No, I have not forgotten this story. My muse just treats it like an unwanted child, much to my despair. I will endeavor to not get addicted to Crusader Kings 3 again and slay the evil, heathen sons of Lothbrok as Alfred the Great and have the Cerdicings conquer India before the British Empire did irl. The game also probably sensed what I was doing because my heirs all kept doing unspeakable things to their sisters like some sort of blood curse put down by Shiva.

Anyway, here's the chapter.

Like always, this chapter was made available a week ahead on my Discord server. Feel free to join.

This is the link, just remove the space: discord /2XN2rzuFpM


"Ah, Dolores, thank you for coming on such short notice." The Minister of Magic greeted his undersecretary warmly as she entered his office via the Floo. "Please, do sit down."

"Gladly, Minister." She smiled gratefully, taking the offered seat at the front of Cornelius' desk.

The Minister had been kept abreast of the comings and goings of Hogwarts for the past 5 months now, courtesy of Dolores, but there had been gaps in it that the Undersecretary had left and Cornelius wished to obtain some clarification on those parts.

"How has Hogwarts been treating you?" He asked, "Has the teaching job been manageable so far?"

Fudge noticed the tightening of Umbridge's face, before she schooled her features and smiled sweetly.

"It has been… difficult to acclimate, Minister." She replied, "But I have indeed managed to succeed so far. The study group that Professor Snape is overseeing has helped in its own way." She continued on with a faintly annoyed expression at the end.

"Ah, yes, Severus Snape," Fudge's tone flattened as he said the name, "He happens to be the reason why I have summoned you to my office."

Dolores blinked in surprise, a look of curiosity apparent on her face.

"I don't think I told you the events surrounding the capture and later escape of Sirius Black from Hogwarts over a year ago." Cornelius stated, the memories resurfacing to the forefront of his mind, and it never failed to agitate him.

He had been deceived. Lied to! Snape, a man who Dumbledore had claimed saved countless lives by acting as a spy against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, lied to his face; the Minister! Black was innocent, Potter and his muggleborn friend were telling the truth, and Snape lied about them being confunded.

And with the little digging he had done surrounding the school years of the illustrious Potions Master, he suspected why.

The Minister of Magic went on and explained everything about the events, as well as the information his investigators and trusted journalists had dug up to Dolores. The rivalry and hatred between Snape and James Potter was a constant in the accounts of the surviving students that attended Hogwarts when they did, but those close to Potter were mostly killed during the war; Gryffindor courage and all that.

Realization slowly dawned on Dolores, and she stared at Cornelius.

"I was aware they detested one another, and Black was also hated by him; but to kill an innocent man, a rightful Lord of the Wizengamot, by lying…" Dolores was at a loss for words.

If Cornelius' memory served him correctly, Dolores had been a year, or perhaps it was two, behind James Potter and Sirius Black.

"Aye, and he is teaching children because Dumbledore vouched for him." Cornelius pointed out as he leaned forward in his chair and closed his hands together in front of him. "I want you to think for a moment about the discussion we had during the summer, right after Potter's trial, and how it may be possible to institute now."

The plan had initially been Lucius' to create a new official job at Hogwarts to represent the interests of the Ministry, and Dolores had also recommended to him to create the position of High Inquisitor and give her the position in order to prevent Dumbledore from influencing the next generation even further.

Unfortunately, much of his political capital had gone into preventing a crisis from Black turning out to be innocent and the fact that he, Cornelius Fudge, had approved the Kiss on Sight order. Plus, Potter looked to be a victim of Dumbledore's machinations, and he was rather cross with both the Ministry and the Headmaster for being tossed around like a pawn.

Because of that, pretty much none of the plans at Hogwarts had occurred just yet.

Dolores mulled over what he had said, before smiling as she pieced it all together.

"Dumbledore's judgment in Hogwarts staff will be cast into doubt after a former Death Eater is shown to have tried to get a war hero killed. That means a legitimate reason to investigate the staff, and pursue the needed educational decrees… all with support from the public."

Cornelius smiled broadly. She understood perfectly.

"Within the week, the Daily Prophet will be printing the headline that will have you being the first High Inquisitor of Hogwarts, Dolores." He said, feeling triumphant at this plan. "With what you have told me about Potter and his hints of understanding that Dumbledore is not the kind old man he fashions himself as, Snape can be the key to his downfall."

It was all his plan. Lucius had unfortunately been away on business errands, and the argument they had months prior had put a bit of a strain on their friendship that Cornelius hoped could be repaired.

But Harry Potter was currently unaligned, and offering up Severus Snape as a target for the boy's hatred could also help.

Perhaps a meeting should occur with Black and Potter later on to clear the air. It would be nothing but good to have the two be publicly against Dumbledore, and he just be able to pull it off.

"I look forward to it." Dolores nodded her head politely, looking just as pleased.

Machinations and strategic maneuvers were the names of the game when it came to politics, and Cornelius Fudge knew a winning hand when he saw one. Forcing Dumbledore to either admit an error in judgment and fire Snape or spend his weakening capital preventing that, was a victory in the battle to protect Magical Britain from the manipulative old goat.


Severus Snape: Spy, but for whom?

Severus Snape, one of the youngest Potions Masters in history and teacher of Potions at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. For most of our readers, he was but another student in Slytherin House when they attended, or a young half-blood attending the prestigious school as his mother, Eileen Prince, had years prior.

