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The Ghost
“I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you, for all my life…when you’re with me, baby, the skies’ll be blue, for all my life. So happy together…” Alana Carlson sang along softly to her CD, tapping along with the beat on the side of her CD player. She glanced out the window of the tour bus, watching the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania rolling along slowly outside. Her best friend Elyse Jameson was sitting beside her, chatting animatedly (and, to Alana, mutely) to Marc Jordan, who was sitting across the aisle.
Alana, Elyse, Marc and the rest of the 8th grade class at Fleet Junior High were on their annual class trip. Last year, the class had gone to Hershey Park, but their teacher this year was a history buff and had insisted that they visit somewhere where there had been a “significant change in American history.” Apparently, Gettysburg fit neatly into this category—plus, it wasn’t too far from their school.
The bus rolled to a slow stop in front of a small house. The tour guide in the front of the bus stood up and smiled benevolently at the class. “This is the Jennie Wade house,” he said. “Jennie Wade was the only civilian to be killed in the entire Battle of Gettysburg, a battle costing more than 50,000 Union and Confederate soldiers their lives.”
Their teacher, Mr. Parker, stood and said, “We will be going into the house first, and then into the gift shop. We will be given a tour of Jennie’s house, and I expect you to behave like ladies and gentlemen.”
He glared towards the back of the bus, at the class clown, Elyse’s twin brother, Kendall Jameson. Kendall stared back at him, trying hard not to laugh.
“That means you, Mr. Jameson,” he said coldly.
“Whatever,” Kendall muttered, grinning.

The class filed into the house. They were met in the kitchen by a short teenager in 19th century dress. Her brown hair was swept into a sloppy bun, and she looked tired and bored. But she greeted them with a huge smile and said, “Welcome to the Jennie Wade house. My name is Connie, and I will be your tour guide.”
Connie passed a stack of papers to the person nearest to her, Marc, who handed the sheets out. Alana looked down at hers.
was printed on the top of the paper. Beneath the heading were paragraphs explaining the Wade family history, each of the rooms in the small house, and how Jennie died.
“Please follow me,” Connie said, and led the class into a bedroom to the right of the kitchen.
“This is where Jennie’s sister and nephew slept. On the morning that Jennie was killed, her sister and nephew were almost killed as well. Several stray bullets flew into this room. In fact, you can still see the bullet holes.” Connie walked around the small room, pointing out some of the bullet holes in the bed, wall and mantle.
The class followed her back into the kitchen. Connie ducked behind them and pressed a small red button, which caused the wax soldier in the corner to develop a holographic face. Alana fidgeted uneasily when the soldier told the story of how Jennie Wade was killed.
It turned out that Jennie was shot right in the kitchen, very close to where they were standing. She had been leaning over to get bread out of the oven when a stray bullet struck her in the back, killing her almost instantly.
When the soldier finished his speech, Connie walked back to her previous post beside the bedroom door. A small, round hole ran through it.
“If you put your finger through this bullet hole,” Connie said, tracing its outline with her index finger, “it is said to bring good luck to couples.” She pointed to the laminated sheet of paper above the hole. The class shuffled forward, and Alana read the paper with interest. On it were several letters from married couples, claiming that less than a year after their visit to the Jennie Wade house, they got engaged…and they were sure that their good fortune was due to the fact that they had wedged their ring fingers into the bullet holes.
This was so absurd that Alana almost burst out laughing. How could a bullet hole bring you luck in relationships? Nevertheless, she succumbed and put her ring finger through the hole before following Connie up the narrow set of stairs.
They traveled through an almost empty, large attic bedroom and the parlor next. Connie pointed out the authentic 19th century glass windows with pride, and Mr. Parker, Kendall and their tour guide examined them with interest. Alana had no doubt that Kendall was wondering if he could get away with throwing a rock through them. Smiling to herself, she walked with the rest of the class out to the small garden behind the house.
“This was where Jennie was laid to rest for a short time before being moved to a new burial plot,” Connie informed them, pointing out the spot. She moved quickly and nervously through the garden.
Connie brought the students to a steep set of stairs leading to the cellar of the house and paused before leading them down the stairs.
“When Jennie died, her sister brought her body down to this cellar and kept a vigil over her until the battle was over. If anyone is going to have a problem with being down in the cellar, your teacher will take you back to the bus.”
Alana bit her lip and looked over to her classmates standing beside her. No one was asking to be taken back to the bus, but several people looked like they would rather be shot than go down into the cellar, and Elyse was clutching Kendall’s arm tensely.
“Follow me, then,” Connie said finally, and started down the stairs. The class walked closely behind Connie down the steps and into the basement.
The cellar was a medium-sized room with stone walls and a dirt floor. In the far left corner in a chained-off area sat a shroud-covered bed and a three-legged stool. Underneath the shroud was stuffed to make it look as though Jennie’s body was still there. A ghostly white hand was hanging out of the side of the bed, enhancing the eeriness of the setting. On the wall beside the bed and stool, there was a large, framed painting of what Alana supposed was the vigil the night Jennie died.
Benches were set up along the right side of the room. Above one of the benches was another large frame, though this frame was filled with Polaroid pictures. Alana turned to Elyse. Elyse was cowering near the entrance, digging her nails into her twin’s forearm. Elyse tended to have total breakdowns when she was scared, and judging by the look on her face, Alana could tell that Elyse was petrified.
“C’mon,” Alana said. “Let’s look around.”
Elyse shook her head silently.
She grabbed Elyse’s and Kendall’s arms and pulled them behind her to the frame filled with pictures. Kendall laughed. “Look, Ally,” he said to Alana. “Ghost pictures.”
Elyse let out a small shriek as she examined the photographs.
Alana kneeled on the bench and looked at the pictures. At least half of them showed families seated on the bench in front of the chained-off corner. In the edge of the picture, there was the painting. And right in front of the painting, there was a faint white outline of a young woman in a Civil-War era dress.
Alana whipped around to see the painting again. She pulled out her flimsy disposable camera and snapped a few pictures of the painting and the space around it.
“What are you doing, Alana?” Elyse moaned. “Do you actually want to see a 200-year-old ghost?!”
“Yeah, I do,” Alana answered. Kendall snickered at Elyse’s face as Alana stuffed her camera back into her bag.
Suddenly the room, which had been filled with the chatter of their classmates as they explored the cellar, fell silent. Alana, Elyse and Kendall turned slowly to see what was happening.
The first thing Alana saw was Connie. She was standing right in front of the corner where Jennie Wade’s corpse had been nearly 200 years before. Connie’s hands were pressed over her mouth, and she looked so terrified that Alana honestly thought she was going to pass out. Alana followed her gaze to the yellow chain next to the painting.
The chain was swinging, slowly at first but then picking up speed. She could tell no one had purposely made it swing, because it was all one fluid motion. If someone had grabbed the chain, pulled it back and let it go, the chain would have been swinging choppily; its links rippling until it gradually came to a stop. But the chain wasn’t swinging choppily, nor was it coming to a halt. It continued to gain speed until, all at once, it stopped abruptly.
Connie (and, it seemed, everyone else in the cellar) let out a huge breath. “I think,” she said shakily, turning to the group behind her, “we have just been visited by a—,”
She was cut off by Elyse’s terrified scream. Everyone turned to see where she was pointing, and a number of the girls in the class shrieked.
Connie jumped backwards from where she was standing beside the painting. A white transparent image of, judging by the way she was dressed, a Civil War-era girl was walking across the room in front of the chain. Alana caught sight of the girl’s face. She looked so heartbreakingly sad as she made her way towards the painting.
The entire group held their breath as the girl reached the picture. She reached out gently to touch its glass case and vanished.
Elyse screamed again. There was a mad rush for the door as everyone ran for the exit.
Kendall caught Alana’s arm as she raced for the door and nodded towards the bed in the left corner. She gasped. The girl had appeared again, this time standing next to the stuffed bed. The same mournful look was on her face as she gazed down at the bed. Just as with the painting, she reached down to touch it and vanished.
Alana was shaking as she and Kendall emerged from the cellar and joined their class in the garden. Elyse ran to her brother and grabbed his arm again. Alana could see by the pained look on Kendall’s face that Elyse was digging her fingernails into him again.
“Where were you?” she demanded immediately. “Why did you stay down there?”
He paused for a second. “We saw her again.”
“Saw who?” Connie asked, as if she didn’t know.
“The ghost. Jennie Wade. Or whoever it was.”
Mr. Parker spoke up, frowning. “Now, there are no such things as ghosts. We know that.”
“How can you say that? What do you think that thing down in the cellar was, then?” Alana said.
“I think it’s pretty safe to say that was a ghost, sir,” Connie said quietly to Mr. Parker.
Mr. Parker shook his head. “Thank you for the tour, Connie,” he said shortly. “Would you mind showing us the way to the gift shop?”
Connie sighed and nodded. She took the class quickly back through the house, moving along so fast that Alana could tell she was completely terrified with the prospect of staying in this house again after what she had seen in the basement.
She followed the class as they made their way into the small gift shop. Connie walked behind the counter in the front to speak to the cashier, an older man who was sorting through a new box of merchandise.
“I quit,” Connie said quietly. The old man looked up, surprised.
“Sorry, Mr. Peterson, really I am, but…” Connie quickly told him what they’d seen in the basement. “I’ve worked here for five years and I’ve never seen anything like that, Mr. Peterson. I can’t work here anymore. Stuff like that really freaks me out.”
Alana ducked into a nearby aisle, where Kendall, Elyse and Marc were looking through Gettysburg license plates silently.
“Hey, Ally,” Marc said, looking up as she joined them. “Man, that was weird back there.”
Alana nodded mutely and started to look at the shelves of books behind her. After searching for a minute, she pulled out one called Ghosts of Gettysburg and quickly showed it to her friends. Kendall grabbed the book and flipped through it, scanning the stories until he got to one about Jennie Wade.
“Holy…” he breathed. “Look, it’s happened before.” He shoved the thin book in Alana’s face and showed her the story, which told about the author’s experience in the cellar of the Jennie Wade house. Just as it had with Alana’s class, the yellow chain had started swinging strangely when no one had started it.
Alana grabbed the book from him and brought it up to the counter. She paid Mr. Peterson the cashier for it and dropped it into her bag.
When Fleet Junior High’s bus rolled away from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a few hours later, none of them doubted the fact that they had seen a ghost.
Title: Toujours Pur
Chapter One

**DISCLAIMER**: I didn’t create Harry Potter, however much I wish I had. All characters and everything else from the books are the property of JK Rowling.
Andromeda Black lay on her cold, blue satin four-poster bed, still fuming from her last fight with her mother, which had ended twenty minutes ago, according to the large grandfather clock in her room. Larissa Black had called Andromeda down to the sitting room (or the parlor, as Larissa insisted everyone call it.)

