Chapter Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Chapter Summary: The Quidditch game against Gryffindor does not turn out according to Draco's expectations: in fact, it ends in international scandal. Draco vows revenge, except he doesn't know whom to blame. The day after a mildly enjoyable Hufflepuff party, Draco realises something that replaces his smirk with a rather firm scowl. Features sweaty handshakes, Colin Creevey, a temper tantrum, essay readings, an old acquaintance, Galleon Tales, and broken furniture.
Beta: cornmouse, evilsource, goneril, oddnari
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Chapter 9 - Bitter Metamorphosis
"It is a bad plan that admits of no modification."
— Publilius Syrus
First Century BC
— Publilius Syrus
First Century BC
On the morning of the first Quidditch match of the season, Draco was etching patterns in his breakfast porridge, ignoring the din of the Great Hall around him. Draco leant back to admire a six-pronged star he had drawn -- the porridge was slightly runny and the furrows he'd left with his spoon were slowly filling in from all sides. He glanced over at Millicent, who was heaping cold cuts onto a piece of toast. Pansy was whispering something to a smiling Tracey Davis. She noticed Draco looking over and gave him a beatific smile.
"All ready for the game, Draco?" she asked. Tracey's smile became even wider as she glanced over at Blaise, who was sitting beside Draco and snoring into his coffee.
"You bet," Draco answered, pushing his plate away.
He looked up at the enchanted ceiling: the sky outside was a light grey. At least there wouldn't be a problem with the sun in his eyes. He licked his lips and looked across at the Gryffindor table, where Weasley was gesticulating wildly, fork in hand. Beside him, Potter wore the slightly dazed look of one just awakened. He looked up at Draco, those awful eyebrows knitting together in a frown. Draco made a slashing gesture across his neck with his hand, and Potter looked away.
Draco smirked and looked over at Gregory. "Hurry it up. We need to get to the changing rooms soon."
Gregory attempted to take a hearty swig of his pumpkin juice and nod at the same time, causing the juice to spill down his front. Millicent sniggered, and so did Vincent. Gregory glared at them, dabbing at his robes with a napkin. Draco turned to Pansy again.
"You're coming to watch the game, aren't you, pet?"
"Am I ever," said Pansy with a mischievous glint in her eyes. Tracey giggled. Draco raised an eyebrow, but the girls ignored him.
Twenty minutes later, the Slytherin team trooped to the changing rooms near the Quidditch pitch. They changed into their green robes and sat in a huddle in the centre of the room. Draco ran through their strategy once more, though everyone wore glazed looks -- they'd been over the finer points of Draco's strategy at least fifteen times already. They filed out onto the yellowing grass as their names were called -- that meddlesome Gryffindor Creevey was commentating from the box beside McGonagall.
"Malfoy... Bulstrode... Zabini... Baddock... Bartlett... Crabbe... Goyle."
His Banshee-like voice carried far across the stadium, and the Slytherins were cheering from their usual seats in the stands. Pansy was at the front with Tracey Davis, waving a large green banner that bore the words "Slytherin for the Cup" in fancy lettering. Draco strode to where the Gryffindor team was standing in a half-circle, leaning on their brooms. Madam Hooch stood nearby, broomstick hovering in mid-air beside her, whistle in hand.
Draco stopped in front of Weasley, who looked sullen and slightly more freckled than usual.
"Captains, shake hands," Madam Hooch said in a tone that brooked no objections.
Weasley stuck his right arm out and Draco did likewise. Weasley's hand was clammy and it made Draco want to snatch his hand away and wipe it on his robe, but he resisted. It was the first time he was playing as Slytherin captain and he would do everything as though his father was watching. He owed his father that much. He released Weasley's hand and took a step backwards, pretending to adjust the front of his robe while wiping off the moisture surreptitously. He wrinkled his nose and was about to make a disparaging remark about Weasley's nervousness, but the whistle sounded and they were off.
Draco soared towards the Slytherin end of the pitch, stomach clenching slightly as he listened to Creevey's commentary. He started looking around for the Snitch while trying to keep an eye on the game below him.
"Baddock passes to Bulstrode -- these two are really a tag team, aren't they -- Bulstrode dodges Kirke's Bludger -- oh no! Bulstrode scores -- what's that?"
Instead of the roaring he'd expected, Draco heard singing coming from the Slytherins and strained to listen.
The Gryffindors are merry,
The Gryffindors are gay,
But Potter is a fairy,
He's better at ballet.
The Slytherins are faster,
The Slytherins are tough,
Our captain is a master,
We really know our stuff.
So wave that green and silver,
And let the game begin.
Our Seeker will deliver,
And Slytherin will win!