Some would also know that Severus Snape was a confirmed member of the terrorist group known as the Death Eaters, the followers of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Unlike several prominent members of the Wizarding community, Snape was not coerced via the Imperious Curse into being a slave to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. He did so of his own volition, but was never convicted of any crime following the testimony of Albus Dumbledore that he had in fact chosen to act as a spy for the then Chief Warlock to undermine the Death Eaters from within. With but a word from such an illustriously decorated and renowned wizard as Dumbledore, who would dare think Snape could be anything but a young and confused teenager that got mixed up in the wrong crowd, then risked his life to repair such a mistake made during an intempered youth.

But is that truly what Severus Snape is?

"This is an outrage!" Severus Snape snarled, flinging the newspaper aside and all the man's ironclad discipline being abandoned and his voice echoed throughout the Headmaster's office.

The portraits of the previous headmasters and headmistresses were none too pleased by the outburst, and a few openly muttered about the impertinence being unbecoming of a staff member.

Dumbledore just sighed, having predicted the negative reaction. Severus was quite possessive of his reputation as a professional. Popularity mattered not to him, but respect for his skill and dedication as a teacher was valued by the man.

And an article on the front page that outright challenged that, then went on to air out scandalous details of the man's school years, was what the Daily Prophet went with that sent him into a fury.

"This was simply a way to target me, Severus." Dumbledore replied clearly, his eyes narrowed in thought. It was no coincidence that he had received a letter from the Board of Governors that flatly stated that the Ministry was going to install a 'High Inquisitor' to investigate each member of staff to determine their competence as teachers.

"That does not reassure me, Headmaster." Snape said icily, his face clenched tightly. "This was less to attack you specifically than it was to validate the installation of this Inquisitor to pass decrees independent of you and the Board of Governors."

"Aye, you are correct." Dumbledore admitted, knowing that Severus was intelligent enough to read between the lines, especially since the next page of the Prophet had the article about Umbridge being given a novel and new title, with authority to it as well. 'To safeguard the next generation's education' as it were.

"Well? Is that all you have to say?!" Snape demanded. "Your power is being subverted within this very school and any means to remove me reflects upon you."

There was no reasoning with the man right now, so Dumbledore elected to not waste either one's time.

"Severus, I am perfectly aware of that, and might I recommend you take some time to clear your head before you say something foolish that you otherwise wouldn't." Dumbledore said simply, injecting some steeliness into his tone to lightly recommend that Severus take the offer.

Snape straightened up minutely, and his expression flattened.

"I will take your recommendation into consideration, Headmaster." He replied, bowing slightly and turning to briskly walk out of the office and likely to his quarters.

Once the door shut with an audible click, Dumbledore slumped in his chair and sighed tiredly, even with it only being the afternoon.

He had hoped, naively admittedly, that the winter break would be somewhat relaxing and afford him some time to pursue a few things he had delayed doing ever since Voldemort's return.

His time had already been stretched thin, even more since the nightmarish experience in the Chamber of Secrets barely a month ago, and this latest turn of events was nothing but unnerving to him.

"Perhaps I need to speak with Harry about his study group." The aged wizard thought aloud. Severus would undoubtedly be 'requested' to stop overseeing it if the backlash from the Daily Prophet hatchet job were even half of what he expected it to be. But it wasn't unsalvageable; Severus had, surprisingly, acknowledged that he wasn't even necessary to oversee it. Harry was an excellent instructor and took to it with amazing grace.

If Harry could be convinced to play nice with Umbridge, then he may just be able to avoid having the group canceled. Certainly, Filius would be more than happy to see many of his students learn how to duel from a deceptively skilled Fifth Year, but that would simply mean that he would be the next target of Ministry endorsed harassment.

Too many things were going on, and far too much chaos. It was stifling to him.

Perhaps a break is needed. Dumbledore thought to himself, sitting up from his chair and whistling for Fawkes.

The Phoenix appeared in a flash of light and flame, landing on his shoulder with practiced ease.

"Would you care to take me to a more relaxed venue, Fawkes?" Dumbledore requested, brushing his fingers against the side of the magnificent plumage of the bird.

Fawkes trilled lightly in a somewhat affirmative, and flashed away with him in tow.


"I can't say I was expecting that." Harry said from the other side of the table, his eyes roving over the newspaper once again.

It wasn't helping his nerves, and the current location no longer had the idyllic sparkle to it that had just moments ago.

Sirius and he were at Florean's ice cream parlour in Diagon Alley after some business was conducted at Gringotts, and his godfather had insisted that he was in the mood for ice cream. Harry didn't have anything against it, and the thought of being deprived of treats he took for granted for over a decade was a perfectly understandable reason for Sirius dragging him to the Alley every few days. And it was like money was an issue.

"Something interesting?" Sirius asked curiously, his eyes sweeping across the street once again out of interest.

Harry just grunted, folding the paper and handing it to Sirius.

Sirius read the page and a frown slowly grew across his face and his brow furrowed.

"That's probably why they're trying to axe Snivellus." He scowled, setting the paper down rather roughly and pushing aside the empty ice cream bowl. "Have their little Ministry pet in a higher position at Hogwarts."

"Aye." Harry supplied a rather short response, running that through his head.

