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3. It goes Hogwards

A/N: The chapter title is derived from a German poster title 'Es geht Hogwärts'

31st August 1996

The boy had to be around thirteen or fourteen years old. Pale and fragile-looking, small and fair-haired, curled around himself on a rug in front of a softly flickering fireplace. The pale flesh of his fingers contrasted starkly with the black silky tufts while the boy stroked the rug almost as if it were his pet. He appeared to be lost in thought, gazing unseeingly into the flames.

Why the boy would want to lie on the floor, however, was a puzzling thought since the room's expanses were enormous and there were countless better and more comfortable resting facilities for such a delicate child.

Vis-à-vis the hearth was a large four-poster, draped with heavy jade velvet hangings. Dozens of pillows in various hues of blue and green and different sizes lay in fashionable order on top of a richly embroidered comforter. To the left there were an elegant leather sofa, which looked like it hadn't been used very often, and several armchairs. On the right side, just next to the large windows that stretched to the ceiling, was a finely carved writing desk, impeccably tidy, with a high-backed desk chair.

The whole room, though obviously housing a child, didn't appear to belong to one. It rather seemed as if the boy was merely playing in his older brother's chamber.

The wall, which held the fireplace, was lined with huge shelves, providing space for hundreds of books, small figures of carved dragons and several magical items, outing the boy to be a wizard.

"Draco?" asked a cool feminine voice, startling the boy out of his quiet musings. "You have a guest who wishes to see you. I shall leave you two alone."

The pale boy named Draco quickly sat up from his reclined position, wincing ever so slightly at the abrupt movement, and cast a glance to his right, where the door was just swinging shut again. His breathing hitched before he willed himself to stay in control.

"Stay where you are," said a new, albeit just as cool as the first, voice. "Comfortable, isn't it?"

Draco swallowed and looked up at the figure of his visitor. Chills raced through his body as he took in the skeletal frame, the sallow skin and the skull-like head. He was forcibly reminded of a Dementor, though he knew that the Dark Lord had more life in him than those ungodly, soulless creatures.

"Yes, it most certainly is," the boy answered, threading his fingers through the thick rug. "Thank you."

1st September 1996

The train station at King's Cross, London, was full of busy and hectic people on this Sunday morning. Tourists, seniors and commuters alike scuttled around the station.

Harry Potter sighed while pushing his trolley in the direction of the divider between platform nine and ten. He didn't really look forward to the magical world this year. After the whole ordeal with Dolores Umbridge, their latest teacher for Defence Against the Dark Arts, and her campaign to let Harry look like a lying brat, when all he told was the truth about Voldemort's return, had left him thoroughly spent. At the end of his fifth year, though, everything had been cleared up and everyone knew now that he had been telling the truth.

Harry snorted. In the end, that didn't really matter. Now everyone would worship him even more and his fan club would acquire hundreds of new members. No, he didn't need that. He only wanted to discreetly make it through his sixth year.

Especially since he now knew what it meant to be a 'star' – unlike his experiences with being famous in the Wizarding World. What it meant to be a star. Or rather a criminal. His uncle had been recording every step Harry made in his house, like in some kind of twisted real life soap. The Harry Show.

'It sucks to be me,' he thought dully.

Pushing the trolley with his trunk and Hedwig's cage through the barrier leading to platform nine and three quarters, Harry tensed immediately, ducking his head out of sheer habit.

He had entered the magical world, where every child knew his name – not to forget his face. There were dozens of families, all dressed in different kinds of robes, seeing their children to the train, mothers crying, fathers being proud, girls clinging to their parents and boys looking excited. It was so clichéd. Harry shook his head and heaved his trunk and the cage from his trolley to board the bright red Hogwarts Express.

"Don't forget to owl every other week," Harry heard a clearly distressed mother sob. It had to be the first year for her child. "And don't get into trouble, you hear me, young lady?"

"No, mom," the girl said exasperatedly. "I'll be a good girl, I promise!"

Harry climbed onto the train, setting the trunk down every few steps. A few metres in front of him, he recognised Millicent Bulstrode, a Slytherin student in his year, as she transported her own heavy trunk with ease. She was built like a bull and she was strong as one, too.

