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The Girl from Slytherin by Lululuna
Chapter 32 : The Decision
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 4


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Chapter Thirty-Two
The Decision




beautiful image by easterlies at tda


 

The owls at breakfast that morning bring sunshine and the promise of spring on their wings. That moment at the owl post I am treated to three letters: one from the late Margaret Macauley’s magazine confirming my changing my subscription to Terry Boot’s name; the second a letter from Mum asking whether I’ve decided about coming home for Easter. The third is the most interesting: a letter from Andromeda, the woman whose situation at school was once so similar to my own. I had written to her with the happy news that Terry and I had reconciled: the mixed euphoria and fear had combined into a sort of recklessness and general fatigue with all the concealment and secrecy.

Dear T,

I’m very happy to hear you’ve spoken with your young man- that is wonderful news and a real test to your relationship. I know my Ted and I had a spat sometime in our seventh year where we didn’t speak for a month; it was the worst time of my life, and it was after that month when we told each other we loved one another for the first time (I appreciate how you are letting an old lady speak of her romance- my daughter cringes and refuses to speak with me about her boyfriend whenever I ask!).

Speaking of my daughter, I believe that you spoke with her recently. She’s an Auror guarding the school and mentioned something about a greenhouse and a young Slytherin girl- I knew it had to be you. Will you come to tea with us in the summer? I would love to meet you face to face, and answer any questions you might have. It might be good for both of us.

Good luck with everything, my dear. I am looking forward to your response!

Andromeda Tonks


I write back at lunch that I would love to join her for tea during the summer, assuming I can make the appropriate excuses to my parents. I yearn to see Andromeda face-to-face, to ask her properly about her regrets in leaving her pureblood family in favour of her Muggleborn husband. Inevitably, I long for some promise of a certain future.

**



Later, Pyxis catches up with me. My head is a little stuck in the clouds, as my mother would say, so I am quite taken aback when he hooks his arm through mine after Charms.

“Why were you walking so fast?” he grumbles, releasing me so that a group of Gryffindor classmates can pass by. Pyxis scowls at them: the Gryffindor-Slytherin rivalry is only enhanced, in my opinion, by the fact that most of our double classes are with them. Daphne’s year is the same. I haven’t found the time to be much bothered by the Gryffindors this year, however; there have been much more important things to complain about.

I raise my eyebrows at Pyxis. His eyes are shrouded by dark circles beneath them, his dark hair messy and unbrushed, his robes hanging off his thin body. “Well, you’ve caught me now. What’s wrong? And why in Merlin’s name are you carrying this around?” I reach into his book bag and pull out his pointed wizard’s hat, the one we students wear for formal gatherings and feasts. The hats look honestly quite ridiculous on anybody under the age of sixty; they went out of style decades ago.

Pyxis looks quite as surprised to see the hat as I am; I suspect that ideas of conspiracies involving Doxies and house elves are running through his fluffy-haired head. He shoves the hat down into the depths of his bag.

“No matter,” he says. “Listen, we need to talk. Right now, preferably, before you can squirrel away and avoid me in classes.”

“I haven’t been avoiding you,” I reply, though I silently add not consciously. Pyxis represents something to me; a sort of guilt which I refuse to face. “Look, I’ve got to go study for Slughorn-”

“It’ll keep,” Pyxis says tightly. “Here’s the thing, Tor.” We begin to walk slowly down the Charms corridor: the portraits eye us curiously. “I saw you studying with those blokes in the library the other day.”

My heart thuds a little, but I keep a calm face and a relaxed mind. “Oh, I’m not sure who you mean?”

Pyxis rolls his eyes. “Honestly, please don’t play dumb with me, it really doesn’t suit you, Tor. The blokes- Ravenclaws, sixth years. Two brunettes, one blond?”

“Well, I wouldn’t call him blond exactly, more sandy--”

“Shut up,” Pyxis growls. He glances around, but the corridor is deserted save from a very small, frightened looking first year girl who is coming down the hall carrying a large cauldron. She hesitates as she passes us, and Pyxis scowls at her. “Get a move on, then.”

