Chapter Rating: PG
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Chapter Summary: Draco attends the prefects' meeting where representatives for all the houses announce their plans for promoting house unity at Hogwarts. He ponders his own stance in the war and questions Pansy about the Slytherin plan for house unity. On Sunday, Daphne Greengrass reveals more than she should and Draco analyses a certain list, smirking rather smugly.
Beta: cornmouse, evilsource, goneril, oddnari
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Chapter 4 - House Unity, House Pride
On Friday afternoon, Draco and Pansy left the Slytherin common room together, heading towards the Astronomy Tower. As they walked, Draco filled Pansy in on what had happened with Nott, and Pansy promised to put out some feelers to see if she could find out what Nott's problem was. They were the last to arrive at the meeting. Draco was satisfied -- he'd timed it perfectly. There were four tables arranged in a perfect rectangle in the room, one for each house. He and Pansy took their seats at the Slytherin table as Granger threw them a disapproving look. Draco sneered, and Weasley's ears went red.
Draco looked around the room, drumming out the tune to "Weasley is Our King" on the desk with his fingers. All the prefects looked considerably more frazzled than they had during the first meeting on the train. The Head Boy and Girl had told them what the year's theme would be -- house unity -- and that they were all expected to participate in their house projects, so as to set an example for the younger students. Draco thought it all quite boring, and had spent most of the first meeting watching Hannah Abbott, who seemed to blush furiously whenever Draco looked at her. Draco thought that very amusing and continued to stare at Hannah suggestively for the entire duration of the meeting.
Pansy hadn't been pleased -- it was, in fact, the reason the two of them had had a row on the first day. Draco couldn't help but smirk as he thought back to the fight. Pansy had cornered him in their compartment, red-faced, eyes flashing. She'd demanded to know what he thought he was doing, making eyes at Hannah for everyone to see. Draco didn't see what the big deal was, and Pansy was absolutely livid. She told him that she wasn't going to let him make it look like he was cheating on her -- one word led to another, and Draco had called Pansy a two-bit whore and got slapped.
Draco's eyes searched out Hannah and there she was at the Hufflepuff table across from him, engaged in conversation with Macmillan. However, Draco noticed that Hannah kept sneaking looks over at the Slytherin table and when she saw that he was looking at her, she blushed and didn't look again. Draco smiled to himself. Yes. He could use this, too. He shifted in his chair slightly as though to move away from Pansy and continued gazing at Hannah in a way that he hoped was enticing. He felt a tug on his robe from Pansy's side and turned to her, expecting a stern look. However, Pansy only nodded at Liam Baddock, and mouthed "pay attention!"
Draco turned to look at Liam, who grinned slyly and rose from his seat elegantly, clearing his throat. He was Head Boy, and his appointment had come as a pleasant surprise -- no one had thought Dumbledore would appoint a Slytherin. Draco felt it was a rather wise move on Dumbledore's part -- a Slytherin Head Boy would affirm the so-called commitment to house unity. When Granger spoke to them at the beginning of the year, that had been the first thought that entered Draco's mind. Old codger or not, Dumbledore's cunning had to be admired.
Draco's gaze travelled to the classroom wall, where a large fly was sitting motionlessly. Draco remembered Rita Skeeter again, wondering idly if perhaps the fly was really an Animagus. Things had been so much easier at this time two years ago -- Draco hadn't thought he was gay, the Triwizard Tournament had been coming up, and there had been no war.
Draco himself cared little for the war. He saw the whole thing as a game, really -- it always had been a game to him. When he was a little boy, it was a game because his father told him it was. Lucius Malfoy used to tell his son that he was playing pretend whenever he went to meet with people in the Ministry of Magic. Little Draco used to watch his father be a kind and generous father, then a cold, cruel man who destroyed others' lives without a shred of remorse, then a genuflecting sycophant who seemed content with nothing but servitude. Lucius Malfoy was truly a man with a thousand faces -- a talented actor if there ever was one. Lucius loved power and influence, and he used his best talent to get them.
Draco shifted slightly, looking over at Darla Nesbett, the seventh-year Hufflepuff prefect. She was listening to Liam with her mouth slightly open; it made her look foolish. Her eyes cut to Draco and she frowned suspiciously, closing her mouth. Draco was willing to bet she thought him "no better" than his father, the Death Eater. Draco shrugged mentally -- he wasn't better than his father.
