Helen stared down at the pitiful house-elf, hip cocked and arms crossed over her chest. Her penetrating stare was obviously making the little creature uncomfortable, but that's exactly the effect she was hoping for, so she held the pose for another solid minute before exhaling in a rush.

"So let me get this straight. You were the one who blocked the entrance to the platform last summer?"

"Yes, Helen Potter," Dobby the house-elf squeaked, the very picture of remorse.

"And you're the one who charmed the Bludger to try and kill me?"

"Not kill you! Never kill you! Dobby just wanted Helen Potter to go home. Dobby thought if Helen Potter was injured, she might go home," the elf implored, eyes shining with tears at the very idea of her death.

"And you somehow knew there would be danger at Hogwarts? Knew about the basilisk?" Helen questioned, starting to piece the events of this past year together a little more clearly. Dobby was a Malfoy elf, and if he knew, than that could mean the Malfoy's were the ones to give Ginny the diary.

"Dobby is being aware of the possibility. Dobby is knowing there to be Dark magic at Hogwarts doing Dark things, but Dobby is… not knowing if it was to be as bad as it was. Dobby was just wanting brave Helen Potter to be safe!" Helen thought over his words. It seemed unlikely that Lucius Malfoy would put his only son and heir in danger; and unleashing a drakon on the populous counts as severe danger, even for the Purebloods. Such a beast can be commanded, but is never tame. Helen wanted to confront Lucius about this directly, but was rather unsure of the next time she'd be face-to-face with the man.

"Ah, Dobby has said too much! Dobby is a bad elf! A disloyal elf! Dobby only wanted to explain hisself to brave, beautiful Helen Potter," Dobby was starting to sob, and was obviously searching for something to bash his head in with. Helen needed to put a stop to that; she had no idea how to comfort a distraught elf.

"And I appreciate that Dobby, truly. It's a relief to know who set that Bludger on me, and what happened at the platform. Now I don't have to worry about it anymore. Thank you," Helen said quickly, hoping to avoid a total meltdown. Dobby moaned in anguish.

"Helen Potter is too good, too forgiving to Dobby," he cried. Helen sighed. This was going to take awhile.

After Dobby had finished crying and praised her for her 'goodness' about a dozen times over, he bowed low and popped away to go serve the Malfoys. Helen felt a lot of pity for the poor creature and it's brethren. A life of servitude; she knew what that was like, and it sucked.

Helen collapsed back on her rickety old bed in the smallest bedroom of Number Four, Privet Drive. Her previously barred window was open wide to try and get some air flowing into the stuffy room, and Helen was wearing a t-shirt and the only pair of jean shorts she owned trying to combat the heat.

Neither article of clothing fit well, since Helen had been going through some physical changes that summer. The repulsive state of puberty had hit her full force over the past month, and it seemed to enrage her aunt for some reason, who had chucked a box of tampons at her head and told her not to get pregnant. Helen made her anger at such treatment known by throwing a red shirt of Dudley's in with Petunia's white laundry to be washed, ruining the whole batch. Some battles were won by confrontation, but others only required a bit of passive aggressive subtlety… maybe she had spent too much time with the Slytherins last term.

This summer was about as miserable as could be expected. The Dursleys were less than pleased by Helen's spectacular exit last year, and made their displeasure known. They were too nervous about other wizards in flying cars stopping by to lock her in all day like last year, but they always made sure to lock her up at night. Helen was almost proud of their caution: they acted as if she'd slit their throats while they slept if they didn't lock her up and it pleased her to know she could inspire that kind of fear. It also annoyed her because she'd never once physically hurt her aunt or uncle, and Dudley only received whatever he dished out to Helen first. She wasn't some violent sociopath. Probably.

Her chores list was longer than ever, but the extra work had earned her the right to keep her school trunk in her room. Helen needed it to finish her summer homework and work on the warding book Snape had loaned her at the end of the year. She was completely fascinated by it, warding was seriously cool magic, and she was getting all types of ideas on how to defend her stuff at school. She was particularly interested in a shock ward that would electrify anyone who tried to open her trunk without a key phrase, but she wanted it to be stronger. Instead of a painful buzz she wanted it to zap the infiltrator across the room. She'd have to ask Professor Snape about overpowering wards when the semester started.

In light of her newfound interest in warding, Helen had opted to take Ancient Runes for one of her elective classes. It was critical to have a basic understanding of runes to design your own wards, or to break someone else's down. Helen could appreciate that skill, it was imperative for defense and infiltration, should she ever need to break into a warded area.

Helen also opted for Care of Magical Creatures. She was excited about Care and ready to take it very seriously because she had a visceral need to understand what lived out there that could hurt her. In her first two years, she'd fought a troll, a drakon, and acromantulas. A phoenix and a group of centaurs had also saved her life. She really needed to understand what existed, if it was friend or foe, and how to destroy it either way. It was a lack of knowledge she couldn't abide by.

Ron had been rather upset about Helen's refusal to join him in Divination for 'an easy O' but Helen was unshakable. The entire Gryffindor Quidditch team from Oliver Wood to Katie Bell had warned her that Trelawney was barmy and not to take her class if she didn't want her death predicted every two minutes. Lavender and Parvati had also been upset when she wrote to them to tell them she wouldn't take the class. They were really looking forward to it; they wanted to know their future love life. Helen could appreciate such curiosity but she doubted they'd get anything nearly that constructive out of that class.

"Girl! Marge is here! Go open the door and take her stuff upstairs!" her uncle shouted. Helen rolled her eyes but rose to her feet.

Marge Dursley was a rotund woman with a mustache nearly as impressive as her brother's. She was hateful in the way that was typical of anyone named Dursley, and bred dogs for a living. Her nastiest one, Ripper, was also Marge's favorite and traveled with her everywhere. The only thing Helen and Aunt Petunia had ever agreed on was a mutual hate for that mutt. Helen because it tried to eat her when she was younger until she gave it a good kick that sent it over the garden fence, Petunia because animals in her pristine house were hated on principal.

Helen went to retrieve Marge's bags while she lathered affection and a twenty-pound note on Dudley. Such good behavior was required of Helen if she wanted to keep her trunk with her, but Helen had also agreed to 'keep all that freakishness away from Marge' in exchange for a signed note to visit Hogsmeade; the wizarding village that students Third Year and up got to visit with a permission slip. Helen's backup plan if good behavior failed was forgery, but her dyslexia made that a risky option. It was safer just to grab Marge's bag and make sure she never got a look into Helen's room where quills, spell books, and a live owl could be found. They probably all fell under her uncle's category of 'freakishness.'

"Oh, girl, you're still here. Not finished mooching off my brother's kindness?" Marge asked rudely, as if there was a reason an orphaned, almost-thirteen-year-old would have moved out by now.

"Not yet," Helen replied in a singsong tone. A certain amount of cheek was still permissible. Helen and Vernon never would have come to an agreement otherwise. Still, Helen opted not to push it, and escaped upstairs while Marge was turning red.

The rest of Marge's visit continued on in about the same vein as her arrival. Marge drowned Dudley in praise and money, treated Helen like a strange mix between a servant girl and a homeless person that had wandered in and stole her purse, and let her dog slobber and pee it's way through the house, nearly bringing Aunt Petunia to a nervous breakdown.

It was the last night of Marge's stay, and Helen was about to yank her hair out. If she had to hear the words 'burden,' 'wastrel,' or 'ungrateful' one more time, heads were going to roll. Helen had a generally high tolerance for all those words but hearing any words twenty-four hours a day in Marge's deep voice would send a better person than Helen around the bend.

"Vernon, what'd ya' say the girl's father did, again?" Marge asked, drunk and raring for a nice session of tearing Helen down. Helen eyed her uncle in warning. It had been a long week and Vernon should be smart enough to realize exactly how thin the ice of civility had gotten. 'Should be' was the key phrase, of course. She should have known better than to overestimate the Dursley's intelligence.

"Uh, he didn't work. He was unemployed," he returned, looking unsure. Helen felt her eye twitch. Wrong answer.

"Ah ha! Jus' as I e'pected. Prob'ly one of those no good lay-abouts livin' off the hard work of our taxpayers. A drunk too, I e'pect. That's what killed 'em, innit? Drivin' drunk?" Marge asked, her own speech deteriorating as she succumbed to all the booze she'd been pounding down, making her the largest hypocrite in the neighborhood.

"I'm sure you'd know all about that, wouldn't you? Considering you're a barely functioning alcoholic," Helen hissed, getting up to leave. She was so close to the permission form, she just had to hold it together for a few more hours.

"Don' walk away from me, brat! You proud o' your parents? Of your wastrel father an' your whore mother? Oh yea, Petunia's told me all about how she'd spread her legs for-"

"Shut up!" Helen barked; well and truly sick of this woman, of this whole stupid family. She wasn't going to listen to a disgusting waste of space like Marge Dursley lie about the mother who'd sacrificed her life for Helen. She wasn't going to listen to the untrue prattle of the unattractive, unfulfilled sister of the Evans family. Helen Potter had well and truly reached her limit. She was going to storm off and vent some aggression outside, leaving her relatives to deal with Marge's ranting, and hope her moment of lost composure didn't cost her the Hogsmeade slip. At least, she was going to until Marge went to open her mouth and couldn't.

There was an odd silence where a nasty retort should have been. It was soon filled by the muffled screams of a woman who literally couldn't pry her lips apart. Marge Dursley had truly shut up, and the panic in her piggy eyes and aborted motions to her face showed she wasn't enjoying it.

"What did you do? Girl! What did you do? Fix her! Fix her now!" Vernon roared, trying to assist his sister, who was undulating in panic and nearly falling out of her chair. Helen couldn't help it; she really wasn't one to deny the simple pleasures in life. She laughed. Hard.

"I don't know what I did, but I wish I'd done it a week ago," she giggled. Marge was turning red now, not just in fear but anger. Vernon was far past red and sporting a puce face.

"Undo it, you freak! Now!" he yelled, standing up. Dudley was staring at the whole room wide-eyed as he tried to make sense of it all. Petunia was fluttering about, useless to change anything.

"I just said I don't know what I did. How am I supposed to undo it? I'll go send a letter to school, maybe they'll send someone," Helen offered, the humor starting to leak out of her. She really had no idea what she did, she was a little old for accidental magic and her wand was upstairs, safely tucked under a loose floorboard. She really hoped she wasn't about to get in trouble with the Ministry again.

"Not good enough! You did it, now undo it!" Vernon persisted, getting into Helen's face, spit flying from his mouth. Helen held her ground, not giving an inch. She wasn't going to cower to this walrus.

"I just said I don't know what happened. It might not have been me. Maybe God is doing all of us a favor," Helen suggested icily. She was being honest, and she offered to help by contacting a fully trained witch or wizard, what more could she do?

Helen remembered the next seconds vividly. She was about to turn to go write that letter when Vernon lost it. He balled his right hand into a fist and swung, aiming straight for her face with a furious yell. Helen reacted faster than she could think. Her own hand came up lightning quick, caught the man's much larger fist, and held it there with a strength no thirteen-year-old girl should be able to posses.

Helen looked between the caught fist and Vernon's own disbelieving expression in dumbfounded shock. He'd tried to hit her. In twelve years at the Dursley's she'd been drug around, smacked over the head, knocked about with a wooden spoon, pushed, shoved, and physically thrown into her cupboard, but never once did Vernon actually try to punch her. It was the unspoken rule, the line in the sand between what he could get away with and too far. And now he'd gone too far. Helen's eyes blazed emerald fire, her most intimidating sneer creeping across her pretty face.
"You're going to regret that."

She shoved his fist away, and he staggered, her unnatural strength still in effect. She didn't care; she had a man to destroy. A minute later Marge managed to pry her lips apart, whatever was gluing them shut having worn off. She hollered about mischievous brats and their damned pranks, but Helen didn't care about that either. She was pawing through the rickety old wardrobe in her room, trying to find just the right outfit. She was going to war: she'd need armor.

The next day, once Marge had left the house, Helen took to the streets of Little Whinging in the rattiest clothes she could get her hands on. The shirt was one of Dudley's old ones that she used only when gardening now. It was huge, stained, and ripped at one sleeve, and it served her purposes well. Her first stop was Mrs. Geering's of Number Eight. She'd circulated rumors on the Dursley's before, was an older woman and a skilled gossip. Helen knocked on her door, trying to look a little scared and very tired. It was hard when she had so much anger fueling her.

"Mrs. Geering, can I talk to you for a minute?" Helen asked, voice soft.

She'd been invited in, offered tea, and then got down to business. She told Mrs. Geering about how it was Dudley who had ruined her azalea bushes earlier that summer on Petunia's orders because they were nicer than hers. This was a completely true statement. The lie was that Helen just felt so bad and couldn't take the guilt anymore of not telling her. Helen didn't care about the petty garden rivalry in this neighborhood. She cared about giving out as much damning Dursley information in as little time as possible.

Helen went to Number Ten next, and told them it was Dudley who had trashed their son's bike. She went to Number Three and told them it was Vernon who sideswiped their car three years ago, and didn't admit to it or pay for their repairs. She went to Number Seven and told them it was Petunia who had started the rumor they were getting divorced that embarrassed them so badly they couldn't attend the neighborhood barbeque that summer.

On and on she went, years of blackmail spewing forth. All of it was true, most of it was petty or inconsequential but to these suburbanites the information was as precious as gold. The Dursleys were horrid, selfish people that only maintained the thinnest veneer of upstanding members of the community, and she would see that veneer turned to dust if it killed her. Helen stirred up frustration and rivalry and turned it into anger and hate, the anger and hate she had carried around for years.

A little part of her wondered if she should feel guilty about what she was doing, if this plan was going too far, but Helen shut it down fast. She was only telling the truth, nothing more or less. She was revealing the Dursleys for what they were, the everyday monsters that everyone knows and has to put up with.

Vernon crossed the very last line with his aborted attack. She'd put up with a lot from them. She'd been a slave, Dudley's punching bag (which she'd tolerated because he was a stupid kid she could hit back, not an adult trusted with her care), and lived in a closet for ten years but she was not about to play victim to a middle-aged man's rage. Not when she could fight back. It would be disrespectful to all those who couldn't fight back and to herself.

Once she started getting things in motion, she focused on her exit strategy. She'd stick around long enough to see the fruits of her labor, but not to face the consequences. She ran through a mental list of people she could stay with. Hermione was in France with her parents, and the Weasley's were in Egypt- as Mr. Weasley had won some sort of Galleon Raffle, they could afford it.

Helen wasn't particularly inclined to stay with them anyway, so soon after the Chamber of Secrets fiasco. The thought of getting within ten feet of Ginny was distinctly distasteful. Padma and Parvati were visiting family in India again this summer and Lavender was at some sort of musical workshop in Dublin. This left her the Quidditch team and the Slytherins.

She knew most of the Quidditch team would help her out of a tight spot, but it could be a little awkward. The differences in age made it a little tricky to get close to them. Other than the Weasley twins, she was closest to Katie Bell, who was only a year ahead of her, and even Katie was closer to Alicia and Angelina than her.

Really, the answer was obvious and had been staring her in the face all along. Draco had offered to let her stay for awhile earlier that summer, Helen had some questions for Lucius Malfoy about exactly how the diary got into the school, and she was sure they lived in a manor with plenty of room for an extra teenager. She penned a quick note to Draco, being very careful to make it sound like she was taking him up on his offer and not seeking refuge. No need to seem desperate or vulnerable, or make Draco feel like she was using him to get away from her relatives (which she kind of was but he didn't need to know that).

Hedwig went soaring from her window, letter attached to her leg. Helen watched her go before she started piling all her stuff into her trunk so she'd be ready to leave at a moments notice. Clothes, quills, and books made their way in, along with Helen's stash from under the floorboards: food off the Hogwarts Express trolley in case of punishment by starvation, her Invisibility Cloak, and the photo album of the Potters Hagrid had given her at the end of First Year. Her birthday presents, received by owl a few days before and including a man-eating book from Hagrid that Helen had beat into submission with a cricket bat before belting closed, sat on top. Helen decided to keep her wand on her at all times from that point on.

The next morning, Helen started to see results. Number Three showed up at the front door with a bill in hand to cover the damages Vernon did to his car. The wife from Number Seven came to officially un-invite Petunia from her garden party next week. The husband from Number Ten came to inform them that his cousin was on the school board at Smeltings and he'd be submitting a recommendation to have Dudley placed on probation due to bullying behavior.

On it went, for three days the Dursley's were kicked out of every social function, bombarded with bills for repairs on things Dudley had destroyed and were the subjects of the nastiest rumors imaginable. Mrs. Geering was incensed enough about her garden that she let loose to anyone who would hear about Vernon being a drunk, Petunia a whore, and Dudley an ignorant savage child. Helen, of course, was the poor neglected niece who finally got over her fear of her heavy-handed uncle enough to spread the truth. Helen watched the complete destruction of that which the Dursleys treasured most, their reputation, and smiled.

It was Friday evening, and Helen was set to leave. She was to meet Draco and his father in Diagon Alley in an hour, and she was traveling on the Knight Bus, which Daphne had told her about last year. All that was left was to say 'bye' to her relatives. Helen stacked her trunk and Hedwig's cage just outside the front door, and entered the living room.

Her aunt was sniffling pathetically in a chair in the corner, face blotchy and swollen. She'd been crying on and off for the past three days straight, mortified beyond her limits as all her nightmares came true. Her uncle was shuffling papers on the coffee table; face as pale as she'd ever seen it. One of their more litigious neighbors was threatening a lawsuit because Dudley's gang had broken his son's wrist last summer. Dudley himself was watching the telly like the idiot he was, not realizing his parent's world was falling down around them and he'd eventually bare the brunt of some of their anger. After all, he had caused a lot of the damage the Dursley couple were coming under fire for, and his place at Smeltings was now in danger. They couldn't ignore that, no matter how oblivious they tended to be.

Helen walked into the living room with the smooth grace of a predator. She stood before her uncle as defiant as ever and waited until his eyes flickered up to her face.

"I told you you'd regret it."

She saw the moment of comprehension dawn on his face. The moron hadn't put the pieces together, too stressed to realize exactly who spilled their secrets through the neighborhood and why. He jumped to his feet, probably to enact some form of retribution, but Helen was already gliding out the front door, slamming it behind her definitively.