The girl blushes furiously and stares up at me for a moment too long, then dashes around the corner. Pyxis listens for a moment to ensure her footsteps have sounded down the Charms corridor then turns back to me.

“One of them is tutoring me in Transfiguration,” I tell Pyxis quickly. “I’ve been doing, erm, quite poorly, and McGonagall asked him to help me out because he’s, erm, quite good. He was the first one in his class to completely Vanish a teapot or something, she thought he could help me with it.” I exaggerate this wild invention with some mad gesture with my arms which is supposed to imitate something going poof as it vanishes but somehow end up hitting Pyxis in the chest by mistake.

He scowls, deeper. “Alright, so he’s your tutor. Fine. So when I was in the library the other day, checking out a book, I happened to see my good friend, my childhood friend Tor, giggling at the library with some strange older blokes. Alright, whatever. But then I looked a little closer, and you know what, Tor, that tutor of yours bears a damn similar resemblance to a certain form I saw a Boggart take a few months ago. A damn similar resemblance.”

“Stop swearing,” I say, for lack of anything else. “Swearing sounds lower class.”

Pyxis raises one thick black eyebrow; it curls up beneath his fringe. “So then I spoke with Daphne and asked her about this boy, in case, you know, he was a Boggart tutoring you or something. But she said his name is Boot, and he’s a Muggleborn in her year. But I knew that my best friend’s Boggart being the dead body of a Muggleborn Ravenclaw boy couldn’t possibly mean that perhaps my best friend, the daughter of Orpheus Yaxley for bloody Merlin’s sake, couldn’t mean that she was harboring feelings for that Mudblood, could it?” His eyes are bright with something. “Also,” he adds. “You need to work on your lying. We don’t start Vanishing spells until O.W.L year, nitwit. I’m in your class, for Merlin’s sake.”

I bow my head, searching my mind for lies, for some explanation. Fear is more complicated than you think. I didn’t even meet that boy until January, I mean, your eyes are playing tricks on you.

I look up at Pyxis, Pyxis Nott, who has always been honest with me, who has always tried to understand. And the fight drains from me like a punctured fruit.

“I’m so sorry,” I whisper, “but everything you suspect is true. I saw the Boggart because my worst fear, my absolute worst nightmare, is something happening to him because of me, because I can’t protect him. So have at it. Do your worst. Tell Theo, tell Daphne, tell my father. Make that fear some true.”

Pyxis is quiet for a long, pregnant moment, standing with his hands thrust into the pockets of his robes, one trouser leg partly tucked into his sock. I resist the urge to fix it.

“There’s a reason I didn’t tell my brother already,” he says finally. “He’s on the way to being initiated, did you know that? You-Know-Who isn’t particularly concerned with him, yet, but the others – old friends of my dad’s – they want Theo in. They’re going to want me, too, once I’m of age. You and Daphne, too.” He scuffs his foot against the floor. “So I’m going to be like them. Hell, I won’t have a choice. I’m going to be one of those fierce, powerful men whose task it is to gain power by destroying those unworthy ones.” He looks at me. “No Death Eater has ever gotten away with loving a Mudblood.”

“I’m not going to be a Death Eater,” I say frankly. “I don’t think the same way as I used to, Pyxis. Those games we used to play, the sense of… of pride, of entitlement in being pureblood, it’s rubbish. It’s an excuse, to have someone to hate. Pyx, if you hate Muggleborns, then you have to hate me as well, because I’m no better than any of them.” There’s a sort of accusation, finality in my words.

“Do you know what they made Theo do?” Pyxis asks. I wonder if he has heard anything I had to say. “They made him kill- well, he said he couldn’t go through with it, but they made him try – this woman, this woman who I think was a halfblood, who published some newspaper about Muggle rights. They made him torture and try to cast the Third Unforgivable Curse- only he couldn’t do it, because he was frightened.”

“I would be too,” I say quietly. “And so would you. It’s not right, Pyx, no matter what you think of the person, no matter what they’ve done. I couldn’t kill somebody. Anybody.”