Draco did not agree with the newspaper articles that branded Lucius Malfoy an evil man. He knew that his father was not an evil man, he was simply a man who looked out for himself. There were far too many people in the wizarding world who equated looking out for oneself (and no one else) with evilness. Draco didn't think it was evil. He thought it was sensible. The war was a game his father was playing; maybe Draco would even get to join. However, Draco hadn't yet decided which side would be winning -- unlike his father, who liked risks and challenges, Draco preferred to simply pick the winning side.
Draco's principles, however, were firmly on the side of the Dark Lord -- Lucius Malfoy had not raised his son idly. There were two major issues at stake in the war, and Draco identified strongly with his father on both.
One bone of contention was Dark Magic; Draco didn't think any magic was truly dark unless the intent behind it was dark. He doubted that Potter had survived as long as he had without resorting to the so-called Dark spells. The rumours surrounding the showdown at the Ministry in June suggested that Potter had stood alone against at least four Death Eaters. Draco refused to believe that he'd done it all using defence spells and mundane attacks like Stunners. It simply wasn't possible.
Draco glanced at Granger, who was listening intently to Liam, occasionally scribbling on a piece of parchment in front of her. She had been injured quite severely in the Ministry showdown in June, Draco had heard. He was sorry she hadn't had the good sense to snuff it and rid Hogwarts of her noisome presence.
The other bone of contention in the war was the issue of Mudbloods. That Draco thought to be a rather valid cause -- his father had explained to him how the wizarding world was polluted by Muggle blood, how the magic got spread out and once powerful families had become mere shells of what they once were because there was too much mundane blood in them. Draco feared that if the inter-breeding continued, there would be no wizards in a few generations' time, and that was a rather scary thought. Of course, Draco's homosexuality would prevent him from continuing the pureblood Malfoy-Black lines anyway, but he chose not to think about that.
Beside him, Liam had finished speaking and sat down; everyone started clapping. Draco clapped absentmindedly with a blank look on his face. Liam had told him to be civil at least at the first meeting, and Draco had promised to comply. A promise was a promise, after all. Granger rose from her seat and cleared her throat. Draco rolled his eyes. She wore a smug, self-satisfied look, as though she had anything to be proud of, the Mudblood. Draco made a face. Granger had even bullied Dumbledore into letting her make the beginning-of-year speech about house unity, when by rights it should have been the Head Boy or Girl who made it. Everyone fell silent, and she spoke.
"As far as Gryffindor house goes, we offer the Defence Association. Several of you --" she glanced at the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables "-- are already familiar with it, others -- " she threw Draco and Pansy a pointed look " -- are familiar with some of its members."
Her gaze settled on Draco and he thought he detected a smirk. Why, the impudent, filthy Mudblood, reminding him of how they had all ganged up on Draco, Vincent, and Gregory! Draco snorted, and Liam elbowed him sharply in the ribs. Draco shut his eyes in frustration. He simply couldn't wait until seventh year, when he wouldn't have anyone to defer to. Granger continued talking.
"As you know, the Defence Association is a group of students who get together to practise Defence Against the Dark Arts beyond what is taught in class," she said. "We have an excellent Defence Against the Dark Arts professor this year, but the Gryffindor prefects think that it would be a good idea to continue the DA despite that fact, if only to allow the students to get to know one another better." She took a breath and continued. "It's really quite fun. Harry is a very talented wizard and he's taught us a lot in the last year, he saved both our lives last June," she said with a glance at Weasley, who beamed and nodded several times. Draco managed to suppress a snort. If Potter had taught them so bloody much, why did he have to save their lives at the end of it? Shouldn't they have been able to save their own skins?
"In conclusion, this is the first contribution of Gryffindor house towards house unity this year. Gryffindor will be in charge of organising the meetings and signing up members. Thank you." She curtsied and sat back down, and everyone clapped. Draco didn't, but Liam elbowed him again. Draco put his hands together twice and put his hands back down, wincing. The second nudge had hurt.
