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Thicker Than Water: Hailey Potter and the Ties That Bind by Lucy Locke
Chapter 22 : All Apologies
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 4


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22. All Apologies

The rest of the Christmas holidays were mostly uneventful. Harry continued to have meetings with various members of The Order at Hazelwood, though he made sure that Hailey and Kieran could not eavesdrop. Hailey and Kieran spent most of their time alone or with Luna, as Harry was very preoccupied and they rarely saw him. The last day of their break arrived sooner than they would have liked, and yet, Hailey was eager to go back to Hogwarts so that she could develop a solid plan of action for trying to figure out who poisoned her, and perhaps, who was behind the threatening letters as a result.

“I can’t find my Transfiguration book,” Kieran said with a frown as he and Hailey were packing the night before they were to return to school. “I could’ve sworn I put it back in my trunk.”

“Dunno why you bothered to bring it in the first place,” Hailey replied distractedly as she folded a stack of freshly laundered robes. “Tonks didn’t give us anything to do over the holiday.”

“I wanted to do some extra reading about Animagi,” Kieran retorted grumpily. “Anyway, if you see it…”

“I’ll be sure to bring it to you,” Hailey went on as she closed her trunk. “I’ve got to go and ask mum if she finished that new color change cloak she was making for me; I’d really like to pack it. “ She headed to Harry and Luna’s room, hoping to catch Luna before she went to bed. The door was closed, so Hailey started to knock, but the sound of an angry voice stopped her. Hailey’s stomach churned as she listened.

“- upholding criminals! It’s not right and it’s not worth it,” Harry said angrily. “It’s dangerous and I won’t let you-“

“I’ve already made up my mind, Harry,” Luna interjected in her usual matter-of-fact manner. “I’m not going to run and hide just because The Prophet was afraid to pursue it. If I do, they’ve already won. I know it’s dangerous, but I am a reporter and this is an important story. Besides, I’ve already done the interview.”

“You didn’t have to be the one to do it, just look at what happened to Chris,” Harry hissed. “If it was so damn important, why couldn’t someone else…”

“Tell you what,” Luna interrupted again, her voice edgier than before. “I’ll let someone else take my stories if you stop looking for Snape and leave everything to The Ministry. You don’t work there anymore after all, and-“

“That’s not the same thing,” Harry snarled. “You know that I have to do this, and you know why…it’s personal! He killed Dumbledore, he was indirectly responsible for Sirius’ death, and he sent Voldemort after my parents! You know I can’t walk away from this, no matter what the…”

“Not even for your children,” Luna said, more calmly than before. “Not even after all those letters.”

“Don’t you dare suggest that I’m not taking those threats seriously,” Harry yelled. There are three members of The Order at the school watching out for Hailey and Kieran. Plus, I’ve got Kingsley and Flannery working on it, too. Besides, it’s me they’re really after anyway.”

Hailey’s glacial insides squirmed uncomfortably at those words. Clearly, Harry had not shared the Christmas letter with Luna. Had that been the first one that had mentioned Harry’s family?

“If these letters were your first priority, YOU would be the one to handle it,” Luna said calmly. “I know you, Harry. When you get something in your head, you become obsessed with it and nothing else matters to you. Snape is all you think about these days.”

“And what do you suppose will happen if Snape does start working for the PPS,” Harry retorted, his voice closer to the door now. Hailey retreated a little in turn. “Do you think he’ll just let us live in peace? I killed his master and I put him in Azkaban…he’s wanted me dead since I was a baby, and he won’t leave our family alone whether I walk away or not… besides, I just have a feeling that he’s connected to these letters somehow.”

“I don’t know where you got that idea,” Luna said bluntly. “You started getting those letters months before Snape escaped.”

“I just have a feeling,” Harry replied impatiently. “The tone of them changed after Snape got out… they’re more arrogant. I will find him, and when I do…”

This conversation is getting us nowhere,” Luna said evenly. “I know you’re going to do what you think you have to do, and so am I.”

“Fine,” Harry said angrily. “But you have no right to criticize me for going after Snape when you insist on printing that story.”

An instant later, the door flew open, and Harry came storming out, slamming it loudly behind him. Hailey jumped in alarm at the sound. Harry froze as he saw her standing there, his face contorted with incredulous rage.

“Can’t you ever give anyone some privacy,” Harry bellowed, grabbing Hailey by the arm so roughly that she gasped in pain. “Or should I start charming every door in the house!”

