Word spread like fiendfyre, as it was wont to do at Hogwarts. Not to mention the news itself; the exposure of a secret child of one of the most notorious Death Eaters of all time, hiding in plain sight amongst the children of the wizarding world for six years? That would be enough to fuel the rumor mill for months.
The buzzing of the Great Hall came to an abrupt halt as Callie appeared in the doorway before returning even louder and more furious than before. She hesitated for a moment, rocking on her toes on the threshold. But she couldn't just stand there forever, and she reasoned to herself that she would at least be less visible sitting down. So she ducked her head and hurried to the Ravenclaw table as every eye in the room seemed to bore into her. She nearly threw herself onto the bench.
"Callie?" A hesitant voice asked. She looked up to find Loretta beside her, staring intently. There was a conspicuous distance between them, and as Callie took in her surroundings she realized that no one else was sitting within a meter of her. "Callie, it isn't true… is it? I mean, what Professor Moody said… It's not possible. Your last name is Tonks. It's always been Tonks." She gave a breathy little laugh that verged on hysteria.
"It's true. My- Aunt Andromeda raised me. That's why I go by Tonks."
"But Callie- You wouldn't- You can't- You didn't tell me?"
"I'm sorry Lory, really. I wanted to tell you so badly, but they made me promise I wouldn't! They said it might cause a disturbance, might make people treat me differently-"
A strangled scoff forced itself from Loretta's throat.
"Treat you differently? Treat you differently? I wonder why?" She looked half-crazed. "People had a right to know! I had a right to know! And you- you just lied to me? You used me, kept me in the dark all along-"
"Lory, I didn't-!"
"Don't call me that! Your mother is a monster! Your whole family are monsters! Keep my name out of your mouth, Lestrange!" Her last words rang out eerily in the sudden silence as she snatched up her bag and stalked away to the other end of the table, leaving all eyes on Callie. She shrank under the weight of their collective gaze, blinking back the tears that threatened to spill over her lashes. How had everything gone so wrong so fast? Why couldn't she have just denied it, or done anything instead of freezing like a coward?
The steady glares continued in her direction. When it became clear that she would get no peace, she fumbled to shoulder her bag and extricate herself from the bench. It wasn't like she was missing much; the smell of food had only served to further turn her stomach. As she hurried to escape, she found herself suddenly careening to the floor, legs locking together. Snickers erupted behind her and Callie distantly heard Professor McGonagall berate someone before the jinx was reversed. Footsteps approached, but Callie scrambled to her feet and dashed out of the hall before whoever it was could reach her.
It was only once she was safely locked in a bathroom stall that she allowed her tears to fall freely and her sniffles to become sobs.
After having one of the worst days of your life, things can only go up. Right?
If anything, things only got worse for Callie and any numbness that might have shielded her from it was long gone. After her breakdown in the bathroom, she'd crept up to Ravenclaw Tower with the intention of slipping into bed before anyone finished dinner. But she'd arrived to find her bed already stripped of its sheets and blankets. Even the pillows were gone. All Callie could do was draw the curtains and curl up on the bare mattress, hoping that a lack of reaction would cause them to grow bored and leave her alone.
It didn't. She woke early to find herself the shivering victim of a freezing charm. An attempt at a hot shower found that the water had been similarly affected - she was too cold and miserable to think through the counter-spell - and her toiletries stolen. Sighing, she settled on a warming charm and pulled on her discarded uniform from the day before because - of course - her other clothes had mysteriously vanished. Callie was silently thankful that Auntie Andy had drilled her arsenal of household spells into her so that she at least looked presentable and didn't smell. Nym would have been in trouble. She probably would have hexed somebody by now. The thought of her cousin gave Callie a brief wave of comfort. Of course, Nym was from a perfectly respectable family and thus wouldn't be in this situation in the first place. The comfort fled.
