When I woke up the next morning, it seemed like everybody, but Morgan, was being cold to me. I suppose that when you attack someone, you get labelled a psycho, but I knew it had to be about my father. What had he done that had been so terrible?
The girl whom I had attacked, whose name I learned was Pauline, was especially unkind. She and the other girls in my dorm, whose names were Taylor and Natasha, had formed a kind of club that, had it a name, would be the We Hate Arianthe Malfoy Club.
After being shut out of the bathroom by Pauline, I decided that changing into my robes with my hangings shut tightly around my bed was as good as anything, so I did so quickly and quietly. When I jumped to the floor, and out into the open, Morgan was waiting for me.
“Good morning, Arianthe.” She said briskly. “Come on, we have ten minutes to get down to the Great Hall if we want to be there in time to get our schedules.”
I yawned. “Are you sure ten minutes will be enough time?” I asked tiredly. “Because last night it seemed like an hour until we got to the Tower.”
“It only seemed like that because you were standing up front with the Prefect.” Morgan replied, refreshing the memory of last night.
I rolled my eyes. “Can we just go?” I asked.
“I’m certainly not the one holding us up.” Morgan said. We marched out the door and down the stone staircase, to the Common Room, which I hadn’t really paid any attention when we first entered it last night.
The first thing I noticed about it was the spectacular view. I could see out of high-arched windows the Quidditch Pitch, the Black Lake, the Forbidden Forest, and the Herbology gardens. The second thing was the stars painted on the domed ceiling by an impeccable hand, and the third, a life-sized statue of a beautiful woman whom Morgan informed me was Rowena Ravenclaw, founder of Ravenclaw house.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Morgan asked in admiration. “I noticed it last night, but nobody else seemed to.” I assumed she was talking about the statue.
“What’s that on her crown?” I asked.
“Diadem.” Morgan automatically corrected. “And if I’m right, the house motto should be inscribed on it.”
I walked up to the plinth and leaned up to read the words: Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure. The house motto. A snippet of conversation from the train came back to me.
“What’s your house motto? Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure? That makes you sound like a bunch of heartless walking dictionaries.”
Well, Albus did have a point. From a distance, Rowena Ravenclaw looked as if she had a small smile on her face, like she knew everything, like she understood all your secrets, and would keep them. But if you looked up close, you could see her smile didn’t quite reach her eyes. Up close it looked cold and calculating, like she needed your secrets for an evil scheme that would only benefit her.
Realizing that I had just characterized a statue, I shook my head a blinked.
“C’mon, Arianthe.” Morgan said, tugging at my arm. I followed her out of the Common room.
As soon as the door shut behind us, Morgan’s face broke into a wicked grin. “Wanna try something?” She asked mischievously.
She sat on the railing, and pushed off, sliding down, screaming as she went. I paused, looked behind me, and decided to follow suit. I pushed off, and felt the exhilarating feeling of whipping through the air, you hair streaming behind you and your clothes flapping and snapping.
Morgan and I were both giggling madly when we reached the bottom, and we ran off, getting lost several times before finally making it down to the Great Hall, where Professor Flitwick had just reached the end of the table with schedules. Morgan and I ran to get ours, and chose a spot next to Oliver and two other first year boys that I vaguely remembered from the night before.
“Hi, Oliver.” Morgan said. Then she turned to the other two. “I’m Morgan Moon. This is Arianthe Malfoy.”
“We know.” The boy with sandy blond hair said. “I’m Lysander Scamander, but you can call me Sander, and this is Phillip Orville.”
“Like the popcorn?” I asked, taking two pancakes that looked delicious. Phillip rolled his eyes.
“Yes, like the popcorn.” He said. “How does everybody make that connection?”
“Because we’re not stupid, mate.” Sander said bracingly. “We’re Ravenclaws.”
I decided I liked Phillip and Sander. They didn’t seem to care that I was a Malfoy, and they didn’t seem to be friends with Cameron.
“Ravenclaw first years have Charms first, with the Gryffindors, I think.” Phillip said, pulling out his schedule. “Then we have DADA, and the professor this year’s supposed to be good.”