Harry couldn't help wondering whether every student in Slytherin resembled some kind of animal. As far as he knew, they did. Millicent was a bull, Pansy Parkinson looked like a pug, Draco Malfoy, Harry's favourite enemy, was an annoying ferret, Marcus Flint couldn't be anything but a troll – animal, magical creature, there wasn't much difference , Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle were gorillas, Snape, the Head of Slytherin House , was a bat. And Tom Riddle was a snake. It was like in a zoo, Harry mused. He laughed quietly. The Dursleys would have ended in Slytherin, as well, then, had they been magical. Uncle Vernon as a walrus, Aunt Petunia as a horse, and Dudley as a pig.

Harry's arms started to ache, so he decided to go into the first empty compartment he'd find. After the third try, he was lucky – not entirely, but it was everything he was prepared to endure.

Luna Lovegood, a fifth year Ravenclaw, was scratching her chin with the tip of her wand as her other hand held the newest copy of the Quibbler for her to read – upside down, as was her habit. Her huge pale eyes didn't even seem to blink as Harry watched her with a faint frown.

"Hi, Luna," he greeted her. "Mind if I sit with you? Ron and Hermione aren't here yet so I thought-"

"I don't mind," the girl interrupted Harry with an exaggerated sigh. Her eyes focused a moment on his face, before she disappeared behind her magazine again.

Harry's frown intensified. "Thanks," he said quietly, hauling his trunk onto the luggage rack. He panted, wiping the sweat from his forehead. Then he put the cage beside the trunk, thinking that at least Hedwig wouldn't be forced to travel nearly ten hours in the train, and feeling a bit envious.

Harry Potter envied his own pet owl. He could just see the next headline.

Shrugging these thoughts off - Rita Skeeter, the journalist for the Daily Prophet, would hopefully not make any more problems - Harry plopped down into the seat next to the window, watching children and teenagers say goodbye to their family. They wouldn't see each other at least until Christmas, maybe even until the end of the school year.

Harry kept a lookout for his two best friends, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. After he'd received the Hogwarts owl with the results of his OWLs, he couldn't stop wondering how his friends had fared. Hermione, naturally, would have gotten an even better result. Harry wondered whether Ron was better than him or not ...

The watch told him it was already ten to eleven a.m., and the train departed at eleven o'clock sharp. The last two months he hadn't seen his friends at all, which was something new. Normally, he and Hermione would spend part of his holidays at Ron's home, the Burrow, or, like last year, they would stay at-

"Minister Fudge is going to be fired," Luna said suddenly, ripping Harry out of his thoughts. She seemed very surprised by her own exclamation, judging by the look in her eyes. She stuck the wand into her hair – Harry thought it would never stay there – and nodded her head.

"Really?" asked Harry, surprised. He couldn't say he was sorry to hear that. If it wasn't for Fudge, the world would have known ages earlier that the Second War had begun, and maybe Harry's godfather Sirius would be still alive. "How do you know?"

"My father told me."

Harry sobered instantly. "Ah," he said blankly. Luna's father, the editor of the Quibbler, wasn't exactly known for his reliability.

"He wrote a fantastic article – 'Truth be Told'. Do you want to read it?" Luna turned the magazine around and held out her hand. "Everything about Fudge's little misdeeds, You-Know-Who's sinister future plans and the dark centaury secrets of the new Divination teacher."

Harry was rescued as the compartment door suddenly slid open, and Hermione and Ron walked in, both of them carrying their pets. Crookshanks hissed and struggled in Hermione's arms, and Pigwidgeon hooted shrilly in his small cage.

"Hello, Harry," greeted Hermione softly, forcing a smile. "Luna."

Ron threw a dirty look at Hermione, then he grinned exaggeratedly at Harry. He plopped down next to him, slung his arm around his shoulder and said, "Hi, mate! How were your holidays? Better than mine, I hope!" He glared again at Hermione.

"Hi, Luna," he added quickly, remembering his manners.

Luna merely nodded at them, turned the magazine around again and went back to reading.

"Hi, guys," Harry said uncertainly, eyeing his two friends who were acting a bit odd. "Anything the matter?"

"No!" answered Hermione quickly.

"No," repeated Ron snidely, digging his fingers into Harry's shoulder, and making the smaller boy wince. "Everything's dandy."

Hermione sighed and put Crookshanks onto an empty seat opposite of Ron. She went out into the corridor and pulled in her trunk.

Ron looked pointedly out of the window.

Harry frowned at that. Usually, Ron would help their female friend carry the heavy trunk. He made a mental note to delve into that particular subject at a later time. As he made to stand to help Hermione, Ron gripped his shoulder tighter and pulled him back down.