Brock Logan, the seventh-year Hufflepuff prefect, nodded to Macmillan. The latter stood and delivered a speech about Hufflepuff organising small gatherings for all four houses on the weekends in various locations around the school. Hufflepuff would provide the snacks, drinks, and music, the only catch being that people would be invited exactly ten minutes beforehand and wouldn't know who else was coming. He waxed philosophic about a goblet they'd bewitched to work similarly to the Triwizard Tournament's Goblet of Fire, only it would spit out twenty random names, not one at a time, and it would always be five names from each house, all in the same year. Macmillan thanked Granger for her help in making said goblet and sat down, shooting a look at Draco and giving him a barely perceptible nod. Good, he had the list, then. The party idea sounded awful.
Trista Morgan, Ravenclaw Head Girl, rose to her feet. She was thinner than a broomstick, and her pinched lips and wire-rimmed spectacles made her look like a professor rather than a student. She had a deep, throaty voice that didn't match her look at all, and Draco found it nearly hypnotic -- it looked like she was just opening her mouth, but it was impossible to associate her bony frame with her voice. Draco was reminded of ventriloquists and their creepy-looking dummies as he listened to her. He fidgeted in the uncomfortable chair and tried to pay attention.
Ravenclaw house was organising homework groups for each year with two members from each house per group. They asked all the professors to create extra credit assignments on which these groups could work together to raise their grades. Students taking their O.W.Ls and N.E.W.Ts that year were guaranteed extra points towards their mark if they participated in all the meetings. Draco thought this was a much better idea than the Hufflepuff parties -- anything to get ahead academically, even if it did mean working together with members of the other houses.
At this point, Draco regretted not having heard what Liam and the others had prepared for the Slytherin contribution -- Draco had declined to participate in the initial brainstorming session. Oh well, Pansy would tell him. The meeting came to an end as everyone agreed to some kind of a timetable of events, Draco didn't pay attention. He was trying to catch Macmillan's eye in case he forgot about the list, but Macmillan was already headed his way. He handed over a neatly folded piece of parchment. "Here is the list of those ingredients I asked you about, Malfoy. Thanks again for helping me," he said and Draco nodded, rather impressed against his will. "I'll have the descriptions for you in a week's time, Macmillan," he said, pocketing the parchment.
Every single person in the room except Macmillan, who'd already gone out the door, goggled at Draco. Draco smiled beatifically and gave a little shrug. "Well, house unity," he drawled, glaring at Granger, who was having considerable trouble masking her shock.
Liam slapped him on the shoulder genially. "Atta boy, Draco."
Draco seethed. He detested it when Liam was so condescending, and he considered an appropriate comeback that would let Liam know that without offending him. Trista Morgan came over and coughed politely, and Liam turned to her with an apologetic sideways glance at Draco. Draco nodded and leaned against the desk.
Draco had latched onto Liam back when they were still small -- Draco did know how to pick the right friends, his father had taught him to be discerning. The other houses were inferior -- instead of focusing on getting ahead, they focused on worthless emotional bonds that could be severed by something as trivial as a missed birthday, or petty jealousy. Slytherin students left Hogwarts with a well-established network of friendships that would help them get ahead. Slytherin friendships were based on mutual respect and the recognition that each one of them was striving to get ahead for themselves, not some nebulous greater good. Slytherin pride was self-pride, put simply.
"Listen, we need to talk," Liam said.
Draco looked up, startled. "Yes, we do," he replied, steering his thoughts back into there and then.
Liam's dark eyes narrowed. "Oh?"
"We have a little problem in sixth year," Draco added helpfully.
"And their name is?"
"Indeed?" A pause.
"He verbally attacked me yesterday evening for no reason whatsoever. When told to mind his manners, he questioned my authority," Draco paused. "You will do something about it?"
"Certainly, Draco," Liam said, brightening. "Actually, this would then tie directly into what I was going to talk to you about."
Draco nodded, and looked at Liam expectantly.
"My younger brother Malcolm is going to try out for Chaser," the Head Boy said, staring intensely at Draco.
"Understood," Draco said. He gave a mental shrug -- as long as the prat didn't want to play Keeper, Draco was all right with it. Draco wanted to pick the new Keeper himself.
This was how things were in Slytherin. There was a pecking order, and no one pretended it didn't exist. A pecking order was necessary to a well-structured society - that was the Slytherin way. There were those at the top and those at the bottom. People moved up to the top by using those who allowed themselves to be used.