Andromeda had trudged down and seen her two younger sisters, Narcissa and Bellatrix, sitting primly beside their mother. Bellatrix, who was far prettier than Narcissa or Larissa and knew it full well, was smoothing the silk folds of her black robes and smiling rather evilly.

Andromeda was the eldest of her sisters at seventeen, but they lorded over her as though they were the oldest: “Andromeda, don’t wear your hair like that, you look like such a git.”, “Andromeda, get me that potion sample from Mother’s cabinet now.” Andromeda this, Andromeda that.

Now her mother had adopted a smile much like Bellatrix’s and said forcibly, “Andromeda, dear, come sit down. By the way, your sisters and I were wondering why you haven’t worn those robes before. They go so well with your hair.”

Andromeda said nothing, but touched the blood red silk robes self-consciously. She supposed it was true, the robes did match nicely with her raven black hair, but she had the feeling her mother would have told her that a burlap sack went nicely with her hair if it would make Andromeda agree to whatever she was going to propose.

“What do you want, Mother? Bellatrix, stop grinning like that. You look like such a loon.” Andromeda said as she took a seat across from the couch where her mother and sisters sat.

Bellatrix stopped grinning immediately and said coolly, “At least I’m not as thick as you, Andromeda. Mother wants to talk to us about our schooling. She thinks it may be better for us if we attend Durmstrang this year.”

Andromeda opened her mouth immediately to protest, but her mother held up a pale, thin hand and cut her off. “Andromeda, either you fully hear me out or I shall be forced to put a Silencing Spell on you and force you to.”

Andromeda stared at her mother in disgust. “Whatever,” she muttered. “You won’t change my mind.”

Larissa looked pointedly at her own wand before launching into a long-winded speech. “Your father and I believe it will be best for the Black family in the long run if we show Lord Voldemort-“ Andromeda gave a long shudder at the name- “our support early on. We believe that the best way to do this is to send you girls to a school that little more focused on our beliefs.”

“Your beliefs,” Andromeda murmured.

“Andromeda, do not interrupt me again!” Larissa cried. “Lord Voldemort is getting ever stronger, and he will emerge victorious. We do not want to be casualties of the Dark Lord’s wrath. Andromeda, your father insists that since you are the eldest, you should make the decision. Obviously, I disagree, but...”

Andromeda stood and turned to leave the room. “Andi,” Narcissa whined. “Wait! What is your choice? Durmstrang or Hogwarts?”

Andromeda laughed. “You know my decision.” she hissed. “I will finish my last school year at Hogwarts, and Bellatrix and you, Narcissa, will be with me.” She turned back and again tried to leave, but this time her mother’s voice stopped her. It was filled with venomous anger.

“Andromeda Selena Black, please do not make this mistake!” Larissa said. “Your very life could very likely be at stake here!”

“Mother, you are only worried about your own life,” Andromeda shouted. “You don’t care at all about the life of Bella, or Narcissa, and especially not me. Please do not try to lie to me; I can see right through you! You are a selfish, evil woman! I only wish I could run away from here like Sirius, and—“

“DO NOT SPEAK THAT NAME IN MY HOUSE!” her mother screamed, rushing to her feet and clutching her wand so tightly it looked as though it might break. “That- that- that boy is a traitor to our family and is not worthy to wipe slime from your robes; he is an abomination, a horror, he is--“

“HE IS MY COUSIN!” Andromeda screamed back. “HE IS MY COUSIN!” Then she began chanting his name like a small child, “SIRIUS, SIRIUS, SIRIUS--”

“STOP IT!” Bellatrix screeched. “Stop it! Can’t you see what you’re doing to poor Mother? Honestly, you git, you’re the abomination.”

Larissa had fallen back onto the couch, panting. Her face was splotched red and she looked as thought she might pass out.

Andromeda turned and stomped up to her third-story bedroom, a large room she had decorated herself in Ravenclaw colors. She locked the door and collapsed onto the bed, where she lay for twenty minutes, thinking about what her mother had said.

Larissa seemed to think of Sirius as this awful, rebellious teenager. Andromeda knew better. Smiling, she rolled off the bed and retrieved Sirius’ latest letter:

I’m all settled in at the Potters’. James’ folks are great. (By the way, he says hi.) How are you? Has your mother driven you to insanity yet? How about Bella and Narcissa? Are they still drones of your parents?

James has been teaching me some “new” Quidditch moves. (I learned all these ages ago.) He says you should go out for the Ravenclaw team this year, and I fully agree.

Well, James and I are going out to the field to practice Quidditch. Send me back a nice long letter (even though this one is so short) and Mrs. Potter says if you decide to leave, too, you’re more than welcome here. Just send an owl in advance so we can hide the firewhiskey.

Andromeda folded the letter back up. Her mood had changed completely in the thirty seconds it had taken to read the letter. Sirius could always do that to me, she thought, smiling.

She drew up a lengthy reply to the letter, including details of her recent fight with her mother. She ended it with this:

Sirius, I hope you find it funny and not provocative, the way Mother treats me. I know how you do that whole protective cousin thing pretty well—but I don’t want “Sirius Black and James Potter Arrested for Assault of Larissa Black” on the headlines of the Daily Prophet, okay? Promise me!
Tell James “hi!”
Lots of “cousinly love”!
--Andromeda Selena Black
August 18, 1976

Andromeda folded the parchment into thirds and stuffed it into an envelope, scribbling “Sirius Black, Potter House” on the front and tying it to her owl, Aphrodite’s, leg. Aphrodite took off out the window, and Andromeda fell back onto the bed, suddenly tired. In a few minutes, she was asleep between the blue satin sheets.

For the remaining two weeks before school started, Andromeda had been going to Diagon Alley each day and buying one or two things she needed for school each day, dragging it out in hopes she might catch Sirius and James there.

Also, during her trips to Diagon Alley, Andromeda had been thinking about the career she would take on after school. In her fifth year, Andromeda had discussed it with her Head-of-House, Professor Flitwick. They had decided to focus her studies on subjects she would need to either become a professor there at Hogwarts or an Auror.

Brooding over it while Madam Malkin measured her robes, Andromeda wondered if she could maybe do both. Some months earlier, her mother had informed Bellatrix, Narcissa, and Andromeda about an organization to fight Voldemort called the Order of the Phoenix. She had told them some of the members, which included Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall, so Andromeda assumed it was possible. But what would Andromeda do about her mother if she chose to do that? It would be a double slap in the face—her own daughter, fighting Voldemort and teaching others to do the same.

There was a sudden shout outside. Someone was screaming her name. Andromeda glanced out the large picture window and saw Sirius, James, and James’ parents—a tall, skinny blonde young woman holding the hand of a rather short, dark-haired man to whom James bore an uncanny resemblance.

“Sirius!” Andromeda cried, waving furiously. She held up her index finger and said, “One minute.”

As soon as Madam Malkin was done with Andromeda’s black school robes, Andromeda jumped off the stool she had been standing on, stuffed five Galleons into Madam Malkin’s hand, and, grabbing her bag, ran out onto the street. She hugged Sirius tightly and said a very happy “Hello” to James and Mr. and Mrs. Potter.

“How have you been? I haven’t seen you in ages!” Andromeda exclaimed to Sirius.

Sirius smiled, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Andi, we gotta talk.” he said.

James and the Potters took this as their cue to leave and they disappeared into Madam Malkin’s shop.

Andromeda rolled her eyes, but allowed herself to be led over to a bench, where she took a set beside him. “Sirius, please. I know what you’ll say.” she said, but Sirius ignored her and said, “Andi, please. You need to get out of that house! Please, please come stay with me at the Potters’. I read your letter, and you can’t stay there any longer. God, Andi, they’re evil and completely despicable. Even you can see that.”

“What do you mean, even I can see that?” Andromeda asked, her voice rising. “I know how bad they are, Sirius. But they’re my family. With you it’s easy, you hate your family. But I…I don’t. Maybe I hate their actions and their views, but I don’t hate them.”

“But Andi, don’t you see? Actions and views. Isn’t that what makes up a person? I don’t think you’re seeing them. You’re seeing some idealized family. You hate your real family, and it’s obvious, even James can see it, and you know how thick he is.” Sirius joked, trying to make her laugh.

Andromeda didn’t even smile. “Sirius, it’s my last year at Hogwarts. After this, I am gone. I’ll get my own place, and maybe you can even come stay with me. Look, if it will make you feel better, I’ll stay at school for Christmas and Easter break.”


“Yeah,” Andromeda said, smiling. “Listen, can you come over today and help me pack? I guess I shouldn’t have left it this long, but…”she stopped at the look on Sirius’ face and quickly added, “Don’t worry, Mother and Bellatrix and Narcissa are over for lunch at the Malfoys’. They asked me to come, too, but like I would want to. Anyway, do you want to come or not?”

“Yeah, I’ll come. Do you mind if—“

“James comes? No, he can come, too, if he wants.” Andromeda told him.

“What about Remus?”


“Remus Lupin. Short, blondish hair?” Sirius said. “He’s visiting the Potters today.”

“Oh—that pale little bugger? Sure, he can come too. Man, you all want to help me pack? I didn’t know I was so loved!” Andromeda teased.

Sirius laughed, pushing her and pulling her hair down from its ponytail. It tumbled down almost to her waist. Sirius yanked out a strand of jet black, perfectly straight hair, (“ow!” Andromeda shrieked) and held it out. “Man, Andi, this must be almost three feet long!” he laughed. She scowled at him, rubbing the sore spot on her head.

Looking past Sirius, Andromeda spotted the Potters coming out of Madam Malkin’s. She pointed them out to Sirius, and waited as he asked James to come to Andromeda’s house and they told his parents where they were going. Both of them walked back to Andromeda.

“Hey, Andromeda,” James said.

“Hi, James,” she said. “Do we have to pick up-er-Remus? somewhere or what?”

“He said he’d wait by Flourish and Blotts,” James said. “I’m sure he won’t mind coming to help you out, either.”