"Oh, don't bother," he said in a tone of voice that made even Luna look over the edge of her magazine. "Hermione doesn't need any help, does she?" He scowled in her direction, not waiting for an answer. "She's old enough to carry her own trunk, isn't she? She's old enough to know when things are too heavy for her, isn't she?"

Hermione tried to keep her face blank, pressing her lips together, though it was clear to see for Harry that she was hurt because of Ron's words.

"I'll manage," she said and lifted the trunk half a metre. After a second she let it down again with a huff and pushed it to the side next to the door, so that it wouldn't disturb anyone. She cast a quick glance outside where Ron's trunk was still in the way but oddly enough, she didn't say anything.

"When is the prefect meeting starting?" asked Harry, trying to find a neutral topic for the time being. He didn't want to discuss anything in front of Luna. Something was clearly going on between his two best friends, and even if he didn't know yet, he wanted to find out what. He needed his friends in order to survive the school year and he didn't want it ruined because of their adolescent bickering. A thought flashed through Harry's mind, and he wondered whether the two of them had something going on over the holidays, or whether they were still together and had some kind of lover's spat. Harry only hoped it would be over quickly. Ron had had this crush on Hermione for the longest time, and shortly before the holidays, Harry had advised Ron to finally tell her when she was coming over to the Burrow to stay for a few weeks.

"In a few minutes, Harry," said Hermione, twisting her fingers uncertainly.

Ron said nothing, calming down his unruly minute owl, while he himself seemed oddly strained.

"Well," said Harry, trying to break the uneasy silence.

"Too two to," said Luna, holding the magazine in front of her eyes. She stretched her arms slowly, watching closely as the picture grew smaller and smaller. "Hmm. Definitely two."

Hermione cast a glance at the page. "It's a L, Luna. You've got the magazine the wrong way," she said absentmindedly.

Luna lowered the Quibbler and narrowed her pale brows at the other girl. "It's a two. I'm two. You two are two," she said, looking at Harry and Ron and then back at Hermione, "and you are, too. Definitely two."

Harry had never before witnessed how fast the colour could spread on Ron's face. In a matter of milliseconds, he glowed an unhealthy purple, clashing horribly with his red hair. Harry wanted to just let the strange comment slide but Ron had other plans. Obviously, whatever had been bubbling away in him the last minutes had just boiled over.

He jumped to his feet, clenching shaking fists at his side. "How could you!" he yelled at Hermione, who flinched harshly as her eyes grew wide. "You said you didn't! Oh, I'm going to KILL him! You hear me? I'm going to KILL HIM and I don't care that he's- That's just bloody IMPOSSIBLE!"

"Whoa, Ron!" cried Harry, gripping his friend's arm to cool him down. "You're not making sense, mate, come on-"

But Ron was having none of it. "I am not making sense?" he yelled. "I AM NOT MAKING SENSE! She- She is the one who doesn't make any sense anymore, dammit!"

"Ron, please," said Hermione urgently. "Please, don't make a scene! You know I didn't do-"

"Oh, but I do know!" screamed Ron, pointing at the blonde Ravenclaw. "Luna just said it! You're too, Hermione!"

Luna blinked in confusion.

"Do you even hear yourself talking? It's Luna! The same Luna who's hunting for Nessie over the holidays!" snapped Hermione.

Luna's confusion turned to indignation.

"Ron, calm down," Harry said again, hoping that they wouldn't draw attention. "It's no use to scream like that."

Something seemed to have broken through Ron's thick skull because he took a deep breath and let it out slowly. His hands clenched tighter, though. "How could you, Hermione?"

Harry looked from a distinctly angry Hermione over to a tightly controlled Ron. There was a betrayed look in his eyes that made Harry ask his next question without thinking, "What did she do?"

"She's pregnant!" spat Ron.

Harry stopped breathing. He vaguely registered that Luna's magazine dropped to the floor and that Hermione went awfully still. His mind needed a few moments to wrap itself around the words. Then he decided that he must have gotten something wrong.

Hermione was not pregnant. Hermione could not be pregnant because she was, well, she was Hermione. And things like that did not happen to girls like her.

"Ron, you idiot," whispered Hermione faintly, tears building in her eyes as she turned around and fled from the compartment.

Harry stared at the spot where Hermione had been standing only a second ago before he turned around to his other friend, confusion prominent on his mind.

"Don't!" said Ron hoarsely and held up his hand before Harry could say anything. "Just ... don't. I need to get to the meeting. See you later, then." He didn't meet Harry's eyes as he quickly put his trunk away and left the compartment.

