attempt to outrun the rogue bulger. Wood splintered behind her as the bulger flew straight through the posts of the stands to get to her. She managed to outfly it and soon the sounds of wood splitting behind her vanished completely. As Violet cleared the stands she saw the golden glint of the snitch hovering near the other side of field. The Gryffindor seeker was nowhere to be found as Violet raced towards the golden ball. She smiled as she felt her fingers wrap around the snitch. She'd done it. Ravenclaw had won their first game of the season.

The stands erupted in cheers as Violet landed on the field and held up the snitch for all to see. Her pure joy and elation quickly turned into screams of pain as the bugler had finally caught up with her. It collided with her outstretched arm; she could feel several bones breaking in the process. She fell to the ground in pain as she looked up to see the bulger flying straight towards her head. Violet quickly rolled to the right as the ball collided with the ground where she had just been. She rolled again and again as the ball continued in its assault, each time leaving a deep indent in the ground. Violet didn't know how much more she could roll before the bulger finally found its target.

"REDUCTO!" Professor Snape yelled as he darted onto the field with Hermione, Draco, and Theo at his side. Violet watched in fascination at the bulger exploded into millions of pieces right before her eyes. Its destruction reminded her of an exploding firework. She was too exhausted and in too much pain to notice the swarms of students rushing to the field. In her exhaustion she also failed to notice the determined look on Professor Lockhart's face as he saw her mangled arm.

"Is she going to be alright?" Hermione asked worriedly as she knelt down in the grass next to Violet.

"Have no fear, Ms. Granger. I can fix this in a jiffy!" Lockhart began to swish his wand in an abrupt pattern before anyone else could move to stop him. "Brackium Emendo!"

Violet felt a cooling sensation run down her arm before all the pain in it vanished. In fact, she couldn't really feel her arm at all anymore. Lockhart lifted it up and Violet watched in astonishment as her arm fell to the side limply. He shook her arm as her wrist limply moved left and right in disturbing angles.

"You halfwit! You've completely removed all the bones in her arm!" Theo hissed as he and Draco shouldered Lockhart out of the way until they were solely in front of Violet. He stumbled back onto the grass but managed to stay upright.

Snape was investigating the rest of the quidditch equipment for curses and hexes while Hermione helped Violet up off the ground. The rest of the Ravenclaw quidditch team moved to help escort her to the hospital wing. The joy of their win not diminished in the slightest.

Lockhart gave a nervous laugh while tucking his wand back into his robe. "Yes, well now she doesn't need to worry about it ever being broken again," he called to the crowd but no one was listening.

*Chapter 18*: Chapter 18

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise.

Rated: M


A/N: Thanks for reading and reviewing :)

Chapter 18: History

The stark white walls and hard metal bed frames of the Hogwarts infirmary surrounded Violet as she sat upright on the farthest bed from the doors while awaiting treatment for her now boneless arm. Madam Pomfrey was furiously mumbling under her breath as she collected the correct potions to best treat her patient. Violet couldn't hear everything she was saying but she was certain she heard the word "fool," and "complete idiot," several times. Madam Pomfrey had already kicked out the Ravenclaw quidditch team along with Hermione, Draco, and Theo.

"Here you go dear. I can mend broken bones in a heartbeat but growing them is another matter. You should have been taken to me straight away. I'm going to have to have a talk with Dumbledore about that man. He's already sent more than ten students to the infirmary in less than three months," Pomfrey fumed as she handed Violet a vial shaped like a skeleton.

Violet grimaced as she drank down the potion which would regrow all the bones in her arm. It tasted like sour milk and she had to struggle to keep it down. She lay down on the hard hospital bed as she could feel the muscles in her arm beginning to re-stitch themselves. It was more painful than the actual breaking of her arm at least that had happened in one instant. Growing back muscles and bones was a slow arduous process that would take the entire night. Yet another night Violet would be spending in the Hogwarts Infirmary.

Violet fell asleep within a few moments from drinking the potion as the exhaustion from the game and lack of sleep the night before finally caught up with her. The varying shades of white that coated the infirmary and total silence that exuded from the space produced a tranquil atmosphere which was aimed at giving patients the maximum amount of peace and quiet possible. Even the pain of re-growing bones could not keep Violet from falling into a sound and undisturbed sleep within the peaceful atmosphere. Her quiet refuge was disturbed a few hours later when she was awoken by the sounds of murmuring voices on the other side of the hospital wing.

"Albus, its attacking students now. What are we going to do?" The worried voice of McGonagall cut through Violet's sleepy haze, causing her to strain her ears to fully hear what the Professors were saying.

"Do not fret, Minerva. Young Colin is only petrified. Whatever this creature is, it clearly has some kind of plan, an agenda. It could have killed Colin but it chose not to do so. There is something larger going on here." Dumbledore reasoned in his grandfatherly voice as he tried to soothe McGonagall and the other professor's frazzled nerves.

Violet turned her head towards the professors while opening her eyes slightly. Through the darkness she managed to make out the forms of Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape, and Madam Pomfrey standing in a circle in front of a hospital bed. There was a small unmoving body on top of the sheets which she assumed was the petrified Colin Creevey, a first year Gryffindor.

"Ponoma is still in the process of growing mandrakes, so it will be months before we have the correct potion to wake Creevey up. Who knows how many more attacks there will be before then?" Violet could tell from Snape's tone that he was worried.

"Obviously some serious security measures need to be taken and the boy's parents notified at once," McGonagall said in hushed tones as she repeatedly cast glances in Violet's direction to make sure the girl was still asleep.

Dumbledore began to move towards the doors of the infirmary while the other professors began to follow. "Yes, of course. I am confident that we will soon discover the source of these attacks and those who are seeking to gain from them. Colin will be perfectly fine in the meantime." The voices continued down the hall but Violet could no longer hear them. She rolled her eyes at Dumbledore's attempts at reassurance. It bothered her how he could be so casual about a man's death and a student's petrification. She wondered if the Wizarding War had made him that way. As if so many years as the Lord of the Light had hardened him to no longer feel the effects of loss and death. She hoped that she never became like that.

Violet waited a few moments until she was sure that the professors were no longer near the infirmary before she cautiously sat up in her bed. Her arm was still in a sling but she was fairly certain that the muscles and bones had finished regrowing while she had been asleep. They didn't hurt anymore at the very least. Violet pushed the covers off herself and quickly made her way over to the petrified body of Colin Creevey. His face and skin perfectly matched the white color of the sheets. She'd never seen anyone so pale before. Madam Pomfrey had closed his eyes but Violet knew that if they were open they would have held a terrified expression. His mouth was set in a soft frown that a moment later would have most likely turned into a scream. She didn't know the boy well but she had seen him around Hogwarts. He always had a wondrous and excited look upon his face that seemed to be infectious. He carried around an old camera taking photographs of everyone and everything like he wanted to memorize every little detail about Hogwarts's and her people. Now, he just looked so young and frail. If it wasn't for the minuscule rise and fall of his chest, she'd have mistaken him for a corpse.

"I'm sorry," Violet whispered as she briefly reached out and held his hand in the darkness of the infirmary. He was as cold as ice; his body stiff as if his blood was barely able to move through his veins.

Violet knew that despite what Dumbledore claimed, these attacks would continue. It was only a matter of time until another student met Colin's or even worse Filch's fate. She also knew that she was the only person that could do anything to stop these attacks. Perhaps that was why Ione had told her of the chamber? Violet decided as she turned away from Colin that she would do what was in her power to protect Hogwarts and its students. That it happened to coincide with Ione's instructions was just a coincidence. As she lay back down in her own bed she began to formulate the groundwork of a plan that would begin to uncover the secrets of the chamber and of the creature within.

After Violet was released from the infirmary she quickly returned to Ravenclaw tower to shower and change into a fresh set of clothes. She was relieved to find that her arm was completely back to normal. Dressed in relaxed trousers and a black school sweater, with her hair in its usual braid, Violet left the dormitory and walked straight to the library with a purpose in her step. It was an early Monday morning so most of the students were still asleep or just beginning to make their way to the Great Hall for breakfast. Just as she hoped the library was completely deserted. Armed with, Hogwarts: A History, several books about uncommon creatures, and a few more books about myths and legends, she sat down at her favorite corner table and set to work.

Just as she expected Hogwarts: A History did not have any information regarding the chamber; it did however mention that each of the Four Founders had left their own special marks on the school to keep Hogwarts's as close to their vision as possible. Violet wasn't sure but she had a feeling that the Chamber of Secrets must have originated from when Hogwarts was created since it was so well hidden. It must have been connected to one of the Founders then. She instantly ruled out Godric Gryffindor and Helga Hufflepuff as they didn't seem like the type to have a Chamber of Secrets; leaving Rowena Ravenclaw or Salazzar Slytherin as the potential creator. Seeing as how no other student could find out any information on the chamber, Violet decided to turn her focus on discovering what kind of creature was behind the attacks.

The only thing she knew about it was that it could cause its victims to bleed to death and that it could petrify them. She began to record what she knew about the creature onto her already cramped parchment when she felt the air around her begin to grow cold. Her table was drenched in early morning sunlight but any warmth the rays might have offered were quickly driven away but the harsh freezing air. Violet shivered and drew her sweater closer to her. She looked up to see a boy writing on a piece of parchment a few tables down from her. She had been so caught up in her research that she hadn't even heard him enter the library and take a seat. She shivered again as the cold began to seep into her bones.

The boy didn't seem to be bothered by the sudden change in air and continued intently writing on his parchment. He wore Slytherin robes and looked to be around sixteen years old but Violet was never good at guessing ages. Before she came to Hogwarts she spent most of her time looking at the ground whenever she had to be in a public place. People used to hold no interest for her. The boy had raven black hair which was styled into a perfectly neat undercut, not a single hair was out of place. The dark color of it was almost identical to the black of the Hogwarts's robes. She had a sudden urge to run her fingers through it just to see it messy. The length and style of his hair accentuated his rectangular jaw and slightly pointed chin.

The boy must have felt Violet's gaze as he suddenly looked up from his writing. His dark, almost black, almond shaped eyes sat below thick yet groomed brows. A straight aristocratic nose slightly extended over thin yet shapely lips that seemed unable to hold a smile. The boy, even though he wasn't fully grown yet, was probably the most handsome man that Violet had ever seen. He held himself with all the confidence and authority of someone who seemed to know that they were the smartest person in the room. Violet couldn't recall seeing him before but she reasoned that was because she wasn't all that familiar with every member of Slytherin house. She knew that she would have remembered his face if she'd seen it before. It was odd for anyone to be in the library that early on a Monday morning and she couldn't help but wonder what he had been so intently writing down at that hour.

Violet waved at him as their gazes connected across the tables. A look of surprise flashed across his sharp intelligent eyes before he gave her the smallest of smiles. The sound of books falling behind her caused Violet to reluctantly break her eye contact with the boy and quickly turn around to see what had caused the racket. There was nothing there, except for a few books now lying on the ground at the end of one of the aisles. She turned back to ask the boy if he had seen anything but was surprised to see that he was gone. The only evidence that he had been there at all was the parchment that he had left behind on the table. She thought that he had probably gone to get a book so she tried to return to her own research about the chamber but not without looking up ever few seconds to see if he had returned.

Curiosity got the better of Violet after the boy had yet to return to the table after forty minutes. She packed up her notes and quickly made her way over to his table to see what he had been writing about. Violet cast a quick glance around the library to make sure that it was empty before her eyes fell upon the parchment.

'You will always find me in the past. I can be created in the present, but the future can never taint me. What am I?'' the long elegant script read.

'History,' Violet thought to herself as she began to wonder why the boy had written down a riddle. She had to answer riddles on a daily basis to get into the Ravenclaw common room so the answer to the boy's riddle had come easily enough to her. She couldn't help but feel that he had purposefully left it there for her but she wasn't sure what 'history' had to do with anything. She had been looking at history books for information about the chamber, earlier she was reading Hogwarts: A History, her first class of the day was History of Magic.

In an instant she knew where she could find more information about the Chamber of Secrets. If there was one person, well being, in the school who would be aware of ancient and obscure history, it would be Professor Binns. His class was the most boring class in all of Hogwarts but he was an absolute treasure trove of knowledge, especially obscure knowledge. The hard part would be convincing him to abandon his monotonous planned lecture in favor of talking about the chamber. She wasn't sure if that was what the boy meant by the riddle but she chose not to dwell too much on it. For all she knew, he could have just been playing a prank on her.

Violet began to formulate different ways to convince the man, well ghost, to discuss the chamber as she made to leave the library to grab a quick bite to eat. Her path to the door was instantly blocked by the small form and bright red hair of Ginny Weasley. Violet made to step around the girl but before she could fully get around her, Ginny blocked her path again.

"Look Ginny, I get that you don't like me but I'm kind of in a hurry." Violet made to step around her only to have her path blocked again. She sighed in frustration.

Ginny continued to glare at her and crossed her arms in what she thought was an intimidating gesture. "You think you're so much better than everyone else. It's disgusting how you just waltz around the school like you own the place with Malfoy and Nott. What a shame that bulger didn't crush your skull in," Ginny hissed.

Violet's eyes widened as she realized the extent to which Ginny hated her. For the most part, Neville and his friends had been acting fairly civil around her as long as Draco and Theo weren't around. They weren't friendly but they also weren't actively hostile. Violet wasn't sure what caused the change in Neville's attitude towards her but it had begun right after the pixie fiasco in Lockhart's class.

"It's a bit early for death threats," Violet said as she again made to move towards the door. Tired of their dance, Ginny backed all the way in front of the doorway making it now impossible for Violet to leave the library without knocking the other girl over. Which was starting to sound rather appealing.

Ginny's glare intensified as she pulled out her wand and pointed it at Violet. "You might think that you have Neville fooled but I'll make sure that he sees you for what you really are. I know what you are deep down."

Violet rolled her eyes as she realized that this entire confrontation was because of Ginny's jealousy. It was no secret that the girl was in love with Neville. She followed him around all over school and was always staring at him with adoration in her eyes. Neville seemed to enjoy the girl's attention well enough.

"Tell me then. What am I really?" Violet asked while she brushed a loose strand of hair that had fallen out of her braid behind her ear.

"A snake in the grass. It's obvious that you're just waiting for the right moment to strike at Neville even though he was kind enough to give you another chance."

"If that's true then you should probably go and warn him, like right now. I can't believe you figured out my evil plan and all by yourself. Great job! Really, I'm impressed. Now if you don't mind…I think I'll go and grab some breakfast. I'm feeling like pancakes today. They go great with plotting." Violet forced as much fake enthusiasm as she could into her tone.

"I'm glad your parents are dead. It would break their hearts to see their daughter fall so low as to become friends with dark families. Though from what my father told me it might not have bothered them too much. Either way then I suppose it's a blessing all around that they're rotting in the ground," she sneered.

Before Violet could respond, the towering figure of Madam Pince appeared behind her. "Is everything alright here?" The woman suspiciously asked as she took in the scene. Ginny instantly tucked her wand into her robe and stepped away from the door before nodding at the librarian. "Good. Then get to class!" Madam Pince turned from the pair and made her way back into the towering stacks of books of the library.

"Don't you ever talk about my parents again," Violet said in a deadly calm voice as she stepped into the corridor away from the red haired girl and the library.

Ginny snorted before giving Violet another glare. "Or else...what? You'll hex me? I'm not afraid of you."

The only response Violet gave was a bone-chilling chuckle that made Ginny shiver and retreat further into the library.

Violet looked around the classroom to find most of her fellow students either asleep or about to fall asleep. She was fairly certain that she could even hear soft snoring coming from the back of the room. Her eyelids normally would have begun to grow heavy about ten minutes into the class as well but she had more pressing matters to attend to than sleep today. Hermione was the only person who seemed to be paying attention as she furiously scribbled down notes from Binn's lecture about the giant wars. It was amazing to see how even the worst lecturer in the world was unable to even slightly diminish Hermione's enthusiasm for learning. Binn's continued to drone on and on in the same monotonous tone, for twenty minutes, before Violet finally worked up the nerve to ask him about the chamber. Professor Binns seemed to be surprised that a student was asking a question as he nodded at Violet to continue asking her question.

"Sir, I was hoping that you might be able to tell us about the Chamber of Secrets." The entire class seemed to come awake at once at the mention of the chamber, even the snoring in the back of the room abruptly stopped.

"My subject is History of Magic. I deal in facts and truths, not fairy tales and legends. I will not disrespect the integrity of this class by telling you all a fairy tale," Binn's responded in a strict voice. The sounds of student's sighing filled the classroom as the snoring in the back began again as quickly as it had ceased.

Violet narrowed her eyes at his dismissal. She wasn't going to give up so easy, not when it came to something as important as this. She was about to object when Hermione raised her hand. If Binn's wasn't already dead, he probably would have died of shock. His class never had had this much participation before.

"Sir, all legends have some basis in facts. Surely, you must know something about the Chamber of Secrets. The Giant Wars are without a doubt important but due to recent events here, you can certainly understand why we're curious. There must be some truth behind it all that you can share." Violet smiled as she saw that Hermione had convinced their professor.

"Oh, very well. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to take a slight detour from our lecture but don't think this kind of thing will happen often. Let's see…the Chamber of Secrets….yes, I remember now." Binn's began to absentmindedly stare at the back of the classroom as he recalled the facts to his mind. "As you all better well know, Hogwarts was founded over a thousand years ago by the four greatest witches and wizards of their generation: Helga Hufflepuff, Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin. They built Hogwarts together and tried to model the school after their own virtues: Bravery for Gryffindor, kindness for Hufflepuff, cunning for Slytherin, and intelligence for Ravenclaw. For a time, they all worked together harmoniously as they built a school and curriculum that would encourage these traits in their students."

Binn's floated through his desk as he continued the story, "as Hogwarts increased in popularity the founders began to have disagreements on how to best run the school. More and more magical children were coming into creation from both Pureblood and muggle families. Salazar Slytherin and Rowena Ravenclaw wanted to be more selective in the school's acceptance process-"

"You mean, they only wanted to let Purebloods in," Hermione interrupted with scorn in her voice.

Binn's scoffed at her; "Hardly! That's the most common misconception spread throughout the wizarding world!"

The class watched in amazement, as this was the most animated they had ever seen their professor. His voice was even slightly raised as he flew about the room in agitation. "Salazar Slytherin wanted to uphold the traditions and practices given to us by Magic herself. He was willing to accept muggle born students but only if those students showed a willingness to abandon the muggle way of life entirely. There was to be no more contact with the Muggle world once they entered the Wizarding World. They would have to leave their families, their homes, everything behind. It was strict, yes but he believed it to be the right way to do things. Godric Gryffindor wanted to openly accept all students to Hogwarts. He believed that embracing muggle ideology would breathe fresh life into the Wizarding World. Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw sought to find a compromise between the two but each held firm in their beliefs-"

Hermione was not satisfied with Binn's complete dismissal of her earlier comment. "Excuse me sir, but where does that misconception come from then? Are you sure you're not idealizing the man? You can't be suggesting that Slytherin didn't favor purebloods!"

Violet and the rest of the class watched in complete shock as Hermione talked back to their professor. It was almost like watching a tennis match as the class's heads moved back and forth between the two as they bickered.

"Slytherin favored those who honored magic in the Old Ways. Most of the students who were willing to do so came from pureblood families therefore their acceptance to the school was never called into question! You need to understand that the Founder's time was at the height of the muggle persecution of witches and wizards. So many of our kind were tortured, burned, or simply killed in the Great Witch Trials. Witch hysteria was especially prevalent throughout Europe between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries as I'm sure you know-," Binn's replied as his eyes turned thoughtful. Violet along with the rest of the class sighed as they realized he was about to go on another tangent.

"Then what about the prejudice muggleborns face today?" Hermione asked in a heated tone as she remembered what Pansy had said to her and forgot completely about getting information about the Chamber of Secrets from the Professor.

"That is quite a complex issue. As you know history can become warped by those wishing to spin facts into their favor. We must all be dedicated to uncovering the truth-"

"Sir, what is the truth about the fight between Slytherin and Gryffindor?" This time it was Violet who interrupted, preventing yet another Binn's tangent, as she tried to get him back on track to discussing the Chamber of Secrets.

"Hmm? Oh yes…the rift between Slytherin and Gryffindor grew so deep that Salazar decided to leave the school, rather than participate in what he believed to be the degradation of Magic. According to legend," Binns stopped to sneer at the word, "Slytherin had built a chamber far beneath the school, known as the Chamber of Secrets. As he was departing, he made sure to seal the chamber, until a time when his own true heir would return to reopen it. The heir, and the heir alone, would be able to open the chamber and unleash the terror that lied within. It would purge the school, of those Slytherin believed, to be unworthy of having magic."

"Muggleborns?" Hermione stubbornly refused to believe that what she had read about Slytherin and his blood supremacy had been incorrect. Books were not supposed to lie; they were supposed to hold all the answers!

"No,," Binn's always forgot his student's names. "Those who do not honor Magic in the proper ways were thought to be unworthy of attending Hogwarts, in Slytherin's view. Naturally, the school has been searched many times and no such chamber has been found."

This time it was Neville who interrupted Binn's from continuing his lecture; "But no one would have been able to find the chamber, unless they were Slytherin's true heir! So it could be there just waiting for the heir to reopen it."

"Nonsense! If a long line of headmasters and headmistresses haven't found the thing, then we can conclude that it is a myth! It does not exist!"

Binn's seemed to have reached his breaking point in discussing the chamber but there was one thing that Violet had to know; "Professor, what does legend tell us lies within the chamber?"

Binn's sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. Violet wondered if ghosts could get headaches. "If it existed, the chamber is said to behold something that only the heir of Slytherin would be able to control. It is said to be a monster. Now, no more questions! The whole story is a complete myth!" Binn's then continued on to lecture about the Giant wars while the rest of the class fell back asleep. Both Violet and Hermione's minds were reeling at the information they had just learned.

*Chapter 19*: Chapter 19

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise.

Rated: M


Chapter 19: Dueling & Hiding

It had been a few weeks since the revelation in Professor Binn's class. Violet was frustrated that she had yet to uncover any more information about the chamber and the creature within. There were so many possibilities and trails of information to follow that it was all too easy to become overwhelmed. There had yet to be any more attacks, since Colin, but students now had stricter curfews and were discouraged from traveling anywhere alone. It struck Violet as odd that the library seemed to be lacking any significant information about the Founders other than vague references in Hogwarts: A History. If they had truly been so great then why was there almost no information about them in the very school that they had created? Hermione had committed much of her time to trying to find out anything she could about the founder's ideology since discovering that Slytherin's beliefs were not what she had originally learned. She met the same information roadblocks as Violet in struggling to find any accurate source material. Despite the lack of accurate information, it was rare to see Violet, Hermione, Draco, and Theo away from the library as the four devoted themselves to researching the founders, the Chamber of Secrets, and any creatures that could petrify their victims. Between coursework, research, and quidditch Violet had little to no time for herself. She and Hermione had even taken to discussing their findings late into the night, before passing out in exhaustion on their beds in Ravenclaw tower only for the cycle to continue again the next day.

Violet tiredly rubbed her eyes as she tried to muster the energy to get up from her comfortable and warm bed. She glanced over at the picture of her parents that she kept on her bedside table and sighed as she picked it up and held it in her lap. She watched her mother spin and laugh before her father grabbed her and placed a gentle kiss upon her lips, like they had all the time in the world to be together. The scene never changed but it still felt like she was watching it for the first time. If this was the only photograph that existed of her parents, the only proof of their lives and love, then Violet was glad that it was that one. They looked so happy; so caught up in youthful love and hope that it made Violet's heart ache whenever she looked at it, which was every day. She sighed, as she realized what day it was, October 31. Violet wondered if it would ever get any easier. If one day she would wake up and no longer feel like a piece of her soul was missing.

She left her bed and made her way into the bathroom to begin to get ready for what was sure to be a very long day. It was Saturday, which meant that there were thankfully no classes. Violet decided to leave her hair out of its usual braid that day, so that it fell in loose waves around her face. She opted for a black sweater and knee-length black skirt which made the paleness of her skin even more apparent. She only half-heartedly realized she was dressed in mourning colors as she grabbed her bag and left the dormitory. Hermione was waiting for her in the common room. The two girls shared a smile before making their way to the Great Hall for breakfast.

As expected it was decorated in the same tacky Halloween decorations as it had been the year before. Floating jack-o-lanterns and enchanted bats flew over and between student's heads as they sat and ate breakfast. The only difference this year was that Violet and Hermione had decided to participate in Samhain rather than celebrate Halloween; or well, they would have, if Dumbledore had permitted the students leave to perform the sacred rituals and rites. Today the veil was weak and Violet couldn't help but wonder how many of the departed were flittering about unseen in the realm of the living longing to make connections. Violet and Hermione had come to their own conclusions about practicing the Old Ways. They had both agreed that it felt instinctual to them. As if their magic didn't care that they had grown up in the muggle world and instead called for them to participate in the practices of Old, like every witch and wizard before them. Violet wondered just how many students would join in the rituals if the school permitted it. Instead, the girls took to glaring at the decorations along with Draco and Theo as they ate their breakfasts. The group had planned to spend the rest of day in the library, continuing their research, since they had no interest in participating in the Halloween day activities that Lockhart had planned for the student body.

"Did you hear that they are starting a dueling club? The first meeting is tonight," Draco said between sneers at Dumbledore and Lockhart.

Theo nodded his head as he swatted a fake bat away; "Apparently, its goal is to help us defend ourselves against the creature but I seriously doubt that anything they are going to teach us will really help. Does anyone really believe that the thing behind the attacks cares about a formal dueling stance? Should we even bother?"

Violet shrugged as she weighed the positives and negatives of attending the dueling club. It was important for the group to continue their research but they hadn't been making any progress lately and she had to admit that she really loved dueling. She had spent so many years of her life completely unable to defend herself but when she dueled she could feel herself rising to the challenge and refusing to stop until she bested her opponent. In the dueling arena, Violet was the one solely in control. It brought out a new and competitive side to her. "It sounds interesting. I wouldn't mind going...what do you think Mione?"

Hermione looked up from the book she was reading and nodded her head in agreement at the group. "I hope they have Professor Flitwick instructing us. Did you know that he is a dueling champion? I'm sure he must have loads of tips that we wouldn't be able to find in a dueling book." The conversation quickly turned to the skills that each professor would bring in teaching students how to duel. It was distraction enough to refocus their anger at being unable to participate in Samhain.

The group made their way to the Great Hall later that evening to find that it had been completely rearranged so that a large dueling platform was raised in the center of the room. All around them, students began to filter into the room to form a rather large crowd around the raised platform. It seemed that all of the students who were in their third year or less had decided to attend the dueling club. Violet looked up to see the sky of the enchanted ceiling in a deep shade of black with hundreds of floating candles casting a warm glow throughout the hall. It reminded her of starlight. She was drawn from admiring the candles by the collective groans of Draco and Theo. Violet turned her head and soon joined them in groaning when she realized who was standing on the platform.

In glistening golden battle robes stood Gilderoy Lockhart grinning at the crowd. His blond locks were perfectly arranged in neat waves as he began to preen from all of the admiring looks he was receiving from various students throughout the hall. It just had to be him. Still, what Lockhart lacked in competence he more than made up for in the appearance of competence. The man was a true performer through and through. Violet had made sure to stoutly avoid the man since he had accidentally removed all the bones in her arm; she didn't trust him to be within ten feet of her. She sighed as she looked around the crowded hall and realized there was no way for her to leave without having to push past several rows of students.

"Gather round! Gather round! Can you all hear me? Can you all see me? Excellent," Lockhart said as he gave the crowd another award-winning smile exposing his perfectly white and straight teeth. "Now, Dumbledore has kindly granted me permission to start this dueling club to train you all in case you ever need to defend yourselves…as I have done on countless occasions." Lockhart paused here as he began to walk down the dueling platform in a confident strut while never once losing his grin. "Now let me introduce my assistant, Professor Snape."

The potions professor quickly walked up the stage with no ceremony whatsoever. Violet almost laughed at his murderous expression. She had a feeling that Snape was looking forward to the chance to thoroughly hex Lockhart. Whereas Lockhart was adorned in golds and light blues; Snape was wearing his usual plain black robes and most likely hadn't even bothered to change for the occasion.

"Professor Snape tells me he knows a little about dueling himself and has sportingly agreed to join me in a demonstration before we begin. Now don't any of you worry, you'll still have your Potions professor when I'm through with him. Never fear!"

The hall broke out in a small round of applause as the two professors took their positions on opposite sides of the platforms. They spun to face each other. Snape barely nodded his head in what could pass as a weak imitation of a bow while Lockhart bent over with great flourish.

"On the count of three, we will cast our first spells. Neither of us will be aiming to kill, of course!" Lockhart winked at Snape whose murderous scowl continued to darken in irritation.


"Expelliarmus!" Snape shouted before Lockhart could even swish his wand. A bright red light shot out of Snape's wand and hit Lockhart square in the chest. The man tumbled backwards before being thrown to the far end of the dueling platform. The Slytherin's along with Violet cheered for Professor Snape while Hermione cast a nervous glance in Lockhart's direction as he sat up in a dumbfounded daze.

"Oh, I hope he's going to be alright," Hermione worried as she stood on her toes to see over the crowd.

Violet saw Theo's expression darken at Hermione's concern for Lockhart and she made to step between the two in order to avoid yet another fight over Lockhart. "I wasn't going to say anything," Theo whispered in her ear as she stood between her two friends. Violet snorted in response and shook her head.

"Well, there you have it!" Lockhart began as he dusted off his knees and straightened out his golden robes. "That was a disarming charm, as you could well see. What an excellent idea to show them such a spell, Professor Snape. If I may, however, offer an observation, it was very obvious what spell you were about to cast. If I had actually wanted to stop you, well it would have been all too easy." Lockhart chuckled as he picked his wand up off of the platform and flipped his hair resulting in several sighs from the student body, whether the sighs were in admiration or irritation was anyone's guess.

"Yes, I could have easily countered but I thought it better for the students to see the effects of the disarming spell. Now, let's call up an individual pair onto the platform to test your skills. Hmm let's see," Lockhart said as he gazed across the crowd. Violet tried to hide behind Theo but quickly breathed a sigh of relief.

"Mr. Longbottom and Mr. Weasley! Up you go!" Lockhart called.

Snape sneered at Lockhart as Neville jumped up onto the platform. "Weasley is a walking disaster. We'll be sending Longbottom to the infirmary in a matter of seconds. Mr. Malfoy can join instead." Violet watched a wicked smirk appear on Draco's face as he walked up to the platform. She knew that he had been waiting all year for a chance to hex Neville and Snape had just given him the perfect opportunity to do so. She was glad that this duel could at least be supervised as it was bound to get ugly.

The two boys met in the middle of the platform as a tense silence fell over the hall. It wasn't a secret that the two shared an intense and borderline obsessive hatred of one another. "Wands at the ready!" Lockhart shouted as the two boys raised their wands to eye level as they continued to glare at one another.

"Scared, Longbottom?" Draco sneered.

"You wish," the portly boy replied before the two turned and walked to the end of the platform; their footsteps the only sounds in the entire hall.

"On the count of three, cast your spell to disarm your opponent. Only to disarm!" Lockhart emphasized.


Before Lockhart could count to three Neville sprang into action. "Flipendo!" he shouted as a bright blue jet of light flew from his wand hitting Draco square in the chest. The spell flung Draco across the platform as he landed with a loud thud echoing in the hall. Violet, Theo, and Hermione pushed their way to the front of the platform in order to defend their friend if need be. Neville smirked at Draco's fallen form before Draco quickly stood up and pointed his wand at Neville.

"Rictusempra," Draco shouted as a silver light hit Neville in the stomach causing him to sink to his knees while wheezing and gasping for air. Lockhart helped Neville up who in turn narrowed his eyes at Draco before sporting a wicked smirk.

"I have something right up your alley, Malfoy. Serpensortia!" A vibrant green snake shot out of Neville's wand and landed with a menacing hiss onto the platform and began to slither towards Draco. Lockhart stepped in front of Neville and brandished his wand.

"Have no fear, Mr. Malfoy. I'll take care of this for you!" Lockhart swished his wand in an elaborate series of motions before mumbling what sounded like gibberish under his breath. Violet wasn't even positive it was an actual spell. Instead of banishing the snake, the purple light that shot from Lockhart's wand caused the creature to be catapulted straight up into the air. It landed silently in the center of the platform now even more agitated than before. The snake rose up and began to hiss warningly at the crowd.

"Typical humansss. Such nasty creatures. Trampling on all those beneath you." The snake began to focus all of its attention on to a second year Hufflepuff in the front of the crowd. Everyone was frozen as the snake's head began to slightly move backwards like it was preparing to strike. Violet acted on pure instinct before the snake got a chance to lunge.

"Please, stop! We are sorry to have caused you harm and humbly ask forgiveness," Violet hissed in parseltongue to the creature. Her hazel eyes had turned golden in color as her magic began to seep from her pores filling the hall with an ethereal golden glow. It couldn't have been just an ordinary snake for her magic to react so strongly to it. No, despite its small size, she knew this was a powerful creature. Students quickly backed away from her. The entire crowd watched the scene in confusion and in fear.

The snake immediately turned its attention from the boy and gracefully slithered over to her.

"You are a speaker?"

Violet was unperturbed as the creature raised its broad triangular head until it was even with her face. Its scales were a most spectacular color of lime green outlined in a vibrant yellow. They looked like small pointed leaves rather than the usual smooth scales seen on most snakes. Without fear she stared into its reptilian eyes which were a perfect swirl of greys and blues.

"I suppose I am. You may call me Violet. These students are not to become your prey. Know their behavior is fueled by fear…fear of what they cannot understand or control." Violet flicked her hand in the direction of Professor Snape. He had begun to draw his wand out in an attempt to kill the snake. A second later a strong gust of wind knocked the wand right out of his grasp.

Violet held out her hand to the snake in an open display of trust. It didn't hesitate before slithering up her arm until it draped itself around her shoulders. She giggled as its tongue flicked out and tickled her cheek.

"You are worthy to follow, young ssspeaker."

"Thank you." Violet wasn't sure where Neville had summoned the snake from but she knew it could not remain in the hall. She didn't trust the faculty not to kill or harm it. "I am going to send you back now," she whispered in parseltongue. The snake slithered back onto the platform and waited for her to cast the spell.

"Vipera Evanesca," she said in English as she flicked her snake disappeared in a cloud of pale grey smoke. The golden glow quickly vanished from around the hall. Violet blinked before her eyes returned to their normal hazel color.

The students in the hall continued to back away from Violet as she turned away from the platform. All she could see was fear and suspicion in their eyes.

"You were egging it on! Weren't you?" The Hufflepuff boy yelled at Violet. A wave of murmurs went through the hall while many other students fervently nodded in agreement.

"No… I was getting it to stop. Please, believe me." Violet pleaded as she backed into the platform while trying to make herself appear as small and nonthreatening as possible. She looked across the crowd to a sea of hostile faces. The beauty of the floating candles, her friends, the entire Great Hall faded from Violet's view, as all she could now see was the Dursley's living room with Vernon looming over her as he became lost in his rage. She heard someone shout 'freak' from the back of the room. Violet flinched at the word.

"She's the heir of Slytherin!"

"Violet Potter is behind the attacks," another student yelled.

Violet curled her hands into fists and furiously shook her head at the accusations. None of the students seemed to care or even hear her protests. She could hear the whispers of her being called a monster and evil spreading throughout the hall as the students began to pour out into the corridor to warn the rest of the school. Violet looked up to see Ginny Weasley smirking at her from the doorway of the great hall.

"Want to talk about it?" Hermione asked Violet later that night as the two girls curled up in front of the fireplace in the Ravenclaw common room; the embers of the fire crackling merrily as they slowly devoured the wood resting in the fireplace. It was well past midnight but neither of them could seem to sleep. The common room was blessedly devoid of students so Hermione and Violet had the space completely to themselves.

"There isn't much to say," Violet said softly as she wrapped a fuzzy blue blanket around her shoulders. She had practically run from the Great Hall up to the common room, not even bothering to say goodbye to Draco and Theo.

"So…were you always able to speak to snakes?" Hermione inquired as she tried to recall every detail she had ever read about communication with animals. "And pixies?" She added a moment later as she recalled the chaotic electric blue creatures obeying Violet's commands.

Violet shrugged. "I guess so? I-," Violet sighed. "I think it's related to my abilities. I'd never really tried to speak to them before. I thought it was something everyone could do but clearly I was mistaken if the disaster a few hours ago is any indication."

Hermione turned her attention from the fire to stare at Violet. "You saved two lives tonight, Violet. Justin's and the snake's. It would have been a disaster if you hadn't stopped the snake from attacking."

Violet gave a heartless chuckle and kept staring into the flickering flames. "That's not what everyone else seems to think."

Hermione frowned and poked Violet hard in the arm. Violet yelped and turned to look at her friend in shock. "What was that for?"

"Don't let idiotic words said by idiotic people bring you down," Hermione said confidently as she mimicked what Violet had told her only a month ago.

She gave Hermione a slight smile in response.

Violet sighed as she leaned against a frozen tree in her favorite courtyard at Hogwarts. She instinctively knew it was the same courtyard that the photo of her parents had been taken in. If she closed her eyes she could hear the soft sounds of her parents laughing through the wind that stirred the frozen plants around her feet. It had been almost a month and a half since the Dueling Club fiasco. Unsurprisingly there had yet to be another meeting.

The holiday break was just about to come to an end meaning that students would be returning back to the school shortly. The Malfoy's had invited her to stay at the Manor for break but all Violet really wanted these days was solitude. The past few months had not been easy for her as the entire student body was convinced that she was the Heir of Slytherin. Everywhere she went accusing eyes and whispers seemed to follow her. The entire school knew her name. Violet's time was now solely spent in classes, the library, or at quidditch practice. She had even taken to eating her meals in the common room. She did everything in her power to avoid her classmates and their cruel words. Violet was unused to receiving so much attention. If it wasn't for Hermione, Draco, and Theo, she was sure that she would have crumpled under all the negative stares and accusations. Her three friends had soundly stood by her and even hexed any students they caught talking about her.

Violet hummed while she pulled her forest green cloak tighter around her. The courtyard was a frozen wasteland as it was completely covered in several inches of snow. All the benches were encased in ice which left her with no place to sit but she needed to be outside. The castle walls felt like they were suffocating her. The sky was a pale grey that perfectly matched the stones of the castle creating a never ending grey dome around her. The world seemed stuck in the muted colors of grey and white. She was unsure how long she had been standing in the bitter harsh cold. With her lips beginning to turn blue and her fingers comfortably numb, she decided to head back into the dark walls of the castle with a heavy heart.

She couldn't seem to find a sense of peace anywhere as she wandered aimlessly throughout the castle. She'd taken to either standing in the frozen courtyard or walking around the castle for hours on end; anything to just keep her moving and unthinking. As Violet entered the first floor of the castle the sound of footsteps began to echo in the corridor ahead of her. She quickened her pace to see who else could have been wandering about the castle. Most of the students who stayed at the school during the holidays barely left their common rooms. As Violet rounded the corner she saw the boy who had left her the riddle in the library a few months earlier. He was several feet ahead of her but was walking at a leisurely pace.

"Hey," she called out. Violet would have been lying if she said she hadn't thought of him since the library. She'd looked for him at every meal but never saw him seated at the Slytherin table.

The boy stopped walking and looked back. His sharp black eyes felt like they were pouring into her very essence as their gazes connected across the corridor. She couldn't shake the feeling that there was something familiar about him, about his presence. She felt drawn to him. Violet's feet immediately stopped walking like she was frozen in place. All air seemed to vanish from her lungs as her breathing slowed. She could feel her heart beginning to race as their gazes stayed locked for what felt like an eternity. In reality, it was probably the briefest of seconds. He smirked before breaking eye contact and continued to walk down the hallway away from her. He folded his hands behind his back before rounding another corner.

Violet took a moment to regain her senses before chasing after him. "Wait! Where are you go-," she stopped midsentence as she rounded the corner to find it completely empty. There was absolutely nothing except a long expanse of hallway before her. The boy had just vanished. She huffed out a frustrated breathe and ran her hands through her tangled and messy hair. A door at the end of the hallway slammed shut. Violet jumped at the loud sound.

"The girl's bathroom?" She said aloud in confusion when she reached the door. Violet realized that she had never been in this bathroom before. It was closest to the Great Hall but most students stayed away from it. She took a deep breath and opened the door.

"Hello?" She called out as she made her way further into the room. A quiet giggling cut through the silence of the bathroom. Violet whirled around with her wand pointed at the sound. She tucked it back into her robe when she realized the sound had come from a ghost.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't see you there," Violet said in a quiet voice as she tried to get a good look at the ghost. The girl had a round acne ridden face with thick circular glasses and uneven bangs that even in their translucence still looked greasy. She was wearing a Ravenclaw uniform but Violet had been sure that the only ghost of Ravenclaw house was the Grey Lady. The ghost began to float towards the ceiling.

"Of course you didn't. Not like anyone could ever notice me! Poor, lonely, miserable Myrtle," the ghost cried.

Violet took a step towards the ghost as she tried to quiet it down. "No, no, I didn't mean it like that. You just startled me, is all. I thought I saw a boy go in here but I guess I was wrong. I'm sorry if I seemed rude. Everyone is on edge lately due to the attacks so I'm just jumpy..."

This seemed to appease Myrtle who had stopped her crying and floated back down to the floor as she curiously looked at Violet. "A boy? I think I would have noticed a boy in the girl's lavatory," she said critically.

"Yes, well now we can add 'sees things that aren't there' to the ever growing list of "Weird Things about Violet Potter." Violet said as she looked about the bathroom to make sure the boy truly wasn't in there. Maybe she should have her head examined.

Myrtle flew down directly in front of her. "Oh, I know you! You're that Potter girl. The whole school is talking about you. They say the most unkind things," she giggled in cruel delight.

Violet turned from her and took a seat on the cool tiled floor as she leaned her back against the hard stone wall of the bathroom. "I know. I know all the things they say." Violet said quietly as she buried her head into her hands.

Not wanting to be outdone in who was more miserable, Myrtle floated right next to Violet. "I was teased quite viciously when I went to school here. People would say absolutely horrid things to me! No one would stand up for poor, lonely, Myrtle. Even my own housemates would tease me."

Violet looked up through her fingers at the ghost. "What kinds of things would they say?"

This started Myrtle down a long path of telling Violet every injustice that had happened to her when she had gone to school. The ghost hadn't had an actual conversation with anyone in years but was pleased to finally have someone to complain and bemoan to. Violet listened attentively to Myrtle. It was nice to hear about someone else's problems for a change, even if those problems had occurred almost forty years ago.

"Nobody missed me even when I was alive, you see. It took them hours to find my body. I know because I was sitting there waiting for them."

"Oh, that's so terrible," Violet interrupted.

"It is, isn't it? Eventually, Olive Hornby came into the bathroom…"

Violet had learned in the past hour that Olive was the one who teased Myrtle the most. Violet made a mental note to never get on the ghosts bad side as it seemed she was the type to hold a grudge.

"…and she was the one who saw my body. Ohhh she didn't forget that until her dying day, I made sure of that." Myrtle finished with a vicious giggle.

"Myrtle how did you….die?" Violet cautiously asked. She didn't want to offend the temperamental ghost but a student dying in Hogwarts was shocking. To her surprise Myrtle seemed pleased by the question as she floated about the bathroom with a content look on her face.

"Oooh, it was dreadful. So dreadful. It happened right here, in this very bathroom. I was crying. Olive had just said the most cruel thing to me during dinner so I came here for some privacy. As I was crying I heard someone come in to the bathroom. I opened the stall door to yell at them to get out but when I looked up all I saw was a pair of great big yellow eyes staring at me." The ghost began to flutter about in agitation. "And now look at me! No one visits me. Why you're the first person this bathroom has seen in months. How easy it was for them all to forget poor, lonely, miserable Myrtle. I'm nothing but ancient history." She said dramatically.

There it was again, that word. History.

Violet gasped as she stood up excitedly. "These attacks have happened before! There must be old newspaper recordings or some type of record about them. Thank you so much Myrtle!" Violet quickly left the bathroom feeling much more hopeful than she had in months.

*Chapter 20*: Chapter 20

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise.

Rated: M


A/N: Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!

Chapter 20: Valentine's Day

"Look out it's the Heir of Slytherin. Careful not to get too close or you'll be next," Pansy shrieked in mock terror as Violet walked by her on her way to Charms. The corridor was already crowded with students racing to get to their next class so Pansy's outburst drew much more attention than Violet would have liked. She was close to the stairs which would take her to Charms though so just a few more steps and she'd be able to reach the sanctuary of Professor Flitwick's class.

"If I was the Heir you'd most certainly be next," Violet mumbled under her breath and she continued to walk past Pansy and her Slytherin gang. She squared her shoulders and continued to look straight ahead. She was already outnumbered and there were way too many people in the corridor to get away with hexing Pansy. Unsurprisingly Pansy had immediately joined in with the rest of the school in declaring Violet as a monster. She supposed the silver lining in the whole affair was that it redirected Pansy's attention away from harassing Hermione.

Annoyed by not getting a reaction Pansy redoubled her efforts to cause a scene. "Poor little Collin Creevey. I heard Violet asked him on a date and he turned her down. That's what made her attack him."

Violet snorted in response and continued to walk through the corridor. Each rumor about her was getting more and more outlandish. She stopped walking when she heard the sound of all her books falling out onto the floor behind her followed by the giggling of Pansy and several other girls in Slytherin. Violet took her book bag off her shoulder and examined the bottom of it to find a wide and long tear along the seam. She looked up to see Pansy putting her wand away as she shot Violet a nasty smirk.

"Whoops. I'm just so clumsy," Pansy said as she kicked Violet's books farther along the hallway before she and her friends continued down the corridor giggling the whole way, not caring that they were late for whatever class it was they were going to.

The corridor was now empty as students began to filter into their classrooms or head to the Great Hall for lunch. Violet sighed and cast a quick mending charm on her book bag. She pulled the stitching to make sure it was sturdy before she bent down to pick up her now scattered books and papers.

"Here you go."

Violet looked up to see one of the Slytherin girls holding her Transfiguration textbook. It was the one Pansy had kicked farthest down the hallway.

"Um, thanks. It's Daphne, right?" Violet asked as she took the textbook and shoved it back into her bag.

"Yup, that's me. Daphne Greengrass. Everyone knows who you are obviously," Daphne said. Her eyes widened a second later as she said in a rush; "Oh, Merlin. I didn't mean it like that! It's just that you're the main topic for the Hogwarts rumor mill. Everyone is talking about you…which now that I've said out loud doesn't sound any less offensive."

Violet eyed Daphne critically to see if this was just another one of Pansy's pranks. She knew very little about Daphne except that she was Pureblood and was graced with exceptionally good looks; long honey blonde hair nicely framed her oval face. Daphne was blessed with high cheekbones, bright and crisp blue eyes, and delicately arched eyebrows.

After a moment Violet could tell that Daphne was sincere and smiled. "No offence taken. Unfortunately, you're right."

Daphne breathed a sigh of relief. "I'm sorry about Pansy by the way. I think she's still embarrassed about you hexing her down the hallway. From what Millicent told me it sounded pretty funny."

"I think I'm going to give her pimples next time."

"Please do." She glanced down at her watch and gasped. "Oh, for Magic's sake. I'm going to be so late for Potions and after the cauldron incident last week…I hope Snape is in a good mood today.

Violet readjusted her book bag and tried to give Daphne a look of reassurance. "Oh…I'm sure he'll be…fine?" She didn't know if Snape had ever been in a good mood; maybe when he was deducting points from Gryffindor or verbally terrorizing Hufflepuffs. "Sorry, I don't know why that came out as a question." Violet said before beginning to walk up the stairs to Charms.

Daphne laughed and began to walk in the opposite direction. After a few steps she stopped and turned back towards Violet. "For what it's worth, which might not be much; I don't believe any of what they're saying about you." She looked down at her watch again and groaned before breaking into a sprint in a vain attempt to make it to Snape's class on time.

Violet wondered if she could get away with hexing Lockhart. The entire Great Hall had been decorated with thousands of paper hearts as cherubs sang love songs from the ceiling. Pink and red roses adorned every table while glittering heart shaped confetti rained down from the ceiling. Everything was red and pink. It was making her eyes twitch. Lockhart must have woken up before the sun rose to redecorate the hall to this extent. As she looked around the room it was obvious that most of her fellow students were as horrified by the pink and red display as she was. There were some outliers who seemed enchanted by it all but they were few and far between. Oblivious to all the hateful stares was Lockhart standing at the front of the Great Hall in pale pink robes, grinning proudly as he took in his handy work.

"Welcome! Welcome Everyone! Happy Valentine's Day! First, let me thank those of you who have already sent me cards…all forty five of you. As you can all see, I have taken the liberty of arranging this little surprise…"

"Please, tell me you didn't send him a card," Theo whispered to Hermione as he decided to ignore the man's speech.

She glared at him in response and chose to look over him to get a better view of Lockhart. Violet and Draco shared an eye roll at the two before beginning to dig into their breakfasts. They had found it easier to just ignore Lockhart rather than waste energy actively hating him. It was all too easy to lose an entire day to just daydreaming of all the different ways one could hex or curse Lockhart. Unfortunately, the other Hogwarts professors did not have that same luxury.

"…But I'm sure my colleagues won't want to miss out on all the Valentine's Day fun! Not when there's so much to be had. Why I'm sure they've all just been waiting for the opportunity to participate and were just too shy to ask! That would explain why none of you bothered to help me this morning," Lockhart mumbled before taking on his charming persona once more.

"Ask Professor Snape to help you concoct a love potion. Professor Flitwick would be delighted to show you an entrancing enchanting enchantment that's sure to woo! Or perhaps the delightful Professor McGonagall can help you transfigure the perfect gift for your sweetheart!" Lockhart shot the crowd another smile as the hall broke out in lukewarm applause. He winked and swished his wand so that even more confetti began to fall from the ceiling. It was like being trapped in a constantly shaking snow globe.

"Look at Snape's face. I don't know whether I should laugh or be very afraid," Draco said in obvious delight of how uncomfortable all the professors were.

"Afraid," Violet answered as she too looked at the professor's table. Professor Snape's rage filled scowl made sure he was going to hex the first person who even uttered the word love in a sentence. Poor professor Flitwick had his head buried in his hands and was trying to hide behind his breakfast; while McGonagall fixed Lockhart with a glare that should have killed him on the spot. Violet was fairly certain that she even saw McGonagall's fingers twitching around her wand.

In fact, the only person who seemed to be as content with the whole display as Lockhart was Dumbledore. He wore purple robes covered in deep red hearts as he smiled genially over the table at the student body. The man was a complete mystery to Violet. For the most part he was the eccentric headmaster whose long white hair and beard reminded you of a beloved grandparent; with twinkling eyes and colorful robes that instantly put anyone near him at ease. But Violet had seen the other side of him; the man who didn't seem to be affected by another man's death or a student's petrification. She had witnessed the kind face become hard and ruthless as he discussed the Wizarding War. Underneath that gentle grandfatherly face was the face of a seasoned leader who would sacrifice anything if it meant his side would be victorious. She just couldn't tell which persona was the mask and which was his true face.

Violet tried to finish her breakfast as quickly as possible in order to avoid whatever else Lockhart had planned for Valentine's Day. It was sure to be torture of some type. By the time she gulped down her morning tea there was so much glitter and confetti on the floor that more than one student had slipped and fallen on their way into the hall.

"The man's a complete and utter nuisance," she said as she stood to leave. Draco laughed as he got up from the table to join her. Hermione seemed to be content with staring at Lockhart while Theo seemed to be content degrading Lockhart to get a reaction out of Hermione, so Violet and Draco left them in the hall.

The stares and sudden silence whenever she passed by a conversation didn't escape Violet's notice as she left the hall. The student body was still convinced that she was the Heir of Slytherin and while they weren't as actively hostile as they had been a few months ago, Violet was still met with suspicious eyes and whispers wherever she went. She breathed a sigh of relief when Draco and she finally made it to the library which was relatively empty since most students were caught up and literally caught in Lockhart's Valentine's Day spectacle.

With an ever growing amount of coursework, Violet had yet to have a chance to comb the school's records to find more information about Myrtle's death and its possible connection to the Chamber of Secrets. With a determined look on her face she set off for the school's collection of newspapers while Draco grabbed their favorite table. She came back a few minutes later with a stack of papers from the year of Myrtle's death and handed half the pile to Draco. The two sat in companionable silence for the next hour as they read through each article before the finally found what they were searching for.

"Look, Draco! Here it is," Violet said as she placed the article on table so they would both be able to read it:

'Mysterious Death at Hogwarts Solved! Parents and students alike can rest easy with the knowledge that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is once again safe. The school has been in a state of complete terror throughout the year with the unexplained petrification of several students and the alleged opening of the Chamber of Secrets. This terror reached its climax with the tragic death of Myrtle Wilson, a sixth year student, who was found in one of the school's bathrooms. Unable to protect its students, the possibility of Hogwarts being shut down has been gaining momentum over the past few weeks. Well, that talk has been silenced today with the Prophet Exclusive confirmed capture of the monster that has been holding Hogwarts's hostage for months. In yet another Daily Prophet exclusive, we have learned that an Acromantula has been the source of these attacks… (continued on page 7).'

"An acromantula?" Draco asked in disbelief. "I thought Myrtle told you that she saw a pair of yellow eyes staring at her…"

Violet rubbed her tired eyes in frustration. "She did. Something isn't right here. Acromantula venom can paralyze their victims-"

"But it wears off after a few hours," Draco finished for her. He was fascinated by potions and had an encyclopedic knowledge of the properties of various ingredients. Acromantula venom was highly sought after in the potions world. "Not to mention the idea that Salazar Slytherin would use an acromantula to guard the chamber is laughable." As soon as he said it, Draco's eyes light up as he realized what the creature was. "I can't believe we didn't think of this sooner! It's so obvious."

"What? What's obvious?" Violet asked in irritation as she could tell from the smug look on Draco's face that he was going to draw this out for as long as possible. He was exactly like his mother in that way. Before Draco could make her guess, a heart-wrenching scream coming from the hallway interrupted the quiet tranquility of the library.

The two shot out of their seats and ran towards the screaming in the corridor with their wands drawn. There was already a crowd forming by the time they reached the end of the hallway where the scream had originated from. Violet stood on her toes and gasped as she saw the petrified form of Ron Weasley laying on the floor with his mouth frozen in a scream. His freckles stood out even more against the now stark paleness of his skin; his bright red hair the only color left on his stiff unmoving body. Crumpled in his hand was a Valentine's Day card, several pieces of candy were scattered on the floor around him.

Lying discarded several feet away from Ron's body was a perfect pale purple rose. It was the same kind that had been scattered around the Great Hall that morning but the color had been purposefully changed, she was certain of it. Violet knew it was left there for her but whether it was as a taunt or a way to get her attention, she couldn't say.

"Let me through! Let me through!" came the frantic voice of Ginny Weasley as she pushed her way to the front of the crowd from the other side of the corridor. As soon as she saw the petrified form of her brother she rushed towards him and fell to the floor on her knees in front of his body. She closed his eyes and brushed his bright red hair from his face with gentle care. She looked up and locked her hate-filled eyes with Violet; "You did this! Didn't you?"

At once every head in the hallway turned towards Violet with accusation clear in their expressions. She took a step back away from the crowd. "No! I didn't do this, any of it! I'm so sorry for what happened to Ron, but-"

"Don't you dare say his name! You're a monster!" Ginny screamed as she cradled her brother's head in her hands.

"You're evil!" another voice yelled at Violet.

"Get her out of the school!"

"No one want's you here!"

It was overwhelming. Violet turned from the accusations and hate filled threats of the students in the corridor. Draco tried to reach for her but she gently pushed his arms away. She ran from the scene as fast as her legs could carry her but the harsh words from her classmates seemed to stay with her as she raced down the corridors and up the spiral staircase of Ravenclaw tower. She flung herself onto her bed and threw the covers over herself until she was completely immersed in isolated darkness. She wished she had never left the cupboard.

She must have dozed off for as soon as she pulled the covers off her head the dormitory was drenched in the soft darkness of nighttime. Violet turned her head to see her roommates fast asleep. She threw on a light grey robe as she quietly left the dormitory. The common room was empty as she went to sit on the midnight blue carpet in front of the glowing embers of the fireplace. It hurt to know just how much the student body hated her; how quickly they were to believe that she was behind the attacks. Violet struggled with positive attention so becoming the most hated person in the school and so quickly at that, did little to improve her self-confidence. She didn't know why it was so easy for people to hate her; even her own relatives hated her. No matter how obedient she was, no matter how hard she tried, it was never good enough. She was never good enough. Violet watched with disinterest as the embers of the fire completely died out.

The next day found Violet sitting in the bitter cold of her favorite courtyard. Her forest green cloak draped loosely over her shoulders while her long hair hung in limp curls as it gently moved in the frosty breeze. She hadn't bothered to braid it, or even brush it. It was well past lunchtime but she didn't care; she felt like she had been sitting in the courtyard for longer than the sun had sat in the sky. It was a Sunday so she did not have to worry about missing classes, not that she would have gone to them anyway. The courtyard was one of the only places on the castle grounds were she wouldn't be disturbed. The freezing and barren conditions kept most students away.

Violet stared at the hard frozen ground as she tried to figure out what to do. It was obvious that the Professors didn't suspect her of actually having anything to do with the attacks or the chamber as they would have questioned her about it by now. She heaved out a frustrated breath, if Dumbledore knew she was innocent, then why wouldn't he speak out on her behalf?

"Hello, there. It's a lovely day isn't it?" Violet nearly fell off of the stone bench she was sitting on. She looked up to see Luna Lovegood smiling down at her. The girl was dressed in a lilac and orange cloak that seemed out of place amidst the whites and greys of the frozen courtyard. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you," Luna said in a dreamy voice as she took a seat next to Violet. Her pale blond hair was tucked behind her ears exposing her staple radish earrings while her grey eyes roved over the courtyard, no doubt looking for creatures that only she could see.

"It's alright. Aren't you worried about being near me?" Violet asked bitterly while she ran her fingers through the freshly fallen snow on the other side of the stone bench. "I am a monster, after all."

Luna gave a soft laugh as she turned her attention from the courtyard to Violet. "No, you're not. They blame you because that's less scary than admitting that they have no idea or control over what's going on."

"And what do you think is going on?" This was the first real conversation that Violet had had with Luna in months. She always made sure to say hello to the girl when they crossed paths but for the most part Luna kept to herself as she wandered about the castle seemingly lost in her own world. Even the sounds of students laughing at her did nothing to alter how the girl acted. Violet had to admit she was curious to see what Luna's interpretation of the chamber would be.

"Something much larger is behind the attacks. All the pieces are right in front of you; you just need to put them all together and then you'll see. It seems that there is some type of secret to uncover. Oh, I hope it's a good one." Luna trailed off as her gaze turned towards the sky. Violet watched in curiosity as Luna closed her eyes for over a minute and took a series deep breathes. The courtyard was fairly bright with sunlight reflecting off the snow so she supposed the behavior wasn't too odd. "You can't avoid the coming storm, Violet. After all, we are at the mercy of the elements." Thick snowflakes began to fall all around the courtyard as Luna finished speaking.

"Luna...are you an Oracle?" Violet whispered to the girl. Oracles were considered to be extinct from the magical community as one had not been seen in over three hundred years. They were said to come into existence during times of incredible upheaval; when the magical world would need a guiding hand. As a result the arrival of an Oracle was greatly feared. Many had been violently executed throughout the course of wizarding history by terrified rulers hoping to avoid the change shepherded by an Oracle's existence. Violet remembered reading, that Oracles were said to have the strongest connection to magic out of any magical creature. They were marked by three glowing dots on their foreheads which was supposedly the result of being kissed by Magic herself.

Violet knew that Luna didn't have the dots but she supposed the girl could have covered it up with a potent glamour charm. If Luna was discovered as being a true Oracle, Violet knew that the Ministry of Magic would take her. In this day and age having a personal Oracle at your disposal would give anyone a significant advantage. The world was full of individuals who would kill for even the slightest edge over their opponents.

Luna let out a soft laugh. "You're the not the first person to ask me that but no. I do not have that gift. I'm just Luna. Oh, right…I believe Hermione was looking for you this morning..." Before Violet could question her further, Hermione, Draco, and Theo walked into the courtyard.

"There you are! Oh, hi Luna. We've been searching all over the castle!" Hermione said in exacerbation as she quickly marched up to Violet and Luna.

"I'm sorry. I just needed some time alone."

Hermione crossed her arms. "Yes, well could you leave a note next time? We were worried. Honestly, with everything that's been happen-….AH!" Hermione's lecture was interrupted by Theo throwing a snowball which hit her right in the back of the head. Violet couldn't help but start laughing at the look of complete indignation on Hermione's face.

"Oh, I am going to murder you, Theo!" Hermione yelled as she bent over and quickly formed a snowball in her hands before chucking it, with surprising force and accuracy. It hit him square in the face but Hermione's smug smile quickly disappeared as Draco threw a snowball at her. She managed to duck in time which caused it to fly right into the side of Violet's head.

"Alright, it's on now!" Violet laughed as she quickly dusted the snow off of herself before ducking behind a tree to gather up more snowballs. Her laughter grew, as Luna managed to nail Draco with a particularly big snowball, completely messing up his styled hair, much to his horror. Theo was hiding behind a pillar while Hermione had bolted behind a shrub. There was a moment of perfect stillness before, the barren courtyard turned into chaotic battlefield as snowballs were being hurled in all directions. Alliances were formed and quickly broken with each new snowball that was thrown. The sounds of carefree laughter chased away the empty silence of winter as the five students forgot all their troubles and simply enjoyed each other's company for the rest of the afternoon.

*Chapter 21*: Chapter 21

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise.

Rated: M


Chapter 21: Payback

The months began to pass in a blur. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and still Violet and the rest of the school were no closer to finding out the true source and motivation behind the attacks. By the time the sweet smells of springtime hung in the air most of the school had gone back to only occasionally looking at her suspiciously as students became lost in the frenzy of trying to prepare for end of term exams. Ginny Weasley seemed to be the only person in the school still actively calling Violet a monster whenever Violet had the misfortune of passing by her in the hallway. It was endlessly amusing to see that Ginny couldn't seem to understand the student body's fickle tendencies as the girl would become increasingly more and more frustrated when the other students in the hallway failed to join in like they once had in throwing accusations at Violet. Ginny just ended up making a fool of herself most of the time. After so many months of being called a monster and evil, Violet was immensely pleased to find the words no longer stung like they once had, as over the months she had become increasingly desensitized to the whispers and stairs that followed her about. Violet knew she wasn't the one who was attacking students and that simple truth brought her comfort as she walked through the halls.

While losing much of her fan club Ginny still found ways to flourish under all the sympathetic attention she had been receiving since Ron was attacked. No matter where she was in the castle she could find well-wishers and admirers of her stoicism under the circumstances. She was rarely seen from Neville's side and seemed to have taken Ron's place as his right hand, but much to Ginny's continued annoyance Neville never joined in when she would harass Violet. He had even gone so far as to defend her once which to Ginny was a sign of ultimate betrayal. Frankly, Violet just found the whole thing exhausting.

" I was saying I saw her talking to Ron earlier that day…"

Violet sighed as she overheard Ginny telling the exact same story about her again. She had been walking back to the castle from quidditch practice when she came upon Ginny surrounded by a group of first year Hufflepuffs who somehow had managed to not hear about Violet being the supposed Heir of Slytherin. It was honestly surprising that the whole school didn't have the story memorized as Ginny tried to tell it every day to anyone who would listen. She stopped telling her story when she noticed Violet walking by the small crowd.

"Look everyone! There she is! Careful not to look at her or you'll be next!"

Violet rolled her eyes when she saw Ginny's theatrics work as the first years backed away from her while doing everything in their power not to look at her. She kept walking past the group with her head held high determined not to engage with Ginny whatsoever. She wasn't worth the energy. It was a beautiful late May afternoon that reminded everyone of the warm summer weather that would be soon arriving. Violet had planned to meet Draco, Theo, Hermione, and Luna in their favorite courtyard as soon as she was done from practice so they could all enjoy the weather together. Luna had become a permanent part of their friend group after the snowball fight. Hermione and Theo still found her odd but they both admired her strong sense of individuality and kindness to all creatures both real and imaginary. Draco found Luna to be hilarious and would constantly ask her opinions about wrackspurts and nargles in order to get a rise out of Theo who would always take the bait. Violet still had her suspicions that there was more to Luna than what met the eye but she wouldn't mention it again unless Luna brought it up. It could be dangerous if other people began to suspect.