“I-I didn’t mean to,” Hailey stammered, trying to swallow the lump in her throat as she tried to pull away from him. “I just came to ask mum-“

“Of course you didn’t,” Harry replied with a humorless laugh, gripping her arm so tightly now that she thought it might break. “You NEVER MEAN to eavesdrop, you just always happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, don’t you Hailey…”

“That’s enough,” Luna said a very uncharacteristically harsh voice as the door opened again. Harry stopped in mid-sentence and let go of Hailey. He and Hailey both turned their gaze toward Luna. Her face was unusually flushed, and she, too looked furious. “What did you need, Hailey?”

“I-I j-just came to see if you’d finished my cloak b-because I wanted to pack it,” Hailey said thickly as she rubbed her red, aching arm. She tried to hide the tears that were blinding her, feeling ashamed of them. She didn’t want to let Harry know she was upset. She had never felt that way before, but it was almost as though she didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing how much his behavior could affect her. It was a foreign concept she couldn’t explain, but then again, Harry had never physically hurt her before.

“I just finished,” Luna said quietly. “Come on inside and we’ll see how it looks.”

“That’s alright, mum, “Hailey replied quickly, still avoiding Harry, who had been completely silent since Luna joined them. “I’ll just take it…I need to finish packing, and Kieran wants me to help him find his Transfiguration book.” Luna nodded knowingly and she walked back into the bedroom to get the cloak.

“I’m so sorry,” Harry began with a sigh as Hailey waited for Luna to return. Hailey didn’t reply. “I was just-“

“Here you are, dear,” Luna said as she returned with the cloak, which was a shiny purple color at the moment. Hailey took the cloak without another word, and walked past Harry without looking or speaking. She knew that he was sorry, but she didn’t care; all she wanted was to talk to Kieran. He was waiting for her in her room.

Kieran stayed up late with Hailey that night; only going to bed after she’d managed to fall asleep at half past three. Harry had tried to come and talk to her about an hour after their disagreement, but Hailey had not answered the door. Kieran stepped outside on her behalf and told Harry that she wanted to be left alone. Harry obliged and didn’t return for the rest of the evening. The next morning, however, Harry was waiting for the two of them at breakfast.

“Good morning,” He said sheepishly as Hailey sat down next to Kieran and buttered herself a piece of toast.

“Morning,” Hailey replied icily as she poured herself a glass of juice. She knew that Harry felt terrible about his behavior, but she wasn’t ready to accept his apology. She hated to admit it to herself, but she took a dark kind of pleasure in the fact that her father felt so awful about what had happened. She wanted to make him suffer, to hurt him back for the way he’d been acting lately. Before last fall, Harry had always been perfect in her eyes, but now, she knew he was just as fallible as anyone. She wanted to be angry at him for letting her down. Plus, she thought that Luna was right; if Harry was so worried about those letters, he should be focused on them and let the Ministry deal with Snape.

“I’m going to take you two to King’s Cross myself since your mum is working today,” Harry said awkwardly as he played with his eggs. “I thought it would give us a chance to talk.”

“That’s okay,” Hailey said coldly. “We can take the Knight Bus.” It was a mark of how angry she really was, considering the Knight Bus was a most unpleasant way to travel. She met his eyes for the first time, and her expression did not soften at the hurt in his face. Kieran gave her a meaningful look and she knew he thought she should accept Harry’s apology, but she didn’t care.

“Hailey,” Harry began. “I don’t want you to leave here angry with me…let’s not do the same thing we did last fall.”

“What if I said I didn’t care about what you want,” Hailey said defiantly, surprised by her own daring. She hadn’t ever talked that way to her father. “Are you going to yell at me again… or try to break my other arm? She threw her uneaten toast back down on her plate and got out of her chair, her voice rising with every passing word. “Because I don’t care which; in fact, I don’t really care about what you think at all, because YOU don’t think about anyone but yourself anymore.”

“You know that’s not true,” Harry began, looking at her with an expression of horrible guilt, but Hailey continued as though he hadn’t spoken at all.

-“Not about mum, or me, or anyone! If you did, you’d be trying to find out who was writing those letters instead of hiding out in your study and talking to everyone but us about what you’re up to!” She stopped, panting as though she had been running hard, her face red and furious.

“There are some things that you’re too young to understand,” Harry replied, his cheeks starting to flush with anger in an identical pattern to his daughter’s. “There’s a lot about this situation that you don’t know, so don’t judge me.”

“I’m just going to go and get our trunks,” Kieran muttered as he got up and left the room. Hailey started to follow him, but Harry stopped her.