“I heard she’s an old-timer from the war.” Morgan said, in a sceptical voice. “Personally, I don’t think having your share of war tales makes you automatically good,” She threw a glance Phillip’s way. “But I suppose she has potential.”
“Because you, in all your first year glory, know everything there is to know about Defence Against the Dark Arts.” Sander said in an exaggerated voice. “Look out, everybody! Professional, sitting right here! This one knows more than the professors!”
“Shhh!” Morgan hissed, turning red and hitting Sander on the arm. “I never said that!”
“’Ay off ‘er, ‘Ander.” Oliver said through a mouthful of food. He seemed to have loosened up considerably from the nervous little boy I had met last night.
“Ew!” I squealed as he sprayed me with food. “Gross, Oliver!”
He swallowed the rest of his food and grinned sheepishly. “Sorry, Arianthe.”
“That’s okay,” I said, wiping the food off my face.
Suddenly, I heard gasps, and saw people pointing toward the ceiling. I looked up to see a storm of owls flying over the tables, dropping parcels and letters to their owners.
“Mail’s here.” Phillip said, looking unsurprised. “My sister told me that this happens every day, so get used to it.”
I closed my mouth, because it had dropped open in surprise, and crossed my arms. “My brother and sister have been going here for two years and they didn’t mention anything about owl post.” I wasn’t exactly surprised that the owls were dropping off mail. I mean, I was a pureblood; I was used to owl post. But I didn’t know that the owls came in such great quantities.
“Oi, Arianthe.” Morgan barked, also thoroughly unsurprised at the owls. “Hurry up with those pancakes, classes start at eight and I want to get good seats in Charms.”
I scarfed down my pancakes and washed them down with a goblet of pumpkin juice. Then Morgan and I bid goodbye to the boys and set off towards the Charms classroom. I couldn’t say that Morgan and I really knew where we were going, exactly, but we found the classroom, eventually, well enough.
Morgan and I sat in the front of the classroom, in the middle, which turned out to be a good thing, since the tiny professor who read from the list at the sorting was so small. He had to stand on a pile of books behind his desk to be seen.
At the beginning of class, Professor Flitwick took roll. He went down the list, not pausing, not tripping up a bit, until he reached my name.
He paused, looking over his desk at me. My heart skipped a beat. Had I done something wrong? Another thought came to me. What if . . . but surely not a professor . . . .
He looked away from me and went back to the list. I turned red and farther into my seat, well aware that everybody was staring at me.
Our next class was Potions with the Slytherins, which was taught by an old man called Professor Slughorn, with a belly larger than that of a pregnant woman’s. The class after that was Transfiguration, a difficult lesson taught by a strict man named Professor Williams.
The class after Transfiguration was the one that really got Phillip, Oliver and Sander excited. Defence Against the Dark Arts. Morgan also looked like she was looking forward to it, but tried to stick with what she had said at breakfast, and tried to look thoroughly uninterested.
I was with the boys on this one. Morgan, I soon learned, was usually right, but if what they said was true, this lady had some interesting war stories to tell, and those were always the best. Every year, they aired a documentary of a different Wizarding War ‘round January on the WizTV. With a slight pang of disappointment, I realized I wouldn’t be watching it this year.
The rumour about the professor had spread through the school like wildfire, and pretty much all the first years knew about it, so when Morgan, Phillip, Sander, Oliver and I reached the classroom door, there was a queue lined up.
“Darn!” Phillip said disappointedly. “We won’t get good seats!”
Morgan rolled her eyes, although we could all see that she looked disappointed as well. “She can’t be that good.” Morgan said disbelievingly.
“You just don’t want us to be right.” Sander told Morgan. “Just you wait, that professor will be the best!”
“I appreciate the compliment, Mr Scamander, however, that doesn’t change the fact that you, along with several other of your fellow classmates, are blocking my way to the classroom, which, may I point out, deters you from truly being able to make the judgment that I am the best.”