“No, neither could I,” Pyxis says. “But you know what, Tor, if you choose this Mud- that boy, over your family and friends, if you deserted your family, then that would be as bad as killing both of you. Because you know they’d go after him if they knew. Taurus, well, his parents aren’t you-know-whats. It’s different for us: the penalties are worse. The stakes are life and death.” His voice cracks. “What if they… He… punished me for your crimes? What about the rest of us?”

“I’ll figure something out,” I promise in a swift moment of decision. Reaching out a little hesitantly, I put a hand on Pyxis’ arm, feel him twitch away from my touch through the fabric, as if something deceased had grabbed hold of him. “I’m sorry you had to find out, Pyx. Are you going to tell my father?”

A pivotal question. A look of hesitation, of fear. A shake of the head, as he seals his fate.

“Thank you,” I say, looking up the inch or so into my best friend’s dark eyes. Clever, lively Pyxis: he doesn’t deserve the weight of this responsibility, the fear for his own life, for his brother’s, for mine. “I’ll figure something out. I have to go now, though.” I squeeze his arm again and then release him and duck around him, skimming down the hall.

**



The next few weeks pass in a mixture of elation and worry. Spring descends with a renewed vigor, sharply contradicting the dark atmosphere inside the castle as we students prepare for exams, prepare for what awaits us beyond the safe haven of Hogwarts once summer falls. I spend a great deal of time with Terry, though we avoid the greenhouses and other dangerous venues at all costs. Michael Corner and Anthony Goldstein smile and greet me when we pass in the halls; one time, when the fourth year Transfiguration class overlaps with the N.E.W.T students leaving McGonagall’s classroom, Daphne stares at me as Terry and each of his friends pass by and ask how my latest essay went, if the professor liked it.

Pyxis stays true to his word, from what I can tell, but the secret drives an undeniable, tangible wedge between us which separates us even further apart. I think to myself how excellently Pyxis and Terry would get along, were the first not a pureblood. I can imagine Terry listening intently to Pyxis’ theories about odd people like Zabini, and Pyxis laughing at Terry’s wild yet brilliant ideas for pranks. Perhaps in another life, that might happen.

Theo is, if possible, even more distant. I rarely see him in the common room, nor does he stay for long at meals, looking more haggard and tired than ever. Some might blame it on stress from approaching exams, but I have seen the same look on the guarded face of Malfoy, and on my father when he feared his master’s wrath and fought to hide his fear from we children.

Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle are shells of the bullies they once were: hard work and stress has made them, if anything, more pleasant and passive than I could have ever imagined. Unsurprisingly, there have been no mentions of any ASS meetings in months; even if the meetings still were being held, I doubt I would be in attendance.

The day of the sixth years’ Apparition tests – and for those seventh years who failed previously – blooms bright and warm. I take the time to wish Daphne and Zabini good luck. My sister carefully conceals her nerves, thanking me politely, but I can tell by the tightness of her smile and how meticulously she has styled her long, dark hair today that she is terribly nervous. The only thing worse than being uncertain, in Daphne’s opinion, is showing others those feelings.

Theo seems strangely unbothered when I stop by him after breakfast, shrugging and informing me he’s sure it will go well. I notice Terry and some of his friends heading outside and follow them, hoping that I’ll be able to catch his attention and past on my best wishes.

This plan falls apart when I notice Leanne among the company of Ravenclaws, and I feel too nervous to approach with her standing so close to Terry. Chiding myself, I scuff my feet in the dewy grass and decide to get ready for Charms earlier than usual when I hear footsteps behind me. Glancing around, I spot the very large and very hairy groundskeeper, Hagrid, stumbling through the grass up to the castle from his hut. His eyes look quite damp and he runs a hand the size of a plate across his nose, sniffing loudly.