If possible, breakfast was an even worse affair. Despite the stress of the morning, she was still earlier than most and content to eat quickly and avoid further hassle. She chose a seat at the far end of the table where she would be the least conspicuous, immediately setting about making herself a plate. Or rather, trying to; every time she reached for a dish it would hop just out of range, only to return once she'd stopped. Summoning and counter-spells were useless. If it had been any other situation, Callie might have been impressed by the complexity of the magic. Instead, she resigned herself to the humiliation and resumed her efforts to nab something to eat. Surely one of the professors would notice eventually. Flitwick was always kind despite her family tree and McGonagall had little patience for bullying. Though perhaps now that she'd been outed-
The feel of metal beneath her fingers brought Callie's attention back to the table. She'd somehow managed to snag a platter of kippers! The spell must have worn off, or someone had taken pity on her and removed it themselves. She allowed herself a small smile and made for the tureen of porridge - but it hopped away just as it had before. Just as everything else did when she tried; everything, that is, except for the kippers. Callie's heart lurched and the sudden reversal of her emotions made her a bit queasy as she stared down at the fish. This hurt more than if she'd been forced to starve; there was only one other person in the castle who knew how much she despised kippers.
She had been able to dismiss everything else as harassment committed by students who knew no better and were fueled by prejudice and gossip. The sabotage in her dorm could have been done by anyone in Ravenclaw. But not this. In singling out the kippers, Loretta might as well have signed her name in giant block letters. This was personal.
Callie had never actually expected to go to Hogwarts at all, instead accepting that her cousin's stories would be the closest that she would ever get. Then Auntie Andy and Aunt Cissy - in the one and only time that they had worked together in Callie's memory - had petitioned Dumbledore and the Board of Governors. To Callie's shock, she was enrolled - albeit with strict instructions to hide her identity. She had been too excited and grateful to argue. Not that she would have, anyway. The burden of secrecy and her quiet nature constrained her social life, though most Slytherins seemed unusually friendly, if not wary, towards her (she suspected that some of their parents might have warned them to be nice without revealing exactly why). But somehow she'd attracted an extroverted young Loretta Cornhill and they'd become fast friends. Like any friendship, theirs was not without its struggles; Loretta could never understand why Callie was so loath to do anything that would bring attention to her and Callie found that she preferred extra studying to keeping up with Loretta's busy social calendar. She had known that someday Loretta would find out her real name, but Callie had always assumed that it would be her to break the news after they graduated. Sure, there would be a fight, but Loretta would see why it had been necessary and appreciate her coming clean when she could.
Callie had never expected that Loretta would punish her for it, allying herself with the people who only saw another monster when they looked at her. She had never imagined that it might end their friendship; because that's what was happening, wasn't it? Why else would Loretta be so blatant about her anger?
Callie stared down at the kippers, folding her hands into her lap to hide their trembling. Perhaps she deserved punishment after all. She had lied to the one friend she had. She hadn't even thought about how it might make Loretta feel or how it might reflect on her once word got out. And worse than lying, she'd seen things. Horrible things that now flashed across her mind's eye and made her stomach roil. Things that she'd done nothing to stop, despite her lack of agency and young age.
She pushed away from the table and hastily left the Great Hall, only barely restraining herself from breaking out into a run as she registered the scrutiny of those around her. Callie kept her eyes trained on the floor and focused on putting one foot in front of the other. She walked on autopilot, following the familiar path back to the safety of her bed and allowing the walls to melt into a blur around her. She picked up the pace once she was alone, rushing around a corner.
Something hard collided with her chin and she stumbled back, righting herself at the last moment. All thoughts of her situation temporarily fled.
"Ow..." She rubbed at her face and looked around.
There was a blond fourth-year boy in Gryffindor robes sprawled on the flagstone floor. His face was screwed up in pain and he was clutching his forehead.
"Oh! I'm so sorry," Callie rushed over to kneel beside him, drawing her wand. "Are you alright? Here, let me see."
The boy turned to her, blinking, and blanched. His face grew impossibly pale and tinged green as he stared up at her with wide eyes.
Her stomach dropped. He was one of the few Gryffindors outside of her year that Callie knew: Neville Longbottom. Everything came rushing back.
"Er- I-" He stammered, eyes darting from her face to her wand and back again.
She stowed it slowly, careful not to make any sudden movements, and stood.
"Right, um, I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry." She spun and ran, no longer caring if anyone stared. Screams only she could hear echoed after her.
Callie spent the rest of the morning period curled up on her bare mattress, bed curtains drawn tightly and magically sealed. She stewed in her own misery - deservedly so, in her opinion - and contemplated staying there the rest of the day. But the thought of Snape's sour face and missing out on valuable instruction energized her enough to get moving. She had to get every last bit of knowledge that she could while she was still at Hogwarts; she'd heard her peers' not-so-subtle announcements of their owls to their parents and knew it was only a matter of time before she was expelled. The thought made her queasy.