Sander spun around, looking like a deer caught in headlights. I admit my heart did a nervous dance too. The professor was wearing brown robes that looked meant for running. Her face had a long, four-inch scar running from her temple to her jaw. Her sleek, black hair was tied up, and her brown eyes had the look that you got when you were ready to fight your way out of any situation.
Sander, and many of the other Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws, jumped out of the way, and the professor strode through, opened the door, and walked in, without checking to make sure that we were following.
Morgan, the boys and I scrambled to get good seats up front. I ended up sitting next to Morgan and Phillip in the left of the second row, while Oliver and Sander sat in the centre of the third.
“My name,” The professor said, walking up to the blackboard and grabbing a piece of chalk. “Is Professor Padma Patil. I fought in the Battle of Hogwarts, which you will learn about in your first year curriculum, and went on to become an Auror for the Ministry of Magic. Professor Roberts has authorized me to tell my war stories, so yes, the rumours were true.”
“Oh boy!” A small boy named Daniel Rogers squeaked. “Are your war stories cool, professor? Did you kill lots of Death Eaters?”
There were those words again. Death Eaters. What did it mean?
“Yes,” Professor Patil said. Her face was unreadable and her voice dangerously quiet. “But trust me, Mr Rogers,” She put both her hands on either side of Danny’s desk and leaned in close. “In this class, you will soon learn that some stories are best left untold.”
Needless to say, we were sufficiently impressed.
A note hit Morgan in the back of the head. She scrambled to get it, and unfolded it. It said: Impressed yet? -Sander. Morgan glared at Sander, and stuffed his note into her pocket.
“Now,” Professor Patil said, straightening up and clasping her hands behind her back. “The first thing you need to know about the war, is the antagonist, or bad guy.” Her eyes darkened. “In this particular battle, the antagonist is Voldemort.” She wrote his name on the chalkboard.
“Well? Copy that down!” She said. We all quickly took out parchment, quills, and ink pots.
“Along with an antagonist, there is a protagonist, or the good guy!” She announced. “In this case, his name is Harry Potter!” She wrote the name Harry Potter on the chalkboard, and then turned to us.
“For those of you who don’t know, Harry Potter is still alive today. He has two children who attend this school, James and Albus. He is married to Ginny Potter, who was in the year below me when I attended Hogwarts. I could talk all day about the Potter history.” She said as we drank in the information. “But it would take too long, and this isn’t History of Magic.”
She went back to Voldemort and Harry Potter. “Now, our bad guy and good guy didn’t start a war alone. They, of course, had people backing them. Armies. Followers. Voldemort’s followers called themselves Death Eaters.”
I felt as if a brick had slid down my chest. Death Eater. Voldemort’s followers. I glanced behind me, to where Cameron and Pauline were sitting with the other first year Ravenclaws. Cameron saw me looking and mouthed, your father, at me.
I looked away. My father. My sweet, kind, compassionate father, who I wheedled money from and who held me and loved me, was a Death Eater.
“And on the other side, we have the Order of the Phoenix.” Professor Patil continued. But I didn’t listen anymore. I didn’t want to.
My dad? A Death Eater? It didn’t make any sense.
The lesson continued, and I didn’t take any notes. I supposed I would just have to ask Morgan, who was writing furiously, to read hers. But—my father. A Death Eater! I just couldn’t believe it!
When the lesson ended, Morgan, Phillip and I met outside the classroom with Sander and Oliver.
“Dude!” Sander said happily, high-fiving Phillip. “So cool!”
“I know!” Phillip yelled back, equally ecstatic.
“Arianthe?” Oliver asked, scrutinizing my expression. “Are you all right?”
“I’ll—I’ll be fine.” I said, fighting to keep my voice steady. “I just need—some time alone.”
And I walked off as fast as I could. It was lunch time, and I didn’t know if Scorpius had the same schedule as I did, but he was the one I went to if I had a problem, and I didn’t see how my being at Hogwarts would change that.
Thankfully, I spotted Scorpius in the Great Hall, eating with Albus and some other friends. I made my way over to the Slytherin table, avoiding everybody’s eyes, and stopped behind Scorpius.
“Dude,” One of his friends said. “Why’s your sister here?”