She trundled along the sidewalk with her trunk, headed for the end of the street to signal the Knight Bus when she heard a low growl reverberate through the still night air. Helen dropped her trunk and Hedwig's cage, head twisting around for the source of the sound, all of her senses on high alert. Her right hand went to her hair, where a rose-shaped clip that she rarely took off resided: the Sword of Gryffindor. She didn't think she'd need it again so soon, especially in the Muggle World, but she was very happy the Hat decided to give it to her now.

Red eyes peered out at her from the darkness between two houses and Helen yanked her clip out, transforming it into a long golden sword, which she held in front of her defensively. The biggest black dog she'd ever seen came prowling out of the shadows, demon eyes eerily focused on her, growling all the while. This wouldn't be the first time Helen had seen one of these dogs, but it was certainly the first time she'd been this close.

They stared each other down for a moment, red meeting emerald, before all the muscles in the monster canine coiled and the dog lunged straight for Helen's throat. Helen batted the animal away, clipping it with her sword and shoving its trajectory off enough to miss her. It regrouped easily, and faced her again, making another run at her. Helen slashed at its muzzle as she stumbled out of the reach of its snapping jaws.

Never one to be on the defensive too long, Helen took a stab at the creature, but it hopped out of the way at the last second. She pivoted, recovering, and slashed at its head once more. She did real damage this time, the dog jerked away with a pained whine before growling again, this time in anger. It lunged once more, and this time Helen lunged at the same time, her sword aimed straight for its heart, where it sliced right through. The weight of the dog pushed Helen back despite the injury, momentum carrying it forward into Helen, who was positive she was about to be crushed by its body when it suddenly burst into golden dust; leaving Helen sprawled on the pavement, hacking on the scent of sulfur but unharmed.

What the hell? Did the dog just explode? It had to be some sort of magical creature; that was the only explanation for the red eyes and the random explosion. Helen grabbed her fallen sword, took a look around to make sure there was nothing else that wanted to make a meal out of her, and then let it revert to its hair accessory form. She picked up her trunk and Hedwig's cage, and hurried to the corner, feeling paranoid and vulnerable out in the open at night. She held out her wand as Daphne told her too, and with a bang an obnoxiously purple triple-decker bus pulled up right in front of her.

Helen paid the bus conductor and fended off his nosy questions. She took a seat on the bottom floor and looked out the windows. Under a streetlamp across the road, another black dog was staring at her intently. It was smaller than the one that had attacked her, but still huge. The thing looked positively ragged and starved. Helen was glad to be getting out of Surrey; even the animals were mad.


Malfoy Manor was a shrine to wealth, old world aristocracy, and the color white; Helen was convinced of this. Everything about the manor seemed to be pure white, from the grand exterior, to the peacocks roaming the grounds, to the Malfoys themselves- who were certainly a pale lot. If a bit of color was needed, it tended to be silver, green, black, gold or occasionally blue. Helen thought the place could use a splash of red, but seemed to be the only one of that opinion.

Draco was absolutely overjoyed that she was staying over. Their friendship had progressed to the point where he didn't feel the need to play it cool to impress her or anything, so he let his enthusiasm shine through. On her first day there he gave her a grand tour of the Manor, covering everything from their library- that seemed to rival the size of Hogwarts'- to the Quidditch pitch. They had an actual Quidditch pitch on their property! Rich people.

Her rooms were in the guest wing, tastefully decorated in creams and dark woods. The mattress was the softest thing she had ever laid on, even softer than her four-poster at Hogwarts, which was kind of her standard for luxury. Her first day there, she mostly spent with Draco; playing Quidditch, eating, arguing about whether Goyle was technically literate or not. It wasn't until her second day at the Manor when Helen officially met Narcissa Malfoy, who had been visiting friends in France when she arrived. Helen and Narcissa got along like a house on fire.

She had entered the room Helen and Draco were talking in, all delicate features and fashionable robes. It wasn't Helen's taste exactly; she was planning on going toward a 'warrior princess' look the next time she went shopping, but there was no denying Narcissa's class or elegance. She'd greeted her son warmly, and Helen kindly if a little formally. They'd adjourned to the sunroom for tea, and Helen engaged in small talk, while desperately battling off her ADHD as it demanded she let her mind wander from the conversation until the topic of clothes came up.

"Helen, dear, I don't mean to be rude, but isn't that robe a bit… ill-fitting?" Narcissa asked gently, while eyeing Helen's exposed ankles. Helen winced. She was wearing one of the casual robes she bought during her first trip to Diagon, a blue one, and like the rest of her clothing, it didn't fit right.

"Uh, yeah. I really need to get back to the Alley, all my robes have gotten too short, including my uniform," Helen commented, with a grimace. Her shirts and pants becoming tight or short depending on the article of clothing went without saying.

"I should say so, a young lady such as yourself can't be running around in ill-fitting clothes, it isn't proper. Tomorrow we'll make a trip to Madam Malkins and rectify that," Narcissa commanded. She wasn't asking, but despite the pushiness, Helen wasn't going to turn the offer of a shopping spree down.

The next morning dawned bright and early, and Helen was bullied awake by a House-elf named Bobble. She met Narcissa in the foyer, and they Flooed to the Leaky Cauldron. They headed over to Gringotts, retrieved some gold, and then got started. Narcissa liked her clothes the same way she liked her house: expensive, classy, and only in a limited range of colors. Helen had to put her foot down in order to get a lovely red robe with intricate black stitching. She'd been gunning for a replacement for her old red robe that Ginny had pilfered since she entered the shop.

Helen and Narcissa clashed a lot on that shopping trip. Where Narcissa liked tradition, Helen preferred modernity. Where Narcissa liked lace, Helen preferred leather. Where Narcissa liked class, Helen liked sass. Despite their variance in opinions, Helen was enjoying herself immensely. She'd never had an older woman in her life to admire and do girly things with, like shop. Helen wouldn't look up to Petunia if she was the last woman on earth.

By the time they'd finished with Madam Malkin's, Helen was the new owner of several new casual robes including the red one, a fancier set for formal occasions that Narcissa had insisted on, flowing tops, vests, trousers, a skirt, three new Hogwarts uniforms, a few dresses and a glorious pair of dragon-hide boots that Narcissa abhorred but Helen loved. The highlight of the day had to be Helen tricking Narcissa into the Muggle World for a bit of shopping. Helen was quick as Narcissa looked ready to faint when she stood stiffly in a department store, robe thrown over her arm like a coat leaving her in a dress that, while old fashioned in design, was acceptable by muggle standards. Helen had gotten a few outfits and versatile pieces at the muggle store, but the one she loved most was a feminine leather jacket that made her feel like she could crush her enemies under her heel when she wore it.

By the time the pair arrived back at Malfoy Manor, they were tired but feeling quite accomplished. Helen had basically remade her wardrobe, and Narcissa had braved the Muggle World with only a slight break down. They adjourned to Helen's rooms to organize their purchases and enjoy a tea service provided by Dobby.


Draco was feeling rather petulant that his mother had stolen his houseguest away. It was greatly tempered by the fact that he wasn't required to join them (his mother tended to be a little overbearing when shopping) but still, the Manor could be quite boring without company. That was why he was headed toward Helen's rooms, hoping to strike up a conversation.

As he neared the door, he heard the muffled voices of Helen and his mother, and in a bout of mischievousness, decided to eavesdrop. He was curious about how they were getting along. While he enjoyed Helen's fiery nature tempered by Slytherin cunning, he wasn't sure his traditional and proper Slytherin mother would appreciate it. He crouched with his ear against the keyhole.

"All I'm saying, Narcissa, is that it's cliché," Helen's voice echoed through the door, as strong and lovely as ever.

"Please, dear, call me Cissa," Draco's mother offered graciously. "And I just don't see what's cliché about it."

"Come on, Cissa. A woman poisoning her rivals? It's so… expected. There's this pervasive idea that the only way a woman can kill is through trickery. It's cliché," Helen insisted. Draco felt his eyes widening in surprise. What were they talking about?

"It's pervasive because it works," his mother insisted. "It's a tried and true method of assassination. Women have been poisoning their husbands and getting away with it for millennia. If I ever had to… dispose of Lucius, I'd poison him."

Draco was more-or-less horrified at this point, but couldn't bear to rip his ear away. Was this a normal conversation? When Pansy whisked Millicent and Daphne off for 'girl talk' were they discussing the pros and cons of different murder methods? When they went to the bathroom in packs was it to discuss the finer points of assassination?

"And it would be obvious that you were the one to kill him, hence the cliché," Helen countered.

"That's only assuming anyone even thought he'd been murdered. If I did it right no one would believe it to be homicide. They'd think he had a premature heart attack and I'd get away with it," Narcissa pointed out.

"Maybe you would, but you'd still be a living cliché… and a coward," Helen added, almost as an afterthought.

"Don't recite Gryffindor rhetoric to me, Helen, it doesn't suit you," Narcissa chastised gently.

"The Sorting Hat would disagree," Helen dismissed.

"Well, brave lion, how would you assassinate someone then?" Narcissa asked, a challenge in her voice.

"Something direct. A cutting curse, maybe, or a good old fashioned stabbing. I'd look my victim in the eyes. And no one would believe it was me because, as a woman, they would be expecting poison," Helen answered with plenty of snark.

Draco had had enough at that point, and scurried down the hallway, leaving the women who he'd never be able to look at the same way again behind him. He needed a cup of soothing tea… and a place to hide from his mother and houseguest, possibly for the rest of the summer.


"Is he gone?" Helen whispered, leaning close to Narcissa conspiratorially. The older witch waved her wand at the door, and when nothing happened, smiled in satisfaction.

"Yes, it appears so," she said, a delicate smile creeping across her face. Helen giggled.

"I wish I could have seen his face," she laughed outright, imagining Draco's mortified expression.

"Well, it serves him right for eavesdropping. I know I raised him better than that," Narcissa tsked. Helen snorted at that.

"Considering what you told me today, it's more likely you raised him to be aware of eavesdropping charms then to just not eavesdrop," she postulated. Narcissa gave her a sly smile.

"Once a Slytherin, always a Slytherin."


Draco was sprawled across his bed, Helen beside him, two weeks into her stay at the manor. Hogwarts was set to start in a week, and they'd be going to Diagon Alley the next day for school supplies. They had just spent an afternoon doing a final check over their summer homework together.

As it turned out, Helen was an atrocious speller, and he could barely read half her essays. She insisted she had a charm to fix them that she'd employ on the train, and then demanded he drop the subject. Draco did so, not wanting to garner the wrath of a girl he'd heard debate the finer points of poison with his mother a few weeks ago. Sometimes he forgot how vicious she could be, the same way he forgot his mother was a born Black and probably had a lot of similar discussions over the dinner table as a child.

Since they both figured there wasn't much more they could do with their homework, their study session had dissolved into a discussion about electives. They were both taking Care of Magical Creatures, but where Helen was taking Ancient Ruins, Draco had opted for Arithmancy. It was supposed to be rather heavy with mathematics, and Draco had always been good with numbers. Helen expressed an interest in wards as the reason for choosing Ruins.

The entire time they were talking, she kept sending covert glances his way. Her eyes were scrunched up in concentration, as if she was trying to make a decision about something. Draco decided to keep talking, and let Helen make the decision when she was ready.

"I am really excited about Arithmancy, but honestly, anything would be better than Divination. The way the upper years speak, Trelawney must be some drunken old bat making things up. To think, Dumbledore actually lets a fraud like that teach," he exclaimed. Dumbledore really was a hack of a Headmaster, just as his father always told him.

"Hey, want to see something interesting?" Helen interrupted abruptly, a determined expression coming onto her face.

"I guess," Draco replied curiously.

Helen led him through the Manor until they reached the front doors, where she politely asked a house-elf to retrieve their brooms. She mounted hers and launched into the air, bidding Draco to follow her. They swooped up onto the roof where Helen hopped off gracefully, Draco imitating her.

"The sunset is beautiful from up here, don't you think?" Helen mentioned, watching the orange globe stain the sky in it's descent, casting light and shadow across the rolling and well-manicured grounds of Malfoy Manor. The view was incredible, and Draco wondered why he'd never been up here to gaze at the sunset before.

"Yeah, it is," he murmured.

"Draco, would you mind terribly if I stole something from you?" Helen questioned out of the blue, eyes glinting in a determination that signaled she had come to some sort of decision.

"Er, what would you be stealing exactly?" he asked, completely confused.

"A kiss," she answered simply, before leaning forward and pressing her lips to his without pause. Draco sat there in absolute shock for two whole seconds before responding. The kiss was chaste and brief but it still made Draco's cheeks flare up with a dramatic blush when Helen pulled away.

"Wha- what was that for?" he asked, feeling completely embarrassed even though it was Helen who had kissed him.

Helen shrugged, completely nonchalant, unembarrassed, and unrepentant.

"We have Hogsmeade trips this year, it's the first chance Hogwarts students really have to start dating. I wanted to have my first kiss with someone I trust before then. This way, I won't regret wasting it on a lame first date," she explained. She shot him a warm smile before gathering her broom and flying off without another word.

Draco held his hand up to his lips where they still tingled a bit from the remembered sensation. It became abruptly clear to him in that moment that there would never be anything romantic between him and Helen. She kissed him so her first kiss would be an unspoiled moment, one that could never be ruined by a subsequent break up or a nasty couple's spat. She kissed him because she had no intention, ever, of dating him.

Draco thought that should upset him, but surprisingly, it didn't. Maybe it was because his crush had been unreciprocated from the beginning and had started to ware down. Maybe it was because he was becoming more aware of politics and knew that, no matter how good it looked to the Ministry to associate with the Girl-Who-Lived, dating her would be courting powerful enemies. Maybe it was because there had always been something untouchable about Helen to him; she was too beautiful, too strong, too irritatingly Gryffindor and unexpectedly Slytherin to be a real person he could date and not an ideal to admire from afar.

Whatever the reason, Draco was shocked to feel almost… relieved that this had happened. Maybe he could start to admire or even love Helen in a different way, one that didn't have an inevitable rejection hanging above it. He smiled faintly to himself. She'd stolen his first kiss, and as she said, he would never regret it.


Helen re-entered the Manor feeling accomplished. She had been debating with herself on how she was going to handle her first kiss for a few months, and was pleased with her solution. It hadn't been an incredibly romantic moment, but the backdrop had been picturesque, and honestly she hadn't wanted it to be overly emotional- preferring a relaxed, casual moment that wouldn't be hampered by remembered anxiety or unrealistic expectations. She would never have to worry about Draco breaking her heart and ruining the moment, because she would never hand him her heart in the first place.

She liked Draco, don't get her wrong, he was a good friend, but they would never work in a long-term romantic sense. He was a budding politician with an aristocratic upbringing and hyper-traditional values. She… wasn't. She had struggled and fought, went with too little for too long. She couldn't stand to be a rich boy's coddled girlfriend, or a politician's obedient wife. She was a fighter to her core- she needed someone who could keep up.

That was all away in the future, though. For now, she'd steal her first kiss from a good friend, have a few awkward dates in Hogsmeade, and try to get Cedric Diggory to notice her.
Helen deposited her broom in her rooms and then headed in the direction of Lucius' office. At breakfast, he had requested that Helen stop by his home office at some point during the day, saying he'd be in there until he went to bed. Helen wasn't sure what he wanted, but was pleased with the opportunity to confront him one-on-one. She had a few questions to ask. She knocked politely on his door, and strolled in when he told her to enter.

Lucius' office was large and filled with dark wood furniture and golden fixtures. The desk was huge, obviously meant to subconsciously intimidate all who entered. Lucius commanded Dobby to get them a tea service while Helen seated herself in a luxurious leather chair that dwarfed her small frame, making her appear to be more of a child than she actually was. Helen ignored that and dove right into their conversation.

"So, you're a politician, right?" she stated, more than asked. Not the most graceful of openings, but it'd work.

"In a manner of speaking," Lucius hummed, raising a cup of tea to his lips.

"Than you probably know a pretty good forgery spell, yeah?" she questioned casually. Lucius sputtered into his teacup.

"What makes you say that?" he asked, his voice a little raspy from choking a bit on hot tea. Helen shrugged, playing at innocent nonchalance.

"Seems like something a politician ought to know," she deadpanned. Lucius sent her a scrutinizing look.

"And why exactly, Miss Potter, would you need a forgery spell?" he asked, still avoiding the question of whether he knew one or not. Helen didn't mind; this was exactly the opening she'd been waiting for.

"My relatives refused to sign my Hogsmeade permission form," she admitted, with just enough information to make him ask more questions.

"Why would they do that?" he asked, barely repressing a sneer. Helen knew Lucius Malfoy hated muggles more than just about anything, except maybe wizards who sympathized with them. She planned to use that to her advantage.

"We had a bit of a disagreement. I like magic, and they think it's unnatural and hate anything to do with it. That's not really a conducive environment to get permission forms signed," Helen said, still playing it calm and cool. Lucius looked very interested now, as well as disgusted, probably by the idea that anyone could hate magic.

"Are you telling me that Helen Potter, Savior of the Wizarding World, lives amongst magic hating muggles?" he asked, although it wasn't really a question.

"Pretty much, but that's neither here nor there," she said vaguely. "The question was if you knew any forgery spells," she reminded. Helen could practically see the wheels spin in Lucius' mind. She was confident that he'd create a solution for her, if only to prove his superiority to magic hating muggles.

This ploy was more than just an attempt to get her Hogsmeade dilemma handled, though. She was also putting feelers out for any possible living alternatives next summer. She'd effectively burned her bridges with the Dursleys by turning the neighborhood against them, and living with them after that would be harrowing at best, impossible at worst.

If she got Lucius Malfoy on the trail, however, he may know of some legal (or illegal, she wasn't picky) avenues she could go down to get out from under her relatives thumbs for good. At any rate, alerting him of her situation in the vaguest way possible couldn't hurt. She really didn't want to play the weak little girl and reveal all the nasty details of her upbringing to see results, but she would if she had too. She wasn't above playing on people's sympathies if it was something she really wanted, and she really wanted to get away from the Dursleys. That would be tantamount to winning her war against them.