“Don’t walk away from me,” He said in a quieter voice, though his anger was still apparent. He put his arm around her shoulder and guided her back over to the table. She resisted the urge to protest and sat down, still glaring at him.

“I’m really sorry for the way I acted last night,” Harry said with a sigh. “Sorrier than I can ever explain to you with words…I hate myself for hurting you, but I can’t change it.”

“I know,” Hailey replied in a more controlled voice. “Just like you can’t change what Snape did to Dumbledore and your parents. But, you can take care of us by finding out who’s writing those letters.”

“I’ll find out who is responsible for trying to hurt you,” Harry replied reassuringly. “Nothing is more important to me than that, I promise you.”

Hailey swallowed the unexpected lump that had formed in her throat, wishing that she could believe him. She opened her mouth to speak but said nothing. Harry was staring at her intently, and her skepticism must’ve shown through the silence, because he was looking sadder than she had ever seen him.

“We should get going,” Harry said finally. “The train leaves at 11:00 and it’s already 9:00.”

Hailey nodded, and left without another word.

The ride to the train station was at best, awkward. Kieran attempted to engage Harry and Hailey in conversation, but neither of them had much to say, and by the time they made it to London, he had given up on getting them to talk.

When Hailey and Kieran got on the train, they found that Argo was already waiting for them in an empty compartment in the back. Hailey saw at once that he looked tired.

“How are you feeling,” Hailey said quietly as she sat down beside Argo while Kieran stowed their trunks in the luggage rack.

“Alright,” Argo said with a sigh. “Better now that we’re going back to Hogwarts; I don’t think I could have tolerated another day of being in close quarters with all my family.”

“Did they harass you because of what I did in front of your grandmother,” Hailey asked him anxiously. “If they did, I’m really sorry-“

“Don’t be sorry,” Argo interrupted her. “Standing up to her took a lot of guts,” He blushed slightly as he spoke. “And, at any rate, it would’ve been bad if you hadn’t; if you had turned your back on me, they would’ve just said that you didn’t care about me. So, being with them could’ve been worse.”

“Does that mean your parents have come out of hiding,” Kieran asked.

“No,” Argo replied. “They’re still somewhere safe; grandfather’s funeral service was in a secret location, but they buried him in Wiltshire next to the family home. Jesse Nott’s parents brought us back to King’s Cross.”

“Well, I guess that means your father and Snape haven’t made up,” Hailey said, feeling a little relieved that such a dangerous person hadn’t joined the PPS.

“Do you know what the most twisted part of it is?” Argo replied bitterly. “My father is still blaming you and your family for what happened to grandfather. Snape was the one who injured him during the Azkaban riot, but father says that if you hadn’t testified against grandfather, he wouldn’t have been in prison in the first place and Snape wouldn’t have done what he did.”

“Well, that’s the easiest thing for him to do, isn’t it,” Hailey said simply in a way that reminded Kieran irresistibly of Luna. “Your father must think that Snape was justified in attacking your grandfather because when push came to shove, Draco and Lucius betrayed him. But, if my dad hadn’t managed to kill Voldemort and put the Death Eaters in Azkaban, Draco and Lucius wouldn’t have been forced to work against Snape to start with. Plus, it’s like you said, it was my testimony in front of the Wizengamot that led to your grandfather’s conviction.”

“I still think it’s completely ridiculous,” Argo reiterated. Just then, their compartment door slid open to reveal an unexpected visitor.

“Hi, Hailey,” Maria said quietly, leaning in the doorway of the compartment. Hailey saw that she was no longer walking with a cane. “Do you mind if I come in for a second?”

“Alright,” Hailey replied rather stiffly as Kieran shot Maria a nasty look and Argo frowned in confusion. Maria stayed where she was and looked awkwardly at the boys for a second before speaking again.

“Maybe we should step outside,” Maria said a moment later. Hailey knew that she wanted to apologize, so she obliged and followed Maria out into the corridor, where the witch with the food trolley was making her rounds.

“I’m really sorry about the way I acted over Christmas,” Maria said quickly as several people maneuvered around them to try to catch to trolley as it passed. “I shouldn’t have taken my…problem out on you.”

“It’s okay,” Hailey replied, and she meant it. In fact, forgiving Maria felt good. “Anyway,” She went on. “We’re going to get trampled if we don’t get back inside.”

“I’m sitting up front with Arthur-John,” Maria said as she started back down the aisle. “So I’ll see you later.”