A rather uncomfortable discussion with Hagrid, who clearly has no clue who I am, leads to my somehow being entrusted with carrying a letter from him to the famous and rather elusive Harr Potter. After nearly stepping on my shoes and feeling a large tear descend from the giant man’s eye on my head like a heavy raindrop, I watch the gameskeeper lumber back to his cottage and wonder how to find Potter.

Luckily, with the help of a friendly Hufflepuff I locate Potter sitting with two friends in the courtyard. I recognize both of them: one is the Muggleborn who helped me all that time ago after the Katie Bell incident, who has a rather unusual name, and the other is Ginny’s ginger-haired brother. Both of Potter’s friends are clutching what I recognize as leaflets about Apparating successfully: Daphne was holding one when I saw her earlier.

I catch the word Lavender floating on the breeze before me as I muster my courage and march up to the group. Hermione looks up and smiles rather kindly: the look of fear which passed over Ginny’s brother’s face has not quite faded.

“Harry Potter?” I ask, looking down at the Dark Lord’s enemy, the boy who should have been dead long ago. “I’ve been asked to give this to you.”

“Thanks,” Potter says, quite casually as he takes the note from me. He is rather ordinary looking, with messy hair and his glasses: I can’t quite glimpse the famous lightning-shaped scar which lurks beneath his thick fringe. Moving away from the group, I pass two rather tearful looking girls holding one another’s hands, weary and dark-eyed.

Curious, I stretch out my Legilimency with caution and probe at their minds from my place on the steps. Father told me once that the weakest minds are those shocked by grief and fear, and I push a little harder into the smaller girl’s head.

A letter ripped in two, a smiling little boy, a cottage in the country surrounded by sheep, and a sense of overwhelming sadness fills me. I quickly pull away and move back into the castle, confining my Legilimency to the confines of my own carefully guarded head once again, but the girl’s pain follows me. In the depths of my consciousness I think I hear the cry of a wolf.

**



The next evening, I am sitting quietly at the feast with Taurus, neither of us speaking much. Happily, the rest of Slytherin seems to have lost interest in the Taurus affair, most preferring to concern themselves with revising, and for that I am grateful. I have not asked my rather distracted friend about whether he has spoken to or reconciled with his former boyfriend, the brawny blond Hufflepuff who plays Quidditch and whose name, I have found out, is Cadwallader and who is a good, if easily distracted, Chaser. In the months since the revelation, Taurus has not so much has looked in the direction of the Hufflepuff table, to my knowledge.

I watch Taurus quietly chewing a bit of the roast and potatoes, mashing his food into one large pile as he’s always done, and think back to the days at the beginning of the year, when Amaris and I would sneak into the boys’ dormitories to play with Guinevere, when I would laugh at Pyxis and his Muggle drug, when Taurus and Phin were on speaking terms and before I had seen my yearmates attacking young Muggleborns for the sport of it. Before Demetria had been expelled, and before I had found a dead snake in my bed.

I sigh, examining the passive defeat in Taurus’ handsome, drawn face. But those were not golden years, not truly. It was as if for the first fifteen years of my life I had lived with metaphorical wool drawn over my eyes, living in a sheltered, pureblooded haze. The true world was there, waiting for me all along; I just hadn’t been prepared to see my protected little life for what it truly was.

Until now, that is.

“Taurus,” I begin, and he jumps slightly, clearly not expecting this meal to be accompanied by actual dialogue, “do you miss how it used to be, when we were all friends still?”

Taurus takes his time in responding. He glances down the table, to where Pansy Parkinson and Amaris are sitting together, Amaris’ arm draped playfully around Wendell Skin’s neck, a couple other of the boys from the Quidditch team laughing around them.

“I always liked you better than her,” Taurus says quietly. “Amaris, she’s out there for herself. She only hung around with us because we were the popular ones, the cooler option. I always knew she’d find somebody better.”

“What about Phin? And the Notts?”

Taurus shrugs. “Phin has showed his true colours, I guess. Theo doesn’t notice anybody else these days, have you seen it? I swear the bloke doesn’t eat, doesn’t sleep.” I resist the urge to comment on how aware of Theo he is: the timing isn’t quite right, the bond between us too fragile. “As for Pyx, well if Phin showed his true colours, as they say, then Pyxis Nott has no idea what his true colours are.” Taurus shoves a large forkful of mash into his mouth.