"I am not going to teach a thirteen-year-old how to forge documents, nor do I condone such behavior," Lucius stated, but Helen could see the corner of his mouth twitching in suppressed amusement. "Normally, I'd just send a letter to the Board of Governors, and they'd write you an exemption from the permission slip. However, this year they may be… reluctant to do so. And that's actually why I asked you to visit me in my office."

Lucius proceeded to inform her about the daring escape of Sirius Black. He was the first person to ever escape Azkaban, a suspected Death Eater, and most significantly, at least in Helen's opinion, a goddamn traitor. According to Lucius, he'd been her father's best friend, her godfather, and they'd made him their Secret Keeper when they went into hiding under the Fidelius Charm. He'd betrayed her parents to the Dark Lord, allowing him to find and kill them, and then ran off, killed a bunch of muggles and another friend of her parents, Peter Pettigrew, and was shipped off to Azkaban laughing.

Helen took deep, slow breaths during his explanation, trying desperately to cling to her composure when all she wanted to do was lash out and break something. She didn't think she'd ever hate anyone more than Voldemort, but she was wrong. When Voldemort murdered her parents, at least it wasn't under false pretenses. He was a homicidal terrorist and everyone knew it. But Sirius Black had been James Potter's best friend and her godfather, and he'd stabbed them in the back. Lucius warned her that Sirius may be after her to finish what he started. Helen welcomed it, because when he found her she was going to shove the Sword of Gryffindor so far up his arse he'd choke on it.

Helen thanked Lucius for telling her about it, even if it was a few weeks after the fact (she really needed to start reading the Daily Prophet, even if it was eighty percent rubbish). Lucius admitted that he waited so long because Narcissa didn't like Sirius spoken about at all, apparently they were first cousins and there was a lot of family drama going on there. Lucius promised he'd try to get the Governors to let her go to Hogsmeade, even though he believed they'd say no on the grounds of her safety. Helen got up to leave when she remembered one of the main reasons she'd wanted to talk to Lucius in the first place.

"I have one more question, if you don't mind," she requested from her place by the door. She was glad they could have this part of the conversation standing up; she didn't want to look like a naïve child.

"Of course, Miss Potter, ask me anything," he offered graciously. Helen wondered if it was the atmosphere of the office that prompted him to use her surname instead of just calling her Helen, as he had been doing for weeks now at her insistence.

"Why'd you give Ginny Weasley the diary?" she asked, no hesitation, no holding back. She wasn't a Gryffindor for nothing. She watched what very little color his face possessed drain away, and the instinctive movement of his hand going for his wand.

As was usual in tense situations, Helen's ADHD picked up, and her hand went to her hair where the disguised Sword of Gryffindor was. The move was decidedly casual if one didn't know her hairclip was a weapon, which Lucius did not.

"I'm not going to tell anyone, I just want to know why. You don't seem like the type of father to unleash a basilisk on the school your son is residing in, no matter how many muggleborns get petrified or killed," she said evenly, as if they weren't discussing the potential death of children and her host's role in that.

"What makes you think I had anything to do with that fiasco?" he eventually asked, neither confirming nor denying her suspicions, which was a much better reaction than she had been expecting. She had been prepared to dodge spell fire.

Now she had to come up with a convincing lie to take the heat off of Dobby. If Lucius knew what his house-elf had done, it would end very badly for the poor thing. Helen was struck by inspiration when she remembered exactly when Ginny had started writing in that infuriating thing and how she must have gotten ahold of it.

"That day in Diagon Alley, when you and Mr. Weasley had a spat in Flourish and Blotts, I saw you slip it in Ginny's cauldron. I didn't know what it was capable of until I entered the Chamber, so I didn't say anything," Helen lied. She was making an educated guess that that was the moment Ginny had received the diary, and hoped luck was on her side. It made the most sense, it was the only time Ginny and Lucius had come into any sort of contact that day, but he could have just as easily had a house-elf deliver it later.

"And why haven't you told anyone of your suspicions?" Lucius asked evenly, face set in a cold mask. Right now, she wasn't a houseguest; she was an enemy with potentially damning information.

"Like I said, I don't think you'd intentionally release a basilisk where it could hurt your family. So, I'm assuming you didn't know what the diary did, or didn't think it would get into Hogwarts. What was the point?" she asked.

Lucius didn't say anything for a long moment. He just stared at her intensely, grey eyes cold and assessing. He was evaluating her words, those unspoken, and every reason or motivation she had, has, and would have. The silence stretched for so long that Helen assumed she was dismissed and reached for the doorknob, only to freeze when a cultured voice drifted across the room quietly.

"Arthur Weasley is a nuisance. He's been stirring up trouble for my family for years and he had my home invaded by the Ministry looking for Dark objects last year. They didn't find anything, of course, there was nothing to find. But it was supremely frustrating and an insult to my family. Wouldn't it be ironic if, after accusing my family of harboring Dark artifacts, he was caught with one of his own?"

Helen stood there for a moment, trying to measure the truth of his words. She could read between the lines, Lucius had wanted revenge for the insult, and sought it out by setting up the Weasleys to get caught with a Dark object. They would've faced the penalties for that, which Helen knew from Ron, included a hefty fine, possible termination from work, or possible time in Azkaban depending on the object.

The righteous Gryffindor part of Helen wanted to yell at Lucius for his hypocrisy. He was mad about a raid he deemed unnecessary and insulting when he obviously had Dark artifacts in his home and got away with it. The Weasley's were her friends (Ginny excluded) and they didn't deserve to be set up like that. The Slytherin part of Helen told her to keep her mouth shut. She had a lot riding on Lucius' cooperation, including her friendship with Draco. It wouldn't do to piss him off over something she couldn't change now.

"Ironic indeed," she answered quietly before slipping out of his office.


The next day Helen accompanied the Malfoy's to Diagon Alley for school supply shopping. They whisked through stores quickly, trying to avoid the crowds as much as possible. There was a shift in how the Malfoy's presented themselves in public compared to how they behaved at home. They were colder, snootier, and less approachable. The easy affection Helen could see between the family of three was heavily restrained, and their pureblood manners were out in full force. The whole charade looked terribly exhausting to Helen.

While in Flourish and Blotts Helen idly noticed that the Defense textbook for that year was actually pretty good: well written and comprehensive. Maybe they'd actually have a good professor this year. Helen also realized that the man-eating book Hagrid had sent her for her birthday was on the book list for Care of Magical Creatures. This both enhanced Helen's appreciation for the gift from her large friend, and created a bit of anxiety about the class itself. She and Draco spared a minute of their rapid shopping trip to moon over the newest broom on the market: the highly coveted Firebolt.

After the trip to Diagon, the last few days of summer were spent preparing for the school year. Robes were washed, trunks were packed, brooms and wands were polished. It was a startling contrast to her last summer at the Weasley's, where packing was done the night before with endless bouts of chaos, stealing, and the last minute recovery of lost items. They Flooed to Kings Cross Station thirty minutes early, another difference from traveling with the Weasley's. The Malfoy's had a touching goodbye at home, and a rather reserved one at the station. Thankfully, Lucius levitated their trunks onto the train for them as Helen hopped on, Hedwig in hand.

Helen followed Draco to a compartment toward the back that already held Theodore Nott, Vincent Crabbe, and Millicent Bulstrode. He collapsed in an elegant sprawl on the seat but Helen remained standing.

"You going to sit down sometime today, Potter?" Millicent asked, looking at Helen questioningly.

"Sorry, but you'll all have to live without my glittering presence. I promised Ron and Hermione I'd ride the train with them," she explained. That earned her grimaces all around.

"I don't understand what you see in the blood trai- I mean Weasley and Granger," Theo stated, correcting himself when he saw Helen's raised eyebrow.

"You're lucky I see anything in you," Helen teased, poking him in the forehead. Theo scowled but his lips were twitching as if fighting off a smile.

"Must be my stunning good looks," Theo deadpanned. Millicent and Draco snorted aloud.

"More like she puts up with you because for some reason we let you hangout with the rest of us," Draco snarked. Theo threw a chocolate frog wrapper at his head. Helen ignored the boys in light of something far more important.

"Millicent, I picked up a nail care kit for you in Diagon. We are going to tame your nails, even if I have to petrify you to get it done," she declared. Over the past year, as Helen grew closer to the Slytherins, she had discovered Millicent had pretty low self-esteem. Surely she wasn't the most attractive girl in their year (Helen blamed Pureblood inbreeding for the blunt nature of her features) but Helen thought a few beauty treatments might raise her self-worth a bit. In a perfect world, how one looked wouldn't affect the value they had in themselves, but Helen had known she didn't live in a perfect world for a very long time.

"It's about time. I tried to get her to paint them with me last year, but she didn't think it was 'practical'," came the cool voice of Daphne Greengrass as she glided into the compartment. The composed girl sat gracefully beside Millie, seamlessly joining the conversation.

"It isn't! You spend all this time painting and then a few hours later one of them chips. What's the point?" Millicent asked in frustration.

"And when they chip, you paint them again. The point is that they enhance your overall look," Helen informed her.

"What does that even mean?"

"It means the right nail polish can convey a lot in a subtle way. You can color your nails for holidays, to show House affiliation, to match you're favorite Quidditch teams colors, or more generally to match your outfit. It's subtle but powerful. Nail polish is the Slytherin of accessories," Daphne explained. Helen was actually rather impressed by the explanation. She hadn't thought of it like that.

Further discussion on the subject was halted by the grating voice of Pansy Parkinson, who entered the compartment with Blaise at her side. Helen wondered vaguely if the irritating girl still disliked her, and was answered immediately when she glared at Helen and asked the compartment at large what she was doing there.

"No worries, Parkinson, I'll leave in a minute. Just waiting for some friends," Helen dismissed her easily, and that only seemed to cause Pansy to fume in her seat at being disregarded. Helen held back a smirk. They all chatted for a few more minutes until the warning whistle sounded and Helen excused herself to find Ron and Hermione. Knowing about the Weasley's chronic lateness, she hadn't seen the point of looking until then.

Helen found her friends in the very back of the train, sharing a compartment with an older gentleman who, frankly, looked homeless. His robes were worn and patched, his face lined and scarred, and he was sleeping in a defensive huddled pile. Something about him made Helen uneasy, it was a similar feeling she had around Norbert, like if she wasn't paying enough attention he'd eat her face.

Helen listened as attentively as she was able while Ron regaled them with tales of the Weasley's misadventures in Egypt. They'd explored tombs that apparently had nasty curses and traps set up by ancient wizards. Helen was rather interested to hear about the cursebreakers working there and made a mental note to get into contact with Ron's brother Bill and ask more about it. Hermione then shared stories from her time in France, which sounded rather delightful to Helen. She was a bit jealous of her friends, to be honest. She had barely seen much of London, let alone gone to another country on holiday. Reluctantly, Helen informed her friends of her visit with the Malfoy's, limiting the details. As expected, they'd both disapproved. Well, Hermione disapproved. Ron was outraged.

Helen managed to calm them down, but it had taken effort and Ron was still grumbling under his breath. Neither of them had been particularly thrilled that Helen had started befriending Slytherins last year, but where both powerless to stop her. Helen wondered humorously what his reaction would be if Ron knew she kissed Draco. Maybe he'd explode.

The topic shifted to Ron's ailing rat, Scabbers, whom Helen had always found vaguely disgusting, and Hermione's new cat, Crookshanks, which was an ugly ginger beast that apparently had it out for the rat. The conversation took a darker turn when Sirius Black came up. Helen shared a little bit of what Lucius told her, including Black's status as Helen's godfather. She conveniently left out that he may be after her, not wanting to worry her friends.

Icy rain was splashing against the train window, and the clouds were ominously dark when the train slowed down and came to a screeching halt without explanation.

"What's going on? We can't be there already," Hermione wondered, looking unsettled. Helen's instincts were screaming at her. Something was wrong. The lights went out, and the door to their newly darkened carriage was flung open with two figures stumbling in. Helen raised her wand, completely on edge and ready to fire off curses in all directions.

"Ow, my foot!" barked Ron.

"Sorry," squeaked a rather familiar voice.

"Lumos," stated Hermione, and an orb of light illuminated the car. The new arrivals were revealed to be Neville, who had stepped on Ron's foot, and Ginny. Helen now wished she had thrown curses in the dark when she had the chance. Then she'd have plausible deniability on her side when she blasted the girl through the door.

"Do you guys know what's going on?" whispered Neville. "The light's are off all down the train and no one knows what's happening. We kinda just stumbled into the first compartment we could get too. The hallway's a mess."

Neville never received an answer, because at that moment the cold seemed to intensify, and Hermione's light flickered out. The compartment door opened again, this time slowly, to reveal a rotting, humanoid figure floating in the doorway.

Immediately, Helen was overwhelmed in bitter misery. Memories seemed to dance before her eyes. Long days locked in her cupboard, Vernon's aborted attack this summer, being poisoned in the Chamber of Secrets, Quirrell burning to death beneath her fingers. The most breath stopping effect was the sound of a woman screaming in terror. It wasn't something Helen recognized, but it echoed incessantly in her ears, more prominent than anything else as black overtook her vision.


Hermione Granger was the brilliant only child of two loving, supporting parents. Her family wasn't rich, but they were well enough off that anything Hermione needed or truly wanted was taken care of. Until reaching the Wizarding World, Hermione had little to fear besides the dark. When the horrid, rotting creature entered their compartment to spread misery, Hermione's misery wasn't fear of what had happened, although a few flashes of the third floor corridor and a reflection of bulbous yellow eyes did make themselves known, but instead something that has haunted her steps since childhood. Loneliness.

The cloaked demon took in rattling breaths, while the feelings of biting loneliness expanded in her chest. She'd had almost no friends growing up, she realized now she had been overbearing, but it still hurt to see other little girls giggling in groups and know she wasn't welcome.

She was nearly in tears by the time she realized the creature was honing in on one particular occupant of the compartment. Helen sat stiffly in her seat, complexion nearly colorless, hands shaking as the demon drew closer, leaning toward her face. Her best friend's emerald eyes rolled back in her head as she slumped off her seat. The bitter loneliness in Hermione's chest flared at seeing one of her very first friends slump to the floor. She shrieked.

"Helen! Helen, get up! Please."

At her plead, the raggedy sleeping man Hermione suspected to be the new Defense Professor, R. J. Lupin according to his trunk, sprung up from his slouch with his wand at the ready.

"Leave, none of us are hiding Sirius Black under our cloaks," he demanded. The wraith seemed to hesitate unsurely, which was too long for Lupin. He shouted a spell, and a burst of white light filled the compartment, chasing off the creature with a pained rattle. Hermione fell to her knees next to Helen as the lights flickered back on, and the misery stopped pressing down on her chest.

"What the bloody hell was that?" questioned Ron, voice croaking. His face was so pale Hermione could see every orange freckle standing out. Ginny and Neville were huddled together, still shaking.

"Dementors. Foul beasts, they guard Azkaban. I was told they might be at the school this year looking for Sirius Black but I had no idea they'd be on the train. Here, eat this," Lupin explained while handing out squares of chocolate. Hermione took hers with numb fingers. Lupin kneeled next to Hermione just as Helen's eyes flickered open. She raised a hand to her head with a grimace.

"Ugh, what happened? I feel like the Hogwarts Express ran me over," she murmured. Lupin repeated his explanation before demanding they all eat their chocolate and leaving to speak with the conductor. Hermione helped Helen, who was still looking rather ashen, into her seat and took a bite. The chocolate seemed to work almost immediately by spreading warmth through her body.

Helen mentioned a woman screaming which made Hermione frown. She had shrieked Helen's name, but her friend seemed to be referring to a prolonged yell, which hadn't happened. Helen brushed it off, pretending it was nothing. The chocolate had brought color back into her cheeks, but Hermione was still worried about her friend.

The train pulled into the station, and Hermione was trying to convince Helen to stop by the Hospital Wing when a wave of green interrupted her. Draco Malfoy stood at the front of a pack of Slytherins in their year, looking worried.

"Helen, are you alright? We heard you were attacked by a Dementor," he inquired anxiously. Helen stepped forward and reassured them all that she was fine. Hermione, still feeling insecure from all the feelings the Dementors had drug up, was further upset with the reminder that Helen had made friends with the Slytherins, particularly the one who'd called her a Mudblood. Hermione had taken Helen's advice and worked past it, but was still hurt that Helen would be friends with her bully.

"Maybe you should go to the Hospital Wing," Theodore Nott suggested. Hermione didn't know a lot about Nott, he was in Malfoy's group but spoke very little in class. He sometimes beat her out for reference books in the library, which she found irksome.

"I'm fine, Theo," Helen insisted. "I'm not fragile, you guys. Getting a little too friendly with a Dementor isn't going to kill me."

"Unfortunately," murmured Pansy Parkinson.

Hermione was about to insert herself into the conversation again to try and convince Helen, when the decision was taken out of both their hands. Professor McGonagall swept into the corridor and demanded Helen and Hermione follow her. A pouting Helen was escorted to the Hospital Wing, stuffed with chocolate, and doped up on sleeping potions (while complaining profusely the entire time). Hermione was taken aside and given the key to her academic success this year. A time-turner: highly regulated by the Ministry, extremely dangerous if used wrong, and the biggest secret Hermione had ever kept. She couldn't even tell Ron and Helen about it, she'd need another excuse for how she was taking so many classes.

Hermione tucked the little hourglass shaped device under her shirt and made her way to the tale end of the Welcoming Feast. She was vindicated to realize R. J. Lupin (the R standing for Remus) was to be the new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor as she expected. She was pleasantly shocked that Hagrid was the new Care of Magical Creatures Professor. It was nice to know Hagrid was no longer being limited by a crime he hadn't even committed sixty years ago.

Hermione had to field a bunch of questions from the Gryffindors about how Helen was doing, where she was, and what happened. Sometimes Hermione forgot Helen was a celebrity and people loved to talk about her, positively and negatively.

Of course, plenty of people asked in legitimate concern. The Gryffindor Quidditch team was quite upset, particularly Fred and George. Lavender and Parvati were practically teary-eyed, dramatic as usual. Dean and Seamus listened with rapt attention as Ron and Neville told them what happened, and the general consensus was that the Dementors were bad news, and no one was particularly happy with their presence at Hogwarts.