Umbridge hadn't been made High Inquisitor like she had initially, likely from his trial going much worse for the ministry and led to Fudge wanting to wait on making waves. But it was happening now, and it was another reminder that the timetable was unraveling on what he could do.

He'd need to plan accordingly.

"You probably need to keep your head down more, Harry." Sirius advised warningly, looking concerned. "Umbridge is as bitchy as they come. Remus hates her even more and for good reason!" He exclaimed the last part and shook his head.

"Trust me that I've already thought up a contingency plan even before this rubbish." Harry gestured at the paper and adjusted his glasses. "She already thinks I hate Dumbledore and that I don't care about the 'spat' between him and the ministry. I'll play that angle for the next couple of months to keep the defense group open."

Annoying to do? Yes, of course. But playing ball to avoid having the only means to prepare his friends for the conflict on the horizon was a have too. He could bellyache about it later, after Voldemort was dead and his followers cast to the wind.

Sirius looked rather put out by what he said and his face fell. "You shouldn't be forced to do that, Harry. But it's an all around shit situation, isn't it?"

"Yeah, it is." Harry agreed wholeheartedly with the sentiment. "I know things are scary right now, but it's going to get way worse. And I'm resigned to it, and I know the only way is through."

With that rather grim comment, Sirius exhaled audibly and pressed his fingers against his brow. This was supposed to be a relaxed outing in the days leading up to him returning to Hogwarts.

"Ugh, this was supposed to be a relaxing and fun time to spend with my godson that I don't see all that often. Can you not be a mood killer for just an hour?" He asked with some faux despair laid on to try and lighten things.

Harry shrugged his shoulders. "Were you the upbeat one between you and my dad whenever shit hit the fan?"

"Yes." Sirius confirmed immediately. "100%. James didn't learn to lighten up until you were born; the wanker was more high strung than Hermione was over the summer for a solid year after we graduated. Also… that muggle saying never made sense to me, even after Lily explained it."

The sole remaining Potter ignored the add on comment and frowned at registering what Sirius said first, having not heard that before. But it did make some level of sense, and it wasn't too far off from his own mindset when he was in a particularly stressful situation.

"I guess I get that from him."

"One of the things I wish you hadn't gotten from James. He was the greatest friend I could ever ask for, but Merlin he was almost as tense as Remus for a time after the war intensified."

It was moments like this where Harry understood how Sirius had managed to hold on to a decent portion of his sanity in Azkaban. It might have made his godfather sound perpetually immature and childish at times, but his almost pathologically upbeat attitude was certainly a helpful outlook.

"Then let's do something to brighten the day." Harry declared, glancing towards one of the waiters and gesturing for him to come over to collect the empty ice cream bowls. "Fancy buying some explosives and setting them off on Fred and George to get them back for nicking your reputation as a troublemaker?"

Like a switch being flipped, Sirius eyes practically shown with life at the opportunity Harry just offered.

"Now that's something I can get behind." He laughed, sitting up and twirling and flinging his arms out dramatically. "Come, Harry, we must acquire fireworks and wiggenweld to patch the ginger pretenders up! Onward, brave sir!" The Lord of House Black then took off, running through the street and towards what Harry sincerely hoped wasn't Knockturn Alley for explosive ordinance that would make even the American muggles he had encountered recoil away in shock, and those crazy bastards loved making things explode more than Malfoy loved his hair care potions.

I should make sure he doesn't buy something illegal. The auror in Harry reared up inside and sprang to his feet, staring at his now ecstatic godfather skip through the snowy street to what he now was sure led to Knockturn.

Sparing a quick thank you to the waiter and ensuring that the warming charm on his coat was still in place, Harry Potter ran to follow his downright frolicking godfather to wherever the man's supplier was located.


King's Cross station was just as packed as it usually was at this time of the year and Harry did his typical cursory inspection of any outliers that might denote an ambush was afoot. There was nothing out of the ordinary, just muggle civilians milling around as a few subtle enchantments cast on their small cluster of witches and wizards subtly encouraged them to not care about a collection of oddballs with trunks and caged owls making their way through the station.

But either way, Moody would be so proud if he could read his thoughts at that moment.

"Do stay out of trouble, Harry." Remus advised him like the responsible uncle the man always tried to act like. The werewolf definitely took it to heart that Sirius needed a counterbalance.

"Moony, you'd have a better chance of convincing Sirius to stop being a cad." Harry remarked flatly. "But I'll try."

"Ah, yes." Remus acknowledged Harry's logic, albeit reluctantly. "Do you have any idea why he didn't want to say goodbye?"

Sirius had gotten a little tipsy and had made a fool of himself the night before. The idiot transformed into his animagus form while drunk and couldn't change back, and Harry found the whole ordeal hilarious.

A fairly hungover Sirius had been sulking in his room after Harry and the rest of them were off to Hogwarts, which he could understand. The man didn't want to say goodbye, and Harry would let him stew if that was what he preferred.

Harry didn't share his knowledge, so he just shrugged at Remus. "No idea."


Both Harry and Remus turned, seeing that Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and the twins were waiting for them a few meters away from the brick pillar that led straight to the Hogwarts Express.

"Best be off then." Remus said, giving a subdued smile before patting him on the shoulder. "Do stay in touch."

"I will," Harry nodded, "And make sure Sirius actually sticks to his promise of training and not drinking too much."