“Cool,” Andromeda said. She thought she saw Sirius wink at James, but she just brushed it off, and the three of them walked to Flourish and Blotts.

As they reached the store, James turned to Andromeda and said quietly, “You really should leave, you know.”

Andromeda groaned. “James, please. Don’t. I know what you’ll say…get out, you hate them, it’s awful there…but I will, I don’t, and it’s not.”

James looked very confused for a moment before he sorted it all out. “Whatever, Andromeda…I guess there are only two days until school starts…but Sirius does seem really obsessed with getting you to leave. Maybe he knows something you don’t?”

“I don’t care if he does...” she trailed off as she realized they were standing in front of Flourish and Blotts. Sirius was standing in front of the shop with Remus. Both of them were looking oddly at Andromeda and James.

“James, got a little crush on my cousin?” Sirius called out, half-jokingly. “Thought you were focusing on Evans, man.”

A red flush crept up James’ face as he replied hotly, “Sirius, don’t be such a thick git. If anyone has a crush on Andi here, it’ll be you.”

“Me?” Sirius laughed. “James, she’s my cousin. No offense, Andi.”

“Yeah, none taken,” Andromeda said quickly. After all, they were cousins. Just really close cousins.

But for the next hour, as she, Sirius, James and Remus went to her house and they all helped her pack, Andromeda couldn’t quite forget what James had said— “if anyone has a crush on Andi here, it’ll be you”. What did he mean by that, anyway?

Finally, Andromeda had crossed off all the items on her list and James, Sirius and Remus walked out the door. “See you on the train,” Sirius called as he left.

“See ya, guys,” she called back and closed the door just as she heard her mother and sisters crash into the sitting room, having traveled by Floo Powder.

“Andromeda, where are you?” her mother shouted through the silence.

Andromeda jumped and said a quick little prayer of thanks that Sirius had just left before yelling back, “By—um, by the door, Mother.”

“Well, get into this kitchen now,” Larissa Black said irritably from the hall. “I need to speak with you girls about tomorrow.”

Andromeda sighed, walking through the foyer into their large kitchen. Her mother and Bellatrix and Narcissa were sitting at the small kitchen table. Andromeda took a seat next to Narcissa and glanced around the kitchen. This tiny circular table looked almost lost in the immense room. Surprising, it was her mother’s favorite room, out of the entire Black mansion. Andromeda had always thought that this was odd, as her mother made such a big deal out of using magic for every other little thing, but when it came to cooking, Larissa didn’t allow magic in the kitchen.

“Mother,” Bellatrix said suddenly. “Have you heard from Sirius lately?”

Larissa Black’s whole body seemed to tense, Andromeda started, and Narcissa adopted a very strange expression—like a cross between a snarl and a scowl.

A scarl, Andromeda thought in the half-second before her mother spoke. Andromeda could see her mother was still tense, and was trying desperately not to explode like she had at Andromeda two weeks ago and Andromeda felt a sudden strong wave of jealousy. Why hadn’t Larissa tried that hard to control her emotions with Andromeda?

“N-no, Bellatrix, darling. Wh-why do you ask?” Larissa said, her voice strained and high.

“Isn’t that his wand?” Bellatrix said, pointing to the counter where a wand lay, lost in the counter as the table had been lost in the immense expanse of floor.

Andromeda jumped out of her seat and snatched the wand up. She saw the initials SRB in the handle and thought, Oh Sirius you great git you brainless flobberworm oh how could you! Andromeda stuffed the wand into her robes and said, her voice now as high and strained as her mother’s, “It’s…mine. I was, er, fixing a snack here earlier; must have forgotten it.” She stammered to a stop and thought, Bella don’t please, please don’t say anything.

Bellatrix stood behind Larissa, who was still deathly pale, and smirked. “I caught you,” she mouthed.

Andromeda’s heart pounded so furiously she felt like she might pass out. “Don’t you dare,” Andromeda mouthed back. “Don’t you DARE.”

Bellatrix just smirked again and addressed their mother. “Mother, what were you going to say? About tomorrow?”

Their mother just dismissed it with a weak wave of her hand. “You…know…same thing…each year.”

It was true; Larissa made almost the exact same speech each year. “It’s your responsibility to represent the most ancient and noble house of Black…” “You must not be late to King’s Cross Station tomorrow. Tardiness puts a stain on the Black family name…” “Don’t make me have to send you forgotten things; pack everything you may need…” it went on and on.

Andromeda walked out of the kitchen, and headed to her room. Aphrodite was perched on her cage, a glossy envelope in her beak. Andromeda grabbed the envelope, threw it on her bed, and scribbled Sirius a note:

You GIT! You left your WAND here. Come and get it tonight at 6, they’re going to some dinner conference.

Andromeda folded the note, scribbled “Sirius” on the outside, and tied it to Aphrodite’s leg. Aphrodite took off out the window and sat back on her bed, still angry and shaken.

If her mother had seen his wand and known Sirius had been in her house, on her turf, she would have never let Andromeda see Sirius again. How could he be so thick? For goodness’s sake, her mother had nearly passed out...and it could have been so much worse!

After a few minutes to cool off, Andromeda grabbed up the letter from the bed beside her and looked it over. On the outside of the very thick, glossy envelope was a calligraphied “Andromeda Selena Black.” Andromeda flipped the envelope over. The seal on the back had the Malfoy family crest. Andromeda sighed and slowly opened the letter. A single sheet of parchment fluttered out. Andromeda grabbed it before it hit the ground, wondering why the envelope was so thick if this was all that was in it, and read it:

Andromeda S. Black:
Your presence is requested at a formal dinner party tonight, the 30th day of August, at the Malfoy family estate. Required apparel: formal dress robes. No R.S.V.P. necessary. Arrive no earlier than 6:00 post-meridian time.

Andromeda had barely finished the letter before Bellatrix burst into her room and announced, “We’re leaving at five, and Mum says—“ Bella paused. “What’s that? Is that an invitation?” Without waiting for an answer, Bella jumped to where Andromeda stood and snatched the parchment from away from her.

Bellatrix scanned the letter slowly, let out a shriek, and ran down the twisting set of stairs, screeching, “Mother! Mother! Narcissa! Come quickly!”

Andromeda raced down the stairs behind her. As she got to the first floor, she saw Bellatrix, clutching the invitation in her perfectly manicured fingers, run into the kitchen. Andromeda skidded into the kitchen only seconds after Bella, but already Bellatrix was reading, “...arrive no earlier than six o’clock post-meridian time.”

“I’m—not—going!” Andromeda panted, clutching the back of an empty chair at the table, breaking the stunned silence that followed Bellatrix’s announcement.

“Don’t be so difficult, Andromeda,” her mother said, staring at Andromeda from her seat. “Of course you’ll be going. Oh, dear, six o’clock? It’s already two…we’ll have to run to Diagon Alley right away…oh, dear…come, girls, you can help Andromeda find some suitable robes.” Larissa and Bellatrix marched Andromeda to the parlor with the fireplace and Floo Powder. Narcissa, who was deathly afraid of traveling by Floo Powder, lingered by the doorway, tense and pale.

“Narcissa Circe Black, there is no time for your fears! There are only four hours until the Malfoys’ dinner party, and Andromeda doesn’t even have robes to wear yet! Andromeda, you go first.” Larissa forced Andromeda into the fireplace and shoved a handful of Floo Powder into her hands. “Over to Flemington’s, then, dear.”

Andromeda sighed loudly and threw the powder down, shouting, “Flemington’s Robes!” Immediately she was caught up in a whirlwind of color and green flames. Andromeda pulled in her elbows so she wouldn’t hit anything—she had learned to do that the hard way.

After about sixty seconds, Andromeda was pushed out of a fireplace in Flemington’s by an invisible hand. She landed gracefully on the dozen or so large silk cushions surrounding the hearth.

Mr. Flemington, a tall, thin man, rushed over to Andromeda and bowed deeply. “Miss Black! My, you’ve grown! Excellent! I suppose you’d like to see some more mature styles, yes…” he spoke very quickly as he looked Andromeda up and down, his eyes glinting with delight. “Yes, yes…a V-neckline would be really lovely on you…yes…oh! Mrs. Black! How lovely to see you!” Andromeda turned back to the hearth and saw her frail-looking mother pick herself up from the pile of cushions.

“Mr. Flemington! Gorgeous to see you, I’m sure,” Larissa exclaimed. “My daughter Andromeda over there has merited an invitation to the Malfoy dinner party tonight!” she paused as Narcissa crashed onto the cushions, closely followed by Bellatrix. “Anyway,” Larissa said, “Andromeda is attending the party tonight, and she has nothing to wear!”

Mr. Flemington looked as though he might explode with joy as he practically shouted back, “Excellent! Wonderful! Mrs. Black, I was telling Andromeda just how simply gorgeous a V-neckline would look on her. Now, I believe that either a blood red or a midnight blue would look best on Andromeda, and of course we carry only the finest quality dress robes, and all of our slippers are magically dyed to exactly match the robes. Right this way, ladies.” Mr. Flemington led her mother and sisters into an aisle filled with mostly blue and red dress robes and the shoes to match.

For the next hour, Andromeda browsed the shop, extremely bored, while her sisters and mother selected robes for her. Finally, Narcissa came running over, clutching deep midnight blue velvet robes and their matching shoes. “Try these on,” she ordered. “We think they’re best.” Andromeda rolled her eyes, but grabbed the robes and slipped into a dressing room. When she emerged a few minutes later, Mr. Flemington was basically jumping up and down, smiling hugely with delight, and even the normal smirk had disappeared from Bellatrix’s face, replaced with a half-grin. “Wonderful,” Larissa said. “We’ll take these. These are sure to impress the Malfoys.”

As soon as Andromeda reappeared in their parlor fireplace after her sisters clutching the Flemington’s box, Narcissa seized her arm and dragged her to the bathroom, where she shoved Andromeda into the stool in front of the vanity mirror and began to curl select pieces of hair. “Stop! What are you doing?” Andromeda shrieked and stood up quickly as the magically heated iron burned her forehead.

“Mother wants me to fix your hair, so shut up and sit down!” Narcissa said, pushing Andromeda back onto the stool and picking up her hair and the curling iron again. For what seemed like an hour, Narcissa curled, straightened, and smoothed select pieces of hair, using her large collection of hair products, until Andromeda’s hair was tumbling in curls down to her waist. “There!” she said. “If you hadn’t fidgeted so much, I’d have been done long before now. Bella!” she called downstairs. “Your turn!”