Draco threw his head back and laughed. Pansy had to be the one behind this, of course; it explained her odd behaviour at breakfast. He wondered if she knew about Potter from another source -- the wording was just perfect. She couldn't have picked a better way to unsettle him today. He glanced over to the other side of the stadium, where Potter hovered on his own broomstick. He was glaring. Draco turned away and waved to Pansy, who was looking like the cat that got the cream.
"Shouldn't that be against the rules, Professor?" Creevey was saying to McGonagall, obviously not realising that everyone could hear him. "Right, okay, and it's Gryffindor in possession, Ginny Weasley of Gryffindor dodges a Bludger--"
The Bludger came pelting from his right and Draco veered to the side. Vincent was waiting for the Bludger -- he smacked it randomly with his bat and it slammed into Ginny Weasley, who had to fight to stay on her broomstick. She dropped the Quaffle and Andrew Bartlett intercepted it, then passed to Malcolm Baddock.
Still chuckling, Draco went back to looking around for the Snitch, occasionally glancing down at the game and over at Potter, whose shoulders were slumped slightly further than usual as he gripped his broom. Slytherin were leading seventy to zero. Millicent and Malcolm were an excellent team -- Draco had let them practise together and he congratulated himself now, seeing as they were virtually unstoppable.
He watched Malcolm pass the Quaffle to Millicent, who barrelled right through Ginny Weasley and Katie Bell's oustretched arms. She threw the ball at the Gryffindor goalposts, but Weasley caught it. He nearly fell off his broom in the process, but still it wasn't a goal. Slytherin were leading ninety to forty, but the Gryffindor cheering sounded much louder because Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw were supporting Gryffindor as usual.
He turned his head to the side and saw Blaise save a goal from a very difficult position and couldn't help but grin. He turned back around and then he saw it -- the Snitch, hovering several feet away from Potter. Potter obviously hadn't spotted it and Draco's mind worked feverishly. If he went straight for the Snitch and Potter saw him, he'd be sure to get there first. He needed to distract Potter somehow, but how? If he went in the opposite direction, Potter might rise to the bait or he might not, and he could still see the Snitch...
"And it's Gryffindor in possession once again -- Katie Bell heading for goal -- watch it, Katie, that's a Bludger! OUCH! How's that not a foul?"
Draco dove. The wind rushed in his ears as he aimed to arrive directly below the Snitch's current position. He saw a scarlet blur out of the corner of his eye, and turning, saw Potter flying in the direction of the spot where Draco had been moments ago. What was Potter doing? Was he going to try and knock him off his broom? Potter passed him, however, and Draco wasted no time. He pulled his broomstick up and went for the Snitch, which was still zipping around where he'd last spotted it. This was so much easier with no Potter on his tail.
Draco reached out and he had it -- he had got the Snitch! He turned around to face the Slytherins and realised everyone was oddly quiet. He whipped around to look at Potter and saw that Potter -- Potter was grinning triumphantly with his right hand raised in the air. They looked over at each other and their faces fell simultaneously. Draco gripped the struggling golden ball more firmly and swallowed -- his throat had gone dry. What was going on?
Creevey's irritating, shrill voice pierced the air. "It looks like both Seekers caught the Snitch! But how is this possible? There can be only one!"
Madam Hooch's whistle came from below and a moment later, Draco dismounted beside her. He was furious. Potter landed just behind him and walked over, looking uncomfortable. She ordered them both to show what they had in their hands. They held out their palms and there were two identical-looking Snitches: one kept down by callused fingers with the nails chewed down to the quick, the other by slender white fingers with short, neatly trimmed nails.
Madam Hooch had a positively apoplectic appearance. "Never in the history of Quidditch... a second Snitch... shouldn't be possible..."
The rest of the Gryffindor and Slytherin players were landing all around them, asking questions and shouting at one another. McGonagall was hurrying towards them, holding on to her pointed hat.
"What's going on?" she demanded before even reaching the group. Draco saw Snape walking up behind her unhurriedly. Colin Creevey was rushing to catch up with them.
"It looks like someone's let loose a second Snitch, Professor," Madam Hooch said in a clipped tone.
"What?" several voices cried in unison.
McGonagall looked outraged. She turned to Snape, her mouth opening and closing.
Snape was glowering at Potter. "If I find out who did this..." he said in a low voice. Potter glared at him with a challenging look in his eyes.
"It had to be a Slytherin!" Weasley exclaimed, jabbing his finger in Draco's direction. "No one else is that underhanded..."
"Right, we'd sabotage our own team, that's real smart, Weasel," Millicent growled, taking a step towards him. Madam Hooch stepped in between them, and the Slytherin Chaser backed down, still glaring.