Helen was in a less than pleased mood when she headed down for breakfast on the first morning of classes. Madam Pomfrey, who Helen had decided to call Poppy from now on because they spent so much time together anyway, had forced chocolate and sleeping potions on her even though Helen insisted she felt perfectly fine. As soon as she entered the Great Hall, Helen was mobbed by well-wishers and worried friends, as well as a few overly curious gossipmongers prepared to spread the latest on Helen Potter. Eventually she managed to wade to her preferred seat at the Gryffindor table between Hermione and Parvati.

She picked at a few pieces of toast while McGonagall handed out schedules. Helen studied hers idly, noting that Transfiguration was her first class of the week with a smile; nothing like starting off the year on a high note. Helen also noticed that Hermione was stuffing her schedule into her bag quite forcefully, as if trying to keep it from view. Helen chalked it up to excitement over classes and let it go.

Transfiguration, as usual, went smoothly. It was mostly review work from last year that Helen completed with ease. At the end of class McGonagall held her back to give her a more advanced assignment like they had done the previous year secretly. She couldn't wait to begin studying human transfiguration, it was pretty advanced work, especially for a thirteen-year-old, and Helen was quite proud her professor trusted her with it.

Charms was next, another review session, and then came her first Ancient Runes class. Helen had planned to walk with Hermione, who had mentioned she was taking it, but couldn't find her and settled for making the trek alone and then sitting next to Padma Patil when she reached the classroom that was also Hermione free. Her bushy haired friend didn't arrive until the last minute, slightly winded and with a book bag bulging with texts. Helen raised an inquiring eyebrow at the brunet who just shrugged and slipped into the last empty seat next to Terry Boot.

Professor Babbling swept into the room, handed out syllabi and dove right in. Helen enjoyed her professor's fast paced teaching method, which kept her attention better than most, but soon realized exactly how theory heavy the course was going to be. They weren't going to begin any rune carving until next year, and that was after they memorized the main runic languages by heart. Helen watched an example rune skip across her page like all the letters she tried to read tended to do, and sighed. This was going to take a lot of work.

Helen was feeling a little discouraged by her dyslexia after class, and was lost in her own self-pity by the time she reached the Gryffindor Common Room. This made her doubly unprepared for being tackled into a hug by a crying Lavender, fresh from her first Divination class with Trelawney.

"Oh, Helen! It's so terrible! I'm so sorry!" she sobbed. Helen noticed a few of her year mates, including Ron, Parvati and Neville had approached her, all looking pale-faced and nervous.

"Er, what are you sorry for exactly?" Helen asked confusedly.

"Your fate! Professor Trelawney said- she said-" and then Lavender burst into tears again, clinging tightly to Helen, who turned to face Ron.

"Care to explain what happened with Trelawney?" she asked. Ron bit his lip.

"We were reading tea leaves in class, and in mine she saw the sign for friendship, a lightning bolt, and… the Grim," Ron grimaced, still looking worried. "The Professor said that the bolt was referring to you, and a Grim… well… it means death, Helen," Ron imparted solemnly. Helen sent him her best 'unimpressed' look.

"Really? Is that what this is about? Guys, I told you in my letters this summer, Trelawney is a hack. If I die it's certainly not because Ron doesn't know how to strain tea properly," Helen said dismissively.

She was completely unconcerned by whatever that old fraud had to say about her fate. Every upper year she'd talked to agreed that Trelawney didn't know what she was talking about, and a few even mentioned that she tended to predict student deaths quite often. Helen was not afraid to die but she was even less afraid of a lying hermit pretending to be a professor. In the end, Helen refused to give the situation the fear her friends thought it deserved, minus Hermione who agreed with Helen that it was complete rubbish.

The rest of the week progressed normally enough. After the first Potion's lesson, Helen stayed after class to discuss the warding book Professor Snape had lent her. He kept a rather neutral expression on his face during their discussion, only disrupted by a small quirk of the lip when she asked how to enhance the shock ward. He gave her a few tips, but suggested a few reference books from the library instead of outright telling her how. Helen found his 'teach-them-to-teach-themselves' method quite annoying sometimes.

Helen learned quickly that Wednesday's were going to be the worst, as they included double sessions of History of Magic and Herbology, her least favorite classes. Contrarily, Helen was thrilled that Hagrid was stepping up to be the new Care of Magical Creatures Professor. He was stuttering and a bit nervous for their first lesson, but Helen was sure he'd improve in time.

She may have been biased because he let her ride a hippogriff named Buckbeak; a fierce and magnificent creature that Helen immediately fell in love with. Who wouldn't admire a part-bird horse that could fly and trample or claw your enemies to death? Speaking of which, Helen had needed to yank Draco away from the hippogriff when he didn't show it proper respect and nearly got clawed himself. If it wasn't for Helen's quick reflexes she was sure the blonde would have been sporting some severe gouges. She smacked him over the back of his head for being a moron after saving him.

The true stand out of the first week, though, had to be Defense Against the Dark Arts. Quite honestly, Helen's expectations hadn't been too high after the Lockhart debacle of last year. She filed into the class with Ron and Hermione, and instead of the rows of desks she was anticipating, she was met with open class space and an old rattling wardrobe. The classroom itself was different; instead of large portraits of Lockhart winking down on them there was a shadowy tank in the corner, a few tapestries with various magical creatures on the wall and several bookshelves carrying an assortment of Defense related texts.

Once everyone had entered the classroom and had stood around awkwardly for a minute, Professor Lupin came strolling in with a small smile and a calm voice. He looked as scruffy as he had on the Hogwarts Express, but had a healthier glow about him. After introducing himself and having a quick roll call, Lupin revealed the subject of the first lesson: boggarts.

Boggarts are curious creatures, who prefer dark, cramped spaces and can shape shift into the worst fear of whoever holds its attention. Professor Lupin demonstrated this on Neville, who it turns out, was desperately afraid of Professor Snape. When Lupin exhibited the way to defeat a boggart and the Professor Snape look-a-like ended up dressed like Neville's grandmother, Helen and Ron had to lean on each other to stay upright they were laughing so hard.

After Neville, everyone was expected to face the boggart. A lot of the fears were rather petty, the nightmares of children during peacetime. Ron got to show everyone his fear of spiders when the boggart turned into an acromantula, and Helen couldn't help but giggle when Hermione's boggart turned into Professor McGonagall giving her a failing grade. Before long, it was Helen's turn.

She stepped up to the wardrobe, and ignored Lupin's aborted motion to stop her. She didn't know what his problem was; she could face her fear just like anyone else in the class. Probably better than most, considering her experience in dangerous, high-pressure situations.

Truthfully, Helen wasn't entirely sure what was going to come popping out for her. Voldemort maybe? Although she'd faced him head on and won, there was still the fact that he was an infamous murderer who'd killed her family. There might be enough fear under the hate and anger to make a boggart. Or perhaps a drakon would slither out? One had nearly killed her last year, and although she'd defeated it, she could still remember the burning pain and fatigue it's venom had caused while spreading through her body.

Helen was as surprised as anyone when the boggart glided out of the wardrobe as a rotting, cloaked Dementor. Helen froze for a brief second as bleak coldness started to weigh heavily on her.

"Ri- rid- ri-" Helen stammered, unable to make the boggart defense spell come off her lips when she was so cold, and who was screaming?

Just as Lupin stepped forward to intervene, however, something strange happened. The Dementor shuddered once, and seemed to peer at her from under his hood. As quick as a flash its scabbed hands darted forward and grabbed Helen by the shoulders, jerking her forward. Helen barely let out a short gasp of surprise before being yanked fully into the wardrobe with the boggart, the heavy wooden door locking behind them with a deafening click.

Helen could hear the muted sound of chaos breaking out in the classroom through the wood, but was more concerned with the Dementor shaped boggart that was… petting her? In the impenetrable darkness of the wardrobe, Helen could feel a scabbed hand tapping her head in exaggerated gentleness.

"Aunt-ie," it rasped, voice coarse and breathless. The word snapped Helen out of her shock and, although she wouldn't admit it, fearful stupor.

"Wait, what?" she demanded.

"Aunt-ie," it repeated before snuggling close to her in the darkness and giving off a sort of pleased hum that sounded like rustling leaves. Helen couldn't remember a time when she was more confused.

"Aunty? I think you might be a little confused, I don't have any siblings, let alone nieces or nephews… or boggarts," Helen added conversationally. She wasn't sure the creature could understand her, but it had said 'aunty' or something like it, and she wasn't completely sure if boggarts had a gender or not considering they were shape shifters. Something to think about…

"Aunt-ie," the boggart insisted. Helen sighed.

"I guess. I can try to be your aunt, but I haven't really had a good role-model, so I may not do a very good job," Helen warned, deciding to play along. It seemed like the smart thing to do when trapped in a wardrobe with a boggart shaped like a creature capable of sucking your soul out. Helen wasn't sure if boggarts gained all the abilities of the shape they took, but decided not to risk angering it just in case.

"Good aunt-ie," the boggart encouraged. Helen felt her lips quirk in a little smile at the boggart's resolve.

"Miss Potter, are you alright?" called the voice of Helen's newest professor, thick with nervous tension.

"Yeah, I'm fine professor, he-she- it's friendly," she called back, still unsure of the pronoun. The boggart didn't specify.

There was a pregnant pause from the classroom.

"…Seriously?" Lupin asked sounding a little flabbergasted.

"Yep," Helen replied. She turned her attention back to the cuddliest personification of fear she'd ever met. "I have to get back to class now, would you mind opening the door?"

The resulting rasp, which sounded like a rusty hinge, seemed less than pleased.

"What if I promise to come back and visit you?" Helen bargained off the top of her head. She wasn't exactly eager to be thrust back into this bizarre situation, but she'd do it to secure her freedom now. She was pretty sure she could hear her roommates crying through the door.

A rasping sigh was released. Helen was pretty sure that was a grudging yes.

"Bye, Aunt-ie," the boggart sighed before the wardrobe sprung open and she went tumbling out into the arms of her Defense Professor as the door swung shut behind her.

"Interesting first lesson, Professor," Helen complimented.


Third year was speeding by. Helen had always considered Oliver Wood Quidditch obsessed, but as practices began for his very last year as Captain, Helen truly began to understand what mania looked like. The twins had at one point organized a protest against Oliver's 'tyranny' when he tried to enforce conditioning at five am four times a week. Helen had offered to make the signs for their protest. She was as determined to win as ever, but she knew a line was crossed when it threatened her beauty sleep.

There was also the matter of Hogsmeade. Helen had received a letter from Lucius about two weeks into the semester baring bad news. As they feared, the Board of Governors wouldn't exempt her from the permission slip due to the threat of Sirius Black. Helen was rather upset, but still determined. Just because she didn't have permission, didn't mean she wasn't going to go. What was the point of owning an Invisibility Cloak if you didn't use it to flout authority?

On the morning of the first trip, however, Helen was sidelined by Professor Lupin before she could pull her Cloak out of her knapsack. If Helen didn't know better, she would have believed Lupin knew what she had planned- his timing was so good. Not to mention he kept eyeing her bag with a ghost of a smile.

They ended up having tea in his office, where they discussed a variety of topics, including her parents- whom Lupin had known when he attended Hogwarts- and her boggart. Apparently, Lupin had tried to stop her from facing it, but mostly because he was afraid Voldemort was going to come strolling in to the classroom, not because she couldn't handle it or because he had any idea it was going to kidnap her briefly and claim her as family. Helen actually felt a bit of pride when he complimented her bravery- apparently having a Dementor for a boggart signified fearing fear itself. Helen thought that was a bit of a stretch, Dementor's could suck out your soul- that's plenty to be afraid of on it's own- but accepted the compliment.

Their discussion was interrupted briefly by Professor Snape, who came in sour-faced to give Lupin a steaming silver goblet of potion. He seemed surprised and upset to see Helen there, if the way he slammed the goblet down was any indication. He shot Lupin a black look, before storming out of the classroom, not saying a word.

After tea with Lupin, Helen had more or less given up on sneaking into Hogsmeade that day. Instead, she decided to capitalize on the nearly empty library to do some research she'd been meaning to get around to. She started with Professor Snape's suggestions on how to enhance the shock ward she had gleefully applied to her trunk. An hour amongst the warding section of the library left her a couple possibilities, including enhancing the ward with runes, layering it with enhancement spells- which was the easiest solution in Helen's opinion- or rewriting the spell completely to give it a higher power threshold. The last one required spell-crafting knowledge which she didn't possess. Interested, she grabbed a book on the basics of spell-crafting, but resolved to add a few of the suggested enhancement spells in the meantime.

Content with her ward progress, Helen switched her focus to something she'd been meaning to look up since last year. She hadn't had the time and was too embarrassed by her lack of knowledge to bring it up to anyone else. Helen strolled to the history section and began looking up information on the Old Ways.

She'd first heard of the Old Ways from her Slytherin friends, who'd mention them vaguely every once in awhile- often in reference to how uncouth the Muggleborns were for not knowing of them. Obviously, she couldn't ask them about it when they had just been mocking others for such ignorance.

As it turns out, there was no one book that outlined the Old Ways. She spent three hours leafing through half the history section before even a hint of what it could mean exposed itself. In a book titled The Pure-Blood Directory, which outlined information on the 'Sacred Twenty-Eight' truly pureblood families in Britain at the time of publication in the 1930's, there were foot notes on whether they practiced 'the Olde Ways of proper wizardry' and their 'patron gods.' Helen absently noticed that the Potter's weren't part of the Sacred Twenty-Eight, even though she knew for a fact that her father had been a Pureblood. Perhaps an ancestor of hers had pissed off the author: Cantankerus Nott. She planned on asking Theo about it at some point, it was his relative, after all.

More importantly, the mention of 'patron gods' brought her attention to a surprisingly large section dedicated to mythology, and that's where she struck gold. Apparently, traditional witches and wizards believed in the gods of various pantheons, especially the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians- although the Gaelic gods were worshipped prominently throughout British wizarding communities specifically. Above any god or goddess of any pantheon, however, one stood out. Hecate, the Greek Goddess of Magic, was credited with the 'invention' of witches and wizards- the patron goddess of the whole Wizarding World who gifted chosen humans with magic thousands of years ago.

The Old Ways, technically, are the various methods magical families use to worship the gods. Sacrifice of food and crops was typical, as were rituals on festival days, altars at home, and various other methods. Dark Wizards who worshipped the more… volatile gods would sacrifice muggle lives to their chosen patron. A very prominent and subtle honoring of the Old Ways was jewelry crafted with a gods symbol of power- the most popular one being Hecate's Torch, which could be found on talismans, necklaces, bracelets, cufflinks, and any other place imaginable. Helen was amused to notice that she herself had been wearing a gods symbol of power for most of her life without realizing it: her lightning bolt scar could easily pass as a symbol for Zeus, the King of the Gods and another favorite among wizards.

Helen noticed abruptly how late it was getting. She'd been so distracted by her research that she hadn't noticed that it was nearly dinner time and her friends would have returned by now. She checked out three books, one on Greek mythology, one on various rituals to celebrate the gods, and The Pure-Blood Directory- which she hoped to use to determine some of her friends patron gods. Helen headed back to Gryffindor Tower with a lot to think about.


After dinner, which Helen had spent being evasive about what she'd done that day and being bitter at all the fun her friends had had in the village without her, the Gryffindor's headed back to the Tower but were refused entry. Apparently, Sirius Black had attempted to break in, slashing the Fat Lady's portrait with a knife and scaring the poor woman so badly she hid in a painted monastery on the third floor.

This was problematic to Helen for three reasons. Firstly, Black hadn't stuck around long enough for Helen to stab in the face for being a traitor and a direct cause to her parent's murder. Secondly, all the students had to sleep in the Great Hall that night while they searched for Black, and Helen couldn't fall asleep with the noise of hundreds of students breathing, snoring and shifting. And thirdly, the Fat Lady was so shaken up by the experience that they had to replace her with the painting of a foolish knight on a fat pony named Sir Cadogan who relished changing the password excessively and referred to people who gave the wrong password as 'rogues' and 'scoundrels'.

The whole event put Helen in a bad mood for days, and this mood was compounded by their Defense lesson that week. Lupin was apparently sick, so Professor Snape took over their class. Normally, this wouldn't be so bad, as she and Snape had come to an understanding last year. But for some reason, Snape had been out for blood that day. He'd upended their curriculum, making them learn about werewolves, their weaknesses, and how to spot them. This also didn't bother Helen too much as she had a keen interest in dangerous creatures and how to stop them. What bothered her was him yelling at her for accidentally dropping a book and then adding six inches on top to the already lengthy essay he assigned about werewolves in punishment.

Helen had been so shocked by the unexpected reprimand and punishment that she forgot to be angry until the end of class, at which point she stormed out to begin working on it. He had treated her like a Gryffindor! He'd never done that to her before. Initially there had been some apathy but this year he'd almost been treating her like one of his Slytherin students. The regression had stung.

To cap off her bad mood, their first Quidditch match of the season was up and the weather was horrible. Initially, it was supposed to be Slytherin vs Hufflepuff, but one of the Chasers faked a concussion (or maybe he had hit his head on purpose- it's hard to say how far some will go for Quidditch) so they could delay playing in the bad storm and that left Gryffindor up as the replacement. Draco was never going to hear the end of it.


Cedric Diggory did not consider himself a coward. Sure he was in Hufflepuff instead of Gryffindor, but Cedric had never thought for a moment that just because he wasn't in the 'brave' house, he was automatically a duffer. He liked Hufflepuff and thought the laid back and friendly atmosphere fit him better than the fervor of Gryffindor, the intellectualism of Ravenclaw or the purposeful detachment of Slytherin.

Even though Cedric didn't consider himself fainthearted, he still felt a little ashamed when he pulled back from going for the Snitch due to the piercing chill from the encroaching Dementors while Helen Potter zoomed past him with admirable focus. Cedric had heard through Hogwart's extensive rumor-mill that Helen was particularly sensitive to Dementors. If she was pushing through that than he was embarrassed to not be able to do the same.

