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Travel back now, to the year 2004 on a day consumed by a raging storm, drenching muggles and wizards alike as they rushed inside the train station. The day was September 1st, and young witches and wizards in training swarmed through the barrier dividing Platform 9 ¾ from the muggle world, excitedly boarding the Hogwarts Express, some for the first time, other for what felt like the millionth time. All wore looks of joy and excitement on their faces, a glow of magical glee that could not be dampened even by the torrential rain that formed an almost solid wall outside.


 One young woman walked alone, obviously in her seventh year, she was confident in where she was going. Her head was cast down, making her long honey-blonde tresses fall across her face, hiding her beauty from the world around her. She marched to the very back of the train, taking the last compartment for herself and carefully stowing her trunk above her head. Without ceremony she pulled a small book from her shoulder bag and plopped onto the plushy bench, taking the seat closest to the window, prepared to read for the entire journey.


The train started to move, and young Cordelia hardly noticed, determined to learn every last spell and incantation in her book so that Professor McGonagall would find no reason to complain about her performance. She adjusted her cloak half-heartedly, not noticing or looking when she ripped green and silver silk at the hem. Any other Slytherin might have tried to mend it, taking a certain pride in wearing the Slytherin colors, but Cordelia felt no warm feelings towards her house, nor did she possess any that implied animosity. She simply did not care, one way or the other, having decided long ago that dividing young students into houses only gave purpose to discrimination and childish pranks, making the act of sorting itself a childish idea and long out-dated. Cordelia read on, not hearing anything other than the words she said in her own mind.


She became instantly aware when the compartment door slid open slowly and a lone figure stepped inside, the hood of his cloak pulled over his face so that he could neither see, nor be seen. He didn’t seem to notice her as he took a seat across from her, muttering under his breath to what Cordelia assumed was himself. She tried to ignore the noise and concentrate, determined to avoid making a scene when it wasn’t necessary, but his voice broke through her thoughts and forced her focus to him.


Frustrated, she let out a tremendous sigh, startling the young man out of his not-so-silent reverie. “I’m sorry to disturb you,” Cordelia said politely as he lifted his head, “But you’re being rather loud and I’m trying to study. It’s my N.E.W.T. year, after all, and my classes are extremely difficult.” Their eyes met and Cordelia instantly recognized the person to whom she spoke. Unlike other students, however, she did not look away or apologize profusely for disturbing him. Instead she glared defiantly into his icy blue eyes, determined to win.


Her act of will intrigued Draco, catching him off guard. He took in her Slytherin colors and her striking beauty, recognizing her instantly. However, being the jerk he always had been, he decided to play as if he didn’t know her in the least. She knew him, after all, and dared to try to face him down after all those years when he had never bestowed misery upon her, leaving her alone and forcing others to as well. He never understood why, but he didn’t care. She needed to be taught a lesson. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize anybody else was in here,” he said, his voice dripping with pride so intense it made Cordelia nauseous. “Feel free to leave at any time, I don’t mind at all.” He began to lower his head again.


Cordelia’s jaw dropped, completely shocked at the arrogance that one boy possessed. Her anger tore through her, getting the better of her, and before she could stop her mouth was releasing a long list of words. “Who in Merlin’s name do you think you are?” she demanded, her own pride greatly offended by his manners. “I was here first, thank you, so you may find somewhere else to talk to your other personalities.” Her insult inspired an admiration for her, something which Draco had never felt for another student before.


“I beg your pardon!” he retorted, his head shooting up and his hood falling back to reveal his platinum blonde hair that closely matched her own. “Do you have any idea who you’re speaking to, woman?” His voice rose with each word.


Cordelia leapt to her feet, flinging her book to the seat as she did so, sparks flying from her wand as it reacted to her considerable anger. “Yes, I do, Draco, and I’ve never bothered to put up with you before, I’m most certainly not about to now! And don’t you dare call me ‘woman’ in such a disdainful and derogatory manner ever again if you wish to keep both of your testicles attached to your body!”


Draco’s face grew pale as he understood the threat, the meaning needing no explanation for comprehension. Shock chased the fear away as he realized she had called him “Draco” rather than “Malfoy” or “Young Malfoy”, which meant that she clearly didn’t fear his wrath the way others in Slytherin house did.


“I’m sorry,” Draco said slowly, rising to his feet with careful grace as he searched the young woman’s face. Her eyes dazzled him as they met his own, a vibrant blue hue that danced with the fury so aptly displayed on her flawless face. “How do you know me?” He grinned inwardly at the anger and surprise that danced in her eyes with that last statement.