Remus nodded almost identically to Harry and that was when the last Potter turned to face his friends with everything ready. He wheeled his trunk to be aimed at the bricks and he rushed forward suddenly, surprising the four.

What are you waiting for?! He laughed to himself, sinking through the brick and mortar to arrive first among them to see the train.

Sure enough, the billowing steam and the brilliant scarlet paint of the train was just as it was the first time he saw it all those years ago, and the added thought of seeing Daphne again filled him with a warmth he couldn't help but anticipate.

He can worry about the conflict after he sees her.

His friends followed after him a few moments later and he gestured for them to follow him towards one of the entrances into the train.

"Which compartment do you want to take over?" He asked as they reached the nearest one, aiming the comment at Fred and George. "I and Hermione will be going after the prefect one."

"It's *Hermione and I, Harry." His bookworm friend said quietly, her brow furrowed at the desecration of proper English that just transpired as their little group reached one of the openings into the train.

"I know." Harry shrugged, humming to himself as he picked up his trunk and lifted it onto the steps and shoved up to get it inside. "Oi, which bloody compartment do you want to claim for clan Weasley?" He asked the eldest Weasleys present again.

"I speak for my brothers and ferocious sister in stating that no assistant from a disreputable heathen such as you is needed." Fred responded in an exaggerated tone, drawing a scoff from the raven haired teen.

"Just don't blow anything up or I'll sic Sirius on you again." Harry promised, causing both twins to flinch.

Ron and Ginny openly snickered at remembering the chaos Sirius had unleashed after his bout of melancholy and boredom, specifically against their older brothers.

"But I'll save that for later, let's get on the train." With that, Harry got out of the walkway and helped his friends with their trunks.

After they were aboard the Express, Harry pulled Hermione aside as the four Weasleys went to search for an empty compartment for the six of them until he and Hermione needed to head to the prefect compartment.

Hermione squeaked in surprise and looked up at him, looking confused.

"I need to speak with Daphne." He muttered quickly. "Find Neville and Luna and make sure they're in a compartment with nobody else. I need to talk about the DADA group with them."

Hermione frowned at that, her eyes staring into his own.

"Are you sure you should share that much with Greengrass?"

Harry couldn't stop himself from biting the inside of his cheek to not scowl.

She's just being protective. Be nice.

"Feel free to gauge her trustworthiness yourself if you want." He offered, sounding as dead serious as he could. "I'm sure she wouldn't mind if you tagged along"

She in fact would 100% mind that an opportunity for some private time together was interrupted by a third wheel in the form of his closest female friend.

But it wasn't like Hermione would say ye-

"Fine, I will."

Wait, what? Harry's thoughts ground to a halt as he got completely thrown for a loop.

"You're definitely smart, Harry. But sometimes you're too smart for your own good." She said, grabbing ahold of her trunk again and grabbing his as well with her other hand to push into his grip. "If you're going to make some more friends, I may as well get to know them too."

It was moments like these where Harry genuinely questioned how in the hell he survived to adulthood with some of his decision making skills.


Daphne watched silently from the other end of the compartment as Astoria attempted to transfigure the piece of toffee to sprout legs and enchant it to dance, which it steadfastly refused to do.

"Stupid. Piece. Of. Candy." Astoria bit out, being far too close to something else that she had been scolded for saying.

"Just eat it, Tori." Tracey recommended, not looking up as she painted her nails on her left hand a bright turquoise. "You're not going to manage that as a third year."

"The best third year." Daphne's sister replied tersely, flicking her wand again and practically growling the incantation.

The toffee still didn't animate and instead twisted into a helix and melted partially as it heated up.

"If that thing explodes and I get molten toffee in my hair, I'm throwing you out the window." Daphne said flatly, staring at her little sister who stared back at her with a defiant petulism only an uppity younger sibling could manage.

"I'll tell mum that you did that."

"No cooperating witnesses and Tracey will deny your accusation categorically." Daphne stated, turning to her best friend. "Right, Tracey?"

"Huh, what?" Tracey looked up from her current task of prettying up her hands before her planned attempt to woo Blaise, and blinked owlishly.


Astoria just pouted and huffed loudly, jabbing forward with her wand and canceling her attempted spell work. The toffee immediately reverted back to its normal state and the youngest Greengrass grabbed it and ate the sweet in one bite, not saying a word as she stared at Daphne.

The blonde honestly wondered what foul Magicks were at work when Astoria was conceived. Maybe one of the Fae took her and left a Changeling behind. But she couldn't tell and she had no burning poker available to check.

"I can hear how rude your thoughts are, dearest sister." Astoria said, rudely mimicking Daphne's own tone and the sarcastic form of address she'd use sometimes.

I do not sound like that, even remotely.

"Don't talk while you're eating, Tori." Daphne rolled her eyes, but she still couldn't help but laugh slightly at her sister's antics. "And don't you need to join your friends?"

Unsurprisingly, Astoria's eyes widened and she jumped to her feet, having forgotten that she was going to move to her friends' compartment soon after the train was out of the station.

The diminutive girl walked past her and started to open the compartment door, but Daphne stood up before and gave her a quick hug.

"Love you, Tori." She said quickly, kissing the top of her sister's head before letting her go.

Astoria then opened the door and raced out, but Daphne caught a flash of a wide smile on her face as she disappeared around the corner.

Now that it was just Daphne and Tracey, the latter finished with prettying up her nails and dried the nail polish with a flick of her want in her off hand.