The rest of the journey back to school was uneventful. Hailey was feeling the effects of her previous restless night in a big way by the time they made it back to the castle. So she went to bed as soon as dinner was over.

Hailey got up much earlier than everyone else the next morning, feeling rested from her long sleep. She dressed quickly and headed down to breakfast alone; by the time the others arrived in the Great Hall, she was finished eating and had taken her Potions book out to do some reading before class began. She thought there might be something useful about poisons in the back of the book.

“Why are you reading that,” Mark demanded through a mouthful of bacon. “Isn’t it enough that our first lesson of the term is Potions?”

“Just because you don’t ever study unless you have to doesn’t mean that Hailey shouldn’t,” Morgan said bossily as an owl dropped a copy of The Prophet next to her plate. Hailey chuckled as she unfurled a copy of The Quibbler Polonius had delivered. She had been true to her word about not reading The Prophet since last fall, so the only news she ever received now was from the copies of The Quibbler her mother sent. She nearly choked on her eggs as she read the front page.

THE PPS: AN INSIDER’S LOOK AT THE CAUSE OF THE PUREBLOOD PRESERVATIONIST SOCIETY AND THEIR MANIFESTO. A QUIBBLER EXCLUSIVE BY LUNA LOVEGOOD –POTTER.

Hailey flipped through the pages so fast that she ripped the corners of a couple of them. She finally found what she was looking for and began to scan the page furiously. This was clearly the article that had caused Harry and Luna’s argument two days earlier. The others were trying to ask her questions, but she silenced them with a wave of her hand as she read.

IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE QUIBBLER, AN ANONIMOUS SOURCE DESCRIBES WHAT IT’S LIKE TO WORK FOR THE MOST INFAMOUS TERRORIST ORGANIZATION IN WIZARD HISTORY. A FORMER MEMBER OF THE PPS WHOM WE’RE GOING TO REFER TO AS “JOHN” BREAKS HIS SILENCE.

LP: “WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THE PPS THAT APPEALED TO YOU AND MADE YOU WANT TO JOIN”?

“JOHN”: “I BELIEVED IN THEIR CAUSE; THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO BE OUT TO SAVE THE WIZARDING WORLD FROM THE MUDBLOODS AND MUGGLES WHO THREATENED OUR WAY OF LIFE. THEY TOLD US THAT BECAUSE OF THE INCREASING ABUNDANCE OF MUGGLE-BORNS INFILTRATING OUR SOCIETY, THERE HAD BEEN AN INCREASE IN SQUIB BIRTHS AND SECRECY VIOLATIONS. THEY SCARED ME INTO THINKING IT WAS THE ONLY WAY TO SAVE US FROM EXTINCTION”.

LP: “HOW WERE YOU RECRUITED INTO JOINING”?

“JOHN”: “MY FAMILY; THEY WERE CONVINCED THAT IT WAS THE RIGHT THING, AND WHEN I FIRST GOT INTO IT, I WAS REALLY YOUNG AND IMPRESSIONABLE. I BOUGHT INTO THE WHOLE THING. IT WAS ONLY AFTER I LOST MEMBERS OF MY FAMILY TO AZKABAN AND DEATH THAT I WALKED AWAY.”

LP: “DID YOU EVER KILL ANYONE DURING THE TIME THAT YOU WORKED WITH THEM”?

“JOHN”: “OF COURSE. IT WAS PART OF THE INITIATION PROCESS. YOU HAD TO KILL A MUGGLE JUST TO GET IN. I DON’T KNOW THE NAME OF THE FIRST MAN I EVER KILLED, BUT I KILLED AT LEAST TEN OTHER PEOPLE DURING SOME RANDOM ATTACKS IN EUROPE. I CAN’T SAY MORE OUT OF FEAR OF INCRIMINATING MYSELF”.

LP: “HOW HAVE YOU MANAGED TO AVOID BEING FOUND AND KILLED BY THE PPS”?

“JOHN”: “I’VE BEEN LIVING AS A MUGGLE FOR THE LAST FEW YEARS. I HATE IT, BUT I’VE GOT NO CHOICE. THE ONLY GOOD THING THAT’S COME OF IT IS THAT I FELL IN LOVE WITH AN AMAZING WOMAN WHO KNOWS NOTHING OF MY SECRET LIFE. SHE’S A MUGGLE, AND SHE HAS NO IDEA ABOUT ANY OF IT”.