I shrug, and glance down the Slytherin table, where Pyxis and Phin are sitting beside a pair of first year girls who are trying to engage them in conversation. The sight makes me giggle a little; despite the small children’s best efforts, Phin is visibly rolling his eyes and Pyxis just looks uncomfortable. If he can’t entertain a pigeon-sized admirer, how is he ever going to get a girlfriend his own age? I wonder.

Looking more closely at one of the girls, whose dark hair is bound up in uneven pigtails, I recognize her from the early Association of Slytherin Students meetings. I squint and look a little more closely at her: it’s the girl who laughed along with me when Malfoy and Theo announced the acronym for the secret society. Her eyes are merry, her pigtails bouncing merrily as she edges a little closer to Pyxis, then blushes a deep red. She looks sweet, though I know that in order to be invited she would need some sort of familial connection to the Death Eaters. I’ve learned to think that such children are rarely merely sweet.

“Do you know who that girl is?” I ask Taurus, gesturing with my goblet before taking a large swig of pumpkin juice. It tastes more bitter than usual. “I mean the little one, talking with Pyxis.”

Taurus leans forward across the table to peer around the several students between us and his dormmates. “It’s Alexandrina Avery, isn’t she? Demetria’s little cousin.”

“Oh, right,” I say, trying to remember more about the girl besides the time when she laughed at the ASS name. “Well, hopefully insanity doesn’t run in the family. She seems sweet.” I smile shyly at Theo, who is passing by the table, finished dinner early and on his own as he so often in these days. He gives me a dry-lipped sort of grimace in return.

“They always do,” Taurus says, rather dryly. The corner of his mouth twitches up. I turn back to my plate and decide this is progress. “Oi, look, Dumbledore’s back. He’s been gone for weeks it seems.”

I look up at the teacher’s table: seated between McGonagall and that loony Divination teacher is, indeed, the silver-bearded Headmaster. Gazing idly up at his pointed wizard’s hat, which he so often sports, and his blackened hand which caused such a stir at the welcoming feast in September, I think back to the meeting I had with him near the beginning of the year, when he asked me about what I had seen when that Gryffindor Bell girl had her episode with the cursed necklace. I am just a face in a crowd of Slytherin students, but as if he senses my thoughts, Dumbledore’s pale, thin face turns in my direction, his eyes gleaming out from across the busy Great Hall from behind the half-moon spectacles.

After the feast, it seems that my feet act of their own accord and cause me to linger in the Entrance Hall after grabbing a bit of pie for dessert in one of the cloth napkins in Easter colors. I stand in the corner of the hall and pretend to be examining one of the paintings, featuring a nymph-like lady who stands by a silvery stream in the moonlight, a quiver of arrows slung about her body clad in animal skins. After a few minutes she grows unnerved by my procrastinating gaze and draws an arrow on me, threatening to pierce my heart if I don’t move away.

“As if you could hit me with an arrow,” I scoff, then glance around self-consciously in hoping that nobody is listening. I move on to pretend to be engrossed in examining one of the grand suits of armour that lines the Entrance Hall. There’s a tiny ‘S’ carved into the helmet, at a discreet spot which would only be visible by someone who was looking very closely, and I wonder idly what it might mean. The well-polished, large and proud suits of armour with their frozen swords and lances are far fancier than the sad suit of armour who guards Terry’s secret room.

“Hey, Tor!” a male voice calls out, and I spin around to see Terry and his two best friends, accompanied by another blond boy whom I don’t know. Michael Corner was the speaker, and he advances, hands on his hips. “Just making friends with the suits of armour, are we?”

I smile at him, and side-step a group of chattering Gryffindors to meet them. “Oh you know, I needed some better conversation than what the dungeons have to offer. There’s only so much we Slytherins can complain about the dim lighting and bad plumbing.”

