Disclaimer: Everything belongs to J.K.R.

21 Homecoming

Daphne closed the lid of her trunk and for a last time looked around in the small bedroom she shared with Harry. 'I think I have everything I need for the coming term.'

'Not yet,' Harry said. He pulled the Mokeskin pouch Hagrid had given him for his last birthday out from under his shirt, opened it, and held a sheet of parchment out to Daphne. 'You'll need this to find a way for us to get into Hogwarts undetected.'

She hesitated to take the parchment from him. 'The Marauder's Map! You trust me with an heirloom from your father?'

'I trust you with my life, love. Take it, I'll feel better about you spying at Hogwarts for me if you have a way of protecting yourself from discovery.'

She took the map, put it in the inner pocket of her robes, and leaned forward to kiss him. 'Thank you, love. I promise I'll take good care of it, I know what the map means to you.'

He put his arms around her and held her close. 'Sod the map, you mean so much more to me, and Rory, of course.'

Daphne's heart sank at the name of their daughter, and tears welled up in her eyes. She blinked them away. What use was it to cry about something she couldn't change, anyway?

Ever since the arrival of her Hogwarts letter she hadn't allowed herself to think of the looming separation from her baby, instead she'd relished in every moment she, Harry and Rory had together as a young family. They were pretty scarce, anyway, they'd spent most of their time with researching in the extensive Greengrass library for hints about artefacts left by the founders of Hogwarts, especially for anything that belonged to Rowena Ravenclaw. It seemed as if the first of September had crept on her out of nowhere, they'd been so busy.

She gave her husband a surreptitious glance. Had he sensed her moment of weakness?

Of course he had, that dratted bond they shared made it nigh to impossible to hide anything from him, and that had become even worse since they'd resolved to keep the connection open for security reasons. He dropped a kiss on her head and whispered, 'You know I'll protect her with everything I have. She's in good hands, I'll take care of our daughter, and your parents and grandfather will help me. Even Ron will step in, she's got him so wrapped around her tiny finger.'

That elicited a rather watery chuckle from her. 'True.' Ever since he'd calmed down Rory on the morning Daphne and her father had been at the ministry, Ron had become one of Rory's biggest admirers, "right in line with Harry, father and grandfather," as Tori had said. He'd spend hours holding her in her sleep while he worked his way through the thick tomes Hermione and Daphne had assigned him to read for their research, and more than once had shooed her away to take a much needed nap while he and Rory obviously enjoyed their time together. He'd even learned to change her nappies, much to Harry's amusement and Hermione's secret delight.

Harry gave her a last kiss and stepped back. 'Come on, love, it's about time, or you'll miss the train.'

With a deep sigh, she pulled out her wand, tapped it to the trunk until it shrunk to matchbox-size, and put the trunk into the pocket of her robes. 'I guess I'm as ready as I'll ever be.'

They left their bedroom and walked down the stairs. Grandfather Albion waited for them in their living room, next to Rory's bassinet. At their entrance he looked up from cooing at the baby and smiled.

'There you are!' He got up from his seat and pulled something out of the pocket of his robes. 'I thought you'd like to have this with you at Hogwarts, Daphne.'

She looked down at his outstretched hand that held two small, sealed potion vials, each on a sturdy cord. One vial held a clear liquid, while the potion in the other one was a fiery, pulsating red. 'What are these?'

Grandfather Albion gave her a grim smile. 'This one is a dose of Veritaserum.' He held up the vial with the clear liquid. 'And this one is a dose of the ancient Lust Potion from our family grimoire.' He held up the other vial, the smile vanished, and his face became hard. 'Ever since you told us about what has been done to you and Harry, I thought of a way to revenge what's been done to you. Mind you, I couldn't be more happy about the outcome of what that bastard did, however, I think you'll both agree when I say you've been lucky to have fallen in love with each other, the situation could have ended in a complete disaster.'

Daphne and Harry nodded to that.

'Take the vials and wear them under your robes all the time. I've put an Unbreakable Charm on them. You told me you suspect the Malfoy whelp to be behind that attack on you. So, feed him the Veritaserum if you happen to get him alone, Daphne, and if he indeed admits to the crime, feed him the Lust Potion to give him a taste of his own medicine. I've made sure it'll last much longer than four weeks.'

Her mouth became dry, and she flinched back from the vials in his hand. 'Grandfather!' He didn't really mean that, did he? There was no way she'd submit another hapless girl to what she'd been through. She'd been more lucky than she deserved, because Harry was such an exceptional man. Draco, however, was nothing like that.