She stared at him, dumbstruck by his stupidity. “You cannot seriously stand there and expect me to give you my name for the millionth time since our first year!” she cried out incredulously, her cheeks flushing a faint scarlet as her anger flared to greater heights. She glared into his eyes, a defiance and resentment gleaming clearly at his own, sparking his decision to give her recognition.


“McLean,” he muttered, gasping with feigned surprise. “You always were a trouble maker, associating with Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws, and even Gryffindor despite the Slytherin Code.”


“Why should I isolate myself from the rest of the school?” she shot back, crossing her arms over her chest as she returned to her seat. “Slytherins are on the outs with the rest of the school by choice, and are the real outcasts. I blend in everywhere, making no discrimination when choosing friends so that I may go far in my chosen career.” She spoke to Draco slowly, as if explaining something extremely complicated to a small child, or possibly an idiot, a condescending gesture which Draco took immediate offense to.


“How dare you speak…” Draco began, but Cordelia cut him off with her own retort.


“How dare I what?” she raged, her eyes flashing dangerously in his direction, swirling with several hues of blue that mesmerized Draco against his will. Her anger startled him into taking his seat again. “How dare I speak to you in the same manner which you spoke to me? How dare I give you a taste of your own medicine? How dare I make you feel like you stand a mere three inches above the level of the floor?” She laughed. “I dare because my name is Cordelia Anne McLean, and I am second to no man and no woman. You have no power here, Draco Malfoy, now be gone before you get a stronger dose of your own medicine. Believe me when I say it would give me great pleasure to try some of the spells on you that you’ve been practicing on innocent muggles over the summer.” Her look of knowing frightened Draco, but he stood his ground.


“I won’t bother you anymore,” he whispered hoarsely, trying not to choke on his emotions. “But I will not leave this compartment.” She picked up her book and didn’t deign to make a reply, a sign to Draco that she wouldn’t force him to do anything so long as he let her be.


“How does she know what I’ve done with my summer? Is she clairvoyant?” Draco studied her out of the corner of his eye, pretending to stare out the window as the city scenery gradually became country land. “She doesn’t look like that old bat, Trelawney, but that doesn’t mean anything. I always thought Professor Trelawney was an old fraud anyway.” His sharp eyes went over every soft curve of her face, still feeling the powerful pull of her eyes, though they were directed at the book now and not glaring daggers into his heart, as they had been doing just moments before. “Her eyes…there’s something about her eyes…they look centuries older than she is, but that’s not really possible. She must know great tragedy.” His cold eyes softened slightly at the thought, wondering what misery she could possibly harbor.


“Do you mind not staring at me so hard?” Cordelia asked suddenly, her eyes still focused on her book. “It’s rather distracting, and you’re making the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.”


Draco was startled into an apology. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to distract you.” He sounded sincere, and Cordelia laughed, a tinkling of bells that sounded nothing like the harsh laughter she had released while insulting him. Draco felt himself smiling in spite of himself, charmed by her endearing personality.


“You weren’t so much distracting me as creeping me out, really,” she amended, smiling wryly. “You’re distracting me now, however, by talking to me. I suppose I have to be social and carry on the conversation.” She marked the page she read through and put it back into her shoulder bag and looked him in the eye. Her swirling orbs caught Draco in her spell once again, and he found he could not look away.


Cordelia’s eyes dove deep into his soul, finding his darkest secrets and deepest desires. Her heart grew cold at what she saw: things that were past, things that were going on inside Draco at that very moment and things that had not yet come to pass. Her soul found his, recognizing the potential to great good, but a strange and dormant desire to cause harm, a trait passed on to Draco from his father, but one that had yet to become a permanent fixture in his heart. “He has potential to be a source of great good, or a source of great evil. This year will determine his decision.”  Cordelia looked away with her last thought, her swirling blue eyes fading to a faultless sapphire hue that sparkled with an intensity Draco craved to feel himself.


“You frighten many people, Draco,” she whispered, shuddering as the warmth of the train slowly chased away the cold feeling left in her by his soul. “But you’re not as evil as you’d like the world to think. There is still hope for you.”


Draco balked at her blunt statement, unable to shake off the feeling that she had been crawling in his mind like a worm of some sort, although he had sensed no thoughts and she used no wand or incantation. Suddenly he laughed a mirthless and hollow sound that sent chills rushing down her spine, a laugh that resembled something the Dark Lord would release. “You don’t realize what you’re talking to,” he declared coldly, turning his eyes back to the window. “I am as evil as my father, and as clever as the Dark Lord. My potential lies with my blackened heart.” He said this with conviction, but his voice sounded regretful, tinged with a desire for good that he did not rightly know he possessed.