The click when Ron slid the door shut echoed strangely loud in Harry's ears. He had wanted to spent some time with his friends after the horrible last year, after he had spent his entire holidays at the Dursleys, but what did he get? They had their own problems. He knew he shouldn't be surprised but it still left him hollow. Harry didn't need any more problems, he had enough on his mind as it was.

"Hmm," said Luna slowly, bending down to pick up her magazine. "Pregnant," she snorted. "How stupid."

"Don't talk that way about her," Harry snapped immediately. Even if he felt a bit put out at the moment, that didn't mean that he'd allow others to badmouth his friends.

Luna lifted her pale gaze to hold Harry's own. "Ron is stupid," she clarified, which didn't help Harry much but he couldn't deny the truth. Ron was stupid quite often. "I said 'two' not 'she is pregnant', didn't I?"

"He's got too much of a temper at times," said Harry wearily, leaning back into his seat. "He must have jumped to some sort of conclusions and your words just served as the trigger. At least, that's what I think." He just wished he knew why something so trivial caused such an eruption. Or why he could even think ...

Luna nodded in understanding.

Harry didn't really want to know what she thought. "What did you mean with 'two', anyway?"

Luna leafed through the magazine and showed Harry a colourful page. Lines grew and snaked like vines and created a beautiful image. It was like a picture riddle or just a picture one looked at to relax. Harry had to admit that it looked like a two.

"May I?" he asked, and at Luna's nod, he took the magazine and turned it around. Now it looked like an ornamental L. Harry read the words above the picture. "Divine your Destiny Day."

"It shows you which day is the most productive," Luna explained, gaze zooming out. "Before you arrived, the picture showed something else, though it flickered to two every few moments. Ravenclaws tend to be productive on every day of the week, you know? I do have an emphasis on two, though. Ron and Hermione, too. And you, Harry. Two is Tuesday of course because Sunday doesn't count as the first here, and Tuesday is the day for braveness, success, problems with violence, and competitors."

Harry was gob-smacked. Was this some kind of horoscope? And he had thought the Quibbler couldn't sink any lower. With this kind of crap, it was no wonder that Trelawney, the insect-eyed Divination teacher, was the laughing stock at Hogwarts.

And Tuesday was the day for braveness, success, problems with violence, and competitors? Was every day Tuesday, then? For Harry couldn't see a real difference to Mondays, Fridays or even Sundays there.

It was twenty minutes later that the compartment door slid open again. Ron and Hermione couldn't be back yet, and somehow Harry doubted that they would come back so soon anyway. Harry looked up from the book he'd been pretending to read and schooled his features into indifference. He didn't really know why he even bothered to pray that Draco Malfoy and his cronies Crabbe and Goyle would let him in peace.

"Look who we've got here," drawled Malfoy over his shoulder. "The Boy-Who-Lived-And-Lived-And-You-Get-The-Picture and his new girlfriend."

Harry merely got halfway through his obligatory "Shut up, Malfoy" before Luna let out a shriek of laughter, doubling over and holding her belly. Tears of mirth were running down her cheeks and she was howling as if she just heard the best joke of her life.

"Girlfriend," she gasped. "Girlfriend! That was funny!"

"Easy to entertain, is she?" Malfoy smirked, and Harry scowled in his direction. "What a perfect match." Crabbe and Goyle snickered as if on cue.

"What do you want, Malfoy?" growled Harry. "Don't you have to terrorize the first years?"

He fought not to blush because of the amorous innuendo. He didn't have a girlfriend, never had had one actually. The thought of him and a girlfriend was nothing he was used to, and the thought of him and Luna as a couple was more than a little dreadful. How could he, in times of war, spare a relationship even a passing thought? He needed all his energy to stay alive and stop the murderer who was out for his neck. After Voldemort's defeat he'd have plenty of time for love. But not now, not yet.

"Oh!" Malfoy blinked in mock-surprise. "You're no first year, then? Could have fooled me, dwarfy." Crabbe and Goyle snickered again.

Harry clenched his fists tightly, fighting hard not to jump to his feet and throttle the other boy. Only Draco Malfoy had this uncanny effect on him because normally Harry wasn't prone to violence. "Look who's talking, Mr.–I-can't-even-reach-my-highest-drawer-without-a-stepladder! I'm at least five centimetres bigger than you!" Which wasn't that much, but how could the pot dare to call the cauldron black?