Prefects were untouchable -- they had been appointed by an authority that was higher than the students. No Slytherin dared question a Slytherin prefect, and a fifth-year prefect didn't dare question a sixth-year prefect, no more than the self-same sixth-year prefect dared quesion a seventh-year prefect or the Head Boy. This was how Slytherins played the game of life at Hogwarts. Rule-breaking was not tolerated because it ruined the game for everyone. At this point in time, Liam was the head of Slytherin, immediately after Professor Snape. No one dared question Liam any more than they dared question Snape.
Draco grinned privately and said goodbye to Liam. He was about to look around for Pansy when he felt warm hands over his eyes and reached up with his own. "No one else has such small hands, Pansy," he said, gently taking her hands off his face. He didn't like it when people touched his face, and Pansy knew that very well. She must be upset about something, Draco thought, turning towards her. She was glaring at him.
"Since when are you friendly with Macmillan, Draco?" she demanded.
Draco laughed. "Oh that's what it is. You'll be relieved to know it isn't anything overly friendly," he looked at her meaningfully. "Just a favour," he finished, and made a mental note to send the first-year who'd been caught to see Macmillan. A promise was a promise. Pansy was still pouting.
"You're so cagey lately, Draco," she complained. "You never tell me anything any more."
"I have my reasons," Draco responded.
Pansy knew better than to press the issue. They set off down the stairs, walking past the Astronomy classroom where the sixth-year Gryffindors were waiting for Professor Sinistra to come and let them in. Potter, Granger, and Weasley stood a little off to the side and laughing their heads off.
Granger then said "you won't believe what Malfoy just did in the prefects meeting!" She had perfect timing, Draco had to give her that.
"Not going to die of shock, are you, Granger?" Draco called. He simply could not let her get away with her snide comments in the meeting, there was just no way he would let it go.
The three of them stopped laughing and glared at Draco. Weasley was rapidly turning a fearsome shade of red. He took a step towards Draco and pointed a finger at him accusingly. "I don't know what you did to Ernie, Malfoy, but you'll be sorry. You better not be in the same DA group I am in."
"DA?" Draco mocked. "Dangerously Addle-brained? I'm absolutely terrified. I always knew you were a snivelling hypocrite, Weasel, babbling about house unity when other prefects are around, then abandoning all pretence when it's just you, the Mudblood, and Scarhead here." Well, it was true. Weasley was always looking for a chance to confront Draco, whether he was justified or not. He'd nod along with whatever Granger said, then turn around and fling mud at Draco. It was disgusting.
Weasley lunged. "Just. Ignore. Him." Granger ground out, restraining him.
Potter was staring at Draco in exactly the same way he'd stared at him ever since school started -- with careful indifference. It was driving Draco mad. He had been sure Potter had been checking him out in Tuesday's Care of Magical Creatures class. He'd watched Potter in the Great Hall on Wednesday, but the other boy never once looked his way. He had bumped into Potter on purpose outside Potions on Thursday, but the other boy had just shrugged it off and kept walking. It wasn't as though Potter had changed. He'd been exactly the same, in every way, as he was before, back when Draco hadn't even realised he'd noticed what Potter was like. It was just that he'd stopped acknowledging Draco entirely, and Draco didn't like that. Potter owed it to Draco to acknowledge him. Even now, Potter was already turning away -- Professor Sinistra had arrived and she was unlocking the classroom door.
Draco glared at Potter's back, considering a parting shot, but the only things that came to mind weren't safe to utter in front of a teacher. He put an arm around Pansy's shoulders and kissed the top of her head absentmindedly. Pansy lifted her gaze to his.
"You don't think it's possible, do you?" she asked seriously.
"House unity," Pansy answered.
Pansy bit her bottom lip. "To be completely honest, I think it just might work. Though I'm not holding my breath," she added hastily when Draco narrowed his eyes.
"Me neither. They don't get us, Parks," Draco said, using her childhood nickname as he often did when they were having a moment. They were definitely having "a moment" now, Draco reflected.
Pansy and he had always been close. She had put up with his temper tantrums when he was smaller, she had given him the comfort he was used to getting from his mum. Pansy had agreed to pretend to be his girlfriend back in fourth year, when he'd first realised that he just didn't fancy girls in that way. She never pretended it was a sacrifice, either -- she enjoyed the intrigue, and it made her the object of envy among the other Slytherin girls. Pansy enjoyed attention, and being Draco's girlfriend drew attention to her, that was why she did it. Draco loved her for never pretending that it was anything else. They had their differences, because they both knew how to push each other's buttons, but Pansy was the closest to a sister Draco had ever had. He sighed.