That is, until Helen actually caught the Snitch. Cedric went from ashamed to alarmed in seconds. As her hand clasped the little golden ball, one of the more forward Dementors swooped down and caught her wrist. Cedric watched in horror as her broom was swept away in the wind and torrential rain and Helen dangled above the pitch. His mind switched into overdrive. He knew the only defense against a Dementor was the Patronus Charm… he just didn't know how to perform one.

He watched as she kicked and struggled uselessly for a moment before going limp, and Cedric decided that there really wasn't any time left to waste and he was just going to have to charge the ghastly beasts and hope for the best. He angled his broom and prayed to the gods his parents insisted were real, but before he could move three flashes of white streaked past him toward the growing hoard of Dementors.

Cedric barely made out a glowing bird, a wolf, and a doe before his wandering attention was grabbed by something else entirely. The glowing creatures were driving off the Dementors, but unfortunately that included the one holding Helen, which dropped her when the wolf lunged at it. The girl began to plummet to Earth, red Quidditch robes flapping uselessly. Cedric didn't think, he dove down as quickly as possible; hoping to grab her, catch her, slow down her fall before she hit the ground. Water was stinging his face during his descent but it was the last thing on his mind as he reached forward and snagged her left arm thirty feet from the ground.

He winced when he heard the tell-tale pop of Helen's shoulder dislocating as he desperately tried to slow their momentum and soften the hit. He straightened his broom out about six feet from the ground but the speed and Helen's dangling form cost him his balance. They both went tumbling onto the pitch, Cedric gaining a mouthful of mud for his trouble, but he was far more concerned with the pale and unmoving form beside him.

For a second, Cedric was positive that he hadn't done enough and that the force of the fall had still killed the girl despite his catch slowing her down. Thankfully, a moment later, he saw the rise and fall of her chest through her Quidditch robes, indicating she was still alive. He nearly collapsed back into the mud with relief.

At this point, a surge of people began to surround them. The Gryffindor Quidditch team was the first to arrive, circling their fallen player with clear worry, especially the Weasley twins. His own team was seconds later, crowding him and asking questions he couldn't focus on, not when Helen had yet to move an inch. The Professor's were next; Dumbledore, all four House Heads and Hagrid who was sniffling with tears as he lumbered closer to Helen. Cedric doubted he'd ever forget the absolute fury on the Headmaster's usually kind face as he sent more of those streaks of light off to chase away any of the remaining Dementors.

Professor Snape conjured a stretcher and Professor Flitwick very carefully levitated Helen onto it while Snape barked at the Gryffindor team to back off so he could work. Professor Lupin showed up, pale faced and worried trying to halt the incoming students from the stands crowding them, most prominently Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. Professors McGonagall and Sprout hurried toward him.

"Mr. Diggory, are you alright?" Professor McGonagall questioned, looking him up and down with an inspecting gaze.

"I'm fine, Professor. Is Helen okay?" he asked worriedly, watching Snape and Flitwick hurry to the castle with Helen's stretcher.

"Are you sure? No broken bones? Any bruising? Perhaps you should go to the Hospital Wing as well," Professor Sprout fretted.

Cedric almost refused until he realized that would be the best place to monitor Helen's condition. He'd never talked a lot with the younger Gryffindor, but they'd been friendly ever since he'd defended her from some of his House's bullying behavior last year during the Chamber incident, and not to mention he felt guilty for not being able to catch her properly or stop the Dementor's from attacking in the first place. He was a sixth year; he should be able to protect himself and others in situations like these by now.

Cedric nodded his acquiescence and began making his way to the Hospital Wing, but only after being awarded one-hundred points for Hufflepuff by McGonagall for bravery and saving the life of another student at great personal risk. She looked nearly apologetic when she mentioned that Gryffindor won the Quidditch match. Oliver Wood grinned hugely at that, the prat, and was smacked by Katie Bell for 'not having his priorities straight.'


Helen felt like she'd been hit by a lorry. It was the only explanation for how sore she was, although it didn't account for the ringing in her ears, the repeated words.

Not Helen! Please… have mercy… have mercy… Not Helen! Not Helen! Please- I'll do anything-

Her mother. That's what she heard in the presence of Dementors; her mother begging, not for her own life, but for Helen's. It made her feel sick, guilty, and infuriated all at once. She couldn't think about it. Not now.

Helen cracked open her eyes and got a face full of Gryffindor Quidditch team- mud splattered and grinning in relief.

"Helen!" cheered the twins, reaching forward to ruffle her hair simultaneously, but pulling back at the last second when they noticed her death glare, which she dropped as they retreated.

"Did we win?" she asked to a chorus of snorts from the team, except Oliver who grinned smugly, and an irritated call of 'Helen!'

Helen followed that call to Hermione, who she hadn't noticed behind the wall of Quidditch uniforms, looking at her disapprovingly. Next to Hermione Helen noticed Ron and in the hospital bed behind Ron was… Cedric Diggory?

"You'll be happy to know that your daring and suicidal move has brought Gryffindor the first win of the season," Angela informed Helen.

"It was a costly win though," Alicia added a little solemnly, placing a bundle at the foot of Helen's bed. Helen reached forward with her right hand, why did her left shoulder hurt so much, and opened up the cloth to reveal the splintered remains of her Nimbus.
"Merlin's balls!" she barked in frustration, her joy from winning rapidly dwindling in the wake of her prized broom's sacrifice.

"The wind carried it off into the Whomping Willow. Sorry, Helen," Ron informed her while Hermione cried 'language' and the twins snickered in appreciation of her cursing.

"Miss Potter, if you can't watch your language in my Hospital Wing I will spell your mouth shut," Madam Pomfrey lectured, bustling over to her bedside with a tray of potions and chocolate, slamming it down with more force then necessary. "Out with you, I have patients to care for, visiting hours are over," she demanded while shooing Helen's friends out.

They all wished her well and Ron scooped up the corpse of Helen's broom, promising to return it to her when she escaped Poppy's clutches. Helen would have to honor it properly for it's excellent service in beating the other Houses. Perhaps a Viking funeral?

Madam Pomfrey forced potions down her throat with a scowl on her face, shoving chocolate into her hand in stony silence until she turned to leave.

"You know Miss Potter, I have healed a lot of injuries over the years that were a result of foolish, youthful pride. But very rarely do I meet a student willing to charge a pack of Dementors all for a game. Especially since you know how badly they affect you. If Mr. Diggory hadn't interceded, there is no way of knowing what may have happened to you. Think on that, the next time you risk your neck."

With her piece said, MadamPomfrey turned smartly on her heel, and whisked away into her office, leaving a stunned-silent Helen in her wake.

It's never really a question when Helen does something in the pursuit of winning. She wants to win, needs to, at everything she does. It's how she stayed a step ahead of the Dursley's all those years- by winning one battle at a time. She couldn't always come out on top, but she always had to try. Why should any other aspect of her life be any different? Quidditch was just one more battle in a very long line of them. She sometimes wondered what it would be like to relax.

A soft coughing noise broke the heavy silence of the room, and Helen turned slowly to gaze upon the only other filled bed in the Hospital Wing. Cedric Diggory sat there, still in his Quidditch robes, looking a little sheepish, probably due to his cough.

"So, when she said interceded…" Helen trailed off, leaving Cedric to describe exactly what happened after she passed out in the grip of a Dementor. Helen was pretty sure the Hufflepuff was underselling himself as he described what happened, but even then it sounded impressive. He very well may have saved her life if no one and nothing else had intervened in his stead.

Helen really didn't know how to feel about this. She was almost torn in two over it really. On one hand, the Cedric Diggory, her crush for almost a year now, had swooped in and saved her life. He must like her at least somewhat to prevent her from meeting the fate of a pancake. On the other hand, he was also a witness to one of her most vulnerable moments to date.

One of her first instincts was to destroy any evidence of weakness, although she figured it would be rather ungrateful to 'eliminate' her rescuer. She settled on appreciating what he did for her and fishing around subtly for some blackmail on him. If they both had knowledge of weak moments, then they could more or less be even, right? One of the older Slytherins probably had something…


The rest of the semester finished out quickly. Another Hogsmeade visit came, and this time Helen was able to attend thanks to the twins, who gave her an amazing discovery of theirs: the Marauder's Map. It showed her the school's secret passages, as well as the location of everyone in the building. After that, escape was easy.

She had to do a little tricky maneuvering around a few professors, but otherwise the trip went off without a hitch. She even managed to stop by Gladrags Wizardwear and pick up a leather cuff with a silver medallion hewn into it- engraved with a representation of Hecate's Torch.

Helen had steadily made her way through the mythology books. She wasn't completely sold on the idea of a God, much less gods, but she found it interesting. If nothing else, wearing the cuff was a very witchy thing to do, therefore making it un-Dursley enough to satisfy her. The Dursley's had been jolly members of the good ole Church of England, as was 'proper'. At least in name and on Christmas and Easter they were. On normal Sunday's they slept in. She was never invited to go along with them to church on the rare occasions they did, being far too 'unnatural'. Helen imagined Petunia's face if she saw her walking around with a Pagan symbol on her wrist and smiled.

Helen had also finished The Pure-Blood Directory, which was the most pompous book her dyslexic eyes had ever read. It had been informative though. Apparently, the Malfoy's were stalwart worshippers of Hera: Goddess of Marriage and Family, as well as Queen of Olympus. Who knew?

Some of her Slytherin friends had seen the cuff on her wrist, even though she hadn't been showing it off. They never said anything, but Helen could see the shine of approval in their eyes. Purebloods were at their happiest when you were conforming to their ways.

Helen also had a few more meetings with Professor Lupin that turned out to be rather enlightening. She'd had a lot of questions for him, but started out with why the Dementors affected her so badly. Lupin was rather grave, saying that she had experienced real horrors in her past (Helen assumed he was referring to being violently orphaned and not having to watch Dudley shovel food in his mouth with his bare hands for a decade but both were horrible) and it attracted the Dementors to her. There's nothing like a little misery to wet the appetite of soul-sucking demons.

On another one of their meetings, Helen requested time with her boggart-nephew-niece. She had promised after all. Lupin seemed extremely hesitant to concede to the request, but Helen shot him her biggest I'd-never-shove-Dudley-off-the-monkey-bars-I'm-an-innocent-cherub look and he folded like paper.

A Dementor floated forth from the wardrobe, making rusty-hinge noises that Helen interpreted as happy squeals.


"Yeah, I'm here buddy."


It floated closer, bringing a hint of coldness along; nothing near a real Dementor, or even what it produced at their first meeting before it decided she was it's aunt. It was holding back for her, then. That's nice.

"Do you have a name?" she wondered, tired of referring to it as 'it' or 'boggart.'

She received a rasped sigh she interpreted as either a no, general indifference, or maybe its name was a sigh. She wasn't up-to-date on boggart naming practices.

"Can I name you then?" she questioned, really wanting to be able to call it something.

"… Yes…"

"How do you feel about Wolfgang? Captiva? Agamemnon?" she tried the first names off the top of her head. She could see Lupin out of the corner of her eye (he'd refused to leave her alone with a boggart) mouthing the names with a bewildered look on his face. So she had a… unique way of naming things- sue her. Hedwig didn't seem to mind and a guy named Remus didn't have a lot of room to talk.

"…No…" rasped the boggart. Back to the drawing board, then.

"Morticia? Rasputin? Cecile?"

"Ce-cile… good…" the boggart grunted decisively. Helen clapped her hands together in satisfaction.

"Cecile it is, then."

As they went to leave, Helen heard Professor Lupin muttering about feeling bad for her future children, the prat.

The re-emergence of her Dementor boggart did remind Lupin of something rather important though. He offered to give her Dementor defense lessons in the next semester. Apparently, there was a charm that could defend against them, but it was incredibly difficult to learn- most grown wizards never managed it. Fortunately, Helen had never been afraid of a challenge.

The last meeting was probably the most fruitful, however. Lupin had alluded to the fact that he knew her parents a few times, had even been friends with them. She wanted to know more; about them and him and even Sirius Black. What she got was a lot of hemming and hawing, and only answers to the questions she asked directly.

She was curious, after reading so much mythology, if her parents worshipped any of the gods. She figured her father would, being a Pureblood, but not so much her mother. She was wrong.

According to Lupin, who was rather open about this topic, her mother had actually been quite enchanted with the Old Ways. She'd even erected an alter for Hestia, one of her favorite goddesses, in their home in Godric's Hollow. Her father had favored the Norse Trickster God: Loki, and Fortuna: the Roman Luck Goddess whom their family has worshipped for a very long time apparently. The Potter's were also worshippers of Thanatos, the Death God, according to family tradition but were low key about it. People tended to get a little disconcerted by worshippers of death gods.

She also learned that her mother excelled in Charms, her father was a Gryffindor Chaser starting his third year, and her Potter grandparents were named Fleamont and Euphemia- which was apparently where she got her middle name from. It was stupid to want to know such asinine facts, but Helen cherished them. She wanted parents she could look up too, that were for the most part good people. She'd never get to know them as she wanted to, but she could appreciate their memory and their sacrifice. It was becoming more important to Helen, especially since her mother's last words had been pervading her dreams since her previous Dementor encounter.

During their final meeting before the holidays, Helen was trying to coerce more information out of Lupin when Professor Snape swept in, carrying a steaming potion once more. If Helen hadn't been forced to write an extra six inches on the werewolf essay (which Lupin ended up cancelling after she finished it, irritating her further) she never would have needed to look up the finer points of lycanthropy, which included information on the Wolfsbane Potion. However, she had been made to write extra by Snape (and she was suddenly starting to wonder if punishment had ever been his intent when assigning her extra inches) and so she recognized exactly what the silver goblet, fluffy white smoke, and the pervading smell of rich wet earth signified.

Professor Lupin was taking the Wolfsbane Potion. Professor Lupin was a werewolf.

A lot of things suddenly made sense to Helen. The monthly illnesses, the tiredness, the scars, the tense feeling he gave her on their first meeting. Even his general shabbiness was explained; werewolves could very rarely hold decent paying jobs, especially once their secret was discovered.

Helen could tell she'd frozen while staring numbly at the goblet as her mind raced. She wasn't entirely sure how to respond. Lupin had been kind to her, told her stories about her parents that she treasured. He was also dangerous, now that she realized what he was her senses were on high alert, a palpable tension in her body that demanded action of some sort. Fight or flight. She chose flight.

With a few hastily made excuses, Helen rushed from his office to digest her most recently acquired piece of information. She completely missed Lupin's worried frown and Snape's subtle smirk.


The holidays had its ups and downs. A major up was receiving a Firebolt from an anonymous giver at Christmas. It was every bit as glorious as it had been when she and Draco had admired it in Diagon over the summer. A major down was Hermione stabbing her in the back, doubting her judgment, and reporting it to McGonagall, who proceeded to confiscate the fastest broom made to date in search of tampering.

At this point, Ron swore never to speak to Hermione again. They'd been fighting all semester about her cat trying to fulfill the circle of life and kill his rat. Helen didn't care much for this argument (the cat was ugly and the rat abhorrent) but it had gotten nasty and Hermione 'threatening Gryffindor's chance at the Quidditch Cup' was apparently the final straw for the red head.

Helen nearly followed Ron into his Hermione-shunning until she took a good hard look at her best female friend. Hermione was pale with excessive bags under her eyes and her hair frizzed up more than normal due to agitation. She was surrounded with books for more classes than Helen thought anyone could take, and had a fragile look in her eyes that Helen considered a major red flag.

In other words, Hermione was a wreck, and Helen decided it was more important to make sure her friend wasn't spiraling into madness than it was to get angry at her for caring if a mass-murderer tried to kill her with nice gifts. She forgave Hermione and hoped dearly that the Firebolt would prove curse-free in time for the next Quidditch match. Hermione nearly cried in relief, and Helen felt guilty for not noticing exactly how far her friend had fallen into a study hole.

Helen also needed to make a decision about what to do with Lupin. She was now aware that he was a werewolf, which should change everything, but really changed nothing at all. He was a werewolf when he offered to teach her the Patronus Charm, and when he was telling her about her parents. He was still the same genial, knowledgeable man he was before.

Helen ultimately decided to do nothing at all. If he was getting Wolfsbane, then obviously the teachers knew what was going on, and he should be able to control the transformation with the potion: minimizing the danger he could present. Helen also chose not to tell anyone, not even Ron and Hermione. Information like that was career ending if it got out- she didn't want to take the risk.

Still, Helen couldn't help but keep her guard up just a bit in his presence after that. It was the same instinct that had prevented her from becoming dog chow that summer, or acromantula chow the year before. She just had an ingrained weariness for things that could bite her head off. Except, apparently, Cecile the boggart, who could easily turn into something that could eat her but didn't seem to ping on her radar. Must be their blooming aunt-nephew relationship.


The next semester seemed to speed by so quickly Helen could barely keep up. Classes started to pile-on the homework in preparation for exams.

Her extra Transfiguration work was really starting to get interesting- she could easily turn objects into animals, animals into objects, and objects into different objects. She'd gone through the basics of animating objects, which led to an interesting afternoon where all the furniture in Gryffindor Tower participated in gladiator duels, and even managed to get through all the school taught on human Transfiguration in the traditional curriculum. McGonagall had even told her she was an excellent candidate to begin working on the Animagus Transformation in the next few years- an incredibly rare skill that few wizards ever attempted, let alone succeed at. Next year they would conquer conjurgation and banishment, which was the end of the NEWT curriculum.

Runes was still incredibly challenging, but she maintained it was better than Divination. They had started the Ancient Greek alphabet, which actually made the whole class a lot better for Helen. For some reason that baffled her completely, the Greek letters didn't skip across the page like everything else tended to do. And memorizing them was a breeze as well. It came so naturally to her that Helen joked to herself that she must have been Greek in a previous life.

Her other classes were the same as usual, Snape had returned to treating her with subtle preference over the other Gryffindors, which gave Helen even more reason to believe that his punishment from Defense had been a way to make her discover Lupin's secret. Really, he'd wanted everyone to get the picture, but he must have wanted her especially to understand, probably because she spent more time with him than other students.