Cordelia heard it, however, and her good-natured soul moved towards it, wanting desperately to save the small spark of light that remained inside of him, slowly being swallowed by the darkness of the Dark Arts. “Your potential lies with your soul, Draco, not your heart.” Her willowy voice melted his heart, spreading a rush of warmth through his body and making his stomach churn with nerves. She made him nervous and filled his stomach with butterflies, and the realization frightened him.


Before Draco could argue her assertion the compartment door slid open once again to reveal a pretty girl with thick, wavy brown hair and chocolate brown eyes that looked both wise and merry. She smiled happily at Cordelia, taking no notice of Draco sitting on the opposite side. “Cordelia!” she exclaimed, rushing to hug her. “I’m so sorry I’m late! But Harry and Ron got into a row with some of your housemates, and…” Her voice trailed off as she realized they weren’t alone. “Sorry, I didn’t realize you were in here with someone.” Draco lifted his head, smirking  haughtily. Hermione’s eyes grew wide with recognition, and the smile slid from her face with revulsion. “I’m sorry,” Hermione said scathingly, glaring for a moment at Draco before turning back to Cordelia. “Did I say someone? I meant something.


“Hermione, I’ve missed you so much!” Cordelia answered, ignoring her comment about Draco. “Don’t worry about being late, it was a pleasant wait. Draco here has been keeping me company, and despite his arrogance he’s almost completely tolerable.” She smiled dazzlingly, a contagious act that spread to Hermione, who grinned in spite of herself.


“I almost didn’t recognize you, Granger,” Draco interjected, sneering his contempt from his seat across the compartment. “You’re not covered in mud like the rest of the filth you come from. Guess that summer in France did you some good.”


Hermione glowered at him, her wand in her hand. Suddenly, she laughed, dropping her wand and balling her small, manicured hand into a fist. “Talk to me again, Malfoy, and I’ll give you another lesson you’re sure to remember for the rest of eternity.” She waved her fist and he shrunk back, remembering all too well how very powerful it was when swung in anger. “Anyway, Malfoy, you might want to go check on your body guards, Crabbe and Goyle. I think Harry and Ron had some help from Ginny and Seamus when hexing them. They didn’t resemble human beings when I managed to get away.” She giggled.


Cordelia’s eyes twinkled merrily at the thought, wondering what combination of curses produced what effects. Draco, on the other hand, look frightened at the idea that his cronies might not be able to protect him. He launched himself at the door and tore through the corridors, searching for the scene of disturbance.   

“He really is a great pratt, you know,” Hermione told Cordelia as she took Draco’s seat by the window across from her friend. “Why were you bothering to talk to him? He couldn’t have said anything worth putting up with him for.” Her skepticism dripped from her words, a potent honey Cordelia could practically taste in the air.


“Actually, I found it was a rather productive interlude,” she replied dreamily, eyes swirling with secrets and thoughts Hermione couldn’t fathom. “There’s so much about him nobody understands, something nobody sees.” She looked at Hermione, her eyes hard with a mean understanding of the world. “He has more to him than first meets the eye,” she warned, locking her stare with Hermione’s mocha eyes. “Don’t assume he is evil, for it is that thinking which will force him into the dark abyss of evil forever.”


“What did you see, Cordelia?” Hermione wondered out loud, staring intensely at her friend. “What did you See?”


“You know I can tell you nothing,” she insisted, frowning at Hermione’s question. “The future is an uncertain mystery, shrouded in mist and fog so thick that even the most clear images are dangerous to believe. I do not know which things were true and which were not: the future holds much potential and changes with each decision made. I know not which of my visions will come to pass and which will never occur at all. The journey lies written, but the path and the end lie in darkness." 

The young woman sighed then, a long gust of breath that bespoke frustration. “There is great evil in him, Hermione,” she whispered, eyes watering with fear of the unknown. “But there is great kindness within him as well. He lies on the peak of a mountain; standing precariously near the edge of evil, but a pull from outside can send him away from the edge to safety. Do not be the force that pushes him over the mountain, Hermione, for he will be lost forever to us, as will his potential.”