LP: “WHAT ABOUT ALL THE THINGS THEY TOLD YOU ABOUT MUGGLE BORNS AND SQUIB BIRTHS? WEREN’T YOU CONCERNED THAT MARRYING A MUGGLE WOULD CAUSE YOU TO HAVE NON-MAGICAL CHILDREN”?

“JOHN”: “I DID THE RESEARCH AND FOUND OUT THAT NONE OF IT WAS TRUE. THEY JUST MADE ALL THAT UP TO TRY TO GET MORE PEOPLE ON THEIR SIDE. I HAVE A DAUGHTER NOW, AND HER NAME’S DOWN TO GO TO HOGWARTS WHEN SHE GETS OLDER. THOUGH I’M NOT SURE I’LL LET HER COME. I KNOW I WON’T IF THINGS DON’T CHANGE.”

LP: “DO YOU THINK THEY WILL CHANGE ANYTIME SOON”?

“JOHN”: THEY’LL NEVER STOP UNTIL THEY DON’T HAVE ENOUGH SUPPORT TO CARRY ON. I JUST HOPE THAT BY SPEAKING OUT, I CAN CONVINCE SOME OF THE OTHERS THAT THEY’RE BEING LIED TO. I HAVE MANY OLD FRIENDS WHO ARE PROBABLY STILL WORKING FOR THEM, AND I WOULD LOVE FOR THEM TO SEE THE TRUTH AND WALK AWAY”.

LP: “WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAY TO THEM”?

“JOHN”:” GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN! THE PPS ISN’T OUT TO HELP ANYONE. THEY’RE JUST A BUNCH OF PREJUDICE THUGS WHO LIKE TO HURT AND KILL PEOPLE. THEY’VE ALREADY RUINED TOO MANY FAMILIES, MUGGLE AND WIZARD ALIKE! THE ONLY WAY THEY CAN BE STOPPED IS FOR THE TRUTH TO BE TOLD. I WANT PEOPLE TO SEE THEM FOR WHAT THEY ARE.”

LP:” CAN YOU TELL US WHO THE LEADER OF THE PPS IS”?

“JOHN”: “I KNOW, BUT I WON’T TELL YOU THAT. I WANT TO LIVE TO SEE MY DAUGHTER GROW UP. BUT, KNOW THIS, THERE’S A SMALL SELECT GROUP OF WEALTHY AND POWERFUL WIZARDS THAT ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR LYING TO A LOT OF PEOPLE. THEY WOULDN’T BE SO POWERFUL IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE LIES AND THE FEAR THEY’VE MANAGED TO SPREAD AMONG PUREBLOOD FAMILIES. YOU’D BE AMAZED AT JUST HOW MANY PROMINENT PEOPLE ARE PART OF IT. THERE ARE PLENTY OF HIGHER-UPS AT THE MINISTRY WHO ARE MEMBERS. IN FACT, THEY EVEN HAD AN AUROR WORKING FOR THEM, BUT I HEARD HE GOT KILLED WHEN HE MADE ONE OF THE HIGHER-UPS ANGRY. THE LEADERS OF THE PPS WILL CONTINUE TO POISON THE MINDS OF THOUSANDS. BUT, I DON’T KNOW ALL OF THEM, AND I WON’T TELL YOU ANYTHING MORE ABOUT THE ONES I DO KNOW… IT TOOK ALL THE STRENGTH I HAD TO TALK TO YOU TODAY. THAT’S ALL I CAN DO TO HELP BECAUSE I VALUE MY LIFE”.

LP: “ARE THE MALFOYS AND THE NOTTS AMONG THEM”?

“JOHN”: I CAN’T TELL YOU ANYTHING ELSE, MRS. POTTER. I DON’T WANT TO DIE. THIS CONVERSATION IS OVER.”

Hailey looked up from the paper to see that everyone was still staring intently at her. She handed the article to an eager looking Kieran, who read it through quickly and passed it on to the others.

“Your mum’s lost her mind,” Mark said as they made their way out of the Great Hall for the first lesson of the day. “What in the name of Merlin was she playing at, interviewing some bloke who used to be in the PPS.”

“I think it was very brave,” Argo said bluntly. “Someone out there should be trying to get people to see how stupid and worthless the PPS and their cause…”

“I think I agree with Weasley for once,” a cold voice from behind them piped up. The five of them whirled around to see Hera Malfoy, accompanied by her sister Aurora. She was holding a copy of The Quibbler, and looking at her brother in disgust. “Your lunatic mum’s days are probably numbered, Potter.”

Without a second thought, Hailey threw her bag aside and started toward Hera. Kieran, knowing what she was about to do a split second before she did it, grabbed her and held her back. The scene had now caught the attention of several students who had stopped to listen.