"You know, Draco, you scare me sometimes. I look at your eyes and it's as though you're an old man," Pansy said thoughtfully.
"Well, it's not a surprise, considering I am five whole months older than you," Draco deadpanned, and they burst out laughing. "Come on."
"Hey, Pansy," Draco said, remembering the beginning of the meeting. "I sort of tuned Liam out during the meeting. What is it that Slytherin is doing again?"
"Draco! Why, I'm shocked. You listened to all but our Head Boy? Shame on you!" Pansy said, but she was giggling.
"Yes, yes, I shall pay penance later," Draco said as they got down the last stairwell and turned towards the Slytherin dungeon. "What was it, though?"
"Oh, I think it's a brilliant idea. I came up with it, you know," Pansy answered as they approached the entrance to the Slytherin common room.
"Serpens sanguineus," Draco muttered and the door swung open. "Go on," he encouraged, as they walked into the common room and settled on one of the sofas.
"Well, see, I started from the whole idea that nobody understands Slytherins," Pansy said enthusiastically. "Everyone would be quite leery of us organising something like the Hufflepuffs, though the idea of Slytherin common room parties was raised during the brainstorm."
Draco scoffed. "Parties in the Slytherin common room? I think not. Snape would have kittens. I'm surprised he lets us participate in any of this house unity business in the first place."
Pansy snickered. "Well, he did have veto power over every idea, yet he agreed to mine. May I finish?"
"All right, all right," Draco said, leaning over to the table and grabbing the bowl of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans
"So every Slytherin is going to write a short essay describing themselves, no longer than one foot of parchment. The essays of the Slytherin students in each year will be given to the members of other houses also in their year. What they then have to do is work together to see if they can guess who wrote each essay," Pansy said, looking smug.
"That's ridiculous. Don't you think that the minute they read 'I have pale skin, blond hair and grey eyes,' they'll immediately know it's my essay? Do you see any other pale blonds in sixth year?" Draco gave her an incredulous look, popping a Bean into his mouth and spitting it out as soon as he bit down. He hated vanilla.
Pansy snorted. "You have to describe yourself from the inside, Draco. Who you are as a person, not what you look like. I told you, I was going on the assumption that no one understands Slytherins. It's a chance to let people see that they have us all wrong."
"So basically, we get to talk about ourselves, and they get to do the work? Why, I agree, it's delightful," Draco said, winking at Pansy. "Won't they be able to tell who it is by the handwriting, though?" Draco thought that he wouldn't put it past the Gryffindors in particular to sneak a peek at Slytherins' notes in class.
"Professor Flitwick promised to bewitch the parchments to alter the writing so it looks like the same person wrote all of them," Pansy replied, and winked back. "That was the whole idea: the less work, the better. Liam had waxed poetic about the Slytherin stereotype, it's too bad you weren't listening to him. I swear, even Granger looked humbled."
"I think I've heard everything there is to hear on what Liam thinks about the Slytherin stereotypes, Pansy," Draco snorted.
Liam was very good at smoke and mirrors, and Draco doubted anyone really knew what went on in his mind. Outwardly, he seemed like the model student -- getting good grades, fulfilling his prefect duties unfailingly, condescending but not hostile towards the other houses. He did say he disliked the fact that everyone branded Slytherins as nasty, evil gits who would stop at nothing to seize power, but Draco wasn't sure if Liam wasn't merely saying what he was expected to say.
Draco shook his head. "Well, to whom do we give our essays?"
"There'll be a collection bin in the common room, and people can just keep dropping their essays in. We'll take them out before the first Hogsmeade weekend, then make those who haven't written theirs do them before that Sunday."
"And what if people just make stuff up?" Draco asked, feeling tempted to do it just to mess with everyone.
"Oh, that's not advisable. See, you'll have to own up to writing what you did publicly," Pansy said with a knowing smile. "And Liam said he's going to identify liars just as publicly."
"That doesn't sound so good." Draco frowned at her. Liam had always made a point about knowing everything about everyone.