Her workload was increased by the addition of Dementor repelling lessons. These frustrated Helen because she felt like she wasn't making progress quick enough. Lupin assured her that she was doing very well and it was a complicated charm that would come in time. Helen didn't want to wait.

She was at war with the Dementors, and so far she'd lost every battle. She needed a weapon to wield against them, but all she had was formless clouds of white vapor to show for it. Lupin mentioned that practicing with a boggart as a Dementor might have sped up her progress, but the only boggart they had was Cecile and he refused to act Dementor-ish against her.

Helen was worried that her problem was that she couldn't find a memory happy enough. She'd tried Quidditch victories, defeating Riddle last year, her first time on a broom, and humiliating the Dursleys this summer. She even tried her experience with the disappointing Mirror of Erised and her kiss with Draco. Nothing quite seemed to be working, although her best result had come from the memory of the first time she ever held her rosewood wand in her hand and the divine feeling of acceptance it gave her.

The Patronus didn't really work out until the second Gryffindor Quidditch match of the year. Thankfully, McGonagall returned the Firebolt in time- curse free- and Helen was ready to win. She had been racing after the Snitch against the Ravenclaw Seeker, a pretty girl named Cho Chang, when she saw three large cloaks drifting toward the field. She whipped out her wand, thought clearly of her first trip to Diagon Alley, when Hagrid saved her, screamed 'Expecto Patronum' and made a dive for the Snitch. A form she couldn't quite make out erupted from the tip of her wand as she snatched the Snitch.

As it turned out, there hadn't really been Dementors at all. Three older Ravenclaw boys were under the cloaks, trying to freak her out so Cho could snag the Snitch from under her. Helen was surprised it was Ravenclaws pulling this move of all people. It was a very Slytherin thing to do.

The after-party was fantastic thanks to the Weasley twins. They had snuck into Hogsmeade and returned with sweets and Butterbeer, as well as a few prank products and indoor fireworks. The only low point of the party was Ron screaming at a strained Hermione that Crookshanks had finally killed Scabbers and he'd never forgive her. Hermione, who had looked one wrong word away from a break down, had screamed back that it wasn't her fault before running up to the dorm.

This incident was eclipsed, however, by Sirius Black attacking Ron that night. The redhead had been a stuttering pile of nerves for all of twenty minutes before he began to enjoy the attention of surviving an encounter with a mass murderer. It was a little annoying. Helen sort of understood the thrill of attention, but she'd never really though it worth all the encounters she'd had with mass murderers. She was rather peeved that she'd been so close to Black again and had yet to face him and also a little disconcerted by the whole event because it just didn't make any sense.

What motivation could Sirius Black have for sneaking into the Gryffindor boy's dorm with a knife? She was under the impression that he was trying to finish what his Master started and kill her. Had Azkaban rattled his brains so much that he thought she was a boy? Or did he have another reason for breaking into Gryffindor Tower? If he did, Helen really didn't know what it was. All he really accomplished was giving Ron a story to share a thousand times the next day, and getting Neville a month's worth of detention for leaving a list of the Tower's passwords around.

A few day's later, Helen and Hermione went down to Hagrid's hut for tea. Hermione and Ron weren't talking due to this Scabbers nonsense and Helen just wanted a break from another rendition of how Sirius Black had slashed his curtains. Hagrid made an excellent cup of tea, although his rock cakes left much to be desired. Not that she'd tell him this, of course, but her pockets were getting rather heavy from hiding the ones she 'ate.'

While at the hut, she also took a moment to visit Buckbeack. Haughty, proud and regal the Hippogriff looked just the same as when she'd rode him at the beginning of the year. The other hippogriffs had gone on to join a reservation, but Buckbeak remained stubbornly at Hogwarts, refusing to leave. Helen could commiserate, she didn't want to leave Hogwarts either. Unfortunately, the semester was fast approaching completion and she had failed to make any concrete plans for the summer. She really didn't want to return to the Dursley's, especially since her attack on their reputation this past summer. It was bound to end poorly for everyone involved.

The next Hogsmeade trip rolled around, significant only because Helen actually got caught sneaking out with the map. Lupin, the one to discover her, had been extremely disappointed in her and given her a heated lecture about gambling with her safety while Black was on the loose before confiscating the Marauder's Map. Helen actually felt rather ashamed. She didn't think she had a lot to fear from Sirius Black (if anything he should fear her retribution) but she hated disappointing Remus like that. He was one of a very small number of adults she looked up too, and she didn't want him upset with her.

She didn't have too terribly long to sulk about it, however, because the end of the year tests were encroaching and Helen was fighting a battle on all sides to overcome her dyslexia, mediate between Ron and Hermione who were still barely talking to each other, and prevent Hermione from spiraling into a mental breakdown. She'd already lost ground on the third front, considering Hermione's bombastic rejection of Divination.

Some days Helen had to retreat to the Slytherin Common Room for peace and quiet in order to prevent breaking something in the Lion's Den. Or someone. The Slytherins, in their usual style, were unbearably smug about her taking refuge amongst them. Draco and Theo went so far as to make pointed comments about it in front of Ron, which Helen didn't appreciate because it made her mediation more difficult if he was angry at her as well as Hermione.

Unfortunately, Helen couldn't visit the entire week leading up to their final Quidditch match on both Wood's and Flint's orders. Oliver was afraid the Slytherin's would try and hurt her so Gryffindor had to forfeit. Marcus was afraid she'd charm or intimidate some of his players into divulging their strategies to her. Helen could appreciate not being underestimated.

When the match finally occurred, it was one of the dirtiest games played at Hogwarts in years. Katie was knocked clean off her broom and into the Hospital Wing three minutes in by the Slytherin Beaters. Fred and George started throwing elbows in retaliation, even managing to crack one of the Slytherin Chaser's noses, before that same Chaser slammed Oliver into the hoops on 'accident.' Helen and Draco were honestly no better, friendship aside. He trailed her, she tried to shove him off, he grabbed her broom, and she kicked him in the hand. In the end, the Nimbus 2001 was no match for the Firebolt and Helen sped her way into her third Quidditch Cup victory.

Exams occurred the week afterward, and Helen was pretty confident in her grades. She still found Herbology distasteful and History boring, and couldn't wait until they took their OWLs so she could opt out of them for her NEWT courses.

Ron, on the other hand, had returned from his Divination exam looking absolutely rattled.

"That barmy old woman grabbed me when I was leaving my test and she said, well, I can't remember all of it. But something about You-Know-Who's servant helping him rise 'more terrible than ever before,'" Ron confided, looking pale and nervous.

Hermione scoffed openly, claiming Trelawney to be nothing more than a fear-mongering fraud. Helen agreed, although she couldn't help but imagine Sirius Black, twisted and mad from his time in Azkaban, throwing himself at the feet of the wraith she'd met her first year. The vision sent a delicate shiver down her spine.

Hermione's open dismissal of Ron's fear would have kindled another argument between them if not for the timely arrival of a post owl with a note for Ron.

"It's from Hagrid. He says he found Scabbers!" he cheered, already sweeping from the Common Room with Helen and Hermione struggling to keep up.

The redhead sprinted across the lawn, with Helen a step behind him and Hermione further back, yelling at them to slow down and demanding an apology for accusing her cat of killing Scabbers.

Ron, more cheerful then Helen had seen in a while, shouted back his apology, a quick and inelegant 'sorry, Mione!' but didn't slow down. Helen felt the apology wasn't really equal to all the terrible things they've said back and forth to each other this year, but it was up to Hermione to decide if it was good enough. By the look on her face: not even close.

"There yah are. I got 'im right over 'ere, found 'im in my sugar bowl," Hagrid rumbled in greeting, delicately extracting the squeaking and twisting rodent from said bowl and handing his struggling form to Ron.

Scabbers looked terrible. He was paunchy in the way that losing a lot of weight in a short amount of time made you. He was missing chunks of grey fur where tufts had fallen out, and his beady rodent eyes were nearly popping out in animal panic. Helen looked around to make sure Crookshanks wasn't in the room ready to pounce and scaring the stupid creature.

"Thank you, Hagrid! I've been looking for him everywhere!" Ron exclaimed, while struggling to keep a proper hold on his pets wriggling form.

"It was no trouble, Ron. You migh' wanna be thinking abou' gettin' 'im some rat tonic the next time yah go to Diagon. Poor little fellow s'not looking too good," Hagrid advised.

Ron nodded eagerly, while Helen gave her big friend a sincere smile and thanked him as well. Hagrid had single-handedly solved a problem that had been plaguing her for an entire semester- that of Ron and Hermione's feud. She could always count on him.

They stayed and chatted with Hagrid for a few minutes (which included Ron giving Hermione a better apology) but Scabbers was twisting and turning far too much and they decided to go back to the tower so Ron could put him in his 'cage' (which was actually a small box with holes cut into it).

They never made it to the tower.

They were halfway across the lawn while Scabbers was biting at Ron's hand in aggravation when a dark blur went rocketing straight for them. Helen didn't even have time to rip her rose-shaped clip out of her hair before Ron's right arm was in the slobbering jaws of the emaciated black dog she'd seen on Privet Drive after a different dog had attacked her that past summer.

Ron shouted in pain as he was drug off by the dog, Scabbers still desperately clutched in his left hand.

"Ron!" Hermione shouted, while Helen was already running after her friend, ready to put down another unnatural hound. And she would have, if the Whomping Willow hadn't smacked her in the face.

Helen went down hard in surprise, while Ron was screaming for help and being dragged into a hollow at the base of the tree. He hooked his leg around one of the roots, hoping the dog would give up and let him go, but all it gained him was the sickening crack of a broken leg. Ron screamed in biting pain and disappeared from sight with the monster dog and Scabbers.

Helen rolled out of the way as another branch flung itself at her. It smacked hard into the ground, spraying Helen with displaced dirt. She heard a startled yelp as Hermione was knocked away by a separate branch, thankfully falling out of the tree's reach. Helen scrambled to join her.

"Do you know any spells to stop a tree with anger management issues?" Helen asked Hermione.

"No, no I don't," Hermione replied bleakly.

Helen settled herself into a running stance, preparing for a desperate sprint to the hollow that'd probably include a lot of splinters, when a streak of orange passed her.

"Crookshanks!" Hermione called after her wayward cat. Helen grimaced, thinking she was going to have to add 'save cat' to her long list of things to do today.

Before Helen could even attempt that, however, the ginger beast pressed one paw into a knot on the tree right next to the hollow. The Willow shuddered and tensed, before going completely rigid like a normal tree. Helen blinked bemusedly.

"Crookshanks?" Hermione questioned as the cat slipped into the hollow and disappeared the same way as Ron and the dog.

Helen ran after him, taking advantage of the tree's unnatural stillness and sliding after the cat. The hollow was an opening to a dark and dank earth tunnel. Helen grimaced, suddenly remembering this passage from the Marauder's Map. It led to the Shrieking Shack in Hogsmeade.

Helen and Hermione made their way down the tunnel, crouched over to avoid hitting the low ceiling. Helen had her wand out and producing a low light to lead their way. Her other hand was prepared to go for the Sword of Gryffindor at any moment. If spells failed, she'd handle that dog like the one from Privet Drive.

When Helen and Hermione emerged on the first floor of the Shack, they were greeted with an array of dusty furniture. Ugly wallpaper was peeling off the walls and there were deep gouges in the wooden floor that made the hair on the back of Helen's neck rise.

There was a thumping sound above them; Helen and Hermione looked at each other. Helen noticed how nervous Hermione looked, lips pinched with anxiety. Helen tried to give her friend an encouraging smile before heading toward the stairs and up to the second floor, Hermione right behind her.

There was a door gaping open at the end of the hall, and Helen and Hermione headed that way. They slipped in to see Ron, pale faced with pain, laying awkwardly on a dusty, half collapsed bed with Crookshanks next to him. Ron's eyes widened as soon as he saw them,

"It's a trap! He's an Animagus! It's him, it's Sirius Black!" Ron cried in distress.

Helen gasped sharply and whirled around as the door to the room slammed shut behind her and Hermione, revealing the notorious mass-murderer Sirius Black.

He was… ragged. His hair, as black as his name and curly, fell to his elbows in disgusting tufts and snags. His skin and teeth were an unhealthy yellow, and he was so skinny his face resembled a skull more than anything. His eyes were bugged and tinged with desperation and mania. He was also wielding Ron's wand.

"Expelliarmus!" Helen barked; disarming the convict almost too easily considering how much trouble he'd caused the Ministry. Ron's wand went flying into her hand and she looked on Black's surprised form with ice in her eyes, her own wand pointed straight at his head.

"I've been waiting for this," she hissed, looking the man who betrayed her parents right in his grey eyes. Liar. Traitor. She'd make him suffer.

"Helen," Sirius Black rasped, all his attention on her, "you have Lily's eyes. James' features. Just like your parents…"

"Shut up! You don't get to talk about them! You got them killed!" she yelled, wand twitching. She was so upset she didn't know what to do. Blood was rushing through her ears and her hand trembled in rage, grief and indecision. There was a part of her that wanted to kill him, to see him dead at her feet. But there was another part that hesitated. This wasn't like it was with Quirrell first year. He hadn't attacked her yet. It wasn't self-defense; it was murder.

"I did get them killed. It was my fault. But I wasn't the one to betray them," Sirius rasped, an ugly look crossing his hollow face toward the end.

He must have been mad; Azkaban had rattled his brains. He just wasn't making any sense.

Before Helen could question him about his ramblings or find a way to shut him up, the door to the room flew open to reveal Professor Lupin. Helen felt an odd combination of relief and disappointment. Now she didn't have to make the choice to kill an unarmed man. The decision was out of her hands. Unfortunately, it limited whatever capacity she had to avenge her parents.

"Professor Lupin," Hermione breathed with immense gratitude.

Short-lived gratitude as a second later Lupin had non-verbally disarmed her and Helen before looking toward Black.

"I saw… on the map… is it true? Is he really alive? That would mean…" he looked at Black with wondering eyes. Black nodded solemnly.

"Yes. I went after him all those years ago because he was the traitor. He got them killed," Black affirmed; voice still a rasped mess and attention entirely on Lupin.

They hugged, hitting each other's backs and releasing a stream of mumbled words and twisted apologies. Lupin handed a wand to Black -Helen's- and Helen felt her temper rise higher than she could remember.

" I TRUSTED YOU!" she shrieked at Lupin taking her hair clip out and preparing to turn it into a sword at a moments notice. "I kept your secret! I confided in you! How dare you presume to tell me about what great people my parents were and then cuddle up to the man who sent them to their deaths! Lying, traitorous werewolf!"

Her rant seemed to hit Lupin, who flinched when she spat out the word werewolf with all the disgust she could manage. She heard Ron gasp in shock but Hermione was surprisingly silent. Perhaps she'd already known?

"Helen, please, I swear I would never betray you. This isn't what it looks like, Sirius didn't betray your parents," Lupin pleaded, looking rather upset by her anger. Black seemed largely unaffected.

"Bullshit! Lucius told me all about it months ago! About how he was my father's best friend and my godfather and about how he sold us out to Voldemort!" Helen returned, jabbing her finger at Black who suddenly looked a bit annoyed.

"What are you doing talking to Lucius Malfoy?" he demanded, as if that was at all relevant to their current discussion.

"He's the one who told me all about an Azkaban escapee coming to finish the job," she replied coldly.

"Helen, it's not what you think. Let me explain," Lupin pleaded.

He proceeded to tell a story, the sad tale of the Marauder's: three Animagi and a werewolf, who were ripped apart on one dark Halloween. Lupin was just explaining the cruel prank Sirius played on Professor Snape, which Helen's father had saved him from, when the mentioned Professor appeared- banishing his Disillusionment Charm.

Helen would always maintain that Slytherin's had the best dramatic entrances.

A few quick wand movements disarmed Lupin and Black, sending four wands flying. Hermione's, Lupin's and Ron's went toward the bed while Helen's went flying at Hermione who caught it clumsily.

"Look what we have here, a werewolf and an escaped convict holding students at wand point. I told Dumbledore you couldn't be trusted," he drawled, wand raised, probably for a nasty curse.

"Wait, Professor, they were just explaining-" Helen tried to argue, wanting to know exactly why Black and Lupin swore Black was innocent, but was cut off.


Now, if Hermione had wielded anyone else's wand, the spell probably would have safely disarmed Snape, leading to quite a few points from Gryffindor taken, but no harm done. However, Hermione had used Helen's wand. A wand that Garrick Ollivander had cautioned Helen not to let anyone else wield. Rosewood and Drakon heartstring were temperamental on the best of days, and together made a wand that worked wonderfully for it's chosen witch and volatilely for anyone else.

A streak of red left Helen's wand, hit Snape dead in the chest, and bashed him off his feet and into the wall with a dangerous amount of force, knocking him out cold. The room blinked in stunned silence.

"Blimey Hermione! You'll never pass Potion's now," Ron exclaimed, eyes wide with awe. Hermione paled drastically, looking stunned.

"I… I just wanted him to listen, to find out the truth. It wasn't supposed to…"

Hermione dropped Helen's wand with numb fingers. Helen scooped it up and sent her friend an irritated glance.

"We could've talked to him, he wasn't aiming at us," she scolded mildly, before turning her wand back on Lupin and Black who had been edging toward the bed and the other wands. They stopped at her deadpan stare. Finally, the power in the room was hers once more.

"You were saying."

Lupin and Black talked more quickly after that. They spoke of Peter Pettigrew, his status as the Potter's real Secret Keeper while Sirius played the diversion. Sirius seemed rather bitter recalling how clever he had thought he was, pulling the wool over everyone's eyes, even his own. He almost sounded as bitter as Lupin when he mentioned that he was the suspected leak on the Light Side.

The piéce de résistance was Sirius' manhunt for Peter, and how it ended with a pile of dead Muggles and his incarceration without a trial. All that had remained of Peter, according to Sirius, was a finger because he cut it off before escaping in his Animagus form of a rat. And that rat, apparently, was Scabbers whom Black had seen in a newspaper photo in Azkaban that depicted the Weasley's after Arthur won a Galleon draw over the summer. That was why he escaped, why he came to Hogwarts, why he went to the Gryffindor boy's dormitory.

