Professor Fairweather had stormed to her study, her hair wildly flying around her face, and letting the memory of her last time with the Minister float dreamily to the surface of her thoughts, conjured her snowy white owl Patronus. Her face was dripping with sweat as she was so furious and her blood was boiling with anger, she blinked the cold beads of irritating moisture angrily out of her eyes. Busying herself, she immediately sent the glowing owl with verbal messages to the parents of Potter, Weasley and Malfoy who she felt were the core of the problem concerning the rivalry between Gryffindor and Slytherin. Avery’s parents were still locked up in Azkaban over that Muggle attack a few years ago, so she decided it was best to fail to inform them of their only son’s indiscretions.
She wanted to deal with the troublemakers parents before the Masquerade Ball that was being held that evening in the Great Hall as part of the termly “inter house bonding” sessions, as she felt not dealing with the problem would cast an ugly shadow over her enjoyment of the spectacular evening. Malinda threw herself heavily down on the pink silk chair next to her desk, knocking over a pot of black ink that she had been using to write an essay on the life of Bridget Wenlock, spilt across her new blue skirt. Swearing loudly, she withdrew her wand from her black leather belt and quickly fixed the sticky, black mess with a simple spell, while tutting wildly, her temper rising. She forced herself to calm down after her annoyance had been agitated by her accident, then she let her mind return to the ongoing war between the houses of her school.
Malinda wasn’t sure if she could continue splitting up these rowdy, unnecessary fights. James Potter was the most exasperating student she had ever had the misfortune to teach and she felt he was the root of all the evil in her school. She found him cocky and vain, and he used his parent’s fame, his mother a famous Quidditch player and his father “The Chosen One” to advance himself in life. He used every opportunity to start jinxing a Slytherin and many first years were terrified of his arrogant, bullying ways.
Louis was usually a fairly sensible boy, and Malinda found him fairly level headed, but if Avery had provoked him, or attacked his girlfriend Amelia Davenport, Malinda knew that Louis would have joined the fight eagerly, wanting to protect pretty Amelia. Malinda knew it would not be too long until she would have to explain what she understood of the whole, nasty affair to the troublesome kids parents, and was not looking forward to the experience. Leaning on her elbows, she waited for the parents to come, but her mind soon slipped into the thought of seeing the Minister tomorrow evening, when he managed to escape his formidable wife and Ministry officials to come and take her for a quiet dinner at Madame Puddifoot’s in Hogmeade.
The loud knock on the door that echoed through the room woke her from her dreamy stupor and returned her to the current problem. She shouted to allow the dreaded visitors in, and the old door creaked open, revealing two thin figures. Malinda instantly knew they were Orion Malfoy’s parents and it was evident they were rich. The father had a pointed face, a receding hairline and the same grey eyes as his son. He was wearing an expensive suit and carried a black cane with a large glass orb adorning the top. His wife was fairly tall, with lofty features, but she seemed to be waging a losing battle with time as she was smothered in makeup that was failing to conceal her crow’s feet and various other wrinkles. Malinda recognised her from “Witch Weekly” as a familiar face that would be dotted over the glossy photographs as it was evident that she attended every party in the Wizarding World.
The woman clung to her husband’s suit clad arm, almost as if she was terrified of losing him to any female competition. Her husband walked to Malinda’s desk, shaking his wife off as if she was a pesky insect such as a wasp or gnat, to make his hand free for the Headmistress to shake. He smiled broadly, showing pearly teeth and one single gold one, as Malinda took his hand,
“Draco Malfoy, Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic,” Malinda’s heart fluttered at the mention of Kingsley but Malinda smiled and watched as Draco’s dark haired wife eyed her with contempt, “and this is my wife Astoria.” Draco looked at his wife, almost revolted with her as he saw Astoria nod approvingly when Melinda let go of Draco’s hand. It seemed to Malinda that a man with the surname Malfoy would have married Astoria for her money, or the pureness of her valuable blood.
“Please, sit down.” Smiled Malinda indicating an assortment of six chairs of varying shapes and sizes. Draco obeyed Malinda and sat on the most comfortable of the chairs adorned with gold leaf opposite Malinda, while Astoria perched on an ugly wooden stool next to him, still grasping his arm with such a force that Malinda was surprised Draco still had blood flowing through it. Astoria looked ill as her dark hair was pulled back so tightly in an ineffective effort to get rid of wrinkles that she looked pale and peaky. It seemed she did not eat much either, like most women who aspired to litter the pages of “Witch Weekly”.