Madam Hooch looked from McGonagall to Snape with a somewhat helpless expression, then exhaled loudly. "I'm afraid I have no choice but to call the game on scored points," she said. "Slytherin wins!"
There were several groans from the Gryffindors, and then more noises of disappointment as Creevey announced the result to the rest of the school.
Draco threw down his broomstick and stalked off towards the castle.
Draco sat on his bed with the hangings pulled tightly shut around him, his chin resting on his knees, arms wrapped tightly around his legs. He kept reliving the glorious split second in which he'd thought he'd finally bested Potter, finally beaten him to the Snitch. He didn't even care that Slytherin had beaten Gryffindor -- it didn't matter, not to him. Not if he hadn't been the one -- the only one -- to catch the Snitch.
He lay down on his back, breathing loudly through his nose. He wanted to tear something apart, break something -- anything. His fist closed around the bedspread and he pulled, putting all his strength into it. The bedcovering just bunched up around his hand, coming off the bed as Draco tugged on it. He turned over onto his stomach and punched the pillow repeatedly, staring at the dark hangings in front of him, not really seeing them. It was so unfair.
The one time Draco got to the Snitch, the one time he was finally able to beat Potter to it, he had been thwarted by a third party. Whoever had released the second Snitch would pay. Draco didn't know how he would find out who had done it, but find out he would. Maybe not even this year, maybe not even the next, but he would find out, and when he did, whoever did it would pay dearly for taking this away from Draco. His fingers dug into the pillow under his head, squeezing so tightly it hurt.
The bed hangings flew open and Draco closed his eyes involuntarily against the light that came streaming in. He felt a hand on his back and he opened one eye to glare at the intruder. Pansy was looking down at him with concern.
"Go away," Draco muttered into the pillow.
"Draco, why are you being like this? We won, didn't we?"
"It doesn't matter," he mumbled, turning his head so he wouldn't have to look at her. "How'd you get in here, anyway?"
"Blaise let me in." Draco snorted. Typical. Sodding coward sent Pansy to fetch him, instead of facing Draco himself.
"Oh, come on. D'you realise this is the first time in five years that Slytherin won against Gryffindor? And you're captain!"
"Fat load of good that does. We only won on points, Pansy. The Snitch--" he stopped speaking and turned to look at her.
Pansy's eyes darkened. "If I find out who did that..."
"You and me both," Draco echoed, turning around fully and propping himself up on his elbows.
"Do you have any ideas who might have done it?"
Draco chewed his bottom lip. "Well, Slytherin is definitely out. The Gryffindors would have been too smug -- they have Perfect Potter, after all."
"The Hufflepuffs are too stupid to think of something like that," Pansy said with a thoughtful expression.
Draco nodded and frowned. "That leaves Ravenclaws, but why would they do it? They were supporting Gryffindor, and Potter's never failed to win a match yet," he said bitterly.
Pansy made no reply, her eyebrows knitting together as she looked down at him.
"What?" Draco asked.
"I wish you would give the Potter thing a rest, Draco," she said quietly.
"Oh, not you, too," Draco groaned, closing his eyes. He wasn't feeling angry anymore, just defeated.
"Well, you did get the Snitch, even if it was under these circumstances. Don't make it so personal. Quidditch is supposed to be fun," Pansy said with a defiant look.
"What do you know about it? You didn't get beaten by Potter for five years running."
"Whatever, you know what I mean." Draco sat up a little straighter.
"All I'm saying is that your team is out there in the common room, and they want you to join them. They're celebrating, because we won, fair and square."
Draco sighed and reached up to rub the bridge of his nose. "I don't feel like we've won, Pansy. I don't feel like there's anything to celebrate, do you understand?"
"You are still the captain, and it was under your direction that Slytherin won. We didn't win under Flint or Montague, in case you've forgotten."
Well, that much was true. Why was he letting whoever had sabotaged the match take even that away from him? Draco quirked a grin at Pansy and she beamed at him.
"Nice song this morning, by the way," he said, running a hand through his hair, trying to force thoughts of the game out of his mind for the moment.
"Ooh, I'm glad you liked it. I wrote it!"
Draco raised both eyebrows. "Potter's a fairy? Do you know something I don't?"
Pansy giggled. "I got the idea from him and Vincent -- y'know, when they danced at the party?"
"What, did Potter look -- ah -- comfortable with Vincent?" Draco asked with a smirk.
Pansy began to giggle even harder. "It would be pretty funny if he were-- you know," she breathed, collapsing onto the bed beside him.
Draco hummed noncommittally and got up from the bed. There was no need for Pansy to know just how on-target her rhyme had been. Pansy stood up as well, smoothing out her robe.
"Coming, then?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Well, you're not going to leave me alone until I do, are you?"
"Nope," she sang, and grabbed his hand. "Come on, Vincent and Gregory managed to get Butterbeer from somewhere."