When Violet was about ten feet from the castle door she felt someone grab her shoulder and push her hard into the stone wall of the castle. "You think you're so special, don't you? I don't care if he said not to bother you. I'll make sure you get what's coming to you," Ginny hissed in Violet's ear as she pushed Violet's cheek harder into the unforgiving stone wall. She could feel the rough edge slightly scraping her cheek. In an instant all Violet could see was red as memories of Vernon clouded her mind and vision. Rational thought fled as instinct took command.

Violet used her leg to deliver a swift back kick to the front of Ginny's shin. The girl keeled over in pain, releasing Violet, who promptly drew her wand. It seemed Ginny hadn't been expecting her to defend herself and was completely unprepared. "I don't understand what the hell your problem is. I don't want Neville! I've never wanted him. He's all yours, Ginny."

Violet dusted the gravel from the wall off of her stinging cheek as she eyed the girl who had tormented her all school year and something inside of her just snapped. "No. You know what. Petrificus Toatlus." She flicked her wand and watched in satisfaction as Ginny's arms snapped to her sides while her legs locked in place. There was nothing Ginny could do but watch as she fell hard onto the ground.

Violet tsked as she looked down at the now unmoving Ginny who was looking up at her with wide worried eyes. "Oh, my. How clumsy you are, Ginny. Here, let me help you," she said coolly as she felt her magic begin to seep vindictively out of her in rapid agitated currents. "Levicorpus," Violet said as she flicked her wand in an upward motion. A grass green light shot out and began to lift Ginny up in the air by her ankles. Several coins and some candy fell out of her pockets as she floated upside down in the air. Violet looked behind Ginny to see several students were observing the spectacle in amusement. They looked to be older students from Slytherin and Ravenclaw so she knew they wouldn't rush to defend Ginny.

Violet bent over to pick up one of the gold coins. She flipped it up carelessly in the air before taking on the cool disinterested aloofness that she had learned from Narcissa. "It must have taken you years to save up all this coin. How dreadful to lose it all."

Violet flicked her wrist. A strong wind a moment later sent all the coins cascading down the hill that led up to the castle where students lounging outside quickly grabbed them. Ginny's lips looked they were trembling like she was trying to speak. "What's that? I'm afraid I'm having trouble hearing you, my dear Ginny. Although…you have just given me a splendid idea. Densaugeo."

A purple light shot from Violet's wand and hit Ginny straight in the mouth. Violet and several other students began laughing as Ginny's two front teeth began to grow and grow eventually passing her bottom lip making her resemble a beaver or some type of rodent. "There now your appearance finally matches your family name, little Weaselette."

Violet looked around and realized that she had garnered quite the crowd yet the students weren't looking at her in fear, instead they were enjoying the show. She shot them a smile that rivaled Lockhart's for charm and winked before flicking her wrist causing Ginny's body to rapidly spin around. It was dizzying just to watch so for Ginny it must have been excruciating.

After a minute of spinning, when she was sure that Ginny was about to be sick, Violet canceled it. She could feel her magic continuing to swirl in agitation as it sought some type of outlet, some type of release. She could feel it completely taking over giving her a new sense of confidence and releasing a raw anger that slumbered deep inside of her. Violet bent down to whisper in Ginny's ear. "Poor stupid Ginny. How quickly your little fans have turned on you. Do you hear that? They're laughing at you. This must be so humiliating for you. If you ever put your hands on me again, I want you to remember this moment. Remember how you feel right now. Powerless, insignificant, a complete and utter joke. I will always be faster than you, smarter than you, and more powerful. I'll always be better than you. Don't push me." Violet flicked her wand one more time and watched in satisfaction as Ginny fell onto the hard ground in a complete heap of stiff unmoving limbs. Her body was still frozen so she wasn't able to do anything to soften her fall.

"Consider this a friendly warning," Violet crooned before turning from Ginny and the crowd and walking back into the castle. She wanted to put as much distance between her and the girl as possible. Her magic began to retreat back inside of her the longer she walked. Something wasn't right with Ginny, to hate Violet with so much intensity. It made her uneasy. Violet was used to dealing with the impulsive anger and violence of Vernon but Ginny's anger was different. It seemed planned, calculated.

Despite hexing Ginny, Violet was in a dark mood when she reached the courtyard. Her mood somewhat brightened when she heard the soft voices of her friends. She sat down next to Hermione with an aggravated sigh.

"What's up with you?" Hermione asked as she closed one of Lockhart's many books that she had been reading. On Hermione's other side was Luna, lying in the grass along with Draco, as she pointed out the different shapes of clouds to him. Theo was using a bench as a desk to finish writing his Potions essay, in between glaring at Hermione's reading choice.

"Ginny Weasley...again!" Violet complained while lifting her hands up in aggravation. "She cornered me and went on a rant about how 'I'm going to get what's coming to me' even though 'Neville told her not to bother me,' blah, blah." Violet waved her hand in dismissal of the whole thing. She decided to leave out the rest of the incident. They'd all hear about soon enough anyways.

Luna giggled in response while Hermione gave Violet a concerned look. "Vi, this is getting out of hand. You should tell a professor or something. Ginny's hatred towards you makes whatever feud Draco and Neville have going on seem tame."

Violet shrugged in response. "It just doesn't seem worth it. I mean what actual harm could she do?" Hermione didn't look convinced but she decided not to press the issue. Violet lay back onto the grass as she looked up at the cloudy sky. The blades of grass felt like feathers against her fingertips while she watched the clouds lazily float by.

Hermione soon joined them and reclined back on the grass as well, using Lockhart's book as a pillow. The sat in a comfortable silence as they listened and watched the world move around them.

"Do you see the snake?" Luna dreamily asked.

"It looks like a bunny to me," Hermione responded.

Violet thought the cloud looked like a frumpy top hat. Draco's snoring prevented her from responding as she and the others burst into laughter. "Oh, he would be so mortified if he knew he snored," Hermione giggled.

The warm weather of the past few days had suddenly vanished being replaced with a series of intense rainstorms. The young blades of grass that had freshly sprouted quickly returned back to dirt as they were hounded by harsh rain for days on end. Students were forced to stay inside the castle, unless they wanted to be knee deep in slick mud the second they took a step outside. This left Violet in a rather foul mood as she didn't do well when her outside access was restricted; she felt like a caged animal within the castle walls.

Violet was on her way to the library to meet up with Hermione so they could begin to study for their Transfiguration final together. Her hair was in its usual messy braid as she grabbed it and brought it over her shoulder. The corridor that led to the library was unusually empty, especially when it was so close to final exams. Violet slowed in her steps as a sinking feeling began to come over her.

"Violet!" Draco yelled from behind her. She turned to see a very pale looking Draco and Luna running towards her. "It got Hermione," he said as he reached her. "Hermione and another student were found in the library; both of them are petrified."

"Where is she now?" Violet asked frantically as she wrung her hands through her braid. She should have been there. It was stupid of her to let Hermione to go the library alone. It had been months since Ron was petrified so many of the strict curfews the students were under had lessened.

"In the infirmary," Draco said as the three began to walk in the direction of the infirmary. Violet let out a cry of anguish when they reached the infirmary as she saw Hermione's frozen form lying on a hospital bed. She wore a peaceful expression as if she was simply taking a nap but her skin was too pale, her chest barely moving at all. She could have been mistaken for dead if someone glanced at her quickly. Theo was already there sitting in a chair that he had pulled up right to the side of the bed. His hair was even messier than normal as he had been repeatedly running his fingers through it.

"This doesn't make sense! Hermione respected the Old Ways! Why would it go after her?" He said in a clear frustration as he rubbed his hands roughly against his face.

Luna took a seat on the foot of the bed as she gazed sadly at Hermione. "Even the purest and noblest of ideas can be corrupted by the shadows that live within the human heart," she said in a soft voice as her pupils grew slightly in size.

Violet rushed over to the other side of the bed and began to gently move the stray frizzy strands of hair out of Hermione's face. Her skin was so cold, her lips practically blue. "But she's going to be alright?"

"I overheard Professor Snape and Professor Sprout talking. The restorative potion should be ready in about three weeks." Draco said.

"These attacks aren't just going to stop though! We saw what that thing could do to Filch. It's only a matter of time before it decides to kill again." Violet was beginning to panic. Hermione was lucky that she was only petrified but its next victim might not be. If it attacked Hermione then it could just as easily go after Draco, Theo, or Luna the next time. The attacks were beginning to seem nonsensical. She couldn't figure out the pattern.

The group stayed with Hermione until Madam Pomfrey kicked them out of the infirmary for the evening. Theo stayed by her bed the longest and whispered something in her ear before reluctantly turning away with his hands clenched at his side. Violet and Draco knew better than to ask him about what he had said, even just witnessing the moment felt too personal. The friends walked in silence to the Great Hall and decided to remain together by sitting at the Ravenclaw table. Violet couldn't help but feel like there was a huge hole in her side. Nothing felt right without Hermione there.

"Attention Students! In light of recent events Professor Dumbledore has been called away in order to discuss the situation with the Board of Governors. I will be acting as Headmistress for however long he is gone." McGonagall fixed the silent crowd with a sad expression. "I will not lie to you all; the indeed grave." McGonagall's announcement cut through the group's sullen mood as they stared at each other in shock. A wave of disquiet murmurs rippled throughout the Great Hall.

"They're going to replace him." Draco reasoned. "If he can't protect his own students then what good is he? Useless old fool." He said in a tone laced with desolate bitterness. Any joy that Draco and Theo might have felt at the Headmaster being replaced was easily diminished with their concern for Hermione. After an unusually sullen and quiet meal the students were led from the hall in large groups to their dormitories.

Violet couldn't sleep. She tossed and turned and just ended up blankly staring at Hermione's empty bed. She knew she needed to stop the attacks before anyone else got hurt even if it meant she had to find and go into the chamber herself and fight whatever was lurking within.

"Where's Theo?" Violet asked Draco by way of greeting as she left the Ravenclaw common room. Draco had been waiting for her outside the door. After what happened to Hermione, they all agreed to never travel alone. McGonagall had enforced newer and even stricter curfew laws, which meant that students were only allowed out of their dormitories for classes or for an hour of free time on the weekends. There had yet to be any more attacks but everyone knew it was only a matter of time before the next incident. The Professors were completely clueless about how to stop the attacks. Rumors of Hogwarts being shut down were growing rampant among staff and students alike.

"He's in the infirmary with Luna," Draco said as the two began to make their way down the spiral staircase. Theo had spent every free moment he had sitting next to Hermione's bed, despite Madam Pomfrey's many protests but nothing the nurse threatened him with would make him move. He would read to Hermione from her favorite book or lecture her about how foolish she had been by being alone. They all knew she couldn't hear him but it seemed to help him cope better. He even threatened and tried to hex Lockhart when the man came into the infirmary to visit all the petrification victims.

Violet and Draco began to make their way to the infirmary when they were stopped by an out of breath Neville Longbottom. Draco began to sneer as Violet grabbed his wand arm to keep him from hexing the boy.

"Neville?" she questioned.

"It's got Ginny! The teachers are in a complete panic. They're saying Hogwarts is definitely going to be closed now. It left a message in her blood on the same wall where Filch was found…" Neville trailed off so he could fully catch his breath.

"What was the message?" She questioned as she and Draco shared concerned glances at one another. Inside Violet was going into a full blown panic. Hogwarts's couldn't be shut down. It was the only connection she had to her parents, the only place that had given her a chance to be something more.

"History will repeat unless a flower can bloom in the darkness," he said between breaths.

"What the bloody hell is that supposed to mean?" Draco hissed.

Violet knew the message was for her. It wanted her to go into the chamber and prove herself in some way. The only thing Violet didn't understand was why the creature was so interested in her. She shivered as she realized the message was so similar to what Ione had told her so many months ago. 'Become who you are meant to be.'

"Dumbledore said you would help me! He told me in the beginning of the year that I need look no further than you for a steadfast ally to fight in the darkest of times. That you would always do the right thing, just like your parents!" Neville pleaded.

"So that's the reason you've been tolerable to her? So you could use her for you convenience when there was danger? Typical." Draco snorted as he continued to glare at Neville. "Why do you even care if the girl dies? You're nothing but a selfish bastard. Why think of all the sympathetic publicity you'll be getting from it."

"Shut up, Malfoy! You don't know anything about me!" Neville yelled. Violet could see that underneath Neville's ruthlessness and ego, there was a small amount of loyalty in the boy, and even a bit of a hero-complex. Well, he wasn't placed in Gryffindor for nothing.

Violet knew she had a choice in this. She could turn from it and leave Ginny to die, after all the girl had been nothing but horrid to her. It would be the ultimate rejection of everything Ione had ever said to her. She would be picking herself over whatever fate had planned for her. Or she could go with Neville and face a fearsome creature that just might kill her, all to save a nasty little girl. She wished it were a harder decision. She wished she could be heartless, and cold, and uncaring but that wasn't who she was. Her thoughts drifted to the cupboard, to her scarred and bruised skin, to the little girl she used to be crying in pain and fear for help, for mercy. She wouldn't, couldn't leave another to that fate, even if it was Ginny. Violet would face the darkness and show it just how much she could glow.

"We're wasting time! Since none of us know where the chamber is, I say we go talk to its first real victim" She interrupted cutting off the screaming match that Draco and Neville were just about to get into. Violet began to run for the first floor girl's bathroom with Draco and Neville following quickly behind her. In their haste, they failed to notice that Lockhart had been eavesdropping on their entire conversation.

"Oh, hello Violet!" Myrtle said as she smiled down at the girl. Violet had been by to visit Myrtle numerous times since their first meeting over break. She enjoyed the relative quiet that the bathroom had to offer since every other student avoided it due to Myrtle's hysterics while Myrtle enjoyed having someone listen to and validate all of her complaints.

"Hi, Myrtle. Do you think you can you show me the exact spot where you saw the yellow eyes that killed you?" Violet asked in a rush. Both Neville and Draco shot her incredulous looks as they expected the ghost to be offended by her so casually asking about her death.

Myrtle giggled as she flew in front of the center sink in the bathroom and pointed at it. Violet rushed over and began to examine the sink for any clue about how the creature had appeared there. "Try the faucet," Myrtle whispered beside her as she continued to giggle. Violet turned it and realized that no water was coming out. She bent over to examine the pipes and gasped as she saw a snake carved into the metal of the pipe.

"This is it! This is the entrance!" Violet said excitedly.

Draco grabbed her arm and turned her to face him. He gently gripped both of her shoulders as his expression filled with concern. "Violet, I never told you what was down there. I wanted to be sure before I told you and with everything that happened after Weasley was attacked...I just didn't want to be right but that engraving just confirmed my suspicions. The only creature that Slytherin would deem worthy of guarding the chamber is a...basilisk."

Violet's eyes widened in realization. It all made sense, her ability to hear the creature, the petrification's, even Filch's bleeding to death. It was impossible to close a wound that had been punctured by basilisk venom. "Well, it's good to know what we're up against, I guess." Draco gave her a weak smile in response.

"How do we open it?" Neville asked impatiently. Before Dumbledore had left he had instructed Neville on the importance of stopping the attacks. He had filled the boy's mind with images of heroes and glory and Neville was anxious to prove himself once again.

"Parseltongue," Draco responded as he looked to Violet. "I don't know how you can speak it but if Slytherin wanted only his true heir to be able to open it then he would have used parseltongue as it runs through his line."

Violet turned towards the sink; "Open" she hissed in parseltongue and watched in amazement as the floor of the sink gave way revealing a long pipe that fell into the darkness.

"If you die, Violet, I'll let you share my toilet," Myrtle said as she floated up to the tall window in the bathroom.

Violet nodded in thanks before she sat down on the floor and inched her way onto the pipe; "Well, here we go," she said as she slid into the darkness.

*Chapter 22*: Chapter 22

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise.

Rated: M


Chapter 22: The Chamber

A large pile of rodent bones cushioned Violet's fall as she gracefully slid off the pipe. "Lumos," she whispered as a small light began to glow from her wand exposing a long tunnel on the other side of the pile of bones. It seemed to stretch on forever. She was shortly joined by Neville and Draco who both made disgusted faces at the pile. At least the basilisk seemed to eat every party of the rodent so the smell wasn't overwhelmingly bad. The trio pulled out their wands and began to walk down the long tunnel. All three were on edge as they listened for any sound or indication that the creature was nearby. They came to an immediate stop as the sound of fast approaching footsteps echoed off the tunnel walls behind them.

"I think that's enough," Lockhart's arrogant bravado cut through the silence as the three students turned to face the man. "Can't have us getting too close now. I have to thank you all for finding the entrance to the chamber. It'll make my story so much more believable."

"Just what are you playing at?" Draco asked as Lockhart brandished his wand and pointed it at the students. "Aren't you supposed to be fearless? A champion for all?"

Lockhart gave Draco a chuckle in response. "In my books, yes. But let me teach you a very valuable lesson children…this is the real world. I didn't get to be where I am by playing fair. You actually think I told the truth in my books? Oh, please. Well, I did tell some of the truth, I suppose. All the encounters in my books are real; I just took the credit of the people who actually did them."

The more Lockhart talked the less and less handsome he became as if his good looks were all a part of the act. "You see children; I'm actually very proficient in memory charms. A quick 'obliviate' and the accomplishments of that wizard or witch are all mine for the taking. The look of surprise on their faces always gets me."

"How predictable," Draco sneered, "and how are you going to spin this?" Violet knew that Draco was trying to keep Lockhart talking and distracted while she or Neville came up with some kind of plan to deal with him. She couldn't think of anything that wouldn't alert the basilisk that they were in the tunnel. Her entire plan was counting on the element of surprise.

"Oh, it's going to be quite tragic. I was too late to save the girl…she died in my arms but not before thanking me for coming to her rescue before the light fled from her eyes. Despite my tragic failure to save her, I was able to save the three of you. The sight of her mangled corpse was too much for your young and innocent minds. It drove you mad. Completely and utterly mad. This is going to be my greatest story to date. I'll get at least another book-..."

"REDUCTO," Neville shouted as he pointed his wand at the ceiling right above Lockhart's head. A jet of blue light shot from it as the ceiling began to instantly crumble around them. Neville pushed Violet out of the way before he too dived further into the tunnel, away from Lockhart. The sound of crashing stones filled the tunnel as both Violet and Neville were covered in dust and debris. Violet had hit her head on the ground when Neville had pushed her. She could feel the warmth of blood dripping from her forehead as she stood up in a daze. She coughed and her eyes stung as dust from over several decades was released with the collapse of the tunnel's ceiling. She saw Neville lying next to her but no sign of Draco.

"DRACO!" She held her breathe and waited. There was no response from the other side.

"DRACO!" She could feel her heart beginning to break as her call was only met with silence.

"Draco! Please answer me!" Violet screamed as she completely forgot about the element of surprise. She frantically rushed for the pile of crumpled rocks and began to throw them onto the floor as she tried to clear a path back to the other side of the tunnel.

"DRACO!" she screamed again and again. Her nails began to break from her clawing at the stones in an effort to remove them faster. He couldn't be dead. He couldn't be dead. Not Draco. Not Draco. Violet kept chanting the mantra as she threw rocks and other debris from the pile. "Please," she whispered as she couldn't seem to clear the rocks fast enough.

She stopped when she heard coughing from the other side of the tunnel and pressed her ear to the debris pile.

"I'm fine," Draco shouted back to her as he continued to cough. Violet felt like she could breathe again as she sagged against the pile in relief.

"Lockhart's….dead. All I can see are his feet from under the pile," Draco said after his coughing had died down. "I'll go and get help. There's no way around this debris. For the love of Merlin, be careful Vi!"

Neville tugged her arm before he began down the tunnel. "We need to move. It knows we're here now," he whispered as they began to walk. She nodded and with one last look at the debris pile followed after him.

They walked in silence for what felt like miles. Their frazzled nerves making the journey seem to be never ending. The farther down they went, the colder and colder it got until eventually they could begin to see their breath appear in front of them; the only light coming from Violet's wand.

"Look" she whispered as she pointed towards what looked to be shredded skin on the ground. If there was any doubt left about what the creature was, it was gone as Neville and Violet examined the skin. They followed it and were amazed and horrified to find that it went on for at least a dozen feet. It was gigantic in size. The mere fact that this thing could move around the school unnoticed was astounding. The trail of discarded skin led them to a small antechamber which held the entrance way to four tunnels.

"We should split up to cover more ground," Neville said as he began to walk for the farthest tunnel on the left. Violet hated to admit that he was right but every second mattered and they had already wasted quite a few. She took the third tunnel from the left and began to quicken her pace as she walked through the dimly lit tunnel. She didn't know what she was going to do if she actually the found the thing by herself. How would one even plan for this kind of thing?

Violet prayed to Magic that she would just find Ginny and be able to take the girl out of the chamber without encountering the basilisk at all. She walked along the tunnel for about ten minutes but what felt like a lifetime before she began to see a glow of light from the end of the tunnel. She quickened her steps and stared up in awe as she reached the end of the tunnel and came upon the legendary Chamber of Secrets.

It was a towering impossibly tall chamber made entirely of pale grey stone. Pillars that reached all the way to the ceiling stretched along the chamber for as far as the eye could see. Stone serpents were coiled around the pillars and also etched into the walls. They looked to be moving when they were hit with the weak torch lights that lined the entire chamber. Their shadows slithered along the floor as Violet began to walk further into the chamber. At the very end of the chamber, carved from the stone of the wall, was a giant statue of Salazar Slytherin surrounded by depthless black pools of water on three sides.

In front of the statue, with her back turned to Violet, was Ginny with a leather bound journal in her hand. Violet breathed a sigh of relief as she quickly walked up to the girl. "Thank Merlin that you're alright! Neville is around here somewhere...come on, we have to go," Violet said as she went to grab Ginny. She gasped and took a step back when the girl turned around. Ginny's usual bright brown eyes had turned completely black. Violet couldn't even make out her pupils.

"Umm...Ginny?" Violet hesitantly asked as she continued to take a few more steps backwards to create some distance between herself and the girl.

"Guess again." Whatever was inside Ginny replied. The voice was the same as Ginny's but it held so much more confidence than the girl's usual tone. It was commanding. The endless black eyes continued to stare at her but it didn't try to stop Violet from slowly backing away from it.

"What...or who...are you?" She whispered as she tried to formulate some kind of plan to dispossess Ginny and escape a basilisk at the same time. She didn't have too many options or really any options except to hope that Neville would show up sooner rather than later.

The possessed Ginny sighed in a bored manner as it began to walk back towards the statue. It must have been very confident to turn its back on Violet with such a casual ease. "Ah. Yes, names are important. A name can inspire friends and instill terror in your enemies. Unfortunately, names such as those are useless for this conversation. I suppose Ginny will do, if you must call me something." It turned around and smirked at Violet.

"You're the heir of Slytherin..." Violet began to wrap her fingers around her wand so she could be prepared for whatever kind of attack the thing had planned. The chamber was too silent. It was an open expanse of space that left nowhere for someone to hide. Violet was trying her hardest not to panic. She cast a quick glance over her shoulder and saw that all the torches behind her had gone out. The only light left in the chamber came from the statue of Slytherin which would force her to step forward to stay within the weak torchlight. She tried not to think about the hissing that she could now hear within the darkness behind her.

It gave a deep chuckle, the torchlight dancing in the reflection of the absolute blackness of Ginny's eyes. "I suppose that was rather obvious, wasn't it?"

"Is Ginny dead? Are you some kind of ghost?" Violet didn't know a lot about possession but whatever this was couldn't be good for Ginny's overall health.

"Aren't you the curious one," it replied as it leaned against the statue of Slytherin with an easy grace that looked so out of place on Ginny's lanky frame. It seemed to be completely at ease with the entire conversation like they were old friends who were simply catching up. "She's alive, for the moment. I'm just a memory that was preserved in a journal; a fragmented piece of a whole." It held up the leather bound notebook for Violet to see.

Violet had so many questions that she wanted to ask but she knew some were more pressing than others. Asking about the theoretical framework behind possession while certainly interesting probably wasn't relevant to the conversation. The hissing behind her seemed to stay rooted within the darkness which was somewhat of a relief. "So you're the one behind the attacks?"

"I suppose you could say that. Although, it was Ginny who opened the Chamber of Secrets, Ginny who killed Filch, and wrote the messages on the wall. She summoned the basilisk to attack all those students."

"You're lying. You don't honestly expect me to believe she killed a man."

A pleased smirk appeared on its face. "Well done. Yes, that was me. The caretaker…recognized me from my time here. A small miscalculation on my part but one that was easily remedied."

The possessed Ginny stopped to hold up her hand. "I can already see all the questions forming in your eyes. Ravenclaw suits you. As to the rest of the attacks, yes, Ginny is behind it all. Of course, I encouraged her. I can be very persuasive."

From the ease and grace with which it spoke Violet didn't doubt it. She cast her eyes to the black pools of water to make sure that nothing was going to jump out from them. She couldn't let this conversation distract her.

"All I had to do was dangle a little power before Ginny's eyes and she jumped at the opportunity. I admit I was not expecting her to be so...bloodthirsty. A minor inconvenience. I apologize for that bludger, by the way. If I had known that was what she was going to use the enchantment for, I never would have taught it to her." The possessed Ginny sighed. "I told her not to bother you."

Violet's eyes widened in realization. "It was you….why? I don't understand. Why are you doing any of this?" Violet just wanted to get this conversation over with. She knew that it was toying with her, trying to draw it out as long as possible, before it pounced.

The possessed Ginny pushed off the wall and began to walk back towards Violet in slow confident strides. "If you're looking to find reason in a world that acts without thought, be prepared to be disappointed. The chamber was reopened for a multitude of reasons. Such a shame that your beloved Dumbledore was removed from the school before he could see its completion. The Board of Governors are much more efficient that I've ever given them credit for."

Violet instantly understood that the events of this year must have been connected to the War. "The Dark Lords did this. Didn't they? To discredit Dumbledore…" she trailed off as she tried to figure out where whatever was possessing Ginny fit into the whole scheme. "Were you sent by them? Do you work for them?"

"In a manner of speaking."

Violet narrowed her eyes at the vague answers. "So... this was all to discredit Dumbledore? A man is dead and four children are petrified! I think you overdid it...a bit." Violet made sure to stand her ground as it got closer and closer to her. She could either remain where she was or be forced to step back into the darkness towards the hissing.

The possessed Ginny gave an aggrieved sigh. "No magical blood was spilled. The children will eventually wake up, I'm sure. After all, Hogwarts is supposed to have one of the best potions masters in the world. Are you so naive as to think that Dumbledore cares about the petrifications? You don't actually believe that he became Headmaster of Hogwarts because of his love of learning and children?" Ginny sneered. "What better place to build an army? To shape young minds to your cause? As long as Dumbledore is at Hogwarts, the Light will get to determine the narrative. No price is too high to regain control of the future of Magic."

"Ginny supports the Light, though. She comes from an entirely Light family! But you...she attacked her own brother? That doesn't make sense."

"Again, with trying to find reason in everything." Ginny tsked. "It was actually her idea. She knew that no real harm would come to him and it gave her the perfect opportunity to demonize you. It also gave her more access to Longbottom. Being one of seven children certainly made her willing to do anything to stand out. She was so eager for a chance to be in the spotlight that no price would be too high. As to your friend, well, Ginny wanted to hurt you. I wouldn't allow her to send the basilisk after you so she settled on someone closest to you."

Violet couldn't believe how heartless it sounded. It spoke of death and manipulations with such a casual ease as if it was all it had ever known. There was a cold calculation behind everything that it did. The possessed Ginny was now standing directly in front of her. Violet couldn't look away from the black eyes. They seemed to call to her, to tug at the strings of her very soul. She felt like she was in some type of trance. She didn't even flinch when Ginny pulled out her wand and used the tip to softly trace the shape of Violet's face.

"Why not?" She whispered as she fell into and became completely lost in the blackness of the eyes.

"Discrediting Dumbledore was only one motivation for reopening the Chamber. Luring the Boy Who Lived down here another. I'm sure he'll get tired of stumbling about in the tunnels eventually and make his way to the Chamber. My main target has always been you. I wanted to test see if you're really what they say. I do not trust the words of others so I had to see for myself…" The possessed Ginny stepped away from Violet and turned completely towards the darkness. Violet shook her head to try and clear her thoughts as the trance was instantly broken.

"Asasara, I summon thee." It hissed in parseltongue.

The sound of large scales sliding across the floor echoed in Violet's ears. She could feel her heart beating out of her chest as she cast her eyes down upon the floor. How could she fight a creature that she couldn't even look at? The basilisk was going to kill her. She knew it. She wondered if it would eat her or just leave her lying and bleeding on the cold floor. She wanted to take a step back as the hissing got closer and closer but Violet felt like she was frozen. There was nowhere to run; nowhere to hide. She was outmatched and she was going to die.

The panic was beginning to overwhelm her. She was foolish to have come down here, foolish to have tried to be the hero, foolish to have tried to be more than the Dursley's personal servant. The scent of cypress and lemon began to fill Violet's nostrils as she took a deep breathe to try and steady herself. The panic instantly fled from her thoughts as she continued to inhale the calming scent. She knew Ione was there with her even though she couldn't see her, she wasn't alone. Her magic became focused and steady. She was so tired of always having to hide, tired of feeling fear and shame. Despite her eyes being glued to the ground she knew that the basilisk was right in front of her as the sound of slithering scales had ceased. It was still lurking in the darkness but Violet could feel its presence in her very bones. A very primal part of her magic began to rise up to meet the challenge that the ancient creature presented.

Golden light began to pour from her body until the entire chamber was awash in shades of gold. Violet could feel her magic beginning to permeate the thick air around her; waiting to take shape from her will alone. In that moment she was one with the world as her light chased away the darkness. The giant shadow cast by the basilisk spread on the floor around her as her light continued to grow. Keeping her eyes firmly on the ground, Violet swept into a deep curtsy. Instinctively she knew it was essential for her to show respect to the powerful and ancient being that lay before her, especially if she wanted to get out of that chamber unharmed.

"Greetings, Queen of Serpents," Violet's voice sounded much calmer than it had a few moments before.

After a nerve wracking moment of silence, the basilisk spoke. "It has been many moons since I have felt one of your kind. Mosssst intriguing that one should appear now at the new dawn. I feel the elementsss changing, even from within the darkness of these walls." Its voice possessed with wisdom and a confident slowness of speech that could only come from living over nine hundred years. "You may look upon me, child. No harm shall come to you."

Violet knew that telling lies was somehow beneath the basilisk. It had been alive so long and its sheer power so great, that it need not bother with the cunning and deceitful ways of man. There was very little that could threaten the Queen of Serpents. Violet lifted her eyes from the ground and stood in sheer awe of the creature before her. Slitted eyes the color of the brightest flame under a glassy sheen stared down at her. The protective sheen, keeping Violet from instant death, slightly muted the brilliant color of the basilisk's eyes. All of its victims witnessed the incredible beauty of those eyes before their lives were stolen. How common and cruel of nature to gift such beauty to the deadliest of creatures. It was at least fifty feet in length with iridescent green and yellow scales, which were reminiscent of oval leaves in shape. Mixed with the golden glow of Violet's aura, the scales shimmered like sunlit rocks in a clear moving stream.

She gasped. "The snake that Neville summoned was a basilisk?!"

The possessed Ginny gave her an amused look. "That particular spell summons the closest snake in the area to the caster. You're all quite fortunate that Asasara wasn't by the hall that particular day. Although, it would have been amusing if the scion of the Light was killed by his own spell. Such a shame that young basilisk's are unable to kill with a stare."

"No, such a gift must be earned by surviving through their fiftieth year but you have my thanksss for protecting my hatchling, human. Younglings are a rarity. Their livesss often ended by wizards who fear what they cannot control but it seems that the time for the old magics to return has come. I grant you welcome in the chamber, whenever you desire." The basilisk then focused its attention back to Ginny. "She is as you suspected, heir of Slytherin."

Ginny nodded, "Many thanks, Asasara." Having completed its purpose the basilisk slithered past Violet and into one of the depthless black pools next to Salazar's statue. Violet guessed the pools led to the Great Lake giving the basilisk a way to come and go from the castle.

"What do you think I am?" Violet asked as she watched the black water of the pool ripple in the wake of the basilisk.

The possessed Ginny raised an eyebrow at her. "Has no one told you? Curious, but I'm sure that by now, you must have realized that you're different from your classmates."

Violet glared at the ground as the golden light of her aura began to swirl around the chamber in chaotic and aggravated waves. "No. You've got the wrong girl. I'm not different, or special, or whatever it is you and everyone else seems to think I am. I'm no one. There isn't a big adventure or some kind of destiny waiting for me. No one. I'm no one…."

Violet had spent so many years of her life being told that she was worthless by the Dursleys. Eventually, it became her truth. She had moments where she could see her worth and potential but they were few and far between. She just couldn't accept the notion that she was somehow meant for greater things. This past year of being hated and shunned by her classmates had led her to the realization that it would be so much easier to just be nobody, to just be forgotten. She felt ice cold fingers gently lift her chin until she was staring into the black eyes once more. The chamber, Ginny's red hair and freckles, all faded from Violet's view, as the endless blackness of the eyes poured into her.

"Do not fear being different, Violet. It makes you special. There is so much power in you, just waiting to be let loose. I can sense it slumbering deep within you. We do not get to choose the hand that fate deals us, but we can forge our own paths along the way. Yours is a power that can shake the earth, drown the seas, and light up the darkness. A rare gift, indeed. All you need do is step outside the banal realm of the ordinary and seize your potential. Believe me, if you don't then someone else will seize it for you. Only a complete fool would not appreciate you-,"


Violet gasped as a white light shot from the entrance of the chamber. She turned her head to see Neville rushing towards them with his wand drawn and a determined expression upon his face.

"Protego," Ginny said in a bored tone as she lightly flicked her wand. The white light bounced off the invisible shield and dissolved into nothingness.

"Let's try something a little more interesting...crucio." Neville was still at least thirty feet away from them before he was hit with the deep red light of the Cruciatus curse. He fell onto the ground with an agonizing scream that pierced Violet's ears. She could see blood beginning to fall from Neville's lip as he bit into it to try and somehow manage the excruciating pain. The air grew thick and heavy with the potent power of the blackest of Magic. It was intoxicating and overwhelming.

The possessed Ginny was watching him writhe in agony with mild interest before her expression became bored once again and flicked her wand to cancel the spell. Neville's screaming had stopped but the echoes could still be heard within the deep chasms of the chamber. He lay crumpled on the ground but still conscious. His breathing was ragged as he tried to recover his senses. It waited until the last screaming echo had faded before the spell was cast once again. Neville's screams began to fill the chamber once more.

It was then Violet realized just how thoroughly and expertly they had all been out played. The Heir of Slytherin had masterfully orchestrated it all by giving each person a little bit of what they wanted. It gave Neville the opportunity to be the Savior he had been raised to be, it tempted Ginny with popularity and attention, and it lured Violet to the Chamber with a mystery that she felt compelled to solve. It had even successfully managed to have Dumbledore removed from the school. All without revealing anything about itself.

"So, this is the boy who defeated Grindelwald. The great and powerful Boy Who Lived. Oh, that is priceless." The air began to grow even thicker as it became charged with even more black Magic. "Come, Savior of the Wizarding World. Stand up and face me."

Neville's body was still shaking from the after effects of the Cruciatus. He reached a shaking hand towards his wand but the powerful spell had severely weakened his body. His arm dropped, his fingers mere centimeters from his wand, as his ragged breaths continued while his body shook with the after effects.

It began to laugh as Neville continued to struggle. "How disappointing. Perhaps I should just kill you now and get it over with. It would be a mercy, I suppose."

Violet could feel the air beginning to change; it felt as if all the oxygen was being sucked from the room and gathering towards Ginny's wand in preparation for the darkest of curses.

"Stop!" Violet screamed as she grabbed Ginny's arm to try and break the possessed girl's concentration. The air cleared and became calm as the black eyes turned on her in cold fury. The spell was broken. Violet took a cautious step back as she beheld the scorching anger that was now fully directed at her.

"You would dare to defend him? How foolishly noble you are," it spat. "He wouldn't lift a finger to help you unless there was some glory involved. You even rushed down here, not for yourself, but to save Ginny. The girl tried to kill you and yet you race into danger for her. Your head is just full with idiotic notions of good versus evil, heroes and villains."

Violet took another step back in fear. This seemed to enrage it even more. "I observed you all year waiting to see that fire, waiting to see some semblance of the girl others have claimed you to be. And do you know what I saw, Violet?"

She shook her head and realized that her hands had begun to tremble.

"Are you so passive about your own life? Nothing! I saw nothing except for a weak and scared girl who let others walk all over her. You didn't even try and defend yourself. It was all just so pathetic."

The possessed Ginny took a step towards her causing Violet to take yet another trembling step back.

"It's clear that Dumbledore's influence is already too deeply rooted within you. Do you feel the leash he tied around your neck? Or are you just blindly obedient to anyone with authority? Like a dog waiting for the smallest amount of attention from its master. A weak, disposable, pawn waiting to be shuffled across the board." It hissed as it continued to glare at Violet with cold anger.

Violet broke the possessed girl's stare and turned away from her. The glow from her aura slowly dimming allowing the darkness of the chamber to consume it until it was no more. Each word spoken felt like a stab to her heart. The truth of them shook her to her core but also awoke a small amount of righteous anger within her. Yes, she'd been passive, she'd let others define her and use her for their own means, but after the hell she had gone through, she was still standing. Violet could have given up and crumpled under the harsh realities of her life but she hadn't. She might have stumbled and fallen along the way, but she got up and she kept walking. That was what was important. That was who she was.

She kept her eyes on the ground as she began to softly speak. "I don't need to justify my actions to you or to Dumbledore or to anyone for that matter. I can't let you kill Neville or even hurt him. You are free to believe it is due to Dumbledore's influence but you would be wrong. I don't care about the War. If I had my choice I wouldn't fight in it at all. I care about Hogwarts. It is my home and if anything happens to Neville…it will be shut down, forever."

Violet heard a loud thud behind her but she was too lost in thought to turn around or even look up. Tears began to softly fall down her face as she contemplated what her life would be without Hogwarts. There would be so much emptiness in it.

"I don't know who you are or if you could ever understand, but Hogwarts is the only place that makes sense to me. It saved me. I've never been wanted before, never belonged anywhere, not really. My whole life I've been told that I'm a burden, that I don't matter."

She let out a soft laugh at the absurdity of the situation she was in, not bothering to wipe her tears away as she continued to speak. "Hogwarts took me in just as I am…flaws and all. It gave me a home, a sense of purpose, and friends who would do anything for me. To lose Hogwarts would be to lose all the things I've come to cherish. I don't have anywhere else. If Hogwarts is closed...I won't...I won't belong…"

Violet kept her eyes glued to the ground as she waited to be mocked for her weakness or perhaps the possessed Ginny would just crucio her instead.

She felt large hands lightly grasp her shoulders as she was slowly turned around. Her eyes fell upon a pair of black oxford shoes. Confused, Violet raised her face to find the boy that she had seen in the library all those months ago, staring down at her with a soft look of understanding on his face. She knew, within a moment, that he understood. That Hogwarts's must have once been his home just as it was now hers.

The longer she stared up at him the more she realized that the endless blackness of the chamber behind him matched his hair and eyes, as if he had been forged in it. He was truly a creature of darkness created and cut from the blackness between the stars; the paleness of his skin further illuminating his beauty amidst that all-consuming darkness. The chamber was now completely empty behind him, with no signs of Neville or Ginny. She didn't understand but the words to the questions she wanted to ask just wouldn't form on her tongue.

The boy lifted his right hand from her shoulder and gently cupped the side of her face. His skin was cold but it didn't bother her. Violet couldn't look away from his dark eyes as the tears continued to fall from her own.

"What a rare find you are," he whispered as his thumb began to softly wipe away her tears. She slightly gasped when she realized that he was very slowly becoming transparent before her as he continued to brush her tear drops away.

For one perfect moment all the sorrow, all the pain, that Violet felt began to fade. She felt at peace with who and where she was. There was clarity and a sense of infinite sweetness hanging in the air. The calm of this moment felt as if the hands of Fate had carved it out of Time itself, just for the two of them to find one another. That just for one bittersweet moment the whole world had frozen as two pairs of eyes, two hearts, and two broken fractured souls poured into one another in complete understanding. Unfortunately such moments are fleeting.

"Stupefy," he reluctantly sighed, as he cast a wandless spell. The last thing Violet felt were arms around her and then the coolness of the chamber floor. She tried to reach for him as her world faded to black.

*Chapter 23*: Chapter 23

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise.

Rated: M


Chapter 23: Little Steps

The stark white walls of the infirmary greeted Violet as she slowly opened her eyes. She wondered how many more times she would wake up here before she graduated. There were multiple voices throughout the room as she slowly sat up in her hospital bed. Violet's dark hair fell around her face in messy waves. She went to tie it behind her but frowned when she saw that her hands were lightly bandaged. They must have been more cut up from clawing at the fallen rocks to try and get to Draco than she had originally realized.

The bright red hair of the Weasley clan drew her attention from her bandages as she saw the family crowded around a bed further down. Ron was sitting up in the hospital bed eating a ridiculous amount of candy as he and his older brothers laughed at some joke that Violet couldn't hear. Ginny was standing next to her mother while the older woman gently ran her hands down Ginny's hair. Violet felt a stab of jealousy as she saw the maternal display of affection. It was quickly overshadowed when she realized that if Ron was awake then that meant that Hermione must have been revitalized as well. She looked around the large room and began to panic when she couldn't find the light brown hair of her friend in any of the beds. A million what ifs began to race through her mind as her breathing quickened.

Everyone in the infirmary jumped and all conversations ceased when the doors burst open a moment later. In walked the imposing and cold haughty faces of Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy. They swept into the room without so much as even glancing at the Weasley clan as they made their way over to Violet. They were followed by Draco, Theo, and Hermione who seemed to be perfectly mirroring the elder Malfoy's expressions. Lastly came Dumbledore who cast a look of apparent annoyance at the Malfoy's before he once again donned the mask of eccentric headmaster and began to talk with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. As The Malfoy's and her friends reached her they surrounded her bed forming a wall separating her from the Weasleys and by extension Dumbledore.

"Hermione! You're awake! Are you alright?" Violet exclaimed as soon as she got over her momentary shock at the arrival of the Malfoys.

Hermione gave Violet an amused look. "I'm fine. We were all given the restorative potion three nights ago." Hermione turned her head and glared at Ron in annoyance. "Some of us are just trying to draw this out for as long as possible to get out of class."

"She recovered fastest from the petrification. Probably because she realized that she was going to miss finals," Theo joked. He looked much more relaxed than he had in the last few weeks. The redness around his eyes had vanished while his expressions seemed much softer.

Violet smiled at them before she realized what Hermione had actually said. "Three days ago? That doesn't make sense…" She looked over at Draco questioningly. "We were just in the Chamber last night…" She was relieved to see that the tunnel collapse hadn't left any marks on him. "What happened?" she asked in quiet voice to make sure that the Weasleys and Dumbledore wouldn't be able to overhear.

Draco leaned in towards Violet. "I ran back to get Professor Snape. He and McGonagall were both in his office trying to floo Dumbledore or the Ministry. I don't know. I told them what happened and then we rushed back to the bathroom. They made quick work of the rubble...Lockhart's body was…" Draco trailed off as his face became even paler. "The only part of him that was intact were his legs. We followed the tunnel and saw Longbottom and Weasley stumbling about." Draco's grey eyes became hard as his face twisted into a sneer, "they claimed that they were looking for you but couldn't find their way back. Typical. McGonagall led them back to the surface while Snape and I continued along…" Draco trailed off as his expression became one of complete frustration.

"We couldn't find you. We walked and walked. It felt like we were going around in circles. The tunnel entrances kept changing and shifting like a never ending maze. We were beginning to panic. Snape and I decided to go back to the surface to get more help but when we reached the girl's lavatory…there you were. Unharmed but unmoving." Draco let out a shaky breath. "We thought you were dead you were so still and pale. There was dried blood all over your forehead-,"

"I hit my head during the tunnel collapse," she interrupted.

"That's just it, Vi. When Snape examined you there were no cuts, or bruises, or anything. You were just lying in the girl's bathroom like you had taken a nap…except you hadn't. Whatever or whoever stunned you…it was powerful. That's why you've been unconscious for so long."

Violet rubbed her eyes as she tried to process everything that Draco was telling her. She realized her fall in the tunnel had probably given her a concussion and being so powerfully stunned so shortly after would have had disastrous results especially if she was left unattended but he had...healed her and brought her out of the chamber. It troubled her that she still couldn't understand why. The entire confrontation left her with so many questions. Violet believed that Ginny, Neville, Snape, and Draco were unable to find the Chamber. All of the passageways and tunnels were steeped in Slytherin and his Heir's magic. The wards alone would make the place impenetrable. If the Chamber didn't want you to find it then you never would.

"Was there a journal with me?" She whispered making sure that no one else could hear.

"No...The bathroom was empty except for you and Myrtle," Draco said as he cast a subtle glance at his father who face remained locked in a stoic expression. Violet was about to question him further when the bright blue robes and twinkling eyes of Dumbledore appeared in front of her bed.

"Hello Violet, I'm glad to see you're recovering well. Madam Pomfrey has told me that you are all set to be released. I know you must be anxious to spend more time with your friends but I must ask you to join me in my office with Mr. Longbottom and Ms. Weasley. There is much for us discuss and I believe it best to discuss things when they are still fresh in our minds."

"We'll be waiting for you as soon as this little interrogation is over with, Violet dear." Narcissa said as she fixed Dumbledore with an icy stare full of disdain.

Violet climbed out of the hospital bed and waved goodbye to her friends and the Malfoys as she began to follow Dumbledore and Ginny from the infirmary. She was relieved that Madam Pomfrey must have cast a scourgify over her while she had been sleeping. She was slightly irritated that she hadn't had the chance to change her clothing. They walked in silence up to Dumbledore's office and found Neville already sitting inside the large and cluttered office. The humming sounds of various magical instruments filled Violet's ears the moment she took a step inside. The whimsical instruments no doubt meant to relax any visitor to the Headmasters office. Now, Violet just found them irritating. Dumbledore took a seat behind his ornate mahogany desk as the two girls joined Neville. He smiled at Violet and Neville over his half-moon shaped spectacles

"First, I must thank you rising to the defense of Hogwarts and her students. The bravery and selflessness of your actions has not gone unnoticed. Both Neville and yourself have shown time and time again that you are willing to answer the call of the Light to protect all those in need."

Violet watched Neville begin to puff out his chest under the praise of Dumbledore and eat up every word from the headmaster's mouth. "Now, Neville has already told me of the events leading up to your discovery of the chamber. Ms. Weasley, unfortunately, has no memory of most of the year. I was hoping that you could elaborate on what exactly occurred before Neville managed to de-wand Ms. Weasley. I am also curious as to how you three ended up becoming separated.

It took Violet a confused moment before she realized that Neville and Ginny had actually lied to Dumbledore. The man was so confident about their loyalty to him that he had taken them at their word. She didn't doubt for a second their loyalty to the Light but it seemed each had lied to Dumbledore for their own selfish reasons; Neville to make himself appear more gallant and powerful and Ginny to disavow her part in the attacks that occurred throughout the year. If Violet had wanted to tell the truth she knew it would be her word against theirs. However, Violet found that she didn't want to tell Dumbledore the specifics of what happened in the Chamber. If he found out about the basilisk she knew he wouldn't stop until it was found and killed. Since it was no longer being commanded to attack students, Violet knew that it would go back to ignoring the activities of the school.

She thought back to her conversation with the Heir of Slytherin, whoever he was, and it felt too personal to share with anyone else. No, the words that passed between them would remain private. She knew his words that were so harshly spoken were the truth. As she looked at the jovial Headmaster, the man who had let an entire school bully and harass her for a full year, she found that she had no desire to tell him the truth. She would cut the leash that she had so willingly let someone tie around her neck. She would light up the darkness that she'd let herself be thrown into. Violet took a deep breath and took the first little step in reclaiming her life from those who sought to control her. She would lie to the Dumbledore and protect her own secrets. Her time with Draco and Theo had taught her many things about the intricate art of lying; all she had to do was tell each person in the room what they wanted to hear.

"Well, I got to the chamber and saw that something wasn't right with Ginny. I think that she was possessed by something...which would explain why she doesn't remember the past year." Violet thought she could see Ginny's shoulders slightly relax. "It started ranting about how its goal was to restore Hogwarts to its true glory by purging the school of the unworthy. It was obviously deranged. It never told me who or what it was but I tried to keep it talking for as long as possible to give Neville time to form a plan of attack,"

Violet turned to Neville and look at him with eyes full of gratitude and awe that she had learned from watching Hermione admire Lockhart throughout the year. "If it…if it wasn't for him...Ginny and I would be dead. Neville saved us, he saved me." She was careful not to overdo it. Neville's chest puffed out even more as he looked back at Dumbledore with a confident grin.

Dumbledore look over the three students and felt an immense wave of satisfaction. His plans were all succeeding perfectly. The boy had simply outdone himself; it would make a remarkable cover story for the Daily Prophet. Another way to inspire the masses to their cause. Violet owed Neville her life meaning that Neville was one step closer to securing her complete loyalty. She would become a weapon for the Light, another tool to ensure victory. He would have preferred to use legilimency on the girl but it was virtually impossible to get past an Elemental's mental defenses. Still, he knew her willingness to please anyone in an authority position, would mean she was most likely truthful. As he looked at the small girl in front of him, he knew that she wasn't brave or bold enough to lie outright.

"Without Violet distracting it, there is no way I would have been able to use Expelliarmus so effectively. It flew into a rage when it was so easily beaten. It left Ginny's body and tried to possess mine. When that didn't work it flew out of the chamber. The three of us chased after it but we got separated in the tunnels." Neville said, surprising Violet. She didn't expect him to give her any credit.

"Do any of you have any idea what it was?" Dumbledore asked the students.

"I think it was some type of curse from Grindelwald. They wanted you to be removed as Headmaster," Neville said.

Violet knew that Grindelwald wasn't behind the Chamber or the attacks. She had a feeling that it was the other Lord of the Dark who had set these events in motion. He had so masterfully orchestrated it all and left no evidence whatsoever. It was impressive and intimidating. "Whatever it was…it didn't have a plan. It was erratic. Grindelwald must have just wanted to cause as much chaos in the school as possible and ruin your reputation," Violet found the lie came easily enough.

Dumbledore nodded in agreement. "Yes, this certainly has the dark's signature written all over it. Grindelwald never was one for planning. They must truly be growing desperate to attack school children," he mused in satisfaction, "but thanks to your efforts the Dark has been beaten back once more. Hogwarts shall remain open and stand firm as a beacon of the Light, with me as Headmaster."

Violet had managed a smile at the man. It didn't feel like quite the resounding victory that Dumbledore seemed to believe it was. After all, the Heir of Slytherin had told her that she had been the real target, but she knew better than to share that with anyone. He had also been a moment away from killing Neville if she hadn't stopped him. Dumbledore smiled back at Violet and she couldn't help but notice that behind the twinkling of his blue eyes, there were hints of calculation and greed. She knew then that the game had truly started and that both sides had a vested interest in her and her abilities now.

"Thank you for your time. I believe that you all must be anxious to get back to life as normal," Dumbledore said good-naturedly as he dismissed them from the office. Neville remained behind as Violet and Ginny departed from the room. Ginny turned to head back to the infirmary when they reached the corridor outside of Dumbledore's office.

"Hey, Ginny," Violet started as the red haired girl stopped in her tracks. She didn't turn around but she slightly turned her head to show that she was listening. Ginny still hated Violet but a small part of her acknowledged that the girl had saved her life and lied to Dumbledore for her. Violet knew they would never be friendly towards one another but maybe they didn't have to be such active enemies.

"What was his name?" Violet whispered in the empty hallway.

Ginny stayed silent for a long moment. "Tom," she eventually said, before continuing to walk down the corridor away from Violet.

Narcissa Malfoy had been waiting for Violet at the foot of the spiral staircase leading to Ravenclaw tower. She smiled warmly at the girl before asking her if she would like to take a walk about the grounds. Violet was glad to spend time with the woman. They had been corresponding all year and Narcissa had even invited Violet to spend Yule with them. Not wanting to impose on their family, Violet had politely declined and stayed at Hogwarts. She was immensely grateful for all that the Malfoy's had done for her but wouldn't allow herself to become their responsibility. After all, she had become the Dursley's responsibility, and they resented her for it.

An early summer wind blew through the Hogwarts grounds carrying with it the sounds of laughter from students enjoying the warm weather. Violet almost couldn't believe how easy it seemed for the students to move on after the horrific events of that year. Narcissa and she had chosen to walk along the sandy beach of the Great Lake as it was relatively devoid of students and the cool breeze off the water kept the beach at a comfortable temperature. Violet relaxed as she heard the sounds of the waves lapping against the rocks along the beach.

Narcissa had opted for a simple yet stylish pale green dress that fell to her knees. The silk skirt gently swaying in the breeze behind her as she walked. Her straight pale blonde hair was thrown into a low ponytail with loose wisps framing her delicate aristocratic face. Violet hoped that one day she would be able to emulate the confidence and poise that Narcissa embodied with such ease. Violet hadn't even bothered to braid her hair that day; the wind kept it out of her face as it blew behind her in a dark curtain of messy waves. She toyed with the gauze bandages on her hands while they walked.

"Violet, I don't think it needs to be stated but you cannot go back to your relative's house this summer," Narcissa began. "I began the petition to gain custody but you should know that the custody battle would be public."

"Which would mean what?" Violet asked as she continued to play with the gauze bandages.

Narcissa sighed as she tried to word it in the best way possible. "The trauma that you've undergone…it would be public knowledge. You would need to testify in front of the Wizengamot. We could pay off the major papers to not cover the story but the court records would be public. Magical children are fewer and fewer and the Ministry and media are quick to address any issues of harm done to a magical child."

Violet already realized what the woman was getting at. "It will become a political issue, won't it? I'll just become another tool. A propaganda piece for spineless Ministry officials hoping to garner support for some useless policy."

She could already see her story being used to justify stricter laws concerning muggles and muggleborns. She could see the Minister of Magic congratulating himself on the front of the Prophet for rescuing Violet Potter and using her scars as a way to win sympathy votes.

"I wouldn't put it as crudely as that, dear but you are right. The future of Magic is directly tied into the lives and well-being of the children who are born with it. There seem to be fewer and fewer each year so when the issue of one's well-being is brought up…well it can become politicized.

"And I assume being Heir Apparent to House Potter makes my story that much more intriguing," Violet said in a tone laced with bitterness.

Narcissa nodded. "The other Great Houses would more than likely become involved. In the time of your grandparents House Potter was one of the political heavyweights in both the Wizengamot and among inner Great House politics. The absence of House Potter's influence has indeed left its mark on the political and social landscape. The other Houses don't know much about you so any information they can find will undoubtedly be searched for and tucked away for future use."

"Don't they sound like a lovely bunch."

"It is the way things have always been done, I'm afraid. When you inherit you are going to be thrown into the gauntlet of Great House politics. Every move you make will be watched and judged for any signs of weakness. The story that would come from court would undoubtedly peak their interest. You are to inherit not only an estate and all the land accompanied with it but also a powerful political legacy."

Violet looked at Narcissa in shock. She knew there were certain political aspects that came from being an Heir Apparent but all this information was new to her. She wouldn't even be considered Head of House Potter until she turned seventeen so she had put off doing any research into what exactly that entailed. "Inherit an estate? You can't be serious."

"Not just inherit, dear. You will be expected to run it. The Potter summer home was…destroyed but the main estate still stands I believe. A new staff will need to be hired on, of course. Not to mention securing house elves. I'm not precisely sure what is left of the land but it is sure to be over several thousand acres-"

"I thought all of those types of things died out decades ago…" Violet interrupted as she tried to wrap her mind around what was to be expected of her in the future if she wanted to claim her rightful heritage.

"In the muggle world perhaps, but not here. I'm afraid we've gotten terribly off topic, dear. We were discussing your summer living arrangements," Narcissa said delicately to try and get Violet back on track.

"I have to go back to the Dursley's," Violet said softly. "The Ministry requires all minors to reside in the homes of their legal guardians." She had looked up the law in her first year. The ministry kept track of every minor's residence throughout the summer. Legal guardians took all the responsibility of any accidental magic that was performed by a minor; which allowed the Ministry to not have to deal with liability for any damages caused by accidental magic in the muggle world.

"You can't be serious. The court and media circus won't be a pleasant experience but when compared to the alternative." Narcissa eyes narrowed as she remembered the state that Violet had been in when they had found her last summer.

"I won't discuss it further. I appreciate what you're trying to do but it isn't necessary."

Narcissa sighed. The child was far too stubborn. "Your relatives hurt you, Violet. The environment that you are put into is completely unfit. It's not safe. When Draco and I got you last summer, you were lost in fever, and covered in cuts and gashes. Can't you see that don't belong there?"

"It doesn't matter. It's only two and a half months. I can manage that," Violet stated firmly. This conversation was treading on dangerous territory that she was not yet ready to confront.

"I can't in good conscious let you go back there! Your uncle is a sick man, Violet. What happens when he goes too far? You deserve so much more than that disgusting muggle family."

"I have more control over my magic now. The only time things get ugly are when my magic lashes out."

"You shouldn't have to hide your magic. It's an outrage! That your back is-"

Narcissa was cut off in an instant by Violet. "Do not speak of it! No one can know. Do you understand? It's not your secret to tell. It is none of your business. You can' can't," Violet frantically cried in a total panic. She was ashamed of her back and was unable to talk about it. To her it represented all her failures. It was the physical proof of just how unworthy she was to love; a constant reminder of how unwanted she was. It was easier for Violet to deny that there was anything wrong then accept all the trauma that she had been through. She turned from the beach and fled back in the direction of the castle without looking back.

Narcissa watched her go while she stood transfixed on the sandy shore. The waves on the beach had become much larger as the bright blue summer sky turned gray with the sounds of thunder rumbling in the distance. The cool easy breeze turned harsh and chilly. Narcissa watched the small form of Violet reach the castle doors and disappear inside the building. As soon as Violet had reached the castle the pleasant summer weather had returned as if it had never left. She knew that Violet's outburst was the cause for the violent shift in the elements. Narcissa sighed as she realized she had yet another secret to keep for the girl.

Violet stared at the Hogwarts's grounds and watched the steady stream of students casually make their way to the Hogwarts's express. Her friends had already gone ahead and normally she would have walked with them but she found herself reluctant to leave. There was something pulling her back towards the castle. One last test left unfinished. She turned from the window and closed her eyes. The castle was silent. If she focused she could hear the hum of the magic that was seeped into the stones; the last remnants of the Founders. She wondered how they would feel about the castle today. If they had intended for it to become the political arena where the future of Magic would be determined. She began to walk towards the Great Hall in an effort to make it down to the Hogwarts express. Violet found her steps slowing as she reached the girl's bathroom. She hadn't been back since she left the infirmary.

With a quick glance behind her shoulder to make sure no one was there she entered the bathroom. Violet wasn't surprised to find it empty. She knew he was long since gone. As she walked farther into the bathroom she found a single violet lying on the side of the center sink. She reached out and picked it up. The delicate petals so soft and beautiful compared to the roughness of her scarred hands and broken nails.

"Oh, hello Myrtle," Violet looked up to see the ghost's reflection in the mirror.

"I have a riddle for you, Violet. Would you like to hear it?" Myrtle asked in an unusually serious tone compared to the normal high pitched whine the ghost normally employed.

Violet's thoughts drifted to the conversation she'd had in the Chamber as she toyed with the flower in her hand. She thought of the way both sides had tested her, had manipulated her, over the course of the year. She'd spent the past nine months being attacked and ostracized, completely tangled in the schemes she'd passively walked into. While the Heir hadn't been her enemy, he had still used her for his own means.

"No, I don't think I would" she said softly before she gently placed the flower back onto the sink. Violet turned and left the bathroom without looking back. She wouldn't be a pawn anymore, not even his.

*Chapter 24*: Chapter 24

Pairings: Fem!HP/ TMR, (slow burn), more pairings later on.

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise.

Rated: M


A/N: So here we are back at the Dursleys (TRIGGER warning!) but I promise there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for reading and reviewing :)

Chapter 24: Fly Away

It had been over a month and a half that Violet had been at the Dursley's. And yet again, it was as if she had never left. She fell in her old routine with an ease that could only have been achieved from over thirteen years of practice. Violet cooked and cleaned and made sure to stay out of the Dursley's way and for the most the Dursley's were more than happy to ignore her. It was far from ideal but she knew it could have been far worse. Narcissa had ordered a few house elves to keep tabs on her throughout the summer with explicit instructions to get involved if the situation called for it. Knowing the support system that she had waiting for her outside of the Dursley's put Violet's mind and soul at ease.

As usual, the Dursley's wouldn't allow her to wear anything other than Dudley's hand me downs so prior to leaving Hogwarts she had all her belongings placed in storage. Violet had made sure to let Draco, Hermione, Theo, and Luna know that she would be unable to respond to their letters. She shuddered to think of Vernon's reaction if he saw an owl at his door. The only things she brought with her were the photograph of her parents and a few of her school textbooks to prepare for the coming year. It wasn't much but she had never needed much. Her imagination more than enough to carry her far away from the dull routine that came from living with the Dursleys.

Violet was cleaning the kitchen when she heard the phone ringing. She continued to scrub the cheap laminate counter-tops. Answering the phone was strictly forbidden as the Dursleys were reluctant to let anyone know that she lived there. Not that anyone would be calling her there, anyway. Violet smiled to herself as she imaged Draco, Theo, or Luna trying to operate a muggle telephone. Draco would have some sarcastic remark about how such technology was beneath him while Theo would treat it like a giant puzzle, not stopping until he had figured out how to use it without any outside help. Luna… well Luna would probably just have had her own conversation with the phone.

"We'll see you this weekend, dear girl. Not at all, not at all! Dudley's more than happy to share his second bedroom for your stay." Vernon's gruff voice cut through Violet's musings.

She continued to clean and tried to ignore the fact that Vernon's sister, Marge, would be staying at the house for the next month. She was just as vile as her brother and just as large. Violet had only met her once before but she remembered the woman threatening to hit her if she didn't stay out of her way. The Dursleys often went to visit Marge as she was incredibly well off but in an unfortunate series of events Marge's pipes had burst, completely flooding her entire house. She decided that rather than rent a hotel room for the month she would spend the time with her family. She spoiled Dudley even worse than Petunia and Vernon; always buying him the most expensive toys and most decadent treats.

The towering and voluminous shadow of Vernon blocked out the florescent light of the kitchen making Violet unable to see the stains she was trying to scrub away. She cringed as she felt a meaty hand grab her shoulder and spin her around. The sponge dropping on the floor as the edge of the counter collided with her spine.

"Alright, girl. I'll admit that you have been better this summer. Seems you've finally learned your place. As you know, Aunt Marge is coming to visit for the month. She doesn't know about your abnormality and she doesn't need to know. I swear if you pull the same kind of stunt you did last summer…" Violet let out a small cry of pain as Vernon's grip on her shoulder tightened and pushed her further back into the counter, the hard edge digging into her spine. "I still haven't forgotten what you cost me," he hissed as his pudgy face leaned in towards hers.

Absentmindedly, Violet realized that she couldn't tell where his face ended and his neck began. "I understand, sir" she said in a quiet voice as she made sure to avoid eye contact with him.

He released her shoulder and left the kitchen, not before grabbing a handful of brownies, which Violet had made earlier. Violet rubbed the spot where he had grabbed her in order to soothe the sharp pain before she picked up her sponge and continued cleaning.

Later in the week, she was laying on the hard floor of her cupboard when she heard the front door open followed by the excited voice of Vernon. Aunt Marge had arrived. Violet was glad that the Dursleys had decided to give her the day off. In reality, they had wanted to give Marge a chance to settle in before she would have to be subjected to Violet's presence. The light seeping through the cracks in the cupboard's door was momentarily blocked out as Vernon and Marge passed by. The combined weight of the two caused the floorboards to vibrate and groan as they walked. Violet tried to daydream about Hogwarts to distract herself from worrying about Vernon's threats earlier in the week. She felt confident about controlling her magic but a part of her worried what would happen if her parents were brought up.

Violet picked up the golden frame and lightly ran her fingers over the glass. The scene never changed but she never got tired of looking at it. She doubted that she ever would. She wanted to memorize every single detail of her parent's faces until she could see them clearly in her mind whenever she wanted. Her father with his mischievous hazel eyes and crooked grin, that both lit up when they looked at her mother. Violet watched her mother's face spread into an easy smile as her father held her in his arms; her red hair blowing wildly between their faces in the windy courtyard.

Most of Violet's life had been spent with her passively accepting the things that happened to her. She had learned not to wish for anything at a very young age as all it led to was cruel disappointment. However, when her parents were mentioned, all that longing and secret hoping, seemed to overwhelm her. The reality of what had been stolen would come crashing down on her in suffocating waves. The bitter reminder of what she had lost would drive her into a cold rage. Violet didn't know a lot about her parents; their favorite colors, their likes and dislikes, their hobbies…all of those were a complete mystery to her. But she knew one of the most important things about them, which was that they had loved her and for her that was enough. She would not let anyone insult their memory. Violet put the frame back in its spot and tried her best to sleep for the rest of the day.