Michael’s face lights up. “Terry and I snuck into the Slytherin common room once, has he told you?”

“Erm, no,” I say, but I fight a smile, remembering the Halloween prank and how brilliant it was.

“Let’s not get into that here,” Anthony cuts in hastily. “I mean, I am supposed to be a prefect. Tor, this is Cadmus Scamander, one of our dormmates. Cadmus, meet Tor Greengrass. Terry’s been tutoring her in Transfiguration.” He smiles apologetically, as if sorry that he has to inform people that I need help in my classes.

Cadmus is quite eerie looking: his robes are covered in dirt and stains, and his pale blond hair is a curly, frazzled mop. He shoves his round-framed glasses up his thin nose and peers down at me. “Pleasure,” he says suspiciously. “Erm, you’re in my Care of Magical Creatures class, yeah?”

“I’m only in my fourth year,” I explain hastily. “Perhaps you’re thinking of my sister Daphne?”

“Yes, perhaps,” Cadmus replies, blushing a vicious scarlet. He purses his lips.

Michael snickers. “Wow, six years of classes with the Slytherins and you still don’t even know the names of the fitties? Weak, Scamander.”

“Mike, leave it,” Anthony says sternly. He seems to glance sidelong at Terry, who is smiling rather mildly at me. I avoid meeting his gaze for fear that I’ll turn as pink as Cadmus and give away my emotions. “Well, looks like we should be going, lads. Terry, you coming?”

“I’ll stay a moment and talk with Tor,” Terry says. He glances at Cadmus. “About, Tranfiguration things, you know.” His robes are wrinkled as if they’ve not been properly folded after the laundry, and I think to myself that something looks different about him; his hair has been trimmed, perhaps. I think for a moment whether it would be prudent to stay and talk with him, but the fact is that Pyxis, Daphne and a load of other snooping Slytherins are still in the Great Hall eating their dessert, and I don’t want to lose my nerve in talking to the individual I was waiting for.

“I can’t hang about tonight,” I say quickly to Terry, lowering my voice as his friends walk away, Michael swinging an arm around Anthony’s shoulders. “I need to speak with a professor, I’m sorry. It’s important.”

“Oh, that’s alright,” Terry says, looking a little disappointed. A flash of the crooked smile and he’s running to join his friends as they step onto the staircase.

I grit my teeth, wondering at how I haven’t yet lost my nerve to have this conversation. It takes ten more minutes, an examination of two more suits of armour and a relatively amiable wave from Gregory Goyle until my target arrives, striding confidently from the Great Hall and speaking loudly in praise of the pie.

I walk quickly over to him before he can disappear into the maze that is Hogwarts, touching my hand gently to his dark purple robes. He turns swiftly and looks down at me, his blue eyes twinkling, and I get the uncanny impression that he is not surprised to see me at all.

“Ah, Ms. Greengrass,” Dumbledore says kindly. “What were you looking to speak with me about?”

**



“Correct me if I have misunderstood,” Dumbledore says, pressing the tips of his fingers together and leaning his forehead gently upon them. It is not a gesture of defeat, but one of thought. “You desire that I should see to it that your family and close friends are taken under my protection – or, rather, the protection which I am able to offer. In exchange, you are offering your services as, to speak frankly, a spy, to work against Voldemort.” He looks up at me attentively.

I cannot help but flinch a little at the name. “Well, yes,” I say. “You see, I don’t… I can’t believe in those things anymore, the promises of glory and all that erm, nonsense which my friends and family believe in. It’s… I just can’t.” I stumble over the words, feeling them thick and heavy in my mouth. While there is something unnerving about Dumbledore’s blue stare and so I avoid it, flitting my eyes about the office and stopping to rest on the sparkling silver instruments puttering on a small table next to his desk. Something irrational and paranoid inside of me senses that if I meet his eyes, he will be able to see directly into my mind and thoughts.

“You are, in short, offering to put yourself in danger for the sake of your loved ones not being punished by Voldemort’s wrath if your duplicity is discovered.” Something flashes across his face, and I am drawn to it. His hand- the burnt, blackened one with the large ring set upon his finger- seems to clench slightly.