“So, we received your message about one of our sons behaving badly. Just confused as to which one that was.” Drawled Draco, slicking back his hair with one pale hand. Astoria nodded furiously, as if to impress her husband, but he ignored her and watched Malinda intently waiting for her to reply.
“Oh, your eldest, Scorpius, is generally good, I’m afraid it’s your youngest Orion.” She sighed as Draco’s smile disappeared from his aging face. Astoria stiffened as her husband’s countenance flushed red at an alarming rate. He raised his thin eyebrows as he prepared to speak,
“Whose Orion been duelling this time?” he almost joked as Astoria patted his shoulder gently, and Malinda smiled at her guests, desperate to keep them happy. Before she could answer there was a loud, smart knock on the door. The Headmistress called for them to enter and in strode James’ Potter’s father, Harry. Malinda knew him with one glance as there was no one in the Wizarding World who did not recognise the Boy Who Lived. Nearly every day his tanned face, round glasses, green eyes and messy black hair was plastered on the front of the Daily Prophet for his successful capture of another nameless Dark Wizard. Draco and his wife had turned round and Draco nodded stiffly at the well dressed man who had swaggered through the door.
“Draco, Astoria.” Said Harry stiffly, walking a path that seemed to have been chosen to keep as far away from the other two parents as possible. Sitting on a chair a good distance away from the other two he sat as deliberately as he could. He placed both his tanned hands on his lap and began to address Malinda directly, without so much as a formal introduction.
“So, has James been fighting Draco’s son?” Malinda could see Draco was struggling with an internal battle, almost to try to stop himself from saying something. However, Draco did not seem to be able to control himself and he drawled slowly and deliberately,
“Obviously Potter.” Draco said it with a hint of loathing in his icy voice and Malinda was slightly confused. She had never attended Hogwarts with either of the men sitting in front of her, as she had been several years older than them and left the year before they joined the school. Maybe they had been rivals at school, which would not help her task of mending the breach between their children.
“It is not so obvious to me Malfoy.” Said Harry, his voice laced with undisguised venom. Staring directly at each other, the two important men held each other’s gazes for a moment, grey eyes meeting the green. Astoria tensed at the nasty atmosphere that was beginning to create itself within the room and she began to look away from both her husband and Harry as Draco clasped his hands together and prepared to start battling with his schoolboy foe.
“It is not obvious to you Potter because you do not care what your children are doing.” Draco smiled in this small triumph as Harry floundered for a second, starting to say disconnected words, but then stopping abruptly. He was saved from the endless jabbering by a third loud knock on the door.
“Come in!” bellowed Malinda, trying to stop a row that she felt was brewing in the air. A man and a woman had come through the ancient door; it was obvious they had just been arguing, as they were not looking at each other. The man looked as if he could be Louis’ father as he had red hair, freckles and blue eyes and was most definitely a Weasley, but the brown haired woman that was with him was definitely not Louis’ mother. Fleur Weasley was part Veela and as one of “Witch Weekly’s” Editors, Malinda would recognise her instantly as she was part of her favourite magazine ever. Fleur, unless her smiling editorial picture on the contents page of the magazine lied, was stunningly beautiful, but this woman had bushy brown hair and brown eyes and was definitely not Fleur. Malinda suddenly recognised her as one of Kingsley’s advisors, one of the annoying busy bodies at the Ministry who would never leave Kingsley to have any time with Malinda. The woman stepped in front of the man and held her sinewy hand up for Malinda to shake.
“Hermione Weasley, Louis’ aunt and the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. It’s lovely to be officially introduced. Kingsley is always talking about you.” Nodded Hermione knowingly. Was it public knowledge that the Headmistress of Hogwarts and the Minister of Magic were having an affair? Wanting to change the subject quickly Malinda tried to think of something worthwhile to say, but Hermione beat her to it. She had turned to Harry who had finished staring at Draco with malice,
“Harry, where’s Ginny?”
Ginny? Who was Ginny? Malinda wasn’t quite sure, but Draco supplemented an answer before either Harry, Hermione or the red headed Weasley could say anything.