"Well, I'm going to talk to Blaise." Tracey said, putting on a brave face. "Tell Harry I said hi when he comes by."

I hope he does.

"If he comes by, I will." Daphne promised, wishing Tracey luck as the brunette left the compartment, which was now all for the blonde to enjoy herself.

The snow covered English countryside blurred by in her peripheral vision from the window and the sun shone through the broken up clouds to brighten everything up, and Daphne just thought to herself in total, blissful silence.

The 'revolutionary' introduction of a High Inquisitor was obviously a hamfisted attempt at tightening the screws on Dumbledore, and she'd probably need to talk with Harry to try and figure out a shared plan for the future. A split would inevitably occur in Slytherin House, and her goal was to make sure hers ended up on top.

And Harry personally could help with that.

But that could wait until after they had some personal time together. She missed him and it had only been a short two weeks since the Yule dinner.

The Slytherin's wish was granted when a rhythmic tap and the muffled voice of Harry Potter came through the door and then the door opened to reveal him.

Messy black hair, green eyes, and the confident grin on his face that she just loved to see.

"About time you showed up," She said happily, standing up and taking a step forward in preparation to give him a proper welcome, "I was beginning to wor-" She abruptly paused when Harry's smile faltered and he opened the door further, revealing the likely source of his sudden unease.

Why… in Merlin's name, is Granger here?

The muggleborn didn't notice anything and gave her a respectful, but curt nod.

"Hello." She said politely, reaching out with her hand past Harry in greeting. "I don't believe we've actually met outside of classes."

Digging as deep as she could and mustering the restraint necessary, Daphne returned a polite smile and accepted the proffered hand, briefly shaking it and letting go.

"Harry didn't say anything about you tagging along, but that's alright." Daphne lied through her teeth, backing up and sitting back down, before tucking her hair back behind her ear. "Feel free to sit down." She gestured at the opposite side of the compartment where Granger and Harry could sit.

She enjoyed the look of discomfort on Harry's face far too much, because he definitely could tell she wasn't pleased, and the two Gryffindors sat down, with Harry leaning forward some while Granger looked to be spectating to some extent for the time being.

"So…" Harry said with his head tilted and looking at her over the rim of his glasses. "How was the rest of your Winter Break?"

"Very lovely." She replied, tapping her nails against her thigh and smiling slightly at remembering the week she spent at her grandmother's. "Yule might have been taken up by you and Lord Black, but I still celebrated the proper holidays with my grandmother and some cousins on my mother's side."

She didn't bring up that her maternal aunt's family actually celebrated Christmas, which wasn't the most common practice for Purebloods in Britain, since a majority of the Pureblood houses were either Celtic clans that had been druidic and survived the Anglo-Saxon invasions, were said invaders themselves, or Purebloods that arrived with the Normans to round it all out.

And the latter weren't exactly the most Christian of peoples in the 5th and 6th centuries, double so for the Germanic magicals that were seen as avatars of the Asatru gods that battled with the Roman mages.

"What do you mean by proper holidays?" Granger asked, furrowing her brow in thought.

"Oh, the ones that German and Celtic pagans practice." Daphne replied casually, wanting to boast just a tiny bit to the muggleborn that had, through no fault of her own admittedly, butted in on private time between her and Harry. "And the celebrations of when we arrived here. There's an entire section in history books about my ancestor, Elswyth of the Grene groes, and how she was a pivotal advisor for the eventual King of Kent, Hengest."

Granger surprisingly recognized the last name mentioned, because she blinked in surprise before staring at her strangely.

"I thought the tale of Hengist and Horsa were myths." She said quietly, looking thoughtful as the girl tried to compartmentalize that information.

"Most of the myths have a basis in actual history, Granger." Daphne stated rather smugly, relishing in the fact that she was the one giving an educated lecture to what her house openly called a know-it-all, along with a few disparaging terms she personally found distasteful.

"Most as in most of the ones in Britain, or the world?" She asked, her eyes now alight with interest.

"Both, actually."

Surprisingly, Harry looked slightly bored of it; not bored like he wasn't interested, more like bored like he already knew.

She'd get that information out of him somehow, that green eyed git that thought a smile and show of charisma could distract her.

And now I'm thinking of him smiling again. Focus, don't give him looks when Granger is here.

"Moving on from that interesting tidbit," Harry said, keeping a subdued smile as he had his right hand resting under his chin with his eyes on her, "Have you heard anything about this High Inquisitor business?"

Daphne didn't bother asking if Granger could be trusted to be present. Harry wouldn't have asked while she was here otherwise.

"Heard about it? Yes, but are you asking about me hearing it from my father in an official capacity or through the grapevine?" She asked, knowing it was likely the first.

"First one." Harry confirmed her suspicion with a nod.

"Alright then." Daphne composed herself, trying to figure out how to word it without revealing too much that could unintentionally blow up in her father's face if it went outside of the roo-



"Do you mind silencing the room and making sure we don't have anyone eavesdropping?"

The teen didn't say anything, merely pulling his wand from his sleeve and flicking it at the door to silence it. Then an additional charm washed over the enclosed space that made her reflexively shiver as it settled around them.

"All clear." He said simply, stowing his wand away once again. "So you were saying?" He asked, beckoning her to continue.