Draco allowed her to drag him out of the dormitory, smiling despite himself. He would smile for them and be merry, but he wouldn't forget what had happened.
Dinner was over, but no one was leaving -- it was time for another batch of Slytherin essays to be read out. The Great Hall was abuzz with conversation: everyone was talking about what had happened at the Quidditch game. At the Head Table, Dumbledore rose to his feet and called everyone to silence. Liam Baddock approached him, carrying a low table. He set it down on the floor and motioned to Trista Morgan, who carried a thin stack of parchments. She put them down on the table and lifted the topmost one, tapping it once with her wand.
"Oh, please let it be Liam who reads tonight," Pansy whispered to Tracey Davis. "I can't stand that girl's voice, it gives me the creeps."
Draco privately agreed. He looked up at Liam, wondering if his essay would be read today. He wanted to see if anyone would get it right. So far, nearly all the Slytherin essays had been guessed -- most of the ones that weren't had been written by first-years.
Liam's voice boomed all around the Great Hall -- good, he was reading. Pansy leant back against Draco and he circled her waist loosely with his right arm. The essay was like so many others -- a listing of favourite lessons with reasons for liking them, a favourite colour, and a childhood experience involving a bewitched swing and neglectful parents. As Liam finished reading, Trista tapped the parchment and flicked her wand at the air.
A blazing line shot through the air, red sparks coalescing into the words: Gryffindor -- Pansy Parkinson
Pansy snorted. "As if. My favourite colour is pink, everyone knows that. I'd never be caught dead in mauve." Tracey giggled and Draco smiled. He looked over at the Gryffindor table, and was startled to see Potter staring straight at him. As a matter of fact, all of the sixth-year Gryffindors were staring. Draco narrowed his eyes, then realised they were looking at Pansy, not at him.
Trista flicked her wand again, and blue sparks spelled Ravenclaw -- Tracey Davis.
Tracey flipped her hair over her shoulder. "They think I like Herbology? I wonder if I should remind Brocklehurst of that time I was almost bit by a Venomous Tentacula." Draco couldn't believe it. Slytherin and Ravenclaw always had Herbology together, how could anyone from Ravenclaw think that Tracey liked those lessons? He shook his head and looked at Trista, who was waving her wand for the third time.
Yellow sparks spelled Hufflepuff -- Daphne Greengrass. Liam handed the essay he'd just read to Trista and she tapped it with her wand. A green mist rose from its surface, and the name Daphne Greengrass appeared in the middle. The Hufflepuffs cheered. Draco glared at Queenie. He'd need to have a word with her about just how close she was getting to that MacMillan.
After dinner, Draco was held up talking to Snape about the game and what it meant for Slytherin's chances for the Quidditch Cup that year, so he couldn't intercept Queenie. When he got back to the dungeon, he couldn't find her and set off to look for her in the library. He wasn't watching where he was going and ran smack into someone. Opening his mouth to apologise, he realised it was Potter.
"Watch where you're going," he said with a scowl. Memories of the Quidditch game came rushing back to him, and that was the last thing he wanted to think about.
"Looking for Vincent, Potter? Don't worry, he'll save a dance for you. Now get out of my way," Draco drawled.
"I just wanted to say, good game today," Potter said with a frown. "I--"
"Oh, spare me, Potter, I'm not going to join your pity party for one. You know I got there first."
"Oh, forget it, Malfoy," Potter spat and stalked off towards the dungeon.
"Where do you think you're going?" Draco shouted after him, but Potter ignored him and hurried down the stairs. Draco considered going after him, but he didn't have a leg to stand on -- other students were allowed in the dungeons and it wasn't after hours yet. He set off towards the marble staircase to make his way up to the library but stopped as he heard raised voices from across the Entrance Hall.
"The Headmaster banned you from this school almost two years ago, and that ban is still in effect. I'm afraid I cannot let you go beyond this point, Ms. Skeeter," McGonagall was saying in an even tone. Skeeter? Rita Skeeter? Draco turned around to look. Sure enough, there she was -- blond curls framing her heavy-jawed, smirking face, jewels glinting in the frame of her spectacles.
"The wizarding world has a right to have a first-hand account of the biggest Quidditch scandal of the past fifty years!" she was saying forcefully, attempting to push past McGonagall.
Draco smirked and folded his hands across his chest, leaning back against the railing. This should be interesting. He felt something tug on his robe and looked down. It was a house-elf.
"Mr. Draco Malfoy, sir, your presence is requested in Dungeon Five in ten minutes, please!" it squeaked, standing at attention.