"Well, it's the whole point. After the essays are in, the other houses will have until Halloween to make their guesses. After the Halloween Feast, there will be readings of five essays every evening after dinner."
"Wait, someone's going to read them out? Why?" Draco was liking this less and less.
"Well, it's the whole point. It's a competition, you see -- the house that gets the most Slytherins right gets 250 points awarded. After each essay is read, speakers from the other three houses will give their guesses on who it is. Then the writer gets up and the truth is revealed," Pansy explained.
"And what do we get out of it?" Draco demanded.
"For each person who writes truthfully and no house is able to guess their identity, Slytherin gets 50 house points," Pansy said, beaming.
"This is going to net Slytherin a lot of house points, then," Draco concluded with satisfaction.
Just then, several third-year students walked into the common room, yammering excitedly. Draco glared at them and rose, giving Pansy a quick kiss. He wanted to think, and he needed peace and quiet. He withdrew to his dormitory, wondering absentmindedly where Blaise was.
Over the weekend, Draco spent all his time in the Slytherin common room, determined to get as much of his homework done as possible -- he'd be losing the entire afternoon on Wednesday to Quidditch tryouts, and it wouldn't do to fall behind on coursework so early in the year. On Sunday afternoon, just before dinner, Draco finished his Potions essay and stretched contentedly. Herbert, Millicent's pet cat, wandered over to where Draco was sitting and looked up at him, purring. Draco reached out an arm and scratched the animal behind the ears. He had seen Nott several times since the Thursday incident, but the other boy seemed determined to avoid him. Good. Liam must have reminded him of the importance of respecting his betters.
Draco tickled under Herbert's chin for the last time and got up, limping -- he'd been sitting with his left leg bent under him and it had fallen asleep. He hadn't seen Blaise all day and Draco wondered what the other boy was up to. Queenie walked in from the girls' dormitories and froze in the doorway when she saw Draco. He looked over at her, raising an eyebrow.
"What is it, Queenie?" Draco asked.
"You're not going to tell everyone, are you, Draco?" she asked in a controlled voice, brushing her brown hair out of her face.
"There's nothing to tell," Draco said, winking.
Queenie gave a small smile and then narrowed her dark eyes. "What did you make him do?"
"Just a small favour," Draco replied, grinning now. "Tell me, Queenie..."
"You better not start asking questions about my personal life, because I'll hex you into Hogsmeade," she said in a low voice.
Draco's expression hardened. "I am not tactless, Greengrass. You should stop hanging around with that uncultured swine, he's a bad influence on you."
"Don't have a go at Theodore, Draco! He's hurting, is what he is," Queenie said, lowering her gaze demurely.
"All the more reason to have a go, then," Draco replied, walking over to her and wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
Draco and Queenie had been friends when they were small, but they drifted apart since Draco and Pansy got close. Queenie disliked Pansy, and the feeling was mutual. Pansy was more useful to Draco than Queenie -- she had access to all sorts of information, and Queenie didn't. Queenie understood that Draco's loyalty was to himself first, he never pretended otherwise. Still, they talked sometimes when it suited them.
"A lot of us are hurting these days, but he's the only one who's showing it," he finished.
"But his dad--"
Draco interrupted, suddenly understanding. "Yeah, Vincent's dad, too. My dad, until recently. He's not the only one." He led her over to the sofa and they sat down. Draco propped his elbows atop his thighs and linked his fingers together, looking at her sideways.
"Draco, he thinks you had something to do with the Azkaban breakout," she said seriously.
"What? Don't tell me Nott listens to those stupid rumours!"
"So it's not true then?" Queenie's eyes were round with genuine surprise.
"What do you think I am, some kind of boy wonder? Hogwarts student by day, vigilante Death Eater by night?" Draco shook his head in amusement. "What does Nott think I can do for him, anyway?"
"Draco, his dad is the only one Theodore has. His mum died a long time ago, and he's been by himself all summer. He's been out of sorts."
"Well he can cry me a river, Queenie," Draco snapped. He could understand that Nott was in pain, but that didn't give him the right to get smart with Draco. "Anyhow, I don't want to talk about Nott any more. I'm curious about you."