The next day Violet was woken up at her usual time so she could begin to prepare breakfast for the Dursleys. She made sure to tie her hair its usual braid and picked the smallest of Dudley's oversized clothing to wear. After all, they had such an esteemed guest, that the least she could do was put some thought into what she was going to wear. A slightly tattered forest green cotton shirt was the best she could find. It was so large that it fell to the calves of her petite frame. She tied a thin rope that had found in the Dursley's shed around her waist. It gave her some shape while also managing to keep the shirt from falling off of her. Leaving the cupboard Violet made her way to the kitchen while making sure to carefully keep her mind completely blank. It was easier to endure the Dursley's presence when she didn't have to think.

Violet prepared the eggs and bacon and left them on large serving platters on the family's dining room table as she set to work on the coffee, tea, and pastries. By the time Vernon, Dudley, and Marge had risen, Violet had laid out an impressive breakfast spread. It was nothing compared to a Hogwarts feast but for the Dursleys it was more than enough. Petunia was still out on her morning walk, but the family never waited for her anyway. Vernon and Dudley treated every meal like it was their last. Violet wasn't sure that it was possible for them to sit in front of food and not gulp it down within a matter of moments. The entire family had woken later than usual so she had been able to sneak two blueberry scones while they were still hot from the oven. The overly ripe blueberries bursting on her tongue left a taste of lingering sweetness in her mouth. She had burned her tongue in her rush to eat them but she didn't mind.

Vernon and Dudley didn't acknowledge Violet as they sat down to breakfast but she hadn't expected them to. She quickly poured Vernon his daily cup of coffee as she felt the scrutinizing stare of Marge's eyes roaming over her. Violet heard the mail flap and made her way down the hall to retrieve the newspaper for Vernon as he liked to read it every morning.

"What school is she sent to during the year?" Marge asked Vernon as Violet reentered the room. The woman's voice reminded her of a dog's bark. It was loud and aggressive and probably did a good job of keeping people away.

"Saint Sophia's Institute for Troubled Youths," Vernon responded as he grabbed the paper from Violet's hand.

"Girl, tell me; do they use the cane on you at that school of yours?"

For the first time Violet allowed herself to really look at Marge before she answered the question. It was like looking at a female version of Vernon. Her round body hung over the sides of the chair as she was too big to fit in it while her stubby hands shoved food into a thin mouth that had a slight under bite. Her face had a purple tinge to it, while her nose wrinkled as she looked at Violet from head to toe.

"Yes, ma'am. They are quick to correct our behavior if we step out of line," Violet lied easily enough. The only time she had seen a professor hit a student was when Seamus Finnigan had blown up a cauldron in potions. Snape had been right next to him at the time and whacked the boy on the head with a textbook. It had actually been quite funny and the entire class had laughed at the scene.

The woman's mouth formed into a tight line. "Bah. They should use it before you step out of line. Why even give you the chance to do so? A good thrashing is the quickest solution to fix any behavioral problem. Are you beaten often?"

Violet quickly looked at Vernon before staring at the ground. This time she didn't have to lie. "All the time," she said.

Marge was pleased by the answer and went back to shoveling food into her mouth. Violet was sure to quickly clean up the mess from breakfast and avoid Marge for the rest of the week. She kept to her routine of chores, stayed quiet, and agreed with Marge whenever the woman criticized her. She didn't doubt that the woman was most likely waiting for any reason to use her own cane on her.

It was the middle of August and the last week of Marge's stay at the Dursley's. The heat was blistering and even the cheap air conditioner and multiple fans around the house couldn't keep the oppressive heat out. Violet's cupboard felt like a furnace as the hot air had nowhere to escape so it just continued to pile up. Night after night she fell asleep and woke up drenched in sweat as her damp hair clung to her sticky skin. For the first time all summer she dreaded going into the cupboard.

The oppressive heat affected Vernon and Marge the worst. Beads of sweat trailed down their thick faces as they sat in the family's beige colored living room. Marge had spent the better half of the day taking out her anger on Violet. She criticized every part of her appearance and belittled the girl's intelligence. Violet had been able to brush it off with a cool aloofness that only seemed to spurn Marge on in her attempts to get some type of reaction. Vernon seemed too exhausted from the heat to join in on Marge's tirade while Petunia was too absorbed in her television show to pay Marge or Violet any mind. Everyone in the house breathed a sigh of relief as the sun began to set. Without the heat of the sun bearing down on the house, it became noticeably cooler. The Dursley's hadn't left the living room all day and instead had Violet bring all of their meals and drinks directly to them so they wouldn't have to walk anywhere.

"This has got to be the worst heat wave we've had in years," Petunia sighed, "the last time I remember it being this hot was when I was a child. My sister and I spent that whole summer at the beach. It was so crowded that we had to get there at dawn just to have a place to put our chairs."

Violet was surprised to hear Petunia mention Lily, even if it was in passing. It seemed the heat and alcoholic iced tea she had been drinking all evening put her in a relaxed mood. She was even sprawled across one of the sitting chairs with her arms hanging down by her sides. Marge sat on the couch as she leisurely cracked her knuckles. Each popping sound grating on Violet's nerves. The woman lowered her bushy eyebrows while her lips became set in a firm line as she listened to Petunia.

"It's a shame about that bad blood. Now, I'm not saying anything against your family, Petunia. Course, it's not your fault, but your sister was a bad egg. Absolutely rotten. Even the best families have one eventually. Then she ran off with a good for nothing drunk and the results right here in front of us," the woman barked as she gestured to Violet.

Violet's blood turned to ice as she let that cold rage wash over her.

"Excuse me," she whispered in a deadly calm voice that anyone with a shred of sense would have known to be wary of. All of the occupants had noticed that the room had gotten colder but believed it to be due to the air conditioner finally working.

The lines of Marge's mouth turned into a smile that exposed crooked and yellow teeth. She reclined further into the couch and lazily stretched her meaty legs out in front of her; satisfied that she had finally gotten a reaction out of Violet.

"You heard me, girl. Your mother had bad blood. She was a freak, a loser, lacking any redeemable qualities. She, along with your unemployed scoundrel of a father, were wastes of space. They did us all a favor when they died, if only they hadn't had the chance to spawn you." Marge's satisfaction turned to confusion when she saw the hazel of Violets eyes slowly being replaced with a gold color.

"Years from now when you look at yourself in the mirror…I want you to remember this exact moment. Remember, that I gave you a chance to save yourself," Violet said as she extended her hands outward towards Marge.

A bright red flame, reminiscent of Lily's hair color, flew out from Violet's hands and shot straight into Marge's chest. The large woman's entire torso was engulfed in vibrant red flames a moment later. Violet watched in a detached fascination as Marge's shirt began to melt into her skin which had begun to pop and blister underneath the excruciating heat of the flames.

"Petunia! The fire extinguisher!" Vernon barked as he tried to throw a blanket over Marge to put out the flame. Nothing he did worked to dampen them.

After about a minute Violet lowered her hands and the fire disappeared just as quickly as it had come. She hadn't wanted to kill the woman, just maim her. Despite the flames disappearance, Marge's screaming continued. Her skin still seemed to be peeling and blistering as the heat from the flames had yet to fully diminish. The woman eventually lost consciousness as the lingering pain overwhelmed her. In the background Vernon and Petunia rushed to call the emergency services. Violet remained rooted in the living room unable to tear her eyes away from bright reds and pale pinks of Marge's melted skin. She felt nothing. Her eyes remained on the burns even as Vernon dragged her from the room and shoved her into the cupboard.

Violet sat in the darkness of the cupboard as she waited for the inevitable punishment. One of the Malfoy's house elves had stopped by earlier in the day so it was unlikely for another to return any time soon. The lights in the hallway had been shut off leaving her with nothing to distract herself. Vernon and Petunia had left a few hours ago to accompany Marge to the hospital. Violet's legs were crossed as she rested her head on her hands. The cupboard was locked but she hadn't even bothered to try and get out. If she wanted to go back to Hogwarts then she couldn't leave the house. It was bad enough that she had performed magic outside of school. It would have been worse if she left the Dursley's.

The sound of the front door opening reached the dark and desolate cupboard. Violet tried to slide farther into the corner as she brought her knees up to chest. She wished she could disappear into the shadows. The heavy sound of footsteps traveled up the stairs and eventually stopped in Vernon and Petunia's bedroom. Violet released a breath that she hadn't known she had been holding. It seemed that Vernon was too exhausted from the heat and the day's earlier events to deal with Violet that night. She hoped that by the time he woke up his temper had lessened.

The next morning found Violet still curled up in the farthest corner of the cupboard. She hadn't slept the entire night as she waited for the moment when Vernon would exact his punishment. However, it didn't come. Vernon and Petunia had left the house earlier that morning. She watched the morning light flitter in through the cracks in the doorway. The particles of dust floating gently in the soft rays as they fell onto the hard wooden floor of the cupboard. She had to admire the simple beauty of it. Her eyelids grew heavy as she watched the dancing particles floating in the air around her. She tried to fight it but the allure of blissful sleep eventually claimed her.

The low rattle of the lock being opened awoke Violet with a start a few hours later. She tried to move even closer against the far corner of the cupboard as the door creaked open. The late afternoon sun cast towering shadows throughout the hallway painting the house in a desolate gloom. Violet hugged her knees against her chest as Vernon's arm reached for her. He was so much larger than she was that it took him less than a minute to unseat her and drag her into the hallway. She hissed in pain as her knees scraped against the slightly raised door-frame.

Vernon's calm face stared down at her. Violet had expected his veins to be bulging as the normal redness of his face turned purple as it twisted into rage. Instead, she was met with a relaxed and indifferent face looking down at her. Violet chanced a quick look at his eyes and found a look of satisfaction in them as the corners of his mouth turned slightly upward. His entire mass was blocking the hallway so even if she had wanted to run, she wouldn't have been able to get by him. She didn't hear any other footsteps or the buzz of the television within the house so she knew they were alone.

"That headmaster of yours wrote us last year. Saying you weren't allowed to use magic outside of school. Told us to treat you as we always have. There must be laws preventing you from using your freakishness on us."

Violet had to clamp down hard on her teeth to keep herself from cursing Dumbledore aloud. He knew, he had to know, how she had been treated at the Dursleys. The man knew everything. She didn't see how he couldn't know about the mistreatment. The only small amount of protection she had against them had been their ignorance of Magical Laws. They would have treated her more cautiously if they thought she'd be able to freely use her magic on them, but Dumbledore had told them about the law. He'd left her at the mercy of a violent abusive man.

"…but you used it on Margie, didn't you? You must've. The doctors said she'll survive, by the way. Nothing will take down that girl. You must be disappointed to be kicked out of that school, I imagine." Vernon's voice began to grow quieter as he spoke; "No one wants you. No one will ever really want you. It was only a matter of time till they all realized how much of a burden you are, anyway. No, this is for the best." Vernon grabbed her chin and harshly jerked her face upward to look at him.

"Your debt to this family will never fully be paid. You belong to me, girl. Never forget that…though I don't see how you could. You'll carry me with you, wherever you go." He released her chin to drag her roughly to her feet. "I own you. Now and for as long as you live. Apologize for what you did to Margie. You know she was tellin' the truth about your parents. I'll go easy on you, I promise. Can't have you taken a vacation from your chores."

In that moment any sense of self-preservation vanished from Violet's mind. Since she had been placed at the Dursley's all of her choices had been taken from her. She'd been controlled and caged until she lost any agency for herself. Her parents gave up their lives to protect hers and she had practically given it away. She couldn't be passive about her own life, not anymore. The world was full of people waiting to take advantage of her. It was time to seize her power for herself.

"I'm sorry…" Violet watched Vernon's mouth twist into a satisfied smirk.

"I'm sorry that I didn't turn her, you, and this entire house to ash," Violet hissed as she tried to wrestle from Vernon's iron grip.

His mouth opened slightly in surprise. She had never dared to fight him before. Violet managed to run a few steps down the hall before he grabbed a fistful of her hair and yanked her to the ground. She began to crawl away from him but was stopped when she felt his large meaty fingers wrap around her throat as his foul breath tickled the hairs on the back of her neck. "I'm going to enjoy this," he whispered into her ear.

Violet was struggling to breathe as she clawed at his hands. She could feel the acute pressure on her windpipe. For the briefest of moments she considered giving in and cowering like she always did when Vernon attacked her. She could grovel at his feet and beg forgiveness and then maybe the pain would stop. Her thoughts drifted and she saw a pair of endless black eyes, her friends laughing, Hogwarts in all its glory. She thought of the feel of grass beneath her bare feet, the smooth wood of her broom, and the sweet smells of springtime. If she gave in here and now, she would lose everything that she had ever dared to love.

She managed to dig her fingernails hard enough into Vernon's arm that his grip slightly loosened enough for precious air to fill her lungs.

"You can beat me...starve me...even scar me...but you won't break me. Not now or ever," she gasped between breaths. She kicked him in the stomach and continued to crawl down the hallway.

The smug satisfaction that had been keeping Vernon calm throughout their encounter dissolved at her defiance. "You little bitch," he screamed as his face turned deep purple in his rage.

Violet made it to the front door. Her fingers shook as she fumbled with the lock. She was so close to escaping this; all she had to do was twist the knob and pull open the door. The lock turned as she grasped the handle with a shaking hand. The warm summer air began to drift into the hallway. She could hear crickets chirping. 'Almost there,' she thought to herself.

Vernon's arm wrapped around her neck before she could fully open the door. She tried to scream as he dragged her up the stairs but his hand covered her mouth while his arm tightened around her larynx. Her vision began to grow dark at the edges as they reached Dudley's second bedroom. Vernon threw her against the cheap pine wardrobe that was across from the bedroom door. The hard wood slammed into her shoulder as she collapsed on the ground. She was relieved it hadn't fallen on top of her. Vernon shut the door before he descended on her. His large meaty hands curled into fists as he punched and kicked her ribcage and spine. Violet tried not to cry out in pain as she curled inward to try and protect herself. Her lack of reaction seemed to infuriate Vernon even more as he grabbed her elbow to throw her onto the bed. Dudley's shirt already had fallen off her shoulders; she clutched it with her free hand to stop it from coming off completely. She lost her grip on it as she fell onto the firm mattress.

Seeing the scars that covered her back spurned Vernon on as he longed to mark her skin even further. Those scars were his power. Power that could not be found in the office or in his bank account. They were his proof that he had complete control over something in the world. Violet bit her trembling lip when she heard the clinking of his belt coming off. She tried to roll off the bed but her vision was blurry and sluggish from Vernon's repeated punches. Her body jerked when the first crack of the leather and silver buckle dragged into her back. She could feel her skin splitting open followed by the warm stream of blood that fell from her wounds. Violet bit down harder onto her lip; she wouldn't give him the satisfaction of crying out, not anymore. The thick clasp of the buckle continued to cut into her flesh and reopen old scars as Vernon struck her again and again with a strength she didn't know he had. She turned her head and watched distractedly as bright red splotches of blood began to stain the off white wallpaper.

Vernon continued to tear her skin apart as Violet continued to not to give him the reaction he wanted. Her back felt sticky and wet with blood but the stinging sensation of the open wounds felt like she was being burned alive. Dudley's oversized shirt had fallen down to sit right above her hips. The cotton fabric felt damp and heavy as it served to collect the now pooling blood. She heard the soft thud of Vernon's belt drop to the carpet. The metallic taste of blood began to fill her mouth as she realized she must have punctured her lip in her efforts to keep from crying out. Violet turned her head to look back at Vernon. He stood transfixed; his eyes lighting up as he admired his work. Then she saw his eyes move toward her exposed legs, and linger.

Violet's ragged breaths caught in her throat. Vernon had violated her in so many ways. He had taken her back and carved it in his image. He had tried to take her soul and warp it, until it lay in broken pieces all around her ruined body; but he had never violated her in the one way she most feared. It was the one small piece of herself that he had yet to taint with his sadistic tendencies. Violet could tell in his eyes that Vernon had made up his mind. To him it would be the ultimate act to seal his complete ownership over her body. A scream ripped from her throat as he grabbed her ankle to drag her closer to the foot of the bed. She tried to focus inward and center her magic but she was in too much pain; her thoughts too frenzied and chaotic. She struggled to fight through the haze and kick her legs out of his grip.

"Quit fighting me, girl. You're only gonna make this worse for yourself, you'll get to like it in time," he hissed.

As he tried to get her to stop thrashing Vernon's hands landed onto the open wounds that he had just added to Violet's back. This time nothing Violet could do could keep her from screaming out in pain. Every single light bulb throughout the entire house surged and then exploded as she cried and yelled while trying to shake his hands from her back. Vernon jumped back as he tried to shield his face from the raining glass of the light bulbs. Violet took a deep breath of relief as the pressure on her stinging raw skin vanished.

The room was now entirely bathed in darkness; the sun long since setting. The hum of electricity filled the small space. She knew this would be her only chance to escape what Vernon had planned. He was distractedly trying to wipe the small shards of glass off himself. She had to fight, she had to push through the haze. Violet lifted her chest up until she was able to rest on her elbows; her breathing ragged. The faintest scent of cypress and lemon lingered in the air.

"I will always fight you," she managed to breathe out. Violet thought of a roaring wind; the kind that whipped her hair from her braid as she flew straight into the sky. All the air was sucked from the room before a whirling jet stream shot from Violet and flew straight into Vernon's chest. He was instantly thrown backwards into the wall behind him. The satisfying sound of his large body denting the wall rang out in the room before he slumped to the floor in an unconscious heap of fat and limbs.

Violet used the momentum from her magic to stumble off the bed. She made sure Vernon was unconscious before delivering a few kicks of her own to his face. She wanted to make him bleed; she wanted him to feel his own insignificance, his own powerlessness. She wanted him to hurt. All the pain seemed to flee from her body as she kicked him again and again. She stopped after she heard the delicious crunch of his nose breaking underneath her foot. After years of suffocation, Violet felt like she had just taken her first real breath. She left Vernon bleeding and unconscious.

As Violet walked down the stairs she knew that she would never again willingly step foot inside that house. She would rather die than be at the mercy of the Dursley's. Violet grabbed one of Petunia's many lurid pink beach bags and shoved her books and the photograph of her parents inside; relieved that she hadn't brought more of her belongings to their house. In one last act of defiance she walked into the kitchen.

Violet smiled to herself as she opened every cabinet the Dursley's had and threw all of their food and china onto the linoleum floor until the floor was completely covered in a mess of shattered glass and various food items. She opened their fridge and proceeded to pour all of its contents onto the already messy floor. She grabbed the carton of eggs and thoroughly enjoyed smashing each one onto the tiled floor. Poor Dudley wouldn't know what to do when he got home and all the food was gone. She plugged the sink and turned on the faucet hoping it would overflow before Vernon woke up.

A gleaming kitchen knife caught her eye as she turned to leave the room. Violet grabbed it and cut the wire to the telephone before proceeding to the Dursley's living room. She eyed the horrid beige furniture as the memories of scrubbing her blood from the room flew into her mind. Raising the knife she stabbed and tore at the couch and sitting chairs until all that remained of them were tattered ribbons of beige fabric and stuffing.

She turned toward the liquor cabinet that Vernon had used as his own personal ammunition supply last summer. It only took a minute for her to shatter all of the new glasses that Petunia had bought to replace the ones Vernon had broken the previous year. She poured all the remaining alcohol onto the shaggy white carpet and watched in satisfaction as it began to stain, being especially careful to thoroughly splatter red wine all over the carpet.

She turned back towards the cabinet and eyed Vernon's favorite brandy. Next Violet grabbed and ripped all the family photos of the Dursleys that were plastered throughout the room. She threw them all into the fireplace. Many of the glass frames shattering the moment they landed. Next Violet grabbed Vernon's brandy and covered all of the photos now resting in the fireplace with an even layer. She threw the bottle against the wall when she was done.

Violet held her hand up and channeled her magic outward to produce a single flame. The ember merrily sat in the center of her palm waiting for her command. She softly blew against it and watched in satisfaction as it catapulted forward into the fireplace. As soon as the ember reached the brandy a surge of fire burst forth from the fireplace. The smiling faces of Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley were melted a moment later. All the memories the pictures held from family vacations and school photos completely disappeared as the fire completely consumed them, leaving only ashes.

She took pleasure in destroying the so carefully crafted normal suburban life that they had tried to build for themselves. With one last smile at the destruction all around her, Violet turned and left the house for good. She didn't bother shutting the front door.

I know this seems like a light punishment for the Dursleys. So I will just say that what goes around comes around... and they have a lot more coming for them ;)

*Chapter 25*: Chapter 25

Disclaimer: I (obviously) do not own any rights of the Harry Potter Franchise.

Chapter 25: What Now

The money she had managed to grab on her way out only managed to get Violet to the outskirts of London. Still, the more distance she could put between herself and Vernon, the better. Violet nervously ran her fingers through her tangled hair as she stepped off the empty train and began to make her way farther into London. It was a late Saturday night so the platform was slightly busy with intoxicated passengers trying to get home before the train's shut down. If she was honest with herself she didn't have a plan on what to do next. The only certainty was that she just had to keep moving.

The Ministry of Magic must have been aware of all the magic she had used in the past two days, especially given the fact that she had sent a muggle to the hospital. She sighed as she realized that she would probably never step foot in Hogwarts again. Her friends, the tranquility of the Ravenclaw common room, lounging in her favorite courtyard, quidditch, all of it began to disappear before her eyes. She shook her head to try and clear her mind from focusing on what she may have lost by fighting back. Violet wouldn't regret what she had done, no matter the consequences. Unfortunately her resolve didn't do much to calm her anxiousness at trying come up with some form of plan. What was to become of her?

There was more than enough gold in the Potter vaults for her to survive on as long as she was able to claim it before the Ministry noticed she was missing from the Dursley's. She knew that gold would be able to loosen even the strictest of Ministry laws if she went about it in the right way. From Gringotts she could get to her belongings that she had put in storage at the beginning of the summer and maybe rent a room somewhere in Diagon Alley. Maybe she'd be able to hire a tutor or some form of instructor to make sure she wouldn't miss out too much from not being able to return to Hogwarts. She bit her lip and tried to ignore the ever increasing panic at the thought of never seeing Hogwarts again.

As soon as Violet reached the open air of the street after exiting the train station she began to feel slightly more optimistic. She took a deep breath before beginning to walk as fast as she could, without raising suspicion, away from the station. A weak plan and a vague inclination of what to do next was better than nothing, she reminded herself as she began to weave between the crowded streets. She clutched her offensively pink bag closer to her body to try and disguise the oversized rags she was wearing. In the dim streetlights it could pass as a baggy dress so long as no one looked too closely. The last thing she needed was the muggle authorities interfering and trying to bring her back to the Dursleys. She walked for blocks and blocks while trying to maintain a cool disinterested expression on her face. The constant stream of what ifs that flew to the forefront of her thoughts as she walked along the streets more than enough to distract her from actually observing the city around her. Violet couldn't shake the surreal feeling that seemed to consume her. So much had happened over the past two days, that none of it really felt real. She'd sent someone to the hospital, fought back against Vernon, and significantly damaged the Dursley's house. If it wasn't for the constant pain coursing through her body she would have believed it all to be a dream.

The streets became increasingly empty the longer that she walked. The far off sound of a siren or loud beep of a car horn grew fewer and farther between the darker the sky became. The neon glow of convenient store signs her only company the longer she walked through the city. It must have been around midnight when she finally slowed her steps to give her aching feet a short reprieve. She could feel the welts on her back protesting every time she slightly turned her torso as the raw skin was continuously reopened. The stinging pain was a constant reminder of what had almost occurred that night and a reaffirmation that all of this was real and happening. Her right eye was slightly swollen from Vernon's punches and she was sure that the bruises from his fingers around her throat were already forming. She could still taste the blood in her mouth. Violet moved her long dark hair over her shoulders to slightly cover her neck. It would be too difficult to explain those bruises away to anyone who noticed. Diagon Alley had to be close by now. She was too exhausted for it not to be.

Violet looked around the street she was on to try and determine where exactly she was. There were pubs and restaurants full of loud and enthusiastic patrons on either side of the long winding street. The sounds of drunken revelry rang out from inside each of the buildings as she walked past them. 'Well, at least someone's having fun," she bitterly thought as boisterous laughter and clinking glasses echoed out onto the empty street. What she wouldn't give to just be able to sit for a moment and rest her throbbing feet. The cheap sneakers she was wearing were tattered and dirty and if anything had made her journey more difficult tonight. If it wasn't for all the broken glass and trash on the sidewalks she probably would have just gone barefoot. Still, she had to keep moving. Violet knew that the Ministry, Vernon, or the muggle authorities would be looking for her sooner rather than later. No, if she stopped they would find her and that simply could not be allowed to happen.

She squinted as she noticed the silhouette of a man leaning against one of the buildings farther down the street. At least, she thought he was a man. It was hard to tell from this far away. The streetlights were dim as the moisture from the warm night cast the street in a thin layer of fog. Much of the light the lamps normally offered was blocked out from the thick and heavy fog. The man's head was raised towards the sky. He was looking up at the starless night seemingly oblivious to all the noise and activity around him. Even the weak glow of the streetlights seemed to avoid him leaving him perfectly encased in darkness.

As she neared him Violet could begin to make out his features. He was rather unremarkable. He looked as if he might had been generally handsome in his youth, but age and apathy had warped whatever handsomeness he had into a rather average banal display of a man. His thinning and short cut black hair had been combed over to try and hide that he was balding. His nose seemed far too large for his narrow face and only served to highlight the smallness of his eyes and thinness of his lips. He also had a round stomach, which not even the fine clothes he was wearing could completely hide. When she finally reached him Violet noticed that he was standing outside the nicest bar on the street if the tinted windows and security guard at the front door were anything to go by.

"Excuse me, Sir. Could you tell me what street we're on?" Violet asked as she shouldered her bag to the front of her body to try and hide her clothing. Compared to the rich fabric of the suit the man was wearing, she might as well have been dressed in garbage.

He sighed and reluctantly cast his small eyes off the sky and turned to look down at her. Violet did not miss the look of surprise that quickly flashed through his eyes as they met hers. 'That's weird,' she thought. Most people would have looked surprised at her clothing but not at her face. It was much too dark on the street to see her bruises so she knew it couldn't have been from that. It wasn't even that unusual for her to be on the street at this hour. She had passed several different groups of teenagers as she walked through the city that night. Her hair was somewhat of a mess so she supposed it could have been that.

"Running away from home, are you?"

Violet's eyes widened and she took half a step back as she heard his voice. It was that voice. The voice that she could never seem to get out of her head since she heard it at Flourish and Blotts two years ago. She had continuously pestered Draco to tell her the names of all the people his father worked with, but all he ever gave her was laughter and a reminder that his father worked with nearly every person in the Ministry of Magic at one time or another. She'd thought of combing the ministry database but that seemed a little bit obsessive for someone who she never expected to see again.

"Are you stalking me?" She hissed while casting a quick glance over her shoulder to make sure that no one was going to jump out of the fog and grab her. She might have escaped the Dursley's but she knew it would take years for her to ever really feel safe. The hard truth of the matter was that Vernon would never stop looking for her. She would need to always be on her guard to prepare for the inevitable moment when she would need to face her abuser again. Having a conversation with this man wasn't exactly helping her feel all that safe and secure at the moment. Fate must have had a really twisted sense of humor.

He gave a light chuckle. "I'm fairly certain that I was here first. It was you who approached me, after all. I have to wonder what you're doing here, though. You don't exactly seem like the type to visit this part of town...bit young."

The exhaustion was beginning to eat away at Violet's reign on her temper. She had been through hell that night and the last thing she needed was to be teased by a stranger, well sort of stranger. Who did he think he was anyway? She eyed him critically as she looked over his form again. His light brown eyes were alight with amusement which made the narrow face slightly more handsome but he still looked so plain and boring. Violet guessed he was in his mid-forties due to the thin balding hair and slightly forming wrinkles around his eyes. He reminded her of one of Vernon's coworkers who only talked about playing golf and his investments. A small part of her couldn't help but feel that the allure and raw power of his voice didn't match his appearance at all.

The man leaned his head back slightly and began to inspect his nails as if waiting for her to finish her examination of him. "You look disappointed," he said in a bored tone while he continued to disinterestedly look at his hands under the pale lamplight.

Violet felt a small blush begin to rise to her cheeks. "I….um, no…" She mumbled quickly while brushing a tangled strand of hair behind her ear. She didn't think this night could possibly get any worse as her blush continued to grow until it matched the pink of Petunia's beach bag.

"Sorry, it's just I...thought you looked different than you do. Not that you look bad or anything...well it's not like I thought you were going to look great either. Hadn't thought at all about your looks, in fact! I didn't really have an opinion one way or the other on them. Er- I mean, you just look different than you know...what I thought," she said in a quick rush as she began to feel like more of a fool with each word. Yup, this was officially the worst night of her life.

She was fairly certain that what she had said could be taken in a multitude of wrong ways. She cast a quick glance at the man to see if she had offended him but surprisingly found his eyes alight with even more amusement as the corners of his thin mouth began to twitch.

"I'll let you in on a little secret, Violet." A shiver went down her spine as he said her name.

He leaned down towards her. Her breathing slowed until she felt like she was holding her breath. The sounds of the city with all its drunken revelry faded away as his face neared towards hers. "It's a glamour," he whispered before straightening back up completely unaffected.

She stared up dumbfounded at him for a moment before she understood and processed what he had said. "Oh...why?" she asked while trying to regain some of her composure. Casting a small glamour charm a part of your body was relatively easy but it took considerable power to keep one so effectively on your whole body for more than a few minutes at a time. She drew her bag even closer to her body to try and create some kind of distance between herself and him.

"You can't see any benefit to being able to move through the world relatively unseen? People see this," he gestured to his face and body, "and they feel completely at ease, either content to ignore or confide in me. They see a man past his prime, who indulges in too much food and drink. A harmless passer-by. They immediately feel better about their own appearances by comparison. Maybe even feel pity for the aged and painfully plain man who stands before them. Vanity and pride are all too easy to exploit in others, especially with an appearance like this. Never show the world you true face."

"That sounds pretty cynical," she said as she toyed with the straps on the over-sized bags.

"And that sounds fairly naive. It's the truth and a lesson you best learn now before you place your trust in the wrong person. What a deadly mistake that could be. There's also the practicality that comes from wearing a mask such as this. I'm sure it would have made your journey tonight far less stressful. I can't imagine running away from home was easy."

Violet glared at the man and looked down the street beyond him. He was the last person who she needed to justify or explain her decisions to. "I'm not running away. It wasn't my home-"

Before she could continue, the metal door to the bar slammed open followed by a series of drunken giggles. Violet jumped as she turned to see a beautiful honey blonde haired woman in an absurdly small and tight red dress.

"Marvy, are you coming back in? I'm getting lonely all by myself," she whined in exaggeration as she stared at him with simpering eyes and a mock pout. Violet felt a stab of irritation at the interruption. The woman reminded her far too much of a grown up Pansy Parkinson.

"In a moment. I'm sure you'll be able to find something to entertain yourself with in the meantime," the man responded as he sent the woman a charming smile. She giggled in response and closed the door with another loud bang that severely grated on Violet's nerves.

Violet wasn't sure why but now she was in an even worse mood. She tapped her foot and turned her glare from the now closed door to him before she huffed out an aggravated sigh. "Well, Marvy, I can see that you're obviously very busy, so I'll just let you get on with whatever it is you do. Have a great night!" she snapped and began to try and walk past him. The soreness in her feet made her steps slower than she would have liked.

He held out his arm in front of her, effectively blocking her path. "Wait," he said. A look of confusion passed between his features as if he was unused to saying the word. "Where are you going?"

"Gringotts," she responded in the firmest tone she could muster. Violet thought about slapping his arm away but decided it against it.

"In the middle of the night? Diagon Alley is at least ten miles away. You can't really be serious." he said as he moved to stand in front of her.

"I am absolutely serious and now if you don't mind I should really be on my way." She expected him to move aside but he stayed planted right where he was, much to her annoyance.

"Gringotts doesn't open until nine, so are you just planning to sleep at the door? I can't imagine the goblins would be pleased to find you camped outside. They're such territorial little beasts."

"Well…if its ten miles away then I should get there right when they open." She raised her chin in defiance. She'd fought Vernon and she would fight this man too if he tried to take her back to the Dursleys or alert the Ministry.

"And from Gringotts? I don't believe too many pubs are in the habit of renting rooms to runaways," he said as he remained in front of her. "The most likely outcome being the owner sending word to the Ministry immediately."

"I…" the exhaustion was beginning to wear her down as he continued to poke holes in her weak plan. The righteous anger in her was slowly dissolving after the day's earlier events as her broken body and soul just longed for rest.

"I don't know, okay? I don't know where to go. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing or going to do….I just can't go back there, never again. Just let me go...please. I'm good at managing on my own. I always have been. Please…I just can't go back." She finished in a whisper while looking him straight in the eyes silently begging him to understand her.

Their gazes stayed locked for a moment as she allowed some of the pain and fear that had been plaguing her for the past thirteen years to finally show. After denying, rationalizing, and hiding it for so long she needed to show someone. She just needed someone to understand. She took a shaky breath as the reality of what had happened and almost happened to her came crashing down. All that pain and hurt…was real. It was overwhelming but she couldn't hide it away anymore. She couldn't simply tuck it to the back of her mind and pretend that she was fine.

He gave her a slight nod to show that he understood. She searched his eyes for any sign of judgement or disdain but to her surprise she found none. There was also no compassion or sympathy in his gaze but she didn't want any. There was only simple understanding. "How many secrets you must keep," He mused in quiet contemplation.

After a moment he held out his arm for her to take. "Since your plan was a disaster waiting to happen. Let me take you somewhere safe," he said in an authoritative tone that brooked no room for argument. Unfortunately for him, she was immune to that tone.

"Won't your friend miss you?" Violet snapped. She couldn't understand where her anger at the woman was coming from but there seemed to be a lot of it. It must have just been the woman's resemblance to Pansy.

The man gave a soft laugh. "It only takes a moment to apparate. My friend won't even notice I've gone." Violet crossed her arms and raised a skeptical eyebrow at him. He sighed and looked like he wanted to pinch the bridge of his nose. "If I wanted you harmed, believe me, you would know it."

Violet uncrossed her arms but continued to look at him with uncertainty in her eyes. Her aching muscles and throbbing back wanted to believe him but she had just escaped one madman and she wasn't looking to be at the mercy of another. Still, it was not like she had too many options at the moment. The Ministry probably would find her before she even reached Gringotts.

"Do you trust me?" he asked in genuine curiosity.

"No," she said but took his arm anyway. She jumped as a slight shock passed between them. If the man felt it, he showed no sign of it. They apparated with a quiet pop.

The familiar black and white marble of the Malfoy Manor greeted Violet as soon as the apparition was over. She quickly jumped away from him as soon as the world stopped spinning. She dropped her bag in the process. He straightened the lapels on his jacket while he eyed her critically. "Why are you dressed like a house elf?"

Violet mentally cursed her clumsiness and immediately picked up her bag and used it to cover up Dudley's oversized shirt. She glared at the fine fabric of his black suit feeling embarrassed. "Why are house elves dressed in rags?" She hissed back.

Before she could step back the man descended on her and lightly grabbed her chin in his hand. He tilted her head back and Violet watched in fascination as the light brown of his eyes began to darken. "Your eye is swollen," he said gently turning her head to get a better view. She hissed in pain as his hand lightly touched the tender and swollen skin.

The candles in the room flickered as the entire room dropped in temperature. A light coating of frost began to decorate the windows while a thin layer of ice began to bleed out onto the marble of the floor. Using his other hand he gently brushed the rest of her hair back behind her shoulders. "Your neck," he whispered with an icy edge. Violet's eyes widened as she realized he must have seen the bruises left by Vernon's hands.

"M-Marvolo," Lucius greeted as he walked into the foyer with Narcissa following closely behind him with worry clear in her eyes as her gaze darted from Violet to the man. Violet used the distraction to bat his hands away and move closer to the incoming Malfoys. The ice began to slowly retreat from the hall.

"Oh, Violet," Narcissa spoke as she gave the girl an affectionate hug effectively blocking Violet from the man. "We've kept your room ready for you all summer. I'm so glad that you're here." she said while she gently placed an arm around Violet's shoulders and began to usher her from the room. Violet was anxious to get some space between herself and the man as being under his scrutinizing stare left her feeling completely exposed and vulnerable. She could hear the murmur of his voice and Lucius's but couldn't make out anything that was being said as Narcissa led her up the stairs. Before turning the corner Violet quickly glanced back, but found that the man had already apparated from the hall. She didn't know why but she felt disappointed.

Narcissa left Violet in her room as she rushed off to find Lucius. The entire situation felt odd. Before departing Narcissa summoned some of the Malfoy house elves and instructed them to treat Violet like they would a Malfoy. Violet sighed as she threw herself onto the thick sky blue duvet cover. Her aching feet relieved to finally have a chance to rest. She could feel them pulsing in pain after the many miles she had walked that night. She noticed that Narcissa had left a pain-relief and dreamless sleep potion on the black onyx marble table at the foot of the bed. Violet quickly downed both and climbed under the thick duvet cover. All thoughts fled from her mind as she fell into a blissful deep sleep.

*Chapter 26*: Chapter 26

Chapter 26

Late morning sunlight filtered through the deep blue curtains of the room. The rich blues and golds twinkling slightly as the rays hit them. Violet was sitting up in her bed absentmindedly watching the light. The Malfoy's mediwitch had left just over an hour ago. Violet was slightly annoyed that the woman had kept her in a magically induced sleep for a week while she treated her injuries.

"Overly cautious old bat," she murmured to herself. It still made her uncomfortable to know that someone had so extensively looked at her back. She pushed the tray of food away that one of the Malfoy's house elves had left her as her appetite had yet to return.

"I hope that isn't directed at me," Narcissa joked as she entered the bedroom. She snapped her fingers and one of the room's many lounge chairs slid up to the side of the bed. Narcissa gracefully sat down somehow managing not to wrinkle any of the pale green fabric of her silk dress in the process.

Violet gave her a weak smile in return while she nervously folded her hands. "I'm sorry for intruding…again. I didn't know he was going to take me here…" she trailed off as she saw Narcissa slightly fidget at the mention of the man. 'Marvolo,' she remembered as the haze from being asleep for a week was beginning to fade. At least she finally had something to call him.

"Nonsense, dear. I told you last year that you would always be welcome here."

"I should have listened to you," Violet said softly while looking down at her hands. "My Uncle tried to...he tried to…" She couldn't say what Vernon had attempted out loud. Just uttering the word would make it too real. "And now I'll probably be expelled from Hogwarts,"

Narcissa gave the girl a sympathetic look. She still regretted that she hadn't killed those muggles last summer. "It's nothing to fret about dear. Lucius spoke with the Minister last week and you've been cleared of any wrongdoing in those incidents of accidental magic. You got here so quickly that the Ministry had yet to even notice you'd left your relatives home."

Violet breathed a sigh of relief. She didn't want to imagine what her life would have been like if she wasn't allowed back to Hogwarts. It was one of the few bright spots in the darkness that seemed to follow her about. "Thank you," she said as she gave Narcissa a genuine smile. She would never be able to repay the kindness that the Malfoy's had shown her and she knew they wouldn't want her to.

"Now if you are up for it Draco was planning on heading to Diagon Alley today. I'm positive that he would be ecstatic if you joined him."

Violet nodded enthusiastically before trying to jump out of the bed. Her legs were stiff from being asleep for so long which caused her to slightly stumble. "I'm fine," she mumbled quickly while she gripped the bedframe for support.

"You know you need to talk about it sometime soon, Violet. You just need to let one person in and you'd be amazed by how much better you'll begin to feel."

"I know," Violet said softly, "Someday."

Narcissa stood to leave and gave her a sad look. Violet quickly dressed and braided her hair as she was anxious to see Draco and get to Diagon Alley. She knew there was something that she needed to do there and she was anxious to get it over with. As Violet turned to leave the room she noticed that the Daily Prophet had been left on her bed. Most likely from one of the house elves who had delivered her breakfast earlier. She quickly skimmed the headlines but didn't find any of the stories particularly interesting. A break out at the Azkaban Prison caught her eye but Violet was too anxious to get to Diagon Alley to really pay the story any mind.

Violet smiled as she looked down at the busy street of Diagon Alley. She had promised Draco and Hermione that she would meet up with them after she finished the business that she needed to attend to. They had offered to accompany her but Violet wanted to attract the least amount of attention as possible.

The unbearably hot and humid heat wave had finally dissipated leaving only the pleasant temperate warmth that lingers in the air for the first few weeks of fall. Diagon Alley was its usual chaotic self as the nice weather seemed to have attracted even more people to the crowded marketplace. Many of the restaurants throughout Diagon Alley had taken advantage of the warm weather. Outdoor patios lined with a colorful arrangement of table cloths, tables, and chairs were packed full of patrons enjoying a late afternoon lunch or early drink. Violet wove her way through the busy and wonderfully chaotic street with a cool grace. It was all too easy to be invisible when walking through Diagon Alley as everyone was so preoccupied with its splendor or their shopping lists that they were too busy to pay attention to anyone else around them. It was relief to be anonymous, even if it was just for a few short hours.

Violet stared up at the white marble building and nervously bit her lip. It was the House Registry office. She wanted a formal blood test to secure her claim as Heir Apparent to House Potter. While she still had no idea what she would do with an estate or the many assets that came with it she wanted that connection to her family. She so desperately wanted to see the life that her parents had imagined for her.

"Good afternoon, Potter."

Violet jumped as Snape's acerbic voice cut through her musings. She knew that the Dursley's would have had no way to get into Diagon Alley but she couldn't help being a little bit on edge. It was only a matter of time until she would need to face them again and that truth brought with it a significant amount of anxiety.

"Professor! Sorry you startled me. I wasn't expecting to see you here." With his long greasy black hair and baggy black robes Snape always seemed so out of place whenever he was away from the Potions laboratory. He especially stood out amongst the bright and colorful buildings and people that inhabited Diagon Alley.

"I'm correct in assuming that you are up to date on recent events? Hogwarts takes the protection of its students seriously."

Violet nodded as she moved closer to the steps of the House Registry building to avoid being jostled by people walking by. "I just assumed it was more of a be on the lookout sort of thing rather than sending an actual escort. Doesn't that seem a tad extreme? I don't see what one escaped convict would want with a Hogwarts student."

"The headmaster thought it best for you and Longbottom to have personal escorts in light of recent events. Especially, since you always seem to find your way into some form of trouble."

"I'm surprised you didn't jump for joy at the chance to escort Neville," Violet teased. She didn't know why an escaped Azkaban prisoner would warrant a personal escort but she assumed that Dumbledore would use any opportunity to monitor her whereabouts.

Snape was not amused. "The honor of being forced to endure Longbottom's presencewas given to Hagrid. Unless you have more jokes I suggest we get moving."

Violet laughed while the two began to climb the many steps into the Registry building. They entered a large and dimly lit circular room. The room was completely empty save for an ancient looking man sitting behind a very cluttered desk in the exact center of the room. His round glasses were completely askew as he distractedly scribbled onto a piece of parchment while reading from a very large tome. Snape cleared his throat which caused the man to jump. It seemed the House Registry was seldom visited. It felt more like a tomb than an office building.

"Yes, yes, what can I do for you?" He asked while straightening his glasses to get a better look at who had so rudely disturbed his peace.

"We need a blood test, obviously."

"Nothing is obvious to the inquisitive mind," the old man tartly replied as he grabbed a handful of parchments off his desk and shoved them into the closest drawer. Underneath the papers was a knife and small golden bowl with intricate rune designs carved into both.

"Name," the old man ordered as he continued to shove papers and books into various desk drawers. Snape turned to Violet expectantly.

"Um Violet Potter," Violet mumbled as she stepped closer to the desk.

"Full name," the old man said impatiently as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"Violet Elizabeth Potter," she ground out.

"And how do you declare?" He asked as he opened a desk drawer and pulled out a seemingly blank parchment. She watched him write her full name onto the paper before the ink slowly disappeared.

"Excuse me?"

The old man gave an aggrieved sigh. "Light or dark? Night or day? Which is your magic drawn to? It's purely for legislative purposes since the War. Arbitrary, really. After all unification is key! It is essential to keep track, though, to ensure that both sides remain happy."

"Oh, of course. I remember now." Violet said and she did, or well, she remembered reading about some of it. The Ministry tried to keep a record of whether an individual's magic was more light or dark in nature. Muggleborn students were expected to declare an affinity for one or the other by age seventeen whereas Purebloods usually declared by age fourteen. "I chose neither."

The man's eyebrows disappeared into his hairline. "Don't be so foolish, child. Everyone needs to toe the line eventually. How the youth love to flout the rules! It's an outrage. You must know by now which calls to your magic. It's only for record keeping purposes. Everyone needs to declare!"

"Very well then." Violet watched the man's mouth form into a smug smile. "I declare for neither." The smile vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

"You can't do that! Everyone is drawn to one or the other."

"I wish to walk my own path. If you have to write something, declare me neutral, then," Violet said as she crossed her arms in a brazen display of stubbornness. The man began to sputter indignantly and Violet narrowed her eyes. "Surely I can't be the only person who does not feel pulled to one affinity or the other. I don't see why it matters so much. Magic can't just be put into one category-"

"That is not the point-,"

Snape gave a long suffering sigh before interrupting the rapidly deteriorating situation. "Let us try to remain on point. We are here for a blood test. Ms. Potter does not need to declare until her seventeenth year."

"Fine then," the old man responded with one last glare at Violet. He was most likely unused to having to interact with anything other than an obscure tome for more than a few minutes at a time. He cleared his throat before continuing. "As you know, all results will be sent to the Ministry to be recorded and filed. If there any inconsistencies between the results and your current record, I have been formally authorized, by the Ministry, to address them here, for your convenience. Any disagreements or challenges must be dealt with at the Ministry. Any attempt to alter or fabricate the test will result in the fine of thirty four million Galleons and the penalty of imprisonment or death as authorized by ordinance one thousand and seventy two. Are said terms clear and agreed to?"

"Uh, yes" Violet responded after taking a moment to fully absorb what the man had said. He handed her the golden knife and waited expectantly.

"So I just cut my hand and…"

"A drop of blood in the bowl, if you please."

Violet nodded and grasped the knife. She stepped closer to the desk and realized that the golden bowl was firmly attached to it. A raindrop shaped rune had been carved into the bottom of it while various other runes, that she didn't know, were carved into the sides. As she held the knife in her hand she realized that the runes alongside the handle had begun to glow. She cut along her palm and watched in fascination as the golden bowl turned a deep ruby red the moment her blood fell into it before pooling in the center. The cut she had made healed in an instant before she could even feel the pain of the knife. The runes along the blade must have been healing in nature.

A moment later the bowl returned to its original golden color as a heavy mist began to emerge from it forming an intricate orb of woven silver threads. Violet gasped as the threads began to unravel before her eyes before eventually taking the shape of a stag.

"Heir Apparent to House Potter," the old man called out as he scribbled onto the blank parchment.

Violet breathed a sigh of relief. There was so much uncertainty in her life that it was nice to at least have some security in the knowledge that she could claim her birthright. As she watched the ink disappear on the parchment that the man had written on, she knew that it was official.

The stag began to fade as the silver threads began to unravel until they returned to their original shape. "Now all we need is-," the quill in the man's hand dropped as the woven threads began to take shape once more until they formed into three ravens.

"I...and it would seem Heir Apparent to House Black. Oh, this is most unusual," he cried as he furiously scribbled onto the parchment.

Violet turned to Snape who looked just as confused as she was. "What's going on?"

The man opened another desk drawer and pulled out another seemingly blank parchment and began to write down a series of numbers. The ink disappeared before another set of different numbers appeared on the paper. He read over them three times before eventually looking up at Violet. "You were made the Heir to House Black about a month ago it would seem."

"That's preposterous. The current Head of House Black is Sirius Black. Despite his Azkaban sentence he still retained the title. Such a honor for him, I'm sure. How could he have made her the..." Snape stopped in his rant before his face donned a look of realization. "You said she was made the Heir Apparent a month ago..?"

"That is correct," the man mumbled as the silvery threads and mist faded completely.

"What happened a month ago?" Violet asked impatiently as she was trying to understand what all of this meant. Despite spending three years in the Wizarding World much of this was still so unfamiliar to her. She felt like an imposter at times.

"Black broke out of Azkaban and during that time he must have done the ancient ritual to pass the title onto you in the event of his death."

"Oh…but why would he make me his Heir?"

"A good question but not one that should be discussed here," Snape said as he glared at the old man who would no doubt be reporting this entire incident to the Ministry. "Do you have all you need?"

"I just have a few questions," Violet said softly as her cheeks began to turn red. She hated being ignorant of so many Wizarding customs. No matter how many books she read there was always some detail she was unaware of. The information surrounding Great Houses was scarce as most Heirs grew up in the Wizarding World. "What exactly does being an Heir Apparent entitle me to?"

The old man cleared his throat as he placed both of the blank parchments back into a desk drawer. "It means, Lady Potter, that you belong to two Great Houses. House Black has not retained its lands due to…er…recent events but the Estate and lands belonging to House Potter still stand. The creatures and peoples on it have gone some time without the oversight of a Great House so I am unable to say how receptive they will be when you take up the mantle. In addition you have two seats, thus four votes, in the House of Themis.


"Oh, Guardians. The House of Themis is the absolute highest branch of legislative law. Any proposal by the Wizengamot or Minister of Magic must first be ratified by the House of Themis before it can be implemented. There are currently three hundred members total comprised of Great Houses, like yours, New Houses, and a small delegation of our muggleborn friends. Now unless you wish to declare your affinity today…"

"No thank you," Violet said.

"Let us depart then," Snape interrupted as he already knew where the conversation was headed.

As soon as the two reached the open air of Diagon Alley, Violet turned to Snape. "Professor, would it be possible to keep what we learned today…confidential."

"It is public record, Potter."

Violet bit her lip. "I know but if let's say...Dumbledore were to ask about what I did today...could you leave this part out?" Violet asked cautiously. To be honest she was unsure of where Snape stood on the War and where his true loyalties lay as he was as easy to read as a closed book. She wanted to keep Dumbledore as unaware of her movements as possible especially when it regarded her future political power. Let Dumbledore think her complacent and ignorant of it all.

"You know what I said in there about not declaring was true. I want to walk my own path," Violet said softly after Snape had yet to answer.

He gave her a long and piercing look in response. After a moment he must have seen what he needed to see. "Very well," he said with a curt nod. Violet smiled in return before beginning to walk down the white marble steps.

"I'm supposed to meet Hermione and Draco soon. Her parents will be with her so there's no need to accompany me. I'm sure you probably have more important things to do."

"The moment I leave you'll no doubt wander off into some type of unnecessary and reckless danger. I'll walk you," Snape said with his usual amount of disdain but Violet knew it was more for show than anything else.

"What is that?" Violet asked as she entered the magical pet shop where she knew Hermione and Draco would be. The store was packed full of various magical pets and familiars for almost every type of witch or wizard. The noise alone in the shop was slightly overwhelming. Everywhere Violet looked there were frogs, birds, snails, and a variety of colorful and beautiful cats.

"The ugliest cat in the entire world," Draco responded as he sneered at the very puffy and slightly mangy looking bright orange fur ball in Hermione's hands. "It looks like its face was hit with a door when it was still a kitten and that fur color is just awful. It reminds me of the Weasleys. Honestly you have all these cats to choose from and this is the one you pick?"

"No, he's gorgeous! Don't listen to him, Crookshanks. Draco's just jealous," Hermione said as she affectionately stroked the cat's fur.

Violet laughed and walked up to pet the cat. It was too large to just be a simple housecat. It had a slightly wild look about it. "He is rather a unique sort of way. He's part Kneazle, right? They're supposed to be incredibly intelligent." Hermione nodded. The cat began to purr contentedly under the attention of both Hermione and Violet like it could understand what they were saying.

"Can we go already?" Draco sighed as he walked to the door to hold it open for the girls and the orange monstrosity. Both Violet and Hermione groaned when they saw the red hair of Ron walking towards the shop. Ron was accompanied with Neville and Hagrid but fortunately none of the other Weasley's were present. He had an ugly looking rat in his hand.

Draco surprised them but simply choosing to sneer at the two boys rather than engage in an active confrontation with them. Unfortunately, it seemed that Crookshanks had other ideas as he lunged from Hermione's arms right onto Ron's head. The rat in Ron's hands began to squeak and squirm while Ron yelped in pain as Crookshanks viciously attacked him. Everyone else stood frozen and could only watch the bizarre spectacle. Eventually, Hermione managed to pull him off but Crookshanks continued to growl at Ron from her arms.

"Of course you'd have an animal just as crazy as you are," Ron yelled while backing away from Hermione and Crookshanks.

"It's just natural selection, Weasley. Predators hunting prey and all that," Hermione hissed as she marched out of the shop with a very angry Crookshanks. Violet smirked at Ron and Neville and gave them a wink before following after Hermione and Draco.

"Maybe the fur ball isn't so bad after all," Draco laughed as they walked farther down the street away from the pet shop. "Did you see the terrified look on Weasley's face? He's scared of a cat..." he trailed off as his mind no doubt whirled for ways in which he could use that information to his advantage.

It was well past midnight as Violet lay in an enormous claw foot marble tub in the bathroom that was attached to her bedroom at Malfoy Manor. The water had long since gone cold but it didn't bother her. She had spent the past two days in a frenzied rush of trying to catch up on all the summer reading and assignments that she had missed. She had thrown herself into her work so her thoughts wouldn't drift to thinking about why or how she had left her relatives. Here in the silence of the night she couldn't escape her thoughts. She looked down at her hands and then at her legs. This body looked so unfamiliar to her. She'd never really looked at herself before but as she gazed at her small form all she could see were scars and reminders of Vernon. She felt like a stranger in her own flesh.

"You'll carry me with you wherever you go." It was softly spoken but sounded so clear in her mind. It felt like he was standing right behind her.

Violet gasped and turned around but there was nothing there. She tiredly rubbed her eyes as she tried to banish Vernon's vile words from her mind. She leaned forward and grimaced as she lightly touched the deep raised scars that ran along her back. Those words, those awful words, were the truth. She knew that Narcissa was right and that talking about the abuse was the only way for her to heal but it felt so daunting. She didn't want to be pitied for what had happened to her. She didn't want sympathy or compassion and knew that she would probably just end up resenting anyone who pitied her.

Violet stood from the tub and went to stand in front of the floor length mirror in the bathroom. Her hair lay in damp and dark tangled waves while her skin was pale and pruned from staying in the bath for so long. She turned her back towards the mirror and tried not to flinch as she looked, for the first time, at the damage done to her back. There wasn't even an inch of flesh that wasn't marked or marred in some way. She continued to just stare at her back for over an hour as she tried to finally accept the fact that this broken flesh, this scarred skin, was hers. She didn't want to be afraid of her scars anymore. She'd paid in magic and blood for her newfound freedom and she would use it to reclaim herself. Violet turned from the mirror with the realization that her body, her magic, her very soul, now belonged to her and no one else.

The next day found Violet and Draco stepping onto the Hogwarts Express for another year at Hogwarts. She couldn't help but notice that the platform was decorated with a lot more 'Wanted' posters than usual as she and Draco hurried their way along the busy platform. The posters were all of one man. She shuddered as she saw the look of pure despair in his eyes as he screamed silently in the poster. He looked as if his heart was broken and all hope had been lost. Violet couldn't help but feel that her eyes had probably held that same look of emptiness at one point in time.

Violet and Draco searched the train for Theo, Hermione, and Luna. They quickly found them in a small compartment towards the very back of the train. Violet frowned as she saw an older man asleep in the corner of their compartment. She could feel her magic beginning to charge as she focused on him. It wasn't as potent as when she had talked to the basilisk but she recognized that this man wasn't just a wizard. There was something wild about him. It reminded her of being lost in the forest.

"Sorry, this was the only compartment we could find," Hermione said after she finished hugging Violet and Draco. The two nodded as they sat down and soon the conversation drifted to what everyone had been up to during their summer holidays. Violet made sure to ask most of the questions as the train moved along the rolling hills of Scotland. She didn't feel like explaining most of the events of her summer. The Hogwarts Express certainly wasn't the appropriate venue for that sort of conversation.

As the sun began to set behind the hills the train slowed to a complete stop. The five students shared confused looks. Violet looked to Luna who seemed just as perplexed as the rest of them. "It can't have broken down…" In an instant the air grew cold as if they compartment were suddenly steeped in ice. The windows began to frost, completely blocking out the fading sunlight leaving the entire cabin in total darkness. It felt unending. Violet grabbed Hermione's arm. "Something's not right" she whispered as her breath became visible in the frigid air.

Violet began to feel like she was back at the Dursley's before she had found out she was a witch. A total and complete sense of hopelessness began to wash over her. She felt trapped. She was suffocating as unwanted thought after thought tore through her mind. Vernon was going to find her. There was no escape from him. It had been foolish to even try to fight him. Her heart raced as any relief or happiness she felt at being reunited with her friends disappeared. She was alone and lost in despair.

The students gasped as a cloaked figure appeared in the doorway completely blocking it. There was no escape from it as it floated into the compartment bringing even more cold air with it. Its black robe was ragged and dragged on the floor behind it. The hands were humanoid in appearance but had been warped into long spidery grey claws. It might have once been human but now all that remained was a desolate twisted husk of a creature. It was dead, and dark, and rotting. The moment it had fully entered the compartment its complete focus and attention was on Violet. The more it began to advance on her, the more lost and helpless she felt. The unwanted thoughts just wouldn't leave her. She could even begin to see Vernon appear before her as the cloaked creature got nearer. She didn't even know why she had tried to escape from him. It was hopeless. He would always find her. In the back of her mind Violet thought she heard Hermione screaming but nothing seemed to matter anymore. Her world went black.


"Violet! Wake up!"

"Come on!"

Violet opened her eyes to find the worried faces of Hermione, Draco, Theo, and Luna looking down at her. She rubbed her eyes as she tried to clear through the haze. "Er- hello," she mumbled as she sat up. The group let out a collective sigh of relief as they moved to their seats. The compartment had returned to its normal temperature and the cloaked figure was nowhere to be seen. She looked around in confusion

"Here, eat this," the mysterious man in the corner of the compartment said as he handed her some pieces of chocolate. "It helps you recover from the effects of a Dementor attack."

Violet finally got a good look at his face and realized just how exhausted the man seemed to look. It was odd for someone to look that tired after being asleep for an entire train ride. He wore a shabby light brown suit that matched his hair. He looked young but his face was deathly pale and covered in quite a few scars. His eyes were full of sadness even though the dementor was gone. They reminded Violet of the screaming man from the wanted posters.

"A dementor on the train? Why?" Hermione asked.

"They're searching for Sirius Black; the escaped prisoner from Azkaban." The man answered. Theo and Draco gave Violet a concerned look while Luna began to dreamily stare out the window.

"He's the man from all those wanted posters, isn't he?" Violet asked. The man nodded and began to look uncomfortable. Violet raised an eyebrow at his reaction.

"She doesn't know," Draco said.

"Know what?" Violet impatiently asked. Hermione looked just as clueless and impatient as Violet.

"Sirius Black was a friend of your parents. He fought for the Light but..," Theo cautiously began, "Apparently he was actually working for Grindelwald all along. When Grindelwald met his downfall, Black lost everything…even his mind. He broke into the Light headquarters and was caught torturing two members of the Light. Before they could apprehend him, he disappeared. A week later he killed another member of the Light before they finally caught him."

Hermione gasped as she heard the story but Violet remained stoic. Her encounter with the dementor reminded her how panicking in these types of situations wouldn't accomplish anything. "And now he's looking to finish his masters job," she managed to get out. She now understood why Dumbledore had insisted on escorts for both her and Neville.

Violet was surprised to find a look of steely determination in her friend's eyes. "He bloody well won't get very far," Hermione said firmly as Draco and Theo nodded in agreement. Luna's head was turned toward the window so no one could see the small smile that formed on her face.

"No, he won't" the man said with a tired sigh, "I should introduce myself. I'm Remus Lupin and I'll be taking over the defense against the dark arts position." Something about that struck Violet as odd; she could feel darkness from him. With the dementor gone the conversations turned back to cautiously optimistic topics as the train neared Hogwarts.

*Chapter 27*: Chapter 27

Chapter 27: Information Overload

A/N: Thanks for reading and reviewing. :)

"I would like to welcome you all to another year at Hogwarts," Dumbledore began, smiling over the crowd of students in the Great Hall. He was dressed in an atrocious lime green robe as he continued on with his welcoming speech looking for all parts like the kindly eccentric grandfather much of the student body expected him to be. Violet's knuckles were beginning to turn white as she gripped her knife as hard as she could while trying to tune out his speech. She wondered how he could have possibly justified allowing her to remain at the Dursley's and completely defenseless at that.

The student body laughed at something he had said but Violet had tuned him out so she hadn't heard. The longer she stared at him the more she realized she wanted him to pay. She didn't care about the War or Ione's plans, whatever they were. Almost everyone in her life had used her for their own means. It might have once broken her heart to realize that but no longer. Violet was angry.

"What's wrong?" Hermione whispered as she noticed Violet's strained expression and narrowed eyes. Her light brown hair had grown less bushy over the summer and now fell to her shoulders in loose ringlets.

"I'll tell you later," Violet promised before the sounds of applause rang out in the hall to signal the end of Dumbledore's speech and the beginning of the feast. Violet looked away from Dumbledore and glanced around the Heads table. McGonagall and Flitwick were conversing while Snape was, as usual, scowling. Violet's gaze paused when it fell on Lupin. He still looked exhausted and didn't seem to be interested in eating at all. Instead, he was downing all the contents of his goblet as quickly as possible. Perhaps he was ill. Hermione seemed to watching him as well. Violet turned her gaze from Lupin to find Dumbledore staring at her. He gave her a grandfatherly smile. Violet gripped the knife she was holding even harder before returning the smile as best she could. For now, she would wait and let him think that all was well. She could play the game just as well as him. Dumbledore looked away while Violet quickly looked down and began to viciously pile food onto her plate.

"That chicken's already dead," Hermione said while helping herself to some of the potatoes on a platter farther down. Violet grumbled in response. "So, Luna, you never finished telling me about your summer," Hermione said across the table.

"It was wonderful. I spent most of it outside recording all the fantastic creatures I could find. I brought the journal with me in case you want to look at it. I made sure to include the time and place where I saw them. With any luck these creatures might eventually become recognized by the Ministry…" Luna continued to talk about invisible creature rights and the unfairness of the Ministry classification for creatures for the rest of the dinner. She trailed off as desserts began to appear before them.

"What electives did you finally decide on?" Hermione asked Violet who had spent a good portion of the meal just glaring at her pumpkin tart. Honestly, between Luna and Violet it was amazing she hadn't just run screaming to the Slytherin table to sit with Theo and Draco. Hermione cast a quick look at the table and noticed Pansy laughing at something Theo had said while she placed her hand on his arm. Hermione narrowed her eyes at the scene.

"Well it looks like Theo's gotten over his dislike of Parkinson. I can already hear the wedding bells," she hissed as she pushed her plate away from her. Hermione's tone caused Violet to abandon her glaring contest with her dessert.

"Huh?" Violet asked as she looked up at the Slytherin table but all she saw was Theo casting subtle looks at Hermione who had now focused all of her attention on talking with Michael Corner.

"Did I miss something?" she asked Luna who had been dreamily looking at the glowing candles of the enchanted ceiling.

"Oh...yes," she laughed as her grey eyes turned from the candles to Violet. "They'll figure it out on their own…eventually. You never answered Hermione's question, though. What electives are you taking?" Luna asked.

"Um I picked Ancient Runes and Divination," she said while beginning to half-heartedly pick at her pumpkin tart.

"You believe in Divination?" Luna's voice lost all its dreamy qualities as she pierced Violet with a hard stare. Violet was slightly taken aback by Luna's intensity but if the girl really was an Oracle then she could understand where it was coming from. Most witches and wizards believed Divination to be a complete scam and as a result it was met with immense skepticism, criticism, and a fair share of mockery.

"Of course. I might have been raised in the Muggle world but…" she lowered her voice and leaned across the table to make sure she wouldn't be overheard, "…I've read a lot about Oracles. They're said to have the closest connection to Magic. That's nothing to laugh at. It's too bad the subject has been so filled with fraud. I'm hoping we get to cover more about the connection between Magic and her Prophets. Or at least discuss why at one time Divination was taken more seriously. A lot of the history about Magic feels…murky."