Daphne did so. "What I was saying is that the investigation into Snape's background came from the top. Odds are, the Minister himself ordered it so that Umbridge could be given greater authority over Hogwarts. I know for certain that this was planned for the beginning of the year, but a certain someone." she smirked as the aforementioned teen fought to not roll his eyes. "Caused enough chaos in his trial to put everything on hold."

"I'll be sure to avoid him." Harry said, adopting a thoughtful expression. "He sounds rather dangerous."

"The most dangerous." Daphne agreed, stifling a snicker. "A threat to society, I've heard."

Granger looked positively uncomfortable at the two talking like she wasn't there, glancing between them and looking confused on top of feeling out of place.

Daphne may have enjoyed it, just a little bit, but now was the time for an actual serious talk. Getting back at Granger for the admittedly minor inconvenience could come later.

"But that means you'll probably be targeted, Harry. The study group is more than just that, I can tell." She said, her attention being drawn to Granger as the girl's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "You would be surprised by the conspiracies that some of my housemates discuss, Granger, and the idea that Dumbledore's golden boy is building an army worthy of the defeater of Grindelwald to install him as a 'Light Lord' is one of the more popular ones."

Harry was noticeably amused, while Granger was horrified.

"B-but, Professor Dumbledore wouldn't do that!" She exclaimed, shaking her head vigorously. "And using students is foolish. Children can't fight the ministry and take it over."

"If only you know how incompetent the Ministry is and how tenuous their hold is, Granger." Daphne replied honestly. This was a conversation the muggleborn needed to be a part of to really understand the society she was now a part of. "Take it from the heiress of a house that has held a Wizengamot seat since the 600s that there is a reason that the Dark Lord's inner circle only consisted of 2 dozen at most. Can you imagine around 20 muggles being able to hold an entire nation hostage with their own skill with a wand and the support of at most a thousand or so civilians?"

The well-read muggleborn didn't have a response handy and she simply looked at Daphne, likely not expecting a conversation like this.

"Most wizards aren't inclined to train in fighting, even after two wizarding wars within 30 years of one another." She continued on, also saying this for Harry's sake as well. "There's very little petty crime or robbery because, quite simply, there's nothing that magic can't solve. Because of that, there isn't an incentive to learn self-defense against other witches and wizards outside of the Hogwarts curriculum since those types of things simply don't happen like in the Muggle world. The most common type is, ironically, beast control because of how spread out wizards are in Britain and the wildlife staying away from London."

Harry specifically looked thoughtful about that, while Granger was paying rapt attention.

"That… actually makes sense." She conceded, worrying her lip lightly. "A safer environment makes people not really care about protecting themselves, because of the lack of need. And then you have Purebloods that are trained to fight being like introducing an invasive predator species, but the prey are muggleborns."

Daphne actually scowled at that last part. She couldn't help it, the comparison was as stupid as it was insulting.

"Sure, if Purebloods weren't the ones that established our society in the first place." Daphne said a little heatedly, not caring that Harry frowned at her. He wouldn't understand. "A more apt comparison would be an idiotic child being left in the territory of a pack of lions; out of place and not understanding the environment at all, then expecting to be babied incessantly."

Granger actually snorted. Snorted! "Careful, I detect some traces of dear Draco in that condescension."

Daphne actually recoiled away like she'd been struck, her nose crinkling in disgust. That was uncalled for.

" Dear Draco? I always suspected his hatred for you was a ploy to hide his lustful desire for the know-it-all Gryffindor, but it seems the feelings are mutual."

Granger's face flushed almost beet red as she took a deep breath, looking like she was about to spit fire, but Harry cleared his throat loudly and raised up his hands.

"Will you please not get into it right now?" It was worded like a question, but it wasn't anything but a demand from her boyfriend as his eyes almost looked like they glowed. "You can either be civil and friendly, or I can just leave the compartment and find someone else to talk with."

That was aimed at Daphne, she could tell. And the look of disappointment on Harry's face, with her as the recipient, wasn't pleasant.

Sighing, Daphne swallowed her pride and gave Granger as neutral of a look as she could manage.

"I'm sorry for being rude, Granger. You obviously were not describing every Pureblood as being a… predator." Merlin, that felt like drinking Skele-gro to say it.

"I accept your apology." Granger replied primly, keeping her hands flat on her lap. "And I should have chosen my words more carefully, and I apologize for comparing you to Malfoy."

With the tension bleeding away from the atmosphere, Daphne flicked her gaze over to Harry and decided that she just needed to speed through the pertinent subject so Granger could get the hell out of the compartment. She could already tell that Granger was as headstrong as she was, and it was unlikely they'd ever be friends.

But she'd suffer it however she could for Harry's sake. Granger was his friend and she didn't want to cause him unneeded grief when this year was going to be one mess after another in all likelihood for him.

Daphne just gathered herself, then let out a soft exhale, before glancing at Harry.

"Let's just talk about how to plan around the likely backlash coming from Umbridge."


There was seldom a time Harry was more relieved that the train came to a stop at their destination than this time.

He had left Daphne's compartment with Hermione to head to the one reserved for prefects, and Daphne had given an awkward goodbye that still made him internally cringe.

That went worse than he expected, and Hermione was uncharacteristically quiet next to him for the rest of the journey to Hogwarts. There was only so much one could even say when said friend butted in on a conversation.