"If this is about Ernie, Draco, I--"
"It's not about Macmillan, would you listen?" Draco said, then searched his mind for a better expression than 'curious'. "I'm worried, Queenie," he ventured. Her features softened and she looked up at him with a mixture of hope and suspicion. Aha. Draco picked the rest of this words very carefully -- he'd found the soft spot, now he just had to press it gently. "You're asking strange questions in classes, I'm afraid you're going to get yourself into trouble," he said, carefully arranging his features to look concerned.
"Oh, that," she said with a sigh. "Well, see, I had this idea -- I turn seventeen in November. So I was hoping that I would be allowed to Apparate, take special courses or something."
Draco nodded and gave her a small smile, allowing it to reach his eyes just a little. That ought to be encouragement enough, if he knew anything about Queenie. However, she suddenly looked as though she was about to cry, muttered something about having to go to the library, and left the room in a hurry. Draco collapsed onto the back of the sofa, frustrated. Was nothing going to go his way this year? He thought back to his conversation with Queenie and remembered the list Macmillan had made. He'd forgotten all about it, and it was still in the pocket of his robe. He fished for it and smoothed it out on the sofa cushion beside him.
Auror (Ministry position, so requires Care of Magical Creatures.)
Healer (Also requires Herbology)
Hit Wizard (Ministry position, so requires Care of Magical Creatures.)
Obliviator (Ministry position, so requires Care of Magical Creatures. Also needs Muggle Studies.)
Unspeakable (Ministry position, so requires Care of Magical Creatures. Also needs Ancient Runes or Arithmancy.)
Draco chuckled slightly at Macmillan's efficiency. He was a model Hufflepuff -- he'd even alphabetised the list. He recalled Potter's timetable from memory and walked back over to his chair, picking up his quill. Dipping it into the inkpot, he crossed off the last two -- Potter didn't have Muggle Studies, Ancient Runes, or Arithmancy. He looked at the remaining three occupations, frowning. Well, a Healer was certainly out of the question. Potter had an obsession with saving the world with a sword rather than healing its ills. Draco crossed Healer off the list.
So it really came down to Auror and Hit Wizard. Draco frowned, looking from one line to the other. Well, Hit Wizards didn't deal with Dark wizards like Draco's dad. They simply were sent after petty criminals. Aurors were the ones who went after Death Eaters, and Potter was just a poster child for that kind of work. Draco nodded, convinced. After all, Potter was an orphan because of the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters. He'd want to eradicate them all, Gryffindor that he was.
Draco wondered idly what Potter's childhood must have been like, without any parents. He hadn't really wondered about it before, but now that Draco had spent a summer without his father, who was now missing, he began to puzzle over the thought. He shooed it away impatiently -- what did he care about Potter and his wretched childhood? Potter was responsible for Draco's father landing in Azkaban, and that was a line he never should have crossed. Potter would pay. It didn't matter that Lucius Malfoy had escaped. Draco crossed Hit Wizard off, folded the list and stuck it back in his pocket. It was time for dinner.
Draco Malfoy's Diary, September 7
I must admit I feel strangely excited about the Slytherin house unity project. I don't know yet what I'll write about specifically, but it's certainly not going to be the war. There's no point -- I'm quite aware my views are unpopular, right though they may be. I wonder how long it's going to take Potter's class to figure out who has written my essay. I bet they won't be able to.
So apparently, Nott expects me to save his father for him because my father escaped from Azkaban and he believed the rumour that I had something to do with that. I'm afraid he may have gone mental, which is a shame, really. He's always struck me as an intelligent chap. Is Nott's father even in Azkaban? Tuesday's article only mentioned Father.
Queenie's behaviour is strange. It's as though she's hiding some secret that's really upsetting her. What could it be? What has Apparition got to do with it?
Potter is not playing into my hands, unfortunately. I will have to rein myself in a little more, I suppose, and not insult Weasley or Granger in front of him; it could mean problems in my plan. A pity, really, because Weasley is such easy prey. Why does Potter feign indifference? More importantly, why does it seem to bother me that he might just be indifferent? Well, no, it doesn't bother me at all. Really. No matter, time for bed.
1. According to this link, Nott is in Azkaban at the end of OotP, though the Lexicon does not say anything about him being in Azkaban, only that he fought in the Department of Mysteries. So for my purposes, I'm assuming he was one of the captured Death Eaters, even though there isn't any direct canon confirmation that he is, in fact, in prison. Crabbe is also in prison and Goyle is at large.