She got out of bed with plenty of time to make it down to the Potions classroom in the dungeons but ended up walking into class five minutes late. Her bookbag had been emptied, with all of her books missing. Callie was certain that her wand would have been stolen if she hadn't kept it with her - that's how much they hated her. Then she'd been the victim of no less than six jinxes and hexes on her way through the school. She could feel a bruise forming on her elbow already.
Snape glanced at her when she walked in but didn't pause in his lecture, to her relief. Perhaps he thought she should have been sorted into his house. The Slytherins seemed to think so; a boy she vaguely recognizes as Cassius Warrington shoots her a grin and indicates the open seat beside him. Having had no real interactions with him before, whether positive or negative, and slightly warmed by the first sign of friendliness she'd been shown in twenty-four hours, Callie hurried to the front of the room to join him. She could feel the glares like daggers in her back.
Callie sat with Slytherins in the rest of her classes after that. They shared their textbooks with her and she was grateful for the brief respite, despite the odd combination of watchfulness and pride that they often displayed towards her. She had never been prejudiced toward their house, having grown up with Auntie Andy, so the additional whispers that followed her new partners were less troublesome; she knew that those, at least, were unfounded. The Slytherins also helped to deter the countless pranks that she was subjected to when not under the watchful eyes of the professors. Increasingly she found herself traversing the corridors at the same time as groups of green-clad students. The hexes dropped to a small but steady trickle.
Whether it was a result of her new Slytherin allies or not, Callie's life settled enough that she was able to get used to her new normal. That first lunch after Potions was nothing but fish again, but McGonagall ended the situation at dinner so that Callie could eat in relative peace, isolated at her own end of the table near the staff. In classes, nobody dared to do more than pelt her with charmed paper balls, and she was similarly protected in the library; Callie spent most of her time there, reached only by the nasty whispers that followed her ceaselessly. She studied every waking moment that she got, attempting to commit vast tomes to memory, and only returned to Ravenclaw Tower when curfew was almost upon her. Her bed remained stripped and her things missing, but she got quite adept at warming and cleaning spells. If her roommates spoke loudly about her or complained that Flitwick refused to let them change rooms, she pretended not to hear it.
Her cousin approached her in the library one evening, soon after she'd established her new routine. She'd sat up straight and closed her book when she realized he was standing there.
"Hi," She said hesitantly, trying for a smile. Her cheeks felt stiff at the motion and she was sure that it turned out more pained than she'd wanted.
"Hello Callisto," He confidently offered his hand. "I'm Draco Malfoy. We're cousins through our mothers, as I'm sure you're aware."
She shook his hand, well aware of who he was, though they had not spoken in years. They had played together when they were younger and she visited his family for her mandatory etiquette lessons, but once they'd reached Hogwarts the lessons had ended and they had both stuck to their own circles.
"Oh, yes, of course I remember you. You can call me Callie."
Draco looked slightly put off by the overfamiliarity of the name but gave her a short nod. They stared at each other in silence for an awkward moment. Callie had the strange feeling that he was studying her, waiting for her to do something specific.
"You look just like your mother," He said finally. The thought made her shudder, but Draco didn't seem to notice. "I don't remember her, of course, but I've seen pictures. She's a great beauty, with the classic Black looks."
"Er, thank you," Callie managed. "You have the Malfoy features."
He preened under the praise, easing some of her tension.
"Is there anything that I can assist you with, Cousin Draco?"
"Actually, I'm here to offer my assistance to you. I'm aware that you've been the target of unjust treatment, and I and my House offer you our formal support." He puffed up his chest importantly.
"Oh, er, thank you. I am very grateful for your support. Please let me know if there is anything that I can offer in return." Callie hadn't had to exercise the formal Wizarding customs in so long, she was lucky she wasn't too rusty.
"Actually…" He looked thoughtful and glanced at the books open on the table before her. "Some of the younger students have been looking for tutors, and Mother and Father have been pushing for me to do some advanced studying. Perhaps you could help?"
Callie smiled. Tutoring, she could certainly do.
"I would be happy to help."
She returned to her bed that night in slightly higher spirits and felt almost content at the thought of regular pleasant human interaction before sleep claimed her and the nightmares returned.
Author's Note: I hope that you enjoyed! I'm finally getting some inspiration for this fic, but feedback always helps to motivate and give me fresh ideas. Please let me know what you thought with a review!
Much love, Miss Luxe