It put him off so much that he just decided he didn't even want to talk with Neville or Luna until tomorrow or the next DA meeting.

It'll be fine tomorrow. He assured himself as the faint screech of the breaks came to an end as they lurched to a stop and all the Fifth Year Prefects all got up and exited the compartment in a haphazard fashion.

Hermione went to go third, and Malfoy did at the same moment. The two ended up walking into each other and Hermione stumbled as she walked into the taller Slytherin.

"Watch it, Granger." Malfoy scowled angrily, budging on past her and down the corridor while Pansy made a foul expression at Hermione.

Hermione just looked disturbed for a fraction of a second, before shaking her head.

What Daphne said in a mean-spirited jest was probably on her mind. If the conversation between his best female friend and girlfriend/fiance had been less confrontational initially, he would have found it hilarious that Hermione was perturbed by the thought that Malfoy was nursing an infatuation for her.

But as it was, it was just a headache that he'd need copious amounts of muffins smuggled from the kitchens to placate and sate Daphne.

Harry himself then exited the compartment and followed Hermione to the nearest exit, avoiding most of the traffic caused by hundreds of disembarking students and making their way to where Ron and the rest of the Weasleys were currently waiting for them.

It was a rather uneventful journey to the castle via the thestral drawn carriages, and Harry was in a state of deep thought throughout the first supper since the end of term.


Under most circumstances, the Slytherin common room was congested with students from all different years, particularly when all the students returning from home during winter break reacquainted themselves with friends in the most relaxed setting available. On occasion though, the common room was ordered to be cleared when important matters relating to House business were being addressed.

Like what was occuring at that very moment.

"Our next order of business is to discuss the appointment of Umbridge to this new role." A Seventh Year, O'Cleirigh, said in a bored formality that had Daphne fighting the urge to roll her eyes.

Currently, she, Malfoy and Nott were the fifth years that were from the most politically influential families in their year, and were in an open discussion about certain events transpiring in the world. It was tradition in Slytherin House for Fifth Year and up to have these talks, and it was supposedly important enough that Tracey was, surprisingly, left out.

"It's fairly obvious why it lined up with Professor Snape's probation." Nott drawled, the boy's pale brown eyes inspecting O'Cleirigh in a distinctly bored manner. "Inhibiting Dumbledore and weakening his remaining influence by displaying his pet spy's less than clean history."

Nott had provided the information that Snape had been officially put on temporary probation, said information being courtesy of his father's position in the Ministry, with Umbridge being instructed to keep an eye on him particularly, and the rest of staff as well.

While O'Cleirigh, whose family was far less entrenched in the Ministry and Wizarding Britain, was still a quintessential Slytherin and was at the top of the hierarchy for Seventh Years, and was on track to train to be a Hit Wizard. Definitely not someone to trifle with.

The other two Seventh Years, Warrington and Bletchely, were staying quiet for the moment, and the sixth years were so forgettable that Daphne couldn't even be bothered to remember their names at the moment.

Malfoy had been silent throughout most of the little meeting of theirs, but after Nott gave his two knuts, the blond heir to House Malfoy added his own voice to the pot.

"My father warned that Fudge may act rashly after the escape of the Dark Lord's inner circle from Azkaban, but this decision can be used for our benefit."

"Elaborate, Malfoy." O'Cleirigh practically demanded, drawing a glare from the fifth year.

Even if Malfoy was a prat on the best of days, that was simply unwarranted. The topic was supposed to be spinning this to help themselves, and O'Cleirigh was just being insufferable.

"Some civility would be much appreciated." Daphne said airily before Malfoy could respond, tapping her nails against her thigh as she uncrossed her legs and leaned forward in her seat. "If you can refrain from acting like a toddler demanding his toy wand, we can actually hear what Draco's plan is. Understand this, Conner," Her tone suddenly gained a more sinister edge to it and the air seemed to drop a degree or two in temperature, "Respect is earned and reciprocated among our lot's social circle, and you are relatively new to i-"

She was cut off by a snort from the older teen, which had even the others looking at him with faint levels of annoyance.

"Slim chance that I'll take lessons of respect and honour from the same girl that was hanging off Potter in Hogsmeade before the start of winter break like some blood traitor. Mind sharing why you're getting chummy with Potter of all people?"

The room was so quiet that you could hear a quill drop, and all Daphne could focus on at that moment was not drawing her wand to break the bastard's kneecaps from the insult.

It had been an open secret among most of the upper year Slytherins that Daphne was supposedly manipulating Harry to try and fish for information, and Daphne herself had helped spread that with Tracey's help. It was stupid to think that her speaking with Harry wouldn't be noticed, so she played it to her benefit.

But the insinuation by O'Cleirigh struck a nerve to the self admitted prideful blonde.

"Know who you can and can't make demands of, O'Cleirigh." Malfoy said quietly, his eyes narrowed and Daphne couldn't help but be reminded of Malfoy's father. Somehow, Draco managed to not sound like a petulant toerag like he often did and channeled the icy contempt of his father. "While your ancestors were scraping out a living serving under mudblood pig farmers, the Malfoys controlled the Purebloods of Normandy in all but name and have contributed to Magical Britain for centuries. You are new blood among prestigious houses like Malfoy, Nott, and Greengrass, remember that. Know. Your. Place."

Where in Merlin's name did he find a spine? Daphne thought to herself, seeing a similar amount of surprise showing on Nott's face and Bletchely's.