Draco gave it an irritated nod and the creature Disapparated with a pop. He looked up at the doors again, but the door was shut and McGonagall was walking away. Sodding Hufflepuffs and their parties. He didn't have time to find Queenie and talk to her now, so he decided he might as well go to Dungeon Five and wait for the party to start. He hoped they wouldn't play any potentially embarrassing games.
As he made his way downstairs into the Dungeon, he saw Potter coming his way.
"Will you get out of my sight?" he snapped. Was everyone in league to remind Draco of the spectacular fiasco that was the Quidditch game?
"You're the one who followed me down here, Malfoy," Potter said coolly, stopping a few feet away.
"I didn't follow you, Potter. You should be so lucky," Draco said with a wink.
Even in the scant torchlight, it was obvious that Potter blushed. Draco felt cruel satisfaction and he smirked, walking past the statue that was Harry Potter.
"By the way, Rita Skeeter wants an interview," he threw over his shoulder as he passed.
His mood was improved considerably by the time he reached Dungeon Five -- making Potter squirm was always an enjoyable exercise, especially when Potter had the good sense to blush so prettily... No, he did not think that just now. Draco attempted to disbelieve it, but failed. He walked into the low-ceilinged room and made his way towards Liam. The Head Boy was leaning on a stack of chairs and chatting with Trista.
"Draco, you're early," Liam said with a genial smile.
"I was nearby," Draco replied, matching the smile and shrugging.
He nodded to Trista, then turned to look around the room. There was a wizard wireless on a low cabinet near the wall opposite, and the far end of the dungeon was occupied by a long, unstable-looking table laden with snacks and drinks. Brock Logan and Darla Nesbett, the seventh-year Hufflepuff prefects, were bustling around the room, lighting torches with their wands. The light they gave off was faintly bluish, reminding Draco of the Slytherin common room with its cool, green lighting.
People began arriving -- some by themselves, others in small groups. A bored-looking Millicent was followed by Gregory and Tracey Davis: they were so engrossed in conversation that they didn't see Draco until he walked over to them and coughed loudly. Tracey was wearing a bright green Alice band that glittered under the torches, and Millicent was trying to convince her to take it off because she looked like an overgrown beetle. Tracey was giggling and Gregory was looking at Millicent as though she was prophesying eternal rapture.
Hannah Abbott walked in with Megan Jones, a short Hufflepuff girl with a birdlike face. Upon seeing Draco, Hannah coloured visibly and hurried to stand beside Darla Nesbett, looking the other way. Draco wrinkled his nose. She couldn't be more obvious if she tried. He'd toyed with the idea of leading her on at the beginning of the year, but she was a Mudblood and that just wasn't on.
"Looks like Abbott finally lost the pigtails, you think she's going to start acting her age soon?" he remarked to Gregory, who guffawed.
The Gryffindor girls Rivers and Moon came in. They tended to keep to themselves and were rarely seen with the rest of their housemates outside lessons. Draco had often wondered what their story was, but it just seemed to be that they preferred each other's company to everyone else's. Longbottom, Thomas, and Parvati Patil followed them in.
"Would you look at the great lump? He looks so lost, he probably begged Thomas and Patil to lead him here," Draco said in an undertone, and Tracey burst into giggles.
The Ravenclaw students arrived together, led by the tall and haughty Morag MacDougal. Su Li, a tiny boy with long hair and quick, darting eyes, was arguing with Kevin Entwhistle. Those two were constantly debating one subject or another: they'd been thrown out of Arithmancy three times already for bickering over their approaches to problem-solving.
"I wonder if they ever shut up," Draco snapped, looking over at the pair of them with distaste. "Honestly, you'd think we were only here to talk about homework." Millicent mumbled something indicating grudging approval.
Nott was one of the last to arrive; he followed just behind three Hufflepuff boys, who kept casting suspicious looks at him. He didn't join the other Slytherins -- instead, he leant against a wall near the cabinet that held the wizard wireless. He surveyed the group with an inscrutable expression.
Draco was going to wave him over to join them, but Brock Logan walked into the middle of the room and called for everyone's attention. He had a pleasant, deep voice that went well with his warm brown eyes and Draco wondered idly if he swung the other way. He blanched, shocked by having such thoughts about a Hufflepuff and wrote it off to Blaise-contamination.
"Welcome to the Hufflepuff Hullabaloo!" Logan said, smiling broadly.
There was much tittering, most of it coming from the Slytherins. Draco was fighting to keep a straight face because Liam was giving him a pointed stare. Trust the Hufflepuffs to come up with something as ridiculous as that.
Logan's grin got even wider as he continued. "Darla and I are here to welcome you, but Liam and Trista will be leading the evening's activities. There are refreshments over there" -- he pointed at the long table -- "and we hope you enjoy yourselves!" He flicked his wand at the wireless and Celestina Warbeck's voice began belting out Warm Butterbeer and Cold Kisses.