“Smart move, mudblood,” Hera hissed as her sister laughed. “Of course, you’re probably going to snuff it, too, since you’re the Potters’ charity case.” Kieran loosened his grip on Hailey and went for his wand, but Argo jumped in front of him and in seconds, his face was inches from Hera’s.

“If you’ve got something to say to me, Hera, just say it,” He yelled, his normally pale face flushed pink and his wand at his side. Hera flinched, her face just as angry as her brother’s, but she did not reach for her wand. In fact, Hailey wasn’t sure if she was going to retaliate at all. She simply looked at her brother for a moment, sizing him up as though she had never seen him before.

“Father was right about you,” she said in a soft but malicious voice. Hailey was surprised to see that her ice blue eyes were becoming oddly misty. “It really is too late for you to come back now. Your mind has been poisoned against us; you don’t care that Potter’s crazy mum is trying to get father thrown in Azkaban and that she’s responsible for grandfather’s death, you’re a blood traitor and…”

“Grandfather got what he deserved!” Argo screamed. “He was a murderer, and a liar, and a piece of…”

“What is going on out here,” Professor Lupin said sharply as he ran toward them and stepped in between Argo and Hera, the latter of whom was now in tears. “Explain yourselves.”

“My brother just attacked my sister,” Aurora said dramatically as she tried to conjure some false tears of her own to match her sister’s genuine emotion. “He told her he was glad our g-grandfather’s dead.” The sparse crowd of students who were still in the hallway glared at Argo as though confirming Aurora’s statement.

“That is not what I said!” Argo shouted angrily, looking daggers at his twin sister as Hera continued to cry softly.

“That’s quite enough, Argo,” Professor Lupin interjected firmly. “Aurora, take your sister to see the nurse; ask Madame Pomfrey to give her something to calm her down. Then, you are to go straight to your lessons.” Aurora nodded as she wrapped her arm around her sister and guided Hera down the corridor. Professor Lupin turned around and glared at the onlookers, who dispersed quickly before he could chastise them for not being in class already.

“Now,” Lupin said grimly, turning to face Argo, who was still shaking with anger. “You need to come with me Mr. Malfoy…and the rest of you need to go on to your lessons.”

“Hera started it, Professor,” Hailey interjected. “Argo didn’t do anything, and he never said he was glad his grandfather is…”

“Please go on to your lessons, Hailey,” Professor Lupin said curtly, cutting her off in mid-sentence.

“But, Hailey’s telling the truth, Professor,” Morgan said timidly. “Argo didn’t start anything, Hera…”

“I never said I didn’t believe her, Morgan,” Professor Lupin replied. “I just asked you all to go to your lessons, and if I have to ask you again, I will put you all in detention for a week.”

The four of them walked wordlessly down to the dungeons. Hailey cast one last look in Argo’s direction as he followed Professor Lupin to his office. She couldn’t help but think of her parents as she replayed the Malfoys’ argument in her head. She marveled at the way the families on all sides of the PPS argument were being torn apart. Her mother had risked her life to print a story, and her father was so distracted by his obsession with Snape that he wasn’t focused on his family.

“Well, look who’s here at last,” Professor Aubrey said in a sarcastically cheerful voice as they took their seats. Their classmates were already working on an assignment Professor Aubrey had put on the board.

“Sorry, Professor,” Morgan said hastily as she set up her cauldron and ingredients. “We were talking to Professor Lupin-“

“I don’t remember asking you for an explanation, Ms. Weasley,” Aubrey replied with one of his nasty grins. “For your information, I already know where you were, or I would’ve asked you why you were late for this lesson. Professor Lupin just appeared in my fire to inform me that you three troublemakers were part of an argument between the Malfoy siblings.” Several of the Slytherins began to whisper among themselves, but Aubrey ignored them.

“We didn’t do anything,” Hailey snapped before she could stop herself. Kieran and Mark winced, knowing what was coming next.

“I think you need another detention, Potter,” He said with a terrible look of satisfaction on his face. “I know you’re a slow learner from your performance in Potions, but surely you should realize by now that I don’t put up with cheeky behavior in my class.” He paused for a moment as the Slytherins laughed at his remark. Hailey’s face turned red with embarrassment and anger, but she said nothing more as she took her seat.