O'Cleirigh looked like he'd swallowed a lemon and was practically fuming at the verbal reprimand, but he wisely remained silent and didn't respond.

"I'll say what I was going to before being interrupted." Malfoy said flatly, his eyes not leaving O'Cleirigh's. "Umbridge was a Slytherin when at school, and her support will come from the same place the Minister's comes from, which is us. Helping her with her 'duties' will be easy when we are the children and heirs of pillars of society, and that reputation will protect us from any of the issues coming from Professor Snape's probation."

This was planned without a doubt. Daphne thought to herself as she absorbed what Malfoy had said. It sounded too clean of a plan to have been thought of within a few days, meaning that the Malfoys for certain were aware of this High Inquisitor plan since its inception in the summer, confirming her father's suspicion.

"We will need to be prepared to assist however we can to engender favoritism in that case." Daphne mused aloud, noting that Bletchely was paying rapt attention to her now. "We just have to wait for now, does next weekend sound good to discuss this at greater length?"

Nott shrugged and nodded, giving a quiet affirmative. Malfoy considered it for a moment, before giving his own acceptance. Bletchely and the rest also muttered that they were fine with that, leaving a visibly annoyed O'Cleirigh as the last to agree.

"Good." Daphne said, standing up from her seat and smoothing her robes. "Now, I'm going to call it an early night and go now."

With that abrupt statement, Daphne exited the common room and headed to her dormitory, the soft clack of her shoes against the ground and up the stairs being the only sound before she pushed the door open, revealing Tracey and Pansy, the two in the middle of a conversation.

Tracey held up her hand to stop Pansy as she was in the middle of her sentence and the two girls turned to look at Daphne curiously.

"Anything we should know?" Tracey asked, failing to hide her annoyance at being left out as a precaution that Nott insisted on and the others mostly agreed on.

"Once we've actually gone through with whatever's planned next week," She explained, forgoing anything else as she walked straight to her bed and let her legs give as she fell forward into the soft embrace of the mattress, turning her head to look at them still. "Then I can probably share most with you, and Malfoy will likely share with you, Pansy."

Once she said that, the brunette got up and left the room, probably to talk with Malfoy.

Tracey scowled as Pansy left just the two of them there. "Gee, thanks for talking with me, Tracey." She said mockingly, butchering the mimicking of Pansy's voice. "You doing alright though, Daph?"

"No." Daphne mumbled, turning her head and burying her face into the pillow. "Granger was annoying, Malfoy is acting weird, and O'Cleirigh was an arsehole. This is going to be a rough year."

The sigh Tracey let out made Daphne growl into her pillow.

"I understood barely half of that, Daphne. Please don't speak when your mouth is full of pillow."



"Hey!" Tracey shouted, shoving the pillow that had just struck her in the face away from her.

Daphne had many questions going through her head, among those being the strangeness of Malfoy defending her, how the change in the status quo at Hogwarts would go down, and her continued progress in spellwork under Harry's tutelage.

But the most important one was how she could get her now thrown pillow back to her without getting up or having to fish for her wand in her pocket.

A question that was answered by Tracey chucking it back at her.

Giving a half mumbled thank you, Daphne closed her eyes and practically passed out, not even changing out of her robes from how tiring the day was.

(End chapter)

Author's Note for chapter:

For those who aren't aware about the little history snippet about the Anglo-Saxon invasion/migration into Britannia; the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes along the western coast of modern Germany, Denmark, and Holland came to Britain through a combination of conquest and simple migration, one early example being when the Romans asked for help to ward off some invasions from I believe the Picts in the early 5th century and paid the Saxon mercenaries to fight for them. They ended up staying, and a constant stream of entire families came over and settled over the next 150-200 years. The pottery, jewelry, burial sites, and settlement ruins of much of modern day *England, not Wales obviously, or Cornwall, eventually stopped resembling the Roman and Celts, and were dominated by the now settled North Sea Germanics.

One of the myths surrounding the early part of the migration was the warrior brothers Hengest and Horsa. They supposedly assisted a Briton king in driving away some invaders, then double-crossed the king and took over. Horsa died in battle, and Hengest became the King of Kent. (Interestingly, *Hengist* is a name mentioned in Beowulf. *JRR Tolkien* even humoured the idea that perhaps he was a real figure that fell into legend.)

So now, over a third of the modern English genome can be traced to them and the language I'm typing in currently derives from the Anglo-Saxon's language of Old English.

I thought of the importance of lineage and blood to Pureblood culture tropes in HP fics, thought of how the legend of Merlin, and thus the concept of Magical Britain, predates the Norman conquest where surnames became more pronounced in England, with said names sometimes being Celtic or Anglo-Saxon in origin, and troubleshot an interesting idea for mixing in a legend or two about them getting to England. So I had fun brushing up again on some ancestral history of mine for the sake of a small portion of a chapter.

The Snape thing isn't something I've actually seen to the best of my knowledge in this way. I've seen Dumbledore and Snape bashing fics that had his less than truthful account of Third Year be used as a cudgel on their reputation, but not when both are firmly 'Light' aligned. Thought it'd be an interesting take on that idea.

Again, apologies for taking 3 months to update this. This is supposed to be the shortest of my serious fics I have planned. But anyway, I hope you enjoy it either way. Have a great day.