“Oh, hey, Arianthe.” Scorpius said, spotting me for the first time. “What’s up?” I tried to talk, but my throat closed up, and I just shook my head.
“Arianthe?” Scorpius asked, his voice growing alarmed. “Is everything alright?”
My eyes filled with tears, and I shook my head again. No. Nothing is alright.
Scorpius got up, told his friends he’d see them in Herbology, took my hand, and led me from the Great Hall. He led me out the Entrance Hall and across the grounds, to the Forbidden Forest. He stepped into the trees, but I stopped.
“C’mon, nobody cares it’s forbidden.” Scorpius said, reading my mind. He grabbed my hand and pulled me into the trees.
He led me deeper into the forest. Not so deep that I couldn’t see the grounds. But deep enough where they couldn’t see us.
“Now,” Scorpius said, sitting against a tree and pulling me into his lap, like he always when he knows I’m ready for a long cry. “Tell me what’s wrong.”
I promptly burst into tears.
Scorpius hugged me tight and stroked my hair, somehow managing to do both at the same time. “C’mon, Arianthe.” He said in soothing tones. “I can’t help if you won’t tell me what’s wrong.”
I started sobbing out words, probably incoherent, but Scorpius just nodded. Nodded, stroked my hair, and held me tight. I felt as if a two-ton weight was being lifted off my chest just by telling my brother all that had happened in the last 24 hours. About the people who were sending me dirty looks. About Cameron and Pauline. About the Prefect, and getting detention on the first night. About being let down by Hogwarts. About the Death Eaters, and how I had discovered that Dad was one of them.
“It seems like most of this is revolving around Dad being a Death Eater.” Scorpius said quietly, almost to himself, stroking my hair. I nodded, sniffling. “Hmm . . .” He said.
“Arianthe, he’s still Dad.” Scorpius said. “Trust me, I know. Selene and I have been through all of this before; only for us it was ten times worse, because they had never met the children of Draco Malfoy, war criminal.” His voice turned bitter, but he seemed to remember that he was trying to comfort me, so he calmed a bit.
“The point is, no matter what they say about him, he’s still dorky old Dad. The one who tried to microwave bread to make toast when his wand snapped. The same old Dad who you got a small fortune off of at the train station yesterday.”
I had to stifle a sob at this one, because it reminded me that everything had been perfect just yesterday.
“Don’t let this Cameron kid, and this Pauline girl, or any other kid in this school, beat you up about Dad.” Scorpius said fiercely. “It’s what they want, Arianthe. They want you to feel bad about yourself. They want to beat you down. But don’t let them! Don’t give them the satisfaction of knowing that they won!”
“But how can I not give them the satisfaction of knowing they won now, Scorpius?” I asked desperately. “It feels like they already have!”
“Every war has its ups and downs.” Scorpius said bracingly. “You can make it through, Arianthe. I know you can. You have friends. You have people who are better than those jerks who are special to you, and who will support you on whatever!” Scorpius’s voice lowered, and I knew that the climax of his speech had just passed. “My favourite quote is by a muggle author, you know.” He said.
“What is it?” I asked, because I knew he wanted me to.
“Be who you are, and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. It’s a Dr. Seuss quote.” He recited quietly. “And for the next year, until they accept that you aren’t anything like Dad was back then, because he was a Death Eater, Arianthe, we can’t ignore that, I want you to live by that quote.”
I nodded. “Thanks, Scorpius.” I said, my voice small. I could imagine the grin on his face.
“No problem,” He responded, pushing me off his lap and helping me up. “I just don’t want to see you crushed by them. You deserve more than that.”
I hugged Scorpius tightly. He always seemed to have this way of making me feel special. That’s why I always go to Scorpius, instead of Selene. Selene’s great, but she just doesn’t understand me as well as Scorpius.
The next time I saw Cameron and Pauline, Pauline walked up to me and asked me in a loud voice, “So, Malfoy, how’d you like the Defence Against the Dark Art lesson today?”
I said: “I liked it a lot, Pauline. Thank you for asking.” With a big smile on my face.
It felt great.