Harry seemed to share her sentiments, his disgust, mixed with amusement against his will, was palpable through their bond. He let out a mirthless chuckle and rubbed the back of his neck with one hand. 'Nice plan, grandfather, but I don't think Daphne and I will do that to any girl, not even to Parkinson.'

'I doubt she'll complain much,' Daphne said with a snort.

Harry shot her an amused side glance. 'That remains to be seen. After all, there's no one in this world Malfoy loves more than himself, after four weeks non-stop even Parkinson will have enough of him, I'm sure.'

Daphne startled at his words, and warmth spread in her chest as an idea blossomed in her head. Yes, of course, that was the solution! A broad smile appeared on her face, and she took the vials out of Grandfather Albion's hand. 'Thank you, grandfather. I'll put the potions to good use.' She bent forward and gave the old man a kiss on his wrinkled cheek.

'Love, you can't -' Harry said.

'Trust me, Harry?' she asked as she hung the vials around her neck and hid them under her robes.

'Yes, but -'

She silenced him with a kiss. 'Don't worry, nobody will come to harm, except Draco, of course.'

She turned away from him, to Rory's bassinet, picked up the sleeping baby and cradled her to her chest. The short moment of amusement faded away, a sharp pain shot through her chest, and tears welled up in her eyes once again. 'Goodbye, my precious baby, mummy hates to leave you, but I have to. Daddy will take good care of you while I'm away,' she whispered into Rory's downy hair.

Rory stirred in her sleep and snuggled closer to her, and the tears that had been lurking behind her eyelids all morning long spilled down Daphne's cheeks.

The soft click of the door latch told her that Grandfather Albion had left the room. She didn't care, she clung to her daughter as if she would never see her again.

Harry stepped behind her and wrapped his arms around Rory and her in a protective gesture. A wave of warmth reached her through their bond, and she basked in the comfort he gave her.

A long moment passed, then Harry lowered his arms. 'It's about time, love.'

Rory still on her arms, she walked out of their living room and down the long hallway that led to the kitchen of the main house. Nobody was there, so they continued their walk towards the back door.

Their family and Ron and Hermione waited for them on the cobbled patio between the library and the conservatory. Father would take Tori and her to Kings Cross, while mother remained behind, to lend credence to their cover story she couldn't leave their ailing grandfather Albion.

She exchanged handshakes with Ron and Hermione, then Grandfather Albion gave her a warm hug and a wink. The ghost of a smile appeared on her lips: even though close to one hundred years, that man was an irrepressible prankster.

Mother was next. She took her in her arms, gave her a warm kiss on the forehead, and whispered, 'Don't worry, sweetheart, I'll watch over Rory and Harry for you.'

'Thank you, mother. I love you.'

'I love you too, daughter.'

Mother let go of her, and now there was only Harry left to say goodbye.

He stepped towards her and took Rory out of her arms. He didn't say a word, he needn't, his warm, green eyes said it all.

She flung her arms around him and buried her face in his shoulder, their daughter between them. She had no idea how long they stood like that, until Harry raised her chin with a hand and gave her a butterfly kiss. 'You need to go, love.'

Her eyes were dry, yet the sting behind them was almost unbearable. She nodded, not sure of her voice, and dropped a last kiss on Rory's downy head. Then she turned to father and Tori.

They took her between them, and together they walked to the Portal Room. Daphne didn't look back, she wouldn't have the strength to leave if she did. A wave of warmth, coming from Harry, reached her through their bond, like a soothing balm on a wound. She closed her eyes for a brief moment.

The task in front of her was difficult and dangerous, however, contrary to the beginning of summer she wasn't alone anymore. Harry would be with her every step of the way, and that alone was worth the hardships before her.

They reached the station with five minutes to spare. At first glance, nothing was different: the gleaming red engine, ready to leave, puffed out big clouds of white smoke, and parents hugged their children in a last farewell.

Yet, something was wrong with that. But what? Daphne took another look.

No children ran around to greet their friends after a long summer, no adults mingled to exchange greetings and the latest gossip, no familiars screeched or meowed or croaked, or had escaped their carriers and caused havoc among the crowd on the platform.

Nobody laughed.

Instead, the families kept to themselves; white-faced children clung to their parents, their eyes wide with fear, mothers kept their arms around them, reluctant to let them go, and fathers stood behind their families, their jaws set in a grim line, and their hands on their wand pockets, ready to defend their loved ones if need be. If anyone talked at all, they talked in hushed whispers.