“I’m sure Wonder Witch is off playing Quidditch with all the other Harpies.” Jibed Draco, as the Weasley’s sat down. The red headed man had gone bright red and looked ready to jinx Draco, but Hermione had started talking again.
“Professor Fairweather, this is my husband Ron,” she said indicating him, a slight look of distaste etched across her aquiline features, “we’re here because Louis’ parents are out in Romania visiting Ron’s brother Charlie and his wife Mihaela and we’ve been appointed babysitter.” Malinda nodded in understanding, and then she noted the split between the parents. The Slytherin’s, Draco and Astoria, and the Gryffindor’s, Malinda assumed, Harry, Ron and Hermione were sitting as far away from each other as possible, Astoria almost falling off her stool.
“What has actually happened?” asked Harry, crossing his arms and trying not to look at Draco or Astoria. Ron grunted something in agreement with Harry, while Hermione listened intently. Draco disguised a laugh inside a cough and turned to face Harry.
“Well isn’t it obvious? Our children have been duelling.” Harry ignored Draco and turned back to Malinda, waiting for an answer to his question.
“Your son Mr Potter, James, has been duelling with two Slytherin’s.” Draco smiled that he had got the reason for their attendance correct, while the other men sulked like little boys at their enemies triumph.
“One of them, as you would expect is his long time rival Arnaud Avery, and the other is the Malfoy’s son Orion.” Harry looked confused for a moment, as if he had been expecting something else. Draco anticipated this and already had a quip prepared,
“Yes, I have another son Potter.” Malinda couldn’t help but think that Potter must have spent his whole time being beaten at Hogwarts by the smooth talking Draco. Ron was still looking at Malinda and it was evident he was about to ask a question,
“So what’s Louis got to do with this?” Malinda sighed; she would have a lot of explaining to do until she could escape to prepare for the Masquerade Ball. Malinda begrudgingly told the story she had already told to three teachers, that is, what she had determined about the duel. For several minutes Draco, Astoria, Ron, Hermione and Harry sat perfectly quietly, taking in every detail of the story. When she had finally finished, Ron was the first to say anything.
“Well, why are you punishing Louis?” he asked, getting up as if to leave, “it sounds as if this Avery boy attacked his girl. He’s bound to defend her isn’t he?” Harry was nodding in agreement, saying that it seemed to him that Louis was an innocent bystander in all of this. Draco was laughing gently and Harry and Ron turned to face him.
“If you’ve got something to say Malfoy then just say it!” snapped Ron, pointing an accusatory finger at Malfoy’s narrow chest. Draco stood up and looked straight at Ron, evidently slightly amused, seen by his light hearted expression. He was not as tall, or as wide, or as intimidating as Ron, but it was evident that Draco could hold his own against Weasley.
“Well, it seems to me that my son felt he was being offended by the use of that word Deatheaters. To use such a label at times like these, well to me it is just the sign of an addled brain, or perhaps just plain, old fashioned ignorance.” Astoria threw her head back and laughed heartily while Draco smirked at Ron. Ron was looking very angry, his head resembled a large sundried tomato and Malinda guessed that he wanted to rip Draco into tiny shreds.
“Any man has the right to defend ones pride from insults. With reformed Deatheaters in the family it seems a bit insensitive of the Weasley boy to use something that would embarrass my son.”
Astoria was laughing gleefully at her husband’s triumph and Hermione was shooting a nasty look at her. Draco ignored the women and carried on laying out his views.
“And while we’re sharing out the blame I would like to know what James Potter felt he would achieve by joining this fight. And he seemed the worst in openly saying that Orion and Avery were Deatheaters. Therefore, Professor Fairweather...”
“Oh, Malinda, please call me Malinda.” Twittered Professor Fairweather, giggling stupidly, she liked Draco considerably more that the rest of the people in the room. Astoria looked simply livid; her dark eyebrows were burrowed so low in her eyes that her eyes had almost disappeared. If looks could kill, Malinda felt she would have needed hundreds of lives to survive Astoria’s icy cold stare.
“Therefore, Malinda, I feel that Orion is totally innocent in this little incident.” Draco simpered, his voice as smooth as honey. He smiled curtly as Hermione got up, looking sick with anger.