“You know, you’d think they’d go easy on first years with the homework.” Sander complained as we poured over library books, trying desperately to finish our Transfiguration assignments so we could head outside and dip our toes in the lake on quite possibly what was the last nice day of the year before everything turned cold.
Sander, Oliver, Phillip, Morgan and I had become close friends over the past two weeks.
“You’re a disgrace to Ravenclaw,” Morgan sniffed.
“I don’t care who I’m a disgrace to, I just want to go outside.” Phillip muttered from behind a stack of books he was carrying back to our table. “These should help.”
“Thanks,” I said, grabbing the top one. Oliver grabbed the one after it, and flipped through the pages frantically.
“Find anything?” He asked me after slamming the book cover shut.
“Nope.” I said, also slamming my book shut. “This is hopeless,” I muttered, glancing wistfully out the window. “We’ll never find it.”
“Wait!” Morgan said. “I think it’s here, just here!”
“Let me see that.” Sander demanded, tearing the book from Morgan. His face lit with happiness as he read the paragraph she was reading. “You did find it!”
We all cheered. “Yeah, Morgan!” Phillip cat-called.
“Out! You are too loud! Out!” The shrivelled librarian, Madame Pince, ordered. We scampered out of the library and scribbled the last bit of information we needed in our essays, using each other’s backs for make-shift tables.
“Thank Merlin that’s over!” Sander declared. “Hey, Arianthe, race you to the Black Lake!”
I laughed and ran after Sander, aware that Oliver, Phillip, and Morgan had taken off after him as well. When we reached the lake, we were panting, our cheeks rosy and our laughter coming out in gasps.
We flopped down at the shore of the lake and took off our shoes and socks, placing them to the side and splashing our feet in the cool water. It seemed like bliss in the hot sunlight. The whole day had, besides the essay, but we seemed to be making up for the wasted time.
Until Cameron and Pauline came along and ruined everything.
Now, by the end of two weeks, Cameron and Pauline had formed a sort of posse of Ravenclaw first years. It was basically all of the Ravenclaw first years who weren’t Phillip, Sander, Oliver, Morgan and I, except for a boy named Peter who didn’t really do much of anything, according to the boys.
Cameron and Pauline’s posse was comprised of three girls: Pauline, Taylor, and Natasha. Also, two boys: Cameron and Winston.
This truly split the Ravenclaw first years down the middle, and all the first years in all the houses knew it. It was like we were at war with each other.
“What smells so bad over here?” Pauline’s voice made its owner present. “Taylor, do you know?”
Taylor, a tall, blonde girl with ice blue eyes, nodded, trying not to giggle, making the ‘joke’ that was coming obvious.
“Wow, it really smells nasty.” Cameron said. “I wonder what it could be. Is it you, Winston?”
Winston shook his head stupidly. Cameron mock-thought for a moment, and then said, “I think I know what it is!”
“Three guesses what.” Sander muttered to me unhappily.
“It’s the Death Eater scum sitting right in front of me!”
Cameron gave me a small kick in the back. “Why don’t you get out of here, Death Eater? You’re really stinking up the place.”
I clenched my fists, but didn’t say a word. Don’t let them get the best of you. Scorpius’ voice echoed in my mind.
Cameron kicked me again, harder. “Did you hear me?” He asked, louder. “Get out of here!”
That’s it. I had sat through enough. I reached for my wand, prepared to use every hex Morgan had taught me, but before I could even turn around, there was a loud bang, and Cameron went flying into the lake.
Pauline screamed. “What did you do?” Morgan was standing there, looking quite calm for a person who had just hexed another into a lake.
“I gave him a bath. He was obviously the one who smelled, not Arianthe, since I only noticed the smell when he came over here.” Morgan said sweetly.
Pauline’s face turned magenta. “You—can’t—do—that!” She practically spit.
“She just did!” Phillip told Pauline, and high-fived Sander. Pauline let out a small, angry shriek, and stormed back up to the castle, Taylor and Natasha in her wake. Winston stayed behind to fish Cameron out of the lake. Turns out, he can’t swim. I watched him with an odd sense of satisfaction as he struggled to swim to shore.