Luna's posture relaxed as she gave Violet a serene smile. "That's nice to hear, Vi. Divination has been turned into a sham in recent decades but true Seers can indeed see parts of the future. It's rather difficult as the images keep changing or so I've read." Luna corrected herself quickly.

"Oh," Violet said as she tried to imagine what it was like to be a Seer. She understood all too well why someone would want to keep a power such as that a secret. She began to stand up from the table lost in thought. Students had already begun to file from the Great Hall anxious to get to their dormitories and claim their beds for the rest of the year. Hermione stood up as well and the three girls began to make their way up to Ravenclaw.

"You know, Magic gives each of us a gift but it's up to us to determine how…or if we use it," Luna whispered when they reached the common room. Hermione had already begun to walk up the dormitory stairs. Violet gave a reluctant sigh and nodded in agreement. She had waited for the panic to arise at the thought of her abilities but as she walked up to the Third Year dormitories all she felt was a sense of resigned calm.

After the events of last year Violet didn't find herself feeling very enthusiastic about the first day of classes as she once may have. She loved discovering and learning about all the complexities and mysteries that surrounded Magic but she would have been lying if she said she wasn't apprehensive about this year. Everything around her seemed frozen in place like the calm before a storm. There were so many new uncertainties about her life making it all too easy to feel overwhelmed if she focused on them for too long. There were the Dursleys, Dumbledore, Grindelwald, the War, Ione; all were pulling at her in one way or another. As Violet finished braiding her hair and once again donned the Hogwarts uniform she took a deep breath to try and focus her thoughts. She knew she would need to address each one of the schemes she had passively wandered into, it was just how to go about that which left her nervous.

The first class of the day found Violet and Hermione sitting in the dark and dreary Potions classroom. Violet couldn't help but slightly grin at the looks of pure dread on the faces of the Gryffindor students they shared the class with. Neville and Ron looked especially unhappy to be back once again in Potions but she didn't feel bad for them. Snape cared about effort more than House most of the time and Neville and Ron both seemed content to do the minimal amount of work required. If they had actually bothered to try in the class then maybe Snape wouldn't spend so much time degrading them.

Violet ran her fingers along her third year Potions textbook as she waited for the class to begin. Some of her apprehension at worrying about the upcoming year lessened as she inhaled the calming smoky and earthy scents of the lab. Just being in a Potions laboratory was enough to brighten her mood. It was one of the few places in Hogwarts where she knew she would be relatively left alone. Brewing was an exact art form that required total and absolute concentration. It was easy for Violet to lose herself in the process of an arduous brew where she could relax into the precise routine of preparing the ingredients in the correct way. There was such a simple sense of ease that came from listening to the sounds of the soft bubbling of cauldrons and the hiss of open flames from underneath. As she looked around the classroom she realized that many of her peers most likely would have disagreed.

Snape burst through the side doors a moment later with his usual look of disdain as he surveyed the classroom. Without so much as a greeting he flicked his wand as the instructions for the Wiggenweld Potion began to appear on the board behind him. Violet recognized it from the summer reading that he had assigned. It had minor restorative properties but its main use was awakening a person from a magically induced sleep. Thanks to the Malfoy's medi-witch, Violet was fairly familiar with how the potion should look and taste.

"Begin," Snape said with little ceremony and no explanation.

Violet always sat closest to the ingredients pantry so she always had first and best pick of all the ingredients. Once she had the actual ingredients the brewing itself came naturally enough to her. Snape would purposefully give students only the vaguest of instructions. Potion brewing was an exact science but there was also a significant amount of intuition involved. Knowing when to stir, cutting the ingredients in the correct way, finding the right temperature, all were things that could not be taught. Violet didn't know how to explain it to Hermione whenever she asked for help but it was as if she could feel the ingredients and just somehow know their properties and how to prepare them. She supposed it could have been a result of her spending so much of her childhood either in the Dursley's kitchen or garden. A small silver lining she supposed.

By the end of the class Violet smiled in satisfaction as she looked down at the bright green potion in front of her. It was perfect. Even Hermione's potion paled in comparison. "Five points to Ravenclaw," Snape said as he passed by their table and examined Violet's potion. Even Ron and several other Gryffindor's sneering behind her were not enough to dampen her mood. As usual Ron hadn't even tried on his potion; instead he had spent most of the class muttering under his breath about Snape's unfairness.

Hermione began to pack up but Violet didn't join her. She hadn't had the chance to talk to Snape since the House Registry and she still had several questions that she needed answered. It was almost impossible to find opportunities to be able to talk to the man since he was seldom seen far from the lab and she didn't feel like garnering a detention and losing House Points just to have a conversation. Violet lingered by her cauldron until the classroom was completely empty before approaching Snape.

"Yes, Potter?" He said before she had fully reached him. Most people would have flinched at the harsh and impatient tone but it was familiar to Violet. She could tell that Snape was plagued by the past just as she was. She could see the disdain in his eyes but underneath that there were traces of anger and sadness. It seemed the past left scars on everyone.

"Sir, I was hoping we might be able to continue our discussion about...Sirius Black," she said in a quiet voice even though the classroom was empty. Hogwarts was enormous but it was never empty. There were listening ears and prying eyes everywhere.

"Don't you have a class to go to? Or some type of reckless danger to run off to?"

Violet snorted. "Free period which I could use either talking to you or I suppose I could go off looking for trouble. I did hear that the Forbidden Forest looks lovely this time of year…"

"So quick to lose the House Points you just earned, Potter?" Snape sighed and quickly looked around the room before his gaze settled on Violet. "Very well," he said before beginning to walk to his office. Violet followed after him and took a seat inside. She raised an eyebrow when she looked back to see Snape casting several wards throughout the room.

Violet closed her eyes and focused her magic inward while trying to concentrate on what Snape was casting. It was getting easier and easier for her to find the cords of her magic that led to her core. The more she focused the more she could feel it thrumming through her veins just waiting for her command. As she connected with her magic she could begin to see Snape's magic throughout the room. The wards he was casting lined every wall and doorway in a dark gray color. It looked impenetrable. She realized then that he must have cast silencing wards.

After he finished he took the seat behind his desk and waited expectantly. Well, Violet hadn't expected him to talk much. She toyed with the sleeve of her wool sweater. "The Ministry seems convinced that Black is here but I don't understand why."

Snape's face remained stoic. "One would assume that Black is trying to finish what he failed to do all those years ago. I admit I hadn't thought him capable of such dedication to his Master or of any dedication for that matter."

"I heard that he fought for the Light, though. That he was a friend of my parents."

For the first time she saw the disdainful mask that Snape wore somewhat slip. It was replaced with a hard look as his mouth set into a firm frown. There was a raw fury in his eyes. It was the first time she had seen him display any real emotion. "So many people when they think of the War think of flashy battles, of spells being fired back and forth, of smoke and death. Wars are won in many ways, Violet. Black's betrayal, his information about the Light, all of it would have helped to cement the Dark's victory if Longbottom hadn't managed to somehow defeat the Dark Lord. Power and its temptation can corrupt even the noblest of souls but let me assure you Black was nowhere near noble. He toyed with both sides."

Violet nodded as she had expected as much but there was still one question that she couldn't seem to find an answer to. "If he escaped and wants to continue to serve the Dark then why would he make me his Heir? Why am I a target at all?" Violet noticed a quick flash of pain in Snape's eyes...and regret. "Why were my parent's targets?" She pressed.

Snape was silent for a long moment. His shoulders slumped slightly forward as his hands balled into fists. "The entire Black Family was known for their mental instability. I wouldn't put too much thought into the mind and motives of a mad man. He is playing a game and nothing more. As to your parents...they defied the Dark Lord. The moment they joined Dumbledore they had willingly placed targets on their backs."

Violet huffed out a frustrated breath. She knew there was more to the story. There had to be. Snape's answers weren't exactly incorrect but they were weak. Who he was protecting by avoiding answering her questions she didn't know.

"Professor, how did my parents die?" Snape's face had once again returned to its mask of indifference. All she knew for certain about their deaths was that they had died together and that their home had been burned to the ground.

"Grindelwald used the killing curse," he ground out.

"But why am I alive," she whispered. All Violet knew about her own fate the night her parents died was that she was found unharmed amongst the ashes. It was the one question that always seemed to creep its way into her thoughts.

Snape sighed. "The only people who know what really happened that night were your parents and Grindelwald. When I arrived on the scene with several aurors the entire house was up in flames. We assumed no one left inside was alive. You need to understand that your parents' house was the first stop for Grindelwald that night and marked the beginning of a massive coordinated attack by the Dark. We had to make split second decisions. It was chaos that night. We couldn't stay to put out the flames. The aurors were needed elsewhere and Dumbledore had summoned me. After Grindelwald was defeated…I returned to the Estate and…there you were."

"You were the one who found me?" Violet asked incredulously.

"It was almost dawn but the time I returned. The earth was scorched. Any evidence that a house had once been there was completely gone. The ashes were still warm but the fire had burned away. I wasn't looking for survivors by then. I was looking for bodies."

Violet involuntarily shuddered as Snape continued speaking.

"As I combed through the endless piles of ash...I remember…," Snape trailed off as he became lost in thought. She'd never heard him talk so freely before. His voice was softer than she'd ever heard it. It felt more like a confession than a conversation as he continued to stare past her.

"…The sky was grey. The air heavy and dark with black magic and smoke. I was walking towards the forests that surrounded what would have been the back of the estate. There was such a complete and outstanding silence. The closer I walked towards the forest the harder it became to breathe. I was choking the air was so thick. The smoke burned and clouded my vision. I went to turn around before I reached the tree line. The conditions were too hostile. I had given up but then the birds began to sing. A powerful wind swept through and stirred up the ashes chasing away the smoke. It nearly knocked me over it was so strong. I've played all this back in my mind again and again but it never makes sense. When the wind finally died down the air was...lighter. I could breathe again. I turned and there you were bathed in the light of the rising sun. It enveloped poured from you. There was so much light."

Violet didn't know how to respond or how to feel really. "I was just sitting there? Was there anything with me or..."

Snape finally looked at her. "No, it was just you but... there were three runes drawn on your forehead. They were written in what appeared to be blood but as I checked over you for injuries or cuts there were none. The runes disappeared when I apparated us to the Ministry."

A sinking feeling began to wash over Violet but she had to keep pressing. "What did they represent?" She looked down at her hands as she waited for his answer.

"I had assumed they were some form of protection rune but I searched every record I could find and found nothing that even slightly resembled them. They were ancient." He waved his wand over one of his desk drawers and Violet heard the clicking of several locks opening. He handed her a very old and wrinkled looking piece of paper. She slowly opened it and looked down to see what must have been the three runes.

She took a deep breath before asking the question she already knew the answer to. "Professor, did you tell anyone else the exact details of finding me? Has anyone else seen this?" She asked as she raised the paper up.

Silence. Violet stared hard at Snape as she waited for him to answer.

"I told Dumbledore," he admitted softly after a moment with a voice tinged with weariness and regrets.

She felt like all the air had been sucked from her lungs. Violet knew that Snape at the time hadn't realized what he had done or the events he had set in motion by telling Dumbledore but it didn't change the fact that he had started it all. If he hadn't told Dumbledore then the Headmaster might never have found out about Violet's abilities.

Violet dumbly nodded before folding the paper back up and placing it in her bag. "I had wondered how he seemed to know about my...abilities. I don't blame you, you know. You placed your trust in a man who only cares about the Greater Good. We're seen as nothing but tools to be used by the Lords of the Light and Dark. At least now I can be sure that that is all I was and ever will be to Dumbledore." Violet stood up and walked towards the door with her thoughts whirling at the information she had just learned.

"I...I am sorry that you never got to walk your own path." Snape said.

Violet didn't respond as she opened the door and walked out of Snape's office. She needed to think but as she walked through the crowded halls she realized in frustration that there was nowhere in the castle where she could truly be alone. Students, Professors, Portraits, Ghosts, even House Elves were around every corner. She needed a place to research the runes in private. The last thing Violet wanted was Dumbledore to be aware of all the information she was gathering. She was already at a disadvantage as he seemed to know more about the runes and her abilities than she did.

Her steps slowed as she realized she was outside the first floor girl's lavatory. A small smile appeared on her face. Well, she knew there was one place in Hogwarts where she could be alone. A chamber so secure that even Dumbledore with all his knowledge and power had been unable to ever find it. As Violet lifted her hand to push open the door she glanced at her watch and groaned when she saw that she only had a few minutes before Divination. She would have to try and find the Chamber when she had more time to spare.

Violet reached the classroom out of breath but with a few minutes to spare. She smiled as she took the open seat between Draco and Theo in the incense filled Divination classroom. It was easier for her to feel calmwhen she had her friends by her side. For better or worse she could push her troubles to the back of her mind. Violet tried not to cringe as she took in the Divination classroom. It was packed full of small circular tables that were covered with deep red velvet tablecloths as magical globes, shrunken dried animal heads, and dreams catchers hung from all corners of the room in an attempt to make the atmosphere feel mystical and mysterious. Deep thick red curtains and smoke from the incense prevented any natural light from entering and made the air difficult to breathe. It wasn't anything close to what Violet was expecting when she signed up for the class. The whole thing just felt like a gimmick.

The class seemed to be a relatively equal mix of students from all four houses. Violet continued to survey the room but stopped when she noticed that Neville had been staring at her. He gave her a small smile when he realized that she had seen him. Violet returned it. She wouldn't call the two of them friends by any means. Still they had already been through more than most students at Hogwarts in just two years there. While Neville had never been particularly friendly, he had risked his life on more than one occasion to try and protect Hogwarts. Whether it was because he wanted to protect others or to gain more glory for himself she didn't know. She did know that Neville and she would have to face more trials together, especially if Dumbledore had anything to say about it. Violet also knew that despite his flaws, Neville would more than likely be instrumental in dealing with Grindelwald. The thought of the headmaster and Grindelwald began to darken her mood. Both men had stolen the world from her and she would make sure that she returned the favor.

"Greetings future Oracles and Prophesiers. I welcome you to Divination where together we will try to unravel the stars and see what secrets lay hidden behind their glowing twinkle," came the raspy voice of Professor Trelawney as she began to wander and weave through the cluttered tables in the small room. Her big frizzy hair made the room seem even smaller as she continued to waltz through the space. She was wearing baggy robes that perfectly matched the color of the tablecloths and curtains. Between the hair and the clothing she looked less like a Professor and more like just another odd feature of the room.

"Divination is not an exact science. In fact it isn't uncommon for two different seers to see an entirely different future from the same tea leaves or crystal globe. It all depends entirely on the individual and how you develop your skills of Sight. You must trust your instincts even when it conflicts with logic or reason," she continued. Theo's eye was beginning to twitch while his mouth was set into a firm frown; his fingers wrapped around his wand.

Draco was struggling not to laugh at the bizarre woman as she floated about. "I think the only thing she trusts in is the bottle," he loudly whispered to Violet. She elbowed him in the stomach to try and quiet him down.

"We still start simply today as not all of your third eyes are fully open," Trelawney stated while casting a hard look at Draco behind her foggy enormous glasses. "Before you lay several cups of tea. You must drink the tea quickly, trying your best not to taste it. Once your cup is empty...look at tea leaves and see what lies on the path ahead. I shall be around to monitor your progress and help you discern the stars."

Violet shrugged and downed the tea as fast as she could. It tasted awful like it had been sitting in the sun and collecting dust for several days. She'd never tasted anything so disgusting before. Violet looked around to see many other students struggling with the foul taste. Several were coughing and one person had actually spit it back out.

"I'm going be sick," Theo said as he pushed the now empty cup away from him. Draco's face was paler than normal as he frantically wiped his mouth with his sleeve. Violet looked down into her cup to try and see if any kind of shape or image had formed from the leaves. She squinted but all she could see were tea grounds. She reasoned it could take a while for something to appear but after a minute of trying and failing she huffed out a frustrated breath. "I don't see anything. Is it me?"

Theo took her cup from her and began to examine it. He wore a thoughtful expression as rotated the cup in his hands. "What is it?" Violet asked as Theo's eyes widened a moment later.

"Hmm. I see us all wasting our time for several months. There's a lot of disappointment to look forward to. We will be trapped in a situation of our own making. In fact, the leaves are telling me that by the end of the term we will all look like complete fools," Theo remarked in a tone laced with sarcasm.

"Ah...the fool. New beginnings and adventure await you. Be prepared to cut the restraints of your present life to embark upon a new one. There is unlimited potential on the horizon. Make sure you are well prepared before jumping into your new beginning. Well done, Mr. Nott! Five points to Slytherin," Trelawney said as she passed by the table and gazed serenely at Violet. Theo snorted.

Violet grabbed her cup back to see if she could make out any shapes from the dregs but sighed in frustration as she still couldn't see anything. She shook the cup several times to try and move the dregs but they still looked like…nothing. "This...this can't be the whole class, right? I mean, we're going to do more than stare at empty cups?"

"The fact that the Weasel chose this as an elective should hint that this is a joke of a class," Draco said making sure to glare at Ron and Neville across the room. Violet put her head into her hands as she realized that it was going to be a long year.

The trio left the Divination classroom as soon as the period was up relieved to finally be able to breathe fresh air and see sunlight again. The incense had given them all a collective headache. They found Hermione already sitting in the front of the Ancient Runes classroom with three open seats next to her.

"You're lucky you decided to opt out of Divination," Violet complained as she took the seat closest to Hermione. "I know there are real Oracles out there but Trelawney is...not," she said diplomatically. Hermione raised an eyebrow and waited for Violet to elaborate.

"She's a complete loon. I have no idea how or why she still has a job if that first class is anything to go by," Draco interrupted.

"Well let's hope this class actually teaches something worthwhile and not useless parlor tricks," Theo sighed.

A strict looking grey haired witch stood at the front of the classroom. She tapped her wand in her hands as she closely examined each of the students walking into the room. The harsh lines around her lips and furrowed brow made it seem like she was unused to smiling or laughing. She was dressed in plain black robes that held no embellishments. Even the classroom was relatively barren with the only decorations being the desks and windows. She waited until the last student had taken their seat before speaking.

"This is Ancient Runes. Here I can teach you how to use ancient symbols given to us by the Guardians themselves to enhance your magic, protect yourself, and to ward off those seeking to do you harm. Runes are not toys. Runes can make the difference between life and death, give you an edge over your opponents, and transform your magic in ways you never thought possible. They are the most ancient and pure concentrations of Magic found anywhere in this world. Anyone who isn't ready to dedicate a significant amount of time to this course can leave now. I won't tolerate half measures in this class. You are committed to learning or you can leave now."

Violet heard a few students behind her leave the room as soon as the woman finished her harsh speech. She was intimidated by both the Professor and the class but Violet reasoned that she would be able to handle the course material easily enough. After the joke that Divination was it would be satisfying to have a class that posed a real challenge. The paper that Snape had given her was still folded up in her bag and another source of motivation to learn everything she could about runes.

The professor narrowed her eyes as the door loudly banged shut. She moved behind her desk as she surveyed the students who remained. Her frown slightly lessened as the lines in her face became much more relaxed. "Now we can begin. I am Professor Babbling. Let me welcome those of you who have chosen to learn and understand the art of Ancient Runes. It is not an easy discipline but it is my hope that the knowledge you learn here will serve you well throughout your entire lives. Are there any questions before we begin? I don't imagine many of you have had much exposure to the study of runes before."

Hermione cautiously raised her hand up in the air as she continued to scribble notes onto her parchment paper. "Yes, Ms. Granger?" Babbling asked, but not impatiently. At least it seemed that she was used to answering a lot of questions.

"Professor, I was wondering what you meant when you mentioned the 'Guardians.' I've read that they serve Magic but there doesn't seem to be much more information about them."

'Ah, yes. I often forget just how much your textbooks leave out about the origins of Magic. If it's not some colorful spell or reminder of the dangers of Dark magic then it's simply and conveniently ignored. Merlin forbid, you students actually learn about magic outside of Light spells," Babbling began as her brow became increasingly more furrowed.

Draco and Theo sat up straighter in their seats as she continued speaking. It was a rare occurrence for a professor to be so candid about the teaching instructions and regulations given to them by the Headmaster.

"The Guardians serve Magic but think of them as extensions of her will. They are Magic made conscious. They gave us the rituals and holidays to honor and strengthen our connections to Magic. It was the Guardians who taught the first men how to use the gifts that Magic had given them."

"So, they're all just forms of Magic?" Hermione asked.

"No, not at all. Each Guardian is an individual. They work to serve Magic but each has a different interpretation of what serving Magic means. They are as varied in their ideology as you or I. In fact, our oldest records indicate that each Guardian represented or embodied some aspect of the world around us. It is speculated that their individuality is what is ultimately responsible for giving mortals magic in the first place." Babbling sighed as she saw the looks of confusion on all of her student's faces. She had been petitioning and pestering Dumbledore to hire a new History of Magic teacher for decades but the man seemed to prefer the incompetency of Binns.

"I see we need to start at the very beginning," she said, "I must emphasize that what I am about to tell you is informed speculation as detailed records of the Guardians have never been found, most likely being lost to the ages. Any in depth information, that still exists, is written in runes and kept locked away by government officials in every Wizarding country." Babbling cast a quick silencing ward around the room. The last thing she needed was another lecture from Dumbledore about sticking to the approved curriculum. "I'm sure some of you have heard this in the form of a night time story from your parents but I assure you that what I am about to tell if you is very much based in truth."

"Long before man was gifted with Magic there were the Guardians. The first children of Magic. Their connection to Her the strongest and purest. Their power great, indeed. They watched and ruled over the moral realm for thousands of years. The Guardians could watch and influence the mortal realm but never could they enter. Magical creatures both light and dark in nature flourished under their rule as Magic and her glory reigned undisturbed. Then man came and the lands began to change. They were unfamiliar with Magic and sought to eradicate its influence from the lands. They feared their powerlessness and lashed out destroying and poisoning everything in their path. The land began to change as magical creatures were chased into the darkest corners of the earth. Magic fled. The Guardians could not keep up with the endless destruction. Their power was great but the destruction was too much. They collected and channeled their powers to entreat Magic to come to their aid. Rather than destroy the mortals, Magic gifted every other human with what they most feared."

"Magic," Hermione interrupted, "You're talking about the very first wizards and witches?" She asked wide eyed as she furiously tried to write down word for word what the Professor was saying.

Babbling nodded. "Most were driven insane by the power now at their fingertips. Their mortal bodies at odds with the immortal magic that now ran through their veins. Their fellow man turned on them in fear. The lucky ones were thrown into exile, the unlucky burned to death. Some of the Guardians took pity on the now cursed mortals and taught them how to harness their powers. They instructed them on how to perform the ancient rituals to reaffirm their connection to Magic and soothe the war between their bodies and the immortal magic now within them. Peace soon reigned as the world of magic separated from the world of non-magic until Muggles eventually forgot it even existed."

Violet raised her hand as Babbling seemed to be finished with the story. "What happened to the Guardians?"

"They began to fight amongst themselves. Make no mistake they serve Magic but each has a different understanding of how best to do that. They can fall to greed, jealousy, and hate just like any other creature. The mortals who they had shown mercy had begun to worship them as Gods and formed cults to spread each Guardian's influence across the lands. As I said the Guardians were not permitted to enter the mortal realm but with magic now coursing through the veins of mortals...well they found an entryway. There are no specifics on how that was done but most scholars believe some type of ritual must have taken place at great cost. The records are vague but eventually the magic world fell into war once more. Immortals clashed as their mortal followers fought and died to uphold their chosen Guardian's power. Champions were chosen and lost in what seemed to be an endless struggle."

"Seeing the world torn apart Magic once again intervened. Many of the Guardians were destroyed as punishment for their greed. The others were exiled...made blind and deaf to our world. We have not felt their influence since." Babbling finished her speech with a look of sadness in her eyes. "So much knowledge has been lost. The evidence on the origins of our world, of magic, are gone. The only evidence we have of their existence at all are runes."

"What would happen if they returned? If the connection was established? Would they all just try to come through?" Theo asked.

"Most wizards and witches do not even believe in their existence. I would assume it would be a time of terrible upheaval. If there is one thing an immortal has it is time but Magic puts a limit on every creature's power. They might have found an entryway into the mortal realm but there is no evidence to suggest that one ever actually made it through."

"What would happen if there was more than one in the mortal realm?" Hermione asked as her mind no doubt was running through every possible scenario as she tried to fully understand all the information Babbling was giving them.

Babbling's expression became thoughtful. "An excellent question but not one that I feel qualified to answer. If I had to guess…they more than likely would tear the world apart," she said softly after a moment.

"They sound rather...sinister," Hermione said as she stretched her hand which was no doubt cramped from writing so much and so quickly at that.

"The Guardians were powerful almost god-like beings. Understanding them and their full powers, with our modern perspectives, is beyond our ability or even our comprehension. The Guardians even in their supreme glory could not escape emotion and its many pitfalls. I do not believe them all to be sinister, as you say. They were capable of goodness, protection, and even mercy towards those who had wronged them. They are as complex and nuanced as you are I. Now, let us begin our actual lesson," Babbling said.

Violet left the Ancient Runes class with her mind whirling. Hermione, Draco, and Theo were equally lost in thought as well as they silently walked down the corridor. She hadn't seen Ione in over a year but she had a feeling that she was watching and perhaps waiting.

"Well, that was certainly informative," Hermione said breaking the silence of the group, "I can't believe how little information there is about the beginnings of magic."

"Most of it is ancient history," Theo said, "and our world has been too caught up in our own squabbles to care about something that may have happened thousands of years ago."

"Yes, but it sounds like it hasn't exactly been resolved," Violet interrupted as they entered the Great Hall for lunch.

"So you believe everything that Babbling said?" Hermione questioned.

"I do," Violet said softly. She noticed Ginny Weasley staring at her from across the hall as she and Hermione sat down at their table. She gave the girl the slightest of nods which Ginny returned.

Hermione raised her eyebrow at the interaction. "You know, you never told me about what happened down there," she whispered to make sure no one else at the table overheard. Violet thought of a pair of endless black eyes and shivered.

"Are you guys ready for DADA?" Michael Corner interrupted before Violet could respond to Hermione. The conversation then turned to Defense against the Dark Arts and what to expect from their first class.

Violet and Hermione stood in the front row of the DADA class. It was a relief to see it restored to its former glory before Lockhart had plastered his face all over the walls. Lupin was standing at the front of the room next to a very large antique wardrobe. He looked just as haggard as ever. Violet wondered if he had ever gotten a peaceful night's sleep in his entire life.

"Welcome everyone. As you know I am Professor Lupin and as I hope you know this is Defense Against the Dark Arts." The wardrobe next to him began to rattle causing the entire class to jump back and share nervous looks. After the pixie fiasco last year they were all understandably wary. "Intriguing isn't it? Would anyone like to venture a guess as to what's in there?" Lupin said gesturing to the wardrobe.

"It's a boggart," Seamus Finnigan said from behind Violet.

"Very good. Can anyone tell me what they look like?"

"No one knows. A boggart takes the form of what a person fears most. It's a shape-shifter.," Hermione said.

"Exactly and can you tell me what advantage we might have over it?"

Hermione nodded. "There are so many of us that the boggart will be unable to decide on a form that would frighten everyone in the room.

"Well done, Ms. Granger. Now there is a very simple charm to repel a boggart. All you need do is say, Riddikulus and flick your wand like this." Lupin demonstrated the wand movement for the class. They repeated the word several times before begging to form a line in front of the wardrobe.

After the day's earlier events Violet was having difficulty focusing. There was too much information that she hadn't yet been able to process. The class began to pass in a blur as student after student went up to face the boggart. There was a giant snake, spiders, a severed hand, and even Professor Snape which had many people in the class laughing. Soon the line slowly dissolved leaving Neville, Hermione, and Violet.

Neville walked up to the wardrobe with a look of determination on his face. Everyone was curious to see what the famous boy who lived could possibly fear. It was even enough to draw Violet from her musings as Neville approached the wardrobe. The boggart began to swirl until it took the form of Neville. A wave of murmurs went through the room. Violet looked closely and realized that the boggart version of Neville did not have a scar on his forehead. His biggest fear was being normal.

"Riddikulus," Neville cast and watched the ears of the boggart him become bigger and bigger until the boggart fled back into the wardrobe. The room was quiet as he moved to the back of the room to stand next to Ron with a blank expression on his face.

Hermione gave Violet a shaky smile before stepping up to the wardrobe. It took less than a second for the boggart to take shape. It took the image of Violet, Draco, and Theo turning their backs on Hermione. She tried to talk to them but all they would do was laugh and sneer at her. Violet cringed as she looked at the sunken expression on Hermione's face. She knew how important friendship was to Hermione who had gone most of her life being hated and ostracized by her classmates.

"Riddikulus," Hermione muttered. The class laughed as the boggart versions of Violet, Draco, and Theo turned into squawking birds.

Violet looked at the wardrobe warily. She took a deep breath and began to walk up to it. In an instant the boggart transformed into Vernon. He was leering at her while his belt dangled in his hand. Its buckle was dripping with her blood. She could even see her cupboard begin to appear behind him.

"You'll never escape," he hissed as he began to advance on her. Violet began to shake as his eyes began to hold that gleam of lust that was present in them the last time she saw him. "I own you, Violet," he crooned.

"No," she cried as she tried to back away from him.

"Riddikulus," Lupin cast as he stepped in front of her. The boggart version of Vernon continued to swell in size until he popped like a balloon.

"Violet, are you alright?" he asked as her face continued to grow paler. After everything that had happened earlier in the day she couldn't speak. Violet shook her head and fled from the room.

Violet sat on the sandy beach of the Great Lake. She had left her shoes farther up the shore as she buried her bare-feet into the cool sand. The warm summer weather still hadn't left the countryside so Violet was able to sit comfortably on the beach without shoes or a jacket. It angered her that the whole class had seen that. Her fears...her scars...were her business.

She flicked her wrist at the water and watched the waves lapping against the beach grow larger in size. The day was calm but as she focused her magic on the water the more turbulent the waves became. She took a deep breath as she tried to remind herself that she was in control of her life now. A strong wind blew past her as she turned to see Hermione approaching the beach.

"Are you okay?" Hermione asked as she sat down next to Violet in the sand. Violet flicked her wrist and the waves became peaceful once more.

"I'm fine." Hermione looked at her skeptically. "Really, I am. I'm just not too keen on the whole class seeing that," she sighed. "What about you?"

Hermione looked out at the water, "I'm still not used to having friends. I keep expecting you three to just get tired of me. I know that most everyone else in our class is sick of me. I can hear them groan whenever I enter the room. I know that I'm not always the easiest person to get along with-"

"They groan because they know they'll never be able to be the top in the class if you're there. We would never turn our backs on you. Can you imagine what Theo would do if he didn't have you to debate with or how terrible Draco would be without you to keep his ego in check? We need you. You're not going to lose any of us, Hermione. You're my best friend," Violet promised. "What most likely will happen is you'll realize that we three hold you back from your intellectual greatness and leave us in the dust," she teased.

Hermione smiled and shook her head. "You're right. You'd all be lost without me," she joked.

"Without a doubt."

The smile faded from Hermione's face a moment later. "I saw the cupboard...that was your Uncle wasn't it?"

Violet grabbed a fistful of sand and flung it at the lake. "Yes, that was him. In all his enormous glory."

"And..the belt," Hermione asked while keeping her eyes fixed on the water. She didn't want to scare Violet off from talking about it.

"His favorite way to punish me," she sighed, "he wanted to make it clear just how powerless I am. How he has total control." Violet flicked her wrist again and the waves began to harshly crash against the shore once more. "I won't go back there. Ever. Even if Dumbledore tries to force me, I won't do it."

"Is that why you've been either glaring at or avoiding him?"

"He knew, Hermione. He knew how I was treated there and then he went and told them that I couldn't practice magic outside of school. I don't think he knows that I know. He left me at their mercy, so... so I'd be grateful to him for rescuing me from them." she hissed in anger as the waves began to grow in height.

Hermione gasped. "Why would he need you to be grateful?" She knew that there was more to Dumbledore than just his eccentric headmaster routine but it was difficult for her to accept that an authority figure had done something so terrible.

"He wants me to join the Light. He told Neville as much last year. It was why I ended up in the Chamber of Secrets in the first place. I'm tired, Hermione. I'm so tired of people trying to control me," she began to say as tears formed in her eyes. Violet roughly wiped them away before continuing. "I want all of them to pay," she admitted in a whisper. "I won't be used anymore." As the words left Violet's mouth she knew they were the plain and simple truth. She'd rather let the world burn than return to the cage that she had been locked away in for so many years. She would fight with everything she had to be free from Dumbledore, Grindelwald, Ione, and anyone else who sought control over her or her powers.

Hermione hugged her best friend as tightly as she could. "We'll figure something out, Violet. You, me, Theo, and Draco. The four of us are unstoppable when we work together," she said firmly as the wind began to pick up around them.

*Chapter 28*: Chapter 28

Chapter 28: Free Fall

A/N: Hello everyone! The past few weeks were annoyingly busy and somewhat rough so I wasn't able to edit/update as quickly as I would have liked but onwards and upwards :). Thanks for reading and reviewing!

The girls remained planted on the shore for the rest of the day missing the remainder of their classes in the process. Violet had told Hermione that she didn't mind being left alone but Hermione had stoutly refused to leave her side. So instead of class, they lounged and talked on the beach, more than content to just watch the world pass by around them. It was all too easy for both girls to forget their troubles and instead just focus on enjoying each other's company. How simple life could be when they could just leave the rest of the world behind.

Violet sighed as she watched the sun begin to set over the Great Lake. Going back into the castle would mean returning back to reality and a whole host of problems that if she was honest she had no idea how to go about dealing with. She grimaced as she ran her fingers through her hair and realized just how snarled it had become from being outside in the elements all day. It would take at least half an hour to comb through.

"You girls shouldn't be out here. Best get back to the castle." A rough sounding voice from behind Violet and Hermione startled the two girls out of their peaceful reprieve.

Both girls jumped at the sound and turned around to see an old man with shaggy light grey hair and eyes. He looked completely ragged and unkempt; the clothing he wore was covered in dirt and various other stains. His weathered face was full of pockmarks and he seemed to be missing several teeth. "There's dementors about. The two of you would be the easiest of prey for them creatures. They'd suck yer soul right out before yous' even knew what hit ya." The man leaned on the walking stick he was using as he gave them a hard look.

"Oh sorry about that. Must have lost track of time. We'll just head right in," Hermione said while she dusted sand off of herself from the shore. "Let's go, Vi. I'm sure Draco and Theo are probably wondering where we are anyway."

Violet reluctantly stood up and gave one last look at the setting sun. Its dying rays glistened as they fell onto the dark water before disappearing into its dark depths. She nodded to Hermione and the two girls began to walk in the direction of the castle. Both began to shiver as the air began to grow cold.

"Who was that?" Violet asked as she quickened her pace to escape the rapidly cooling air, all too well aware of what happened the last time she was near a dementor. She looked back over her shoulder to see the old man hobbling towards the direction of Hagrid's Hut.

"Did you pay any attention to Dumbledore's speech?" Hermione drew her sweater closer to her as the girls entered the castle's doors. The warm glow of the torches and sounds of distant chatter from the Great Hall greeted them. Hermione sighed when she saw Violet's scowl at the mention of the Headmaster. "He's the new caretaker. Someone had to replace Filch after all. He is a friend of Hagrid's so hopefully he won't be as vile and nasty as Filch was."

"Here's hoping." They slowed in their steps as they reached the Great Hall. Dinner was in full swing but Violet found that she had no appetite. "You can go on in. I think I'll just turn in early tonight."

"Are you sure? I honestly don't mind-"

"Hermione. I'm fine. I promise. It's just been a really long day and the only place I want to be is in my bed." Violet gave her friend a weak smile before walking off in the direction of Ravenclaw Tower and breathed a sigh of relief when she finally reached the thankfully empty common room. She really was exhausted but there was also a small part of her that just wanted to avoid the majority of people in Hogwarts at the moment. She just couldn't muster up the energy to put up the mask required to keep the gossiping students, the overbearing Professors, and the calculating Headmaster at bay. Not tonight anyway.

She began to walk up the steps that would take her to the third year dormitory as she continued to run her fingers through her tangled hair. The cool marble steps were silent underneath her the higher up she climbed. The tall windows showed very little as the grounds were already steeped in darkness but if she squinted she could vaguely make out the flickering lights to Hagrid's hut. Beyond that was the Forbidden Forest no doubt covered with an entire host of dementors. She shivered and drew her arms closer before continuing in her ascent. Violet frowned when she reached the third year bedroom as her eyes fell onto her trunk. She'd yet to unpack except for her textbooks, parchment, and quills which were messily piled in a chaotic heap on her desk. Her entire life was in that one brown piece of furniture. Everything she ever was could be summed up by just opening up that brown trunk and looking inside and even then all a person would see was a bundle of clothing, her picture of her parents, a faded sketchbook, and that was it. All she was and all she had shoved into one trunk.

Violet slowly pulled up the lid and picked up the worn and faded sketch book that she hadn't opened in years. It had originally been Dudley's. A Christmas present that he had opened and instantly cast aside, in favor of a shinier and louder toy. Violet had fished it out of the garbage the next morning. She remembered being intrigued by the thick somewhat rough texture of the pages. They had all been blank, just waiting for her to claim them. Prior to Hogwarts she had considered it to be her first and only Christmas present. Even if it hadn't been meant for her, she had made it hers.

A ghost of a smile appeared on her face as she began to flip through the sometimes silly and whimsical drawings of a five year old, some almost completely faded with time. Each page was crammed full of sketches which displayed the dreams and fantasies of a girl whose only company were her thoughts. Drawing used to be her salvation: a tangible reprieve from the Dursleys, where she could lose herself on the page and in the image she was trying to create. For five years it served as her one true escape. It had once been a daily necessity without which she surely would have completely faded away. It had been a way for her to find and carve out some of the beauty in the world. That no matter how desolate and bad things got, she could create something good. Her smile grew as she saw the quality of her drawings increase the farther she flipped through the sketchbook. She had once been so proud of her progress. The frumpy images began to take shape and grow in detail the closer she got to the end of the book. Her smile dropped when her eyes fell on the last drawing she had ever done. She had been ten. It was of her beloved garden. The soft greens and wide leaves that reached for the sun, the bright reds of tomato plants, and the ancient lines in the large oak tree all brought her back there as her eyes poured into the drawing. It was the one and only place in the Dursley's that had felt like home to her. She couldn't tear her eyes away from the image as the memory consumed her.

The Dursley's weren't supposed to have been home for another hour but she must have lost track of time. She hadn't even heard the car pull in or the back door open and close. It was always like that when she drew. The background just faded. Vernon had found her in the backyard. She'd just finished and was about to close the sketchbook when it was ripped from her hands. He accused her of shirking her duties and of stealing. She remembered the rays of the sun being blocked out as he raised the book to strike her…

Violet slammed the sketchbook shut and shook her head to try and banish the painful memories. She hadn't drawn since that day, except for sketching potions ingredients for studying purposes. She glared at the book before shoving it back into the bottom of the trunk where hopefully it would remain forgotten. She didn't even know why she still held on to the damn thing. She didn't have the luxury of being able to waste her time on foolish daydreams.

No, she had to focus on finding somewhere to live, Ione, and the upcoming War. She was already outmatched in almost every conceivable way. Violet decided to focus on the living situation first as that was the most immediate concern. As she mulled over her options she couldn't help but feel wistful. Obviously, Hogwarts and Malfoy Manor were both open to her. They gave her a purpose and served as a refuge but they weren't hers. Not really. They belonged to other people. She wanted a home; to find a place where she was always meant to be. As she lay down to go to sleep she realized that such a place most likely didn't exist and cursed herself for yet another useless daydream.

The weeks passed quickly as classes began in full swing. Violet decided to ignore the boggart incident and instead threw herself into her school work which wasn't all that difficult considering the workload and general difficulty of both Transfiguration and Ancient Runes. Well, if she was honest with herself she knew that there were many incidents that she chose not to think about. Over the past few weeks Violet had fallen into the habit of ignoring most things that were even the slightest bit unpleasant. If she ignored them or pushed them to the back of her mind she could pretend to just be a normal teenager like every other student in Hogwarts.

The warm summer weather had long since gone from the Scottish countryside. The leaves began to turn into brilliant shades of yellows, oranges, and reds as the air turned crisp and cool. Students began to bundle up with cloaks and scarves while every fireplace in Hogwarts lit up to try and ward off the incoming cool air before it seeped into the ancient stones of the castle.

"Are you sure you don't want to just sneak out," Draco asked as Violet met him, Theo, and Hermione in the Great Hall. They were preparing to visit Hogsmeade Village for the day. The entire school was abuzz with excitement.

"Draco! Violet can't just go around breaking all the rules," Hermione snapped. "What if she gets caught? It wouldn't be your house that would lose points." Hermione's eyes narrowed as she realized that was exactly what Draco was counting on. "Oh, you're the absolute worst! Just because Ravenclaw and Slytherin are tied for the lead-"

"I can't believe you would accuse me of such a thing!" Draco interrupted with all the mock outrage he could muster. Both Hermione and Violet laughed in response.

"Manipulative Slytherin plots aside, I didn't really want to go to Hogsmeade anyway I'm just going to work on that extra credit assignment for Transfiguration." All third years were allowed to go to Hogsmeade with a signed permission slip from a guardian. As Violet didn't have one at the moment, she wasn't permitted to go. In all honesty, she was looking forward to having some time alone.

"Do you want us to get you anything?" Theo asked as he threw on his cloak. Violet smiled but shook her head.

"Teddy! Are you ready to go? Madam Puddifoot's doesn't hold reservations if you're late" Pansy whined from the front doors as she gave him a flirtatious smile. Theo sighed at the nickname. "Well, I better be off…" he said before walking towards Pansy. Hermione was glaring at the ground so she didn't see him look back at her for the briefest of moments before he reached the doors.

"Teddy…really? That's what she calls him." Hermione began to rant. Violet and Draco shared a look.

Surprising Violet and Hermione, Draco turned to Hermione and offered her his arm. She stopped her rant to raise an eyebrow at him. The hall was empty by now as most students going to Hogsmeade were anxious to actually get there.

"Well, Lady Granger. Shall we depart?" He asked with the haughty expression that the world expected from him.

She gave a soft smile and took his arm. Violet could see the relief and gratitude in Hermione's eyes. "Very well, Lord Malfoy. Let us leave this dull hall," she said with just as much arrogance and disinterest as any Pureblood.

Violet smiled as she watched the two leave for Hogsmeade. Theo and Pansy had been spending a lot of time together which had only infuriated Hermione who kept insisting that nothing was wrong. Violet was relieved that Draco had managed to distract her. He had a knack for making both Hermione and Violet laugh even in the darkest of times. He so enjoyed making a mockery of the world.

Violet began to walk back toward Ravenclaw tower when she passed by the girls bathroom on the first floor. She still hadn't had a chance to visit the bathroom. She paused outside the door and debated whether or not to go in. If she did, she knew she would make her way to the Chamber. The basilisk had granted her welcome and she was curious to learn to more about the founding of the school. Still, she really did have homework that she should be working on but she didn't know when she'd have any other opportunity to go to the Chamber. She took a quick breath and made her way into the bathroom. Myrtle was nowhere to be found so Violet went right to the sink and whispered open in parseltongue.

The sink opened and revealed the long tunnel that lead to the chamber. The walk down there felt much shorter this time around. Violet ran her fingers along the cool stone wall as she walked along. She took the third tunnel from the left and soon came upon the chamber. As she neared the entrance a small part of her feared that the chamber would reject her presence; after all Neville and Ginny couldn't regain entry after they left and Snape and Draco hadn't even been able to find it. Well, she already made it this far. Violet took a quick step over the threshold and breathed a sigh of relief as she was able to pass through the entryway, the torches lighting as she passed them.

Violet came to the center of the chamber and half expected to find the Heir of Slytherin waiting for her. She didn't know why she was disappointed when she reached the foot of the Slytherin statue and found the chamber completely empty. She looked around the entire Chamber only to find it devoid of any signs of life. Her echoing footsteps were the only sounds she could hear. It had been foolish to come down here. It was just a big empty room and a big waste of time. Violet began to walk back towards the entrance when the black pool next to the statue began to ripple. Violet turned around as a small snake slithered out of the water. It wasn't Assara but Violet still recognized it from last year. It was the young basilisk that Neville had unknowingly summoned. Its vibrant green skin glistened in the torchlight as it lifted its head to greet Violet.

"Greetingsss,young speaker. I had wondered when you would come back to the Chamber." it hissed.

"Hello," Violet said, "It's nice to see you again. Is Assara here?" She didn't want the Queen of Serpents sneaking up on her; for such a large snake she was surprisingly silent in her movement.

"No. She follows and waits for the Heir. He is not at the school, so neither is she. The Heir does not care for chains. He has given her free reign of the world."

"Ah," Violet said. Well, that was one point in his favor. "What should I call you?"

The young basilisk was only about four feet in length so Violet assumed he was still in his infancy. It was difficult to believe that the snake in front of her would one day grow to be fifty feet in size. Basilisk's rarely survived to adulthood as the wizarding community was quick to eliminate them by any means necessary. It deeply angered Violet. A basilisk was only able to reproduce once. It laid one egg and that was it for its entire life. Magic had put a limit on the Basilisk's power as it had on every other magical creature. Yes, they were dangerous but they had just as much a right to exist as any other creature.

"You shall name me. You are worthy to follow," the snake insisted.

Violet's eyes widened as she realized it what it was offering. It had not forgotten that she had saved its life last year. She was honored to have the respect of such a powerful and misunderstood creature. Violet still was uncomfortable at accepting what fate had planned for her but she knew that she had to take control of her life and her power or someone else would. This would be a good first step.

"Very well. I name you Erebus." The moment the name had been spoken a golden light left Violet's hand and encircled the snake forever binding them together in magic and spirit.

"A worthy name," the snake hissed as the golden light slowly banished. It slithered up to Violet and began to wrap itself around her shoulders before resting its head on top of hers.

"I hope you won't try to do that when you're fully grown," she laughed while beginning to inspect the statue of Slytherin. The chamber felt strangely empty for it to have been his secret hideaway in the school. "Erebus, are there any other rooms within the chamber?"

"Yesss, just ask it to open," the snake responded.

"Open," Violet hissed and watched as a door covered in unfamiliar runes appeared between the feet of the Slytherin statue. She walked inside to find an enormous study lined with books that must have dated back to the time of Slytherin and before. There was a light grey stone desk in the center of the room with a single book laying on it and a blank piece of paper. An enormous fireplace with stone serpents carved into the mantle decorated the wall directly across from the desk. A fire came roaring to life as Violet fully entered the study. Erebus slid from her shoulders to go and bask in the warmth of the fire; hissing in contentment as he coiled on the warm marble stones.

Violet walked to the desk to glance at the book that had been left out. She couldn't help but feel it was left there for her. Every other part of the room was coated in a thin layer of dust except for the desk and the book on top. The paper on top of the book seemed to be blank but when Violet went to pick it up she noticed letters written in long elegant cursive begin to appear on the pageuntil they formed the word Enlightenment. She could feel a light magical signature radiating from the paper but she was much more interested in seeing what was beneath the paper at the moment so she quickly folded the paper up and shoved it into her bag.

'In Via,' the book's cover read in long golden letters. Violet rang her fingers over them and took a seat at the desk.

She opened the book and watched in fascination as the letters began to rearrange themselves in front of her. The book must have been charmed to adapt to the language of the person who was reading it. It seemed to be a journal of some type. It detailed a variety of different forms of magic that the author had witnessed throughout their lifetime. Violet realized with a start that this journal was from well before Slytherin's time. Hermione would have fainted if she had been there. Violet skimmed and quickly flipped through the pages until she came upon the 'natura elementum.' She knew then that Tom had indeed left that book there for her to find allowing her to take another step towards claiming her power for herself.

'I have traveled far and wide in search of magicks unknown. The most impressive must be that of the natura elementum. Those rare casters who commande and shape the natural worlde to their will. There has only been one in this age but many believed her to be forever lost after she very publically left the Court of Joule. With great difficulty and lots of gold I managed to locate her after several years of searching. To say that what I found was a surprise would be a most severe understatement. She was living alone in the middle of the wilderness in a decrepit cabin. She did not greet me but let me enter none the less. She claimed she was at the site where 'it happened.' I asked her to clarify and all she would say was 'this is where the worlde split.' She was wrinkled with age and her mind seemed fragmented as living alone for so many years began to wear her down. I asked her about her powers and she was kind enough to demonstrate; she made the wind howl, lightning shoot from her hands, flowers bloom at her feet, and fire dance along her fingertips. It was incredible to see such command over the elements and with such incredible ease.'

Violet couldn't put the text down. She didn't know who the author was but what she was reading explained so much about her powers. It was comforting to know that she wasn't the only one in the history of magic who possessed these abilities.

'I asked her why she had chosen to remove herself from society. With skills like those she could have had a great influence on the world. The power at her fingertips enough to shake the very heavens. Her eyes became empty as she told me she had 'lost them.' I pressed her to clarify and eventually she did saying 'those whom I loved most. Magick gifted them with a part of me.' The revelations of this are extraordinary! She confirmed the long held speculation that the inner circle of an natura elementum are gifted with control over one element making those at her side incredibly powerful in their own right. The woman told me that those whom she loved had left her after they received their boon. She had been betrayed by them and their greed. I now understand why throughout history natura elementum have kept their powers a secret. To gain the love of an elementum is to gain a piece of power.'

Her hands began to shake as she nervously bit her lip. Violet knew that Hermione, Draco, and Theo loved her just as she was. They didn't know much about her powers and they certainly didn't know about this. She worried how they would react. They might hate her for it. She knew all too well what it was like to be given power that you did not want. She wasn't strong enough to push them away for their own safety but to give them such power would put huge targets on their back for the war to come. Dumbledore already has a vested interest in her and if he knew… Violet gasped as she realized that he must have known. Why else would he have pushed for her and Neville to be close?

"You are upset," Erebus hissed from his spot in front of the fireplace before he slithered along the floor to rest on the back of her chair.

"I...yes. I'm very upset. I've been used as a pawn…played for a fool…again! Again and again I just keep failing," she hissed as lightning began to dangerously crackle from her fingers. She only half-heartedly realized she had no control over it as a bolt shot from her fingertips into the fireplace.

"But you are not a pawn. The King of Serpents does not pick weak hatchlings to follow. There is much greatness and power in you. I can see your magic. It will guide you to crush all those who oppose you." Erebus hissed. He was unused to comforting other creatures as his mother had left him to fend for himself as soon as he had hatched but he was surprised to find that he actually wanted to console her.

"You are unique. I have been observing you since you saved me from those foolsss. It is curiousss to find a thoughtful human, especially one that I do not wish to bite. You can defend yourself. You are worthy to follow." He hissed in anger at the thought of someone causing his mistress distress.

Violet smiled at his somewhat odd speech. "Thank you, Erebus. I'm just relieved I found out before it was too late." She sighed as she picked up the book to begin reading again.

'The woman grew restless and began to pace around her cabin. She kept mumbling under her breath but with great difficulty I was able to hear her. She told me the loss corrupted her soul and tainted her magic; that she could not fully come through, the bond couldn't be made. She underestimated the greed and corruption of mortals. The price she had paid had been too high. It all sounded like the mad ramblings of a lonely old woman. I didn't understand any of it but before I could…." The ink trailed off as if the writer had become lost in thought.

"…She gave me a sad look before her eyes turned golden. It happened too fast. Before I could stop her she burst into flame. There was no screaming. Only silence and the bright glow of the flames. I ran from the cabin and watched from the forest as it burned to the ground. Only ashes remained. The look in her eyes will stay with me forever…'

Well, that doesn't bode well. Violet slowly closed the ancient journal not wanting to read anymore. She wondered if it somehow related to the so called 'purpose' that Ione had imagined for her. She began to rub her eyes. The small cramped handwriting in the journal had given her a headache. She felt like she had a few more pieces of the puzzle but Violet couldn't help but feel she was still missing a lot of information. However, she felt hopeful as she looked around the study. Tom had given her an arsenal of books all containing secrets and knowledge that she could take advantage of. Violet stood up and made to leave the study. It would take her a while to walk back up the castle and Hermione, Draco, and Theo would be returning from their trip soon. She promised Erebus she would visit again soon and began to make her journey back up to Ravenclaw.

A large crowd has formed at the front of the door. This wasn't unusual as sometimes the knocker posed riddles that were incredibly difficult to answer requiring students to work in groups to figure them out.

"Oh, thank Merlin!" Hermione cried as she rushed to Violet. "I couldn't find you anywhere and I began to panic."

"I told you she was reading," Luna chimed next to Hermione.

"What's going on?" Violet asked while noticing that most of the students in the hallway looked terrified. Dumbledore and Flitwick appeared behind her and pushed their way to the front of the crowd. Violet followed in their wake to see what was causing the commotion. The door was covered in large scratch marks while the knocker was ranting. Violet had never seen the knocker so animated.

"Oh, he guessed the riddle all right! Did he guess it, indeed! I wouldn't let him in. No, he did not belong! Even if he did guess my riddle. The nerve of him! The absolute nerve," the bronze knocker ranted at no one in particular.

"Calm yourself. Who did this?" Dumbledore asked as he dropped his kind grandfatherly act. Flitwick was looking over his students nervously as he made sure they were all accounted for and unharmed.

"Sirius Black! He's got quite the temper, let me tell you! I told him he could not enter and he became a tormentor. My door is ruined! Oh, this will not do; not at all! Look at those marks. Oh, the horror! The absolute horror and injustice of it all," the knocker cried. Most of the people in the crowd gasped in fear. Hermione grabbed onto Violet's arm and pulled her wand out just to make sure that there was no threat. A moment later a strong wind burst through the hallway causing several students to scream.

"ENOUGH!" Dumbledore yelled at the crowd to silence them. "Students make your way to the Great Hall. The other houses will join you there for the evening until the school is thoroughly searched." The crowd began to disperse and head down the stairs while the knocker continued its ranting and wailing.

"I think it's broken," Violet whispered to Hermione and Luna. She was still in too much shock from what she had read earlier to be frightened by the arrival of Sirius Black. She also knew that gust of wind in the hallway had not been from her. She didn't want to share what she had read but she knew it would be too dangerous to keep that secret from Hermione. She would tell her eventually.

"For a piece of metal it sure can talk a lot," Hermione said as they made their way down the stairs. "I wonder if it's just been holding all that in these past few years."

"I talk to it every day. It's got a lovely sense of humor," Luna said.

"Of course you do and of course it does." Hermione laughed.

"So, how was Hogsmeade? Did you and Draco have fun?" Violet ran her fingers through her hair as they continued to walk down the now crowded hallway.

Hermione's smile turned slightly vicious as her eyes narrowed. "Oh yes, we spent much of time conjuring snowballs to throw at Pansy and Theo while ducking behind buildings. They never caught us. Then we went to the bookstore…while not as nice as Flourish and Blotts, the selection was actually really good. Draco complained after we were there for over an hour but you know how he gets." Hermione continued to describe Hogsmeade while the girls made their way to the Great Hall for a very uncomfortable night's sleep on the hard stone floor.

The entire student population of Hogwarts had now been crammed into the Great Hall. Soft snores, a few rushed whispers, and the rustling of nylon fabric from over a hundred sleeping bags filled up the large space. It was well past midnight but Violet was having difficulty sleeping. She tossed and turned, tried counting as high as she could, and kept her eyes firmly closed for over an hour and still sleep eluded her. Violet roughly exhaled in frustration as she opened her eyes. A quick glance to her left and then her right found both Hermione and Luna still fast asleep. She sat up and extended her arms outward to stretch her now sore back. The novelty of sleeping in the Great Hall had worn off rather quickly and now all Violet really wanted was to return to her soft and warm bed tucked away in Ravenclaw Tower. The Professors and ghosts were still combing through every hallway and room throughout the castle but she had a feeling that Black was already long gone, no doubt waiting for another chance to get at her.

She still didn't understand why she would be his target. After all Neville was much higher up on the Grindelwald's Revenge list then she was. Her death wouldn't even have that much of an impact on the Wizarding World besides a passing Prophet headline about yet another tragedy at Hogwarts but Neville's death would shake the very foundations of the uneasy peace that had reigned since his defeat of Grindelwald. Neville would be the obvious target so then why was Black so intent on her and why would he have made her his Heir? Snape had said he was insane but that explanation felt weak to her.

She'd avoided the Potions Professor since their last discussion and instead treated him with the polite neutrality that she treated the rest of her Professors with. Snape had seemed more than content to forget the conversation had ever happened. When Violet was thinking clearly she knew that Snape had no idea what he had set in motion by telling Dumbledore what he had seen. Despite that knowledge, however, she couldn't help but feel angry and betrayed every time she looked at him. She knew it wasn't fair to him but it was difficult for her to trust a man who placed his trust in Dumbledore. She hoped that in time she would be able to move past it.

The far off ringing of one of the schools bells signaled that it was already one in the morning. It was going to be a very long day if she didn't get some sleep soon but she just didn't feel tired. The discovery of Slytherin's library and all the potential knowledge and information within kept calling her away from closing her eyes. There was power down there. Great power and with it would come the two things that she most wanted, protection and freedom.

Casting a quick glance around to make sure that everyone around her was still fast asleep Violet reached into her bag and pulled out the piece of paper that she had found in the library. The word Enlightenment was still etched onto the top of the page in perfect cursive. She softly ran her fingers across the writing. Unsure of why he had left it there. He'd left all those books for her to find, so certain that she would return to the Chamber of Secrets, so certain that she'd begin to think and act for herself. She didn't doubt that his plans, whatever they were, would benefit from her gaining more independence. Still, he was the only person who had ever offered her a chance at it.

The bright light of a shooting star dashing across the ceiling of the Great Hall drew her attention upwards. The ceiling looked beautiful that night like it could sense and somehow calm the unrest and nervousness that pulsed through every student who lay beneath it. The entire hall was washed in a cool glow of silver starlight reflected from thousands of shining stars that covered every inch of the ceiling each carving their way out of the darkness of the night sky to shine so brilliantly. There was no end to them.

Violet reluctantly tore her gaze away from the ceiling and dug through her bag to find a pencil. They weren't all that common to find at Hogwarts but it only took two classes in Ancient Runes for her to come to greatly value having something with an eraser. With a simple charm she could even change the color of whatever she was writing making it the perfect study tool. However, Violet's thoughts were far from studying as she drew her gaze back up the ceiling. She wanted to create; to somehow participate in the raw and natural beauty of the cosmos that shone so spectacularly above her.

As Violet made the first mark on the paper she noticed the word Enlightenment disappear completely. Well, that would explain why she had earlier sensed a magical signature exuding from it. A small smile tugged at the corners of her lips as she realized the paper must have had a similar enhancement to the ones used at the House Registry. Anything she wrote on the paper would appear on Tom's and vice versa but she found that she didn't want to write anything to him. Not right now anyway but she did want to somehow thank him for the books. With a slightly trembling hand she made the first mark on the paper and then another and another. All the worries about the uncertainties hanging around her vanished as Violet began to sketch. The far off ticking clock, the light snores at the end of the hall, and the whispers of on-duty Prefects all faded into the background. Even the painful memories couldn't reach her as she poured so much, too much, into the drawing. She didn't know where the urge to draw had come from but she just had to do it. The need to create consumed her once more.

There was only shape and color, texture and proportions. Rich blues and purples, the brightest silver, all spilled onto the page in an intricate collaboration of color. The deep brown of the curved arches above the Great Hall gave it some perspective and kept her centered. Her skills were rusty but she didn't care. She just wanted to capture the beauty of that single moment and she wanted to share it with someone. And so she drew for him the night sky lit up in all its glorious splendor.

When she awoke the next morning the image she had drawn the night before was gone. She knew then that he had seen it, wherever he was. A slight rush of nervousness raced through her. He probably hadn't left the paper there for her to send him sketches but as she picked up the paper she felt that the magical signature was still in place. He could cancel the enchantment at any time but he hadn't. Violet carefully placed the paper back into her bag and left the Great Hall with a secret smile on her face feeling giddy and slightly reckless.

The weeks thankfully passed uneventfully as October turned to November. The tacky Halloween decorations no longer bothered the group as they once had. They knew there was nothing they could do about them, anyway. They knew there would someday be a time when they would be able to practice the ancient rituals. She hadn't drawn again since that night but she made sure to always have the paper close by. It was a comfort. Much to Violet's annoyance the Professors had begun to escort Violet to all of her classes in order to 'protect' her but she knew Dumbledore had them reporting her every move to him. They were driving her insane. She hated having her every movement watched. It left her feeling restless and agitated like a caged animal. She didn't fear Sirius Black. If he found her, she would face him. She didn't want to run away anymore.

"Good luck at the game! You're sure to find fame!" The knocker chirped as Violet walked out the door to the first Quidditch match of the season. It hadn't stopped talking (or rhyming and poorly at that) since the attack but most of the students in Ravenclaw appreciated the change. It was much more lively and lightened up the mood of the studious tower. Luna had been right when she had said the knocker had a sense of humor. The only was problem came when the knocker spontaneously decided it didn't like someone and would refuse to let them into the common room. In just one month Flitwick had already had to break up several verbal fights between tired students and the stubborn knocker.

"Thanks, I'll try to bring home a win for Ravenclaw." Violet was still tying her hair into its usual tight braid as she rushed to the quidditch pitch. Due to the increased dementor presence around the school, the team had not been able to practice as much as Roger would have liked. She found them huddled under the pitch. It had been raining nonstop for the past week and today was no different. The elements were harsh and uncompromising as wind and rain tore through the stands.

"Alright guys! Here we go! The first match of the season! I know that last season was cut short and we didn't get to play Hufflepuff but here is our chance! We're going to win. We've got the skills and we've got the talent. Hufflepuff may be good but we're better! Let's do this!" Roger yelled over the wind and rain. Violet and the rest of the team cheered and began to take their places. Roger might not have been the best speech giver but it was his passion for quidditch that really inspired the team.

Violet climbed on her broom and shot straight into the sky. Laughing as her face and hair became soaked with frenzied rain. She loved feeling free, especially in a storm. Her hair was pulled from her braid in an instant by the harsh freezing winds and flew around her in a wild halo. She loved this; to feel the earth shift and move around her. Violet stared across the pitch to see the Hufflepuff seeker looking right at her. She didn't know a lot about him except that he was older than her. He seemed nice enough. She had never noticed how handsome he was before but as she looked at him through the rain she noticed his chiseled features, light brown hair, and muscular body. Most seekers were thin and agile but Cedric was well built. Violet began to blush as she realized she was now the one staring and quickly turned her attention back to the field. 'Thoughts on the game', she reminded herself.

The whistle blew and she began to circle the pitch while trying to get accustomed to the worsening weather. She spotted Hermione, Draco, Theo, and Luna huddled together under an umbrella in the Ravenclaw stands. She gave them a wave and grinned as they excitedly waved back. A black dot caught her eye from behind the stands. It was a shaggy black dog. Violet thought it was weird to see one so casually watching the match but at Hogwarts something weird seemed to happen every day.

A golden flash caught her eye from across the pitch. Cedric had seen it too and was much closer than she was. Before either of them could react the snitch shot straight up into the sky. "Come on! Faster," Violet commanded her broom as she began to speed in the same direction Cedric and the snitch had gone in. They were shooting up farther and farther into the thick grey storm clouds.

Violet pulled up right along Cedric and began to reach her hand out for the snitch. They were racing higher and higher up as the snitch continued to soar. She could almost feel the fluttering of the soft wings against her fingertips. With one last lunge she firmly grasped it in her hand but her moment of victory was quickly overshadowed. The air began to grow cold as both Violet and Cedric's breath became visible in the intensely frigid air. She began to violently shiver. Violet stopped flying and looked up at the sky to see at least one hundred dementors surrounding her. The wind roared in her ears and began to grow louder and louder until she could no longer hear anything at all. She felt like she had been plunged into the icy water of an angry sea. She was drowning.

"We won't let you take her! She's our daughter! Not Violet" A man's voice echoed in Violet's head as the dementor's began to descend on her. His voice was strong and proud but strained like he was injured.

"You can't have her! Stop….please! Have mercy! JAMES!" a woman screamed in pure anguish.

Violet didn't understand what was happening. She couldn't see anyone but their voices were so clear. It sounded like the man and woman were pleading for...for her. She shuddered as the woman continued to scream the name James over and over. It sounded like her heart had been torn from her chest. The storm, the dementors, the snitch all disappeared as Violet was plunged into the seemingly never-ending cycle of hearing her parents last moments. She heard her father's final breaths and her mother's heart breaking. Violet was so lost in the despair of it that she couldn't muster the energy to fly away from the dementors.

She slid from her broom and marveled at the feeling of pure freefall. She held her hands out in front of her while falling through the clouds as the wind and rain fought to hold her up. She felt like a raindrop. It was freeing to lose all her control as she plummeted towards the ground. She was so high up that she couldn't even see the stands. She felt no fear or panic as she fell through the clouds. Violet's free fall was stopped well before she even neared the top of the pitch by Cedric flying straight to her and grabbing her arms.