Draco suppressed a snort and walked over to Liam. "You could have warned me," he said in a low voice. "What am I supposed to do when they say something like that?"
Liam grinned at him. "They think it's a hoot. Seems to work every time, too."
Draco raised an eyebrow. "They want people to laugh at them?"
"So what are we supposed to do now?" Draco asked, turning to study the group. Parvati Patil and Wayne Hopkins, a Hufflepuff, had joined in the debate with Li and Entwhistle.
"I'll be leading the game soon, you might want to grab some snacks and drinks before they're all gone."
Draco looked at the snack table, where Gregory was shoving a tray at Millicent. There were bottles of Butterbeer and pumpkin fizz to her right, and Draco decided he could use a drink. He called out to Gregory and told him to grab one. The other boy complied at once, bringing Draco a bottle of fizz. People were moving around the room, grabbing snacks and chatting, mostly about the Quidditch game. Draco considered casting silencing charms on the lot of them, but didn't think it would be prudent with the Head Boy and Girl watching.
Celestina Warbeck's song had ended and the Weird Sisters' lead singer was crooning Long Time No See. Nott was sitting beside the cabinet with a bottle of Butterbeer in his hand, his head thrown back against the wall behind him. He was mouthing the words to the song, looking bored. Draco fussed with the top of his bottle, considering going over there and talking to him, when Liam spoke.
"All right, everyone, gather round. We're going to play a game."
The talking stopped after about a minute, and twenty curious faces were turned to Liam. They all knew that every game was different, and Draco wondered what indignities he would be subjected to. He hoped he didn't have to do something too stupid, like dancing with Longbottom.
"The game we're playing is called Galleon Tales. Consider yourselves lucky, as this is one of the few games that are played for house points." At this, excited murmuring broke out -- house points were always a hot commodity at Hogwarts, and everyone leant forward towards Liam.
Liam went on to describe the game, which involved sitting in a circle around a hat. Every person had to prepare a story that was either true or false. The stories were to be told in turns. Before speaking, each person would put a Galleon under the hat, facing upwards with either ships (true) or sails (false). After a story was told, everyone would guess if it was true or false, then the Galleon under the hat would be revealed. Each person who guessed correctly earned their house a point. Whoever ended up with the most points would get an extra twenty-five points for their house.
Since the twenty of them made a rather large circle, Liam decided he would sit in the middle and call out the right answers. He used a summoning charm to fetch a large pile of cushions from a dark corner, then levitated them to fall in a perfect circle. He then Summoned two more cushions for himself and Trista and placed them in the middle of the circle. The Head Boy and Girl made themselves comfortable as the rest of the group settled down around them.
Draco sat between Millicent and Gregory, fighting the urge to make a disparaging remark at someone -- anyone. This was the longest time he'd ever spent in the company of Longbottom without making him squirm one way or another. It shouldn't be allowed. There was just no excuse for putting Draco in a room with Longbottom and taking away the ability to hex him. Much to Draco's irritation, Longbottom sat directly opposite, and failed to cower when Draco glared at him.
"All right, let's get cracking. Please don't tell any true stories that only your housemates are likely to know, that wouldn't be very good gamesmanship," said Liam, and pointed to a miniature Sneakoscope he'd fished out of his pocket. "It's tuned very finely for this occasion, so no funny business."
"Why don't you start, Morag?" he continued, turning to the Ravenclaw girl.
Morag MacDougal gave him a thin-lipped smile. Draco was curious if any of her housemates knew that her father was in league with the Dark Lord. The MacDougals were an ancient pureblood family and Draco had known Morag since they were both very small. His mother had been good friends with Mrs. MacDougal when they went to Hogwarts, and they kept in close contact. It was probably the best-kept secret at Hogwarts -- Draco knew better than to mention it and Morag didn't advertise it. Draco looked at her intently, wondering how many people would be shocked to find out that not all of Voldemort's supporters were Slytherins: Morag's father had been in Ravenclaw.
Morag crawled over to the pointed wizard's hat in front of Liam and put a Galleon he handed to her under it. Sitting back down, she looked straight at Draco for a moment before launching into a story about getting her first broomstick when she was six and learning to fly together with a friend of hers. Draco smirked, remembering the incident all too well. Unfortunately, no one had believed him in first year when he'd told it.
"So he nearly missed the helicopter, but the Muggle didn't notice him, thank Merlin. He was so scared when we landed, he swore he would never go flying again. Of course, boys can be so fickle sometimes," she said with a wry smile, not looking at him.