“You’re going to get what’s coming to you one of these days, Potter,” Jesse Nott hissed in Hailey’s ear as she tried pointlessly to concentrate on her work. “You and your parents are going to run out of luck one day, and your crazy mum is as good as dead; there are plenty of people who’d love to get rid of her, and now that she’s written that article in her ridiculous magazine, it’s only a matter of time.”

“Go to hell,” Hailey hissed angrily in reply. She couldn’t think of anything else to say because in a way she thought both Jesse and Hera had a point. Her mother probably was in greater danger because of the story. Would this goad the letter writer into action? Kieran glanced at her with a worried expression on his face. He was the only person who understood how nervous she was. She spent the rest of the lesson trying to ignore the Slytherins’ taunts about her mother. She didn’t want Aubrey to have an excuse to give her another detention.

“Don’t worry about them,” Kieran said soothingly as they made their way to Herbology. “They were just trying to get you into trouble; they don’t know anything.” Hailey didn’t reply; she was thinking about Harry and how he had told her she didn’t know everything about what was going on. He had been right and she wanted to make up with him so badly it hurt.

“You can write him at lunch,” Kieran went on, putting an arm around her as they entered the greenhouse. “I’m sure he knows by now you’ve seen the article and you understand more about why he was so touchy…it’ll be fine.” Hailey smiled slightly at him in reply, knowing that he was right as she started unpacking her things for the lesson.

“I trust you all had a good holiday,” Professor Rosier said cheerfully as she pushed her shiny, thick hair out of her face. “We’re going to be working on a new project starting this term, but first of all, who can tell me about some of the uses of Lily-of-the Valley?”

“It can be used for a number of medicinal purposes,” Morgan answered predictably. “The roots and flowers, when dried are a good remedy for heart ailments and for treating some kinds of curse wounds, but it can be poisonous if used excessively, because it builds up in the blood, and there are no antidotes for that side effect.”

“Ten points to Gryffindor for that excellent explanation,” Professor Rosier beamed. “Now, I would like for all of you to draw a colored diagram for me of the various parts of this plant, and I want an essay from you at the end of the week on the medicinal uses of the plant and how it compares with Digitalis.”

“Are you okay, Hailey,” Morgan asked quietly as they worked on their drawings, for Hailey had been so distracted by her concerns that she had torn two pieces of parchment while sketching the flowers.

“I’m fine,” Hailey said dismissively as she tried to focus on her work. “Nott just got me all wound up; I’ll be okay.”

“I still think your mum was-“Mark began, but before he could complete his sentence, Morgan smacked him on the back of the head. He didn’t speak to her for the rest of the lesson.

Instead of heading straight to the Great Hall for lunch, Hailey went out into the courtyard to find a quiet place to write a brief apology to Harry. She finished the note rather quickly, wanting to give herself time to take it to Polonius and still have lunch. After she had sent it off, she made her way to the Great Hall to try to scarf something down before Charms. She had just reached the oaken doors whenever she realized she wasn’t the only one who was running late. A very miserable looking Argo was just walking inside as well.

“How are you feeling,” Hailey asked him quietly as they made their way to the Gryffindor table, which was nearly empty. Morgan, Mark, and Kieran had already gone.

“Alright,” Argo replied with a sigh. “Lupin gave me detention for tonight, but otherwise, I’m not in any more trouble. Hera’s still in the hospital wing. Aubrey excused her from all her lessons for the day, which reminds me…Aubrey said you would be doing your detention with Goyle this evening in the staff room. You’re supposed to meet him there at 6:00.”

“Wonderful,” Hailey mumbled as she took a bite of her sandwich and thought of how much she hated being on her own with Goyle. “I love being up all night cleaning like a Muggle.”

“Aubrey seemed really thrilled,” Argo said. “What did you do, anyway?”

“We were late getting to Potions this morning, and he started on me and I said something in retaliation,” Hailey replied blandly. “The usual…when did you see him…you don’t have Potions today.”

“He was in the hospital wing when I went to see Hera,” Argo replied with a sigh. “She told me she didn’t ever want to talk to me again, though, and I didn’t want to start another row, so I left.”

“I’m sorry,” Hailey said sympathetically, thinking of Harry again and how upsetting it was to fight with family. “Maybe she’ll come round.”

“I don’t think so,” Argo replied as he took a drink of water. “Hera never just says things out of anger; she’s not like Aurora in that way. When Hera says something like that, she means it. It’s not saying much, but she’s always been a little nicer to me than Aurora, but now…” He sighed.

“I didn’t mean to cause an argument between you and your sisters,” Hailey said as she laid her sandwich aside. “I know they’ve been on you ever since you got sorted into Gryffindor.” She wanted to add ‘and you became friends with me,’ but she didn’t.