"Hold on," he yelled as he pulled her up onto his broom in one swift maneuver. The last thing she saw before she blacked out were his warm caramel colored eyes.

Her eyes shot open as she took a long shuddering gasps of air before looking at the concerned faces around her. She was in the infirmary, again. The white of the ceiling reminded her of just how many times she had already visited the place. Hermione, Draco, Theo, and Luna stood on the right side of her bed while Cedric and the Ravenclaw team stood on the other. "Not this place again," she groaned while sitting up in the bed.

"Maybe you should retire from quidditch and all other dangerous activities," Hermione cried as she rushed to hug Violet, "I felt you fall. It was terrifying. I tried to…" Violet grabbed her arm.

"We'll talk about it later, I promise," she whispered. Hermione looked at her curiously before giving her a subtle nod.

"So...what actually happened?" Violet asked the group in an attempt to slightly change the subject.

"You fell off your broom. You must have been at least one hundred feet in the air. None of us even knew what was happening before we heard Diggory yelling," Roger said quietly. He looked guilty as if he should have been the one to see that his teammate needed help. "You should have seen Dumbledore. I've never seen him so angry before. He marched right onto the pitch and blasted all the dementors away with some kind of Light spell. I think it was a patronus but it all happened so fast."

Violet nodded while beginning to bite her lip. She realized her hair was a tangled and frizzy mess and couldn't help but begin to feel embarrassed at all the attention and her unkempt appearance. "What happened to my broom?" Lucius had purchased both her and Draco a Nimbus 2000 when they had made their house teams the year before. It was the fastest broom on the market and served as a reminder that she did have adults who cared about her.

Draco gave her a sad look, " flew into the Whomping Willow. You know how angry that tree is…" he trailed off as she saw her eyes getting wider. "It's gone. I'm sorry, Vi." He said quickly.

She numbly nodded. "At least it wasn't me, I guess."

Realizing that Violet was conscious; Madam Pomfrey came over to the large crowd and began to shoo the students out of the infirmary. "Ms. Potter needs rest not all this useless chit chat," she scolded. Theo opened his mouth to protest but Madam Pomfrey was in no mood.

"Oh no, Mr. Nott. Out you go! Shoo," Pomfrey said as she began to lightly push him from the room. Violet laughed at his furious expression and pitied the person who he chose to unleash it on.

"Hey, Diggory," she said softly before Cedric had gotten too far from her bed. "Thank you. I mean it. You could have just let me fall but you didn' thanks." Cedric opened his mouth to respond but Pomfrey had come back for him when she noticed that he was still by the bed. She chased him from the room before he could get a word out. That nurse was not to be crossed when it came to her patient's wellbeing.

Violet turned her head away from the doors to see that Hermione had brought her bag to the infirmary. Madam Pomfrey had left a dreamless sleep potion next to her bed which Violet quickly drank anxious to banish any and all thoughts from her mind. She didn't want to think about whatever it was that the dementors had forced her to relive. She was terrified and even the sturdy walls and powerful wards of Hogwarts did little to make her feel safe. Her mind felt like a prison with each traitorous thought and memory trying to break free and throw her over the edge into an endless abyss of fear and pain. She was scared of her memories. As her eyelids began to grow heavy Violet clumsily reached into her bag and pulled out the enchanted piece of paper. She placed it under her pillow. She didn't want to be alone then, and as she felt the soft pulse of the magical signature, she knew that she wasn't.

*Chapter 29*: Chapter 29

Chapter 29: Whispers in the Snow

The following weeks found Violet dredging through her classes. The soothing hiss of flames underneath a cauldron, the leather and earth smell of old books in the library, even the intellectual challenge of Ancient Runes, all fell beneath her notice or interest. The dementor attack had awoken such deep and long lasting scars on her psyche that she just couldn't seem to shake. Memories that she could barely even remember clawed their way to the front of her thoughts and kept her locked away in the pain of the inescapable past. Even Erebus asking to bite, or at least scare, Dumbledore hadn't roused more than a small smile and a gentle shake of the head. The sounds of the man and woman...her parents... screaming just wouldn't leave her ears or dreams. Hermione, Draco, and Theo had become accustomed to her brooding phases so they had just left her to her thoughts. She'd still yet to write on the magical paper and for the most part kept it locked away in her desk drawer, only pulling it out on the bad nights where nightmares would chase her from sleep. The soft pulse of the electric signature was often enough to soothe her frazzled nerves as she lay awake in that unending suffocating darkness of night.

She normally would have thrown herself into her schoolwork and quidditch to escape having to think about much of anything but she just couldn't find the motivation. She felt stuck in an odd place of semi-existence where most of her time was spent staring out the window, lost in the muted colors of her thoughts, rather than paying attention to the life and world happening around her.

"Violet...would you mind staying after class?" Lupin asked as the rest of the DADA class began to file from the room. She jumped and looked around the now empty room. She hadn't even heard him dismiss the class; well she hadn't even heard most of the class, if she was honest with herself. Violet nodded anyway; curious to see what the man had to say. She'd yet to really interact with him outside of the incident on the train at the beginning of the year. He seemed a kind and quiet sort. Most of the student body and faculty agreed his teaching style was a welcome and much needed change from the obnoxious Lockhart and ineffective Quirrell.

"Would you like to take a walk on the grounds? I often find the castle walls to feel too restricting. I don't believe it's terribly cold out today."

"Sure," Violet said while packing up her school bag before leaving the room with Lupin. They were silent the entire way out onto the school grounds. The pair eventually ended up walking along the tree line of the Forbidden Forest. The late afternoon sunlight lit up the field in a calming golden glow providing a stark contrast to the darkness pouring out of the forest. She shivered as she thought of the dark creatures no doubt lurking within.

"I'm sure you're probably wondering why I asked to speak with you. I know I haven't been your teacher long but from what I've gathered there seems to have been a somewhat significant decline in your coursework and I just wanted to check in. More specifically I wanted to talk about your boggart." Lupin began in a soft voice, "If you don't mind my asking...who was that man?" His voice was so disarmingly gentle and at such odds with the wild energy that lurked around the edges of him. She couldn't quite figure him out.

Violet waited for the panic to arise at the mention of Vernon but to her surprise she felt nothing. She frowned as she realized she hadn't felt much of anything lately. She looked up at Lupin to try and discern where his loyalties lay. She was reluctant to place her trust in another adult. She knew Lupin was a good man but Snape was also a good man and that hadn't prevented him from reporting to Dumbledore but it hardly mattered anymore. She was never going to return to her relatives which would mean a very public custody trial. The whole wizarding world would soon know about her scars so it didn't really matter if Lupin found out a few months early.

"My Uncle. He enjoyed teaching me my own insignificance. The belt…," she sighed in agitation as she stumbled over the word, "...the belt was his favorite corrective tool. Much easier to leave scars I suppose." Her hair fell past her shoulders in long waves as she had been too tired lately to bother doing anything with it. The crisp December air caused her to draw her forest green cloak closer to her body as they walked. Lupin seemed completely unaffected by the cold and hadn't even brought a jacket with him.

"Do you know why dementors affect me so much?" She asked trying to subtly change the subject.

Lupin looked at her from the side of his eyes letting her know that he wasn't fooled. "They survive off of fear, itself. Those of us who have more painful, more potent, memories attract dementors. They thrive and feed on our pain."

"I've been hearing my parents screaming," She admitted softly, "the only memory I have of them are their deaths. It just won't leave me."

"They wanted you more than anything, Violet. Even though they're gone…please know that they always loved you. I see them in you every day."

"You knew them?" She stopped walking and looked at him in surprise.

"James and Lily were my best friends. They were family," he said quietly while staring at the woods lost in thought. "James made it his mission in life to always drag me into trouble. I'm amazed he didn't get us expelled before we graduated. He got us rather close a few times with one or two pranks gone wrong, but there was nothing he wouldn't do for his friends," the corners of Lupin's eyes wrinkled as he smiled at the memories that he so rarely dared to visit.

"Lily was the kindest person I have ever met. She accepted everyone as they were without reservation. Truly, a more pure spirit has never existed. She...she picked up the shattered pieces of me more times than I can count. Oh, she was ready to put anyone in their place if they deserved it. The rows that she and James used to get into would make the walls shake." He chuckled. Violet smiled. This was the first time she had ever heard anything positive about her parents and she was trying to absorb as much of the information as she could.

"But they loved each other right? They were happy?" She didn't know why but it suddenly felt so important that the short lives her parents had were ones that were full of joy. Her entire knowledge about their lives revolved around that picture that never left her bedside table. She couldn't bear it if somehow they weren't truly as happy as the picture led her to believe. There had to be some happiness in her past.

"Oh, yes. Very much so. It took them quite a few years but once they reached that place of mutual love and admiration...well nothing could tear them apart. Their bond was truly unbreakable," Lupin said matter-of-factly.

Violet felt herself relax with that simple confirmation. "So pranks, huh? Any particularly memorable ones?" She asked with a genuine smile.

Lupin nodded with a soft laugh. "It would take me weeks to tell you them all. I suppose it best if I just start at the beginning…"

Violet and Lupin continued to talk about her parents for the rest of the afternoon before eventually saying goodbye. Both had found a much needed escape into happier memories. Violet walked to her dormitory feeling much lighter than she had in weeks. Any information she could find about her parents made them feel less like strangers to her. She felt more rooted here as she discovered more about them. It was the first night in weeks without a nightmare.

"I can't believe I let you and Draco talk me into this," Violet hissed from underneath her invisibility cloak while walking alongside Theo throughout Hogsmeade. The duo had convinced her to sneak into Hogsmeade for the day rather than remain in the castle.

She had to admit the little village was quite beautiful. The streets were lined with thatched cottages and shops with deep evergreen wreaths decorating each wooden door. Enchanted candles hung from freshly snow covered trees. Hermione had gone off to the bookstore while Draco left to get some potions supplies.

"It didn't take all that much convincing-"

"Is that Pansy?"

True enough farther down the busy street Pansy Parkinson was strutting along the sidewalk with Daphne Greengrass. The two girls were laughing and carrying several shopping bags, thankfully too distracted to look down the street. Theo groaned as he ran his fingers through his already messy hair.

"I told her I wasn't coming today. Move over!" he hissed while lifting up the cloak and hiding under it with Violet. She had to hold back her laughter at his franticness to avoid his sort of girlfriend. It was a rare sight to see him lose his calm and aloof exterior.

"Let's go in there. I wouldn't put it past her to have memorized your cologne," Violet whispered and pointed to a crowded pub a few steps away from them. Theo nodded and the pair quickly made their way inside. The pub was close to bursting with students and adults trying to chase away the bitter cold of the winter air with warm food and drink. Violet's eyes were immediately drawn to a fine dressed man animatedly whispering to the bartender while casting quick looks over his shoulder.

"That's the Minister," Theo whispered, "Odd to see him here."

Without hesitating Violet and Theo began to make their way over to the bar to see what had brought the Minister of Magic to this part of the country, not without stepping on several toes in their attempt to maneuver through the very small and very crowded place.

"The rest are already inside, Sir" the bartender loudly whispered as she gestured to a side room in the pub. No doubt enjoying her spot in the limelight. The Minister nodded while quickly casting one last look over his shoulder to make sure they weren't overheard. He certainly had trouble looking discreet. Violet and Theo followed closely behind him as he hastily made his way into the side room.

Violet was surprised to see Flitwick, McGonagall, and Hagrid already sitting around a table in the small space. The room lacked any decoration and was rather rundown. Hardly the place one would expect to find the Minister of Magic and three Hogwarts professors. The Minister somehow managed to look even more out of place with his fine clothing and superior air as he stepped into the dim space. None of the room's occupants had even bothered to touch their drinks. Amber liquid sat still in small dusty glasses. The Minister quickly joined them at the table while Violet and Theo made their way to the corner of the room as quietly as they could. There was no way they are going to miss out on this conversation.

"Hello, everyone. So nice to see you all. How is the semester progressing?" The Minister spoke in short nervous breaths while turning his hat over in his hands several times. It was difficult to believe that this man had been elected to lead the wizarding world. There was hardly anything inspiring about him.

"It's not the time for pleasantries, Minister" McGonagall snapped, "I sincerely hope you're aware of what happened a month ago. I also sincerely hope you'll explain why it took over one month for you to manage to find the time to meet with us-."

"Your dementors attacked my student! More than once! They are a complete menace and should be removed from the grounds immediately. This is a school. Not a prison!" Flitwick interrupted with a surprising amount of ferocity in his voice. Violet smiled at the small man. He was incredibly protective of his house.

"Now, now. The dementors are a necessary evil, I'm afraid. We just can't risk it. Our Aurors are over-worked as it is. We simply can't have them all stationed here. No, the dementors are the best bet in capturing Black. I'm not even sure why this meeting was necessary to be perfectly honest. This seems more of an issue to take up with your Headmaster than your Minister."

"I assure you we've taken up with matter with him as well," McGonagall stated as she fixed the Minister with a severe glare. He continued to turn his hat in his hands as a small bead of sweat appeared on his brow.

"You think Black's still around here, Minister?" Hagrid asked breaking the increasing tension.

"I have no doubt of it. He is most likely biding his time and waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike."

As if on cue the door to the room burst open revealing the bartender holding a drink in her hand. She wore an expression of mock surprise even though it was fairly apparent to all those in the room that she had been eavesdropping outside the door for the entire conversation and had just been waiting for the perfect moment to insert herself. After all, gossip in a village as small as Hogsmeade was certainly hard to come by.

"Oh, it's all just so terrible! I can't believe Black escaped. I haven't felt safe in months. Ever since I heard the news I've been afraid to be out after dark. Just knowing he's out there," she shuddered dramatically as she placed the drink down. "It must all be so hard on the Boy who Lived…"

"Longbottom is handling it quite well, thank you," McGonagall replied with a curt nod, "I'm more concerned about Miss. Potter. This is the man who is directly responsible for the murder of her parents."

"But poor Neville is clearly the bigger catch. Wouldn't it make more sense for Black to be after the Boy who Lived?"

'No, I'm afraid it wouldn't," McGonagall posture slightly slumped making her look even older. "It's all such a tragedy. James Potter and Sirius Black were the best of friends but the Blacks are a Dark family. Always have been. Sirius turned his back on them to fight with the Potters and Dumbledore but it seems his heart was always with the other side. It's not easy to fight your innate nature. The war was at its most violent back then. Both sides were desperate to find some type of advantage or end."

McGonagall shifted in her seat before continuing. "We had received some intelligence that Grindelwald and his apprentice had specifically marked both the Potters and Longbottom's. I'm not completely sure as to why. It all happened so fast."

Violet and Theo shared a look from underneath the invisibility cloak. She could feel a knot developing in her stomach as McGonagall continued to speak.

"Dumbledore urged both families to go into hiding with the use of a fidelus charm. We had no idea when the attack would come but there was a sense of urgency in the air. Something big was coming but we had no idea what. We were scrambling-"

"Fidelus Charm? I've never heard of that." the bartender interrupted.

"It's a concealment charm so powerful that it can only be broken by the Secret Keeper whom the spell is bound to. James insisted that it be Sirius even though Dumbledore begged him to choose anyone else. It seemed he always suspected Sirius of secretly serving the other side but James and Lily wouldn't listen. A week later Black sold them out to Grindelwald. We're only lucky that he couldn't find Violet when he killed the Potters. Such an awful night," McGonagall trailed off. Her eyes dimmed until they matched the bleak emptiness of the room.

"Everything happened on the same night? How?" the incredulous bartender asked. Her lack of knowledge didn't surprise Violet. The more she discovered about the inner workings of the wizarding world the more she realized just how much information was kept from the public about the war. The average citizen had no idea how close the entire world had come to falling into complete chaos and destruction.

"None of us saw it coming, believe me. The Longbottoms had yet to choose a Secret Keeper. No one was expecting Grindelwald and his forces to attack so quickly and with such organization. After the Potters...he found Alice, Frank, and young Neville at their home and know the rest. Meanwhile, Black had broken into the Light headquarters and begun to torture one of the members inside. He set the place on fire when the aurors arrived. All of our documentation, information, all of it was destroyed. We can only assume he was waiting for his Lord to finish with the Longbottom's." McGonagall deflated the more she talked as the awful memories of that night came to the forefront of her mind.

"And now…he's searching for his goddaughter to finish what he started all those years ago. Both Violet and Neville are valuable targets. They represent the legacy of all those who fought for the Light. A burden such as that should not have fallen on those children. Yet another casualty of the War, I'm afraid."

Violet tried not to gasp. Theo grabbed her hand in shock. They had known that Sirius Black had betrayed the Potters, but to discover that he was Violet's godfather was devastating. Her parents had trusted him completely. They had wanted Violet in his care should anything happen to them and he had betrayed them, betrayed her. He was the reason they were dead, he was the reason why she grew up never knowing love, he was the reason her back was covered in thick deep scars. His treachery had started it all.

"What of Grindelwald's apprentice? He didn't take up the mantle?" the bartender asked.

This time it was the Minister who answered, all nervousness vanishing from his voice. "There's been no trace of him since well before Grindelwald's defeat. His little cult have all gone silent as well. Probably gone into hiding with the rest of the Dark followers. It seems he wasn't as legendary or ferocious as the other side liked to claim." He said smugly before taking a long sip from his glass.

Both Violet and Theo had heard enough and quickly departed from the room under the invisibility cloak. They didn't care when the occupants of the room jumped as the door seemingly opened by itself. They didn't care when patrons in the bar gasped as they were pushed out of the way by a seemingly invisible force. They didn't care about the trail of footsteps left in their wake as they walked all the way back to the castle in silence before Violet ripped off the cloak.

"Are you alright?" Theo questioned as Violet and he took a seat on the stairs right below Ravenclaw tower.

"Not really." She admitted. "None of them bothered to tell me that he's my godfather. They never bother to tell me anything. My parents trusted him…that much to leave me in his care. They depended on him and he just betrayed them. He used them." Violet began to think of the journal she had read in Slytherin's library. "How can we trust anyone when so many people are just willing to turn on one another for a piece of power?"

Theo exhaled heavily. Most of the students were still in Hogsmeade so the corridor and stairwell were completely empty. The sounds of the bronze knocker rambling to itself echoed down the stairs.

"That's a big question. I'm not sure anyone really has an answer to it. I guess we just have to hope that the people we put our trust in are worth it. If we don't take that chance then we're all just going to end up alone. A life without friendship seems terribly lonely."

"At least you wouldn't get hurt," Violet said quietly. There was so much she wanted to tell him, Draco, and Hermione. Pieces of her past, the supposed future that she was destined for, what she'd learned in Slytherin's study, but she couldn't. Those were her burdens. Not theirs.

"I get the feeling that we aren't talking about Black anymore."

Violet shrugged her shoulders and gave him a weak smile. "It doesn't matter. So… how are things going with Pansy?" She asked in an attempt to change the topic.

Theo closed his eyes and took a steadying breath before answering. He was always so careful never to reveal too much. The world assumed him aloof, uncaring, and perhaps even a bit cold. And sometimes he could be.

"Things are fine."

Violet wasn't so sure. She couldn't begin to imagine what it must feel like to have another person select your future spouse. Theo was so independent that a decision like that couldn't have been easy to accept even if he and Pansy were somehow perfect for each other which she very much doubted.

"Really? Most people don't spend most of their day hiding from their-," Theo hastily stood up from off the step and rubbed his eyes in agitation before beginning to pace back and forth.

"What do you want me to say? That I'm ecstatic? That this is everything I've ever hoped for? Well it's not but what can I do? Nothing. My father made the decision and that's that. Pansy's…," he sighed and stopped pacing. "We have absolutely nothing in common but she's not so bad when it's just her."

"Not so bad? That doesn't exactly sound like a glowing testimonial." Violet frowned. She wasn't sure if he was trying to convince her or himself.

"Don't do that. Don't look at me with judgement in your eyes. I know you mean well…but just don't. You and Hermione don't know what it's like in the Pureblood world. Marriage isn't about love here. It's about power. Getting it and keeping it. Muggleborns can't even begin to imagine the pressure that comes with trying to uphold the Family name. No expectations, no pressures, no contracts...must be nice."

Violet rolled her eyes but didn't take the bait but a gasp from behind Theo told her that someone had.

"Must be nice? Oh yes, Theo. My life is just so simple and easy. Being a Muggleborn is just a walk in the park. Everyone's just been so friendly and accommodating. My blood doesn't matter at all here. Thanks so much for putting things in perspective," Hermione said as she pushed past him to make her way up to Ravenclaw. "Maybe you're just afraid of standing up to your father-"

"Don't you dare," Theo hissed. Violet knew very little about Theo's relationship with his father. He seldom spoke of it but the impression that she got was that it was distant at best.

"You get to leave Hogwarts and do whatever you want. You get to be anything that you want. You think you have the answer to everything but you don't. You're a Muggleborn. You can read about Wizarding customs in your books but they're just facts to you. Lists of information for you to memorize. You haven't lived in our world long enough to understand."

Violet jumped up off the stairs. There was almost nothing for her to do to deescalate the situation so her best bet was just to try and separate them before too much damage had been done. They both had such awful tempers and they were both hurting.

Hermione scoffed and turned her back to them. "Our world? Why don't you just say it. All I ever will be to you and your world is a mudblood. You and Pansy aren't so different after all."

Theo clenched his hands into fists before turning from them and walking down the corridor without saying another word. Violet tried not to grimace as Hermione threw one of the books she had been carrying from Hogsmeade down the hall at him before storming up the steps. The hardcover slamming onto the stone floor was the only sound that could be heard as they walked away from one another. Violet turned to follow after her but only found a now irate door knocker at the top of the stairs. When she reached the dormitory she found Hermione's bed curtains closed. Violet sighed and lay down on her own bed. She had a feeling that Theo and Hermione weren't going to reconcile anytime soon.

Violet watched the snow softly falling from her favorite window seat inside her bedroom at the Malfoys. Narcissa and Lucius had invited her to spend the winter break at the manor and she readily accepted the invitation. Between the dementors, Hermione and Theo, and Dumbledore's machinations, she was anxious to get some distance and much needed relaxation away from the school. The sun had begun to set and Violet had decided to retire to her room to allow Narcissa and Lucius ample time to get ready for their annual winter ball. It was Yuletide and much of the day had been spent feasting and enjoying the company of the Malfoys. Overall, it had been a very peaceful day but soon the manor would be full of activity. The Malfoy's threw one of the largest parties in the Wizarding word with all the richest and most influential individuals in the country in attendance. It began at sunset with the formal lighting of the Yule fire in the center of the ballroom and would last well into the morning. The softest hint of magic could already be felt pulsing through the air making every magical creature feel slightly giddy as their veins began to taste that immortal nectar.

Violet was relieved that she did not have to attend. It would be a night full of dancing, music, and feasting, but many used the ball to network and expand their political influence. The social graces and cunning needed to successfully maneuver the ballroom of the wizarding elite was not something that Violet was ready for. She almost pitied Draco who would be forced to spend the night greeting guests and watching people suck up to his parents. It was bound to get dull rather quickly. She leaned her head against the wall while continuing to watch the snowflakes slowly fall outside her window. The soft glow of enchanted candles in the garden caused the snow decorating the grounds to sparkle and softly shimmer. Violet slowly closed her eyes as the peaceful scene lured her into a light sleep.

She awoke a few hours later with a stiff neck and sore back. "Damn," she muttered while rubbing her muscles and getting up from the hard wooden bench. Violet cast a quick tempus charm which revealed the time to be well past midnight. She stretched her arms out in front of her while frowning at her bed. There was no chance of her falling back asleep now. The sun had long since set but the enchanted candles were still glowing brightly throughout the grounds. She assumed that meant that the ball was still in full swing. She still had no interest in attending but the gardens did look quite inviting. Violet grabbed a black wool trench coat from her closet and threw it over her long ivory nightgown before sneaking down the back staircase that led outside. The night was cold but not unbearably so; the Malfoy's must have had warming charms cast over the grounds to keep them relatively comfortable for guests.

The towering shrubs and trees were all coated in the pure white of fresh snow. The warm glow of floating candles illuminated the pale gray stone pathways that weaved and twisted throughout the gardens. She wandered aimlessly not caring where the paths would take her. The train of her ivory nightgown gently swept behind her like falling snow, as she walked along the cool stones. Her hair lay in loose dark waves; the ends becoming lost in the darkness of her wool trench coat. The soft bubbling of nearby fountains were the only sounds in the silent winter night. The ball, the music, the people, all disappeared. It was Yule and there was pure magic in the air. She closed her eyes and followed the soothing sounds of lapping water until she eventually came upon a small courtyard with a marble pool in the center. Tea candles lazily floated along the top of the water which reflected the silver starlight of the clear night sky.

She smiled as she saw the silhouette of a man sitting on one of the many marble benches that lay around the shallow reflecting pool. His gaze was on the sky while his legs lay outstretched before him. He seemed completely at ease by himself surrounded in the darkness of night. She didn't need to hear him speak to know that it was him. As Violet approached, she saw that his glamour was the same as it had been in the summer. It must have been his public persona. How many masks did he wear? There was so little she knew about him, all she had was a name that belonged to a face that wasn't even his. And yet there was something about him that called to her, a soft whisper that tugged on her magic reminding her of a time and place long since gone.

The magic that pulsed through the air on Yule was enough to calm her nerves as she took a step and then another towards him. Without a word she took a seat on the bench next to him and joined him in gazing up at the stars. The world dissolved around them until all that remained were the dark blues and purples and golden glowing starlight of the night sky above them. They could have been sitting for minutes or hours. She didn't know. She didn't care. Her thoughts were in color and in light. The gentle sounds of lapping water and the stirring whispers of snow blowing against the frozen leaves and shrubs were the only sounds emanating from the courtyard.

He eventually drew his gaze from the stars and looked down at her. His eyes were dark, the darkest she'd ever seen them. For just a moment they reminded her of another pair of black eyes. But that would be impossible. They changed back to that boring familiar mud brown color before she could dwell on it.

"When I was a child, I used to spend every night just staring up at the sky. Usually falling asleep right at the window." He lifted his outstretched hand up and began to brush the skyline with his fingertips as if he could actually reach out and touch it. "That never-ending expanse of blackness never ceased to amaze me. Every night, it swallows up the sun until all that's left is the darkness of night. The light of the moon and stars comes and goes. It's inconsistent, unreliable. But the darkness…it always appears, always endures, even if it's just for a few short hours. It rules uncompromising in its total eclipse of the light." She closed her eyes as he began to speak. The deep velvet allure of his voice washing over her and pulling the strings of her tattered soul with each word.

"You weren't at the ball. Poor Draco seemed so bored that he looked ready to jump from a window to escape all the social posturing."

Violet could feel her lips pulling into a soft smile. "No, I wasn't. Narcissa was kind enough to let me skip out on the party."

"Do anything interesting, instead? You practically had the manor all to yourself, excluding the ballroom, of course."

She leaned back against the bench and crossed her arms. "I'll answer one of your questions if you answer one of mine," she responded with a playful edge. She was determined to find out more about him.

To her surprise, he said, "Very well." The corner of his eyes wrinkled with amusement no doubt remembering the last time they played this game two summers ago.

"I took a nap," she said with a pleased smirk. She may not have the upper hand long but she was going to enjoy every moment of it.

"What an exciting life you lead."

Violet snorted. If only he knew. She bit her lip as she thought about what she wanted to ask him. The truth was that she didn't know him. She didn't know which topics were safe and which to avoid. May as well start at the beginning then.

"What were you like…when you were a child?" Everything about him was so careful, so well put together. Every word felt rehearsed and was spoken with such disinterest, as if he knew how every conversation was going to go. She couldn't imagine him young and careless without a purpose.

"Hungry," he said with disinterest.

She turned her head to fully look at him to find his gaze once more on the sky. His face betrayed nothing. "For food?"

"Among other things. The place I grew up is not worth mentioning or even remembering. It's long since gone now. I was hungry for…knowledge….for power. I wanted to see and experience everything but there was so much that was out of my grasp. It was maddening. I wanted the world," he said softly before looking down at her. For just a heartbeat their eyes connected and there it was. Loneliness reflected back into loneliness. She could see it as plain as day yet the word stayed unspoken. "Why did you run away from home?"

Violet had to look away before answering. She wanted to keep those memories buried but she knew it was useless. "It was never home for me. They made sure of that. If I had stayed there…it would have killed me. You saw the condition I was in when I left. I didn't want them…I didn't want them to have control over me anymore. For that matter I don't want anyone to control me anymore. If I could just walk away from it all…I would," she breathed talking more to herself than him. "I'd let the world burn if it meant I could be free."

"Going to run away from it all, Violet?" It wasn't quite a taunt but there was the slightest hint of a challenge in his voice. A challenge to stand and face it all.

She gave a humorless laugh. "Why do you even care?" She countered. It was the question she most wanted the answer to. He was silent for a moment before responding.

"I don't know." There was no amusement in his voice then, just simple honesty. "I've asked myself the same question before and I don't have an answer."

Snow began to fall around the courtyard which startled Violet out of the conversation. She had no idea how long they had been there. She hoped none of the house elves had tried to check in on her. Narcissa would have had a fit if she found out that Violet had been wandering the gardens in a nightgown during the most important social event of the year.

"What were you doing in the gardens anyway," he asked as if he had somehow read her thoughts. She wouldn't have been surprised if he had.

"I try to catch my breath when I can. Peaceful moments never seem to last long," she said while picking a snowflake off of her heavy wool trench coat. It turned to water in her palm.

"Things are undoubtedly going to get much worse in the days to come. Enjoy all the calm moments while you can." He then stood and began to adjust the lapels on his suit. "My absence has probably been noted. I should head back inside. Blessed Yule, Violet." He turned his back to her and began to walk back towards the manor with long purposeful strides.

"Blessed Yule, Marvolo," she said. He did not look back but Violet noticed his steps had slowed when she began to speak.

*Chapter 30*: Chapter 30

A/N: There are trigger warnings for disturbing imagery in this chapter as a heads up! Thanks so much for reading and reviewing! Hope you enjoy :)

Chapter 30: Abyss

The first thing Violet noticed when she was back in Ravenclaw Tower after the winter holiday was the odd broom shaped package on her bed. She gasped when she unwrapped the packaging to find a brand new broom; and not just any broom it was a Firebolt, the newest and fastest model on the market. It cost a small fortune, she knew because she had been slightly obsessed with it ever since she'd seen in last summer. She turned the simple brown packaging over but couldn't find a note to say who it was from. Odd. The smart thing to do would be to ask a Professor to inspect it for curses. Of course that's what she should do. On the other hand that would mean the broom would probably be locked away for at least a week or maybe more. Violet ran her hand lovingly over the deep mahogany wood. Fastest broom on the market, that's what all the flying enthusiast magazines claimed. It couldn't hurt to just take it for a quick flight around the pitch to check it herself. She grabbed her coat and raced for the quidditch pitch before she could talk herself out of it. There had yet to be any more news about Sirius Black so Dumbledore had successfully petitioned the Minister to reduce the amount of dementors roaming on the Hogwarts grounds. Most of the main horde had gone to patrol Hogsmeade instead. It was a welcome change since the creatures had begun to grow bolder.

Violet smiled in pure delight as she shot straight into the sky until she became lost in the clouds. She held her hands out wide while savoring the feeling of cool fog running past her outstretched fingertips. The broom was simply incredible. She'd never flown anything quite like it before. It felt like a natural extension of her body as if it had been crafted from the wind itself. They moved completely in sync with one another. She wanted to disappear into the air and wind for nothing could touch her when she soared through the clouds. She began to fly into lazy loop-de-loops before zooming between the stands in fast zig zag motions. The January sun reflected off the snow colored grounds made the day seem unnaturally bright. Everything became so blindingly white the longer she started at the ground. Her flying came to a pause as her gaze fell along the tree line of the Forbidden Forest. No amount of snow or sunlight could ever pierce that darkness. However it was that small black dot right against the treeline that drew her interest today. Violet flew down low to see the same shaggy black dog that she had seen at her last quidditch game. It must have been watching her fly. She tried to get closer to it but it turned and disappeared into the forest.

A cold wind ripped through her serving as a reminder that flying outside in January was probably not the best idea she'd ever had. With one last glance back at the forest, Violet headed back into the warmth of the castle.

The following weeks were spent trying to readjust to the rigorous amounts of coursework that each Professor so delighted in assigning. Daily goings on in the castle soon lulled into the quiet tedium of attending classes, studying in the library, and trying to catch up on sleep whenever possible. For most of the students it was a welcome reprieve from the fear filled first term. It was the closest thing they'd ever had to a normal school year but Violet could not help but to feel that they were all in the eye of the storm. She could feel the whispers of turmoil and change in the wind; the air felt disquiet. Something was coming.

Violet and Luna watched the frozen water of the Great Lake gently ripple as chunks of ice began to melt and sink into its murky depths. Spring was still a long ways off but the days were already beginning to get longer, brighter. The beach was as far from the castle as they could get without leaving the grounds. Violet's movements were no longer closely monitored but she knew that Dumbledore had eyes and ears throughout the castle. She was a prized investment after all.

"You can feel it, can't you?" Luna questioned. "The time for peace is coming to a close. The last cry of a dying world rings out. It begs for an end; growing restless the longer deprived of death's sweet release. It needs to fall in order to rise again. We cannot remain as we are."

"And here I thought we were just going to talk about the weather or I don't know, what books we've been reading." Violet nervously began to fiddle with the long sleeves of her coat. When Luna had asked to speak with her alone, she knew whatever the girl had to say would be important. A Seer's visions needed to be expressed and shared or else their gift would begin to grow dull and eventually fade leaving an empty shell of a person. A flock of birds flew overhead. Their distant calls formed a delicate song in a language that Violet just couldn't understand. They seemed so out of place in the cold Scottish countryside. As their song finished, Luna spoke again.

"Or you fight. Peace remains elusive. We are fading, fighting, dying. The song has already begun. There will be fire, chaos...and you will fall. Deeper than ever before. Nothing can stay the same, not even you but there is a chance. For you, for us, for the dying. You take it and fast and far...burnt but alive. A champion of light…" Luna turned until she fully faced Violet. Her pupils were unnaturally large as they poured into into Violet's hazel eyes. "You've stopped denying certain things but you've yet to embrace it. Why?"

Violet shifted on her feet. "I've read that there is no use lying under the penetrating gaze of a Seer. They can't read minds but they can read people." She waited for some kind of reaction from Luna, some indication that she too had secrets and powers that she kept hidden from the world.

"What you read is true but I am not a Seer, Violet. I have not been gifted those powers."

"Then what is it that you do? Because most people don't just carry around random prophecies to whip out for small talk."

Luna gave a soft laugh before answering. "I listen."

Violet frowned. Great, another vague answer for her to try and figure out. She turned from Luna to stare out at the Great Lake. The sky matched its murky gray color making the lake stretch out endlessly before them. She knew Luna was waiting for an answer to her question with that damn serene smile on her face.

"I don't know. I guess I'm just trying to get used to embracing myself. So much of my life has been spent just being invisible that I'm still trying to find who the real me is. When you throw in the powers and supposed destiny or just becomes overwhelming."

"You're still hiding some things...even from yourself," Luna pointed out, " I know I'm pushing but you can't just keep pretending these things don't exist. You can't run from this. The pain isn't going to go away just because you pretend it isn't there."

"You don't know what it's like. Even if I come to terms with it, or work through it, or whatever it is you and everyone else wants me to do. I'll always be scarred, always tainted. Every time I see or feel my back...I see him. I feel him. My Uncle marked me, Luna. He cut and ripped open my skin, took me apart piece by piece until there was almost nothing left. I don't know how to do this. So forgive me if I'm not perfect...if I don't have everything planned out. And believe me; I know the pain is there. I can't seem to ever get away from it"

Luna watched in mild curiosity as the sky began to darken. Thick grey storm-clouds rolled into the peaceful landscape while the melting ice on the Great Lake began to refreeze. Her long ash blonde hair was lifted up and flew roughly behind her shoulders as a huge wintry gust swept across the land.

"I came so losing myself. Do you know how easy it would have been to just give in? They took so much of me. Some days I don't even know who I am. I'm supposed to be fighting for myself but when I look in the mirror I don't know who is staring back. I don't know who I'm fighting for. I'm trying so hard but it's's like I fade in and out of existence." Violet took a deep breath to try and steady herself and then another and another. The world began to slow and soon the sky and the water returned to their former peaceful states.

"Sometimes it's enough to just survive from one day to the next. As long as one day you get to live again," Luna said softly.

Violet sat in the empty defense against the dark arts room while staring at the shaking antique wardrobe. The fingers of her right hand drummed anxiously against the wooden desk while she gripped her wand firmly in her left.

"Now are you absolutely positive you want to do this?" Lupin fixed her with a concerned stare. He had reluctantly agreed to teach her how to cast a patronus charm a few weeks earlier but they had both been too busy to find time for the lesson. They had just gone over the exact details of the spell until he felt satisfied that she had perfected her wand movements and pronunciation. Over the past month Violet had found herself spending more and more time in the defense against arts classroom. She loved hearing stories about her parents and Lupin was always more than happy to share. He was quiet and gentle and kind. There were never any expectations or judgement when she talked to him, just someone who would listen.

"I can't let the fear control me anymore, or at least I have to try." She stood up and walked around the desk with a clear purpose in her step. She didn't want to be afraid anymore, not of him.

Lupin nodded and with little ceremony opened up the wardrobe. The boggart instantly focused its attention on Violet and swirled into the enormous form of Vernon. He was staring directly at her with fury in his eyes and a bloody belt in his grip. He began to raise his hand to strike her.

"Expecto Patronum," Violet cast. A silvery mist began to emanate from her wand but it wouldn't take shape. Silver wisps like tendrils of smoke slowly drifted outward but lacked any intent or boggart Vernon leered at her but before it was able to bring its hand down Lupin quickly banished it.

"Well done, Violet. The fact that you were able to partially cast the spell is impressive. It takes most casters weeks to even get a partial effect."

"But not good enough. It isn't even a real dementor."

"Yes, well I thought Dumbledore might have had some objection to me bringing one into the school."

"We could have kept it a secret," Violet mumbled.

Lupin gave her a small smile; "Somehow I think he would have found out rather quickly. Rather hard to miss. Are you ready to try again?"

She nodded and Lupin once again opened the wardrobe. It took the boggart less than a second to warp once again into Vernon. His enormous shape blocked out much of the sunlight in the room as he loomed over her. Violet took a deep breath as she tried to think of her happiest memory. She thought of flying through the clouds with nothing but the wind at her back.

"Expecto Patronum," she tried once more. To her frustration the spell still only produced silver wisps as the boggart Vernon began to slowly approach her. She chanced a look into its eyes only to be reminded of what had almost happened the last time she had seen the real Vernon. She took a step backwards and collided into the desk.

The boggart Vernon laughed at her flight. "You'll never be free of me, girl."

"Riddikulus," Lupin cast and once more the boggart was driven back into the wardrobe.

"What memory are you using? Try to think of the happiest you have ever felt."

Violet sighed and rubbed her temples. "I thought of flying but I guess that wasn't good enough."

"It's not that it wasn't good enough but to produce a full patronus it needs to be the happiest moment of your life. Sometimes happiness is the strongest when shared."

Violet's shoulders began to slump in defeat. She had to master this. There was no more room, no more energy left in her for fear.

"I think that's enough for today. The Patronus can take a lot out of you. Here have a piece of chocolate."

Violet popped the piece into her mouth as she debated whether or not to broach the subject of Sirius Black with Lupin. She could see the quick flash of pain in his eyes whenever he finished a story about her parents. Some wounds were so deep and so long-lasting that even the happiest of memories couldn't begin to repair them. "Sir, if you were so close with my parents...does that mean you knew Sirius Black as well?"

At the mention of the man, Lupin began to look even more exhausted than normal. His eyes dulled and his shoulders curved slightly inward as he tried to protect himself from an onslaught of painful memories. He was quiet for so long that Violet thought he wasn't going to answer.

"I...yes. I knew him. He was..." Lupin sighed.

Violet could tell that whatever Lupin had begun to say he clearly wasn't ready to. Empty sadness flickered across his eyes as he turned from her to stare out the window. His hands gently came up to rest on the dusty frame. She knew then that her parents hadn't been the only ones who were betrayed that horrible night. Everything in the room began to grow dull as the ghosts of the past returned to haunt both Violet and Lupin once more.

"He's my godfather," she interrupted quietly; sparing Lupin from saying whatever it was he was struggling to say. "What will happen if they catch him?"

Lupin released a bitter laugh; his warm gentleness warping into something cynical and cold. "Sirius was always so impulsive. Reckless, really. Always jumping into the unknown without any thought of consequence. When they catch him, and they most certainly will, he'll be getting the dementor's kiss."

"Will that kill him?" She noticed that Lupin had balled his hands into fists.

"Oh no. It's much worse than that. A dementor's kiss will permanently deprive you of all emotion. It will steal his soul, only leaving an empty husk of a person. All emotion, memory, sense of self will be gone forever. will be as if he never existed."

Violet knew what Sirius had done was unforgivable but to have your soul taken away was just unthinkable. It was a sort of twisted mutilation of the worst kind. "No one deserves that fate. Not even him."

Lupin turned his attention back on her once more and gave her a small sad smile. "Sadly there is little one can do to escape fate. It curses each of us with the burden of our individual destinies. The Minister has already put out the order to the dementors. Sirius is to be kissed on sight. A quick death is the best he can hope for."

Violet involuntarily shuddered at the thought. Her feet dragged as she bade Lupin a quiet goodbye and headed back up to Ravenclaw Tower. She nestled under her thick blue duvet cover and tried to banish the thoughts of dementors and boggarts from her mind as she fell into an uncomfortable sleep.

Winter had finally started to slowly melt away from the Hogwarts grounds. The sunlight lingered and with it warm winds began to seep into the countryside. There had yet to be any more Sirius Black sightings but most of the staff assumed he was still lurking about the area. Violet could still feel their eyes following her whenever she left a room. It felt as if they were all collectively holding their breath. For the most part the students had a much shorter attention span and soon the entire student body had forgotten that an escaped Azkaban criminal had broken into the school just a few short months ago. It never ceased to amaze Violet how quickly life seemed to move on. How easy it was for people to forget.

The return of the warm weather brought with it the return of quidditch. It wasn't uncommon for Roger to insist the team practice every day. Most nights Violet fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. The physical exhaustion of daily practices was more than enough to lull her into a deep sleep. If she dreamed she didn't remember and that was a blessing in-itself. The entire Ravenclaw quidditch team had been ecstatic to learn of Violet's new broom. Roger practically fainted when he saw her fly about the pitch for the first time. It was yet another weapon in their arsenal, another chance to finally win the House Cup.

The second match of the Ravenclaw season was against Gryffindor and as Violet circled the pitch she knew she'd have to be on point today. She'd yet to play against their new seeker but from watching Gryffindor's first match she knew that today would be a challenge. Personal history alone made any encounter with Ginny particularly trying. From watching her play Violet knew that Ginny was a fearsome competitor and brought with her an almost feral aggression to each match she played. She would need to be much more controlled and restrained in her flying today. They nodded to each other across the pitch as Madam Hooch blew the whistle to signal the start of the game. The day had been unnaturally warm and the sunlight reflecting off the melting snow made the field especially difficult to see. Violet's eyes watered as she looked over the pitch.

After rubbing her eyes for what felt like the millionth time she began to slowly comb over the stands. At least once a game the snitch could be seen fluttering between the heads of fans and in and out of the stands. For an enchanted item it certainly seemed to delight in creating the maximum amount of chaos possible for both spectators and players. Violet stopped in her flying as her eyes caught that familiar golden glimmer. It always felt as if time stopped for just a moment. Before anyone could react the golden snitch shot up straight into the air and flew in the direction of the Forbidden Forest. There was no use chasing after it. It would no doubt return on a whim. With the snitch now gone the match between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor quickly grew fierce as each team battled for dominance on the pitch. Points were scored, and fouls made, as each player fought their hardest to make sure their team would come out on top. Violet tried to brush the loose strands of hair from her eyes as she continued to look for any sign of gold flashing across her line of sight. They were already over an hour into the game and the snitch was still nowhere to be found. She was tempted to just fly over to the Forbidden Forest rather than spend one more minute dodging yet another rogue bludger.

Her eyes narrowed when she looked in the direction of the forest and instead of seeing gold she spotted that familiar black spot again. That dog seemed to have an unusual interest in Quidditch. No doubt it enjoyed watching a series of balls fly around a large field. Maybe it was hoping to chase after one. A moment later a flicker of gold out of the corner of her eye drew her attention back onto the field. The snitch had finally returned and as usual it was making its way to the stands. She shot off on her broom as she chased after the small ball. The crowd had seen it too and began to grow even more frenzied in its enthusiasm. Ginny was next to her in a second as the two chased after the ball that had begun to weave and wind its way between the other players on the pitch. As usual it had succeeded in interjecting as much chaos as possible into the game. Violet had to abruptly pull her broom upward as she almost collided with a quaffle in her chase of the snitch.

The cheering grew even louder the closer she came to wrapping her fingers around it but through the cheers Violet heard a high pitched scream. She immediately stopped flying. The warm day grew cold in an instant. Soon every player ceased in their movements as a bitter cold wind swept across the pitch. Despite the Minister of Magic's assurances it seemed that the dementors had not heeded the instructions they had been given. She could feel them coming. Silent and terrible. Before the Professors could react the stands erupted into chaos as students and spectators alike began to flee in every which direction. Even the sunlight was chased away the closer they got to the pitch. A flash of red and Violet turned to see Ginny take off towards the forest and cursed as she realized that the dementors seemed focused on that area as well. She spared a glance back at the stands to make sure that Hermione, Theo, Draco, and Luna were safe before flying off in the direction of the dark woods. Violet had no trouble catching up with her as the speed of Ginny's broom was easily outmatched by Violet's.

"Are you insane? We need to head back to the castle!" Violet shouted as she tried to grab onto Ginny's broom to slow the girl down.

Ginny turned to her with eyes wide in panic before they narrowed slightly with an unusual amount of venom. "He told me they're coming. He told me so many secrets. Wicked secrets that we aren't supposed to know. I mustn't tell anyone," Ginny giggled as they continued to fly for the forest.

It was high-pitched and sent a chill down Violet's spine. She looked into Ginny's eyes and gone from them was the panic she had seen just a moment before. They were crystal clear and lucid.

"There were drawings on my skin. We're alike you know. Different but the same. We're going to help them. Help them…help them…help them at the right time. Yes, no dying too early. Prized pigs waiting for the slaughter," Ginny laughed again. She wouldn't stop that terrible laughing.

Violet had no idea what Ginny was talking about but clearly the girl was unwell. They were flying too fast and the world was moving too quickly around them for her to dwell on it. They were plummeting towards the forest. The cold air was beginning to catch up with them. The dementors were not far off. The forest began to grow even darker. The sounds of hundreds of flapping wings began to burst through the sound plane as animals tried to flee the desolate emptiness that was now descending onto the forest. Violet managed to grab Ginny's arm in an attempt to at least get her to slow down. The fabric of Ginny's jersey ripped and then she saw it.

A rune. It was black like charcoal and looked like it had been burnt onto Ginny's arm. That should have been impossible. Violet reached out to touch it. The moment her fingertips made contact the rune turned a searing red. A moment later Violet's fingertips felt like they had been engulfed in fire. She tried to jerk her hand away but it wouldn't budge. Flames and heat were travelling down her arm and pouring from her hand as if she was being burned alive. It was excruciating; the pain enough to make her vision darken slightly. Ginny grabbed Violet's arm and tried to shove her off with a surprising amount of strength. The momentum of the shove and the speed at which they were moving caused Violet to fall from her broom into the forest below.

Violet rolled to the forest floor with leaves and dirt catching in her hair. She lifted her head to see Ginny flying off towards the direction of Hogsmeade. "You've got to be kidding me," she fumed while cradling her now sprained ankle. Her broom lay a few meters off. She sighed in relief to see it hadn't been damaged in the fall. That was one small blessing. Her hand had gone completely numb but as she glanced down there seemed to be no apparent damage, only old familiar scars stared back at her. There was hardly a moment to stew in anger before she began to feel the icy embrace of the dementors. Her breath became visible and soon the patches of sunlight that littered the forest floor were blocked out by the ragged black robes of three dementors slowly descending on the small clearing. They hadn't been as far away as she had thought.

She backed into a tree as she fumbled for her wand. She hadn't mastered her patronus yet but it was better than just sitting there and doing nothing. Flying. Think of flying through the clouds. It's bright and warm. The wind pulls her hair fast and free from its braid and...and...nothing. Violet's flimsy grasp on her happier memories quickly dissolved right before her. How much easier it was to let them go. Her hands dropped to her sides as the feeling of being stabbed by hundreds of knives took over her entire body. Ice filled her lungs as she was once again plunged into the frozen depths of her most potent painful memories. She heard the screams that had haunted her for months and soon her vision darkened.

"Where is the girl? Tell me!"


"She can't stay hidden forever. Ours is not the only realm that is searching."

"Our daughter won't die to treachery."

"Not now, perhaps. I suppose you'll just have to do."

First there were voices then blurry visions of colors. When she regained her sight she was standing in an enormous great room. Impossibly tall windows stretched to the ceiling as a black and white marble floor spread out before her. Marble sculptures stood like ghosts in the empty spaces between the windows. This place felt familiar to her but she'd never been here before or maybe she had. She glanced upwards to see that the drapes that hung from the ceiling were alight in sparks and fire; the soft hues of blues and golds turned a bright red before falling away into blackened ash. The flames reflected against the glass of the windows as if the world itself was burning around her. Maybe it was. The sound of far off rooms crumbling and falling in the distance echoed in her ears. The fire must have spread throughout the entire building. She couldn't feel the heat from the flames as she stood frozen in place. The iciness of the dementors' presence clung to her like smoke. She could feel their enjoyment as they tasted what must have been her first painful memory.


Violet shuddered as her mother's last breathes filled her ears and shattered the last whole piece of her soul. An abrupt movement at the other end of the hall cut through the smoke and revealed two bodies. Without thinking Violet ran towards them. Smoking timbers and burning drapes crashed silently to the floor behind her as she ran. Her parents. Her parents were lying before her lifeless and empty as their home...her home...fell down around them. She stood over them like a phantom. The faces she'd spent the past three years memorizing were right in front of her but they weren't smiling or laughing. There was no joy or love. There was nothing. They were gone and she was stuck here. Alone as the world burned.

Running away was no longer an option. This was just a memory after all. Her first in what already felt like an entire lifetime of pain and regret. All those wasted hours that she had spent avoiding and ignoring the pain now had her cornered. The dementors had certainly picked their prey well. Their dead and rotting presence played at the outer edges of her vision. The coldness continued to grow until shivers wracked her entire body. Her hands felt frozen, stiff. She couldn't move. Outside of this memory, in the real world, she knew her wand was close, so very close, but the dementor's presence was stronger. She absentmindedly wondered if she would remember anything at all when they were through. The pain, the fear, the anguish, they could take it all away. She could surrender to it, to the calm apathy that came with no longer feeling.

The floor behind her gave way revealing a never ending abyss. An unspoken offer to surrender to the sorrow and fear that hounded her year after year. This was it. The moment where she could well and truly give in to the emptiness. Violet turned away from the abyss that continued to grow behind her and stared down once more at her parents. Their fingers were laced together as they lay grey and motionless before her. Theirs was a bond so deep, so real, that even death could not hope to tear them away from one another. She didn't deserve to look at them. They had been brave and good. Their courage had never faltered, not even when they stood woefully outmatched against one of the greatest wizards of the age. They had been everything she had ever hoped to be but she had no use for hope.

She'd lied to herself and to Luna. Violet hadn't been fighting; she'd been running away and avoiding her problems. She'd known that others had been using her but she hadn't cared. It was easier to let others decide for her, to just give up all control when faced with the harsh uncompromising tests of life. She was weak, and spineless, and nothing more than a pretty puppet who so willingly offered up the strings stitched into her back. She'd promised herself that she would change, that she would take back control and fight for herself, but it was just another lie.

Lie, Lie, Lie. That's all she had done for the past three years. To avoid reality she'd let herself become distracted by anything and everything. It was when she slowed down that she could see the ugly truth appear before her. More than her memories, more than her relatives, more than anything that ever happened to her, Violet was afraid of herself….for the truth was that deep down she knew exactly who she was. Every time she starred in the mirror she could so clearly see it beneath her reflection. She was worthless: a coward, and a liar, and without hope. Violet turned from her parents and faced the abyss; with arms outstretched, she fell. She fell into the hollow darkness that the dementors offered until it swallowed her whole.

Every memory now played in front of her as she continued to fall through the emptiness. Their claws scraped across her back and dug into her throat as they pushed her down and down through that endless darkness. Each scratch bled into a memory as they picked and pulled her apart piece by piece. Colors and sounds, light and darkness, so many dead ends in her heart and soul. She felt ancient as the years played before her. The dementors were taking their time, savoring each exquisite memory of pain that Violet had experienced throughout her life. They were gluttons drooling at the feast that was her anguish and sorrow. The darkness grew thicker the longer she fell and soon she lost her breath as she was pulled deep into another tucked away memory.

Her relative's voices flooded her mind and finally there was nowhere left to hide. She'd let the dementors strip her of any defense and offered up everything she was. Every pathetic piece of her was theirs to take. The claws in her back and neck tightened their hold to remind her of her helplessness as her relative's voices continued to flood her ears. She embraced it all, the pain, the shame, the self-loathing until it was all she could remember. Naked and exposed she bathed in the hateful words as they washed over her until her soul and skin were raw.

"You're just a burden, a freak."

"Useless stupid girl. Get out of my sight."

"But mummy, I hate her. Why does she have to live with us?"

She stopped falling. Violet collapsed onto her knees and looked up to see Petunia and Dudley staring down at her. Her blood relatives and the only family she had left in this miserable world. She'd been so desperate for their approval, for their love. Instead they had given her scorn or nothing at all. Yet another failure. She couldn't make them love her. Nothing she did was ever good enough. She was nothing. Petunia sneered and Violet looked down to see those familiar hand-me-down rags that had become her uniform over the years. They were dirty, used, and no one else would ever want them. The rags melted onto her skin and she absorbed them into herself.

"You should have died with your parents."

"I know," Violet said as the floor gave way and she began to fall once more.

The cold presence of the dementors was all around her as her lungs and heart filled with ice until she was choking on it. The real world no longer mattered. It was lost to her the longer they held her down. Their claws continued to dig into her flesh hungry for more blood, more pain to feed on. She wanted them to take it all away, to be stripped bare until the demons that clung to her were ripped off. The longer she fell the dimmer the colors and lights that flashed across her memories became until they disappeared completely.

Alone in darkness Violet was once more pushed down onto her knees as four plain walls rose up around her. She heard the far off sound of a key turning and a lock clicking into place. The cupboard. Her cage. It was the only place in the world she belonged. A hellscape of wood and metal that protected and tormented. It kept her locked in darkness and this time she didn't expect the door to ever open.

She bit her lip as claws pierced the skin on her shoulder and dragged down across her heart. Four deep lines cut across her flesh as her ribs were cracked and peeled back; a heart made of glass and blood fell from her chest and shattered beneath her. The dementors had finally found it. In greedy excitement they ripped out every last inch of her pain and sorrow desperate to continue their feast. The walls fell away and once more Violet plummeted downwards. Vernon's laughter echoed in her mind.

He was a monster cloaked in the skin of a human...her uncle...her tormentor. He'd broken her apart so many times. Her first puppet master. The man who cut her open and stitched those strings into her back with a hatred like poison. There would never be an escape from him. He was her maker. The crack of the leather exploded in her eardrums and poured from the empty space in her open chest. She wanted to jolt forward when she first felt that familiar pain of metal digging into her flesh but she was frozen in place. The feeling of cold metal and warm blood, the tortuous symphony of cracking and snapping leather played again and again until she thought she would go mad from it. Her memories of the belt and of the pain were infinite. She couldn't drag herself out of the emptiness. There was nowhere else to fall.

"You'll take me with you wherever you go," the whisper was soft as if he was right behind her.

The smallest flicker of panic awoke and traveled through her. Not this. She couldn't relive this memory. She couldn't be alone with this memory. Run. Run. Run away from it all. It was all she could do and all she had ever done. Violet shook loose from the icy hold and ran as fast as she could. His laughter followed and taunted her. She ran and ran for what felt like miles but there was only blackness behind and before her. Had she even really moved?The dementors had been toying with her; no doubt enjoying snuffing out the final flicker of feeling that was left within her. It would make the fall all that much sweeter. She was lost and there was no way out.

The darkness faded away and Violet found herself in a dimly lit hallway. The plain pine door to Dudley's second bedroom waited at the end of the hall before her. The dementors had grown tired of the game. Tears began to silently fall down her face with each step she took towards the door. She forgot to breathe when they finally reached it. Her hands were steady as she wrapped her fingers around the doorknob and pushed open the door. Vernon was waiting inside just as she remembered him. Violet stepped inside the bedroom and the door slammed shut. This was to be her tomb. The bedroom, the house, even the claws digging into her skin, all fell away as he consumed her utterly and completely.

Violet lay adrift in the nothingness. Her arms were stretched out wide as she absentmindedly watched the occasional random twitch of one of her fingers. It wouldn't be long now until she disappeared into it and became nothing. There were no more memories left and there was no more pain to hide from. No, it wouldn't be long. The dementors must have realized that they had only a little of her left and slowed in their feasting. Small glimmers of light sometimes appeared on the horizon but they were few and far between. Minor memories that weren't worth noticing. Perhaps none of her memories had been worth noticing. Had they even really happened...she couldn't remember. There were only her fingertips and the nothingness. Wouldn't be long.

She'd grown numb and empty the longer she waited. The glimmers grew dull and even farther apart. Her toes and legs had already begun to disappear. She could no longer feel them as the nothingness slowly continued to coil around her. She turned her head away from her fingertips and closed her eyes. Wouldn't be long, at all.

A ripple danced across the nothingness. Light and free it shot across the horizon. She felt it more than saw it. There was something here. Violet's eyes shot open as she turned her head to see another hand reach out and grab hers in the space between. Awake and alive it wrapped tightly around her own. It held her in the emptiness and kept her from fading away. Even here she wasn't alone. The hand squeezed hers and in a moment Violet felt her body return to her. Before she could marvel at feeling anything at all the hand dragged her from the nothingness.

She was pulled up into the darkness and struggled to stand on her own two feet. She could feel her senses returning but she still could not see. The darkness was impenetrable and she was still afraid. The hand squeezed hers once more and a soft glow began to form between the joined hands. It pierced the darkness and finally she could see. Violet looked up in disbelief to see her mother staring down. Vibrant and beautiful with hair like wildfire. It was the only thing she had ever wanted and here it was right in front of her but this didn't feel like a memory. It felt like hope. Lily smiled and leaned down to kiss Violet's forehead.

"You are so loved, my darling girl. Never doubt it, not even for a second." The words echoed proud and true across her mind and took root in her heart.

Violet nodded and squeezed her mother's hand in return. She never wanted to let it go. Lily stood back up and used her free hand to brush the stray strands of hair from Violet's eyes. They were surrounded in darkness but the soft light pouring from their joined hands was enough for Violet to fully see every inch of her mother's face. It was full of love and hope...hope for her. Even lost in the midst of all this despair and pain there was still hope.

"I know you're afraid and that's okay but it's time to fight back, Violet. You are worth fighting for. Always have been. Fight back, my darling girl and make the world hear you. Your life is yours and yours alone so make it big, and bright, and wonderful. Show them just how much you can shine. Light up the dark."

Lily slowly began to disappear before Violet but the light remained even after she had gone. It would never leave her. She knew that now. Violet looked down to find a younger version of herself lost in the darkness a few meters away. Pain and sorrow pulled at her ankles as she stumbled to stand against it all. The darkness began to ripple as Violet ran towards her younger self. She bent down as she reached her to see a terrified and wide-eyed child staring up at her. The little girl held out her hand and waited for Violet to take it. Another offer. An offer to push back against the fear and anger. An offer to choose herself.

"Fight back," the phrase echoed across her mind and filled her soul except this time it was Violet's voice that rang out. She smiled at her younger self and grabbed her hand freely and without hesitation. The light around them began to grow until it shattered the darkness that had left Violet trapped for thirteen years.

Violet was startled to find herself still in the forest clearing. She looked up at the dementors that still had her surrounded. Their dead and rotting presence washed over her like waves in an attempt to drag her back down into the abyss. There was no escape from them but this time she would not surrender. She would not meekly fade away with little but a whimper. She would not give in to despair. If this was to be her end then it would be on her terms.

In one last act of defiance against the pain and sorrow that she had survived through, Violet screamed. She screamed as loud as she could until all the air was pushed from her lungs. She screamed at the woods, at the sky, at the memories that had tormented her. She screamed for the parents she would never meet, the warm embraces she would never get to feel. She screamed for the little girl cowering in dirt and darkness whose only friend had been silence. She screamed at all the moments spent paralyzed in fear. She screamed at the world and dared it to answer.

A glimmer of sunlight, warm and free, caressed her face as the dementors were pushed back. In a moment the shaggy dog that Violet had seen all year was at her side. It burst through the bushes at a speed she hadn't thought possible for such a creature. It's teeth bared as it growled at the three dementors who immediately focused their attention on the new arrival. That was all the opening Violet needed as her fingers finally connected and then curled around her wand. Her magic waiting for her command as she thought of laughter, of snowball fights and long nights in front of the fire, of friends who could only ever represent hope, and trust, and love.

"Expecto Patronum," she roared as she pointed her wand at her three dementors. Silvery wisps began to fly from her wand until a single butterfly emerged out of the mist. It's wings spread wide continued to grow and grow. Soon pieces of its wings began to break off forming into hundreds of butterflies. Each glowing as bright as a star plucked from the night sky. The butterflies swirled together forming a perfect kaleidoscope of ethereal light and intricately carved patterned wings. They shot forward in a long spiral and engulfed the dementors. Their dark emptiness finally chased away as Violet's light filled the clearing.

With the foul creatures gone, the butterflies swirled around Violet. The soft mist of their wings banishing the tears that had fallen before they slowly faded from sight leaving a sense of pure wonder in their wake. The returning sunlight felt weak in comparison. Violet limped over to retrieve her broom as she had a much better chance of out flying the dementors should they chose to return. Her clothing was torn and there was an ever growing stinging sensation from the fresh cuts that ran from her shoulder across to her chest. The exhaustion of the ordeal she had survived through was beginning to wear her down. Not to mention her head was beginning to spin the longer she stayed upright. She limped over to a nearby tree and then focused her attention on the shaggy dog that had come to her rescue.

"I've seen you before, all year in fact. Thank you. You showed up just in time." Her throat was raw from screaming. She was taken aback when the dog's yellow eyes connected with hers. They seemed so...human. It almost seemed like it could understand everything that she was saying.

The dog growled in response but remained in place.

"Sorry? Have I offended you in some way?"

The dog barked, which she assumed meant yes. She must have really hit her head hard on the fall if she thought a dog was talking to her.

"Well it's not like I was planning on going into the Forbidden Forest to frolic with dementors." The dog gave her a skeptical look in return.

"Well, what are you doing out here then? A mutt isn't exactly native to these parts either." The world began to spin the more that she talked. Violet felt her knees weaken as she slowly slid down the trunk of the tree before collapsing on the forest floor. She thought she saw the form of dog began to change in shape before her but her vision had become too blurry and soon she knew no more.

Violet had been awake in the infirmary for less than ten minutes before Hermione, Draco, and Theo burst through the doors. She smiled when she saw that they were all slightly out of breath. They must have run here. Madam Pomfrey sighed as she saw the new visitors approaching.

"You are without a doubt the most frequent visitor to the infirmary, Ms. Potter. If I must square off with Mr. Malfoy and Mr. Nott to ensure that you will get the necessary peace and relaxation for a full recovery then so be it," she said under her breath as she finished wrapping the long gauze bandage around Violet's chest. "You lot get fifteen minutes."

Madam Pomfrey narrowed her eyes as she saw Theo narrow his. "Mr. Nott, your stubbornness seems to know no bounds. Do I really need to deduct more house points for your constant disregard of infirmary rules?"

"The rules are complete and utter-"

"No, Madam Pomfrey. Theo has most certainly learned his lesson," Draco interrupted as he elbowed his friend in the side. Over the course of the past two years, Theo had lost Slytherin House over thirty points for arguing with Madam Pomfrey over her visiting rules. This year they were finally in the lead for the House Cup with a slight edge over Ravenclaw. They couldn't afford to lose any more points if they wanted to stay on top. The nurse humphed and walked back to her office in the back of the infirmary.