“What?” Andromeda groaned. “No. Please! I don’t even want to go to this stupid thing. Tell her to stay down there!”

But too late—Bellatrix came marching into the bathroom, carrying her bursting makeup bag in one hand and a blanket in the other. Bellatrix threw the bag onto the table and draped the blanket over the mirror. “No peeking till I’m finished,” Bella said to Andromeda. Narcissa and Bellatrix both left, but Bella came back in a few moments dragging a small stool behind her. She set up the stool opposite Andromeda’s, opened the overflowing makeup bag, and began to put makeup on Andromeda: eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, blush, concealer, lipstick, lip gloss, and tons of other things Andromeda didn’t even know the name of.

Bella led Andromeda into the hall, told her to wait there, and went and got the blanket from the vanity mirror in the bathroom. She walked into Andromeda’s room and after a few moments told Andromeda to come in. Andromeda came in, rolled her eyes at the blanket over her mirror, and walked to her armoire, where Bella stood, holding Andromeda’s new robes and slippers.

Ten minutes later, Andromeda was fully dressed, made-up, and curled, straightened, smoothed, and everything else to within an inch of her life. Bellatrix called for their mother and Narcissa and took the blanket off of Andromeda’s mirror. Although Andromeda definitely did not like the idea of going to the Malfoys’ dinner party and dressing up and everything, she had to gasp when she saw her reflection. She looked like something out of a fairy tale—her normally dead straight black hair was now beautiful, curly, and flowing down her back, her makeup looked amazing, and the robes really did look wonderful on her. She was beginning to think the Malfoy party might not be so bad, if only because she got to look like this.

Two hours later, Andromeda stood in front of the Malfoys’ mansion. Four terrifyingly real-looking stone gargoyles guarded the double doors. Andromeda was still ten minutes early, so she leaned on a gargoyle to wait. She didn’t know why she had let her mother convince her to do this, she—

The doors flew open. Andromeda jumped and stood up straight. She looked up to see Lucius Malfoy standing over her, his cropped platinum blonde hair shining in the sunset. “Andromeda, it’s so lovely to see you,” he said smoothly, smiling down at her.

“Lucius! It’s nice to see you, too. I know I’m a little early, so…”

“Oh no, not at all. You’ve come just in time, the Minister just arrived, also,” Lucius answered quickly. “Come in, come in. I’ll take your cloak.” He took her hand and led her into the immense foyer of the Malfoy mansion.

“You look gorgeous,” Lucius whispered in her ear as he took her cloak.
Andromeda felt her face redden. When she answered, her voice was strangled and high.

“Well, thank you. I…your house looks absolutely beautiful. Are you expecting a lot of very important guests tonight?”

“Oh, not really, I mean, the Minister is the most ‘important’ of the lot.” Lucius said. “Father insists we invite lots of stuffy old men.”

“Well, the Minister seems like a rather important dinner guest.” Andromeda said, laughing rather nervously.

Lucius smiled as he handed her cloak to a passing servant. “I suppose. But Father sees you, Andromeda, as the most important.”

Andromeda stared up at him. “Me?” she laughed again. “What? Why?”

“Well, he must have his reasons, but I have mine, as well. You must be the prettiest girl at Hogwarts. I couldn’t miss having someone like you at an all-important Malfoy dinner party, could I?” Lucius flashed her a brilliant smile, and she giggled like a stupid school girl. So Lucius Malfoy had a crush!

“I guess not,” Andromeda replied teasingly. “We wouldn’t want you missing out on Andromeda Black, now would we?” she smiled at him. “So when is dinner?” she asked, glancing at the thin silver watch on her wrist.

Lucius caught her wrist and examined the watch. “Oh, dinner’s at six-thirty. This is a brilliant watch. Looks like a Gregorvitch original piece—oh man, where did you get this?”

“Mother bought it for me last summer on holiday in Bulgaria,” Andromeda pulled her wrist out of his grasp and looked desperately around the mammoth foyer for someone else, so maybe Lucius’ attention would be focused on someone other than her. Why had she been flirting with him? He was a Malfoy! They were as bad as her own family, if not worse. What if his father thought she like Lucius and tried to set up an arranged marriage? It had happened to her mother, after all!

“We’ve still got forty minutes until dinner,” Lucius said, looking at his own, rather thicker, wristwatch. “Would you like a tour of the Malfoy estate?” he grinned at her and she found herself smiling back.

“Sure, why not?” she replied. He grinned again and took her hand in his and began leading her around the mansion.

The tour was actually quite interesting. The Malfoy house had many secret passages and staircases, all of which Lucius took her through. Finally, he led her out of a back parlor into the garden. Andromeda gazed around, absolutely amazed. She felt as though she had walked into paradise. A large, very beautiful fountain stood in the middle of a stone courtyard, which was surrounded by hundreds of gorgeous plants and flowers. She looked up at the sky. The sun was beginning to set, sending orange, red, and purple streaks across the sky. She walked to the fountain and stared into the water. Lucius stood behind her. “Lucius, it’s so amazing,” she whispered and gave a slight shiver of joy. He turned her towards him.

“So are you,” he whispered, smiling. He bent his head slightly and gave Andromeda the most amazing kiss she had ever had in her life. She kissed him back and leaned her head against his shoulder. They stood there for quite a while, watching the sunset together. Andromeda thought she must have lost her mind. She was standing there in Lucius Malfoy’s arms, having just kissed him, and actually enjoying it.

“Lucius,” she murmured, “I—,”

Suddenly, a large barn owl swooped down upon them and dropped a slip of parchment at Andromeda’s feet. She snatched it up and read it quickly, cursing her luck:

Come to your house NOW! It’s an emergency!
-James Potter

“No!” Andromeda moaned quietly.

“What is it?” Lucius asked quickly, looking genuinely concerned.

“I…I guess I have to leave,” Andromeda said, looking sadly into his eyes. “I’m sorry. I…it’s James. He says there’s an emergency. I have to go. I…I’m really sorry, Lucius.”

Lucius looked extremely disappointed. “Er, okay. Why? What does it say?”

Andromeda handed the paper to him and he scanned it, then sighed and said, “Okay. The fireplace is in the parlor we just came out of. There’s Floo Powder next to it. I guess I’ll see you Monday on the train.” He gave her a quick kiss and then walked over to the fountain. He sat down on the far side. Andromeda couldn’t see very well, as dark was quickly falling, but she thought she saw him drop his head into his hands. She sighed and walked back into the parlor. She located the fireplace, stepped in, threw down a handful of Floo Powder and shouted, “Sixteen Grimmauld Place!”

She was caught in a tornado of sound and color, with green flames licking her ankles. After two minutes, she fell out of her fireplace onto the cold stone floor of her sitting room. Looking up, she saw Sirius sitting hunched over on the couch, James next to him.

“Here, she’s here, man,” James said quietly to Sirius.

“Oh my God,” Andromeda said as Sirius raised his head. One of his eyes was swollen shut, there were at least six cuts on his nose, a huge bruise was blossoming on his cheek, and his lip was cut and swelling. She picked herself up off the floor and walked over to Sirius. “Why the hell didn’t you go to St. Mungo’s?” she snapped at him. “Who did this to you?”

“Snivellus,” Sirius muttered, his bruised face now glowing bright red.

“SNAPE?” Andromeda shrieked. “Severus Snape did this to you?”

“Hey, hey, calm down,” James said. “Believe me; Sirius did ten times worse to him.”

“Why didn’t you go to St. Mungo’s?” Andromeda asked again.

Sirius apparently couldn’t talk too well, so James answered for him. “I tried to take him,” he said, “but he said he wanted you to come. He thought you were here.”

Andromeda paled. “I was at…at Lucius Malfoy’s. Oh, man. Come on, Sirius, you’ve got to get to St. Mungo’s. NOW!”

Twenty minutes later, Sirius was walking out of St. Mungo’s, fully healed and joking around with James. “Come on, Andi, why do you still look so upset? I’m fine now,” Sirius said, pausing to look at her on the street.

“Why am I so upset? You pulled me out of an important dinner party at the Malfoys’ to come to St. Mungo’s with you!” Andromeda replied heatedly.

“Well, I’m sorr-ee!” Sirius said. “I didn’t know I was interrupting an Andi/Lucius snog fest here!”

This was so close to the truth that Andromeda looked away, her heart beating very fast and her face red. She heard Sirius give an astonished shout. “Andi, you’re JOKING, right?”

She turned back to look at him. She was shaking with combined anger and embarrassment. “No, I am NOT joking. I was having an excellent time with Lucius, and you ruined it because you’re too much of a baby to go to the hospital without me there to support you.”

Sirius gaped at her, apparently lost for words. James stood behind him, a shocked expression on his face. “Andi…” James said. “Lucius Malfoy?”

“Shut up!” screeched Andy. “Besides, what am I supposed to tell Mother? I can’t very well tell her I had to leave because Sirius went and got himself beat up by a pale, greasy little sixth year!”

James snickered a little at Sirius’ dumbstruck expression.

“Well, I’m sorry,” Sirius said finally. “Next time I’ll be sure not to ruin your date with that git Malfoy.”

“Good!” Andromeda yelled at him, and stomped off towards her house, her long curls tangled and limp and her dress robes dirtied from walking the streets of London.

As she neared home, a tall, thin figure walked out of an alleyway on her right. As it got closer, she saw it was Snape, and he was limping steadily towards her.

“Andromeda Black?” he tried to call, but it came out more of a whispered moan. “Is Sirius with you?”

“No,” she called back. Her voice was shaking. She’d heard awful things about this kid.

“I need help,” he croaked, and as he limped into the light, Andromeda almost screamed. James was right; Sirius had done ten times worse to Snape. Andromeda forced herself to look up at Snape again. His face was a twisted, ugly mess of bruises. His cheeks, mouth, and both eyes were swollen. Snape’s leg and right arm were cut and bloody and he was clutching his stomach; Andromeda though maybe his ribs were broken.

Andromeda shuddered at his disgusting appearance. “You…you should go to St. Mungo’s. D’you…do you know where it is?”

“No,” Snape answered. “Tell me. Now!”

Andromeda lost all of her pity for Severus Snape in that one simple word—she couldn’t stand people who thought they could boss her around. “Down this road, to the right, in an old abandoned shop. Don’t expect my help anytime in the future,” she added as he grunted and limped away. She smiled slightly as she realized she hadn’t told him how to get inside the hospital.