From Black's perspective, all the weird happenings and the timeline started to make a lot of sense. Helen was positive Black believed in everything he said. She was also sure that prolonged exposure to Dementor's could drive one around the bend. The whole story could just be a figment of his twisted imagination, exacerbated by guilt for his betrayal. Helen had to be sure.

"Ron, give me Scabbers," she demanded. Ron clutched tighter to his pet.

"Have you gone as barmy as them? Scabbers is a rat, he can't be-"

"If he's just a rat the spell won't hurt him, Ron. If he's an Animagus it'll turn him back. I've discussed the spell with McGonagall. Hand him here," she repeated.

"But Animagi aren't part of the third year curriculum," Hermione protested. "When would you have-"

"Not the time," Helen cut her off, not in the mood to reveal her extra lessons or the subsequent lecture that would result from not telling Hermione. "Ron. Rat Now."

In the end, Ron's compliance didn't matter because Scabbers, who had been struggling in his grip for nearly the entire confrontation, bit Ron and made a desperate bid for freedom. Helen caught him before he got anywhere near the door.

"Animus Revelio!"

A flash of blue light left her wand and struck the rat, which started morphing before their eyes; until a small balding man with watery blue eyes and a pointed face that could only be described as rat-like stood where a dingy rodent had been before.

Helen trained her wand on the short, disgusting little man, and jerked her chin from Lupin to the three discarded wands. He got her message and scooped them up, reclaiming his own, giving Sirius Ron's, and tossing Hermione hers.

"Hello, Peter," Lupin said mildly, false pleasantries dripping from his tongue as his eyes glowed an inhuman gold. The werewolf had come out to play.

"Remus, Sirius… my old friends," Pettigrew squeaked, his voice rather nasal.

"Shut up! Shut up you traitor! I'll kill you! I'll kill you for what you did to Lily and James," Sirius barked, eyes smoldering with a madness that had been rather absent up to this point.

"Sirius, please, understand-" he begged. Lupin was having none of it.

"Did you or did you not sell out James and Lily to Voldemort?" Remus demanded. Pettigrew, who Helen wasn't sure could seem more pathetic, began to cry big, wailing sobs, proving her wrong.

"You don't understand the power the Dark Lord has. The pain he could inflict. He would have killed me, what was I supposed to do?"

"You should have died! Died instead of betraying your friends! Like we would have done for you," Sirius yelled, looking seconds away from strangling the rat with his bare hands.

Pettigrew, sensing there was no mercy coming from that end, threw himself down at Helen's feet.

"Please, Helen, beautiful, forgiving, compassionate Helen. So like your parents. They would have forgiven me. Helped me. Please," he begged. Helen felt the anger that came to easily to her sometimes rise up. It was the same feeling that Vernon had summoned this summer when he tried to hit her. The same feeling from first year when she came face-to-face with Voldemort's wraith. That bubbling rage that made her want to lash out and hurt something.

She kicked him in the ribs. Hard. She'd never been so thankful for her dragon-hide boots before. He squawked in pain as Helen looked down at him coldly.

"We don't know if they would have forgiven you. We'll never know because they're dead. They're dead because you are a useless, sniveling coward."

Pettigrew crawled to get away from her, heading toward the dusty bed.

"Please, Ron, I've been a good pet, a good rat…" he begged, grasping at straws. Ron looked distinctly ill.

"I let you share a bed with me…" he moaned in horror, face green. Helen felt very bad for her friend. That realization was positively traumatic.

Sirius at that point had had enough. He sent a gagging curse at the man to shut him up, and then raised his wand again, most likely for something fatal or maiming. Helen didn't really care which. She had hesitated with Sirius, feeling guilty that he was unarmed and hadn't attacked her yet. She wouldn't hesitate now, knowing how good Pettigrew was at hiding, knowing he'd been there for years, her parents betrayer, being coddled as a house pet. This was more than vengeance. This was justice.

"Wait!" Hermione cried before any spell could leave his lips. "Don't kill him."

Sirius gave her a disgruntled look.

"He's killed over a dozen people, cuddled up with Death Eaters. Why shouldn't I…?"

"Because you can't prove your innocence if he's dead. He dies and the truth dies with him. You'll never be free," Hermione argued, probably the only one still thinking logically at this point. Helen pressed her lips together in displeasure. Hermione had a point.

Helen wanted to argue despite the logic, but a thought occurred to her. She didn't know her parents, not the way a child should. But she'd heard Remus' stories of her parents, as well as other stories from the Professors. She was almost positive Pettigrew was wrong and her parents wouldn't have forgiven him.

But she was also sure that they'd want her to do everything in her power to free Sirius Black. He was her father's best friend, an innocent man, and if her parents were half as loyal to their friends as Lupin described, they'd want her to place Sirius' justice over revenge. They'd want her to do what was right.

"She has a point, Sirius," Lupin agreed with Hermione, seemingly reluctant. Sirius gritted his teeth in frustration, but didn't cast anything. Helen sighed before giving a sharp nod, consenting to forego vigilante justice this time.

Pettigrew began muffled sobbing in abject relief, and despite her resolution not to kill Pettigrew; she couldn't let him feel any sort of relief. She leaned in close to his face with her darkest sneer.

"I wouldn't be so pleased if I was you. You may have been given a little extra time, but you are far from forgiven. I'm going to use every connection, every bit of political clout being the Girl-Who-Lived affords me to get the worst sentence for you possible. I hope you like Dementor's, because I will do everything in my power to see you Kissing one rather soon. Maybe they'll even let me watch."

Pettigrew started to wail and wriggle through his gag, terrified beyond belief. Helen looked at him frostily, and then turned away in a dispassionate dismissal, a move that Narcissa taught her over the summer so 'everyone below her can be reminded of their place.' Narcissa was great at it, and Helen was pretty sure she had just pulled it off.

Lupin stunned Pettigrew before beginning to levitate him out the door. Sirius followed closely, keeping a determined eye on their captive. Helen and Hermione hoisted Ron between the two of them carefully and followed with Crookshanks taking up the rear. Helen sent a slightly guilty look at her fallen Professor and silently promised to send help as soon as they made it back to the castle. She could try levitating him, but she wasn't as confident in her Charm work as she was in her Transfiguration, and she was pretty sure you weren't supposed to move people with head injuries around too much.

The walk through the secret passage was awkward, considering Ron was dead weight and hard to maneuver, but eventually they all emerged in one piece as Crookshanks deactivated the Willow so their odd procession could emerge onto the night darkened grounds. Sirius Black moved until he was standing beside her, although his eyes were still on Pettigrew.

"So, you know I'm your godfather, from Lucius bloody Malfoy, of all people," he commented out of the blue. Helen raised an eyebrow in his direction.

"Uh, yes?" she answered questioningly, wondering what he was getting at.

"When we turn in Pettigrew, I'll be free, and, well, I was wondering if you might want to come stay with me? I mean, you're probably happy with your Aunt and Uncle, you don't have to. I just thought I'd offer, because, I would have raised you if I hadn't gone to Azkaban, you know?"

He was babbling, seemingly nervous and the sanest Helen had seen him yet. Helen would be lying if she said something warm didn't flare up in her chest at the offer. Her relatives despised her, never wanted her and never let her forget it. To know that a close friend of her parents wanted to take care of her was an indescribable feeling for the orphan.

Sure, he was rough around the edges and by Merlin did he need a haircut and a sandwich, but Helen's imagination captured the idea of a Dursley free summer. Not to mention, she still hadn't secured alternate plans for the coming vacation. She wasn't stupid, she knew there would be logistical issues (could escaped convicts own houses? Could he afford to take care of them?) but they could figure those out later.

"Trust me, I'd be happier staying with an escaped convict than the Dursley's any day," she informed him with a smirk that boarded a smile. Sirius sent a blinding grin back. It made him seem more alive.

"Sounds like a plan," he replied happily.

Any happiness was quickly drained from the situation when the clouds overhead parted to reveal a full moon and Professor Lupin started to groan in pain.

"Moony, did you take your potion?" Sirius asked urgently, rushing up to hold up the twitching Professor. Pettigrew was dropped carelessly to the ground as Lupin lost control of the spell.

"Moony?!" Sirius repeated urgently, but was shoved away by the inhuman strength of the now morphing werewolf.

He was only half-transformed, but Helen could already see the animal aggression glinting in his golden eyes. Lupin hadn't taken his Wolfsbane Potion and they were all about to pay for it.

"What did you brats think you were doing?" growled the newly arrived voice of Professor Snape that had just joined up with them, looking pale and furious. Any rant he was preparing to deliver however was cut off when he noticed the transforming werewolf four meters ahead of them.

He threw his arms out, bodily protecting them from the approaching Dark creature. The wolf reared back, looking prepared to slash at him until a big black dog bowled into his side, knocking the wolf away from them.

Sirius, in his Animagus form, was nipping and barking at the wolf, distracting it and thankfully leading it into the woods. Helen turned away from him to check on where Pettigrew's stunned form was, but he was gone. She saw a small rustle of grass and leaves at the edge of the forest- the kind made by a living creature.

"No!" she yelled, dropping Ron's arm regretfully but racing toward the forest. She ignored the cries from her friends and Professor to come back. She couldn't let Pettigrew get away. Not after all he'd done. Not when he still threatened Sirius' freedom. She needed him to face justice for killing her family and sentencing her to ten years and two summers with the Dursley's.

She plunged into the forest, not sure where the rat had gone beyond this point. She saw a broken log splintered on the forest and decided to put her Transfiguration skills to good use. With a few well-chosen words and a swish of her wand, a wood-brown hunting dog stood at her side.

"Find the rat."

The Transfigured animal plunged into the forest with Helen right behind, Sword of Gryffindor at the ready.


Zoë Nightshade was less than happy. She should be at her Lady's side, presiding over the Hunters. She should be protecting them, helping them, hunting with them: all in the name of her goddess. Instead, she was stomping through a magical Scottish forest hunting alone.

The reason was simple. She hadn't had a vacation in a century and Lady Artemis saw fit she 'take some time off.' Zoë had immediately protested, saying she didn't need 'relaxation' and would be much happier continuing as she was, but her Lady had been adamant, and sent her away from camp for no less than a fortnight. Zoë, unwilling to cross Artemis on anything, reluctantly backed down and left.

Still, she really had no idea what to do with herself. The only thing she really found relaxing was hunting, so that's what she decided to do. It had been awhile since she'd been to Europe, the West being firmly in America for the last few decades, so she decided to make a visit. England was only the first stop on her little tour, and all she'd managed to kill so far was a couple vehicle-sized spiders. Fortunately, tonight was a full moon, and all types of creatures liked to emerge amongst the glow of her Lady's chariot.

She didn't have to wait long until the telltale howl of a werewolf caught her attention and gave her a direction to start jogging in. She had run maybe half a mile through the woods when she heard the distinct rustle of a fast moving creature. She was a little surprised to have come across it so soon, having thought the howl was further away, but positioned her bow and knocked an arrow at any rate.

She was prepared for a large vicious werewolf, so was surprised when a brown hunting dog, not so different from the one's that traveled with the Hunters, burst through the tall grass and brush. She was even more surprised by the young maiden that followed, brandishing a gleaming gold sword and running with a speed and grace that was a step above ordinary. Zoë had been alive long enough to recognize a demigoddess when she saw one. A Roman one, it would seem, by her Imperial Gold sword.

The maiden noticed her, momentarily distracted from her pursuit of the hunting dog into the forest by the immediate threat Zoë presented. Her gaze locked onto the loaded bow in Zoë's hands, and she immediately became defensive, bending her knees and brandishing her sword threateningly.

Zoë took a moment to observe her before lowering her weapon. The maiden held her sword a bit stiffly and with a less efficient grip, so she was either untrained or unpracticed in wielding her weapon, but her stance suggested the raw talent one could expect of a demigoddess. Her dark hair gleamed in the moonlight, and startlingly green eyes stared her down suspiciously. Zoë couldn't easily determine her parentage by looks alone, plenty of gods had dark hair and she'd never met one with eyes that shade.

The girl was quite pretty, but Zoe had never cared much about that. She'd met a plethora of the most beautiful beings to exist over the years; one more left almost no impression. What impressed Zoë was the ferocity of her gaze, the way her unique eyes bored into Zoë as a perceived threat. That kind of focus could be valued in a Hunter. There was no bad time for recruitment.

"Peace, maiden," Zoë commanded neutrally, lowering her bow completely. The maiden didn't follow her example.

"Who the hell are you and what are you doing in the Forbidden Forest?" she asked defensively. Zoë didn't rise to her tone.

"My name is Zoë Nightshade, and I am the Lieutenant of the Hunters of… Diana," Zoë finished.

Technically, the Hunters were allowed to know about the dichotomy of the gods. Zoë had stood by her Lady's side as she was twisted with the rise of the Roman Empire, and served Diana as faithfully as she served Artemis. However, she had to step lightly when recruiting. If this girl denied joining and some day made it to the Roman Camp, she could spread tales of Greek counterparts and that was unacceptable. The gods had separated the camps for a reason, and she would respect their wisdom in that decision.

"Hunters of Diana?" the girl questioned, both eyebrows raised and emphasizing a curious lightning bolt scar on her forehead. Perhaps the girl was a Daughter of Jupiter? Born despite the pact and hidden away in England? It wasn't inconceivable to imagine Lord Jupiter stamping his symbol into something he considered his, although the wisdom of such a decision was suspect considering his wife and brothers. It had only been a few years since the demise of that foolish Daughter of Zeus.

"Yes. We serve Lady Diana as her Hunters and companions, traveling and killing monsters at her command," Zoë explained proudly. The Hunter's was her very long life's work and Lady Artemis her savior and patron. She was very proud. "What might your name be, maiden?"

"Uh, Helen Potter," she supplied, seemingly bemused. Zoë had the sudden worrying thought that maybe the girl wasn't aware of her status as a demigoddess. The sword seemed to contradict that, but more than a handful of half-bloods ended up with weapons through luck and desperation before knowing why monsters were constantly attacking them. This could quite possibly be one of those cases. This called for an informational pamphlet.

"It is a pleasure, Helen Potter," Zoë said politely as she pulled a pamphlet out of one of her silver jacket pockets. She gave it a harsh shake and all of the references to Artemis magically morphed to the name Diana. She than handed it to Helen who took it politely, still seemingly bemused, until her eyes suddenly widened in some realization,

"Have you seen a rat pass through here?" she asked quickly, her voice a tad harsh. It was Zoë's turn for confusion.


"A rat! Grey, fat, missing part of its paw? Is actually a middle-aged man that I intend to castrate when I get my hands on him?" she asked, her eyes darting around the darkness. Her hunting dog was long gone, and Zoë could see frustration on her face.

"No, I haven't seen a male, nor a rat. Although, if you require assistance with the castration; I would be pleased to join you on your hunt. I'm quite an accomplished tracker," Zoë offered. As a nymph, she had heard of far stranger things than a man turning into a rat (it even seemed rather fitting to her) and she was in a magical forest near one of Hecate's schools, so much beyond mortal limitations was possible.

Zoë never got an answer, for at the moment the werewolf she'd been trying to find decided to make an appearance. It burst from the underbrush, growling and taking a swipe at Helen, who dove out of the way at the last second. Zoë pulled up her bow and took aim for the creature's heart as it made another swipe for the maiden.

"Wait! Don't shoot! He's a family friend!" she cried as she dove once more from the hungering beast. Zoë sputtered in surprise.

"Friend? It's a ravenous beast!"

"Only during his time of the month," Helen countered, making a swipe for the beast's ankle, but unable to get close enough.

Zoë was rather torn. It was against her nature and centuries of training to let a monster live so it might try and hurt someone else. But she wasn't without compassion or restraint. Securing the beast until her Lady finished her journey across the night's sky wasn't beyond her capabilities, if nothing else it would be a good display of her skill to subdue the werewolf without killing it. She huffed and made her decision.

A silver arrow soared through the air just as Helen managed to pierce it in it's thigh. It yipped in pain, but before it could retaliate the arrow lodged itself in the werewolf's shoulder- a painful but non-lethal hit that took the beast to the ground.

"Thank you," Helen said gratefully, panting slightly from the adrenalin rush.

Before Zoë could reply, she was interrupted again, this time by a terrified male scream.

"Sirius!" Helen yelled, taking a few steps toward the shout before hesitating and looking back at Zoë. She seemed torn, wanting to go to the person in distress, this 'Sirius' but unwilling to leave her alone with a werewolf that was starting to gather itself together again. Zoë made the decision for her.

"Go. I can make sure the wolf doesn't hurt anyone without killing it. Go help this 'Sirius,'" she commanded softly. Helen gave her a sincerely grateful smile.

"Thank you, Zoë Nightshade," she said before running toward the scream.

"Read the pamphlet!" Zoë called after her.

She was no oracle, but she had the distinct feeling that one day she'd meet Helen Potter again.


Sirius' screams lead Helen to the edge of the lake, and a terror like no other. Dozens and dozens of Dementors were swarming the area, occasionally swooping down close to the unmoving form collapsed on the shore that could be no one but Sirius. The atmosphere was freezing and the enraged hisses of a blind basilisk and the pained screams of a man burning alive by her touch echoed in the back of her head.

Her wand was out, her sword back to a clip but she had neither the time nor the energy to put it back in her hair. She staggered toward Sirius' form; the burden of the cold and the feeling of misery (unwanted, unloved, lonely) were like a physical weight on her shoulders.

"Expecto Patronum!"

A shield of white burst from her wand tip, but fizzled out nearly as quickly as it came.

"Expecto Patronum… Epecto… Expect-"

Helen collapsed with her mother's voice ringing in her ears begging for Helen's life. As darkness overtook her, she could have sworn she saw a burst of white prance across the lake.


Helen awoke to a splitting headache and lethargy that seemed to pervade every cell of her body. People are speaking in the background; she could distinctly make out Professor Snape and another voice she'd never heard before. She groaned and the room went silent.

"Miss Potter?" inquires the silky tones of her Potions Professor.

"I'm alive," she murmured, more to inform him she's conscious than anything else. Her snarkiest Professor snorts in return.

"Barely. Not many are found alive in a clearing with acute Dementor exposure laying next to a mass murderer while a werewolf runs through the forest," he replies, voice snide with the tiniest hint of relief around the edges.