A cold fist clenched around Daphne's heart. It was much too silent, it seemed as all happiness had been sucked out of the excitement of the departure of the Hogwarts train by a gigantic Dementor.

Father didn't waste much time to get them on the train, either. He first hugged Tori and whispered something into her ear, then he turned towards Daphne. 'Keep your head low, and if things become too dangerous, call Dipsy to take you and Tori to safety,' he said in a low voice as he hugged her.

Daphne nodded into his shoulder, and father patted her back. 'You're a good daughter.'

He let go of her, and Daphne took Tori's hand to lead her to the open door of the train. As she climbed up the stairs, she looked over her shoulder.

Father had already turned to leave, his broad shoulders in dark blue business robes just disappeared into the crowd on the platform.

Daphne sighed and entered the train.

Tori waited for her in the aisle. 'Do you want to sit with me?'

She shook her head. 'If you don't mind, I'd rather sit with Tracey, Blaise and, of course, Theodore. I didn't see my betrothed all summer long, due to grandfather's poor health.'

Tori's eyes became wide, she opened her mouth and closed it again when Daphne's eyes shot daggers at her.

'Yes, of course. I'll find my own friends.' She turned and walked down the aisle.

'Thank you for your understanding, sister,' Daphne called behind her retreating form. With an inward sigh, she walked into the other direction to find her friends. Had it been right to let Astoria know about Harry and Rory? Going by what just had happened, she still had a lot to learn not to give their secret away. She'd better keep her distance from her sister this year, too.

She made her way down the aisle, looking for her friends. The train seemed to be less crowded than in former years, and certainly a lot quieter. In each compartment she passed the students barely talked.

Finally, she reached her friend's compartment and opened the door.

Tracey jumped up. 'Daffy!' The next moment she pulled her into a tight hug.

Blaise and Theodore followed suit when Tracey let go of her.

'How are you, my dear?' Theodore asked and helped her to sit down. He sat next to her, put his arm around her shoulders and gave a meaningful glance to Blaise.

The dark-skinned young man nodded, pulled out his wand, and cast a series of Privacy Spells on the sliding door, the walls and the window. 'There, all set. You can talk now, albeit I'd suggest keeping up your loving-betrothed-act for passers-by.'

Daphne gave him a thankful smile. Before she could answer Theodore's question, however, Tracey cut in.

'What about the baby, Daffy? Is everything all right?'

A broad smile appeared on Daphne's face. 'It is, I'm the proud mum of a beautiful baby girl. Her name is Theodora Harriet, in honour of Theodore, but we call her Rory.'

'Congratulations!' Tracey sprung up yet another time and hugged her. Theodore and Blaise added their well wishes.

Daphne waited until Tracey had settled back into her seat and turned towards Theodore. 'I'd like to ask you if you want to become one of her godfathers.'

Theodore's eyes lit up. 'I'd be honoured.'

Tracey, however, knitted her eyebrows together. 'Godfathers? Don't you go with the traditional set of godparents? And there I thought I would become a godmother. '

'Sorry, Tori, but Theo comes first, since he covers for me if everything goes pear-shaped.' She chuckled at Theo's pleased expression. He deserved it. If, no, when Harry came out of this war victorious, it wouldn't hurt Theo if he was known as the godfather of the oldest daughter of the Chosen One. 'I've decided to let Harry appoint the other godparent, and I have only little doubt he'll chose his best friend.'

'Good luck with that.' Tracey snorted. 'I doubt the Weasel will be thrilled if he finds out his best friend has hooked up with a snake. I'd not be surprised if their friendship doesn't survive that discovery, let alone he'd be willing to become the godparent of a snakeling.'

Daphne bit on her tongue to prevent herself from blurting out that Ron was absolutely enamoured with her daughter. That only would have led to a lot of questions she wasn't willing to answer. As much as she trusted her friends, the less they knew the safer they all would be. Harry's whereabouts, and by extension those of Ron and Hermione, wasn't something she was willing to share with someone outside of her family.

Aloud she said, 'I'll cross that bridge when the day comes - if ever. Enough of these morose thoughts.' She held her arm out to Theodore. The bracelet he'd given to her for her seventeenth birthday adorned her wrist and glittered in the beam of sunshine that fell through the window. 'I still have to thank you for this. You shouldn't have, Theo, it was your mother's, and I know what she meant to you.'