"I'm impressed," said Malfoy in a bored tone. "That explains at last why you're walking so funny. And I was almost concerned you've got something with your back."

Harry frowned for a second before he flushed a bright purple to the roots of his hair. Luna pressed her hands to her mouth, stifling her shrieking laughter. She seemed to find the situation entirely too hilarious. Harry couldn't help but disagree.

"Size is not always an advantage, though." Malfoy's features morphed into a smug smirk, causing Harry to worry. The blond shook his head slowly, arms akimbo. "Air resistance is a peculiar thing, Potter. The smaller the body, the faster one is able to fly on a, say, broomstick," he drawled.

"That didn't help you in previous years, did it?" Harry couldn't help pointing out. Malfoy hadn't been able to win even once in all their flying matches, and Harry was proud of that. Quidditch, the most popular Wizarding sport, was also Harry's favourite, and he was very good at it.

"It will in the ones to come, though," said Malfoy, his pale eyes flashing an icy silver, "for you won't be an issue any more."

"What? What are you on about now, Malfoy?" Harry didn't like the haughty look one bit. The arrogant snob always behaved as if he knew something you didn't; and it was true most of the time. It was correct that Umbridge had cast a lifetime ban from Quidditch on him, but Harry was convinced that this problem would be solved soon enough. He had been convinced, at least.

"Ah, but I wouldn't want to spoil the suspense, now would I? No, I don't think so." Malfoy smirked, giving a mocking wave. "Well, see you around, Potter. Oh, and before I forget: After last year, I thought you had learned your lesson. If you lie at Hogwarts again, I'll be taking points – one for each centimetre. Lying," he snorted, "such a nasty habit." This time, only Crabbe and Goyle chortled.

Harry just glared at the blond, willing the colour out of his face. Why did it have to be him? Why did Malfoy have to be such a prat? Why couldn't the idiot just go up in smoke and leave him the hell alone? Those were all very justified questions; not easily answered but justified. Harry was abruptly ripped out of his thoughts when Luna spoke up, all dreamlike quality absent for once.

"You've got blood on your hands," she said, blinking her huge eyes at Malfoy. "Why would you have blood on your hands?"

Harry's eyes snapped to Malfoy's hands and indeed, there were half-dried traces of a crimson substance staining his fingers. Harry rose from his seat and took a step towards Malfoy, but Crabbe and Goyle immediately blocked his way, moving in front of the smaller boy.

Malfoy glanced at his hands, blanching considerably at the sight. He ripped out his wand and cast several Scourgify Charms on both his hands so quickly, Harry hadn't even time to form a thought, let alone a sentence.

"What have you done, Malfoy?" Harry asked then, repressing the unexplainable shiver that raced down his spine. It were two different things to believe that someone was evil and to have that someone clean blood from their hands before your very eyes. It made it all the more real, but somehow, no matter how much he hated Malfoy and wanted him gone, Harry didn't want it to be that real.

Malfoy's father was a Death Eater, yes. Harry got Malfoy's father into prison, yes. Malfoy had sworn revenge, yes.

It hadn't been real; it had only been words.

And words had long lost their ability to hurt him – when the letters didn't spell 'Crucio', that was.

Malfoy pushed his hands into his robes – Harry couldn't help thinking that he tried to hide their shaking – and scowled heavily. He seemed to need a few moments to collect himself but when he spoke again, his voice didn't lack the usual scorn. "Not that it's any of your business, my goodie boy, but I don't want to have it on my conscience that I prevented you from your direly needed beauty sleep. I didn't do anything illegal, I assure you." Malfoy turned around to leave.

Harry wasn't consoled so easily, though. "Are you mad, Malfoy!" snapped Harry, causing the blond to turn back around with a frown marring his pale brows. "You didn't do anything illegal? That's it? That was blood!"

"Never said it was," said Malfoy coldly.

"Why would you have reacted that way, then?"

"You cast the Scourgify with enough force to scald away the first couple of skin layers," said Luna. "That must hurt an awful lot, I'd imagine."

Harry couldn't help the tiny bit of concern popping out of nowhere. What had Malfoy done to want to erase the traces in such a rash manner?

"That's everything you do, Loony," snapped Malfoy. "Imagining things when there isn't anything to see!" He pulled out his hands from the robe and thrust them forwards. "There! Nothing red, no blisters! There isn't any blood, there wasn't any blood! And I didn't Scourgify anything!"