"We should really stop meeting like this," Violet tried to joke as her friends moved closer to the bed. Her ankle was fully healed but being so close to the dementors had taken its toll. Her skin was as pale as the white walls of the infirmary while her breaths were fast and shallow as if her lungs couldn't get enough air. The four cuts across her chest were going to scar but she didn't care.

"Professor Lupin said to give you this," Hermione said as she handed Violet a chocolate bar and took a seat at the foot of the hospital bed.

"...So what happened to the game?" She quickly unwrapped the chocolate bar and popped a piece into her mouth. The sweet taste was a welcome change from the bitter potions that Madam Pomfrey had forced her to swallow down earlier.

"Seriously. You were attacked by three dementors, missing for several hours, almost had your soul sucked out and were found unconscious by Hagrid's Hut…. and you want to talk about quidditch?" Hermione asked in exacerbation.

Violet shrugged and looked pleadingly at Draco. Out of all of them he was the most likely to break under her stare. It took less than thirty seconds. "Weasley caught the snitch. She claims it was before the attack but there's no way to tell. Everything happened so quickly. Technically Gryffindor won, but the other Houses don't agree."

Violet scowled at the mention of the girl who had left her at the mercy of the dementors. "Is there no way to play a rematch? It seems like the only fair thing to do." Draco had opened his mouth to respond but was caught off by Theo.

"Enough about quidditch! I think what happened to you is more important than talking about a magical ball that floats around a field." Hermione nodded enthusiastically in agreement.

"Mr. Nott! If I hear you raise your voice in this place of healing and peace one more time, I'll...I'll ban you from the infirmary. Good luck to you should you catch a fever or break a bone. Don't think I won't do it," Madam Pomfrey threatened from the door of her office. The other three students tried not to laugh at the look of complete indignation on Theo's face.

Violet took another bite of chocolate before answering. The sweetness was already beginning to bring some much needed warmth and color to her cheeks. "I flew after Ginny and when I caught up to her she didn't seem like herself. I think the dementors were reminding her of last year. She must have panicked. Then she kindly helped me off my broom and I fell. Next thing I knew there were three dementors," she stopped to take another bite of chocolate.

"Was it….was it as bad as on the train?" Draco asked softly. Violet watched the three most important people in her life lean in closer towards her in concern and she felt her shoulders relax slightly as a result. Whether they knew it or not they had saved her.

She nodded and toyed with the woven threads of the hospital blanket. "At first it was. I wasn't prepared and they were so powerful. I watched my entire life play before my eyes. I'm not sure how long they had me. Time doesn't seem to matter to them. They wouldn't have stopped until they had taken it. Taken my soul," she stopped talking and let the reality of what had happened sink in.

"You were missing for hours. The Ministry doesn't even know how to begin to explain how you survived for so long." Hermione said as she began to unpack Violet's bag and placed some of her more valuable belongings on the bedside table. She was going to be stuck in the infirmary for a few days if Madam Pomfrey got her way and Violet was certain that she would. A golden glimmer caught Violet's eye as Hermione placed that familiar and beloved picture frame on the table.

"I fought back," she said softly as she smiled at the photograph of her parents.

Later that night Violet found herself unable to sleep. The cuts on her shoulder and chest had begun to sting and the pain had been keeping her awake. There was no pain relief potion to be found and she didn't feel like waking Madam Pomfrey. Completely bored Violet raised her hand up and examined the scars on her palm. She didn't quite know what to make of what Ginny had said or what had happened when she touched the rune on her arm. That pain had been nearly unbearable. Violet cast a quick glance around the infirmary to make sure she was alone before she thought of a roaring fire. She held out her palm and waited for an ember to appear like it had when she had burned her relatives' pictures. Nothing happened. Violet, trying harder now, narrowed her eyes on her empty hand and tried to imagine that primal heat that lived in the sun, but still nothing happened. Her fire was gone.

*Chapter 31*: Chapter 31

Chapter 30: Choice

A/N: Sorry about the delay! It was much longer than intended. My computer and I got into a fight which ended with me uninstalling everything on it while I wept over the keyboard :P. Anyway thanks for reading and reviewing. I hope you enjoy!

Violet left the infirmary a few days later with her mind still whirling. Any free moment over the previous days were spent trying and failing to channel her fire. When she closed her eyes she could feel the webs of her primal magic coursing through her veins but she couldn't connect to them like before. They were always just a breath away. Whatever had happened with Ginny had without a doubt altered her magic. The golden energy that had once felt so natural now felt like it was tearing through her. She had toyed with the idea of using the magical paper left behind by the Heir to find some answers but she didn't want him, or anyone for that matter, to know about what had happened between her and Ginny. It would be foolish to reveal a vulnerability such as that, which only left her with one option. She had to get to Ginny.

It was midday when Madam Pomfrey had released her and the castle halls were silent as Violet quickly made her way back up to Ravenclaw Tower. There were only three blocks of classes left in the day which didn't leave her with much time to get everything in place. Once she reached the girl's dormitory she threw her bag onto her bed and went right to her trunk. She smiled as she felt the soft velvet of her father's invisibility cloak. Violet scrawled a quick note to Hermione to ensure that the girl wouldn't go looking for her before wrapping the cloak around her shoulders and left the dormitory just as quickly as she had entered.

The cool stone walls and serpent statues greeted her as she once again returned to the Chamber of Secrets. It was the only location in the school where she could ever truly be alone. It also housed an entire library full of ancient and forbidden magics. Somewhere hidden in this empty chamber were the answers to all of her questions. The black pools on either side of the walkway remained still and silent as she came upon the statue of Salazar Slytherin. Whatever had occurred between her and Ginny was related to what had happened there last year. The Heir had told her that Ginny had been a tool. At the time she had assumed that he had meant a tool for opening the chamber and creating chaos in the school. He'd mislead her. Of course he had and she, naive and foolish, had been more than happy to believe him.

"Open," she hissed in agitation.

The fireplace roared to life the moment she stepped into the study. She carefully unpacked the contents of her bag and placed them onto the large desk in the center of the room before grabbing 'In Via' from where she had left it. It had been the only book in the entire study that mentioned the abilities she had, or at least it was the only one she could understand. The content inside was troubling to say the least. She had not been the only one in history to have these abilities. They had been coveted and fought over; a boon directly from Magic.

'...the look in her eyes will stay with me forever,' Violet's eyes scanned over the last line written in the journal. Her predecessor had willingly met her end to escape whatever it was that fate had planned for her. The woman had powers that could have changed the world yet she had been found in a decrepit shack in the middle of nowhere. Maybe she had been hiding from someone or something. Or maybeand much more likely she was just an insane old woman.

Again, Violet could see the pieces appear before her but she was still missing so much information. She slammed the journal shut and turned back to the bookcase. She hadn't been able to read too far into any of the other books in the study as many of them were written in foreign languages or English so old they may as well have been a foreign language. Despite the learning curve there was one thing she could gather from the tomes. They were dark. She could feel the power languidly leaking from them. It called to her with promises of unconquerable power. All her thoughts vanished as she felt herself drawn to an unmarked black book. She began to reach for it as her magic began to react to whatever it was that was lurking inside. The anger that had been bubbling inside her for months was longing to find a conduit. A way to channel her fury, her pain, into action. The soothing lullaby of endless night flooded her ears as her fingers connected with the black leather spine. A hiss from Erebus startled her from the trance as her hand quickly dropped to her side. She hadn't even heard him come in.

"Mistresss is not ready for blackest magic."

Violet shook her head to chase away the last traces of darkness that had woven its way into her mind. "I didn't know that you could read,"she said as she turned from the bookshelf and began to make her way back to the desk. She cast a quick tempus charm and was startled to find that it was already past nine. It was almost time.

"I am a creature of darkness. Forged in the blackest of nights. The King of Serpents can sense magic as black as his own."

Violet held out her arm and allowed the snake to slowly coil around her shoulders as she left Slytherin's study and entered back into the main chamber.

"What do you sense when you look at me?" She had still yet to make up her mind on where she stood on the Light versus Dark magic debate. Magic was magic. It felt wrong to try and place it into categories. The only thing that truly mattered was how it was used and she would use any spell to survive. Erebus slid from her shoulders and coiled around one of the many stone pillars that lined the main chamber until his face was almost level with her own. He stared directly at her. Violet marveled at the blue and gray swirls in his eyes. The eyes that would one day be able to kill with just one glance.

"The light of the stars," he hissed after a short moment.

Violet gave a soft chuckle; "How poetic of you."

The snake hissed but she knew it was more for show than anything else.

"We're going to have a guest down here tonight. Stay out of sight. I'll return shortly," Violet said as she affectionately ran her hand along his silky scales before departing from the chamber with the invisibility cloak tied tightly around her shoulders.

It had been surprisingly easy to kidnap Ginny Weasley. All Violet had to do was wait until the Gryffindor quidditch team finished practice. She had waited until the girl left the washroom and was on her way back to Gryffindor Tower before casting a quick full body-bind curse from behind. As soon as she was sure the curse worked Violet threw her cloak over Ginny's body and once more returned to the Chamber. No wonder Sirius Black kept breaking into Hogwarts. The security in the school left a lot to be desired. Ginny was securely tied to one of the stone pillars in the chamber. The last thing she needed was a duel down here. Violet flicked her wrist and canceled the spell. She watched in disinterest as Ginny struggled against the binds that she had just finished tying.

"Welcome back to the Chamber of Secrets."

Ginny immediately stopped struggling and looked around the empty chamber with eyes wide in fear. "Y-you c-can't keep me here. My housemates will be looking for me. My brothers will be looking for me. You'll be expelled for this, Potter. I'll go straight to Dumbledore and the Prophet, and..."

Violet examined her nails as Ginny continued to issue empty threat after threat. She had to admit it was admirable the way the girl got over her initial fear of the Chamber rather quickly. She could always expect a fight from Ginny whether it be in the halls or on the quidditch field.

"You're not going to do any of those things, Ginny. You aren't even going to remember this conversation," Violet said in a cool tone.

A flicker of hate danced across Ginny's eyes and stayed there. "Then why am I here, Potter?"

"To answer my questions. All of them." Violet could begin to feel her magic slowly circling around her in small agitated currents. She was in control now.

"I won't do it. You'll get nothing out of me-,"

Violet sighed and pulled out a vial of clear liquid that she had earlier left in Slytherin's study.

"W-what is that?" Ginny asked as she began to tug on the binds around her body once more.

"Veritaserum. Courtesy of Snape's supply closet. I'm sure he's already noticed it's missing," Violet said while slowly walking up to Ginny, "We could have been friends, you know," she said softly before forcing some of the potions contents down the girl's throat. Ginny's posture instantly relaxed as her expression became neutral.

Violet crouched down in front of her so they were face to face. "What is your name?"

"Ginny Weasley."

"Do you know where we are?"

"The Chamber of Secrets," Ginny answered in a voice devoid of any emotion.

"That's right. Tell me what happened between us at the last quidditch game?" Violet had been careful not to directly touch Ginny's arms in order to avoid another incident.

Ginny's lip began to tremble. Whatever willpower the girl had was clearly struggling against the potion. "Y-you touched my arm and some of your power went to me." Ginny's pupils began to grow in size while her lips continued to tremble. "I can't speak about it."

Violet poured another drop of the potion down Ginny's throat. She didn't care about the damage it may cause. She wanted answers and she was going to get them. "Tell me what happened," she ordered with an unfamiliar harshness in her voice.

Ginny began to shake against the binds. Every last piece of her was clearly struggling but eventually the potion won out. "T-they made it so I can't. Words bound in a language I can't speak. You were made whole but fragile. Weak and breakable."

Violet gave a harsh laugh. Of course they would cover their tracks. Ginny was nothing more than a tool to them. It was evident that the girl didn't know anything of value. Yet another waste of time.

"Is there anyway to get my fire back?"

"No. It wasn't yours to begin with," Ginny replied matter-of-factly.

"Did you want my power?"

"Yes," Ginny answered without hesitation. "I want to be special. Even if it's just until she comes."

"Who is she?" Violet had assumed that Ginny had been speaking about the Dark Lords but there was something else at play here.

Ginny's entire body began to violently shake. Violet had never read about veritaserum having this effect on someone before. Blood began to drip from Ginny's lips as the girl began to gasp for air. A moment later Ginny's head dropped down and her entire body froze. Laughter escaped from her unmoving lips and echoed throughout the Chamber. Violet backed up a fraction of an inch. The air grew cold as the horrid laughter continued to circle the chamber.

"She has been waiting. This world belongs to her. You will serve, as I have, as everyone will. You think you're in control but you're not. You're just a piece of game thousands of years in the making. It's nearly time to play," Ginny's voice sounded hollow and not her own.

'I think that's enough for tonight," Violet said as she once again cast a full body bind curse on Ginny. She didn't want to push her too far and whatever had just spoken was definitely not Ginny. Best not to toy with otherworldly beings.

Violet grabbed another vial and quickly poured it down Ginny's throat. It was an extra strong draught of forgetfulness potion which she knew would erase all of Ginny's memories of that night. At worst she would remember it as some kind of hazy dream. She cast a quick scourgify on her before untying the bonds and levitating her body back out of the Chamber. Violet left Ginny in the hallway where she had originally petrified her. The Prefects would just assume it was a prank gone wrong. Violet didn't sleep that night as the Ginny's words played again and again in her mind.

The warm days of early summer finally returned to the Scottish countryside creating an infinite sense of renewed hope in the air for most of Hogwart's students. As the semester neared closer and closer to the end of term Hogwarts once again entered that familiar phase of frantic studying and long nights in the library. Each Professor seemed completely oblivious to the student's plight as each one continued to pile on assignment after assignment. Even Hermione was becoming frazzled underneath the workload. Ancient Runes was by far the most difficult of all the courses not only in work load but in content as well.

It was like learning a brand new language with an incomplete alphabet. So much of the information regarding runes had been lost to the ages. For all intents and purposes it was a linguistic mystery. There were no surviving distinctions between long and short vowels, many of the symbols were found through guesswork, and the true pronunciation of the runes varied from expert to expert. Most of it was just theory. Still, Violet was committed to learning all she could. If it could help her unravel the mystery of Ione and the other Guardians then she would try anything. She had become increasingly paranoid after her interrogation of Ginny and couldn't shake the feeling that she was being watched. The first step to protecting herself was to learn everything there was about runes. She just wished there was more concrete information about them than what Professor Babbling could provide.

It was three weeks before finals and Violet had just handed in her last Ancient Runes assignment. She hesitated as she placed the paper onto Professor Babbling desk.

"What is it, Miss. Potter? You've been idling in front of my desk for over a minute." Professor Babbling was not exactly a warm person but Violet knew there was no real hostility behind her terse way of speaking. The woman was just unused to any sort of social interaction outside of academia.

"Sorry, Professor. I was just wondering why Ancient Runes is only just an elective at Hogwarts. The subject matter seems so important-,"

"I've asked myself that same question many times over the years. I have no answer for you. I, unfortunately, do not set the curriculum. I often regret not taking that post at Beauxbatons to be quite honest."

Violet tried not to flinch as she watched the Professor harshly cross out lines in red ink on another student's essay.


Professor Babbling sighed as she looked up from the essay. "Do I really need to explain the Wizarding School Systems of Europe to you, Miss. Potter? Does my time really seem that inconsequential?"

" Sorry," Violet said hastily as she gathered up her belongings and quickly left the classroom.

Hermione, Draco, and Theo were waiting for her in the hall. It was relatively early in the morning so the four friends began to make their way to the Great Hall for breakfast. They only made it a few steps before they were almost run over by a frantic First Year.

"Do you mind?" Theo hissed as he bent over to pick up the books that had been knocked out of his hands.

"S-sorry," the young boy apologized as he realized just who exactly he had collided with.

"What are you two doing out here anyway? Your classes don't begin for another hour."

"H-haven't you heard? Everyone's talking-"

"Violet! There you are!" The frantic voice of Lupin cut through the hallway as the group turned to see the out of breath Professor rushing towards them. He had been absent from class all week and looked even more exhausted than before. "We need to speak in my office. At once."

Violet shared a concerned glance with her friends before nodding and following after Lupin with Hermione, Draco, and Theo trailing after her. She was taken aback by the state of his office. The blinds had been closed and there were papers and empty potions vials littered throughout the room. It was a complete mess. The space and the man felt charged with a restless volatile energy. He reminded her of a caged animal.

Lupin sighed and ran a shaking hand through his hair as he tried to find seats for the students to sit in. "Black got into the castle again last night."

Hermione gasped while Draco and Theo's knuckles turned white as they grasped the arms of their seats.

"How does this keep happening? Does Dumbledore have any control over the school?" Draco said while no doubt thinking of the fastest and most direct way to get the Board of Governors involved. "Dumbledore clearly isn't up to the task of keeping students safe."

"The knocker didn't say anything unusual, or well more unusual than normal, this morning," Hermione interjected. "The castle's wards are supposed to expel all those wishing to do it harm."

"Black didn't go to Ravenclaw. He broke into Gryffindor. Ron Weasley was awoken to his bedroom curtains being slashed. At the time he thought it was a dream."

"How typical of the Weasel to fail to notice something as obvious as an escaped convict in his bedroom," Draco sneered.

Lupin ignored the commentary and continued; "The Ministry believes that he is after Neville Longbottom. They've called for an increase in dementor presence and until further notice all students are banned from leaving the grounds. Violet, I cannot stress how very important it is that you go nowhere alone and if you see Black, hide. Do not engage him."

Violet was taken aback by the intensity of Lupin's stare. It almost looked feral.

"The man is responsible for the murder of my parents. I won't go looking for him but if our paths cross...I won't run from this." She was done hiding and running. If she and Black were destined to meet, then so be it.

"Don't be so foolish. You would be outmatched and killed before you even got the chance to fire a spell off. You have talent, Violet but this man is desperate. He has nothing to lose. It would be idiotic to try and duel him. He has a mastery of spells that you've never even heard of. Could you really so easily throw away your parents sacrifice? Do you place any value at all on what they gave up so you could live?"

The air in the room turned icy as Violet stood from her seat and fixed Lupin with a feral look of her own. "You don't have the right to tell me what to do with my life. Where exactly have you been for the past thirteen years? Could you even be bothered to check in on the daughter of your best friends? You don't get to pick and chose what parts of my life you want to be in. You don't get to care when it's convenient for you." Violet stormed out of the room.

It didn't escape any ones notice the that the door blew open of its own accord, slamming against the wall before she even reached it. Draco and Theo followed after her while Hermione remained. Lupin slumped down in his seat and put his head between his hands. The wrinkled clothing and the mess of his office painting the perfect image of a truly broken man.

"She'd forgive you if she knew the truth," Hermione said softly.

Lupin looked up instantly. "How long have you known? You really are the brightest witch of the age, aren't you?"

"Since November. You only miss classes around a full moon. I won't tell anyone but Violet won't-"

"I don't deserve to be forgiven. She's right. I used what I am as an excuse to stay away. The only daughter of my best friends was a stranger to me until this year."

Hermione fought the urge to disagree. The Ministry of Magic had very strict laws regarding the rights of Werewolves. No matter what Lupin had done, the laws would have kept him away from Violet. They weren't considered people. It was yet another injustice that had long gone ignored by the Wizarding Community for the sake of convenience and a false sense of protection.

"Violet doesn't trust well. She's testing you. If you let her push you away, then you're right you don't deserve forgiveness," and with that Hermione gave her Professor a small smile and turned from the room.

"So you have to catch it but only if we are fifty points up….only if we are fifty points up, Violet. Or we will win the match but lose the cup! You've got that, right? You have to catch the snitch, but only if…"

"So help me, Magic. I KNOW, ROGER."

The stands were packed as the final match of the Quidditch season was about to take place. Slytherin had been able to maintain it's slight lead in House points but the outcome of today's game could shift the balance into Ravenclaw's favor for the Cup. They were so close. Violet looked across the pitch and saw Draco getting a similar speech from the Captain of the Slytherin Team. She waved over at him causing Roger to sigh.

"I know he's your friend, but right now you two are enemies battling it out for the highest of prizes. Victory. Glory. Fame. It's all right here."

Violet snorted; "Don't worry, Captain. I won't let you down."

She shot straight into the air and immediately launched into her signature loop-de-loops much to the crowd's delight; if the growing cheers were anything to go by. The game was hard fought but true to her word Violet managed to catch the snitch in the end. It had chosen to reappear the exact moment Ravenclaw had managed to get fifty points up. Draco and she had both raced to catch it but nothing could compare to the pure speed that was the Firebolt. Ravenclaw had finally won the Quidditch Cup. For a moment Violet was worried that Draco would be upset by the outcome but as her feet touched the ground the first thing she saw was his platinum blonde hair as he rushed to hug her. She laughed as she hugged him back and very much doubted that she would ever truly deserve his friendship.

The four friends lay on the beach as they chatted about their upcoming summer plans. The warm June weather had finally shaken away the last frozen remnants of the harsh winter and mild spring. Many attributed the slight edge of cold that hung in the air to be from the increased dementor presence. The semester was practically over and in just five short days the students would be returning home. Violet and Lupin had yet to speak about their last conversation and instead opted for neutral politeness when interacting with each other in the classroom. The group had just finished their Ancient Runes final and mutually decided that some fresh air would do them all well.

"I feel like my head's about to burst open. I'm not even sure what happened in there," Violet joked as she rubbed her temples. She'd developed a nasty headache after spending the better part of two weeks studying nothing but the various lines and curves of runes.

"I can't believe she asked us so many trick questions," Hermione fumed, "I just know I messed up Ehwaz and Eihwaz. What's the point of handing out a study guide if none of the questions on it are even used in the actual exam?"

"Must be part of Babbling's plot to ruin your perfect grades," Theo reasoned earning him a glare from Hermione.

"What's wrong with Luna?" Draco asked as he pointed back towards the grounds. Violet sat up to see the girl practically running over to them. Her steps were hurried but her face betrayed no signs of emotions. She wasn't even out of breathe when she reached them a few seconds later.

"Your eyes…" Draco began while quickly standing to better inspect her face. She held up her hand to stop him from getting any closer before she fixed Violet with a hard stare.

"We have but a moment to spare. It starts now. He who has betrayed his friends returns. His heart black, the soul rotten. The blood of the innocent will run. Unless.." Luna paused as her eyes turned to the sky as if the clouds were showing her what could come to pass.

"...Unless the bird breaks the cage. Flying free but never to return. Remember what I told you. The choice was always yours." Luna's eyes returned to their normal state. She stumbled as the exhaustion from running from wherever she had come from had finally caught up with her. Draco's arms reached out to catch her before she collapsed onto the sand.

"She's freezing. We have to get her to the infirmary." Theo rushed to her other side and the boys began to carry her back to the castle with Hermione and Violet following closely behind.

"Oh for Merlin's sake. What's happening now?" Theo asked as they continued to run back towards the castle.

Across the Hogwart's ground along the line of the forbidden forest was a man waving frantically towards the group. His clothing looked completely torn up. The man began to jump up and down. A moment later the shaggy black dog that Violet had seen all year emerged from the other side of Hagrid's Hut. It looked like it was hunting. A scream echoed across the ground as the black dog began to run towards the man. The group watched in dumbstruck silence as the man continued to scream and run back into the forest with the shaggy black dog right at his heels.

"Theo. Draco. Help Luna to the infirmary," Violet said as she whipped out her wand. "Hermione. Get Dumbledore. Immediately."

"You're not going in there alone. That's absolutely mental," Hermione hissed as she tried to grab Violet's arm. "We should go get a Professor."

Violet shook out of her grip. "There isn't time to debate this. That's the same dog that saved me from the dementors. I've seen it all year. This all has something to do with Sirius Black. I know it. I can't let him escape. Luna needs to get to the infirmary and you need to get help. We'll save more time if we split up. I'll be careful," Violet said as she reached into her bag.

Before Hermione could grab her again she threw the invisibility cloak over her shoulders and took off in the direction of the forest with her friends screaming after her. She would see the man responsible for the murder of her parents brought to justice, even if it was the last thing she ever did.

She ripped the cloak off as soon as she reached the forest as it was difficult to run in. The sun was beginning to set. She heard a scream from farther in and quickly took off in that direction. The forest grew darker and darker the deeper she ran into it. She heard the scream again but this time it sounded much closer. Violet quickened her pace until she came upon a small clearing. The man she had seen was bent over and gasping for air. Her grip tightened on her wand as she took a step towards him.

"Are you alright?"

The man jumped backwards and cast a quick glance at Violet. His eyes widened slightly when they connected with hers. "Y-yes. Quite alright now," he said in a rush as he took a step towards her.

"Stay back," Violet hissed as she raised her wand. The man had a definite shiftiness about about him. He was practically dressed in torn rags but he had a very round frame. He obviously hadn't had any trouble finding food over the years. His eyes kept darting between Violet and the tree line. It made her uneasy. "What are you doing out here?"

"My n-name is P-Peter. I was looking for h-help. S-Sirius Black is hunting me. It's fortunate you came along," the man said as he took another step towards Violet. His voice was laced with desperation but it was the unmistakable look of pure greed in his eyes that made her nervous.

"I said stay back," Violet threatened as she kept her wand pointed on him. "Why is he hunting you?"

The bushes to the left of Violet began to rustle. The man shrieked and Violet turned her head to see Sirius Black staring right back at her. The Wanted posters didn't do the empty despair in his eyes justice. The man just looked ragged. His ribs protruded from his skin while the torn and dirty clothing of Azkaban hung in tatters about his rail thin body. His skin had a waxy sheen with gaunt features that may have once been handsome. Violet couldn't help but be reminded of how she looked every summer after her stay with the Dursleys. Twelve years in the presence of dementors had clearly taken its toll. His breaths were ragged as he raised his wand at the other man.

Violet instantly pointed her wand at Sirius. "Don't take another step," she said through gritted teeth as she tried to control her magic. Peter lunged towards her the moment her wand moved away from him.

"Violet! No!" Sirius yelled as he leapt towards them.

Before she could react Violet felt like she was being pulled apart in every which direction as the world spun around her. She felt all the air leave her lungs as the spinning world eventually gave way to darkness.

Violet did not need to open her eyes to know that her wrists and ankles were bound. The pain radiating up from her joints was more than enough to let her know that several hours must have passed. Wherever she was smelt like smoke and burning incense. The floor beneath her was hard and unforgiving. Violet slowly opened her eyes to find herself in what must have been a cellar. The small space was smoky but she could see Sirius lying unconscious on the other side of the room. His hands and wrists also bound. Through the smoke she could see that his face was covered in gashes but she could also see the slow rise and fall of his chest. They were both alive, at least for now.

The other man was nowhere to be found. Peter. Violet's eyes widened in realization. Peter Pettigrew. He was alive which meant that Sirius Black hadn't murdered him. The hazy images of what happened before she woke up finally cleared. Sirius had tried to save her but that wouldn't make sense if he had betrayed her parents. Someone had betrayed them but she now knew it wasn't the unconscious man lying in front of her. The sound of the door unlocking on the other side of the room drew her out of thoughts. Violet quickly closed her eyes and tried to slow her breathing. The element of surprise might be her only chance of getting out of this cellar alive. Pettigrew was mumbling under his breath but she couldn't make out any of his words.

"I'm going to enjoy killing you," a raspy voice hissed from the other side of the room. Sirius must have been pretending to have been unconscious as well. His voice was raw. He most likely hadn't spoken in anything but screams for the past twelve years. His vocal cords irrevocably damaged as a result. Pettigrew gasped at the sound of Sirius speaking. The sound of a glass vial breaking against a wooden table followed shortly after, almost causing Violet to jump.

"N-now let's not be hasty. It seems you're all tied up, my old friend. Rather difficult to take your threats seriously," Pettigrew said with an awkward laugh. His voice was high pitched like a squeaking mouse. "I've been given a priceless opportunity to win back the good favor of our Lords. Magic be praised. Y-you should be grateful, old friend."

"They were never my Lords." Sirius groaned as Violet heard him shift into an upright position. She was trying to think of some way to get out of her binds without alerting either of them but she had no options at the moment.

"Like D-dumbledore did so much for you while you were rotting away in Azkaban. He believed you guilty from the beginning. The Dark Lord's will accept you back in-"

"You forget that I gave my loyalty to no one. But let's not get off topic. You're a coward and I'm going to kill you, little Peter." Sirius hissed. The hairs on the back of Violet's neck stood up.

She heard the cauldron begin to bubble and the dropping in of several ingredients followed by the muted muttering of Pettigrew. It was some type of incantation but the language was unfamiliar. None of it mattered after a moment. Any hope she had of surprise vanished the second the incantation was finished. She felt a cool mist begin to coat her skin before a wave of pain began. It felt like thorns were growing from inside of her and ripping through every inch of her skin. Violet's eyes shot open as she looked down at her arms to find glowing runes that must have been written in her blood. She screamed as her skin continued to tear and break apart until her arms were covered in deep red thorns. She thought she heard Sirius yelling but the pain was too much. Her vision began to darken at the corners but the pain began to lessen before she passed out. Violet fell forward onto her face and threw up onto the ground as her body shook with aftershocks.

"First there was Fire. Then were was Earth-"

"You're going to kill her," Sirius said in a voice laced with disinterest and Violet felt her entire world end.

"The Vessel was made for-" Pettigrew began in a nervous voice.

"The Vessel is weak. Look how frail she is. If you attempt another transfer you're going to kill her. I doubt your Lord's will be so willing to accept you with open arms if she's dead."

Violet tried not to scream as she felt herself being pulled up by her hair. Pettigrew sneered down at her before pushing her back upright against the concrete wall. She felt the sensation of her arms being lifted up as Pettigrew began to inspect them.

"There's only a little damage. They need to be removed before the Vessel grows too strong. Our Lords were very specific on what to do-,"

"I'm not a Vessel. I am a human being," Violet hissed before she spit on Pettigrew. He slapped her across the face before returning back to the table. The stinging sensation on her cheek was a welcome distraction from the throbbing in her arms. He threw open an ancient looking tome on the table and began to read from the lines below while adding more ingredients to the bubbling potion.

"Those instructions were from thirteen years ago. Before one of your Lords was destroyed by an infant. You can't possibly think they'll be pleased that you began the ritual without their consent?" Sirius prodded from the corner of the room. He never once looked at her and Violet was unable to tell whose side he was on. Maybe his own.

"The Weasley girl already received the boon of The Flame. Our Lord was in Hogwarts last year and set the motions in place. I felt him there. It must have been his influence. The other acolytes have been waiting all these years and now it's finally within our grasp. We will not fail our Lord's," Pettigrew said with an increased confidence as Violet felt hers continue to decrease. The Heir of Slytherin had set her up utterly and completely. He'd wanted her powers and nothing else. His machinations had brought her to this moment. She'd thought there was a connection between him and her, but it was just a game with her powers as the prize. She'd thought that maybe there was one other person who understood her. Understood her pain and loneliness. It would have been nice. What a fool she'd been.

She tried to scoot farther back against the wall as Pettigrew closed the tome and began to walk towards her. He bent over to grab her arms and Violet used his momentary distraction to bring her head downward, directly slamming it into his. He screeched in pain while Violet used what little energy she had left to lift her legs and deliver a strong kick to his kneecaps. She began to crawl away but the bindings on her hands and legs significantly slowed her down. Violet reached the table before she felt a hand wrap around her ankles. She was frozen in the next moment as Pettigrew used her wand to bind her. She couldn't feel anything but the room began to shift around her until she was right back where she started. She watched in disinterest as Pettigrew began to carve into her arm with a golden dagger. At least the spell stopped all sensation. That was one small mercy. Blood poured from her arm as a design she didn't recognize appeared on her skin. The dagger's handle was emitting a soft golden glow that would have been rather beautiful if not for the sinister purpose that it was being used for.

"She can't be under the influence of a spell for the transfer. Did you pay any attention at all or have all those years as a rat destroyed your mind?" She noticed there was a slight shift in Sirius's voice. He sounded strained, almost desperate. Violet shifted her gaze to his and found him staring at her with worry clear in his eyes.

"Hold on," he silently mouthed to her.

Pettigrew canceled the spell and Violet felt the stinging sensation of the freshly carved runes on her arms. He didn't bother to retie them as he returned to the cauldron and began to murmur under his breath. Her heart stopped the moment he finished the incantation. Violet couldn't scream as all the vair disappeared from her lungs. She felt like she was being held down underwater. She was drowning. Her vision grew darker as her lungs turned to fire in their desperation for oxygen.

Air. Air. Air.

It was the only thing she could think about. The only thing that she could hold onto. The only thing that still belonged to her. The only thing that mattered anymore. Her vision was hazy and she felt as if she were floating. The world came crashing down a moment later as blessed precious air filled her lungs. She rolled onto her side as she began to cough and cough. Her lungs fighting to get even more air into her.

"No more, Peter. You're going to kill her," Sirius spoke from somewhere in the room. Violet was too exhausted to pay attention anymore.

"It won't be the full transfer. The hour isn't right for the ascension. The Vessel is not at her weakest. Still our Lord's will be most pleased with our prog-,"

A high pitched scream startled Violet from her exhaustion. She lifted her head to see Sirius wrapping his bound hands around Pettigrew's throat. He'd somehow managed to unbind his feet. Before his face could turn purple Pettigrew grabbed a handful of dried herbs next to the cauldon and threw them at Sirius's eyes. Sirius screamed and fell backwards as Pettigrew used the distraction to wrap his own fat hands around Sirius's throat. Violet dragged herself across the floor to where the two men were wrestling. Every inch was agony but she had to get to them.

"There was only one whose blood was needed tonight," Pettigrew breathed out as his fingers continued to tighten around Sirius's throat. Violet could see him begin to lose focus while his eyes glazed over.

"Then let it be you," she hissed as she picked up the glowing dagger from the floor and plunged it into Pettigrew's back. He cried out in pain as she pulled the dagger out and stabbed him again. The fingers around Sirius's throat released and in a moment he was on top of Pettigrew, holding him down.

"Violet. Get the wand," he ordered as Pettigrew's shape began to shift before them.

"Stupefy," she cast and breathed a sigh of relief as the man's body completely froze in place. Sirius took a deep breath as he fell off of Pettigrew and leaned his head back against the wall while trying to catch his breath.

Violet's feeling of relief was short lived as the floor above their heads began to shake with the sound of several pairs of boots headed towards the door above stairs. Violet's heart skipped a beat as the handle began to turn.

"We need to go now," Sirius said in a harsh whisper. "Grab my arm."

Violet did as instructed and once again felt the pull of apparition. Her exhaustion was wearing her down but she was able to maintain consciousness through the journey.

"Another decrepit shack?" She said when they had finally reappeared.

Sirius gave a light chuckle before helping her onto a ratty couch in the center of the room. Violet sighed in contentment at the feeling of a cushion underneath her.

"It's the Shrieking Shack, actually. Leads right into Hogwarts," Sirius said as he kicked Pettigrew to make sure that he was still petrified.

"Did he summon Death Eaters?" Violet asked as she eyed the unmoving form with disgust. She had assumed they had been disbanded for the most part.

"No. Those who came are known as the Morifex. The Bringers of Death. They're a subgroup of the Death Eathers, primarily serving under Voldemort in the last war. The most fanatic to the cause, you could say." Sirius said with his back turned away from her. He was checking all the windows and doors in the small shack.

"He doesn't strike me as the particularly fantic sort." Violet jerked her chin towards Pettigrew. She watched in disinterest as his blood began to pool from underneath him.

"Desperate little rat. He'd join any group or cause if there was a bit of power to be gained."

Violet tried to nod in agreement but stopped when she looked down at her arms. There were still parts of her flesh that were covered in thorns while the runes carved into her arms were continuing to bleed. She tried to take a deep breath to calm down but even then she didn't feel all the air return. She tried to take another deep breath and then another but she couldn't get enough air. Sirius noticed her distress and rushed to her side.

"Wha….what's happening to me?" Violet gasped. The air wasn't coming.

"Slow down. Take shallow breathes. Breathe in. One. Breathe out. Two. Breathe in. One. Breathe out. Two. There you go. Nice and easy."

Violet felt herself relax despite the lack of air flowing into her lungs.

"They're not going to stop until they finish the job. Are they?," Violet said once her breathing was manageable again. The grim look on Sirius's face was enough to tell her that was the truth.

"Between my relatives, Dumbledore, and now this, I don't think I ever had a chance," Violet wheezed.

"I should have come to you sooner. I'd spent years waiting for Pettigrew to show up. I never thought...this is my fault-,"

"No. You were locked up in Azkaban. Not like you had too many options." She could taste the stale blood in her mouth as her lungs continued to burn. "...But you'll have your freedom now." She smiled at her Godfather. He hadn't betrayed her parents. He hadn't betrayed her. Oh, that was a sweet truth.

"You could have it. Your freedom. A new life," Sirius said in a desperate voice.

"I don't understand-"

"Violet Potter has to die. It's the only way."

"Isn't that what I'm doing right now? Certainly feels that way," Violet breathed out as she rested her head against the armrest of the couch she was in. Her eyes so desperately wanted to close.

"You're healing. Just at a much slower rate and not fully. The thorns and runes will stay on your skin leeching your magic and marking you and those closest to you as the Vessel."

Violet's head snapped up in an instant. "What do you mean those closest to me?" She couldn't put her friends in danger. She didn't want to imagine them broken and bloody because of her.

"As the Vessel the magic gifted to you seeks a refuge in others should anything happen to you. No one is sure exactly when this takes place as an Elemental is incredibly rare. Who even knows the last time there was one." Sirius spoke as if he was reading from a textbook. "I made it my job during the last War to gather as much information as possible from both sides. Fanatics tend to have much looser tongues than anyone else when you get some drink in them," Sirius explained.

"Vessel? I keep hearing that word. A vessel for what?"

"Since the first records of the Great War between the First Children and Mortals there have been descriptions of rituals taking place to grant the First Children access to the mortal realm. You were created to house the powers of one of the First Children and serve as the body which would allow her to enter this ritual would kill you in the process. I don't know the specifics of it. All I know is that they won't stop until they've succeeded. Not when they are so close."

"Unless I'm dead," Violet breathed. Her friends would be in constant danger every moment that they spent with her. There were targets on their backs almost as large as hers. She would have to give them up in order to save them. She'd have to give up everything she'd ever known for the chance to live. The Dark would never stop hunting her and when the caught her they would drain her of everything she ever was. The Light would use what little was left of her as a broken tool to hammer out a few more victories before discarding her. A calloused hand cautiously reached out and touched her own scarred and bloody hand drawing her out of her turmoil.

"I know that I am nothing more than a stranger to you. Your parents trusted me with your safety and well-being and I've failed miserably so far. I made a promise to protect you the first moment I held you in my arms. The decision is yours and know that I will stand with you, no matter what you chose, until my last breath. You do not have to go through this alone anymore. Every step of the way I will be there. But this is your choice and only you can make it." Sirius spoke slowly with the confidence of a man who believed every word he spoke to be the truth.

Violet's eyes began to water; whether it was the exhaustion or the simple and open acceptance from her Godfather she didn't know. Her decision had been made the moment she learned her friends were in danger but knowing she wouldn't have to be alone made it easier.

"Okay. What do we need to do?"

Very few things surprised Albus Dumbledore anymore. He'd been alive too long and involved in too many machinations to ever be fully taken off guard. The title of Lord of the Light had not been earned through dumb luck. However, he would be lying if he imagined the better half of his night being spent coming through the Forbidden Forest with the Minister of Magic, several aurors, and an overzealous Prophet reporter in search of a wayward student and an escaped Azkaban convict. He regretted not increasing the monitoring of her and Neville but there hadn't been any Sirius Black sightings in months. Black always was a thorn in his side: a man loyal to no cause, but still he'd been a fairly useful weapon in the last war. If only he could find someway to draw other users of Black magic to the cause. Violet had been the best option. The sheer power of those abilities alone would be enough to sway a few of Grindelwald's less loyal supporters. Not to mention the considerable sway she had over Theo Nott and Draco Malfoy. A valuable asset indeed.

"..The Board of Governors is very concerned about the recent lax in security at the school over the past two years. You know Hogwarts safety is my primary concern but the opinions of our parents and of my donors is important…"

The Minister of Magic always was such a tiresome man to be around, always just a breath away from some great speech on poll numbers. The recent increase in Ministry interference at Hogwarts was beginning to grow on Dumbledore's nerves. It was no doubt influenced by the Dark in some weak attempt at a power grab for the control of Hogwarts.

"...which is why it is imperative that we find the girl quickly! And quietly at that," the Minister whispered as he glared at the Daily Prophet reporter.

"We'll find her, Minister. Miss. Potter is often at the center of every exciting event that happens here at Hogwarts. This year must have been too quiet for her. I'm sure her friends were exaggerating the gravity of the situation," Dumbledore said. They'd better find her soon. They had been searching this forest for hours and of course the Centaurs were nowhere to be found. He was beginning to think that the arrangement he had made with them was much more profitable on their end than his.

Dumbledore cast a look down at the Minister who didn't look quite as convinced. He sighed and opened his mouth to continue to appease the man before a scream sounded across the forest. Everyone in the search party stopped in their tracks and pulled out their wands. They waited until they heard another desperate cry for help before rushing off towards the sound. Dumbledore felt himself becoming increasingly anxious each step he took. He just hoped she wouldn't be beyond repair when they finally found her. The screaming continued. The group continued to run until they reached the end of the forest and burst through the treeline to find Violet Potter bleeding from what appeared to be several stab wounds and a sneering Peter Pettigrew with a glowing dagger in his hand. They were standing on the edge of a cliff. It had been the old landing spot for Hogwarts students before the Express had been installed. Before anyone could move the entire group watched in shock as Pettigrew slashed the dagger across Violet's throat.

All of Dumbledore's cleverly machinated plans dissolved before him as he watched Violet stumble backwards gasping for air that would never come. She reached out and grabbed Pettigrew as blood began to spill from her now open throat. The blindingly bright flash of the Prophet camera blocked Dumbledore's vision. The moment his sight returned to him the ledge was empty.

"No," he hissed while he and several Aurors rushed to the look over the ledge. The only sight that greeted them were rocks sharper than knives and the hiss of angry waves crashing against the cliff face. So much of the renewed war effort depended on her. His plans needed her if the Light were going to maintain its victory.

"We need to get down there at once," Dumbledore ordered and apparated to the bottom of the cliff without waiting for a response. A shallow beach offered some protection from the angry currents of the sea. He began to comb along the shore in search of anything. Any sign that all of his carefully laid plans hadn't been in vain. The quiet pops of several Aurors sounded behind him a few moments later. A large lump washed up on the shore a few meters away.

"Over there," an Auror shouted.

"Those cliffs tore 'em up good. Can barely make out the face," another Auror said as the group stood over the mangled corpse of Peter Pettigrew. "The two must've landed straight on them rocks. No one could survive that fall."

"Have a little tact. For Magic's sake. Two people are dead. Dead! Right this instant. Peter Pettigrew was alive and now he's….he's dead. He murdered Violet Potter. Oh Magic…" the Minister groaned as he took off his hat and began to wring it through his hands.

The aurors began to search the body and silently pulled a wand from his pocket. It was broken in half.

"Give that to me," Dumbledore said before he grabbed one half of it. He twirled it in his hand as he tried to find the magical core. The severed core would only remain a few moments longer before dissolving back into the atmosphere.

"It was hers," he said after a moment. Dumbledore sighed as he handed the wand back to the Auror. Thirteen years of brilliant and well laid plans and machinations all wasted. Violet Potter was dead.

She gave one last look at the castle that had been her first real home. The windows cast a lovely and welcome glow over the impossibly high stone walls. It was beautiful. Still and silent. So many memories would forever be housed within those long corridors, winding staircases, and under that enchanted ceiling. She breathed a weary sigh as her thoughts focused on the three most important people in her life. They were the great loves of her life. The lights in her darkness. The only refuge from the capricious and malevolent whims of fate that battered her down year after year. They were her best friends and she would gladly die a million deaths so that they could live in peace and safety. She turned away from the castle and friends who had saved her time and time again. Now it was her turn to save them. She closed her eyes and used the last of her strength to send a message through the wind.

'One day we shall meet again.'

*Chapter 32*: Chapter 32

Chapter 32: Bitter Ends & New Beginnings: An Interlude

They'd apparated to a little town somewhere in the mountains. The streets were dark and the night surprisingly quiet as the pair quickly made their way through the small courtyard in the center of the village. She had no idea where they were going but talking out the in open was dangerous. There were eyes and ears everywhere and one mistake now would ruin absolutely everything. She followed silently behind him as he lead her to an unlit townhouse.

"What is this place?"

"A safe house," Sirius said as he closed and locked the main door behind him. "We're in a muggle village."

The main entry way was nicely decorated with simple yet fine furnishings. A gleaming golden chandelier drew her eyes to the high ceiling and pristine white floral wallpaper with gold detailing that decorated the foyer. She smelt fresh flowers somewhere in the home but the house was too poorly lit for her to see more than a meter ahead.

"We can talk more in the morning. You need rest. I'll show you to your room," Sirius said before beginning to lead her down the long hallway.

Along the way they passed a dining room which housed an enormous wall length dresser that showcased intricately carved china with the symbol of a golden rose prominently displayed in the center of the wood. That particular House crest was unfamiliar to her.

"The kitchens through there on the other side. It's well stocked with essentials. Help yourself, of course. There are two sitting rooms on the left side of the house. Nothing terribly interesting in there except for some couches and chairs. Maybe a few books and a spider or two."

At the end of the hallway was a winding white marble staircase. It gleamed in the moonlight and stayed silent as they climbed up it. The home was remarkably well maintained. Whoever lived there before their arrival certainly took pride in their belongings. She couldn't help but admire the simple yet elegant taste. It felt comfortable without being too stuffy.

"So we have two drawing rooms, a study, library, bathroom, and bedroom on this floor. The next two floors are full of bedrooms actually." Sirius eyes focused down the hall. "At least, I believe that's the layout. I haven't been here in years. The last times a bit hazy…". They stopped outside a closed door at the very end of the hall. "Your room is right through there. If you need anything I'll be right down the hall."

Violet nodded and gave him a slight smile before stepping past him into the dark bedroom. She was well past exhausted at this point. A long night's sleep was the only thing on her mind.

The sunlight slowly streamed through the large window frames. She'd been too tired to close the curtains the night before. The room was rather pretty she decided as she slowly sat up in the enormous bed. The entire space was decorated in a subtle and soft array of warm cream colors. It was sparsely decorated with nothing but the most basic of bedroom essentials but the furniture's rich make more than compensated for the lack of decoration. Violet grimaced as she looked down at her arms. The skin was still practically open where the runes had been carved and the thorns protruding from her shoulderblades stung every time the fabric of her shirt brushed against them. She rose to her aching feet and stretched out every sore muscle. She was tempted to look out the window onto the street but she didn't want anyone to see her face. The comforting warm rays of sunlight were not worth being recognized.

She retied her hair into it's usual tight plait and stepped out into the long hallway to find Sirius. There was no noise coming from the second floor so she began to make her way back down to the ground floor. Every step she took sent blistering pain from her feet all the way up to her thighs. Sirius had been right. Her body was barely healing. As soon as she reached the landing her nose filled with smoke. She heard the sound of a soft feminine laugh coming from down the hall. No. They couldn't have found them so quickly. Not when they had just found each other.

Her wand was gone so Violet grabbed the closest item she could find as she dashed down the stairs completely ignoring the pain that was in every fast step. She followed the smoke to the doorway of what had to have been the kitchen and pushed the door open with all the strength she had left. She let out a breath as she saw Sirius standing in front of the stove and waving his arms in the air to try and clear the smoke away while cursing loudly.

Violet's eyes were next drawn to the stranger seated at the breakfast table. A woman, who looked to be around Sirius age, was staring at her with a thinly veiled look of horror. She was breathtakingly beautiful with strikingly sharp but feminine features. The woman was fair skinned with icy platinum blonde hair. Despite the fact that she was seated, Violet could tell that she was tall. Suddenly aware of her own appearance, Violet felt a deep blush begin to grow all over her skin. She could feel the dark brown eyes of the woman raking over her, in what felt like disapproval, as her skin continued to turn red. Sirius's arms dropped to his sides the moment he noticed her. He gave her a chagrined smile.

"Morning, Violet. I thought I'd try my hand at making us some breakfast. Mind you I've never actually used a stove before. One minute the bacon was perfect and the next...well you can see." He gestured to the smoke filled room and now pitch black bacon. She gave him a weak smile before returning to stare at the woman seated at the table.

"Who is that?" Violet was surprised by the raspy quality of her voice but she knew it was only going to get worse in the weeks to come. Her body was falling apart.

"The manners match the appearance. How charming," the woman said before Sirius could introduce her. Even the way she spoke exuded a refined elegance that bordered on arrogance.

"Pureblood then. We can trust her?" Violet asked completely ignoring the woman's insult. She wanted to trust his judgement but she still didn't know a lot about him. Lupin had described him as reckless but from what she'd seen of Sirius everything he did had a calculation to it. He seemed anything but carefree. No, the man in front of her was haunted by demons both mental and physical.

"I should have mentioned it last night but you looked so exhausted. I wouldn't have brought you here if it were dangerous. This is-"

"Viviana Belrose. An old friend of your Godfather. Welcome to my humble little home. Please enjoy it while it still stands. Sirius seems to be doing everything in his power to turn it to ashes." She rose from the table with a careless grace that made everyone else in the room appear clumsy in comparison.

"I'd ask your name but I already know it. The whole world knows who you are now. Congratulations. You're famous, darling."

The woman held up a newspaper that looked to be written in French. Violet limped forward to get a better look at the front page. She couldn't understand the headline but the picture on the front got the message across well enough. It was her throat being cut open by Peter Pettigrew before they both fell over the cliff ledge. The picture roused no emotion in her as she watched it play again.

"Only the foreign papers are running the picture. It's quite the tragedy. Young student just beginning to experience life murdered in front of the Headmaster of Hogwarts and the Minister of Magic. The press couldn't have asked for a better story. It's downright sensational."

Violet turned back towards Sirius and decided to continue to ignore the woman. He'd given up on trying to cook anything and placed the pan in the large farmhouse sink.

"Our little show worked. As far as everyone in the Wizarding World is concerned Violet Potter is dead."

"Great," Violet said in a toneless voice. She tried not to wince as she sat down at the table. "I assume our next move is getting me all patched up and then finding out who exactly my powers have been transferred to. We already know where the first one went but if we go directly for her it will be suspicious. Still, England is most likely our-,"

"No," Sirius interrupted. "I don't think you fully grasp what needs to happen. The public is convinced you're dead but don't think for the moment that Dumbledore or either of the Dark Lords are ready to fully believe the masses. They will always be searching for you. Violet Potter needs to die. You need to die. Does that make sense?"

Violet shook her head. Nothing made sense anymore. She thought that Sirius had offered her the freedom to operate outside the confines being a student, to work in the shadows away from prying eyes.

Viviana gave a long suffering sigh as she looked at the ruined bacon now collecting water in her sink. "Your appearance for one is a dead giveaway. That hair," she shuddered as she turned back towards Violet and Sirius.

Violet rolled her eyes. "I'll just change the color then-,"

"Your mannerisms. Your slouched posture. The total lack of confidence, poise, and manners. Darling, I've only known you three minutes and I'd be able to pick you out of a crowd. Just look for the frail little girl trying to take up as little space as possible." Viviana waved her hand dismissively at Violet who was beginning to feel her blood boil.

"Some of us have more important things to worry about than appearances. Sorry if trying to survive beat out looking pretty on my list of importance. I can't exactly just disappear and become a completely new person."

Sirius shared a long look with Viviana. "That's exactly what you need to do for this to work," Sirius said after a moment of tense silence.

"It's an old and very dark magic but it will change your appearance. It'll change your...blood."

"You've got to be joking" Violet said incredulously. She was willing to give up her life at Hogwarts but she didn't want to lose her connection to her parents. Saying goodbye to her friends had nearly broken her but saying goodbye to her parents… No. She couldn't do that.

Sirius sighed and rubbed his temples. He had changed out of his Azkaban robes but he still looked so gaunt. His skin looked paper thin and even the morning sunlight couldn't bring any color to it. "James and Lily will always be your parents, Violet. That will never change. The memories that you have will always be with you. But your connection to your parents, to your past, puts you directly in danger. Your blood was poisoned the moment those runes appeared on your skin. I can't heal you without the ritual."

She looked down at the open wounds on her arms. She wouldn't be able to accomplish anything in this state but the ritual would turn her into someone new, someone different, and that scared her. "What exactly is involved?"

"Viviana and I would give you our blood. For all intents and purposes you would be our child. It came into popularity during the great witch hunts of Europe. Families were desperate to continue their magical lines but the magical population had been almost wiped out so this was an easy solution. I know it's extreme but we're playing catch up here. The Lords of the Dark and Light have been waiting for your appearance for decades. Let's change the game on them. "

"What's in it for you?" She could understand why Sirius would do this for her. She believed that he would do anything to protect her but Viviana was an unknown element. She trusted Sirius's judgement but it wasn't like they were brewing any old potion. Viviana turned to face her with a harsh expression that somehow made her seem even more beautiful. Her amber eyes narrowed. Violet had originally thought her to be delicate but the woman before her was fierce.

"You are not the only one whose life was impacted by the last war. Not the only one with wounds and scars. I will not go quietly or meekly into the background while a new war begins. I will not be idle and stand aside to let others determine my future. So darling, what's in it for me is the same thing that's in it for you. A change to put my fate into my own hands and carve out a new world."

Violet realized then that she wanted this. Perhaps it was selfish but she didn't care. She wanted to find her own path. She wanted to be someone else. Someone with the kind of absolute control over their life that she had only dreamed of before. Someone with total freedom to shape her life how she wanted. Someone who could take revenge against the world that had betrayed her time and time gain.

"How long does it take to prepare?"

The next three months were spent trapped in the townhouse as Violet tried to change each and every single one of her mannerisms. Her wounds had closed but the slightest amount of pressure would cause them to open again. She may as well have been made of glass. She hadn't been able to spend as much time with her godfather as she would have liked. The Minister of Magic had publicly offered a full pardon for Sirius Black in light of the recent events and in the spirit of forgiveness. Sirius had become somewhat of an overnight celebrity. The public was taken with all the tragedy surrounding his life. It wasn't uncommon to see his face on the front page of the Daily Prophet at least once a week. It had been a unanimous decision that it would be best for him to be seen in the spotlight as often as possible which left Violet with no one but Viviana for company. It was trying to say the least.

Everything about Violet was pulled apart, critiqued, and then discarded. She had to learn how to write with her left hand, to speak with the confidence of a pureblood, even her walk had be relearned. The same seemingly simple task would be done over and over until Violet had the new movements mastered. It took her over two weeks to learn a new way to sit on furniture. Viviana was a harsh but dedicated instructor. She never offered praise and seemed to delight in provoking Violet into verbal fights. It didn't help that she never reacted to anything Violet said or did. Every insult or jab simply rolled right off of her. Nothing could unnerve her as she stood tall and impossibly beautiful over everyone and everything. It was frankly intimidating. She'd also taken to speaking in a rotation of French, Italian, German, and Russian and expected Violet to be able to somehow keep up. She wouldn't accept any less.

"I may as well be talking to the wall. Are you even trying or is the concept of putting one foot in front of the other too difficult a task to manage?"

Violet had been walking back and forth down the second floor hallway for over three hours while Viviana reclined on a chaise lounge in her sitting room. "I'm having difficulty managing not to punch you in the face," Violet mumbled under her breath.

"Violet Potter has a temper and a crass one at that," Viviana called from the sitting room, "how utterly predictable. You're going to be spotted the first moment you take a step outside that door."

Violet closed her eyes and desperately wished she had access to a wand. Just one well placed stinging hex would be enough. Deep down she know that Viviana was right. Violet Potter displayed her emotions for the entire world to see. It was all too easy to get a reaction out of her. Still, it didn't make taking Viviana's criticisms any easier.

"I don't hear the heavy steps of a clumsy elephant stomping down the hallway," Viviana called out in a sing song voice.

Just one stinging hex Violet thought as she once again began to walk up and down the hallway.

"I've been standing like this for hours. If my posture hasn't changed yet then maybe it never will," Violet complained as the muscles in her legs were begging for her to take a seat in one of the rooms many comfortable couches.

"Maybe? Such a terrible word. Will it or won't it? You speak like a dimwitted child lacking the confidence to answer anything definitively," Viviana said from one of the couches in the room. She was reading a book and hadn't even bothered to look up at Violet for over an hour.

Violet desperately wanted to snap back an insult but she held her tongue. Viviana raised an arched eyebrow and finally looked up at Violet with a look of barely there approval flashing across her amber eyes. Violet smirked in triumph. Finally.

"Any reaction, even positive, is still a reaction. Let no one see your true feelings. You don't owe the world a thing, darling, Not even that pretty smile." Viviana tsked as she went back to reading her book.

It had been all too easy to lose track of time over the weeks that she had been there. The date no longer mattered. Repetition of menial tasks for hours on end as Viviana tore her apart piece by piece certainly made time feel irrelevant. It had been a flash of orange on the windowsill that had drawn her to look out onto the street. She had been practicing her letters for hours. Her left hand felt natural. The leaves of the large oak trees had begun to turn brilliant shades of yellows and oranges. She looked down on the street to hear the laughter of school children as they walked side by side. For just a moment she allowed her heart to ache at the reminder of the three people she had left behind. It wouldn't be right to say their names. Not anymore. They were strangers to her now. She turned from the street and sat down at the desk with an easy grace that even Viviana couldn't find fault with.

"I need to do one last thing as Violet Potter." The name felt strange to say outloud. If it weren't for the same reflection greeting her day after day she would have thought she was someone else. The runes carved into her arms had finally closed but left thick scars in their wake. She hated them. They were the bloody nails of her coffin.

"Waiting until the last minute? Was this an impulsive decision or have you developed a flair for the dramatic? Oh, calculating and dramatic. That would be an exciting development. I sincerely hope it's the latter," Viviana prompted as she poured herself a cup of tea.

"The timing of this is delicate." She allowed herself a small smile as she watched Viviana raise an arched eyebrow, waiting for an explanation.

"All I ask is you apparate us to this address. The rest doesn't concern you," she said as she handed her the piece of paper written in flowing cursive.

"I'm going to need a bit more to go off of than that. If you were to be seen now after all of the work we've both put in…" Another test to see how she would react to obstacles. Once she would have pleaded or shown her hand in frustration.

"Then I will just have to be invisible," each word laced with clear and concise confidence. There was no more room for doubt or insecurity.

"Or don't take me. Deny the simple last request of a dying girl, if you must. It's your conscience," she said in disinterest as she reclined back on the chair she was sitting in, allowing no emotion to show through.

Viviana smiled at her from across the room exposing perfectly white and straight teeth. "Very good. Keep this up and people are going to give you anything."

"I certainly hope so."

She had been standing outside of the house for an hour under the comfort of her invisibility cloak. The sun had just set but the night had quickly turned crisp as fall wrapped itself around England. None of the lights in the house were turned on but the soft blue glow of a television screen told her everything that she needed to know. Slowly, she walked up to the plain white front door and ran her fingers along the smooth wood. There wasn't a dent or scratch anywhere in sight. They always were concerned with appearances. She was as silent as the wind as she entered the front hallway. Tacky glass animal sculptures and beige wallpaper greeted her like old friends. She stole into the living room and found him; her torturer, her greatest fear. He looked so pathetically normal sitting in front of the television. She had been his prisoner for thirteen years. Thirteen years of nothing but pain and hatred. Broken limbs and scarred flesh stitched together with suffocating fear. But Violet Potter was dead and the dead feared nothing.

"Hello Uncle," she whispered, leaning over the couch so her mouth was right next to his ear. Vernon shot forward in his seat almost falling over in the process.

"Who's there! You're trespassing on private property! Leave at once!" His voice remained steady as he spoke but she could see fear slowly sinking into him as his eyes continuously darted throughout the room. With the invisibility cloak still tied around her shoulders she moved around the couch and once more leaned down to whisper in his ear.

"I want you to know that I will never think of you again after this moment." Once again he jumped away from the sound.

"This is your last warning. Leave at once!" He bellowed as he shakily got up onto his feet trying to use his enormous size in some vain attempt at intimidation. She laughed in response and delighted in seeing the fear play across his features. He was nothing but a coward.

She walked over to the liquor cabinet that had once again been replaced with gleaming stemware and amber liquid. Before Vernon could react she picked up one of the glasses and threw it directly at him. It shattered on impact. She laughed and proceeded to throw four more glasses before he fled from the room. The sound of the door trying to be opened echoed into the living room. She took her time as she walked up to him. He was fumbling with the lock and swearing under his breath. It wouldn't open, she had made sure of that.

"I'm disappointed, Uncle. I had expected more of a fight from you," she whispered in his ear. He turned backwards to try and grab the source of the sound but she was too fast. Her bones and muscles screamed in protest at the movement but her soul was alight. She felt free.

"Go away. Take what you want. I have money! Just leave me alone," Vernon bellowed as he returned to pulling on the front door with all his might.

She turned from him in disgust and began to walk down the hallway. The kitchen was just as she remembered. Cheap laminate countertops and food overflowing from the cabinets. Hours and hours spent standing in front of that off-white stove preparing meals that she would never get to taste. She turned all four of the black dials on the stove before returning back to the hallway with various metals gleaming in her hands. Vernon was now trying to break down the door.

"Uncle, I think you should sit down. You're over-excited." She stabbed him in the leg before he could turn around to lunge. The knife went in deep and he fell to the ground in an unceremonious heap of fat and fear.

"There don't you feel better." She untied the strings around her neck and let the invisibility cloak pool around her ankles. Vernon looked up at her first in disbelief and then in fear. Perhaps it was the black thorns sticking out from her shoulders or the strange symbols carved into her flesh that made him cower so.

"It can't be. T-they told us you were d-dead."

She examined the other knife in her hand as he spoke. It was dull but it would serve just as well.

"I am," she said with little ceremony before plunging it into his other leg. He screamed out and it was music to her ears. A glorious symphony that she had longed to hear ever since he had first struck her all those years ago. He was the first in the long line of betrayal that she had clawed her way through. She tsked as she watched his blood spill from his legs and stain the beige carpet beneath him. Those stains would never come out. She bent down onto her knees so they were at eye level, not caring when his blood began to pool around her. There was the smallest hint of anger in his eyes but it was overshadowed by his terror. She would gladly use the last of her strength for the pleasure to watch all of his flicker out.

"I had wanted to repay you for every kindness you ever showed me but I don't have thirteen years to waste." She gave a soft laugh as she slowly twisted the knife into his thigh. "We only have a few minutes left, I'm afraid." The soft clicking of the stove in the background was a countdown.

"I still own you, girl. You aren't gonna kill me. I rule you," he hissed between breaths. There it was. The last of Vernon's fight. He made to lunge at her but the knives implanted in his legs stopped him moving more than an inch. She closed her eyes and used the last of her magic to pin his arms to his sides. She wobbled slightly under the exertion but Vernon was too distracted to notice.

"You little bitch," he seethed as he struggled in vain to lift his arms.

She tsked and stood up to retrieve his favorite brandy from the living room. She roughly grabbed his hair and pulled his head back to pour the entire bottle down his throat, watching in disinterest as he sputtered and began to cough up blood and brandy. She dropped the bottle on his lap when it was empty and moved to sit on her knees next to him. The clicking of the stove continued in the background.

"J-just wait till I get my hands back on you. Weak, p-pathetic, little freak. You don't have what it t-takes to kill."

But she did. She'd slit her own throat while wearing the skin of another. Her parents betrayer had been her first and now her torturer would be her second. She was fury. She was vengeance. She was death and she had come to claim what she was owed.

"It had to end like this. Didn't it? You and me. Together until the bitter end," she said softly before undoing his belt buckle and slowly pulling the leather towards herself. The metal clasp had no stains, no evidence of the horrors it had carved into her back. Vernon began to shake and jerk his head as she wrapped it tightly around his neck. She pulled and pulled while he writhed beneath her. His face turned red then purple then all color fled.

"S-stop. Violet," he pleaded but nothing would move her. He died with her name on his lips. It was the only time he had ever said it outloud.

She felt nothing but a sense of peace as she picked up her invisibility cloak and draped it once more around her shoulders. She toyed with the metal lighter in her hands before moving her thumb over the spark-wheel and pressing down. When the sun rose nothing but ashes remained.

The Potter mausoleum stood in the center of a small cemetery in Godric's Hollow. She had never had the chance to visit before but it seemed fitting that this would be the first time. The night before the ritual where she would shed her skin and magic for another chance at life. The ground was covered in a fresh layer of snow perfectly matching the pure white marble of the mausoleum. She traced her fingers along the names of the parents who had sacrificed everything so that their daughter could live. The very same daughter whose name was now etched beneath theirs. Violet Potter had died with so many loose ends, so many words left unspoken, but wasn't that always the way? A life half lived with hopes and dreams unfinished, a few glorious moments forever imprinted somewhere in the long fabric of time. All lost to her now. She'd touched the sky with her fingertips. She'd made the friends of a lifetime. She'd found her light but the darkness had been too strong. She'd spent her life fighting but now it was time to let Violet Potter rest for good.