Theodore gave her a light squeeze. 'It's a small price for our safety. Pass it to little Rory when she comes of age. I won't have children of my own, and I doubt Blaise would appreciate me giving that bauble to him.'

They laughed at that. From there, their talk turned to how they had spent the holidays.

Theodore scrunched up his face. 'My begetter had the bright idea to introduce me to the noble circles he belongs to.' He drew air quotes around the word "noble".

Daphne's stomach became an icy knot. She gasped, covered her mouth with her hand, and her eyes grew wide.

'Don't worry, I didn't get marked. Thank Merlin, Blaise's mum is a genius with poisons, she knows not only about the undetectable deadly ones but also about those that induce the symptoms of serious illnesses, without being deadly. She supplied me with some, and I took one that mimicked the symptoms of Spattergroit. Not nice at all, but it had the desired result. The arsehole I call my father couldn't get rid of me fast enough. He sent me to his hunting lodge in Scotland, with an elf to take care of me. I had a miraculous recovery and spent the rest of the holidays at Blaise's home in Italy to recover from my ailings. Of course I'm still very weak.'

'Yeah, you sure look like it.' Daphne let her eyes swerve over his lean body and healthy, tanned skin.

Theodore pulled out his wand and traced it along his body with a grim smile. His skin took on a greyish pallor and his features became haggard. 'Better?'

'Much better. I'd hate to see you to be forced to take the Dark Mark.' She leaned her head against his shoulder.

Blaise gave his lover a critical look. 'It's perfect. Nott senior wouldn't dream of presenting such a weak sack of bones to the Dork Lord.'

They broke out into a mirthless laughter.

Daphne turned to Tracey when the laughter died down. 'And what about you, Toddy?'

Tracey's normally so vivid features became wooden. 'We helped my uncle and his family to move to the MACUSA. You know he married a Muggleborn. My older brother stays with them, while mum and dad returned. They have jobs here they can't afford to give up, now that they have to support my uncle's family. Not all of us have big family fortunes in the background.'

Daphne leaned forward and put a hand on her arm. 'You know we'll help your family if push came to shove.'

'I know,' Tracey said with a terse smile. 'However, Merlin only knows if you'll still be able to help us when it comes to a head.'

'True.' Daphne sank back in her seat. Tracey's words echoed her own thoughts on the matter and drove home the necessity to finish her education.

'My parents wanted me to stay in the MACUSA with my uncle's family, but I declined. They would've been in trouble if I didn't turn up at Hogwarts, and… I didn't want to desert you.'

'Oh Toddy!' Tears welled up in Daphne's eyes for the umpteenth time that morning. Damned hormones, even one month after Rory's birth she still was a bubbling mess and prone to easy tears. She sprung up, sat down beside her friend and pulled her into a hug. 'A fine snake you are, you shouldn't put our friendship over your safety, no matter how thankful I am that you'll stay with me.'

Blaise exchanged a glance with Theodore. 'Girls! Always so emotional! What about a round of Exploding Snap?'

Good, old Blaise! Thankful for the distraction from the teary mood Daphne agreed, and Tracey and Theodore followed suit.

The rest of the train ride passed much as the many rides before, albeit the mood kept being subdued. The trolley lady came and sold them their usual assortment of candies, but without a friendly smile. Instead, she watched them with apprehension, as if she expected them to hex her any moment.

'Can't say that I blame her,' Theodore said as soon as the sliding door had closed and they'd put up the Privacy Wards once again. 'Ever since the Dork Lord took over the Ministry of Magic, torturing those who can't retaliate has become a popular sport for Death Eaters and those who support him without having taken the Dark Mark. The stories my begetter bragged about…' He trailed off and shook his head with a visible shudder. 'We're Purebloods and benefit from the new regimen, so we're suspicious by default.'

Daphne gave a thoughtful nod as she remembered the terrified expression of the harried looking witch when Umbridge threatened to sic the Dementors on her. There was no doubt a lot of Purebloods - and those who styled themselves to be pure of blood - enjoyed the power they now held about their fellow witches and wizards. However, there was also no doubt the day would come when the oppressed masses would strike back, and Merlin give they'd be successful. However, they all would have to pay the price then, Pureblood privilege as they had grown up with most likely would end - and good riddance to it.

They remained silent until they reached Hogsmeade. There was still no laughter and next to no noise on the platform when they left the train.

'Firs' years, firs' years to me!' Hagrid's voice rang through the night, oddly comforting in a world where nothing seemed to be like it once had been.