Draco had to resort to pretending to scratch his nose to hide his smile. It had been too long since he and Morag had spent any time together. Since the Dark Lord rose again, the MacDougals never visited the Malfoys anymore to avoid arousing suspicion, and the two of them rarely saw each other outside classes. He made up his mind right then to seek her out sometime soon.
"Draco?" Liam's voice startled him, and Draco raised an eyebrow.
"Oh. True," he said hastily, suppressing another grin. Across and to the left, Morag wore an unperturbed look. Gregory, whose turn it was next, went with Draco's opinion.
When all the guesses were in and Trista had checked off columns labelled "True" and "False" in her notebook, Liam lifted the hat and called ships. Trista flicked her wand at the paper in front of her. Draco inclined his head slightly to see better -- she was using Arithmancy to make the numbers in the "True" column add themselves up according to Hogwarts houses. She had created a special symbol for each house, and now there was a tally sheet running at the bottom of the page. Draco wished he could practise Arithmancy, too, but they wouldn't be allowed until seventh year.
"Two points to Slytherin, one point each to Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, and Ravenclaw," Trista rasped.
So it continued, people were telling short stories and the rest of them tried to guess their veracity. Draco was astonished to learn that Hannah Abbott had been the brightest student at her Muggle school before she received her Hogwarts letter (Slytherin did not receive any points that round). The long-haired Su Li had learned to play the guitar when he was seven and was now considering a career in music (even the Ravenclaws had not known).
The story about Granger beating up Longbottom during the Department of Mysteries fight in June turned out to be false (no one got any points). Draco frowned up at Longbottom -- so how had he got all those injuries then? Surely he hadn't done any actual fighting?
Tracey Davis was smiling rather smugly when no one received any points after she told the story about her involvement with Marcus Flint and everyone said it was true. When it was Draco's turn, he knew what he had to do. He didn't believe in saying "Thank you," because you couldn't buy anything with that, nor could you put it in a pipe and smoke it. Morag had given him a chance at free house points, and he had to repay her in kind. He talked about his Puffskein named Quillan, and the time he and "a friend" had dyed him green using Madame Escallop's Magical Food Colouring from Narcissa Malfoy's kitchen. Morag was the only one to get it right.
In the end, the four houses broke about even on points, but Stephen Cornfoot of Ravenclaw had been right more often than anyone else, and so Ravenclaw got the extra twenty-five. Liam and Trista thanked them all for coming, and the seventh-year Hufflepuff prefects foisted the remaining snacks and drinks on everyone who would take them. Gregory had trouble balancing his armload of Butterbeer bottles and Spearmint Snails as they left.
Draco walked back with Millicent, Gregory, and Tracey but didn't join in their conversation. He had enjoyed himself at the party, just a little. It was strange, interacting with members of other houses in a non-academic way -- they did not seem all that different from his own housemates, and some of the stories had been amusing. Another part of him was glad that he'd gone through the motions of the Hufflepuff house unity project and could simply forget about it now.
Next morning after breakfast, Draco was digging for his Intermediate Transfiguration textbook in his trunk. The dormitory door banged open and he looked up from his crouch. Blaise stood in the doorway, looking sheepish. Draco raised an expectant eyebrow.
"D'you want to come out flying?"
"We're not playing Ravenclaw until the middle of January," Draco said in a crotchety tone.
"No, I mean just for fun." Blaise was wearing a roguish grin that Draco didn't like at all.
"You want to go flying for... fun?"
"Yeah. Want to come?" Blaise tilted his head to one side.
"No, I don't have time for recreational flying," Draco snapped and went back to looking for his book.
"Don't say I didn't ask," Blaise said in an annoyingly cheerful voice. The door slammed, and Draco was alone again.
What was that all about? Blaise had acted as though they hadn't just spent a month ignoring each other, except when it was absolutely necessary for them to talk. Draco found his textbook and put it aside, closing his trunk and pushing it back under the bed. He picked up the book and rose to his feet, brushing off his robe. Something was definitely off about Blaise. He decided that it wouldn't hurt to take a walk before he got started on his homework.
Draco pulled his winter cloak from his wardrobe and walked out. As he passed the common room, Vincent and Gregory rose immediately, ready to follow, but he waved them off and hurried out. He made his way towards the Quidditch pitch, bundling the cloak tighter around himself. The grounds were deserted as it was still rather early on Sunday morning. There was a numbing, chilly edge to the air that reminded all and sundry that winter was just around the corner, though it was still early November. Yesterday's canopy of clouds had dissipated overnight, and everything was bathed in lazy sunlight. It gave little warmth but abundant brilliance, and Draco had to squint as he arrived at the rough stone steps that led down to the Quidditch pitch.