There was work to do yet.

*Chapter 33*: Chapter 33

Chapter 33: Mirror Image

A/N: Thank you for reading. Hope you enjoy :)

"Sirius Black, it has been just over a year since your triumphant return to the Wizarding World. We've mourned with you over the tragic loss of your Goddaughter, celebrated with you over your official pardon, and enjoyed the pleasure of watching you reenter society and take up the mantle of Lord Black. Since that time your face hasn't left the covers of the Daily Prophet and Witch Weekly, and yet my readers are still desperate for more. What secrets lay beneath those stormy grey eyes? A new love perhaps? A future in politics? What makes the infamous Lord Black tick? Give me all the juicy details."

"As if I could deny you anything, Rita."

"There it is! That infamous Black charisma that has so captivated me, myself, and I. Not to mention all my ardent readers." Rita gave Sirius a crocodile smile as she reclined back into the lounge chair. She instantly regretted it when her hand touched the very worn and tattered arm rest. She hoped that was a wine stain and not blood. The Goat's Belly was without a doubt the worst and filthiest place she had ever been in. It was infested with dust, grime, patrons of questionable character, and an unforgivably rude barkeep. It was the only location Black would give interviews and there was no way she was going to pass on a story that would, at a minimum, result in a fourteen percent reader increase. All of England was taken with the man.

"I think what we are all so desperately anxious to know is how you have been faring? How is your current mental health state after being held prisoner in Azkaban for over twelve years. Tell me Sirius, do the internal scars match the exterior ones?"

Rita leaned forward to make sure that her quick-quotes quill wrote down Black's slight tick at the mention of Azkaban. Of course, by the time the story was published it would be upgraded to 'visible fear and pain so apparent in his troubled eyes'. She could practically hear the swooning of her readers. Impartial journalism aside, he was remarkably handsome. Sirius Black had been blessed with the notorious Black Family good looks of thick dark hair and intense grey eyes. His stay in Azkaban had made his distinct facial features even more pronounced, particularly his prominent jaw which curved ever so gracefully around his neck, perfectly showing off all that new muscle. Not to mention that dangerous edge that seemed to hang around him like smoke. Quite the catch, indeed.

"I'm quite well, thank you. Of course some days are more difficult than others but it's amazing just how much the absence of dementors can do for one's well-being." Sirius gave a light chuckle before continuing, "I've come to appreciate things in my everyday life that prior to my imprisonment I had taken for granted."

"Like what?"

Sirius twirled a quill in his hands as he stared past her. Perhaps she would add brooding to her description. The Brooding Lord Black. Yes, that had a nice sound to it.

"I'm able to walk through Diagon Alley without fear. I can visit Hogwarts, walk those halls, as a free man. Even breathing feels easier now. I have my life back. I never thought I'd get to say that."

"Hogwarts has of course been a source of great happiness and great pain for you. Do you visit often? There have been several rumors of a growing rift between you and the great Albus Dumbledore. How is your relationship today?"

"Our relationship is that of any Headmaster and a former student. Cordial and professional. I can't say that I visit too often. Being the Head of House Black unfortunately doesn't give me much in the way of free-time."

"Workaholic then? Surely you must have time for a little fun, no?" Rita tried not to flinch as a large cockroach scurried across the floor between her and Sirius. Nasty little things. This pub should be shut down immediately. It was a complete wreck. She comforted herself with the knowledge that she could always write an expose on it if this interview didn't pan out.

"Well, of course. I enjoy watching a good duel now and then-,"

"Come now, Sirius. There's no need to be coy. You've been spotted with several witches over the past few months yet they never seem to stick around for too long. My readers are positively desperate to know if there is someone special in your life. Someone to mend your broken and lonely heart, perhaps? Or is it the life of a bachelor for you?"

Sirius gave a hearty laugh. She would make sure to change it to nervous laugh for the article. Perhaps nervous and vulnerable. Her quill was waiting to record a response but before he could gave an answer that terrible barkeep reappeared.

"There's a woman 'ere to see you, Black. Some bint by the name of Belrose. I left her in one of the guest rooms. She's got a great as-"

Rita instantly went to ignoring the barkeeps crude bluntness in favor of trying to recall where she had heard the name Belrose before. It was most definitely a Pureblood name but not from England. She turned to find Sirius looking decidedly nervous. Now, this was an intriguing development.

"If you'll excuse me for just a moment, Rita," Sirius said before abruptly standing.

"But of course." She tried her best to remove any amount of curiosity from her voice while tucking her quill and notepad back into her crocodile bag.

"And I trust this interruption will remain confidential?"

Rita smiled and looked up at Sirius over her jeweled glasses before speaking. "You have my word as one of England's most trusted and respected journalists."

Sirius gave her a tight lipped smile and nod before departing from the room with the barkeep following after him. She waited until their footsteps had faded before following after. It didn't take an investigative journalist to deduce that they were in the only other room in the hallway that had a closed door. It was too early in the day for the pub to be full up with it's usual amount of lowlifes and degenerates. Rita looked both ways down the long hallway to make sure that the hulking barkeep was gone before focusing her magic on transforming her arms and legs. They began to shrink and transform before her and soon the rest of her body followed suit. The animagus transformation took her less than thirty seconds to complete now. Without wasting another second she quickly scurried under the door to find out what had been so important it had required Black's immediate attention. At least in a pub this dirty, no one would notice a stray beetle on the floor.

"...not the best time or place for that matter, Vivia. I'm giving an..."

It took Rita a moment to find a safe spot in the room where she could see both Sirius and whoever this new arrival was. Eventually she hid behind a dusty old lamp on one of the end tables in the room which provided an excellent view and excellent protection from detection. The woman who stood before her was quite beautiful with long pale blonde hair, piercing amber eyes, and a rather delicate thin nose. It was then that she finally recalled where she had heard that last name before. She must have been Viviana Belrose, the notorious courtesan who delighted and entertained Pureblood men bored in their marriages. She had been disinherited from her family at a young age and had made her own way in the world; a proud and cold woman by many reports. Witch Weekly had run a feature article about her a few years ago when one husband had left his wife and family for her. It had absolutely shocked the Great Houses of the French Court and set tongues wagging in England. Now she was visiting Sirius Black in a dimly lit pub. Oh, this was going to be the story of the year. Rita could already see the dollar signs that this was going to bring in.

"I know but it's about Cece,"

"Is something wrong? What's happened?" Sirius interrupted with what was a clear hint of worry in his voice. Viviana reacted to the interruption with a minuscule narrowing of her eyes. If Rita hadn't spent so much of her life spying on people she most likely would have missed that small detail. Black certainly had.

"She's fine, just incredibly unhappy with the arrangement that you and I agreed on. She's been sulking in her room for over a week and won't speak to me with anything other than a yes or a no. It's rather unbecoming. Such a stubborn child. She's determined to give her mother grey hair and wrinkles." Now, that was an interesting tidbit of gossip; the great courtesan had a daughter. It would be a decent article for Witch Weekly.

"You certainly look fine to me," Sirius said with a spark clear in his eyes. Rita thought it made him look rather young and for the first time she had a glimpse of the juvenile and jovial man he must have been before Azkaban. Viviana gave a musical laugh, no doubt used to receiving all sorts of similar compliments from men.

"After where you've been, I'm positive that you'd find the barkeeper in a dress to be a pleasing sight. He's a rather rude thing, isn't he? Quite the colorful vocabulary. I was unaware that there were so many different ways to fit curse words into everyday conversation."

"He's not so bad. You should hear some of his jokes. They're hysterical. Besides, how else am I supposed to deter unwanted visitors?"

"I'd say the state of this pub would do a well enough job of that. I've only been here for a few minutes and I already feel like I need a bath." Rita couldn't help but agree with Viviana. She made a mental note to watch out for spider webs on her way out of the room.

"But I'm afraid we've gotten terribly off track. The reason I came here was Celeste. I was hoping you could speak to her about the school arrangement. She really took poor Edgar's death to heart; such a wise old sage and truly a wonderful and dedicated tutor. She told me that he had been her first and only friend. Isn't that sad? I've sheltered her too much, I know. It's time for her to be around people her own age."

Sirius ran a hand through his hair. "I'm not sure how helpful I'd be or if she'd even listen to me. I've only been in her life for three months. You don't think that would be imposing? I don't want to push things. It took over a month for her to grant me the privilege of calling her something other than Lady Celeste."

Rita had a rising suspicion at where this conversation was headed and if she was right then forget the story of the year. This was going to be the story of the decade. What she wouldn't give for some type of recorder or a camera. She shook her head to refocus on the conversation. It wouldn't do to miss a single detail now.

"You're her father. She's not going to accept it until you do. This is an excellent place to start. She's gone fifteen years without you, but that doesn't mean that she doesn't need you," Viviana said in a voice full of conviction. "Besides, just think how ecstatic she'll be to speak with someone other than me."

Rita's heart skipped a beat. Forget the Boy who Lived, forget Hogwarts clashing with the Ministry, forget the Minister of Magic. Sirius Black had a daughter. He had a daughter with a notorious courtesan. One he hadn't known about until this year. Rita did the math in her head as she quickly scurried from the room. Fifteen years ago would mean the child was conceived during the height of the last war. The public did love tragedy. Oh, this story was going to write itself. She wouldn't even need to fabricate too many details to make it interesting. She barely had a moment to transfigure back and fix a loose curl before the door opened once more.

"I apologize for the interruption. I understand that your time is valuable," he said by way of greeting before taking a seat in one of the rooms lounge chairs.

Rita waved her hand dismissively while trying to reign in her excitement. "No need to apologize. I trust all is well?"

"Quite well, thank you. Now where were we?"

"Let's see. Ah, yes. Tell me about your plans for the future. I believe all the Black lands had been sold off. Will there be a struggle to get them back? Why not put that charisma to work for the good of the public?" Rita asked as she pulled out her acid green quick-quotes quill, trying not to grimace as she sat back down onto the filthy armchair. Story of the Decade, she reminded herself.

The constant knocking on the door was beginning to grate on her nerves. She just wanted to be left alone in her room. The locked door should have been a hint but lately hints in this house had gone largely ignored. Celeste threw a pillow at her door and smiled in satisfaction when the knocking abruptly stopped proving once again that sometimes the direct route really was the best route.

"You were supposed to be up over an hour ago. I can't believe it has come to this. Locked out of a room in my own home and now you're throwing things! Of all the childish things you've done lately, this clearly takes the cake," Viviana called from the other side.

"Then don't put locks on the doors," Celeste yelled before throwing herself onto the soft mattress and pulling the covers over herself. She still wasn't fully used to this body and her brain was having trouble catching up to all these new changes, which resulted in rather severe mood swings. Her memories of before were fuzzy and felt more like a hazy dream than anything else. Memory loss had been a risk of the ritual and there were certainly large gaps in it now. Foggy images just out of reach. She remembered a tower high in the sky with a midnight blue carpet, the smell of earth and leather, and laughter in the snow but now there were new memories; parents who looked at her with warmth and approval in their eyes, a senile tutor with a fondness for bad poetry and good jazz, and living in a city of music and light. She sighed as she felt the pressure of her mattress dip in as another person laid down next to her. Celeste peaked her head out from under the covers.

"I think you've used up your monthly allowance of brooding. Look the school list arrived today," Viviana said in a song song voice as she held out the list.

Celeste narrowed her eyes at it before grabbing it and retreating back under the covers. The paper smelled of vanilla and was cream in color with a fine gold embroidery. The supply list was about as much as she had expected: cauldrons, parchment, quills, three sets of work robes for each season, a set of formal robes for special occasions, and a large assortment of books for classes, that she had to admit sounded rather interesting. There was a definite emphasis on cultural studies that peaked her curiosity. Maybe, Beauxbatons wouldn't be so bad. She peeked her head out from the covers when she finished reading the list to find Viviana smiling.

"How about we have a quick bite of breakfast and then spend the rest of the day spending obscene amounts of money on clothes and books? Ah, I thought I'd see your eyes light up at the last part."

Celeste felt the corners of her mouth pulling into a reluctant smile as Viviana snapped her fingers. A plate piling over with colorful pastries and two cups of fresh coffee appeared on the bed a moment later. Breakfast in bed had become somewhat of a tradition in the townhouse; a sacred time of day where troubles were put aside in favor of delicious food, comfortable clothing, and easy conversation with lots of laughter. Viviana left the room shortly after breakfast to allow Celeste to get ready. She threw her hair into a low ponytail and quickly put on black silk trousers with a light and lovely ivory blouse. The late Spring had been unusually warm but the soft sounds of the wind stirring the leaves and branches against her window promised a cool breeze to all those ventured outside.

The townhouse was quiet as she stepped into the foyer. The house elves must have been on the other side of it then. She stroked her new hawthorn wand and felt her magic begin to twist and weave with the wand's core. It was seamless. Her magic had changed since the ritual. It felt renewed and alive in a way she hadn't known possible before. There was a weightlessness around it, as if it had been finally set free, and was now a part of her soul. She wasn't at war with herself anymore and that simple acceptance seemed to have changed everything. Celeste took a deep breath and relished the feeling of air filling her lungs. She would never get used to that wondrous sensation after spending so many years choking on pain and fear. She'd been reduced to nothing but ashes but the wind had carried her fast and far to freedom. It was hers to command now. Viviana appeared beside her a moment later dressed in a figure hugging black dress and a dramatic sunhat looking all parts the chic sophisticate.

"Chin up, my dear. The whole world is watching now," she said with a wink before opening the front door of the townhouse. Celeste donned the same look of bored neutrality as Viviana before gracefully stepping onto the front steps to a flurry of flashing camera lights. It would take much more than the press to unsettle Celeste Belrose. She was made for this world.

The shop smelt like lavender and was lined wall to wall with a never-ending assortment of shimmering pale blue robes, knee length skirts, and flowing blouses. From the outside the shop appeared rather unassuming but inside it was adorned with soft blues and warm creams that made it feel like a little slice of heaven. It was small in size with one silver pedestal in the center, a wall of mirrors, and a single dressing room, but the elite of the Pureblood did not come here for a vast and sprawling selection; they came for the finest of fabrics and one of a kind expert tailoring. Like anything else in the Pureblood world, clothing was used to convey a message of status and pride of one's family. It was a cornerstone of their world. The finer and more elaborate the clothing, the higher one's status. Fashion was yet another part of the great game of politics and social machinations they all played. A game that revolved around intrigue, ambition, seduction, and scandal. The right outfit could change everything.

"...she's quite lucky. Not everyone can pull off that famous Beauxbaton blue. Every year there are at least a dozen panic attacks when the poor dears realize how difficult the color is to wear. A first test as it were. Turn around now, please."

"Oh, that fit is marvelous. Madame Genevieve you're an absolute treasure," Viviana called out from a cream colored arm chair that was lined along the wall of the small shop.

"Go on. Look at yourself and tell me how you feel," Genevieve prompted as she finished removing the last pin in place and stepped back to admire her work.

First, Celeste looked down at the pale blue silk that draped so elegantly over her lithe form. It was certainly different from what she had worn before, but so was she. Her legs were longer, hips a bit wider, and her breasts were more well formed. She was in the midst of puberty and could already see the woman she was becoming. The skin that was once covered in scars was now smooth and clear. Light silver lines on her shoulder blade and thigh were the only evidence of the horrors once visited upon her flesh. She looked up from the pale blue and into the large floor length mirror before her. For the briefest moment she saw the ghost of a scarred and dead eyed little girl and let the guilt begin to coil tightly around her soul at the fading memory of everything she left behind for her freedom. The girl vanished almost as quickly as she appeared and Celeste found herself staring at her own reflection in the mirror. She looked like the woman sitting on the other side of the room, her mother. The woman who had given her own blood so Celeste could take her first real breath.

She let her icy blonde hair loose from it's ponytail and watched in satisfaction as the soft waves draped easily over her shoulders. The pale hair brought out the stands of intricately stitched silver in the garment. She turned her head slightly to closer inspect her reflection. It had taken a while to get used to the face that was now forever hers. She had all the fine features one would expect from the child of Sirius Black and Viviana Belrose; deep-set upturned grey eyes sat below thick and dark arched eyebrows while a straight and symmetrical nose and small round chin served to highlight the sharp cheekbones and full lips on her angular face. She was beautiful. Celeste carried herself with all the easy confidence and poise of someone who was well aware of that fact and with the help of a few strategically placed cosmetics her beauty was yet another weapon in her arsenal.

"Spectacular work as always. I couldn't possibly be more pleased," Celeste said as she turned to examine the back of the garment the mirror. She smiled in approval when she saw the way the fabric hugged each and every curve.

Genevieve waved her hand dismissively as she examined the outfit from every possible angle, her small sharp eyes searching for any imperfection in the fabric or form. "Anything for my two best customers. So how many should I write up?"

The two women left the shop arm in arm an hour later with an order for over a dozen dresses for the upcoming year. They spent the remainder of the day purchasing supplies and leisurely wandering in and out of various shops buying whatever they pleased. The poor house elves were beside themselves as they tried to keep up with the unending flurry of shopping bags the women left in their wake. Celeste raised an eyebrow as Vivana began to lag behind her the closer they came to the bookstore.

"Must we go in? You took hours last time. Hours! I could just as easily send one of the house elves to get the rest," Viviana said as the two stopped in front of the grand oak doors of the largest bookshop in wizarding France. It covered two city blocks and boasted over one million books. If paradise existed on Earth, this was it.

"You don't enjoy reading?" Celeste turned her head back towards the doors and looked longingly at the endless stacks and rows of tomes that stretched floor to ceiling in the large shop. It appeared endless from the outside. She would gladly spend her entire life in there if she could.

"It's all right, I suppose. I'd rather spend my time following more productive outlets," Viviana said while winking at a handsome man across the busy street. He stopped walking immediately and seemed to be debating with himself whether or not to come over, much to the annoyance of several people trying to pass by him.

"You know you don't need to do that anymore," Celeste said softly as she watched the display. It wasn't that she didn't approve of Viviana's profession but she knew that the woman could do much better for herself. She already had more than enough money to ever worry about her finances again but Viviana laughed in the face of convention and delighted in shocking the masses. She had an independent streak that when threatened would erupt like wildfire. Viviana looked away from the man and gave Celeste a quick kiss on the forehead.

"It's less a matter of need and more a matter of want. Why don't you go on inside and I'll meet you at the townhouse later." Viviana began to gracefully saunter across the street towards the man who looked relieved that she had made the first move. "Pick me out a tragic romance," she called back before she got too far away.

Celeste sighed as she watched the pair disappear into a dimly lit restaurant farther down the street.

"More books for me then," she mumbled before turning back towards the shop with the supply list in her hand. She felt herself smile as she stepped inside the brightly lit store where books and more books greeted her, each promising an exquisite escape in the form of a wondrous adventure. Reading had become somewhat of an addiction; a reprieve from the daily pressures that came from being the daughter of one of the most famous men in England. Though the past year had been filled with happiness, she would be lying if she said there weren't moments of incredible loneliness. There would always be a dead and open space in her heart. She was safe now but she was also incredibly sheltered. So, she'd gladly lose herself among the pages of each and every book she could find, even if just for an hour or so. Friends were difficult to come by so the characters she met in books would just have to do.

It was the first month into Summer and two months since Rita Skeeter's bombshell headline graced the cover of the Daily Prophet. Celeste and Sirius stood on an empty street and stared up at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place. They had agreed that half of her year was to be spent in France and the other half in England. It was the first time she had stepped foot in the country since the ritual but she found herself filled with excitement instead of dread. The various townhouses that lined the street could have once been considered handsome but now they all were in various states of decay. There were broken windows, peeling paint, and more than one of the streetlights had gone out. The sounds of sirens in the city and the frequent honking of far off car horns filled the empty street. None of that mattered to Celeste or Sirius, however. Due in large part to the Rita Skeeter, the pair could now be seen in public together and had decided to spend the summer finally getting to know one another now that they both weren't in immediate danger.

They grinned and nodded to each other before walking up the steps into the decrepit building that would someday be their home. Viviana would be joining them later in the summer after the house had been thoroughly cleaned and cleared of all vermin. Celeste suspected that she had also wanted to give the two of them some alone time. The pair entered a dark foyer but before they could say anything a portrait began screaming.

"Dishonor! Oh, stains of filth! Are the halls of my fathers to be so polluted! Blood traitor and a lazy vagrant-"

Sirius rushed forward and closed the moth eaten curtains that were still firmly attached to the portrait's frame before turning towards Celeste.

"Well, at least now you've met your Grandmother."

She smiled at the term and tried to ignore the quick flair of guilt that surged through her. It was moments like these that she wished the ritual had taken all her memories, but no. There had to be a price to pay for the freedom she had been given. She knew there was no going back.

"Is there no way to take dear old Grandmother down?" Celeste could hear the portrait began to sputter indignantly behind the curtains. Sirius chuckled.

"Afraid not. Permanent sticking charm. Though I have thought about casting a reducto at the old girl to see if that would have any effect." The sputtering grew louder as Sirius lit one of the gas lamps that lined the foyer.

With a little light now in the hall, Celeste looked up to see a beautiful and highly detailed golden chandelier above her head. It was covered in spiderwebs and dust but she could see the classic beauty laying underneath. An umbrella stand made from what looked like a troll's leg rested right next to the main doors. The wall paper throughout the house was peeling and the carpet beneath their feet was thin, torn, and full of holes. She walked down the hall to see a dining room which featured an enormous wall length dresser that held a never ending amount of priceless china and what looked to be the Black family crest carved into the wood. It reminded her of the one in Viviana's home. Perhaps all Pureblood Family's had one. Like the chandelier, the entire room was covered in dust and spiderwebs.

"The kitchen's downstairs but we should probably wait till the morning to go down there," Sirius chimed in behind her. "I can't promise that all the stairs are still in place."

At the end of the hallway was a grand mahogany staircase. Each step creaked and groaned as Sirius and Celeste climbed their way up to the next floor. The second floor was in much the same decrepit state as the ground floor. She heard wardrobes rattling in the distance meaning the home was more than likely infested with boggarts. It would be interesting to see what form they would take now. She jumped as Siris lit up another gas lamp in the landing exposing an entire row of mounted house elf heads on plaques.

"Oh, that's...that's completely barbaric." Celeste exclaimed as she tried to regain her composure. She could already hear Viviana lecturing her. "Your family certainly had...interesting ideas about interior design," she tried diplomatically.

Sirius laughed and shook his head. "More like they were all certifiably insane. What you see around you is a lot of evidence that most of the Black family were very far removed from reality. You haven't been hearing voices lately, right?"

"You'll be the first to know. Sticking charm again?" She asked as she examined the heads. The poor things had been reduced to nothing more than trophies. Even in death house elves were treated with such little regard. It was yet another issue in the Wizarding World that deeply troubled Celeste. Anything with Magic should be cherished. Sirius nodded and they continued up the stairs.

"I'm not sure if any more of the lamps are working right now so it might be best to finish in the morning. You aren't missing much except for a wide assortment of bedrooms. Very exciting, I know."

The two decided to sleep in the drawing room in sleeping bags as the rest of the house was infested with spiders, boggarts, doxies, and who knew what else. Despite the decrepit surroundings, Celeste couldn't help but fall asleep with a small smile on her face. She couldn't shake the feeling that despite everything, she was finally where she was always meant to be.

The next morning Celeste awoke to sunlight flittering in through the holes of the moth eaten curtains that she had closed the night before. She lifted her head from the floor and rubbed her eyes before realizing that she was alone in the room. It was decorated floor to ceiling in Slytherin green and was just as shabby as the rest of the house. She stood up and stretched her sore back before walking up to the curtains and flinging them open. She coughed as over sixteen years of dust careened into the air. That couldn't have been good for her lungs. The tall windows reached from ceiling to floor and gave what would have been a nice view, if the street below wasn't so desolate.

Celeste hugged her arms to her chest and turned back to the room. Most of the furniture was tattered and covered in various stains. A large egyptian marble fireplace was to her left while the wall in front of her was decorated with the Black Family tapestry that seemed to span generations. Celeste traced the lines with her fingers from the very top all the way down to a scorch mark in the wall where it looked like Sirius's name might have once been. She smiled as her fingers ghosted over the tree lines and faces of Viviana and herself, the wall's most recent addition. She belonged somewhere. She looked about the tattered and worn down room around her. It was without a doubt dark and gloomy but there was a sense of inescapable hope in the air. Hope that one day these rooms could be full of joy, and laughter, and light.

Celeste tied her hair behind her before venturing out into the hallway to find Sirius. As soon as she reached the landing her nose filled with smoke and the smells of something burning. She let out a small laugh before leisurely walking down the very creaky stairs that led to the kitchen. It was just as she suspected. Sirius was standing in front of the stove and waving his arms in the air to try and clear the smoke away, all while cursing loudly.

"At it again?" She said by way of greeting. His arms dropped to his sides in an instant.

"I'm not very good at this, am I?"

"Let me help." She walked over to the stove and dumped the pan, along with the bacon now glued to it, into the sink. She opened up another cupboard and pulled out another skillet.

"Is there any more food or should we just start cooking the insects," she teased while perusing the cabinets. They were all empty.

Sirius looked thoughtful for a moment before he yelled, "Kreacher!"

A moment later, a house elf that looked almost as decrepit as the house appeared. Long droopy ears, a face covered in wrinkles, and bloodshot eyes quickly made for a rather sad picture. Was everything in this house falling apart? She was honestly terrified of what might be lurking in the attic.

"Oh no. Not him! What would my poor mistress say if she knew I had to serve him," Kreacher moaned. He glared at Sirius who returned the stare with an equal amount of hatred.

"You're just as vile as I remember. The years clearly haven't been good to you. The kitchen needs to be entirely restocked."

Kreacher's eyes grew wide in disbelief and then despair as he realized what was happening.

"That's right you nasty little creature. I'm moving back into good old Grimmauld Place. I know it's what mother always dreamed of," Sirius said sarcastically while crossing his arms over his chest.

"Master's a nasty brute who broke his mother's heart when-"

"My mother didn't have a heart. She survived through pure hate and spite," Sirius snapped. Celeste had never seen him this animated before. It was rather amusing to watch.

"Oh, my poor Mistress. If only she knew who poor Kreacher has now been forced to serve. What would she say if she knew? She hated him. Always a disappoint. Turning back on blood and magic-", Kreacher stopped in his rant as he noticed for the first time that Sirius was not the only person in the room. He turned to Celeste as he eyed her critically.

"A new girl. Hmm, Kreacher does not know her name. What is she doing here? Kreacher doesn't know-"

"This is Celeste Belrose. My daughter. You might have known that if spent less time with the bottle. Little miscreant. She'll be living here as well. I'd ask you to extend the same courtesy that you would me but that seems rather cruel to her." Sirius interrupted as the house-elf was bound to continue rambling to itself about who Celeste was for at least another five minutes.

Celeste bent down slightly as she gave the odd and sad little creature a warm smile. Kreacher seemed startled by the open display of kindness as his saucer like eyes became even wider.

"It's nice to make your acquaintance, Kreacher. It must have been terribly lonely being here by yourself for so many years."

"New girl speaks to me like a friend. Kreacher's not lonely! Kreacher has Mistress. Mistress is kind." Kreacher continued to eye Celeste critically. She had yet to interrupt him or glare at him like Sirius would have done.

"Perhaps the new girl's company won't be as vile as Masters. She is Pureblood...but a bastard at that. A scandal on the Most Noble and Ancient House! Oh, if only my poor Mistress knew the company I am now forced to keep…"

Celeste tried to hide her smile when she saw Sirius glowering as the house-elf continued on in its rambling. Well, this old house had some life in it yet.

"Kreacher. Food. Now." Sirius ordered. The elf ceased it's rambling and stared at him with a look of pure loathing before disappearing with a quiet pop, but not before muttering "blood traitor" under it's breath.

"I don't think he's right in the head. Perhaps things would go smoother if you were just a tad bit nicer. He may be bound to serve you but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be loyal."

Sirius sighed and took a seat in one of the rickety chairs around the wobbly and dusty kitchen table.

"He's been alone too long with just my mad mother's portrait for company but he's always been such an awful, vile, little nuisance."

Celeste took a seat across from Sirius as she fixed him with a hard stare. She couldn't help but feel bad for Kreacher. She shuddered to think of what her mental state would have been like if that portrait was her only company.

"He's not the only one who's been alone too long," she said softly. In fact, all three of Grimmauld Place's current occupants had each experienced their own amount of maddening isolation throughout the years. The wounds and pain from which had yet to be fully experienced.

Sirius gave a soft laugh. "You're right, of course. Alright. I will try to be nicer to the little bugger but I can't make any promises if he tries to provoke me."

"Wonderful," Celeste beamed.

Kreacher reappeared a moment later and snapped his fingers. A large assortment of eggs, bacon, various lunch meats, breads, and jams appeared on the round kitchen table. The frail and old wood groaned underneath the added weight. Celeste narrowed her eyes at Sirius and gave a subtle tilt of her head in the direction of the house-elf.

"Ah, right." Sirius awkwardly cleared his throat, "Thank you, Kreacher."

The poor house-elf stumbled backwards in complete shock, putting his hands over his heart in quite the dramatic display. "The blood traitor has thanked Kreacher. Odd. Perhaps blood traitor is plotting...always was vile-"

Celeste cleared her throat and shook her head when she saw Sirius getting ready to retaliate.

"Thank you, Kreacher. If we have need we will certainly call," and with that she stood from the table and began to put the food that Kreacher had brought back into the cupboards. Sirius had already spent a good amount of the morning dusty and cleaning them out. She got to work on frying the bacon while Sirius prepared a pot of tea, one of the few kitchen related tasks that he knew how to do.

" know how to cook?" He asked as he sat the teapot on top of the stove while standing next to Celeste.

She nodded as she flipped the sizzling and curling pieces of bacon over in the cast iron pan. She tried to recall where she had learned to but it was all so hazy. A strong part of her felt like that part of her past wasn't worth remembering.

"I enjoy it, actually. It's a lot like brewing. It requires an instinctual knowledge of ingredients and cooking temperatures and times. Viviana took me to a restaurant where they prepare the food right in front of you. They made it seem like an art-form. Every step of the way mattered but to answer your question, I guess I learned to cook from before..."

Sirius frowned at the last part of her response. "Did you like living there? With them?" He patiently waited for her to answer while fixing her with a concerned stare. Celeste gave a bitter laugh as she continued to stare down at the cooking bacon. The savory aroma vanishing what was left of the smoky charred reminisce of Sirius's poor attempt at breakfast.

"No," she answered honestly. "From what little I can remember...I hated it. Every single moment. Every single second was torture. I-," she paused and drew her eyes up from the pan to look at him. She searched his eyes for any signs of contempt or reluctance at having her in his life, when she found none she continued speaking. "I destroyed them," she said in a whisper, "It was the last act of Violet Potter's life. I wanted to give him as much pain and fear as he had given me. They died together entwined in blood and fire. Beyond those last few moments, I'm afraid I don't really remember."

She knew that Sirius accepted her as she was; that he wouldn't judge what she had done when her soul had completely shattered because he had been just as broken as she was. Sirius gave a soft look of understanding before he turned away from her to grab some breakfast plates. They were chipped and very fragile but at least they were clean.

"I ran away from home when I was sixteen," he admitted, "I just couldn't take living with my parents anymore. They were suffocating me with outdated beliefs and customs that I wanted no part of. They couldn't accept me. They wanted a true Heir to the House and I couldn't be that, so I left. To be honest though there were moments when I missed them. Little things like the smell of my mother's perfume or the sound of my father reading the Prophet. I just wanted to make sure that you don't regret leaving it all behind. I know...I know how terrible it can feel to leave everything behind in order to save yourself."

She handed him his breakfast before sitting down in a rickety chair as she contemplated her answer. It was a fair question and one she had asked herself before. She could see the lingering guilt in his eyes as he no doubt blamed himself for taking her away from everything she had ever known.

"To be honest, I feel thankful. Perhaps it's selfish of me but for the first time...I don't feel afraid anymore. I don't have to constantly look over my shoulder to see who's waiting to take advantage. I can breathe."

She watched the guilt slowly disappear from his eyes at her answer and she felt herself smile. Their conversation then drifted from Celeste's favorite hobbies to the pranks that Sirius had pulled while at Hogwarts. They talked about anything and everything that crossed their minds. It was easy. As soon as they were finished, the duo headed back upstairs to begin to make the dark and gloomy Grimmauld Place habitable.

Celeste had elected to tackle the dining room while Sirius had gone upstairs to one of the drawing rooms. She wasn't allowed to use her wand, unless they wanted a visit from the Ministry, so she had to clean the Muggle way. Somehow, it didn't feel like much of a chore. With a dust-rag in hand, Celeste began to make her way over to the built-in cabinets that displayed the entire collection of the Black family china. It had fared much better than the chipped plates in the kitchen. She dusted away most of the cobwebs on the open shelves and went to open one of the many drawers in the room. Celeste shrieked and jumped back as black spiders as large as her hands scurried about in the drawer. She could calmly face monsters, the flash of a hundred cameras, and even a Dark Lord or two, but she drew the line at spiders. Especially spiders as large as those ones. They could pass a dinner plates.

Sirius came running down the stairs at the sound of her shriek. His long wavy hair and face were both covered in dust and most likely more cobwebs. Celeste was shaking her head as she slowly tried to back away from the cabinets. She shrieked again as the enormous spiders began to crawl out of the drawers in droves. Sirius looked over her shoulder, and though he would always deny it, a small yelp escaped from his mouth as both he and Celeste bolted from the room and slammed the door shut. They didn't stop running until they reached the drawing room they had slept in the night before which they knew was spider free.

"Alright. That room is officially quarantined. No one is stepping foot in there without the aid of magic...and fire. Lots and lots of fire."

Celeste laughed before looking over her clothes to make sure that none of the creatures had managed to crawl onto her. "So, that would just leave you as the one to clean it then."

Sirius's face wore a thoughtful expression. "Actually, I believe that Kreacher would be perfectly suited for that special task. Maybe we could just lock him in there-,"

Celeste narrowed her eyes and Sirius gave an awkward cough.

"Just an idea, of course."

Despite the now quarantined dining room, Grimmauld Place was well on its way to becoming hospitable. The drawing room already looked much cleaner than it had that morning and the cupboards in the kitchen were now overflowing with all types of food, but Sirius's mouth was set in a deep frown as he looked over their hard work.

"It's just as I remember."

"Isn't that a good thing?" Celeste asked as she stared out onto the desolate street. She wondered what it must have looked like in its prime. It must have all been absolutely beautiful once. Now, all that was left was the decaying skeleton of a time long since past.

"This place hasn't been home for me for over fifteen years. I hated it here when I left. Everywhere I look I see a life that I ran away from." Sirius began to pace in front of the large fireplace at the back of the room. "Look, Celeste," Sirius paused and ran his hands through his hair. She turned to face him, slightly worried about what he was going to say. He looked decidedly nervous.

"Uh...oh this is going to sound stupid but I was wondering if you would be willing to redecorate the house with me. I want this place to be a home for both of us and it won't feel that way if we keep it like this," Sirius gestured to the antique furniture and dark gloomy green color of the walls. "We could put our stamp on this place. Rather than Grimmauld Place it could be Celeste and Sirius's Place. Now that I've said it... it sounds rather stupid, doesn't it? Just forget I said anything-"

Celeste's eyes had begun to water the more he rambled on. She rushed to him before he could finish talking and wrapped her arms around him in a crushing hug.

"What's this for?" Sirius asked as he returned the hug.

"Thank you," was all Celeste said as she slowly released the most important person in her life. She gave him a genuine smile. "I think that's a lovely idea."

After lunch she decided to give the chandelier in the foyer a thorough cleaning. It was one of the few items in the house that she knew beyond a doubt was spider free. It was a pretty thing with an intricate pattern of gold and crystal that simply exuded old world elegance and charm. When she was satisfied with her handiwork, Celeste began to inspect the rest of the foyer. She frowned when her eyes fell on the moth eaten curtains covering the portrait of Sirius's mother.

"Kreacher?" She called out. Celeste could have sworn she had seen him spying on her earlier, but that didn't guarantee he would appear when she called.

"The new girl has called for Kreacher. Interesting. What does new girl want I wonder? The blood traitor isn't here. No, just the new girl here. She has been cleaning…"

Celeste sighed as the house elf continued its rambling. She supposed 'new girl' was better than 'bastard' or 'vagrant,' so it seemed that Kreacher didn't absolutely hate her. Celeste cleared her throat to refocus his attention.

"Would you be so kind as to find some new curtains for...Mistress Black?"

Kreacher sputtered as he looked over at the mouth eaten and very ragged curtains that hung from his mistress's portrait.

"Kreacher does not see anything wrong with those curtains. No, Kreacher thinks those are nice. New girl does not think so. New girl is trying to change things-"

Celeste tired not to pinch the bridge of her nose in frustration. She bent down until she was looking Kreacher straight in the eye.

"It's not that those curtains aren't's just...I think your Mistress's frame would look lovely with some brand new pale gold curtains to match it." Celeste could see that she was slowly winning him over as he had yet to interrupt. "Why with those new curtains anyone who came to visit would instantly be drawn to your Mistress's portrait. She'd be the very first thing they see when they step through the door."

"Mistress does deserve more recognition from guests. The blood traitor Master never appreciated poor Mistress. Broke her heart when he left. Such a nasty swine. Oh my poor mistress if she saw Grimmauld Place now. Stupid Kreacher has let this place rot-"

"No, Kreacher. You did the best you could. Believe me, it's best not to dwell on the past. The future's much more interesting, anyway," she said with a mischievous edge to her voice. "Would you like to help me... and Master Sirius return Grimmauld Place back to it's former glory?"

"New girl asks like Kreacher has a choice."

"You do, Kreacher." Celeste knew very little about house elves. The ones in Viviana's care were treated fairly but she knew that many of the creatures were forced to live under abhorrent conditions. To free Kreacher would equate to a death sentence but there needed to be less hostility in this house if it were ever going to function.

"Grimmauld Place is just as much your home as it is ours. You don't have to help if you don't want to but Sirius and I would be pleased if you did."

Kreacher eyed Celeste critically then he looked at the worn and tattered carpets and the general state of decay the foyer was in. His eyes next fell onto his Mistress's portrait before they traveled up to the now glistening and gleaming chandelier that Celeste had just finished cleaning.

"Kreacher will get new curtains." He appeared a few moments later with a new set of pale gold silken drapes which perfectly matched the gold of the chandelier and the portrait frame.

"Oh, these are exquisite. Well done, Kreacher."

Celeste immediately began to dismantle the old curtains. She swore she saw Walburga Black's eyes open a few times but it seemed the portrait was pretending to be aloof. She smiled at her work when she had finished. At least the portrait's frame and curtains weren't such an eyesore anymore. If only she could do something about the person in the portrait. As if hearing her thoughts, Walburga finally decided to open her eyes.

"It's about time someone acknowledged my rightful status as Mistress of this house. Who are you, girl?" When she wasn't screaming, Walburga Black's voice held the usual amount of aristocratic disdain one would expect from a proud member of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black.

"Formally, I am Lady Belrose. May blessed Magic and good fortune be on you," Celeste dipped into a slight curtsy but kept her chin held high. Walburga must have been pleased with her answer as the portrait began to sport a neutral rather than hostile expression.

"And informally?"

"Just Celeste. I'm Sirius's daughter." She was surprised by how natural it felt to say aloud now and yet that dead and empty space in her heart remained. Walburga was silent for a moment while eyeing Celeste up and down.

"Hmm. Perhaps there's some hope for Grimmauld Place yet."

"If it's not to bold your Ladyship, may I ask you a few questions?"

Walburga could be an absolute treasure trove of knowledge. While not active in the last War, Walburga had been a staunch supporter of the Dark and would have an intimate knowledge of it's leaders and supporters. Celeste was determined to enjoy her freedom and live her life in peace but only a fool would be unable to see the direction the world was headed in. War was coming.

"I suppose you may. It is rather refreshing to see my value recognized. Sirius never cared about his poor mother. Always took me for granted," the portrait sighed dramatically.

"Can you tell me about the Dark Lord?"

The portrait's eyes took on a calculating glint as she stared down at Celeste. "Lord Grindelwald was-"

"No, the other one...Voldemort," Celeste interrupted.

He was a complete unknown to her. She couldn't seem to find anything other than rumors about him. He had earned the title of the Lord of the Dark in the last War, yet he had seemingly vanished before the last battle was even over. The Ministry in England hadn't seen him as much of a threat. Yet, she remembered the searing heat of fire on her flesh, her skin tearing and being ripped apart by the earth, and the pain of water bursting and breaking her lungs wide open. She had Voldemort to thank for those sensations forever carved into her psyche. Whatever and wherever he was one thing was clear; he was her adversary and this time she would not just meekly surrender.

"That's Lord Voldemort, to you missy."

Celeste snorted. Anyone who insisted on being called Lord was an egotistical ass. He must think highly of himself then. Arrogance could be an easy thing to exploit. Walburga ignored her and took on a wistful tone before continuing.

"Not long ago we used to live in an enchanted world of elegance and extravagance. Beautiful houses and grand parties," the portrait signed as she looked at the still decaying state of the foyer.

"There was a ball at Lestrange Manor when I first met Lord Voldemort. A new Minister had been elected, one who firmly supported the Dark agenda. The first foothold in reestablishing Magic's rightful place in the world. It was a joyous occasion. Every Pureblood who mattered was there. Champagne, dancing, music, oh it was quite the display," Walburga chuckled.

"...and then there he was. His aura as dark and wicked as the blackest night. Every witch and wizard could feel the moment he arrived. The raw power of his magic would have been enough to sway most to his side, but his charisma was what made them stay. He inspired each and every one of us. Some more than others," Walburga said snidely.

Celeste felt herself smiling at the tone. Even when reduced to nothing more than portraits, the Great Ladies of Pureblood families still couldn't help but gossip. It seemed that even death was powerless to stop the constant social posturing that was Pureblood politics.

"Yes, there were quite a few scandals when more than one witch fell under his charm."

"Did you fall under his spell?" Celeste couldn't resist asking as she tried to imagine a blushing Walburga Black. It was a rather disturbing image.

"Mind that cheek, child," the portrait responded indignantly. "We did share a waltz once. Oh, it was the talk among the other Houses that night," she sighed dramatically.

"But if there is one thing I can tell you about Lord Voldemort, it is that every witch and wizard with a dark affinity looks at him and sees the same thing."

"And that would be?"

"The future," Walburga firmly responded with all wistfulness gone from her voice.

"I see. Thank you for your time, Lady Black." Celeste said as she turned and began to make her way back upstairs. She hadn't expected that somewhat intimate picture of the man. She'd hoped Walburga would have known more about his fighting style but it seemed the woman had been more involved with parties than battles. Still, any information she could gather had the potential to be useful. The only thing that Celeste was certain of was that underestimating him had and would continue to be fatal. That was one mistake she would not make again.

*Chapter 34*: Chapter 34

Chapter 34: First Impressions

A/N: Thanks for taking the time to read! I hope you enjoy.

The next few weeks were spent completely redecorating Grimmauld Place. The old carpets were torn up, the rotting wooden furniture removed, and every moth eaten curtain was thrown out. It was hard work,there was no way around it, but the more Sirius and Celeste scrubbed, cleaned, and reorganized, the less burdened each of them began to feel. They were carving out their own space. The wounds and scars that had accumulated from the years forced apart began to heal, as a lightness began to radiate from the house and all its occupants. Celeste was especially careful to ask Kreacher's opinion on any object that they decided to throw away, as she knew how protective and sentimental he was about the Black Family legacy, but the more he was consulted and included, the less he was inclined to hold onto every scrap piece of furniture and cracked dinner plate. It seemed that in the past few years Kreacher had been longing for the same thing as Celeste and Sirius, a home to be proud of.

With the furniture and carpets gone, they turned to repainting each of the rooms. They could have used magic but both enjoyed the time that painting a room by hand gave them to talk and really get to know one another. Sirius also enjoyed splattering Celeste with paint just to get a rise out of her. Everytime he saw her face smile or eyes light up with laughter, he forgave himself a little more for not being able to watch her grow up; for not being there when she most needed him. He knew there was nothing he could have done, even if he had escaped from Azkaban sooner, he wouldn't have been able to give her a secure life. They would have constantly been on the run with the threat of dementors at every turn, hunted to the ends of the earth. Unfortunately, those truths did little to lessen his guilt.

The gloomy greens and blustering black colors of Grimmauld Place were quickly painted over, replaced with shades of warm whites, garden greens, and beguiling blues. They had been delighted to find that underneath the moldy carpets were the home's original oak floors, which after a little retouching were simply exquisite. All of the windows were thoroughly cleaned, allowing the sunlight to chase away the last reminiscents of gloom that had clung to Grimmauld Place over the decades. The house seemed to come alive before them. There was a sense of infectious joy in the air as darkness gave way to light. In trying to respect the age and character of the house, Celeste and Sirius selected furniture that was classic in design but modern in comfort, ranging in an eclectic array of colors and patterns. Enormous lounge chairs, sizeable chesterfield couches, and massive automatons now filled the large formal rooms of Grimmauld Place, making the space feel warm, inviting, and most importantly comfortable.

In the basement they found several enormous and elaborate golden framed mirrors which were hung above every egyptian marble fireplace throughout the home. The basement was stuffed full of antiques from the numerous generations of Black Family members that must have been forgotten over the years. There was a bronze gramophone player, several grandfather clocks, an unusual amount of rosepetal gold candelabras, and a multitude of sculptures varying in shape, size, and material but all lovely, all just waiting to be rediscovered. They laid down soft red and blue persian carpets throughout each room to protect their feet in the winter months from the harsh cold and tie the colors from each room together.

As it was such an old house, Grimmauld Place had both a ladies and gentlemen's parlor which had been previously used to entertain guests after dinner back in the home's glory days. Celeste and Sirius agreed to each take one of the rooms and decorate it to their own personal liking. Sirius chose vibrant reds and golds reminiscent of Gryffindor's common room and filled the space with comfortable dark leather furniture and a large oak writing desk. It was cluttered with fast moving and whimsical magical objects that drove Kreacher mad whenever he entered the room, as they were enchanted to come alive and bombard him if he lingered for too long. Celeste still laughed whenever she remembered the day she saw Kreacher run from the room with over a hundred paper planes chasing after him. He had been trying to sneak a peek at Sirius's mail. A gaming table and liquor cabinet were also tucked into the corner of Sirius's study. It seemed he wasn't quite so far removed from his aristocratic upbringing as he liked to think.

Over the weeks it was remarkably easy for them to fall into an established routine. The house was mostly finished so the two spent much of their time filling the library with new books, replanting the courtyard, and adding more small personal touches wherever possible. Celeste had been impressed with the patience with which Sirius had begun to employ whenever he and Kreacher were forced to interact. The house elf no longer seemed to bother Sirius as much as he once had. Perhaps it was related to the complete redesign that Grimmauld Place had undergone. Celeste had noticed an immediate change in Sirius once they had moved the last new piece of furniture into place. He seemed calm, content. The restless energy that used to hang around him was slowly disappearing the more settled he became in his new life. Kreacher and Sirius still weren't friendly by any stretch of the imagination but at least they were no longer actively fighting.

Celeste was reorganizing the new ingredients she had received earlier that morning in her new potion's laboratory. They had turned one of Grimmauld Place's many spare bedrooms into a lab so she would be able to continue one of her favorite subjects at home. It was also just incredibly useful to have a personal and private laboratory. The medium sized pewter cauldron would be arriving later in the week, so for now she would have to settle with organizing and categorizing all of her ingredients. It was enough to keep her busy and out of trouble anyway.

"Hmm...doxy eggs. I think I'll put you here," Celeste said to herself as she placed the jar on one of the upper shelves of the small laboratory and crossed it off her list. She'd developed the habit of talking to all her an ingredients. She swore that it made her potions stronger but it was most likely just wishful thinking. It might have been one of the smallest potion's lab in existence but she had plenty of space to comfortably fit a cauldron, several shelves stocked full of ingredients, and a circular wooden table for cutting and preparing ingredients.

Kreacher appeared in the small space a moment later. It had taken Celeste a few weeks to get used to his constant silent apparitions, but at least she no longer jumped three feet into the air whenever he popped up behind her.

"Miss Celeste, your motherby the name of Belrose is here. Kreacher left her in the foyer." Kreacher had only recently upgraded her from 'new girl,' to 'Miss Celeste,". She had tried to convince him to just call her by her first name but he stoutly refused. Celeste smiled and thanked him before bolting out of the room and running down the restored grand mahogany staircase that led straight into the foyer.

"Viviana," she greeted as she jumped from the last stair to give her an affectionate hug.

"Manners! There will be manners in this house! We will not fall to the anarchy of the faux paus like the other Great Houses!" The portrait of Walburga bellowed from her frame as she watched the open and warm display of affection with apparent disdain. "It is unbecoming for a Lady-"

"To not show the proper etiquette when formally greeting guests for their first visit. Yes, yes, I know," Celeste interrupted and waved her hand dismissively in the direction of Walburga's portrait. She then turned to Viviana who was watching the exchange in curiosity. Celeste winked and shot her a mischievous smirk before dipping into a curtsy.

"The Most Noble and Ancient House of Black welcomes you within our halls as a guest and a valued friend. May blessed Magic and good fortune fall upon you, Lady Viviana Belrose. Famed courtesan and delightful entertainer."

Upon hearing the last part, Walburga's portrait began to sputter. Celeste laughed and quickly shut the pale gold curtains.

"She gets grumpy if it's been a few hours since her last nap. The poor dear." Celeste's smirk grew as she heard the sputtering get even louder. Despite what Walburga claimed, she knew that the portrait was pleased with the changes that had been brought about Grimmauld Place.

"Now come on," Celeste said as she grabbed Viviana's hand and dragged her up the stairs.

"Are those...heads?" Viviana exclaimed as they came upon the Black Family collection of mounted house elf heads. Sirius and Celeste had tried every spell they knew of to get them down but the poor things were well and truly stuck. Short of burning the entire house down, there was little they could do. It was one of few morbid reminders of what the house had been like before.

"Afraid so. It's very offensive, I know...we're working on it. Come on," Celeste said in excitement as she continued to lead Viviana to the third floor. She burst through the second door on the left and released Viviana's hand as soon as they crossed the threshold. Celeste walked to the center of the room and turned with a truly excited look on her face. It was probably the happiest that Viviana had ever seen her. The whole room began to fill with soft golden light that both women knew wasn't from the sun.

"Welcome to my room," Celeste said in a rush as she gestured to the space around her. "My room. My own full room!" She laughed. This was the first time in her life that she was able to show someone her bedroom. A space she had decorated all by herself and made her very own. She had purposefully chosen the room with the most windows so that the space was constantly drenched in sunlight or starlight. She never wanted to be locked in that suffocating darkness again. Celeste wanted air and clouds; she wanted the light.

The only colors in her bedroom were cool ivory and soft touches of warm golds. An enormous bed without a frame lay against the back wall. The rich cotton sheets and puffy comforter were in a tangled heap in the center of the bed. There was an ivory fireplace along the right wall, the mantle above had been decorated with an assortment of different sized candles against a white brick backdrop. A bookshelf overflowing with books sat to the left of the bed.

Viviana couldn't help but smile at the numerous piles of books that Celeste had stacked next to her bed in a somewhat organized yet chaotic fashion. The wall opposite the bed had two sets of glass french doors with white curtains to give Celeste privacy when she so needed. The doors had been open a crack, allowing a cooling summer breeze to fill the sunny room, carrying with it the songs of birds and hum of insects, and the faintest hint of orange and lemongrass from outside.

"They lead into the back courtyard. Massive cracks in the stonework and unusual amounts of rodents's a work in progress out there. But by next summer it should be beautiful," Celeste said as she and Viviana sat down in two antique arm chairs next to the fireplace.

"Oh, darling. This is absolutely amazing. Barring the decapitated heads on the wall...this place is just extraordinary."

Celeste smiled but it quickly faded as she looked down at her hands. "I'm sorry for not writing to you as much as I should have. I just got so caught up in-,"

Viviana waved her hand dismissively. "You don't have to worry about me, my dear. Believe me there was plenty enough to keep me entertained. Besides, we have the rest of the summer to catch up."

"Ah. I see Kreacher chose not to notify me that Viviana had arrived," Sirius said from the doorway. "I trust you had no problems getting here?"

"Of course not. I must say Grimmauld Place looks spectacular. It's difficult to imagine what it must have looked like before."

"A mental asylum," Sirius joked.

"It wasn't that bad," Celeste interjected.

"I must have imagined the mad house-elf and screaming portrait then. That's a relief."

Celeste playfully rolled her eyes at him. A clock chimed from the hallway signaling that it was time for dinner. Kreacher was spiteful enough to throw the food out if they weren't seated at precisely six o'clock. Sirius and Celeste led Viviana to the dining room, that was now thankfully spider free, to share the first full meal in their new house.

"You have to turn the handle," Sirius interjected as he struggled not to laugh at Celeste's furious expression. The three had retired to her sitting room after supper as it was much more welcoming than Sirius's study. They had been trying to get the antique bronze gramophone to work but to no avail.

The walls of Celeste's study had been painted a delicate green shade reminiscent of a forest. She had even painted dark green and white flower motifs, from the floor to ceiling, which made anyone in the room feel like they had stepped into an enchanted garden. Soft gold trimmings that looked like woven leaves framed the fireplace and windows as warm white and mantis green lounge chairs and couches lured anyone in the space to take a seat.

She had filled every room in the house with a never ending assortment of fresh flowers. The type didn't matter as long as they were real, but she was partial to hydrangeas and peonies. There wasn't a room in the house without a colorful bouquet, and with the help of a few charms the flowers never died. The air smelt fresh and sweet no matter what room someone stepped into. Celeste huffed out a frustrated breath as she turned the handle of the antique yet again. She could hear the gears turning but nothing was happening.

"The damned thing is broken. We've been turning it for ten minutes!"

"Language," Viviana chided.

"Give it one more turn. I have a good feeling about this." Sirius instructed as he took a seat next to Viviana on a particularly comfortable couch. Celeste turned the handle one last time and let out a chuckle, as a crooning voice began to fill the room. The record must have been from the the nineteen twenties as the soft smooth sounds of jazz began to ring out.

"You were right," she said as she began to sway to the infectiously catchy music.

"Probably will be the only time, I'm sure," Sirius joked as he began to nod his head and move his feet to the rhythm. Even Viviana was tapping along with the tips of her fingers.

The three of them looked at one another and smiled in relief. Relief that they had finally found each other after so many years of unnecessary pain and isolation. Their family, their world, the memories that never were, had all been stolen the night James and Lily were murdered. But here was the chance to regain some of what had been lost. To start again. Celeste began to spin throughout the room as Sirius clapped to the music and finally, finally, Grimmauld Place was filled with music, laughter, and joy. It was home.

The house was always still this time of night, even the floorboards underneath her feet were reluctant to creak and groan as she passed by. Her walks had become a regular occurrence as night after night sleep evaded her. Grimmauld Place was not remarkably large in size but the long hallways created the illusion of space. Still, there were only so many times she could walk up and down the same hallways before the feeling of being trapped would begin to itch in the back of her mind. No matter how much she forgot of her past, the dark cramped cupboard would always remain. It was always worse at night.

Celeste sighed as she stared up the rickety ladder in front of her. She'd been everywhere in the house except for the attic as Sirius had told her that most of the objects in there were more trouble than they were worth. Yet it was always in the middle of the night with nothing but silent stillness for company that she felt the most reckless. Viviana's room was at the end of the hall but she was a heavy sleeper. It couldn't hurt just to take a quick peek. Celeste reached out and let her fingers wrap around the first rung of faded wood. It wasn't like this house had anything she couldn't handle, and exploring an attic full of boggart infested furniture was bound to be more interesting than walking up and down the hallway for hours until exhaustion finally gave way to sleep.

She let out a disappointed sigh when she finished climbing up the ladder. The attic was exactly what she had expected. Peeling paint, decades of dust, and rotten floorboards seemed to be all that remained of the Most Noble and Ancient House's legacy while Sirius had been in Azkaban. The full moon that night allotted her plenty of light to see into the attic. Celeste crossed her arms as she looked over the space. It was jammed full with decaying furniture and mildew covered books. There was nothing salvageable or even noteworthy from what she could see. It appeared that Kreacher hadn't been the only Black family member with a hoarding habit. They could have at least attempted to put preservation charms on their belongings, rather than leaving them for the next resident. She sighed. The attic was just another room full of things to throw out.

She was reluctant to travel further in as there was very little walking space and she'd rather not have forty years of dust and grime on her night robe, not to mention the spiders that were no doubt lurking in the rafters. A nice warm cup of tea sounded like the better option. At least the hallways downstairs were clean. Celeste turned to travel back downstairs when a glimmer of pale gold and silver caught the corner of her eye. She narrowed her eyes in the dark space to see a delicate chain hanging from one of the open drawers of a dresser tucked into the corner of the attic. Based on the state of everything else in the room it was remarkably well-preserved to be able to shimmer so brightly in the pale moonlight. She picked up the train of her night robe to keep it from dragging behind her as she made her way over to the dresser.

She knew better than to just reach for the chain. The preservation on it alone meant it more than likely had at least one spell on it. Given the Black Family history, she would bet that a particularly nasty curse was waiting for the first fool to touch it. Still, there was one way she could test it. Celeste closed her eyes and tried to find the threads of her magic. She hadn't attempted to do this since the ritual and was scared what it would mean if she had either lost or retained the power. It was still easy to find the first tendril of her magic as it was so interwoven with her heart and mind. She took a deep breathe and tried to focus on pulling it out in front of her, which turned out to be much more difficult than before. She couldn't just simply grab a hold of it and command it outward anymore. Her magic was fast moving like the wind during a storm, uncontrollable and untamable. Before she could prepare herself, an enormous burst of energy shot from her outstretched hand, sending her and several pieces of furniture flying in the process.

Celeste quickly lifted her head up and brushed the hair from her eyes as she waited for the sounds of footsteps and Kreacher's mumbling. When her breath returned, she slowly stood up and grimaced as she looked down. So much for avoiding the dust and grime of the attic. The pale silver of her silk robe had turned a murky brown. Well, the next time she attempted that it would certainly be in a much larger and less dirtier space.

"Miss Celeste has been asked not to enter the attic without the filthy blood traitor Master," Kreacher said by way of greeting as he appeared in front of her. He snapped his fingers and Celeste felt the tickling sensation of a cleaning spell wash over her skin and clothing.

"I was just out for a bit of a walk and ended up here. It wasn't planned, really..."

Kreacher looked around the space and frowned when his large saucer like eyes landed on the pile of furniture that had been violently thrown against the back wall. She wouldn't have been surprised if he had memorized the exact location of every item in the house prior to their redecorating.

"You won't tell him, will you?" She knew he was bound to serve Sirius but they were very far from being the best of friends and she would rather be spared the lecture. It wasn't like there was anything particularly dangerous or valuable up here. It was mostly all junk, anyway.

Kreacher stared at her for a long moment before slowly nodding. "Kreacher will not mention it to the nasty swine of a Master but Miss Celeste must be careful."

"I'll certainly try, Kreacher," Celeste said with a disarming smile as she let him lead her back down the stairs. She spared one last look at the silver and gold chain before leaving the attic.

It was the end of the first month of summer and the beginning of the Pureblood social season, an endless whirlwind of festivities and pleasure-seeking with the backdrop of grand houses and sprawling landscapes. Marriage matches were made, future business deals arranged, and social posturing and scandals on full display, with the official start of the Season beginning on the Minister of Magic's estate.

As comfortable and easy as their lives had become over the past few weeks, it was time to re-enter society as a family unit. None of them would have been content to just let the world pass them by. This Season, Sirius had been selected as the Guest of Honor at the Minister's grand gala, much to Celeste's amusement; as he was quite adamant in his hatred of all things pretentious and aristocratic, both of which were to be found in abundance at the Minister's party. It was to be a three day dizzying affair of feasting, dancing, and dealing around the Summer Solstice. Great Houses, New Houses, and distinguished members of Wizarding England were all expected to be in attendance.

Celeste was feeling somewhat tense as she watched Kreacher pack the last of her belongings into a suitcase. She had offered to help but was, as usual, rebuked by the curmudgeonly little creature. He was still mumbling about her breach in decorum under his would be the first real test and taste of the world that she was now so firmly a part of. One wrong move or expression could undo all the work that she, Sirius, and Viviana had worked so hard to accomplish the previous year. As the newest Heir to a Great House, she knew that all eyes would be on her, sizing her up, and looking for anything and everything to exploit. Well, good then. Let them stare, and whisper, and gawk. Nerves aside, this was a challenge she was ready for.

"We could still cancel, you know," Sirius called from the doorway. Kreacher's mumbling intensified, but they both just chose to ignore him.

"And disappoint all your fans? I'm sure that you would break the poor Minister's heart," Celeste laughed as she grabbed the suitcase from the bed and followed Sirius from the room to the Floo in the main parlor.

Sirius snorted. "The Minister's...fascination with me is disturbing at this point."

"You're a political tool. And a handsome rich one at that," Vivana said while she shot Sirius a flirtatious wink. "Just think of all the admirers vying for the chance to be near you."

"I'd really rather just-"

Celeste shook her head at the two. "We're already late. There will be plenty of time for bickering or flirting, or whatever this weekend." Without waiting for either of them to respond, she grabbed a handful of floo powder and called out the address from the invitation.

Celeste gracefully stepped through the fireplace into the receiving room with Sirius and Viviana following closely behind. All three were in full form now, gone from their faces was the easy familiarity seen just moments before, replaced with haughty disinterest. A house elf appeared just as Celeste had finished removing the floo residue from the bottom of her grey dress and led the three to their rooms. The Minister had given Sirius his own while Celeste and Viviana were to share their own suite. The first in what was to be many tests and speculations about the family dynamic of one of the most talked about families in England. She was sure that the house-elves would be reporting each and every guest movement to the Minister over the course of the weekend.

"The Welcoming Dinner will begin at seven. The Minister's home is your home and we are at your disposal most distinguished and notable guests," the house-elf said in a monotone voice with a low bow before disappearing. Celeste frowned at the tone and vacant look in it's eyes, they were devoid of all hope. It was all too familiar to her.

"Well, come on darling. We need to get ready for what is sure to be a night full of backstabbing and pointless posturing. How exciting." Viviana grabbed Celeste's hand and led her from the hall into their suite without a backwards glance at Sirius. Well, he'd just have to find his own way she supposed.

The room was somewhat small but lovely. Rich shades of forest greens and an simple white carpet extended through the space. Two large beds, a complete wall of floor length windows, an en suite bathroom, and walk-in closet gave the two women all that they would require over the weekend. As expected all the furniture was rich and fine in make. The Minister was, without a doubt, hoping to impress his most valuable supporters. If there was one thing she knew about Wizarding Politics, it was that money was the solution to everything.

"That's rather naughty, isn't it? With windows that large, anyone on the grounds will be able to peek right in, if someone's been careless with the drapes. With all the alcohol being served this weekend, I'm positive they're betting on it. Rita Skeeter is probably lurking in the bushes this very moment." Ever the master of discretion, Viviana snapped her fingers and watched in satisfaction as the blinds instantly closed. The sun had already set so they were not missing that much of a view, although Celeste was rather curious to see the grounds.

The Minister's estate was built right along the Kore Forest, where it was said, bright glowing flowers, and trees as thick and tall as giants, were in a constant state of bloom, filling the air with the sugary sweet smells of Spring. The forest had once belonged to all manner of sprites and fairies who embedded their own magic within the roots of every tree and plant. It had been theirs to command; a domain of light, and magic, and color gifted to them by Magic herself.

It was surprising that the Fudge Family had decided to build their estate here of all places. There was many a legend of unlucky visitors becoming lost in the Kore Forest for weeks on end, as paths would appear and disappear before them, trees would sprout up in an instant as vines wrapped around the unlucky visitors feet, tripping and dragging them to the ground, all to the sounds of light laughter. Fairies so delighted in trickery and a human trespassing through their woods must have been too tempting to resist. Unfortunately, like so many of Magic's creatures, they had vanished from the land. Celeste liked to believe that perhaps they were simply hiding, not wishing to interact with the humans who had so little regard for them. Still, she would very much like to see their legacy; to see a place where Magic was once true, and free, and gloriously wild.

Celeste gave a loud sigh of contentment as she jumped onto the bed that was closest to the windows. Several feathers flew out from the puffy comforter as she landed in an ungraceful heap. The bed was remarkably soft and she sank down several inches upon her landing. Viviana tsked, but allowed the amusement to show through her eyes and soft smile, as she used her wand to unpack their belongings. Celeste was beginning to feel the exhaustion from her nightly walks slowly creep up the longer she stayed in the bed. Closing her eyes for a little wouldn't hurt. The bed was incredibly comfortable. The moment her eyes shut she felt a finger poking her hard in the shoulder.