Theodore offered her his arm, as always mindful of the role they had to play. They followed the line of subdued students out of the station. When they reached the row of waiting carriages, Daphne gasped and stopped in her tracks.

Theodore looked down on her, a sad smile on his lips. 'I take it you can see them now, too?'

Daphne nodded with wide eyes. 'I wish I still didn't.'

'Me too, dear, me too.' Theodore sighed and helped her into the next carriage.

Tracey and Blaise joined them. Blaise shut the door, and the carriage set into motion. Nobody spoke a word during their ride up to the castle.

The unnatural quietness among the student body continued as they reached the entrance. The students filed into the entrance hall and from there into the Great Hall without the usual jostle and exuberant racket. They all kept their heads low and sat down in the next free space at their house tables as fast as possible, as if not to draw undue attention to themselves. Even the noisy Gryffindors didn't dare to speak up.

Daphne's eyes swerved to the teacher's table as she entered the Great Hall. Right in the middle, on Professor Dumbledore's gilded chair, sat Snape. Clad in black from head to toe as usual, he seemed like an omen of doom in the festively decorated room. His black eyes, void of all emotions, scrutinized the students filing into the hall. A shiver went down her spine and she lowered her head, mindful of his Legilimency abilities. She had too much at stake to be found out by him, and she reinforced her Occlumency shields, just to be sure.

As soon as the last student had sat down, the tall doors towards the entrance hall fell shut with a loud bang that echoed through the quiet room. Quite a few students jumped at the noise, Daphne included. Yet nobody uttered a word.

A split second later the door of the antechamber opened, and Professor McGonagall led a handful of first years into the room.

Daphne blinked, was the group so much smaller this year? She did a mental count of heads. Twenty-seven, instead of the usual forty to fifty students.

Tracey bent towards her and whispered, 'There were Aurors at Kings Cross this morning. They pulled all Muggleborn students out of the train and Portkeyed them away before you arrived, the new firsties included.' The next moment, she jumped and let out a small yelp. Her head jerked up, and she stared towards the teacher's table.

A squat and lumpy wizard who sat next to Snape in Professor McGonagall's usual place put his wand away. Tiny eyes in a pallid, doughy face first checked out Tracey, then Daphne, like beetles crawling over their skin. 'No talking, or you'll serve detention with me,' he said with a wheezy giggle.

Theodore scooted closer to Daphne, and Blaise did the same on Tracey's other side. Both young men exchanged a grim look.

Daphne suppressed a violent shudder, while Professor McGonagall put up the stool and the Sorting Hat. She had no desire to find out how detentions with that professor would be like.

A blast of hot fury reached her through the bond. Despite her glum mood, she had to suppress a snort. Trust her hot-headed Gryffindor to take offense at Amycus Carrow's behaviour and howl with indignation, even if he was hundreds of miles away and couldn't help her. She spent the sorting trying to calm her husband down, with success. When the sorting came to an end, her cheeks glowed and a dreamy smile played on her lips. If teachers and students alike thought it was because she and Theodore had played footsie under the table throughout the sorting, all the better.

Professor McGonagall put away the stool and the Sorting Hat and took her place at the end of the teacher's table.

Snape got up from the gilded chair. 'Welcome to Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft,' he said, his quiet, clipped words capturing the attention of the audience like a snake hypnotising its prey with its stare. 'Before we partake in the feast, I would like to address a few changes in the rules. Listen closely, for not adhering to the rules will be most… unpleasant.' His lips curled into a sneer.

'The Forbidden Forest is out of bounds for all students. Getting caught there will result in detention. Possession of any kind of so-called joke-products, as distributed by the blood-traitorous twins who disgraced these halls far too long, results into detention. Trading hexes and running in the hallways between classes is forbidden and will be punished with detention. From today on, we will take our meals in silence. Talking during the meals will be punished with detention.'

He paused and turned his head towards the pallid man next to him. 'Let me welcome Professor Amycus Carrow, our new professor for the Dark Arts, and also our new Deputy Headmaster. As such, Professor Carrow is in charge of discipline at this school. All teachers have to report any transgressions to him, and he will decide about the adequate punishment.'

Amycus Carrow gave a lopsided leer at the student body at these words. A collective shudder seemed to roll through the eight long rows of students. It didn't take much imagination to know how a detention with him would be like.

Snape pointed towards an equally squat and pallid woman at his other side. 'Professor Alecto Carrow is our new teacher for Muggle Studies. She'll support her brother in his disciplinary duties. Now, let the feast begin.'