Harry frowned. The hands were pale and there seemed to be nothing wrong with them. Luna, though, said that they had to be red, and Luna, being a Ravenclaw, had to know what she said. She was, in her own way, nearly as intelligent as Hermione. "How-"

"I didn't do anything, Potter, better keep that in mind," snarled Malfoy icily. "And you, as well, Lovegood. I'd hate to give out more detentions than necessary because you can't keep your filthy mouths from lying." Crabbe and Goyle cracked their joints menacingly.

"Your threats don't work-" Harry started to say but he was cut off abruptly when Malfoy's wand dug into his throat. His eyes widened. When had Malfoy gotten so fast? He hadn't even seen him moving!

"Malfoy ..." he said warningly. "Don't do anything stupid."

Grey eyes clouded over in unreadable emotion, then Malfoy blinked and it was over again so quickly Harry was left wondering if he had only imagined it. "You're the one who should be concerned about stupidity, don't you think, Potter?" he hissed into the dark-haired boy's face. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw that Crabbe and Goyle shielded Luna. "If you don't learn – quickly – when it's time to speak up and when it's impudent to do so ... Well, then a little lie will be the least of your problems. Don't be arrogant but take this little advice from a - friend."

They arrived in Hogsmeade around ten o'clock in the evening. The train drove into the station and the students went to dismount. Hagrid, Harry's half-giant friend, was calling the first years over to the boats to cross the sea.

Harry pulled his robes tighter around himself and made his way over to the carriages that brought the older students to Hogwarts.

Hermione and Ron had stopped by in the compartment once, separately. It had been very tense, though Harry knew why they didn't try to discuss anything in front of Luna. He just wished Ron wouldn't have started anything at all.

Harry cast glances to his sides. Ron was walking on his right side and Hermione followed at a short distance on his left. He needed to get to the bottom of the problem, quickly. Somehow, after Malfoy's little warning, Harry felt that he would need his friends more than he had thought he would.

They got into a carriage, the atmosphere strained. Harry was just about to ask Hermione something as Neville Longbottom, another fellow Gryffindor, enquired timidly whether they had still room for him.

"Sure, Neville," said Harry, forcing a smile but feeling that it looked rather like a grimace. It wasn't meant to be. "How were your holidays?" he asked, not because he was eager to know, but because he felt he owed it to his friend not to let his anger and frustration out on him. Last year, Harry had let his irritation get the better of him in Dumbledore's office. He had screamed and ranted and blamed the headmaster and Snape for Sirius' death. It hadn't done him any good, though.

"Great, great," Neville said, rather nervously. "Um, me and my gran went to, um, Cornwall." He sat down, eyeing Ron and Hermione unsure. "What did you do?"

Ron didn't even bother to look up. Hermione mumbled something incomprehensible but shot Neville an apologetic smile.

"What about you, Harry?" asked Neville. It wasn't clear whether he asked because he truly wanted to know or because he thought it proper.

"Nothing exciting," Harry answered with a shrug. "For that I'm grateful."

Neville nodded and kept silent for the rest of the ride.

Harry exited the carriage after Neville as they arrived at Hogwarts. The castle was impressive as always with its dozens of turrets and huge windows. Neville glanced at the carriages to the right, and Harry followed his gaze. There were the Thestrals that had pulled the carriages. Only since last year had Harry been able to see them for they were only visible to those who had seen someone die.

Harry blocked those dark thoughts quickly. It was the start of his second to last school year, there would be a feast and he was hungry. Even if he didn't want to feel high-spirited, he did not want to be nothing but gloomy either.

Hermione was now ahead of them, hurrying into the castle, and Ron cursed under his breath. Harry was just about to ask whether the redhead wanted to tell him something as he caught sight of something peculiar.

Draco Malfoy made his way to the castle alone, which was odd in itself, but he kept his head down, as well. It looked almost as if he followed some path that was visible only to his eyes.

Harry frowned. The Slytherin was acting more than funny this year. At first he made fun of him, then he had blood on his hands but denied it vehemently, and then he threatened him and Luna to keep quiet about it. However, the funniest thing was that Malfoy's last remark could almost be considered a well-meant suggestion. Something was not right.

Suddenly Malfoy raised his head, although Harry thought it seemed rather reluctantly, as if the boy knew he shouldn't do this but his curiosity forced him nevertheless, and risked a quick glance to the right. In the direction of the carriages. Malfoy's head jerked back down again.

Harry's frown deepened. Something was definitely not right. And he had the uneasy feeling that he could tell what it was.

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