What a creep, Andromeda thought before continuing home.

The next day, Andromeda ran around making sure she had packed absolutely everything. Earlier that morning, she had given her mother some stupid excuse as to why she had had to leave the Malfoys’ last night. She wasn’t sure her mother believed her, but Larissa hadn’t commented.

Now Andromeda folded her freshly cleaned new dress robes and laid them inside a trunk with her initials stamped on it, next to the matching shoes. She needed robes for the Holiday Ball, and only Lucius Malfoy, her mother, and her sisters had seen these, so they’d be fine. Andromeda scanned her list. She’d checked everything off each of the three times she’d checked her trunks.

Andromeda dragged her two trunks and a smaller suitcase behind her. She’d packed the suitcase full of Muggle clothes she’d gotten in the shops in London, because every other week in her Muggle Studies class they’d be taking a trip to a Muggle town and be graded on how they interacted with Muggles, how well they could manage Muggle money, and how well they dressed in Muggle clothes.

She dragged her luggage down the stairs and into the foyer, where she set the trunks and suitcase down by the door and then ran back to her room to get Aphrodite and her cage. She skidded into the room, grabbed Aphrodite’s cage and went and dropped it by her trunks. When she returned to her room, a large eagle owl was on top of her armoire, a short note in its beak. Andromeda took the note and the owl flew off through the open window. She read the note quickly:

Meet me on Platform 9 tomorrow at 10:30 AM. You left your cloak at my house on Saturday night.
-Lucius Malfoy
August 31, 1976

Andromeda felt a slight chill of excitement at the thought of seeing Lucius again, and went downstairs to tell her mother she needed to get to the platform early.

The next morning, Andromeda and her sisters walked to King’s Cross Station. Larissa made them pull their luggage behind them each year the whole way to the station. When Andromeda asked why they had to do this, her mother had responded that it was simply the way she had always done it as a student at Hogwarts.

Still, Andromeda thought as she dragged her two trunks, her suitcase, and Aphrodite’s cage behind her, it wasn’t very sensible. Both of her trunks weighed about eighty pounds, the suitcase weighed about fifty, and Aphrodite’s cage was about ten—that was about 220 pounds all together!

Behind her, Bellatrix and Narcissa were complaining, as they always were, about having to get up an hour early and having to pull their trunks behind them.

After twenty long and painful minutes of walking, they finally arrived at King’s Cross and dumped their trunks (with the help of a discreet Lightening Spell by Mother) into a trolley. They walked to the brick barrier between Platforms 9 and 10.

“Oldest to youngest,” said her mother, and gently pushed Andromeda toward the barrier. Andromeda stood right in front of the barrier, said goodbye to her mother, and leaned into the barrier as a group of American tourists walked past, talking and snapping chewing gum.

Andromeda fell right through the bricks and onto the platform. It was so early that the Hogwarts Express wasn’t even running yet, and the platform was empty except for Lucius Malfoy and his parents, who were standing right in the center.

She pushed her trolley over in his direction as Narcissa and Bella appeared on the platform and looked around, obviously disgusted by its emptiness. Andromeda walked to Lucius, smiled at him and his parents, and said, “Hey,” softly.

His parents smiled broadly at her and, saying goodbye to Lucius, walked back through the barrier.

“Hey,” Lucius said, a note of cockiness in his voice. He held her extra cloak up and said, “You left this at my house on Saturday.”

“Right,” she said. “Thanks.” She took the cloak from him, popped open her trunk and laid it in neatly. “I…um,” she stammered, unsure what to say. “I should probably go, I mean, I…um, have to change and save a compartment for everyone. Thanks. I’ll…bye.” Andromeda began to walk away, and then paused for a moment before abandoning her trolley, walking back to Lucius and kissing him. She smiled and whispered, “See you at school.”

Without waiting for an answer, she walked back to her trolley and boarded the train, slipping into the first compartment she spotted. Her heart was racing and she felt dizzy and just wonderful. She was sighing with delight as she changed into her school robes and dropped into a seat, so ready for the school year to start.
 Chapter Two

Andromeda stayed slumped in the seat on the Hogwarts Express before the train gave a jolt and started. Two minutes later, Andromeda’s best friend, Rachel Arane, stuck her head into the compartment.

“Is Andr...oh! Andi, we’ve been looking all over for you!” Rachel squeaked. She jumped into the compartment, pulled Andromeda up from her seat and hugged her.

“Rachel! Oh, I missed you!” Andromeda exclaimed. She looked Rachel up and down. Rachel looked exactly the same as last year—shoulder-length fiery red hair, deep green eyes, pale skin...she was also still short, like she had been last year.

“Rachel, is Andi in there?” someone called from the hall.

“She better be, we’ve looked over half the train,” another voice added.

Two seconds later, four more of Andromeda’s friends appeared in the doorway, Bethany Prewett, Laura Fawcett, Luke Vazquez, and Nick Black, her second cousin.

“Beth! Luke! Laura! Nick!” shrieked Andromeda, hugging each of them in turn.

The rest of the six-hour train ride was spent laughing, joking, talking, and playing several dozen games of Exploding Snap. Lucius Malfoy only stopped into their compartment once. When Andromeda spotted him, she secretly blew air kisses toward him. He smiled and blew one back, which made her incredibly giddy and happy.

Finally, the conductor made the announcement that they were “only fifteen minutes away from Hogwarts, and please leave all luggage on the train; it will be brought to the castle separately.” Andromeda pulled her cloak out of her trunk and hooked it over her robes—it was rainy, cold and miserable outside.

“What is that?” Laura said suddenly, pointing out the window of the compartment. Andromeda turned to look out and screamed. They were passing a field south of Hogsmeade, and there was a huge shape looming out of the darkness—trudging slowly alongside the train. It was immense—Andromeda squinted through the dark to evaluate its size, and figured it must have been at least fifteen feet tall—whatever it was. Within a minute, as the shape grew closer, the other compartments caught on and noticed, and screams filled the train. Andromeda went into the aisle and spotted one of her roommates, Clare Taylor, standing in the door of the compartment next to Andromeda’s.

“Clare!” she yelled over the screams. “What is that thing out there?”

“I don’t know,” Clare shouted back. Her blonde hair swung in her face, and she impatiently pushed it back. “It’s huge, though, and headed right where the train is! I’m going to tell the driver to speed up, or else it’ll get us.” Her voice shook slightly. Clare waved and jogged down the aisle.

Andromeda looked down the aisle to the other compartments. Bellatrix was leaning out of one of the doors. “Scared, Andi?” she called. “Afraid the monster’s going to eat you?”

“Bugger off, Bella,” Andromeda said, and went back into her compartment. Bethany was on the floor, leaning her head on the seat behind her with her eyes closed. Rachel was curled like a cat on the seat behind Bethany, her already pale skin now chalk white. Laura stood by the window, her nose pressed against the glass, watching the shape grow steadily closer—now running to keep up with the train. Nick and Luke sat across from one another, both almost as pale as Rachel. No one spoke. Andromeda felt as though she were at a funeral and was hit by a horrible thought—what if Mother and Father are at my funeral this time tomorrow?

She squeezed her eyes shut as if that would make this possibility disappear. “What is that—thing out there?” Andromeda asked Laura. “Are we panicking over—over nothing?”

Laura swallowed hard. “I don’t know. But this th-thing is huge and running after the train. We’re ten minutes away from Hogsmeade. What then? Does it catch us? Or do we catch it?”

“We catch it,” Nick said firmly. “And we all live happily ever after. Stop worrying! We’re not going to die. Look, who would win? It’s all of Hogwarts against one—thing. We don’t even know what this thing is.”

Andromeda smiled shakily at Nick. He had that same gift as Sirius—he could change her mood instantly. Although cheered slightly by that little speech, Andromeda still glanced warily about the little compartment, as though the fifteen-foot—whatever it was—could be right there among them. She took a deep breath to calm herself and said, “I’m going over to Clare’s compartment to see what’s going on. Does anyone want to come?”

There was silence in the compartment once more until Rachel stood and said, “I’ll come with you.”

Andromeda smiled gratefully; she had definitely not wanted to go discover their fate alone. “Thanks, Rach,” she said, and they walked into the aisle and over to Clare’s compartment. She glanced through the open door before knocking. Clare was passing a glittery notebook filled with her and Charlotte Johnson’s handwriting and a quill back and forth with Charlotte, who was another of their roommates. A sixth-year Ravenclaw Andromeda didn’t know by name was curled in a corner reading a Gladrags catalogue. The girl reading the catalogue was small with shiny brown hair and long manicured nails that reminded Andromeda of Bellatrix’s. The only other person in the compartment was a very pretty but very young girl that Andromeda didn’t recognize, with black hair in a braid and almond eyes.

“Hey Andi, hey Rach,” Clare said when Andromeda knocked. “Oh, this is Julia Nord,” she pointed to the girl reading the catalogue, who waved after looking up for a split second, “and this is Ella Chang.” She pointed to the other girl, who flashed them a white, brilliant smile. “This is Andromeda—Andi—Black and Rachel Arane.” She told Julia and Ella.

“Hi,” Rachel said. Her eyes traveled over every person in the compartment before coming back to rest on Clare. “D’you know what’s going on?”

Clare shrugged, but Julia ran a hand through her hair, dropped her catalogue on the seat, and answered, “I talked to the driver. He’s sent an owl ahead to Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic branch in Hogsmeade. No one knows what’s out there, but he says we’ll be ready for it.”

It was silent in the compartment for a while. Then Ella said in a loud voice, “What if it’s a giant or something? They’re about twenty feet tall and very tough—you can’t just stun one and make it stop.”

Andromeda peered out the window through the darkness. “That’s not a giant,” she said. “I think...I think that’s a troll.”

Julia scrambled to her feet to join Andromeda at the window. “My God, she’s right,” she cried. “That is definitely a troll.”

In a matter of two seconds, Ella, Clare, Charlotte and Rachel were all pressed against the window with Julia and Andromeda. Ella gave a little whimper of fear. The troll was running quickly; surely soon he’d catch up—

“Look!” Charlotte shouted. “Hogsmeade!” Andromeda was slapped in the face by Ella’s braid as everyone turned their heads, but she smiled anyway because the lights of Hogsmeade shone in the distance.