He sat down and clapped in his hands.

As always, an abundance of delicious smelling food appeared on the four house tables within the blink of an eye. However, only few students were able to do it justice under Snape's piercing eyes and the crawling glances of the Carrows.

Daphne was no exception. She ladled some grilled chicken and vegetables on her plate, but couldn't eat even half, and spent the rest of the meal shoving the delicious food around with her knife and fork.

Beside her, Tracey and Theodore fared no better.

Daphne watched the other house tables while she pretended to eat her dinner. At the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables at least a quarter of the students were missing. That corresponded with the average amount of Muggleborns within the magical population, so it made sense. Gryffindor had it even worse, of the eight lions in their year only four had returned. A lot of younger students were absent, too. Good for them, Merlin only knew what the Carrows would do to them.

At last, the endless meal came to an end.

The prefects called the first years to follow them, and Daphne and her friends trudged with the rest of the Slytherins towards the dungeons.

Dipsy waited for her in the bedroom she shared with Tracey. 'I'll be with you in a jiffy,' she called out to her best friend over her shoulder and followed her elf into the bathroom. There she performed the spell that would transfer the milk from her breasts to the bottle Dipsy held out. Used to feed Rory regularly throughout the day, her breasts, filled to bursting, had almost killed her for the last hour. 'Is everything all right at home? Did you have any problems to get into the castle?' she asked while her milk streamed into the bottle.

'Everything bes fine,' Dipsy said. 'Master Harry and Winky bes taking good care of little Miss Rory. Mistress bes not worry. Dipsy can get to mistress anytime and get milk for little Miss Rory, like Dipsy always bes getting to Mistress Daffy all years.'

'So, the wards didn't change?'

Dipsy shook her head. 'Hogwarts wards bes the same as always.'

Daphne let out a deep breath. Even though her and Hermione's research had shown that Hogwarts' wards were incredibly old and complex, and almost impossible to alter, she'd been afraid that Snape had somehow managed to prevent house elves from Apparating in an out, as they did since the time of the founders to take care of the heirs of their houses. On a second thought, Snape had been well advised not to exclude the house elves, the spoiled brats of the noble Pureblood families would be helpless without them. One Pansy Parkinson came to mind -

'Dipsy bes ready.'

Startled out of her thoughts, Daphne looked up and gave her little friend a relieved smile. 'Thank you, Dipsy. Give Rory a kiss from me.'

'Dipsy will do.' The next moment the small creature was gone without a sound. Daphne cleaned herself and closed her robes with a wry smile. If only Dobby would take a page out of Dipsy's book. She brushed her teeth and returned to the bedroom.

Tracey had already changed into pyjamas. She took the time to unpack her trunk and change into her nightwear while Tracey used the bathroom. Deep down, on the bottom of her trunk, she'd hidden the poster of Harry she'd snatched from Umbridge's office in the ministry.

She put it on the headboard inside of her four-poster bed, where she could hide it behind the curtains and a strong Notice-Me-Not Charm, then took a quill from the desk and scratched out the letters "u" and "n".

'Desirable Number One. Hmm, that husband of yours will get a big head if he ever sees that,' Tracey said behind her.

'He already knows.' Going by the smug feeling she received through the bond, Tracey was right in her assessment.

Tracey snorted. 'I forgot, special bond communication.' She sobered and pointed with her hand towards the poster. 'Do you think that's wise, Daffy, given the changed climate at school?'

'I'll put a strong Notice-Me-Not Charm and Confundus Charm on it.' Daphne followed up to her words with action. 'Besides, no teacher ever comes into our bedrooms.'

'True,' Tracey said. 'Though I'd rather -' She broke off and shrugged her shoulders. 'Oh, never mind. Good night, Daffy, sleep well.' She climbed into her bed and closed the curtains.

'You too, Toddy.' Daphne followed her example. In the darkness of her curtains she cast a silent Lumos and looked up at Harry's picture.

He glowered down at her as if he was angry at her. Her stomach gave a small lurch. Was Tracey right, was it foolishness to keep Harry's picture in her bedroom?

'Nobody ever comes down here. The worst I'll face is a detention,' she said to herself. She extinguished her wand, grabbed her pillow and closed her eyes while her mind probed for Harry through their bond.

Yet, while she drifted off to sleep, safe in the warmth of the mental equivalent of his arms around her, a slight feeling of uneasiness remained and disturbed her dreams.