"Despite my charming appearance, I am quite well versed in all manner of nasty hexes and curses. Please don't make me use them. The Minister would be quite put out if one of his bedrooms was suddenly full of dark magic."

Celeste felt the corners of her mouth pull into a smile as she opened her eyes and slowly climbed out of the bed to begin to get ready. Wonderful sleep would just have to wait a little while longer.

"Our Sirius is going to need all the help he can get this weekend. Let's start by taking some of the attention away from him, shall we?" Viviana said with a mischievous smile as she handed Celeste a curve-hugging black dress that was covered in fine hand stitched black lace. The neckline and length were conservative but the fit would turn heads, while the dark color would make her hair appear even more pale.

It took an hour of pampering, priming, and applying a whole host of cosmetics before she was ready to leave the suite. Celeste grinned as she stared at her reflection in the room's mirror while Viviana left to fetch Sirius. She looked amazing. Absolutely and completely amazing. The dress looked even better on, with the long skirt pooling at her feet, a custom stitched bodice highlighting each and every curve, and delicate lace laying effortlessly over her chest and arms. Her blonde hair was pulled up with a thin black ribbon that tickled the back of her neck every time she turned her head. She was ready to face the Wizarding elite of England with her head held high.

Celeste gave Sirius a warm smile as they stood outside the large mahogany doors. He was dressed in a dark gray suit that brought out his eyes. The Black Family ring sat on his index finger in clear display for all to see while a black cloak with the Black crest hung from his could hear conversations and soft laughter coming from the other side. In the hopes of keeping things fresh and exciting the Minister had gone without a formal announcer. Instead guests were, in theory, just supposed to wander in at their leisure. It was the most progressive thing he had ever done. Viviana had gone ahead, no doubt enjoying the wave of whispers, that had followed her entrance, especially in her blood-red plunging neckline silk dress.

"Nervous?" Sirius whispered down to her as he offered her his arm for their entrance. Celeste shook her head and squared back her shoulders. She took one last deep breath to settle the last of her nerves. Sirius followed suit, before the doors were slowly pulled open before them.

The room must have had at least two hundred people scattered throughout it. High arched ceilings and a floor made entirely of ivory spread out before them. The size of the room was it's main attraction with ivory pillars framing the exterior of the space. There was a small band of strings in the corner playing a simple yet lovely melody as guests mingled about in small groups. Drinks appeared in their hands the moment they stepped through the door as every head turned to stare and conversation slowly faded. Sirius and Celeste walked tall and proud at a leisurely pace to the center of the room. She reminded herself to only look straight ahead and display absolutely no emotion at all, even as the band abruptly stopped playing. So much for an informal introduction.

"Lord Black! Our guest of honor! How wonderful for you to finally show yourself. We've been anxiously awaiting your arrival with bated breath," Minister Fudge bellowed as he barged his way through the crowd. He was a heavy man but the stress of the last few years had caused him to lose some weight, which the ill-fitted suit he wore did little to showcase.

"You're too kind, Minister. The honor is mine," Sirius said in a voice of aristocratic disinterest while slightly bowing. As the Head of a Great House, Sirius and the Minister shared a similar rank. Celeste had never heard him speak in that tone before but it was expected. The key of the game for any master player was to never reveal your true self. Sirius turned his head away from the Minister to look down at her.

"Minister Fudge, I would like to introduce Lady Celeste Black. My daughter and the Heir to the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black." The introduction sent a wave of excited whispers through the crowd. It was the first official and public announcement declaring her as his daughter and Heir.

Her heart skipped a beat as she felt every single person in the room's attention on her. Hungry and curious eyes waited with bated breath to see how she would speak and act as they tried to determine the best way to use her to their own advantage. Best not to disappoint them then. Celeste swept into a low curtsy but kept her chin high and gaze firmly on the Minister.

"May Blessed Magic and good fortune be upon you, Minister." She knew she had pleased the Purebloods in the room with the use of a proper greeting.

"May it fall on us all," the Minister responded in kind as the music began to start again but most of the guests continued to watch the encounter rather than return to their own conversations.

"House Black is lucky indeed to be so warmly received by the Minister of Magic. I must convey my gratitude for having a Minister courageous and strong enough to pardon my father and offer my sincere gratitude for your tireless work on behalf of all magical peoples," Celeste said softly over the music. Minister Fudge was immensely pleased by the praise, if the red flush to his face was anything to go by.

"My dear you're far too kind. Your modesty speaks well of House Black. I believe you'll be one to watch," he began before extending his arm for her to take. "I know you both must be anxious to socialize, so a few introductions to start will make matters much easier. Come along."

Celeste graced him with a dazzling smile as she allowed him to lead her from the center of the room.

Two hours must have passed as face after face and name after name were thrown at Celeste and Sirius while the Minster prattled on about his constituents. It was impossible to get a word in edgewise. New guests had even entered the room several times over, but the Minster was practically glued to their sides. He must have read about the Black fortune in the Prophet. Celeste looked over the crowded room to a sea of unfamiliar faces. Each looking at her with curiosity, hostility, or supposed kindness, but she knew that there were no friends in this world. Only rivals and allies, both of which could change at any moment. The room was getting to be over-crowded and the musicians had long since given up attempting to play, as their music was drowned out by the constant and growing conversation. Celeste's view of the room was suddenly blocked by an atrocious lime green robe and long white beard.

"Ah, Albus. I knew even you couldn't stay away tonight. And why not with such fine company, indeed," Fudge said in obvious delight before he took it upon himself to introduce Celeste.

"How do you find the party?" Celeste asked when the introductions were over and Fudge went back to chattering away to Sirius. She was slightly annoyed that Dumbledore was still blocking her view of the room, but knew better than to let it show. He had been He had been Violet Potter's Headmaster and she knew that the girl had felt hostility towards him. He was the Lord of the Light and it was apparent that there were calculations stewing behind that disarmingly gentle grandfatherly act. Here was a Master of the complex and subtle game they all played.

"When you get to be my age, a well read book in front of the fire, is all the excitement required for a pleasant evening. Yet, it does me good to be out and about with all these young people. I feel youthful already. And I must admit the desserts are a pleasing side benefit to all this pomp and circumstance," Dumbledore responded. Celeste gave him a smile in response. It was easy to see why people were so taken with the man. He appeared so harmless and agreeable.

"I have to admit that I was rather disappointed when I read of your enrollment at Beauxbatons. I had hoped that you would have chosen Hogwarts for your remaining school years. Our doors will always be open to you."

"I was open to the idea, but Mother would not hear of it. It's difficult enough for her to send me off to school. It would break her heart to see me in another country," Celeste responded before she took a sip of the drink in her hand, the fizzy bubbles tickling her throat. "Hogwarts does sound marvelous, however. Father has the best stories of his time there."

"All of which are strictly confidential," Sirius cut in with a conspiratorial wink at Celeste. Before Dumbledore could respond, Celeste felt an arm linking with hers.

"I hope you are not trying to steal my Cece away to some cold dark school in the middle of nowhere," Viviana said to Dumbledore, in a voice laced with playfulness, but the warning beneath it was clear enough. "Especially with the numerous lapses in security that seem to occur there." Viviana cast a glance at Sirius who instantly turned his attention to his drink.

"Oh, that reminds me, Albus. I must introduce you to Delores while you are both still here. The poor thing doesn't do well in large crowds like this," Fudge said before he began to lead Dumbledore away, trading in one prize for another. Sirius released a deep breath when the two disappeared into the crowd.

"If we separate, we'll have a better chance at avoiding him."

"Which one are you talking about?" Celeste asked Sirius.

"Both," he quickly responded before downing another glass of champagne. With the Minister gone, poor Sirius didn't have a chance to get away, as a huge wave of admirers rushed to his side, pushing Celeste and Viviana right out of the way. Of course, Viviana simply pushed her way back to his side, enjoying every single envious and hate filled look she received on the way.

Celeste used the distraction to take a walk around the grand room. Food had been served and various tables had appeared in the center of the room, allowing guests to take what they pleased and continue to socialize. It was supposed to have been a fun shake-up of traditional dinner parties, but instead guests found themselves having to juggle eating, drinking, and socializing while standing in an overcrowded space. It was amusing to watch the older guests struggle with the breach of social norms that the Minister had unwittingly created. Her amusement quickly turned to pain when a large shoe stepped on her foot as she went to turn the corner of the room. She bit her lip to keep from cursing aloud whoever it was that had so rudely stepped on her, to find a young man turning bright red before her.

"I'm so sorry! Didn't mean to. It was either take a step back or get run over. It's over-crowded in here," the boy said in a rush as his face continued to grow red. He reminded her of a tomato. His round cheeks, wide eyes, and long bangs did little to help his current appearance. Celeste took a deep breath while she looked him up and down. It was when she examined his face that she saw the lighting bolt scar on his forehead. The Boy Who Lived. Of course, Dumbledore would bring his most prized puppet to the first social event of the season.

"It's quite alright. Really," she responded with an airy laugh even though she wanted nothing more than to curse him. "I don't believe we've had the pleasure of meeting. I'm-"

"Celeste Black. Your face is all over the papers," he interrupted with an apparent amount of intrigue in his voice. She wondered if it was his own curiosity or Dumbledore's influence that had him looking so interested in her. It could have also been the dress, she reasoned.

"Yes. And you are?" She relished the look of shock on his face as he was obviously used to being recognized everywhere he went.

"I can't believe you don't know. Everyone knows who I am. Neville Longbottom. The Savior of the Wizarding World," he responded with confidence, as he pointed to the famous scar on his forehead. The red was slowly leaving his face to be replaced with an expression of well-practiced arrogance.

Celeste feigned a look of surprise. "Forgive me. In France, we have heard of you but seldom see your face in our papers. The Boy who Lived isn't exactly an everyday topic of conversation as great as your accomplishments may be." His smile faltered slightly at her response.

"You really didn't know?"

"Is it that unusual?" She responded while taking another long sip of the drink. It magically refilled each time, which had made some of the guests very drunk, if the swaying bodies around the room were any indication. She had made sure to pace herself but had begun to feel slightly light headed. The now constant throbbing in her foot certainly helped to keep her grounded.

"No. I like that you didn't know. It's refreshing to be honest," Neville said with his confidence once again returning.

Celeste couldn't help but laugh at his earnestness. It felt so out of place among the scheming, backstabbing, and dealing of the Wizarding elite. She looked around the room to see the tables in the center disappearing, while the musicians once again took their seats. The Minister must have realized his guests needed some form of entertainment before a drunken duel broke out from boredom, and an impromptu ball would do the trick. Neville turned to look behind and must have come to the same conclusion.

"I'd be kicking myself all night if I didn't ask for a dance."

She tilted her head as she considered him. He was handsome enough in a boyish sort of way and dancing with the Boy Who Lived would, without a doubt turn heads, and kick the weekend off with a bang. It would also keep members of the Light and the Dark guessing on which way she leaned politically. Celeste vanished her drink and took Neville's outstretched arm with a dazzling smile. She could practically feel the Minister's giddiness as she and Neville took to the empty floor.

"Please tell me you know how to waltz," she whispered in his ear while she placed her hand on his shoulder and squared her own. They were the only ones on the floor and once again every single eye in the room was on her. It had been a risk accepting his invitation, but she did have a flair for the dramatic. She was here to be seen.

"My Gran beat it into me. Used to have to dance with her every Sunday evening. You're a lot less bony than she is, but I think I can manage. Er...what I meant're a much better looking partner."

"I should hope so," Celeste responded as the music began, "what a bizarre compliment."

She laughed as Neville's neck turned a light red before they began to spin about the room. Other couples quickly joined in and soon the floor was packed full of flushed and smiling faces. The message her dance sent to them was clear, however. Celeste, like her mother, was here to turn heads and keep the Wizarding Elite on their toes.

She shared another dance with Neville, one with the Minister, two with Sirius, and several others with unknown faces, until the night eventually dissolved into a dizzying array of sparkling liquids and spins. By the time the night was beginning to draw to a close, her feet were aching and the ribbon tickling her neck had become a near constant annoyance. Viviana had disappeared from the grand room over an hour ago and Sirius was still surrounded by several admirers begging him for tales about his harrowing escape from Azkaban. He seemed to have loosened up the longer he had been forced to be in the spotlight.

She lingered by the doorway and cast one last glance over the room. It was still crowded but the music had begun to play louder as the dances became looser while dancers moved even closer to one another. All Celeste wanted was the deliciously comfortable bed that was waiting for her just a few floors up. Tomorrow was promising to be an even more demanding day. Still, she was excited to take part in her first Summer Solstice celebration. She turned to depart from the room but stopped when her gaze fell on the Minister. He was tucked away in the back corner, looking decidedly nervous, and speaking animatedly with two men whom she didn't recognize. One man had a thin black mustache and keep glancing down at his fine silver watch, and looked to be about the same age as the Minister. The other man was without a doubt the most beautiful man she had ever seen. His short raven black hair was as dark as a starless night, offsetting his pale skin, and drawing all to stare directly into his sharp, almost black eyes, that no amount of light could ever hope to touch. Even the glow of the candles throughout the room never seemed to reach him as he stood cloaked by the shadows. He was remarkable, especially when standing next to Minister Fudge and the other man. The lingering looks from other passerbys in the room let her know she wasn't alone in that opinion.

Curiosity eventually got the better of her and putting her exhaustion to the side, she began to make her way over to the other side of the room. Whatever they were talking about certainly had the Minister nervous. A little eavesdropping wouldn't hurt. The room was still crowded enough that she was able to duck behind a large stone pillar with no one the wiser. Celeste had to strain her ears in order to hear above the music and conversations of guests passing to and fro.

"...Have there been any more sightings?" Fudge asked, careful to maintain the false cheer in his voice as he nodded at witches and wizards who walked by. Celeste pressed closer to the pillar to make sure that she was out of the way of couples rounding the corner.

"It's doubtful that there was even one sighting. For all we know, the man could have had too much firewhiskey," the handsome man said in a disinterested tone. She instinctively leaned into the sound. The two men must work for the Minister then.

"It's imperative that we do not let word of this spread. This laughable rumor has to be contained less the public come aware and chaos ensues," the thin mustached man said. His voice was harsh, and nasally, and lacked the appeal one would expect from an elected official.

"Don't worry, Barty. I'm sure it won't affect your career in the long run."

"This is about order and public safety! Not my career,"the man called Barty replied in a heated tone. Celeste rolled her eyes from behind the pillar. She wondered if he had practiced that response in front of the mirror. How typical. A Ministry official more concerned about image than competency.

"No? I could have sworn that there was some merit to the rumor of you gunning for Minister. Remind me again, what the fundraiser you're holding next month is for," the man said in the same bored tone. Celeste thought she could hear a trace of amusement running through it.

"Bartemius Crouch, you conniving little traitor," Minister Fudge hissed, before launching into a tirade of accusing Crouch of being after his job, and stabbing him in the back. The entire conversation quickly deteriorated into a series of back and forth juvenile insults between the Minister and Crouch, more than likely fueled on by an excessive amount of champagne. Whatever they were discussing before had been quickly forgotten. Celeste quickly tuned out their petty squabble as any truly valuable information was unlikely to be revealed.

Celeste peeked her head around the pillar when she heard the man who had started the fight excuse himself from the conversation. The Minister and Barty Crouch hadn't even stopped their fighting to say goodbye. She got the feeling that this sort of thing was a regular occurrence. They were lucky it was so late in the night or they might have drawn a larger audience with their childish bickering. It would make an amusing tidbit of gossip to share tomorrow at breakfast, at least. Gossip and rumor were the currency of three-day social events like this.

The man must have felt her eyes on him as he glanced backwards before he got too far away. It was obvious then that she had been eavesdropping but all she saw was boredom reflected in his dark eyes. It was a look that made it clear he believed her to be beneath his notice and interest. She was nothing to him, even if she had just caught him manipulating the Minister of Magic. Celeste Black never let anyone make her feel unworthy. She had fought and clawed her way out of darkness and death, and damn it, she deserved to be here. How dare anyone make her feel otherwise. Celeste narrowed her own eyes and raised her chin in open defiance. The man gave her a mocking smile before disappearing into the crowd. Well, this weekend had just gotten decidedly more interesting.

A/N: Don't worry that is not the last we are going to see of Marvolo! I wanted to get Celeste to a point where she could stand on her own before I threw her into the chaos. There is going to be a lot more interaction between them going forward as we delve further into politics, war, and dare I say it...romance :P.

*Chapter 35*: Chapter 35

Chapter 35: The Solstice

A/N: Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy :).

She could feel the magic in the air before she even opened her eyes. Magic like flames flickering and dancing across her skin and teasing her awake. Celeste stretched and slowly got up from the bed. The sun had yet to rise and even though she had only gone to bed a few short hours before she found herself wide awake. It was the Summer Solstice and every part of her magic felt charged and energized as it searched to make a connection to something larger than itself. The bed next to hers was still fully made and empty. Viviana must have spent the night in another room then. She began to comb her hair while running through the interactions of the previous night. It had been a success. Sirius and she had captivated and dazzled the Wizarding elite while revealing as little as possible about their own lives. Today would undoubtedly be another day full of tests and trials.

Celeste stood up from the vanity and grabbed her long silver night robe. It had pale and intricately carved bead-work stitched into the back, making it just formal enough for her to wear out into the hallway. She doubted that any of the guests would arise before ten anyway given the libations that had been provided the previous night. She closed the door as softly as she could and stood in the long hallway that was lined with doors on both sides, each one holding two or more slumbering members of the elite. She could have sworn that she had heard a guest mention a marvelous balcony somewhere on this floor. Deciding to trace her steps from the previous night, Celeste began to walk down the hallway towards the grand room. As soon as she rounded the corner she found an entire wall of stained glass windows that depicted a forest scene. In the center of the glass was a solid oak door carved to resemble the trunk of a tree. Well, if there was going to be a balcony anywhere she assumed that this would be it.

She pushed against the door and was instantly greeted with the soft calls of morning birds and gentle hum of insects. A warm breeze blew through her beckoning her outward. She followed the pull of the elements and stepped through the doorway. The balcony was rather bare save for a large marble bench in the center and an elaborate railing, carved to resemble wildflowers. Then again, she hadn't assumed that the Minister spent too much time outdoors. Celeste smiled to herself and quickly took a seat on the bench. She wanted to greet the sun, to witness the light pouring over the landscape and claiming the day as its own. The feasting and formal words would begin at noon in the great field behind the Minister's estate. Celeste had barely a moment alone before she heard the door being pushed open behind her.

She turned, expecting to see a pair of still drunken lovers, only to see grey eyes and pale blonde hair like her own, staring back at her. It was a face she had memorized, one she had drawn before the ritual, part of a collection that was kept under the floorboards in her room. There were four in total.

"I didn't think anyone would be out here," the boy said as he went to turn around. His voice was cold but not necessarily hostile. She was an unknown to him, and he...he was a stranger to her now. Memories of laughter and flying tried to fight their way to the center of her mind but they were hazy and dark. They didn't make sense to her now. It was like trying to understand someone else's dreams.

"That's alright. There's still plenty of room," Celeste said as she moved over on the bench, surprising herself. Normally she would have preferred the solitude but the boy who stood before her looked so lost and tired. There was an emptiness about him that tugged on her soul. He paused and for a moment she thought he was going to rebuke her. She could see the thought flash across his eyes as he looked at her, no doubt trying to determine what her motivation was.

"I don't bite, really," she teased and patted the bench.

He didn't smile but stepped through the doorway onto the balcony. He was tall and thin, and despite the apparent exhaustion, very handsome. A true Malfoy through and through in appearance and regard. Her heart dropped when she looked down at his hands. He was holding the fallen petals of an Elder Flower, only allowed to be gathered in mourning. They would turn to ash for anyone else. They were the central component in a very old ritual to, used say the last goodbye.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean-"

"It's fine," he interrupted as he took a seat next to her and stared out into the darkness. The sun was still a whiles away from rising but the calls of birds had begun to increase. She assumed that he had meant to begin the ritual at sunrise. She would have liked that. They sat in silence for several minutes before he eventually turned to look at her. Celeste stayed still while she felt his eyes inspecting her features.

"Did you know that we're related?"

"Yes, I've seen your face on the wall at Grimmauld Place. Walburga is quite fond of your mother. The saving grace of the Black Family. A paragon of virtue, beauty, and intelligence," Celeste said as she mimicked Walburga's voice, earning her a slight smile from Draco.

"She'll be happy to hear it," he said as he went back to staring out at the dark grounds. "Mother doesn't have many connections left to her family."

"I didn't see any of you last night. I'm sure the Minister would have forced an introduction, preferably in front of a large audience."

"He'll find a way today. You can count on it. We didn't get in until late last night. Father had some Ministry business that kept him," Draco said evasively. She knew better than to pry.

Celeste toyed with the beads on the cuffs of her robe. Sirius had mentioned that he had run into Narcissa Malfoy last summer and had a somewhat pleasant interaction with her. They were such a firm staple in the political arena that being on good terms with them would be nothing but beneficial. Still, it felt wrong to be insincere and conniving to the boy who sat next to her.

"Everyone was talking about your dance with the Idiot Who Lived. It was practically the first thing I heard when I arrived. I'm sure he'll be bragging all about it once the term starts. It'll at least get you a feature in Witch Weekly." How cynical he sounded but he knew this world just as well as she.

She looked at him out of the corner of her eye but he was still looking straight ahead; the white petals in his hands a constant reminder of the pain that she had caused.

"My goal in life is complete then," she said sarcastically, not entirely willing to defend her actions to him.

They returned to silence and continued to look anywhere but at each other. Part of her regretted leaving her room, but an even larger part of her kept her rooted on the bench next to him. He tensed the moment the first golden streak of light slowly appeared on the horizon. His fingers clenched around the pale petals as if he was reluctant to let them go. Draco stood from the bench and walked towards the railing as another ray of sunlight gleamed across the horizon. His steps dragged and in that moment he seemed so breakable to her. She rose and stood next to him. He was clearly struggling to say the words, so Celeste did the only thing she could think of. She reached out and grabbed his hand in the space between darkness and light, just as someone had once done for her when she was lost in the nothingness of despair.

"Darkness has fallen on every side. You have been called away from the land of the living. After times, after duties, after separations..." Celeste softly began the blessing for him.

Draco let out a shaky breath before speaking. "May blessed Magic guide you. May the helping threads lead you. May the homeward path rise up under your feet and...and..." He took a harsh breath and shook his head.

"And lead you gladly home," she finished as the sun began to rise over the horizon.

Draco raised his hand and held out the petals. If they blew away then the holder would know their loved one was truly at peace. Celeste closed her eyes as brilliant rays of sunlight poured over the balcony, momentarily blinding her. A strong gust of wind picked up around them and she opened her eyes to see the petals circling Draco. They reminded her of falling snow yet the never touched the ground. It was known as the last embrace, the gift of the Elder Flower, made even more potent on a day when the veil between realms was thin. She released his hand and headed back inside, knowing that he would want to be alone now. Before closing the door, she looked back to see the wind carry the petals fast and free towards the sun.

Celeste returned to her room and threw herself onto the bed. The curtains were still shut so the room remained in darkness. She let the new wave of exhaustion overtake her and closed her eyes, not wanting to feel anything anymore. She must have fallen asleep because the next thing she knew a small house-elf was gently poking her.

"Forgive me, most honored guest," the elf squeaked when Celeste finally lifted her head up from the pillow.

"It's alright," she mumbled. The elf was beginning to look more and more panicked, wringing it's hands while shifting on its feet.

"Lady Belrose has asked Dippy to help Lady Black prepare for the Solstice. But Lady Black was asleep and Dippy tried to wake her but she wouldn't wake. Dippy tried and tried but nothing would work! So Dippy dared to poke her. Oh, no. Master will be so angry-"

Celeste jumped up from the bed and gently grabbed the elf by the shoulders. "It's alright. Calm down, please," she begged as her sleep addled mind was trying to make sense of the past minute. The elf stopped in its frantic ranting to look up at her.

"Lady Black is not...displeased?" The elf asked incredulously.

"Course not," she said as she yawned and stretched her arms. Her eyes widened in shock as she looked at the clock next to her bed. The ceremony would be starting in thirty minutes which left her with twenty minutes to prepare for a full day and night in front of the Wizarding elite. Crap.

"Well, let's hurry then," she said in a rush. The elf sighed in relief and quickly led her to the vanity table. Viviana had left her a dress to wear so at least that part was already done.

Celeste looked at herself in shock at the end of fifteen minutes. She now knew why Vivana had sent Dippy to her. Last night must have been a practice run for today. Her hair alone looked like it had taken at least an hour to do. It was in a tight intricate plait with fresh lavender woven through the strands all held together with a shining golden clasp. Her makeup was simple and aimed to showcase her pale grey eyes and rosy lips. The dress, made from a simple white cotton, was long and flowy. It hung off her shoulders and draped effortlessly over her form, absolutely perfect for a day that would be spent roaming the grounds. It felt natural, easy. She thanked Dippy immensely before running off towards the back door of the estate without a minute to spare.

She smiled when her barefeet touched the soft grass. The ceremony space was towards the back of the grounds but if she walked at a fast pace she'd have plenty of time. Guests were mingling father along the path she was walking but she was too far to hear any of what they said. She remembered to school her face into neutrality, even as the memory of that morning stayed heavy in her heart and mind. When she had agreed to re-enter society, she knew that she would come face to face with the people whom Violet Potter had died to keep safe. The empty dead space in her heart was a constant reminder of the ghosts that would always haunt her, but those people...those memories...that pain...they didn't belong to her. She quickened her pace in a poor attempt at distracting herself. Today should not be day for melancholy.

Celeste rounded the corner of the path that would take her up to the ceremony. She had taken the route through the garden as it was more of a straight shot than the manicured stone path that most of the other guests had chosen. There was already a large group of people gathering on top of the hill where the ceremony would take place. Celeste was too preoccupied to pay attention to where she walked or to notice that the ground beneath her was uneven with several missing stones. Before she could prepare herself she felt the sensation of losing her balance. Her feet stumbled over one another as she struggled to stay upright. No. No. No. She could not trip or fall. Not here of all places. She'd be a laughing stock and her dress would be covered in dirt stains. Normally, a quick cleaning spell would suffice but wands were not permitted at a celebration like this. There wasn't enough time to change. She tried to brace herself, yet the humiliation and feeling of her hands scraping the ground never came.

Before Celeste completely lost her balance a pair of strong hands wrapped around her waist and held her upright. A few strands of hair came loose with the movement, momentarily blocking her vision. Celeste took a second to catch her breath before she brushed the loose curls from her eyes to find the man from the night before staring down at her. He seemed so out of place in this day dedicated to the sun. He belonged to the night, or maybe it belonged to him. She found that she couldn't look away from his sharp dark eyes, which now she could see were not completely black; flecks of warm amber brought out from the brilliant sunlight. The dark waves of his hair glistened in the light, like raven's feathers, and she found herself wondering what it would feel like to run her fingers through it. She frowned when she realized his hands were still planted firmly around her waist as his long fingers toyed with the soft fabric of the outer layer of her dress. Her breath hitched as they ever so slowly began to inch downwards toward her hips. Step Away. Slap him. Do something! Anything! Some far off part of her brain pleaded.

A gasp behind her caused Celeste to quickly glance over her shoulder to see two older ladies, linked arm in arm, staring at her and the man. There was no way for her to have seen them coming see them coming but the man had a perfect view of the path. She didn't recognize them but they were draped head to toe in fine jewels and bright green charmeuse dresses. Rather impractical for the day but that seemed to be the way of the older members of the Elite. They expected the world to adjust to their whims and wishes.

"Oh dear, Augusta. It looks like your grandson isn't quite enough for certain ladies. And I do use that term loosely," one of the woman loudly whispered as they began to pass by.

"It's to be expected with that parentage. The poor girl can't help it, I'm sure. Not everyone can appreciate the sacrifices my family has made for their….,"

Celeste instantly tuned the women out when they finished walking by. She turned her attention back to the man who had yet again orchestrated a masterful manipulation. She knew she was better than this. What an amateur mistake. He was looking down at her with a raised eyebrow and infuriatingly smug smirk. If only she had her wand on her.

"Bastard," she growled as she pushed his hands off of her and stormed away from him in the direction the two ladies had gone. His rich laughter followed after her, tickling the back of her neck.

Celeste looked over the grounds and smiled. It was everything that she loved about the world of magic. There was music and laughter in the air as the aroma of fire and sage filled her nose and delighted her senses. Everywhere she looked there were people, young and old, simply enjoying the pleasure of being here on this glorious summer day. There was a brightness to the day that made her feel giddy as she wandered in and out of colorful open tents with Sirius and Viviana. There were story-tellers, dancing, feasting, lawn games, and all manner of drinks sprawled across the large landscape. It was dizzying marvelous chaos infused with wonderous magic zipping through the air. A day of renewal and hope where the veil separating realms was thin enough for anyone or anything to feel the kiss of Magic, charging their own in the process. The summer solstice was not as formal a day as Beltane but there still were certain traditions tied to the holiday. Most of it was to be spent outside under the high sun with friends and family, oak branches were gathered to be used for an enormous bonfire, and the night was to be spent dancing.

"You best be careful today. It's not uncommon for overzealous suitors to greet midsummer with a kiss. I think last night gave Sirius his first grey hair," Viviana said as they took a seat on a blanket underneath a shady oaktree. The Minister had dragged him off a few minutes earlier. It provided a spectacular view of the outdoor dance floor. A huge fire pit sat on the other side which would provide the light throughout the night. Various guests were mousing up to it and throwing in oak branches.

"I think I can manage my own affairs. Thank you," Celeste primly replied while running her fingers through the grass next to her. She bit her lip in frustration when her thoughts returned to the encounter in the garden. Thrown off guard by a handsome face. How utterly pathetic.

"Despite all evidence to the contrary. Wait...are you blushing?" Viviana asked incredulously and lifted her hand to inspect Celeste's cheek. She instantly swatted her hand away as her blush continued to grow.

"Something's happened. Oh, do tell!" Viviana pressed.

"Absolutely nothing happened," Celeste hissed as Viviana began to laugh. She groaned and placed her head in her hands.

"I knew I left too early last night. Was it that dance with the Savior of the Wizarding World? That was quite the statement. All anyone talked about at breakfast. To be honest though I thought that Diggory boy the much better catch..that muscle."

She could feel herself frowning. The truth was she'd forgotten about every dance she'd had the previous night the moment they had ended. It wasn't that they were bad. They just weren't memorable, or special, or something. She hadn't expected them to be anything, really. It was an act, just like everything in the political arena, and to be honest she was glad of it. Celeste didn't want attachments. They were a liability. As the Heir to a Great House, she knew that other Houses would be interested in arranging a marriage to fortify their own power. She was rather late to the game but she knew Sirius would never force her into something like that. Her choices would always be her own.

"Chin up, dear. We have company," Viviana whispered, drawing Celeste out of her thoughts. She lifted her head to see Narcissa Malfoy slowly approaching them, as poised as ever. Her pale blonde hair was swept into an elegant updo, clipped into place with a sparkling brooch shaped into the Malfoy crest.

"Narcissa! Don't you just look ravishing today? I wish I had the courage to just wear the first thing I saw in the morning," Viviana called out with a smile full of venom.

"If that were the case, I'm afraid you'd only ever be in your knickers. Of course, most of your friends would find that charming, I'm sure," Narcissa replied when she reached them. Both women shared a laugh, which was obviously fake to anyone paying attention. When it subsided, Narcissa turned her attention to Celeste.

"It's lovely to finally meet you. Your father and I have been in correspondence over the past year and I must admit I've been dreadfully curious to finally see the Heir of House Black."

"The pleasure is mine," Celeste replied in earnest. She was unsure of what their dynamic was supposed to be since it was clear that Viviana and Narcissa weren't on the best of terms. Still, she knew her role was to think about the potential allies for House Black. The support of the Malfoy Family would be crucial in securing Sirius and her's place in the political circuit. More hazy memories tried to claw their way to the forefront of her thoughts but it was getting easier to ignore them.

"You've certainly been graced with the good looks of the Black Family. That's fortunate," Narcissa smiled. It wasn't completely true as she looked to be about an equal mix of both the Blacks and Belrose Families but she appreciated the compliment nonetheless.

"Yes. Much better she inherits the looks from your side and the sanity of mine," Viviana said before Celeste could respond. Both women laughed again as Celeste grew increasingly uncomfortable being between the two.

"I was just about to take a turn about the grounds. Would you care to join me?" Narcissa asked after a moment of tense silence. Celeste smiled and stood up to follow her. It was the first step in securing an alliance. Both women to be seen walking together in public would send a clear message to the other members of the Elite.

The sun was still hanging high in the sky as they walked back towards the colorful assortment of tents on the other side of the grounds in comfortable silence. Music and conversation in equal measure filled the landscape. Celeste could see a large crowd forming around one of the tents that featured a world renowned fire breather. The Minister had spared no expense today. She smiled to herself as she felt the wind softly blow past her, carrying with it the faintest hint of lavender, from her hair.

"I admit I offered you this walk as a chance to see what kind of woman you are. I'm afraid most of the Houses don't quite know what to make of you. Some are suspicious while others find this shake-up to be a pleasing one. My husband and I tend to err on the side of caution. It's been many years since House Black has held any significant influence. We'll be watching closely to see how you wield it. I think you have your father's flair for shocking the establishment. It's refreshing, to be honest. Our world is too stagnant, at times."

"It's always nice to keep things interesting," Celeste replied. She hadn't expected an open offer of alliance right out of the gates.

"My son, Draco, told me about what you did for him this morning," Narcissa said quietly yet loud enough for Celeste to hear over the many and varied conversations around them.

"It was nothing," she replied, careful to reveal no emotion. She wasn't sure where the other woman was going with this. Sincerity was a rarity at events like this and this topic put her on edge.

"These past years have been understandingly difficult for him. He's withdrawn from so many of the things he used to love, but I like to think that today brought him the closure he needed. It's been hard on all of us but him most of all."

Guilt. There it was, tugging at her heart and soul. She hated it. Hated that the thoughts and feelings from someone else's life plagued her. Hated herself for causing it all.

"I'm sorry for his loss. For your loss," she responded. It was true, but the pain that Violet Potter had left in her wake was a necessary and permanent one. Celeste wouldn't undo the girl's sacrifice just to ease her own feelings. Narcissa gave her a soft smile and linked her arm with Celeste's.

"That's kind of you to say. I do trust that what you saw this morning will remain confidential. As taken with the headlines as you and your mother are...well Draco does not need or want that sort of attention."

"I'm not the sort of person to sell someone's grief to the highest bidder," Celeste said, sharply.

"No? You must admit that your relations certainly enjoy the spotlight. Not to mention the people you've chosen to associate with. To be quite frank, your mother isn't-"

If Celeste knew that dancing with Neville would have created this much of an issue, she never would have done it. It was turning out to be nothing but a headache.

"Your dedication to your son is admirable but let me make myself clear," she interrupted, "I will not tolerate slander against my family. You have my word as the Heir of House Black that your son's name will not appear in the press on our account. His grief is safe with me. Let that be the end of it." She spoke in a forceful yet quiet voice that Walburga would have been proud of.

Celeste could see Sirius and the Minister on the other side of a small cluster of wizards betting on some board game. The relief in Sirius's eyes was evident the moment he spotted them. The Minister had been at his door at the earliest possible hour that morning wanting to give him a grand tour of the Estate. Sirius could only ever manage to break away for an hour at most.

"Oh, how marvelous! It's a complete Black Family reunion," Minister Fudge bellowed across the crowd. It was quickly followed by the flash of a Prophet camera and several excited whispers. Both women gave charming smiles in response and made their way over to the Minister and Sirius, looking all parts like old friends, despite the tense moment before.

The sun would be setting soon which had seemed to revitalize the hundreds of witches and wizards who had spent the entire day roaming the grounds. The night would be charged full of drinking, dancing, fire, and magic. She could feel the excitement and energy building all around her. Everyone had gathered around the fire space as they waited for the great bonfire to be lit. As Sirius was this years, Guest of Honor, he had been given the task of lighting it. Celeste smiled as she looked at him standing on the platform next to the Minister of Magic. He looked proud and held himself with an easy confidence that she'd watched him regain over the previous years. He looked happy, genuinely happy. He found her face in the crowd and gave her a wink that had several people behind her sighing.

"Oh, such a good father,"

"That hair…"

Celeste rolled her eyes and began to move towards the edge of the crowd to get a better view and escape Sirius's admirers. She found a small space on the outer edge of the dance floor that gave her an excellent view of the entire crowd.

"As the Minister of Magic, it is with great pleasure that I welcome each and every one of you to this year's Summer Solstice celebration. The man next to me, requires no introduction, but I shall do it anyway," Minister Fudge called out to a soft wave of laughter, "Sirius Black. Our honored guest, I present you with the final oak branch to light the great fire and continue the sun's reign over the night on this day."

Sirius took the extended branch from the Minister and moved to stand in front of the great mound of branches that had been gathered throughout the day. A moment later the tip of the branch ignited and Sirius placed it onto the pile. The entire crowd erupted with cheers and laughter as the great bonfire erupted before them. Golden confetti began raining down over them as loud music, a hundred fire breathers, and a sea of dancers came pouring out of several of the tents scattered around the landscape.

After a few hours of mingling, Celeste found herself wandering away from the packed dance floor in search of some type of refreshment. She'd lost her glass at the beginning of the night, but she knew that there was bound to be several tables overflowing with drink somewhere. It wouldn't be a wizarding celebration without it. Sure enough, it took less than a minute, to see a table piled high with some type of light orange liquid. It glowed like the sun. The aroma tickled her nose and filled her senses with flowery sugary overtones.

"Fairy wine," Neville said as he came up next to her. She'd seen him glancing at her throughout day but decided against greeting him in public, not all that interested in conversing with him. She could see Dumbledore's influence all over the rumors that had spread that morning. It was all rather predictable.

"Have you ever tried it?" She asked as she grabbed a glass. It was a stolen recipe, taken back when fairies once dominated the forests. Most witches and wizards only used it for incredibly special occasions. One glass was heaven, two were ecstasy, and three...well most people never got to three.

"My gran would never allow it." She could hear the slight tinge of resentment in his voice. Now, that was interesting. Celeste's thoughts turned vindictive as she remembered the encounter earlier in the garden. Judgemental old bat.

She fully turned her attention to Neville and eyed him up and down. He began to redden under her gaze and she found herself enjoying watching him squirm. He looked handsome enough that evening.

"Well, I don't see your grandmother around. Do you? Let's have some fun," Celeste said with an impish smile as she reached for another glass and placed it in Neville's hands. She knew he wouldn't be daring enough to drink it out in the open so she grabbed his hand and led him to the far corner of the grounds. The bonfire cast enough light to easily see the entire ceremony space. They were still well within the bounds and in plain sight of people passing by, but still somewhat tucked away. Yet another calculated risk.

"She doesn't like you. Talked my ear off this morning," Neville said as he toyed with the glass in his hand.

"I've gathered," Celeste said dryly as she looked over the grounds. There must have been hundreds of people here. It was dizzying. Her gaze stopped when it fell on the man from the garden and she felt her ire rising. He was seated, like a King, in one of the many stone benches scattered throughout the lawn with the Minister of Magic. A pretty girl sat on his other side, trying to subtly toy with his sleeve. She had straight and thin light brown hair and pleasing symmetrical features. If it wasn't for the incredibly fine clothing, and glittering diamonds, she would have been rather unremarkable.

"Who are those people next to the Minister?" Celeste asked, making sure to leave all the curiosity from her voice. Neville might appear earnest, but for all she knew it could have just been an act. Dumbledore would likely be told about their entire conversation at the very least.

"What..oh. The girl is the Minister's daughter, Lydia. Graduated from Hogwarts four years ago. She was head girl, of course. She works in her father's office now...though no one is quite sure what exactly she does there," Neville said from beside her. She could see a slight resemblance between father and daughter upon closer inspection. They had the same broad nose and small chin.

"The other one is Tom Riddle. He's an advisor to the Minister or some such rot. A real snake of a man. Conniving, cut-throat, just awful, really. He does all the Minister's dirty work. Dumbledore absolutely hates him. Of course, he told me that in confidence. We're very close, you know-."

Celeste rolled her eyes while Neville waited for her to no doubt be impressed by his close relationship to Dumbledore. She was sure it worked wonders for him at Hogwarts. As if somehow sensing their eyes on him, Tom looked away from the conversation, and directly at them. He still had that infuriatingly smug smirk on his face as his eyes slowly roamed over her body. Bastard. Celeste's grip around the glass tightened as she thought of a way to show him that he had no effect on her. The garden incident had been embarrassing enough and now he'd caught her staring. She needed to put an end to this now. The Minister followed Tom's gaze and was also now watching Celeste and Neville in interest.

"Just shut up, Longbottom," she breathed before drinking the entire contents of her glass. It fell to the ground as the cool liquid traveled down her throat, igniting her senses and dulling all reason. In the next moment, she grabbed Neville by the lapels of his jacket, and laid her lips on his. His mouth was warm and lips smooth as he enthusiastically kissed her back. The fairy wine heightened her sensations while the world began to spin around her. Celeste didn't want to stop as the influence of the wine continued to grow. This felt nice...nice to held and kissed. He wrapped one arm around her and she felt herself being pressed against the trunk of a tree. The impact shot delicious sparks of pain up and down her spine. She placed her hands on his shoulders and dug her nails into the soft muscle she could feel underneath. She enjoyed the sensation of kissing and being kissed, but broke it off before it got too far. She'd wanted to make a point, not create a scandal.

"What was that for?" Neville asked as she slid out of his grip. He leaned his head forward against hers, obviously wanting to continue.

"Greeting midsummer with a kiss," she replied matter of factly while hiding her disappointment. Even with the wine, the kiss hadn't roused any sort of emotion in her. It was new, and the sensation had been nice, but she just didn't feel anything. Celeste didn't dare look back at Marvolo and the Minister but she could feel his stare burning into her back. The Minister's giddy clapping let her know that they had most definitely seen the display. She took the glass from Neville's hand and took another deep drink of the wine before placing it against his own lips with a wink.

The world burst to life and color around her as the second glass of wine took over. It was bliss. She grabbed his hand and began to lead him to the crowded dance floor. The fairy wine in her blood demanding that she dance under the stars until they explode. The music, the bright fire, the laughter, she could feel it; all of it pulsing and bursting around her in a glorious symphony of life. The more she danced, the less things seemed to matter. She'd forgotten why she'd kissed him in the first place, or what exactly she was doing here, as the magic of the wine and of the night continued to flood her senses. The night was alight. She danced with everyone. It didn't matter. The dances had little to no choreography about them. People were just moving whichever way the wind pushed them. Everything and everyone felt free around her. The night became brighter the longer she stayed on the dance floor. She swayed and twirled endlessly under the stars, not caring when her feet began to ache and her vision blurred; a child of light and fire basking in the never-ending day.

The music lulled and Celeste turned to see the Minister of Magic standing on the platform next to the giant fire. She'd lost track of time and space and as she looked around the ceremony area it was clear that most people felt the same. She was surrounded by flushed faces, boisterous laughter, and glazed looks. The Minister was no exception.

"Hello, Hello. I see that everyone is having a splendid solstice and how glad I am to see it. I thought we might have a bit of fun and introduce something new."

Celeste wanted to groan. If last night were anything to go by, then whatever he was about to propose would no doubt create chaos and confusion. She couldn't understand why he would announce this sort of thing in the middle of the night rather than at the beginning. No doubt some poor attempt at being spontaneous and progressive.

"A competition of sorts." The Minister reached into his pocket and pulled out a brilliant golden glowing ball, reminiscent of a snitch but larger. "First person to catch it will receive a boon of..hmm...fifteen thousand Galleons-"

The entire space erupted with gasps and excited whispers. It took a second for the Minister to realize his mistake.

'Wait! That isn't-,"

It was too late, however. Before the Minister could finish the magic ball shot from his hand and flew over the crowd; increasing the frenzied excitement as people jumped up over each other to try and grab it. It evaded capture and flew off in the direction of the Kore Forest. The crowd exploded as people began to break away from the dance floor and rush off towards the forest. Celeste couldn't escape the frenzy and before she could prepare herself, she was swept up in the crowd and pushed and prodded forward. The sensations from the wine had somewhat faded but her reflexes still had yet to fully return to her. The push of the crowd was too much and soon Celeste found herself in the Kore Forest. People continued to run by on either side of her but she at least now had space to move and breakaway from the frenzy.

The legends and rumors surrounding the forest had been correct. Even in the middle of the night, she could see enormous trees towering high above her. The trunks were so thick that even a giant might have had trouble wrapping their arms around one. The leaves must have been larger than her head, and the flowers. Oh, so many flowers, all vivid in color and diverse in shape burst onto the landscape for what must have been miles. They were everywhere and up to her knees. It was like walking through a never-ending meadow. The soft petals tickled her skin as she reached out to feel them. High rose bushes with thick thorns spread out between the trees while towering vines with glowing orchids created a thick canopy overhead and provided those underneath with just enough light to see ahead. It was a forest made from Magic and what a sight it was to behold.

A rustling sound to the right of her drew her from her wonder. Celeste turned to see the brambles and thorns on a bush next to her slowly being to unravel; the intricate knots came undone creating a gap in the bushes just large enough for her to pass through. The people passing by hadn't noticed. Celeste took a step towards it and then paused. This forest was notorious for playing tricks on people. It would make more sense to stay out in the open with the rest of the people trespassing through the forest. A strong wind stirred the flowers and leaves around her, pushing her into the direction of the side path. Perhaps it was the fairy wine in her blood still commanding her but every instinct in her body and magic told her to go forward.

The moment after she stepped through, the gap closed shut behind her, once again forming into an impassible nest of thick roots and sharp thorns. Well, there were certainly worse places to wander through.

She was unsure of how long or far she had walked. The glowing orchids above her illuminated every step of the way as the flowers beneath her would disappear and then reappear to ensure she never stepped on them. Despite the abundance of plant life, the forest was surprisingly devoid of animals. The wind was her only companion. She felt like she could be the only one for miles. A zipping sound from behind her drew her from her thoughts before worry could begin to set in. A moment later the golden ball that the Minister had released shot past her. Celeste chased after it in hopes that it had some sort of tracking spell. As marvelous as the forest was, she knew it wouldn't do well to wander aimlessly all night. She also knew that if she wasn't back by morning, Sirius was bound to worry.

The ball stayed close enough that she never lost track of it but far enough away that it was just out of reach. It eventually led her to a small tucked away grove surrounded by flowers with clear petals that looked like glass. This part of the forest felt different to her. The air felt electric. On the other side of the grove was a massive lake. She sighed in frustration when the ball began to hover over the water. Celeste slowly approached the lake. The water held the image of every star in the sky that night. Despite the wind, the water was calm with no movement, except for the occasional flash of light from a shooting star reflected back. The ball had once again vanished but she wasn't too worried. There were a few hours to go before the sun would rise and most of the guests were still in the forest.

She leaned over the water's edge and saw her reflection staring back. Despite several hours of dancing she looked exactly the same as she had when she first left her room that morning. Dippy's magic, no doubt. Her long white dress and pale blonde hair matched the starlight. The longer she stared the more her dress and hair bled into the reflected light until it looked like she had been cut out of the stars themselves. It was mesmerizing. She wanted to stay here, in this moment, forever. The world outside ceased to matter. Everything she needed was right here. There were no politics, or lies, or pain. There was no guilt. Celeste found herself drawn closer to the water. Throwing caution to the wind she began to lean towards it, wanting to become lost among the stars.

"It's a lovely picture," a smooth voice whispered behind her.

The trance was broken. Celeste's mind cleared in an instant but the shock caused her to stumble forward. The water rippled as whatever was lurking beneath it prepared to drag her down to the lake's bottomless depths. She tried to prepare herself for the sensation of water filling her lungs but it never came. For the second time that day a pair of hands reached out held her upright. She felt herself being turned around in the same movement. Unfortunately, it wasn't as graceful as earlier, and Celeste found herself clinging to a fine white shirt as she and whoever saved her fell to the ground. They landed with a hard thud away from the water.

Celeste lifted her head a fraction of an inch when she was sure that whatever was in the water was not going to jump out. She looked down to find Tom Riddle underneath her. Of Course. It just had to be him. His eyes were closed but she assumed he was just getting his breath back.

"I would say thank you but I'm sure there's some ulterior motive," she said as she tried to regain her senses. "You don't exactly seem like the altruistic type."

"Not usually. Can't have the latest darling of the Press go missing. It would ruin moral," he replied. She enjoyed his very slight grimace of pain when he opened his eyes. Must of hit his head on the fall. Served him right.

"My lucky day then."

Celeste quickly unclenched her hands from his shirt when she realized she was still holding onto him. Before he could respond the sounds of soft laughter filled the small grove. The air felt lighter than it had moments before as sugary smells of spring flooded her senses. The wind that had been guiding and pulling her all night picked up once more.

"Fairies," she whispered. The laughter and wind stopped almost as quickly as it appeared but she knew they were still here. She looked down to see Tom toying with one of the pieces of lavender in her hair and blushed as she realized she was still lying on top of him. Her lips only a few inches from his. He gave her a roguish smile.

"I rather like this view but there's always room for improvement," he said before pulling the golden clasp from her hair. The soft waves tumbled free a moment later falling to the side and spreading lavender all around them.

"That's much better," he whispered

Celeste gathered her willpower and used every ounce of it to jump off of him. Her body missing the warmth between them. He thought her nothing more than a pretty face. Some weak spoiled noble who could easily be manipulated or used for some type of dalliance. The realization stung more than she would have liked but it was what she had wanted when the weekend began. She wanted the elite to underestimate her. This...flirtation between them was just another test. Another way to unsettle her.

"What are you doing out here anyway?" She asked while dusting herself off. She doubted that he was out searching for the magic ball.

"Investigating something for the Minister. Although, you already know all about that." He said as he stood up in one fluid motion. She began to suspect that the fairies may have had something to do with his loss of balance based on the ease with which he moved.

"I didn't think there was anything left alive here." She turned to glance back at the lake. It's waters were once again calm but she knew better than to approach.

"Fewer things, yes. Most of the beings here are ancients forged in a time before the realms were sealed away."

She raised an eyebrow, waiting for him to elaborate. Sirius had taught here the bare basics of the Old Ways but with everything else going on it hadn't been a main point of conversation.

"Magic wasn't something that was channeled. It was a state of nature like the wind or a fast moving stream. We existed with it in perfect complete harmony. Free to use it as we wished. You felt it today didn't you?" He asked as he stepped behind her. She could feel his warm breath on her bare shoulders and squeezed her hands into fists to maintain her composure. He brushed her hair to the side and her heart began to race.

"That soft tickle on your skin. The warmth of the sun and fire that stays with you even in darkness. The way the wind seems to push and pull. That electric charge pulsing through you reminding you of that immortality in your veins. All heightened today," he whispered next to her ear, sending a shiver down her spine.

"But still only a fraction of what once was. The land is scarred now and all of us less for it. Cursed with only having a taste of what could be. The creatures who rule this place are nothing more than shadows of what they once were. They're just waiting to disappear." He sounded bitter as the wind once more picked up around them.

"No," she said softly, turning around to face him. His eyes and hair blending into the darkness as it rolled off of him in waves.

"They're survivors," she said with force.

She reached for his hand and took her golden hair clasp from his palm. His face was an indecipherable mask. She smiled up at him before turning and walking towards the clear flowers. Acting solely on instinct, Celeste bent down and placed the clasp in one of the flower bushes. A moment later the clear flowers turned a brilliant golden shade. She stood up and smiled as hundreds of flowers began to light up around her. She felt like she was adrift in a glowing sea of smooth glass and glimmering gold.

"They like you," he mused and took a step to examine one of the glowing petals. It went out before he could get to close. He turned to look at another one which went out just as quickly as the first.

"Too bad the same can't be said for you," she quipped. The sounds of light laughter once more filled the grove. Celeste was careful not to make any sudden movements. Fairies were fickle creatures with especially sharp teeth and a penchant for mischief. Their presence and magic felt different than hers. It was lighter, faster. To try and capture it would be like trying to grab hold of a cloud. Humans must have seemed so clumsy and slow to them. His eyes shone with a flicker of amusement before he returned to the center of the grove.

Then the air began to change. Both Celeste and Tom stood rigid. Every instinct in her body was urging her to flee. The laughter stopped and the glowing lights, like a candle being blown out, vanished leaving only darkness. An enormous gust of wind blew past them, disturbing the water of the lake. There was something sinister hanging in the air. Celeste looked at Tom, her heart sinking. She went to say something but stopped with a deep low growl sounded behind her.

"Stay still. Do not look back," he ordered in a harsh whisper. His dark eyes were looking past her and there was a strange intensity to them. They looked darker, if that was even possible. Celeste lost her breath as the growling continued. She didn't trust him and every instinct was telling her to get as far away as possible. The warm summer's night grew cold. The sweet smells of the forest fled with the warmth, to be replaced with something foul and rancid. Whatever was behind her, should not be here. It was an abomination. The growling grew closer and every part of her wanted to flee.

"Just look at me," he said sensing, her increasing panic. Just standing around in front of whatever was behind her seemed like such a bad idea. Really, the worst of ideas. Still, he'd been helpful earlier. She searched his eyes for any sign of insincerity and decided to trust him when she'd found none.

"I'm going to tell you to duck in a moment. Do not hesitate."

It was more a courtesy than anything, really. She doubted that he would care if she was hit by whatever spell he was about to use. Her panic increased as the growling grew louder and closer. Way too close for her liking. She felt trapped, like a piece of prey. Every memory of being locked away in pain and darkness reemerged. Her magic wanted to lash out. She was drowning in it.

"Now," he commanded. The growling stopped as whatever was behind her lunged. Celeste's body moved faster than her brain and she dropped to the forest floor. The creature jumped over her, its claws catching nothing more than air. Tom fired a wandless spell and the creature was encased in an blood red cage a moment later. Celeste lifted her head to see the cage collapse against the creature who remained completely unaffected. It was monstrous, canine in shape but devoid of eyes and ears, with two full layers of razor sharp teeth dripping in blood and saliva. It walked on all fours with long curved claws meant for dragging it's prey down. She'd never seen anything like it before.

The earth rumbled as Tom cast another spell. The air grew heavy with the allure of unchecked power as an electric purple current shot from his hand. It was a spell whose sole purpose was to cause immense pain. The ease with which he was able to wandessly cast it was astonishing. The creature remained unaffected as the spell hit it's black leathery hide, absorbing the spell and the power from it in the process. Magic wouldn't be able to kill it, only make it stronger. Celeste rolled to her feet and frantically thought of something to use as a weapon but nothing in the grove would work. Tree bark wouldn't even come close to piercing that skin and there was nothing to transfigure into a weapon. Tom stopped casting, coming to the same conclusion she had. The creature had turned away from her with it's full attention on him. The intense fury in his gaze cast a shiver down her spine. It wasn't a man and a beast facing off. No, these were two predators, unused to a challenge, battling it out for domination.

There had to be something she could do. There was always something. She would not surrender to the overwhelming feelings of fear and helplessness. The wind stirred around her and pushed her back towards the water. That was it. Her golden hair clip rolled out from the bushes. The beast was preparing to lunge. The darkness around Marvolo began to grow and web out from behind him like a rising wave. He could delay it but wouldn't be able to stop it. Without hesitation, Celeste grabbed the clip and hurled it at the creature. It whirled and began to charge towards her. She jumped to the side at the last moment. Another calculated risk. The creature was surprisingly agile. It's claws scraped the side of her torso ripping her dress and grazing her skin. It turned to face her, not waiting as it lunged for another attack. She pushed the pain to the side knowing what she had to do. Celeste channeled her fear and adrenaline, using every last piece of it, to force her magic outward. As it had done in the attic, her magic exploded from her outstretched hands, the primal wave of pure energy sending both her and the beast flying in opposite directions. The beast hit the water with an enormous splash drawing the attention of every creature lurking beneath the surface. She heard the sound of it being dragged deep below the lake's black depths as she fell away like a pile of leaves in the wind.

The pain in her side was excruciating. The claws had barely scraped her skin but it felt like her blood was on fire. Venom was shooting through her veins poisoning her heart. Even with her eyes closed she was having difficulty stringing thoughts together. She'd landed several meters back, the soft flora of the forest, breaking her fall. Celeste opened her eyes to starlight and Tom.

"Did we win?"

Her voice sounded far away. The beast had been dragged underwater but there was still a chance it could have escaped. He laughed, light and rich, and Magic help her, she wanted to get lost in that sound.

"Yes," he said, kneeling next to her.

She kept her gaze on the sky not caring to see the wound. She'd seen enough of her own blood to last a lifetime. Celeste sharply inhaled as his fingers ghosted over the exposed skin on her torso. The coolness a welcome reprieve from the fire burning in her veins.

"You have fifteen minutes before it stops your heart. I'm not familiar with this type of venom but it's remarkably potent. Your magic is amplifying its effects."

His eyes were focused on the wound, bright with curiosity, as he examined it. She hissed in pain when he applied the lightest of pressure in an attempt to slow the bleeding.

"Can you fix it?" Her voice was calm, steady. Celeste was well acquainted with her own mortality. Death no longer frightened her. It was a constant companion in her life. He turned his attention from the wound and onto her. There was a calculation in his eyes and she knew that this was going to cost her.

"What do you want? She asked as she lifted herself up on her elbows to fully look at him. The pain was constant but the coolness of his fingers on her flesh was enough to keep her focused on him. His eyes flashed with approval at her perception.

"One week."

Celeste raised an eyebrow in confusion. "What?" Her heat was beginning to race as the venom continued to travel through her veins.

"One week of your time every year. Healing you puts my magic at risk since this particular venom appears to latch onto it. It's only fair I get something in return."

She gave a choked laugh despite the pain it caused her. Her mind raced with images of what his world must be like. Suffocating darkness and bitter cold. Nothing but pain and crushing fear. One week a year. For what? She must have asked it aloud.

"Far less nefarious reasons then the ones you're thinking of. That power you used is rare. To bring your magic outside of your body is a gift that hasn't been seen in decades. Unless you get it under control you'll be a danger to yourself and others. I'd rather not see England destroyed by a witch with no control over her powers."

She didn't believe him. He was wicked and cruel and she'd be a fool to take him at his word.

"I've no interest in being a prisoner." So much of her life had been spent in a cage. The thought of even giving up an hour of her freedom was too much.

"And I have no interest in seeing you as one." He sighed in agitation. "You'd be a guest, treated with the respect and dignity, that comes from that title. You need training. The next person who sees that power might just carve you open and try to take it for themselves."

Celeste closed her eyes and leaned back. The wind picked up cooling her burning skin and brushing the sweaty strands of hair from her forehead. She could feel the impatience rolling off of him in waves. Most likely expecting a weak willed noble to immediately cave and give him anything. A large and very spiteful part of her wanted to rebuke him and just let the venom kill her. It would serve both of them right. Her for being foolish enough to use her power in front of him, and him for trying to bargain with her life as the prize. Yes, she rather liked that idea. Her thoughts turned to Sirius and her blood went cold. The pain that Violet Potter's death had caused the Malfoy's was fresh in her mind. She couldn't do that to Sirius. Not after everything they had gone through to find each other. She wasn't strong enough to leave yet another person behind.

"Two days," she countered with her eyes still closed. The fingers around her torso tightened ever so slightly. The pain flared. He was definitely not used to having to negotiate. She assumed she had under ten minutes before the venom stopped her heart. Breathing was becoming increasingly difficult.

"I'm feeling generous. Five days," he said. She cracked an eye open to find his eyes ablaze. Her blood was on his fingers staining his pale skin.

"Very well," she whispered; feeling like she had just made a deal with the devil. He gave her a triumphant smirk.

His hands began to glow and Celeste gasped at the feeling of the venom being pulled from her veins as his magic poured in. Tom's skin became paler while his eyes darkened in concentration. Her breaths became lighter, easier, as the fire in her veins cooled. His magic was intoxicating. Ancient, powerful, forged in the darkness between the stars, it surged through her. He leaned back and the venom that was just in her, was now violently whirling between his hands, linked to both his magic and her own.

"Hold out your arm," he said in a strained voice. The venom continued to swirl like a viper between his hands. It would serve as the ink and the link between them; ensuring they both kept to their bargain. She would stay with him five days out of the year and he would see no harm come to her while she was there.

Celeste lifted her left arm. The venom fell sealing their agreement in ink and blood. It was painless as it twisted and curved its way into the skin of her forearm; the black ink bleeding into vibrant shades of purples, blues, and silvers which slowly took shape before her. She looked down to see a full moon hidden among clouds and glistening stars forever etched into her skin.

Dawn was beginning to break as they walked silently through the forest. The magic from the solstice had vanished leaving every magical creature with a sense of loss. Celeste's dress was practically in tatters and covered in dirt and blood. Her blonde hair felt grimy and had lost it's shine. She wanted...needed a very long bath. Her magic had been able to heal the flesh wound in a matter of seconds after Tom had removed the beast's poison. She felt her ire rising as she looked down at her arm. She'd need a glamour to keep the tattoo hidden and avoid unwanted questions. Not to mention how she would possibly be able to explain this to Sirius. Tom was deep in thought next to her. His face was set in a frown as his eyes darted between the trees.

"Where did it come from?" She asked after tiring of the silence between them. The beast wasn't native to these parts, that much was clear.

"The other realm."

Celeste raised her eyebrows and stopped walking. That was impossible. Things weren't supposed to be able to travel between the barriers. If that beast had been able to get through then that meant that the Guardians could find a way. She'd thought she'd left that part of her life behind when Violet Potter had died but it seemed fate wasn't done with her yet.

"It was summoned," she concluded. Celeste had started doing more research into Ancient Runes but much of it had fallen to the wayside in favor of having a normal life.

"Who would do such a thing?" The purpose of the summoning was clear; to test the strength of the barrier and to kill. She would have suspected him but the beast had attacked them both. If not for her quick thinking, they would be in far worse states now.

"I intend to find out." His voice was terse and jaw rigid. It must have particularly bothered him not to know something if he was letting his anger show.

They fell back to silence and continued walking. The beauty of the forest around them distracted her from her worries, at least for a time. They must have walked for over an hour before the top of the Minister's estate appeared through the treeline. Finally. She could get some much needed rest. Yet she found herself lingering by the treeline.

"How do you know so much about my power?" She asked, warily. It was different than it had been more the ritual but she still needed to be cautious, especially around someone like him. His eyes met hers and he gave her a knowing smile. He must have been waiting for her to ask.

"I make it my business to learn about every type of magic. Your ability is remarkably rare but is known to run in the Black Line. It's the reason why such formidable witches and wizards come from your family. The Black's boast a strong, pure, connection to magic." A compliment, if an academic one. From him, she supposed it meant something.

"You said that others would want to carve my body open to steal it...why didn't you?" A look she didn't understand flashed across his eyes and was gone a moment later.

"I hate to see magic go to waste. There's potential and power prowling just underneath your skin. Surely you can feel it, wanting to break free. It's yours to command. Not mine. Let's discover what you can do with it." Not quite an answer but she knew he wouldn't elaborate.

If Celeste was honest with herself, she was terrified of her power and what it could mean. Flashes of runes carved into flesh, vile hushed chants whispered in her ear, gasping for air, thoughts of fleeing, all consumed her. She need to run. The world was spinning and closing in around her. Her breaths became shallow and her heart started to race. Cool fingers gently tilted her chin up and dark eyes found hers as they pulled her from the fear.

"Besides, I'm sure there are much better uses for your body."

"You're a real bastard," she growled and turned away from him. Her cheeks flushed with anger as her panic moments before lay forgotten.

"The mark will let you know when our arrangement begins." Bored. Disinterested. His tone another way to make it clear just how little she affected him. The flirtation, just a game.

"I will not be summoned like some type of servant," she hissed. The increasing exhaustion eating away at the reign on her temper. His expression became thoughtful before his mouth curved into a wicked smirk.

"Would you rather I come and collect you? So used to people waiting on you hand and foot. The life of a spoiled Pureblood must have been hard, indeed. Or perhaps you want to be seen with me. It would get you far more headlines than throwing yourself at the Boy Who Lived. Tell me, was he everything you hoped he would be? His inexperience was rather telling-"

"You disgust me. I don't want to be near anyone who looks at me the way you do," she said coolly, finally giving in to all her anger. It burned like an ember beneath the surface.

"And just how do I look at you, Celeste darling?" He whispered with a mocking smile. His dark eyes alight with amusement as they roamed over her. Oh, she hated him. Hated his charisma, his charm. Hated how he was always so in control and still indifferent. She hated that he could affect her at all.

"Like a tool to be used and then discarded," she hissed before picking up the tattered train of her dress and stalking off towards the Estate. The rising sunlight greeted her in a warm embrace as she left him and all his darkness behind.