"We always knew I was special," she said hoarsely.

"Indeed." Helen could practically hear the eye-roll in his voice.

"Thank Merlin you're all right, Miss Potter," the other man in the room blustered. He was a portly man, in a pinstriped dress robes and a dark green bowler hat that he was worrying in his hands.

"I'm sorry, who're you?" she asked blankly while pulling herself up into a sitting position. The bowler hat man blinked in surprise before he tripped over himself to explain.

"Terribly sorry, Miss Potter. How rude of me not to introduce myself. Where are my manners? I'm Cornelius Fudge, Minister for Magic," he introduced himself, sounding both nervous and pompous. She decided to stroke his ego a bit, if only to try and get a bit more information from him. She was very confused at the moment.

"Oh, I've heard of you. Lucius Malfoy mentioned you a couple times while I was visiting his son this summer," she offered. It was true, she also remembered Lucius calling him a simpering idiot, but that wouldn't help her here, even if it was kind of funny. Said idiot beamed in response.

"Yes, Lucius is a rather close acquaintance of mine," Fudge boasted.

"Not to be rude, Minister, but why are you here?" she asked, widening her eyes to take the edge off the rude question and make her seem just a touch more innocent. Fudge fell for it hook-line-and-sinker, but she could see Professor Snape's eyebrow raised in derision behind him.

"Ah yes, that. Well, thanks to your Professor, Sirius Black has been captured. I'm here to ensure his execution by Dementor's Kiss is fulfilled by dawn, and then we can get the Dementor's back to Azkaban where they belong," Fudge informed her, seemingly upbeat for a man talking about execution. It made sense in it's own way. Sirius Black's escape was an embarrassment that reflected poorly on the Ministry, a politician would be ecstatic to finally put it behind them.

"You can't," Helen said hurriedly, a note of urgency in her voice. She couldn't let Sirius be executed. "He didn't do it, he didn't betray my parents. It was Peter Pettigrew," she explained. The Minister looked at her pityingly.

"Ah, it's okay to be confused, Miss Potter. High exposure to Dementors has been known to cause that," he informed her gently. "You should probably get the matron," he suggested to Snape before wishing her a swift recovery and sweeping out of the Hospital Wing.

"Professor, I'm not confused. Sirius is innocent. Pettigrew was my parent's Secret Keeper, they just pretended it was Sirius. When they died Sirius went after Pettigrew and he killed all those muggles before faking his own death and leaving in his Animagus form: a rat. He's been living with the Weasleys as pet for years. Please, Professor, you have to believe me. He didn't do it," Helen explained in a rush, looking imploringly at one of her favorite teachers.

He stared at her for a long moment, and Helen could practically see the indecision in his dark eyes before he shut down all expression in his face.

"Miss Potter, you must realize how unbelievable this sounds," he began, voice flat.

"I know it sounds crazy Professor, but it's the truth. We had Peter at wand point and were bringing him to the castle but Professor Lupin shifted and he got away into the Forbidden Forest."

Speaking of the Forest, she hoped that odd girl, Zoë Nightshade, was okay. She'd certainly seemed capable enough with her bow and hunting knives. Apparently she was hunting in honor of the Roman goddess Diana, which Helen sort of remembered reading about in one of her mythology books earlier that year. She couldn't help but worry though; werewolf Remus had been vicious. Even still, she sincerely hoped Remus wasn't dead either.

"So your only proof escaped into the night like a ghost, so all that's left is the good word of a convict, a werewolf and three school children, one of which is suffering the trauma of over-exposure to Dementors?"

"It sounds pretty bad when you put it like that," Helen conceded.

Snape pinched the bridge of his lengthy nose, clenched his jaw and sighed.

"I'll speak to the Headmaster. Stay here," he commanded for sweeping out of the room with ten times the elegance of Fudge.

Helen flopped back into the pillows tiredly, hoping for a miracle. She saw her wand and hairclip on the stand next to her bed, and returned them to their proper places. Hermione sidled up to her fifteen minutes later, biting her lip and looking nervous. She apologized for not explaining with Helen, but didn't think Snape would take anything she had to say seriously. Apparently, he was rather… peeved about how she'd knocked him out in the shack. Ron was still unconscious further down the ward, his leg was on the mend but the potion's he'd had to take had knocked him out.

Another ten minutes passed before the brightly dressed form of Albus Dumbledore slipped into the Hospital Wing. Helen hadn't seen the Headmaster much since the previous year, when he'd unjustly absolved Ginny of her reign of terror, but he looked just the same. Just as old, just as poorly dressed, just as unaccountably cheerful.

"Hello Miss Potter, Miss Granger. I'm afraid I have some unfortunate news," he said, not nearly grave enough for the situation. "It would seem the Minister is quite determined to see Sirius Black Kissed. He doesn't think there need be any official sentencing or trial, because there is no proof to contradict a well-believed story. It's truly unfortunate, if only we had more time." He said the last part with an odd emphasis and a hard look at Hermione, whose mouth dropped into a little comprehending 'oh.'

"I suppose there is nothing for it," he continued, cutting off Helen who had an indignant rant on the tip of her tongue about how unhelpful he was. "I'll just leave you ladies to heal from your exciting night. Rest well," he offered bizarrely before making his exit and securing the Hospital Wing doors behind him.

"What is his problem?" Helen started, but was cut off by Hermione's arm gripping hers and beginning to pull her out of bed while the other pulled an odd gold necklace with an hourglass out from under her shirt.

"It's not a problem, Helen, it's a solution," she said, holding up her fancy necklace. "This is a time-turner. I've been using it to re-do hours and get to all my extra classes this year."

Helen felt her eyes bug out a bit.

"Wait, like time travel?" she asked, flabbergasted that they even had devices like that, let alone put them in the hands of thirteen-year-olds just so they could take a couple extra classes.

"Yes, exactly. Dumbledore must want us to go back a few hours and rescue Sirius," she explained, looping the chain around Helen's neck. Helen jerked back as it made contact with her skin. It just felt… heady and powerful but a touch malevolent too.

"Hermione, I'm not sure about this. Time… it's something that shouldn't be messed with," she said nervously. Even biting her lip. The whole thing just felt off to her, like they were messing with powers beyond their understanding.

"It'll be fine, Helen," Hermione said reassuringly. "As long as we don't encounter our past selves, everything should be fine. We just have to be really careful."

With that, Hermione turned the dial twice, and Helen was whisked away in a shower of gold and the feeling of eyes on the back of her neck.


In the deepest pit of the Underworld, an ancient creature shuddered as mortal invaders entered its domain. The one mortal, a witch, had been a frequent offender of dabbling within Time. A few instances he'd excuse, Hecate's community had the barest rights to the workings of Time as it pertained to magic. The continued uses and disregard for the linear (in this case) flow of Time, however, was amassing his ire. When power was within his grasp once more, he'd send a servant to punish her.

This terribly old being was far more intrigued by the passenger on the little jaunt through his domain. A half-blood witch for sure- powerful enough that on first thought, he suspected it was the daughter of one of his three oldest sons, a possible child of the prophecy. The more he sensed her, however, the more he doubted his first assumption. She was just godlier than children of the Big Three tended to be. Her aura had a thicker feel of divinity about it; a Twice-Blessed Demigoddess than.

In the bowels of Tartarus, a rising evil smiled as it adjusted its plans to include the newest pawn on the board. It wouldn't be long now.


Helen stumbled away from Hermione, when the twisting feeling ceased, ripping the time-turner from around her neck. Never again.

Hermione was much calmer, and with a well-practiced air slipped the time-turner back under her shirt and away from sight.

"Do you have a plan?" she asked Helen, far too casually for someone who'd just bent the fabric of time to her whims. Helen tried to let it go and focus.

"Yes. Catch the bleeding rat so we'll have our proof," Helen answered automatically.

They set out quickly, trying to be stealthy and avoid as many people as possible. They made it out onto the grounds, and noticed a trio of figures at Hagrid's hut. Wanting to avoid detection they went into the Forbidden Forest to hide. They kept their eye on the Whomping Willow, watching Ron be attacked by Sirius. Hermione had to hold her back from charging in now and taking the rat. They couldn't reveal themselves to their past selves.

They stood and watched Remus enter the tree hurriedly, followed by Snape. Helen could feel more adrenaline pump into her otherwise exhausted body. Any minute now it would be time to act.

A grim procession exited the Willow's base, and Helen kept her eyes glued to Pettigrew. This is where she'd seen the rustle, this where he'd run to and she'd get him, by magic or force.

She watched Remus stagger as the change took him. Watched Pettigrew's body hit the ground. While everyone else's focus was on the werewolf, Helen watched as Pettigrew transformed into his rat form and ran… for the gates? She took a distracted step forward to go after him, but Hermione jerked her back, hissing about not being seen. She stumbled a bit, displacing a branch and rustling the grass. The other Helen saw the movement, looked right where they were barely concealed by shadows, and started charging in their direction.

"Shite!" Helen hissed, as she pulled Hermione along with her and started to run deeper into the forest. She had made a grievous mistake. Pettigrew had never been in the forest; Helen had seen the movement of herself and chased after her. By the time they got back to the lawn and away from their past selves, the rat would be long gone. She had failed.

They sprinted in the forest, trying to make the most out of their head start. Helen heard another rustle headed their way, prayed it was Zoë instead of Lupin, and pulled Hermione out of sight just as the self-proclaimed Huntress came into the gap of the forest. The armed stranger distracted the other Helen, and Helen and Hermione kept running, although Hermione was starting to pant in exhaustion. She really wasn't an athlete.

"What now?" Hermione panted, hands on her knees as they took a pause. The transfigured hunting dog caught up with them, but Helen re-transfigured it back into a log with a negligent flick of her wand before it could bark and give away their location.

"We'll have to break Sirius out if we can't clear his name," Helen said bleakly. This wasn't how it was supposed to end. Sirius would be on the run, trying to avoid capture and Helen would loose a chance at a real home. The bitterness was powerful.

She winced as she heard the mad growls and shouts about forty meters behind them. The werewolf had found other Helen and Zoë. Then she remembered exactly how that encounter ended.

A scream… Dementors… a flash of bright light as the darkness took her…

Helen suddenly had a feeling she knew exactly where that life saving Patronus had come from.

"Let's go, we have to save me," Helen said, twitching a bit at having to refer to herself as a separate entity.

They made it to the lake about two minutes before the other Helen and much further from the Dementors. They were still close enough to feel some effects (there were just so many of them, approximately a hundred) but it wasn't nearly as overwhelming as the first time.

They watched other Helen burst onto the scene, desperately trying to cast a Patronus but far too overwhelmed to do so.

Helen stepped forward brandishing her wand. She thought of the warmth in her chest as Sirius offered her a home.

"Expecto Patronum!"

A brilliant white light shone from her wand tip and Helen finally got to see the fully corporeal form of her glorious Patronus. A doe, graceful, agile and astoundingly quick galloped across the lake and charged the Dementors relentlessly. The wraiths were chased off, many twisting in agony as they floated away hurriedly. The doe galloped back and nudged Helen's out-stretched hand, sending a thrill of warmth and comfort up her arm before fading away.

"Helen, that was incredible," Hermione breathed in awe.

"Thanks," Helen said tiredly, feeling beyond exhausted now. "There's just one more thing we have to do."

Helen really didn't want to do it, but she couldn't think of anything better. Her and Hermione went to Hagrid's hut and more or less bird-napped Buckbeak so Sirius could ride off on him to (relative) freedom. She would have just given him her broom, but it would have been rather suspicious if her insanely rare and well-recognized broom went missing with an escaped convict that she had been rallying for earlier.

She sent Hagrid a silent apology, decided to do something nice for her friend, and took Buckbeack to the tower cell they were keeping Sirius in until his execution. Hermione blew the lock off with a well-aimed curse, and Sirius was free to make his escape.

"This isn't over, Sirius. That rat can't hide forever. He'll be found and you'll get your freedom back. I swear it," she promised solemnly.

Sirius smiled at her warmly, before pulling her into a hug. He stunk to high heaven and was dirty to the point of being crusty, but Helen still treasured that hug.

"I'm so proud of you, Helen, and I know your parents would be too," he whispered into her hair before pulling away. Helen would deny until the day she died that her eyes teared up at that.

"Be good Helen, but not too good," he said with a smirk as he clamored up onto Buckbeak. "Oh, and enjoy that broom. We didn't have brooms like that when I was a kid, would have made Quidditch a lot more fun," he mused, while Hermione mumbled 'I knew it!' and was ignored.

"We'll see each other again," he promised before taking off into the sunset astride a magnificent hippogriff. Slytherin's may have had the best entrances but Gryffindor's had the best exits.

Helen and Hermione made it back into the infirmary and collapsed into separate beds just in time to hear Fudge blubbering about Sirius escaping again. Helen smirked as she fell into the sleep of the truly exhausted.


The end of the year was marked with the loss of another Defense Professor. Snape had enough of a moral compass not to fight for an innocent man to get his soul sucked out (only because Helen begged really) but that same compass (along with a dash of bitterness) lead him to revealing Lupin's status as a werewolf to all the Slytherins who told their parents who told the Board of Governors to sack him.

Helen was a little peeved, but having become the closest to getting killed by Professor Lupin that night, kept her mouth shut. She was also secretly hoping he would seek out Sirius and help him recover now that he was unemployed. Even Lupin didn't seem too terribly upset. He had a resigned air about him-being used to being fired for his condition, but was also still pretty beat up from Zoë's treatment of him. His shoulder was in a sling and he looked like he could use a really long nap. Time off, even of the forced permanent variety, would do him good.

Remus left Helen two great gifts as he left. One was the Marauder's Map, which he called an inheritance, and the other was Cecile. There was a gleam of mischief in his amber eyes when he deposited the trunk at her feet, but Helen was pretty excited. She knew exactly where to put him.

Two hours later, after a set of heart-felt goodbyes and a final cup of tea, the abandoned third floor corridor became the home and playground of a boggart named Cecile for the foreseeable future. She promised to visit her 'nephew' next year, and headed for the Hogwart's Express.


"Helen!" called a cultured voice behind her on the train platform. Helen was looking around for her detestable relatives, having found no true alternative to staying at Privet Drive this summer. They didn't seem to be there, and she was going to have to catch another train or a bus to get to Surrey, which was highly annoying.

She turned to the voice, and saw Draco standing there, his parents a few paces behind him.

"I just talked to my father," he started excitably, not even waiting for her to greet him in return. "He said Cornelius Fudge offered us an extra-seat in the top box at the Quidditch World Cup for you. He said you mentioned our acquaintance when you met this year."

"Wait, I can go with you to the Cup?" she asked excitably. Unfortunately, she couldn't stay with Draco this summer because they were going to France to care for his ailing grandfather Abraxas (by care he meant that house-elves would do the work and they'd keep the Malfoy patriarch company). But getting to go with him to the Cup would definitely be something to look forward to.

"Yes, it'll be great!" he said cheerfully. His father made a little cough and Draco instantly calmed down- reminded of 'proper decorum in public.' "I'd be honored if you'd join us," he said more formally. Helen gave her friend a smile.

"I'd love to join you."

They said quick good-byes, Helen making sure to exchange pleasantries with both of the elder Malfoy's before making her way to the ticket counter.

This summer was already turning out to be a pain.


I know, I know, I'm really sorry about how long this chapter took and especially sorry to the people who PM'd me and received optimistic and inaccurate release dates. Summer is a bad writing time for me. Regardless, the chapter's here now and longer than ever, possibly the longest chapter the story will have. Updates should start coming more quickly now.

The next chapter will be a bit of a filler, but I'll finally reveal the timeline this story takes place in, which a few people have asked about, and things will start to get a little more (or a lot more) Greek.

Helen Wins at Quidditch Too Much: I know, it seems Mary-Sueish that she keeps winning all these Quidditch Matches that Harry lost or didn't participate in Canon. In my head, Helen isn't really a better flier or Quidditch player than Harry, she's just a lot more desperate to win, often at the expense of common sense. I have this occurring for a reason and we'll get a little more into it and what it says about Helen as the story progresses. Madam Pomfrey actually touches on it this chapter.

Dursley's and the Church of England: I wasn't trying to insult anyone who only goes to church on the holidays or not at all. I only added it to emphasize that the Dursley's are religious for appearances, not faith. It also helps shape Helen's currant opinion on all religious systems.

Wizards and the Gods: Wizards believe in most of the older poly-deity religions in this story. They worship them; many families worship a few or one in particular. Some of them are rather geography based (Thor would be more worshipped by northern European wizards than a Chinese wizard for example) but Greeks, Romans and Egyptians are the most widespread. The wizards aren't aware that the Greeks and Romans are essentially the same beings (that knowledge has been lost) and treat them as separate though similar entities.

The Malfoy's and Hera: it was too perfect for me to resist considering how family motivated and snooty the Malfoy's are. Not to mention the fact they keep peacocks at their manner.

Cecile the Boggart: Let's just say Cecile is her nephew on the Greek side of the family for now. Helen will figure it out later. Honestly, I love Cecile, expect him to pop up more often.

Snape Not pushing for Sirius' Death: Don't get me wrong, Snape still hates Sirius with a burning passion. He went to talk to the Headmaster about Helen's suspicions because he trusts her a lot more than Harry and also he didn't want to leave the chance of Lily's actual betrayer running free if he could do anything to change it. He has no sympathy for Sirius, just a list of priorities in his vengeance.

Helen's Patronus: I struggled with this a lot. Originally, it was going to be a boar for Ares, as symbolism for the fact that it's traits from Ares that she uses to protect herself. But the more I thought about it, the less it seemed like enough for a guardian spirit. Lily had literally died for Helen, stood between her and a murderer, had the chance to walk away but didn't. Lily protected Helen the most fiercely, gave the most, tried the hardest, was the most effective (James also sacrificed but it isn't his spell that protects Helen today, it's Lily's) when it came to protecting her daughter. Helen had this sacrifice ringing in her ears all year. I think it would affect her enough to see Lily as a guardian, thus the doe Patronus. No two Patroni are exactly alike, so her's will be a little different from Snape's but we won't get a comparison for awhile.

Well I hope you enjoyed this lengthy chapter!