“We’re saved!” Rachel laughed and fell back into a seat, her face glowing with delight and relief. Clare gave a small cheer and Charlotte did a little victory dance. Andromeda laughed and fell onto the seat Clare had been in. She landed on the glittery blue notebook Charlotte and Clare had been writing in and pulled it out from under her. “What’s this?” she asked Charlotte.

“Nothing,” Charlotte answered. “Just an old notebook, me and Clare were working on a story.

“Oh,” Andromeda said, and tossed the book back to Charlotte. “So, Char, still going to be a professor with me? You’ll still be my roommate in ‘professor school’, right?” she laughed.

“Of course, Andi!” Charlotte said. “Teachers all the way! Clare, have you picked a profession YET? Please, please, please tell me you have.”

“Yeah,” Clare answered. “I have. I’m going to be an Auror like my Aunt Carla. I’m going to miss you guys so much next year!”

Andromeda and Charlotte exchanged a look. “Clare, er, your Aunt Carla…well, wasn’t she killed last year?”

There was a silence for a moment. Andromeda looked around. Ella and Rachel were watching Clare, looking very interested. Julia had opened the Gladrags catalogue again and was staring at a bright pink set of robes. Andromeda had a sudden strange urge to toss a pile of gold at Julia and tell her it was for those robes—for the ball this year. But she knew it would make Julia immensely uncomfortable and so looked back over at Clare.

Finally, Charlotte spoke up. “Andi’s right, Clare. What, do you want to die there and leave us all alone?”

“I’m not going to die!” Clare snapped. “Look, can we at least wait until we get to school with Liz and Rory to talk about this? Please?”

Charlotte and Andromeda frowned and Charlotte muttered, “Whatever,” and turned away from Clare.

Suddenly, the train shuddered to a halt and the driver’s voice filled the air. “All students remain in your seats until further notice. Do not panic. Stay calm.” You could feel the nervous tension fill the compartment. No one seemed to want to look out the window. After only about five minutes, an ear-splitting roar tore through the train and they heard the troll fall.

Clare gave another small cheer as the driver’s voice filled the train again. “It is now safe to exit the train. Please leave all of your luggage in the compartment.”

Charlotte made a face at Clare before stowing the notebook they had been writing in in the pink purse she had slung over her shoulder. Slowly, they filed out of the compartment—Clare, Charlotte, Ella, Julia and then Andromeda. Andromeda felt like she had butterflies dancing in the pit of her stomach. This was it—her very last year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But this slightly nervous feeling was nothing to how she supposed Ella was feeling—Andromeda glanced over at Ella and smiled slightly. Ella was extremely pale and looked kind of sick. She wondered if anyone had told Ella that all she had to do was try on a hat. She supposed no one had—Ella was actually shaking and looked like she was walking to her own execution.

Andromeda flashed Ella an encouraging sort of smile as they made their way off the train. “Good luck!” she called to her. Ella waved and joined the other first years lining up to cross the lake.

Charlotte grabbed Andromeda’s arm and pulled to an empty carriage. Andromeda dug her heels into the ground and paused for a moment to admire the thestrals pulling it, which she had been able to see since she was twelve, when she had seen her grandmother die.

“Andi, MOVE!” Charlotte yelled. “It’s pouring out here!”

It was, too. Great buckets of rain splashed down on them as they stepped into the carriage. Claps of thunder sounded every few seconds. Andromeda shivered in her soaking wet robes as the carriage clattered up the bumpy road to Hogwarts.

Finally, the carriage came to a halt outside the entrance hall. Andromeda and Charlotte ran inside to the Great Hall and collapsed at the Ravenclaw table, gasping for breath but laughing. Clare, Liz Marcell and Rory Fawcett, Laura Fawcett’s twin sister, appeared from the hall and sat down next to them. Rory and Liz were their other two roommates. Andromeda noticed all three of them were perfectly dry.

“Aren’t you two ever going to learn to do a water repelling charm?” Rory asked, shaking her head disapprovingly and flipping her curly blonde hair over her shoulder.

“Oh, shut up, Rory,” Charlotte laughed. Rory opened her mouth to reply, looking angry, but Liz held up a hand.

“Rory, don’t. Char, knock it off.” Liz said tiredly. “Please don’t do this this year.”

“Do what?” Rory said, looking utterly bewildered.

“Fight!” Clare said, rolling her eyes. “Like you did all last year!”

“Okay, everybody just shut up,” Andromeda said. “Dumbledore’s going to talk.”

“I don’t—,” Rory began, but Clare silenced her with a glare.

“Whatever,” Rory said, sticking her tongue out when Clare turned away.

“Oh, how mature,” Andromeda muttered. Dumbledore stood up at the staff table and began to talk, but Andromeda wasn’t listening. Instead, she was glancing around at the different house tables, especially the Slytherin one. Between five of her cousins and her sister sat Lucius Malfoy, his blonde hair shining under the lightning flashing down from the enchanted ceiling.

Lucius looked…different, somehow, sitting there with his friends. There was a kind of cold glint in his eyes that was not there when he talked to Andromeda. She saw him laugh at something that Dumbledore said, which obviously wasn’t supposed to be funny, and had a sudden stab of uncertainty. What was she seeing in him? If he was a sensitive, kind person with Andromeda and a cold, uncaring person with his Slytherin friends and her sisters, who was he, really? Either way, he was being completely fake with someone.

Andromeda tore her eyes away from Lucius and looked over to the Gryffindor table for Laura and Bethany. She watched some of the Gryffindors for a while as Dumbledore went on, and then looked over to the Hufflepuffs.

Suddenly, everyone started clapping. Andromeda looked up and realized with a jolt that she must have missed the Sorting Hat’s song. She gave a little groan of disappointment and smiled and waved at Ella, who was standing up by the staff table with the other first years. Ella seemed to have calmed down since Professor McGonagall had explained what they would be doing. She actually looked extremely excited as she waved energetically back to Andromeda.

Six kids were sorted before Ella—three new Gryffindors, two Slytherins and a Hufflepuff. Ella bounced up onto the stool and Professor McGonagall dropped the hat onto her head. It took almost a minute before the hat bellowed, “RAVENCLAW!”

Andromeda clapped and cheered as Ella made her way to the Ravenclaw table and sank into the seat next to her. “Great job!” Andromeda told Ella, as “Doyle, Audrey” joined the Slytherins and took the empty seat next to Narcissa. Andromeda made a face. She felt bad for Audrey Doyle for having to be sorted into a house like that. Andromeda told this to Ella, who giggled and said, “You think so, too? I’ve got a sister in Slytherin, Naomi. I’m actually embarrassed to be seen in public with her. I was so afraid I was going to be sorted into Slytherin with her. I guess you know what that’s like,” she added, seeing Andromeda glance over to Narcissa.

“Yeah, unfortunately,” Andromeda said. She looked up to the Sorting again. There were only two people left, “Zorbaugh, Kyle,” and “Santiago, Maria.” Maria was sorted into Ravenclaw and Kyle into Hufflepuff.

Andromeda clapped loudly as Maria joined their table. Dumbledore stood up once more, smiled around the hall and said very simply, “Eat!”

“Yay!” Charlotte said, laughing, from Andromeda’s right. The long Ravenclaw table was all of a sudden filled with dozens and dozens of dishes of food.

“I’m starving,” Rory moaned, piling salad and chicken onto her plate. Andromeda took the salad from her as Rory, her mouth filled with lettuce, said, “I wonder if they’ve fixed your hole in the wall, Char?” she swallowed and gave Charlotte an innocent smile.

“Fixed her what?” Ella asked.

Rory smiled again at Ella and started to tell the story, while Charlotte shot furious looks down the table. “You see,” Rory began, “last year, our lovely Charlotte over here and I—did I introduce myself?” she flipped her hair, “Rory Fawcett, Ravenclaw seventh year, roommate to Andi, Clare, Liz and, unfortunately, Char. Anyway, Char and I had gotten into a little fight.” she grinned. “I think maybe I read her journal or something. So she starts screaming and stuff, right? You know, ‘It’s my personal property, how dare you,’ blah, blah, blah. So I’m just standing there, right, in the middle of our dorm and Char gets so mad she goes crazy and actually punches a hole in the wall! Filch is going to have a field day yelling at you when he finds out,” she said to Charlotte, who looked positively murderous after reliving that particular memory.

Ella looked as though she was trying not to smile. “She—she punched a hole in the wall?”

“Yup,” Andromeda nodded. “Just went wham—,” she curled her hand into a fist and punched the air, “—and knocked a piece of the dorm wall out, clear through to the staircase.”

“It’s not funny!” Charlotte said hotly as they all erupted in laughter.

“Well, it’s really not,” Clare agreed, “Except for the part where you came running screaming into the common room clutching your hand afterwards.”

“Yeah,” Liz said, nodding and still laughing, “Gotta agree with Clare there.”

“Sorry, Char,” Rory said. “But that was pretty funny. I watched it all from up the stairs. After I had finished staring in disbelief at the damage you did, of course.”

“Hmph,” Charlotte said, picking at her macaroni salad. “Wasn’t very funny for me when Madam Pomfrey said I broke three fingers that night.”

Everyone winced. “Oooh, yeah. Sorry about that, Char,” Rory said. “Didn’t mean for you to…anyway, I don’t know why you made such a big deal out of me reading that journal. There was only one entry, about some guy named…um…” she furrowed her brow, thinking hard, and flipped her hair again. “OH! Right. His name was Evan McGowan, or something. Who was he, anyway?”

“No one!” Charlotte said, going very pink.

“No one,” Rory repeated, her eyebrows raised. “Is that why there were three pages about how much you loved him, how incredibly handsome he is, how much money he had…”

“Shut up, Rory,” Andromeda said, abandoning her salad to look up at Charlotte, who was growing redder by the second. Andromeda wouldn’t be surprised if she pulled out her wand and began throwing every hex she knew at Rory. Andromeda knew that that’s what she would have done in Charlotte’s position.

“Why?” Rory asked, leaning over Charlotte to talk to her and winking hugely. “Isn’t it our business if Char has a secret boyfriend that she hadn’t told us about? Who knows—,” she dropped her voice to a stage whisper. “—maybe it’s a Muggle!”

Charlotte choked on an apple slice and disappeared under the table, coughing. When she came up, her face was glowing red. Rory, Liz and Clare shrieked in unison. Andromeda stared at Charlotte, speechless. Liz jumped to her feet.