His heart skipped a beat when he looked out onto the stadium, partly shielding his eyes with his palm. Blaise wasn't alone -- there were three other people with him. Draco squinted, but couldn't make out the faces from his distance. He was too far to perform an effective Near-Vision spell. Sighing, he descended cautiously and walked closer to the stadium. He still had to shield his eyes from the sun but he could now see a little better. Blaise was accompanied by Smith, Terry Boot, and -- no. It couldn't be.
It was Potter, there was no mistaking the Firebolt's speed and agility, and there were no other Firebolt owners at Hogwarts except for Harry Potter. Draco narrowed his eyes as he watched Blaise and Potter hover beside each other, talking about something. Draco would have given an arm to hear what they were talking about. Smith flew up towards them from the goalposts and hovered in front of them. He moved his arm as though imitating a wave of water, then jerked his head towards Boot, who was having some trouble with his broomstick. It was rising up and down randomly, and there was only so much the Ravenclaw boy could do to stay in the air.
Potter nodded to Smith and flew towards Boot, stopping near him and releasing his hold on the Firebolt. He lifted his hands up in the air and said something to Boot, who laughed. The sound carried all the way to where Draco stood, ducked behind a medium-height bush. Draco's stomach did a kind of flip as he watched -- surely Potter would fall off his broom. Draco sneered at the thought -- they should be so lucky. If even the Dark Lord couldn't kill Potter properly the first time, surely a little thing like falling off his broom wouldn't stop him living.
Potter was teaching Boot to grip his broom handle properly -- while up in the air. It was against every rule in the book, yet it didn't break any school rules, so Draco was resigned to watching. Smith and Blaise had stopped talking and Blaise went back to doing his eights around the goalposts while Smith practised his throwing movements. Draco had seen enough. He turned on his heel and stalked back towards the rock cliff, up the narrow staircase, and back into the castle.
Upon returning to his dormitory, Draco hung his cloak back into the wardrobe, taking extra care to make sure it hung just so. He shut the wardrobe door tightly, running his hand along the soft wood. He started to walk away and suddenly turned back around, ramming his fist into the wardrobe door with a snarl. He struck with such force that his fist went through the door, but Draco didn't feel the pain. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been so angry.
It was not enough for Potter to take Draco's rightful place at the school, no. He had to take Draco's place in Quidditch, too. Potter always talked back at Draco, frequently making him look ridiculous in front of all his friends. Potter often used Draco to demonstrate hexes and jinxes on during DA meetings, supposedly to show everyone how good Draco was at defending against them -- fat chance. Potter was waiting for Draco to fail at a counter-curse one day, that was all. Potter had taken his father away from him, reducing Lucius Malfoy, a man worth a hundred Harry Potters, to the status of a common criminal. But no, all that wasn't enough for Potter -- he had to have Draco's best friend, too. He had to take everything away, as though a world with Harry Potter in it didn't hold enough room for Draco Malfoy.
Draco withdrew his fist from the ruined wardrobe and blew on the knuckles, which were badly bruised. Wincing, he took his wand out of his pocket and repaired the damage he'd done to the wardrobe. He rubbed his left temple and felt a bulging vein pulsate beneath his fingers, knowing that he had to calm down. He sat down on the bed and forced himself to take deep breaths, hands folded in his lap. None of this was Blaise's fault, he realised -- Potter was simply using Blaise to get to Draco.
Potter had something to do with the house unity projects, after all -- he probably rigged the group lists to end up in the same study group as Blaise and to go to the same party. He'd probably wanted to be in the same DA group as Draco just so he could have an excuse to hurl hexes at him every Monday. As he started thinking more rationally, Draco felt some of the tightness in his chest go away. He pulled out his diary, ink, and quill and crossed out the meticulously drawn diagram for his previous plan. Subtlety and finesse were wasted on Potter. Draco had a new plan, one that would ensure he won. Draco would win, too, because it was about time he won.
Draco Malfoy's diary, November 3
I am going to kill him before the year is out.
1. The Slytherin Quidditch song would not have been possible without Kristal (evilsource)'s superior rhyming skills.
2. Many thanks to J. Marie (imadra_blue) for letting me bounce snippets and ideas off her while I wrote this chapter. *glomps*
3. Warm Beer and Cold Kisses is an actual song by Stallins & Crowe (BMI). I changed beer to Butterbeer to add flavour (heh heh).
4. I'm indebted to Party Game Central for game ideas.
5. Ships and sails - this is a detail I made up because I'm a geek. A Galleon has two different pictures on its sides: One features a single ship with puffed-out sails, this is the "sails" side. The other side features a group of ships sailing across water, this is the "ships" side.
6. Puffskein - a long-tongued custard-coloured little furball that makes a calming purring noise when happy. These creatures are often kept as pets, particularly by wizarding children. Scavenger: will eat anything from leftovers to spiders.