“Yes,” I say hurriedly. “You see, well, there’s someone who I care about, very much, but he’s someone my parents wouldn’t approve of. In fact, that nobody in the pureblood community or that organization would approve of. So I’m afraid that if word gets out about this person, or if I did something careless and chose to be with him, then my family would get in trouble.” Dumbledore looks at me steadily. I found it harder and harder to resist his gaze. After a few moments I decide I couldn’t handle the silence. “So, will you help me? Protect my family in exchange for my services?”

“I knew your father, Orpheus, when he was a student here,” Dumbledore says gently. “And I feel compelled to admit that he possesses both the best and the worst qualities which so linearly define the ideal candidate of a member of Slytherin House: he is clever, ambitious, and knows his own mind, if you understand my meaning. I do not think that a man like Orpheus Yaxley would be easily convinced to abandon a cause and a master under whom he has the promise of power. Nor, I suspect, would your other family members and friends be easily convinced to go into hiding when, in their eyes, there is much to be gained by staking their odds on the likes of Voldemort.”

“But there must be something you can do,” I say wildly, thinking of Pyxis and Theo and Daphne, being recruited for the Death Eaters, of my parents, being punished for my crimes. “I believe in your cause, Dumbledore, in ending this warfare, this prejudice. I cannot take the time to explain how this happened, because I can’t quite pinpoint it myself.” I pause and look down at my lap, and in the silence here the shuffling of feathers of Dumbledore’s phoenix cleaning beneath his wing. “Please. I will do anything.”

“I’m afraid that will not do,” the Headmaster says, and again I catch that hint of anger in his voice. I look up, catching the blue gaze at last, and see it there as well: a sort of quiet, simmering fury which frightens me more than my father in a rage or the thought of Voldemort.

“Erm, Professor, have I done something wrong?” I ask quietly.

Dumbledore’s blue eyes gleam sharply in the after-dinner candlelight. He sighs. “No, Ms. Greengrass, it is not you whom is in the wrong here, though I do acknowledge your perceptiveness in understanding my anger. You see, it is truly despicable that a fifteen year old child should feel the need to stand up for her parents, to protect them, when they should be the ones protecting you.” He shakes his head. “It is a grievous injustice, truly, one which too many of the students at this school have shouldered.”

“Oh,” I say after biting my lip. Strangely, a sort of lump grows in my throat, at the feeling of having an adult look at me with such understanding and compassion, as if I am something less than a tool to be wielded and honed, but a child with an innocence that is worth protecting. “But, please, Professor. Will you consider my offer?”

Dumbledore bows his head slightly again, his silver beard coiling on his desk. I shift uncomfortably in the chair. “To put one so young into a position of such danger would be very cruel indeed,” he says gently. “But these are dangerous, crooked times, and the outcome is in the hands of the young. It is fated to be so, I am afraid. Ms. Greengrass, you have been very brave to approach me, and very desperate, I think. I promise you this: if you can convince your loved ones to abandon the Dark Lord’s cause, if Orpheus decides he has nothing left to fight for, then I would be glad to provide what protection is available within my power.”

“Thank you,” I say brokenly, heart swelling with the combined relief and apprehension this assurance brings. “Thank you, Professor. But… I need to ask. Why do you believe me? How do you know that I don’t just want to spy on you, for my father?” Suddenly, the answer to this question seems like the most important thing Dumbledore will fill my head with tonight.

The professor smiles softly, his blue eyes twinkling behind the spectacles, like he might look at a trusted confidant. “Why, the answer is simple, Astoria,” he says, “for you speak from a place of love. There is no greater power or force than love, and I see that in your words.”







The line: “Harry Potter? I’ve been asked to give this to you" is from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling, I don't own it or anything else. I felt this chapter was quite rambly, but such is life. What did you guys think of Tor's conversation with Dumbledore? Do you think she's right to believe Pyxis? Thanks for reading, as always!


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