“CHARLOTTE ANNEMARIE JOHNSON!” Liz screamed. People in the hall glanced around and stared at them. Liz either didn’t notice or didn’t care, because she still was screaming as she continued, “YOU CANNOT BE DATING A MUGGLE! YOU’RE A WITCH! MY MOM DATED A MUGGLE AND LOOK WHERE IT GOT HER! KILLED!”

“Shut up!” Charlotte yelped, slapping at Liz. “Shut up and sit down! He’s not a Muggle! He’s not even Muggle-born! His name is Evan, okay, and he lives in America and goes to school there—Kingston Academy. I met him on holiday last Christmas. He’s not a Muggle,” she repeated slowly. “And anyway, what would it matter if he was?” she added.

“Then why’d you…dive under the table and stuff?” Liz whispered, ignoring Charlotte’s last statement. Both of Liz’s hands were over her mouth. She looked completely mortified.

“Dunno. The idea of me dating a Muggle—just—set me off, I guess.” Andromeda could tell she was lying, but didn’t say anything. Charlotte looked impatiently at her plate. The dinner foods had been replaced by tons of dessert food. “Is this feast ever going to be over?”

As if in answer to her question, the food vanished from the table and Dumbledore stood up again. “Class schedules will be passed out tomorrow morning at breakfast. Quidditch tryouts will be held next Friday evening at six o’clock. If you are interested in trying out for your team, contact the house captains, who are as follows: Gryffindor, Amanda Hector. Slytherin, Lucius Malfoy. Ravenclaw, Elizabeth Marcell. Hufflepuff, Lexi Carusa. Congratulations again to you, Amanda, Lucius, Elizabeth, and Lexi,” he said, smiling at the four of them. “May you all have an excellent year. Goodnight!”

“You didn’t tell us you’d been made captain!” Clare hissed as they walked to their common room.

“I’m sorry!” Liz cried, paling. She seemed incredibly nervous. “They sent an owl in the beginning of the summer, I completely forgot about it! Clare, I can’t be captain…all that responsibility! Head of the whole team!”

“You’ll be a great captain!” Andromeda told Liz, who shrugged as they walked through a secret passageway under an old tapestry. They emerged from the passage on the third floor, where they went through another passage and came out of it on the seventh floor in front of a particularly shiny suit of armor. A prefect came running up and said, “Password’s ‘four-point.’”

Instantly, the suit of armor stepped aside and revealed a heavy oak door, which the prefect wrenched open and held for them. “Thanks,” Andromeda said. He nodded and ran in after them. They walked through a short hall, which led to the common room, a large tower room painted in blue and silver. There were a lot of overstuffed old couches and armchairs and rickety old tables. They had four fireplaces and a gigantic chandelier hung from the center of the ceiling.

Andromeda was hit with a sudden wave of tiredness. “I’m going straight to bed,” she told her roommates, suppressing a yawn. “Is anyone coming with me?”

“Me,” Rory said. She looked as tired as Andromeda felt. Rory and Andromeda said good night and trudged up the stairs to the top dormitory. Andromeda yawned hugely and got changed, then dropped into bed.

She had almost fallen asleep when Rory’s voice cut through the darkness in a great rush.

“Andi, does Char really hate me? I mean, I might be a little nasty to her sometimes and I just want to know.”

“Nobody hates you, Rory.” Andromeda answered, exasperated. She sat up and turned towards Rory’s bed. “You’re beautiful, and smart, and funny. Everyone loves you.”

It took a while for Rory to respond. Finally, she said, “Thanks, Andi. You know, you are too.”

“Thanks. Now GOODNIGHT!” Andromeda flopped back onto her bed.

Once again, she had almost fallen asleep when Rory spoke.

“Andi, do you think your family is as bad as mine?”


“Yeah? You really think so? Can I ask you something else?”

“Rory,” Andromeda said, “if I don’t get to sleep right now I am going to go crazy. Be quiet for once in your life!”

“Sorry, Andi,” Rory laughed. “’Night.”

“’Night,” Andromeda answered, and then dropped off to sleep.

That night, Andromeda had a very strange dream. She dreamt that she had gone home for Christmas break to find the house deserted. No Mother, no Father, no Bellatrix, no Narcissa. She had run around the house looking for them but they had gone without a trace. As she sat in the parlor, wondering where they were, Rory and Laura appeared and asked her to come to Christmas at their house. Then Liz, Clare and Charlotte came in, yelling not to go with Rory because they hated her. They got into a fight with Laura and Rory and then all of them disappeared and were replaced by someone sitting on the couch. She couldn’t see his face and reached over to turn it—

“Andi! Wake up!” Charlotte was yelling. “You’ll miss breakfast!”

“What?” Andromeda sat up very quickly and pulled her bed curtains open. Charlotte was standing at the foot of Andromeda’s bed, pulling on her cloak and looking anxiously out the window.

“We’re going to miss breakfast, hurry up, Andi!” Charlotte said. “Wear your cloak. Liz went down to get her schedule already and told me we have Herbology first and it still hasn’t stopped raining!” she said this all very quickly and threw Andromeda’s robes and cloak at her, said, “Meet me in the common room,” and walked out. Andromeda looked around the dorm as she dressed. Except for her, it was completely empty. Charlotte’s hole in the wall seemed to have been repaired over the summer. Andromeda smiled as she imagined Filch’s reaction to finding it. She glanced out the window. Huge sheets of rain were still falling, drenching the grounds and threatening to overflow the lake.

She slipped out of the room and walked down the curving staircase. Charlotte was waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs and they walked out of the common room, Andromeda still yawning. They took the same path to the Great Hall that they had the night before. Charlotte was chattering animatedly to her, but Andromeda couldn’t pay attention. She felt like she was going to collapse any second and wondered vaguely why she was so tired.

Finally they made it down to the Ravenclaw table and sat down. The Hall was nearly empty; not including Charlotte and Andromeda, there were only six others Ravenclaws at the table. Andromeda poured herself a vanilla cappuccino—her morning drink of choice since her first year. She only started to feel awake after a few sips of it.

“Here, Andi,” Charlotte said and tossed a schedule to her. Andromeda picked and looked it over.

“So…today we have Herbology, double Divination—yes—,” (Andromeda loved Divination class, the professor often told her she had the Sight) “—Charms, and double Potions.”

“Ugh,” Charlotte said. “I wish I could’ve quit Potions last year. Too bad we have to have it for our teaching exams…I nearly cried when Flitwick told me that in our meeting.” Charlotte was an exceptionally bad Potions student. It was a good thing her family was filthy rich, because Charlotte needed a new cauldron nearly every month—so far she had managed to melt, blow up, crack or put holes in every one she’d had.

“Yeah,” Andromeda said absently. “Look, we’d better get going.” Lucius Malfoy was heading their way. “We’re…um…we’re going to be late for Herbology.”

“Oh, man, you’re right,” Charlotte said, looking down at her watch. “All right, let’s go.” She stood up and grabbed her bag off of the bench next to her.

“Ah, shoot, I forgot my bag!” Andromeda cried. “I’ve got to run up to the dorm and grab it; meet you in Herbology.”

“Andi, hurry!” Charlotte said anxiously, but Andromeda had already taken off across the hall. She ran down a corridor, under the tapestry, through the passage, through another passage, in front of the suit of armor. “Four-point,” Andromeda gasped, and the armor stepped aside. She pulled open the door and ran across the common room, took the stairs to her dorm three at a time and grabbed her bag before dashing back the way she came, across the entrance hall, across the lawn, and down to the greenhouses.

Andromeda froze, three yards in front of the greenhouse that her class was in. Lucius Malfoy stood in front of it, leaning against the door. As she approached, he began walking to meet her and called out, “Professor Sprout sent me out here to get you. But then Charlotte said that you were coming, you’d just forgotten your bag, so I decided to save myself a walk.” He smiled hugely at her.

Andromeda didn’t move. She could not forget how cruel and cold and…well, how Lucius had seemed last night with the Slytherins. “Well, thanks,” she said and walked right past him into the greenhouse, leaving him looking lost and confused behind her. She muttered an apology to Professor Sprout, who told her that it was perfectly all right and that they would be working on planting Venomous Tentacula seeds today, four people to a table. Andromeda nodded mutely and sat down at a table with Charlotte, Rory, and a Slytherin girl who introduced herself as Thia Clarkson.

Thia seemed pretty nice for a Slytherin, or perhaps Andromeda only that that because Thia didn’t seem to like Lucius Malfoy much, either. Andromeda began telling Rory and Charlotte all about what had happened between her and Lucius over the summer, at the feast, and outside the greenhouse just now. Thia had no choice but to overhear.

“He’s always been a great prat, Andromeda,” Thia sighed, forcing a jewel-like red seed into a pot. This was fairly difficult, as the seeds had tiny sharp teeth and attempted to bit your fingers off when you touched it. It attached itself to Thia’s palm and she screeched, “OW!” before continuing, “He told me he had a crush on me in fifth year, and then he turned around and dumped me to start dating my sister. My sister! Anyway, my advice would be to have nothing more to do with Lucius Malfoy.”

And as Andromeda caught sight of Lucius, sniggering and pointing at a Slytherin girl with his friends, she thought that at that moment, she would have given anything to not be associated with Lucius Malfoy anymore.

But what if she had gotten too close to Lucius? Would she have to endure her entire life being confused and hurt by him?

Chapter Three

Andromeda walked out of Herbology an hour later, her fingers full of bites from the Venomous Tentacula seeds and her mind full of thoughts about Lucius Malfoy.

“Forget about him, Andi!” Charlotte said firmly as they walked to Divination. “Come on—last year you wouldn’t even look at the guy. Now you’re spending every waking moment thinking about him. He’s not worth it.”

Andromeda shrugged and started up the silvery ladder leading to the classroom.
The Divination classroom was notoriously cold and dark. Sybill Trelawney told Andromeda during one of their winter lessons last year, “If I ever teach Divination here, a fire is going to be burning. All—the—time.”

“Andi, listen to me,” Charlotte begged as they took seats in the front of the classroom in overstuffed armchairs. “Forget about Malfoy! You could start going after someone else! What about…like, Ted Tonks? You’re always joking around with him, right?”

“Well, yeah,” Andromeda admitted, “But he was brought up by Muggles, though, which presents a problem.”

“I don’t see any problem,” Charlotte said indignantly. “What’s wrong with being brought up by Muggles?”

“Charlotte,” Andromeda said impatiently, “Mother would kill both Ted and I if I ever brought him home or if she found out we were dating.”