“None of this is your fault,” Argo replied shrewdly. “I’ve never been close with either of them. It’s an occupational hazard of being the male heir to the Malfoy dynasty,” His voice was suddenly distant and bitter. “Your father hands you over to your very own nanny to keep your mum from making you too soft, and he tells her to focus on raising proper daughters instead while he works and travels all the time to fulfill his obligations to the family.”

Hailey didn’t know how to respond to this, and Argo seemed to think he’d said way too much, because he was blushing awkwardly. Seconds later, the bell rang.

“We’d better get going,” Argo said in an overly light voice as he gathered up his things. “I’ll see you later.”

“I’ll meet you in the common room after lessons,” Hailey said quietly, patting him on the shoulder. “Unless you want to find somewhere less crowded to go.”

“We’ll see,” Argo said.

At five minutes before 6:00, Hailey trudged woefully down to the staff room to meet Goyle. When she made it to the gargoyle guarded entrance, Goyle was waiting for her.

“Good Evening, Potter,” Goyle grunted happily. “It’s nice to know you missed me so much over the holiday that you landed yourself in detention again.” He laughed at his own joke. Hailey merely glared at him in reply.

“Since you don’t want to talk, I’ve got plenty of work for you,” Goyle sneered as he ushered her inside.

“Right,” Hailey muttered, wishing that they weren’t on their own. “What do I have to do, then?”

“You’re going to clean out that old wardrobe in the corner,” Goyle said as he gestured in its direction. “There might be some spiders or a boggart or two in there, but I’ll be here if you need me, since you won’t have a wand.”

“But if there’s a boggart, shouldn’t I have it,” Hailey said apprehensively. She had only come into close contact with a boggart once before. There had been one hiding in her room when she was about three. She’d discovered it late one night when she got up to investigate a strange, rattling noise coming from the closet. The boggart, disguised as a goblin, had jumped out at her. She was so frightened that she slept with Harry and Luna for nearly a week.

“You’ll manage, I’m sure,” Goyle replied gleefully, coming closer to her now and causing her to shiver involuntarily. “I’ll be right behind you.”

The wardrobe did prove to be a chore to clean, but not because of boggarts or spiders. It was so full of all sorts of junk that it took Hailey the better part of two hours just to empty it enough to examine everything stored in there. There were old pairs of shoes, moth-eaten robes, moldy books, and even a few old photos of Hogwarts teachers who had long since left the school. The most interesting find, however, was a strange, grey metal machine with lettered buttons all over it. Puzzled, Hailey noticed the word ”Royal” written on the top.

“What is this thing,” she muttered, lifting the strange, heavy contraption awkwardly and handing it to Goyle.

Goyle stumped over and examined the machine. Frowning, he held it up effortlessly with one hand.

“I’ve heard of those before, but I’d never seen one,” Goyle grunted. “It’s called a…” He screwed up his face in an effort to concentrate. “A tripe wiper, I think…some sort of weird gadget Muggles use to write with…dunno what it’s doing here.” He sat the machine back down beside Hailey without a second glance at it.

“A typewriter,” Hailey breathed comprehendingly as she ran her fingers over the cool metal buttons. She suddenly recalled seeing a similar looking machine at her Muggle day school before. Her mind was racing… it made perfect sense! If the letter writer lived in a magical environment, he or she would not have been able to use a computer. Magic and electricity didn’t work together, and this typewriter didn’t need electricity to work. She reached out and pressed the keys, listening to the clicking sounds they made.

“You’ve got work to do, Potter,” Goyle snapped. “I’m not here to watch you play with some old Muggle piece of rubbish that has no business being in here anyway.” He picked up the old and heavy machine again and returned it to the wardrobe. “Probably some stupid mudblood’s idea of a joke.”

“I just wanted to see how it works,” Hailey said nonchalantly as she returned to the pile of old robes she had been sorting through before she’d spotted the typewriter. For the next hour, Goyle continued to watch her work, occasionally making snide comments about the job she was doing as he stood uncomfortably close to her. All she could think about was trying to find a way to examine the machine…to see if it worked. For that, she really needed Kieran because he would know exactly how to use it. Could this belong to Harry’s pen pal? Her blood ran cold at the thought. If this was indeed the machine the letter writer was using to send untraceable post to Harry, it could only mean that the author was here, at Hogwarts, or at least, a regular visitor to the school. The person who poisoned her was not giving up on the idea of killing her…and her family.




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