“How can you say that Draco? Orion, innocent! I would never expect to hear those two words in the same sentence!” Hermione was inches from Malfoy now, but Astoria had leapt up relinquishing her own wand from the silk belt around her waist.
“Keep away from my husband!” Astoria’s voice was unusually high and almost tinny, but her wand was pointed straight between Hermione’s eyes. Hermione looked momentarily nervous, but then composed herself, and her look became steely.
“Do you think we want to be near your snivelling husband?” roared Ron, throwing his long arms wide. Harry was also standing up his wand pointing at Malfoy. Each of them were getting angry and the tension was escalating to a higher and higher level. Malinda inwardly screamed, she could not have a fight between two Ministry officials – Draco and Hermione, two Aurors – Harry and Ron, and an angry socialite - Astoria. Malinda did not know what had gone on between these two families, but the effects of those occurrences were resonating into the current generation.
“Please stop this! How do you ever expect your children to agree if you, the adults, are at war?” Malinda yelled this across the parent’s heads and they all turned to look at her. Ron looked furious, his chest swelled and he had pulled his wand from his expensive robes, while Hermione and Draco began sitting down, seemingly prepared to try to act civilly towards each other. Harry followed them, leaving Ron and Astoria standing, staring evilly into each other’s angry eyes.
“I have to inform you that if any duels, of any kind, happen between your children again, I will have to expel them!” The remaining parents had sat down and they all sat in quiet submission, shocked at the realisation that their children might be denied a magical education. Malinda was glad they weren’t about to start duelling each other in her own office. Breathing heavily she sat down at her desk, her rings glinting in the candle light. Malinda did not particularly like daylight; maybe that came through living for seven years in the Slytherin Common Room that was in the dark, eerie dungeon.
“I have decided I will not ban them from the Masquerade Ball tonight, as it will disappoint their dates I’m sure...” said Malinda, trying desperately to light the mood. It failed miserably as the atmosphere was still extreme tense and fraught with anger.
“Potter’s son has a date?” murmured Draco to his wife. Astoria giggled quietly as Malinda continued describing the list of consequences that this duel had incurred, and the parents seemed to fall asleep as she droned on and on until her voice went hoarse. Once she had tired, she stood up and placed her hands delicately on the desk. She stared over the rims of her glasses at them, and suddenly they seemed like naughty school children. Now the Headmistresses rant was over, she decided it was best to bid the parents farewell.
“Now, I will write to you if there are any more problems concerning your children. Hogwarts tries to maintain good communication between staff and parents in relation to our students and children.” Malinda smiled tiredly as the parents gradually stood up, still eyeing each other with hate and slowly began to leave. Ron gave Draco a dirty look then stalked from the room, pulling Hermione behind him. She tried to say something to Harry, but she disappeared out of the open door before her words reached them. Harry was the only one who tried to behave civilly as he attempted to give Draco a little smile, but Astoria pulled her husband from the room, saying she had never met such vulgar people in her life. Harry hovered for a moment, looking at the door that had just seen the backs of his friends and rivals, and then turned to face Malinda. He paused momentarily, trying to determine what was the best thing to say to her.
“I’m sorry about my attitude, I can’t seem to let go of boyhood grudges.” He smiled weakly as Professor Fairweather insisted that everything was fine as Harry turned away from her, and stood there for a moment.
“Is James really that bad Professor?” he said, almost not daring to look into her eyes and see the truth which he dreaded. Malinda walked round the desk and hovered behind him and in a hushed voice she whispered,
“Well...Yes, I’ve never met a student like your son.”
Harry groaned slightly then turned round to face her, a weak smile washed over his face. He breathed gently for a moment then placed his hands in his pockets and told her the truth.
“You’re going to lose this war.” Malinda was slightly taken aback by this statement, but answered all the same,
“What war?” Harry looked at her with his eyebrows raised, unable to believe that she did not know what on earth he was talking about. He smiled pityingly at her and then whispered the words he was thinking.
“You will never make Gryffindor’s and Slytherin’s friends.” And with that Harry Potter walked towards the Office door and opened it, only turning around to look at the empty portrait of Albus Dumbledore. The door closed heavily after him and Malinda returned and sat in her chair, sighing deeply as she went. This stupid and ancient rivalry was going to lead her to have a very difficult first year as the Headmistress of Hogwarts.
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