“Well, I still think you ought to—,”

“Welcome to Divination, class,” a soft, smooth voice rang through the room, and their teacher, Professor Caelaen, was brought into view by the single lamp lighting the classroom.

Morgan Caelaen was a very young, very pretty woman. She had gorgeous long, curly blonde hair and was dressed in rich purple robes that glittered softly when they hit the light. She turned her head toward Andromeda and stared at her for a moment.

“Having troubles, my dear?” Professor Caelaen said softly, leaning across Andromeda’s table to whisper confidentially, “Family troubles?” she paused, then with a small smile, whispered, “Boy troubles?”

Andromeda nodded and traced a tiny burn mark in the table with her finger.

“Andromeda,” Professor Caelaen said, standing up straight and looking down at her. When she continued, her voice was firm and loud. “You have the Gift, Andromeda. You have the Gift to See. You can See what will happen in either scenario, can you not?” she winked at Andromeda and clapped her hands, “Right then! Bring out Unfogging the Future, review the chapter on crystal balls, and then you can get started with the crystal ball on your table. For homework: a detailed essay on what you Saw, to be handed in on Thursday. All right, get started!”

As this was a N.E.W.T. level course, there were only six students in the class—Andromeda, Charlotte, Sybill Trelawney, Ted Tonks, Thia, and a Slytherin named Andrew Cartwright. Andromeda gazed around the room for a moment before she opened Unfogging the Future. Ted and Sybill were paired at one table. Ted was staring hopelessly at the crystal ball while Sybill read bits of the chapter out loud to him. Thia and Andrew hadn’t opened their books but were flirting very obviously with each other.

Shaking her head, Andromeda opened her book and skimmed the crystal ball chapter very quickly.

“Empty your mind of all emotions and concerns and look deep into the ball,” Charlotte read aloud. She looked up at Andromeda. “You’re better at this than me. You try.”

“Okay,” Andromeda shrugged and pulled the crystal ball closer to her. She focused on a point deep within the crystal ball and gazed at it for a moment until her mind was completely clear. Then she began to See.

Swirling fog clouded the ball for a few seconds, then the figures within it came into sharper view—Larissa Black, Narcissa, and Lucius Malfoy, sitting in the parlor of the Blacks’ home, talking. Andromeda couldn’t hear them, but by the way they all looked grave and pale and were leaning in to talk to each other, she could tell it wasn’t a very happy subject. Lucius stood up very suddenly and said something to Narcissa, who shrugged, nodded, and turn to appeal to her mother—but her mother wasn’t there anymore. Narcissa looked down and let out a scream that was silent to Andromeda. Their mother was lying spread-eagled on the cold stone floor, motionless.

Andromeda shrieked and tore her gaze upward. Professor Caelaen came running toward her, crying, “What is it, Andromeda? What have you Seen?” Professor Caelaen was very pale and looked extremely anxious.

“My—my mother,” Andromeda gasped and stared up at the professor. “My mum—she—she—she was dead.”

“You’re predicting a death, did you say?” asked the professor, who had gone very white. Andromeda nodded slowly. Professor Caelaen sank into the chair beside her and said, “Class dismissed. Oh, except you, Andromeda. I think we should talk about what you Saw—be very—very sure.”

“I am sure!” Andromeda insisted. “Professor Caelaen, I Saw—,”

“Morgan,” the professor said quietly.

“What?” Andromeda said, staring at her, her mouth slightly open.

“I want you to call me Morgan,” she replied. “I am only three years older than you, after all, and when you are comfortable with someone—or your surroundings—it makes it so much easier to See.”

“Oh…right,” Andromeda said quickly. “Well, Prof—Morgan—I Saw my mum die. She was talking with my sister Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy—,”

“The one you are having problems with,” Morgan interrupted. “His mother is Artemis Malfoy, yes?”

“Yes,” Andromeda said, “but they were talking, and Lucius stood up and said something to Cissa, and Cissa turned to talk to Mother, but Mother was lying on the floor, dead.”

Morgan’s eyes narrowed. “Very well, Andromeda,” she said and stood up. “I will, of course, be speaking with Professor Dumbledore about this. Oh, and one more thing, Andromeda. How, exactly, did you know that your mother was dead?”

Andromeda looked up at her. “I—what?”

“I said,” Morgan repeated, “how are you so sure that you mother was dead?”

“Well…” Andromeda began, still looking at Morgan a little strangely. “I mean…she was just lying there and…and…well, Narcissa was screaming,” she finished lamely.

“Did Lucius seem concerned at all?” Morgan asked, sitting back down.

“Well, no,” Andromeda admitted, thinking carefully about what she had Seen. “He…he seemed…pleased about it,” Andromeda realized. She was beginning to feel sick. “But Lucius…” she wanted to say that Lucius wouldn’t be please about it, that he wouldn’t do something like that—but she wasn’t sure about that anymore.

“Andromeda, you know what you Saw,” the professor said, and strode away into her office, closing the door behind her.

Andromeda was halfway to the trapdoor before she realized what her vision meant.

“You think Lucius is going to kill your mother?” Rory whispered as she dropped shrivelfigs into her cauldron. “But why would he do that?”

It was two hours later, in Potions class. Andromeda had just finished telling Liz, Rory, and Charlotte about Divination class. “I don’t know,” Andromeda sighed. “I do know that my mother always talks about Artemis Malfoy, and it isn’t ever anything nice. But then again, hardly anything my mother says is nice.”

Charlotte laughed. “Yeah, Andi, I can relate,” she said. “But he’d kill your mum just because she hates his? Sorry, Andi. I saw enough detective television shows this summer to know that’s not a good motive for murder.” Charlotte lived with her uncle, who was a Muggle.

Rory, who didn’t take Muggle Studies, swiveled around on her stool to look at Liz. “What,” she asked, “is television?”

“A box,” Liz began, quoting their textbook, “filled with moving pictures or images, usually telling a story or promoting a product, caused by—,”

“Can we stay on subject, please?” Andromeda cut in sharply. “I want to know why Malfoy would kill my mum.”

“Muggles watch a box,” Rory continued incredulously, “for entertainment?”

“Rory, ple—,”

“Yes,” Charlotte answered indignantly. “It’s very entertaining.”

“A box,” Rory repeated.

“Yes!” Charlotte screeched. Her face was burning as she glared at Rory. “I have half a mind to curse you until you—,”

“Knock it off, you two!” Andromeda cried. She dropped powdered unicorn horn into her cauldron and watched her potion intently as it started hissing and spitting lime green sparks.

Hours later, Andromeda was collapsed on an armchair in the common room, her head throbbing. She was sitting staring into the fire, with one hand pressed against her forehead.

“Headache?” Ted Tonks had dropped into the chair across from her.

“Yeah,” Andromeda answered. She sat up a little straighter and turned away from the fire to watch him.

“It’s probably because of Rory and Charlotte fighting; they’ve been going at it since lunch. Right now, they’re up in your dorm chucking things at each other,” Ted told her, his dark green eyes shining and a grin spreading across his mouth.

“Doesn’t surprise me,” Andromeda sighed. Her head was hurting more than ever. “It’s more like they’ve been going at it since our first year. They drive me crazy.”

Ted ran a hand through his curly brown hair. “Anyway, Andi, I was just wondering if you saw the notice board…” he pointed to it, as though he thought Andromeda might have forgotten where it was, “where it says we’re going into London on the 21st?”

“Oh—yeah, I did,” Andromeda replied. “So, um—you going?” As soon this was out of her mouth, Andromeda desperately wished she could take it back. What a stupid thing to ask, of course he was going, he had to.

Ted grinned at her. “Yeah, thought I might,” he said. “D’you…um…want to hang out with me while we’re there? I mean, to—to help each other with the assignment and all, you know.”

Andromeda looked up at him again—his green eyes, dark hair, tan skin, great grin and all the rest—and thought briefly of what Lucius would say. Then images of him with her sisters forced their way into her mind, and she made her decision.

“I’d love to,” Andromeda said.

Three weeks passed very slowly, and on the morning of September 21st, Andromeda met Ted outside the Great Hall. She walked up to him after she had eaten. Smiling, she said, “Hi,” and he grinned back at her.

“Morning, Andi,” he said, still grinning, “You look great.”

“Why, thank you,” Andromeda replied, striking a pose and laughing. She was wearing faded bell bottom jeans and an unzipped navy blue jacket over a dark pink tank top. A purse was slung over her shoulder and she had braided her hair so it fell in a thick plait down her back. “You do, too,” she added, looking him up and down.

“Thanks,” Ted said. He was wearing jeans and a white tee-shirt with “OXFORD” stamped across it in bold letters. “Here, let me carry that for you.” He picked up her suitcase and immediately pretended to be knocked down by the weight of it. “Andi,” he grinned at her again. “You do know we’ll only be there for three days, right?”

“Oh, shut up,” Andromeda answered, making a face at him. “I packed all my Muggle stuff I bought over the summer. You know, just in case I need it all.”

“Ah, I see,” Ted nodded. “So you had to pack fifty shirts and ten pairs of jeans and three pairs of shoes, just in case you might need them.”

“Exactly,” Andromeda said. She glanced at his tiny duffel bag. “It doesn’t seem like you’re following the same philosophy, however.”

“Nope,” Ted said, lifting up his bag with his pinky finger. “I pride myself on my ability to go three days on one pair of jeans and two tee-shirts.”

Andromeda laughed. She began to talk, but was cut off by the sharp blow of a whistle.

“That’s Conner, let’s go,” Ted said. He hoisted up both of their bags and led the way to the grounds, where their class was assembled, ready to go to London.

In the middle of the group was their teacher, Professor Conner. Conner was a loud, friendly, middle-aged man. As soon as Andromeda and Ted joined the group, he beamed around at the students and said at the top of his voice, “Welcome! I hope you’ve packed some good Muggle clothing, but if you haven’t we’ll just send someone down to the shops to get you some. You all look excellent, great job dressing. Anywho, we’re going to be walking down to Hogsmeade Station and taking the Hogwarts Express to King’s Cross Station. From there, we will take Muggle cabs to Cromwell Inn, a bed-and-breakfast outside of London. When we get there, you’ll receive a schedule of the trips we have planned. Understand? Good. Let’s go.”

***NOTE: I'm not done with this story yet, so I'll be posting new chapters as I finish them. Thanks for reading. smile.gif ***

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