“You know much more than we ever could,” Hermione shrugged, rolling her eyes. “Malfoy is already over the edge. He jumped years ago. I have no faith in him, and I refuse to trust him.” She looked warmly at her friend, worry clouding her eyes. “Don’t let yourself love him, Cordelia. He will hurt you in the end: his world revolves around him and no one else. His heart lacks the ability to love another other than his own name.”


The young blonde beauty opened her mouth, as if to make a reply, but Harry and Ron burst through the door loudly, laughing raucously at something they felt was incredibly funny. “Hermione!” Ron yelled, gasping for air. “You should have seen it! They looked like slugs with bat wings sprouting from where their noses should have been!” He roared with a lion-ish sound, a mixture of laughter and pride.


“It was rather funny,” Harry added calmly, smiling at the memory as he closed his eyes, almost as if he were trying to permanently fix the sight in his mind perpetually. He turned to Cordelia and smiled, recognizing her instantly although he hadn’t seen her all summer. “Hello, Cordelia. I see you and Hermione both enjoyed your holiday together in France. Was it educational, or did you force poor Hermy to have some fun?” He grinned at his own insinuation.


“I made her go shopping and get her hair done,” she answered spiritedly, lighting up inside. “But then she became an addict and insisted we both get our nails done and then go to the spa for a full body regenerating. It was simply beautiful.”


Ron heard Harry call her Cordelia and his jaw dropped, hardly recognizing her. Hermione noticed and rolled her eyes, saying dryly, “Ron’s about to say something stupid to you, Cordelia. He’s drooling all over his shirt.” Ron turned bright red and clamped his mouth shut, offering a nod of hello to the blonde instead of a verbal one.


The sky grew steadily darker outside and the rain began to subside. The three Gryffindors and single Slytherin chatted amicably, catching each other up on the parts of the summer they hadn’t shared together, or swapping rumors they had heard in their travels. Ron and Harry, it seemed, had shamelessly sought out gossip in several taverns and pubs, amused by the wild stories a drunk person might try to convince another of. 


“I couldn’t believe that old bloke really thought a mummy could come to life to take over man kind,” Ron mused, holding in a fit of laughter sure to burst his gut if released. “And then he tried to sell us some talisman to protect us from its evil, claiming it had saved his life on more than one occasion.”


“Yeah, he did,” Harry collaborated. “And when I asked him why he wouldn’t need it anymore, he told us he was far to old to be worth bothering with. I told him mummies had their brains removed and couldn’t think of a difference in ages: he would only know bloodlust, and the poor old bean nearly had a heart attack and decided not to sell us the medallion! It was priceless!” 


The girls giggled politely, finding very little about the story amusing, but not wishing to hurt Ron and Harry’s feelings by saying such. It’s an unspoken rule between friends that when they take the time to tell you something you listen and be interested, even if you really would rather jump off a bridge than listen to something they were trying to say. Girls honor this rule far more often than boys, but that’s another story entirely.


The sounds of the lunch trolley drifted through the glass window panes of the door, and Harry rose to buy everybody lunch. “It’s on me,” he informed them as they all began to fish coins from their pockets.


“No, I insist that you let me,” Cordelia insisted, rising despite Harry’s motion for her to stay seated. “After all, you three have befriended me despite being a Slytherin, and I’m very grateful. Please, let me buy lunch.” She placed a hand on Harry’s arm and smiled winningly, making Harry’s heart melt like butter.


“Don’t be silly,” Harry laughed, hoping she would not move her hand. “What kind of chivalry would I represent if I let a lovely lady pay for her own meal, let alone the meals of three others?” He cocked an eyebrow. “You wouldn’t want me to stain my honor, would you? I’ll be ostracized for the rest of eternity!” Cordelia laughed at his theatrical exaggeration, always a fan of the arts.


“Fine, but I’ll at least help you carry it,” she conceded, stepping through the compartment door and smiling at the trolley witch. Harry grinned in triumph and ordered a vast majority of the carts contents from pumpkin pasties to chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.


 
***


The train rolled into Hogsmeade under the cloak of darkness, the stars and moon blinking merrily in the sky, like fine diamonds and pearls sewn into a tapestry of smooth black silk. Cordelia reveled in the light of the moon, wishing she could walk to Hogwarts castle rather than climbing into one of the many carriages that would put a roof over her head, blocking the gentle glow from the beautiful orb. She said nothing to her companions, but climbed without complaint into a carriage that Harry held open. The four were joined by Susan Bones and Randy Armando, a boy from Ravenclaw also in his seventh year.


Cordelia and the Gryffindors smiled warmly at the others and conversation passed about summer vacations in much the same way as usual. However, Cordelia could feel a deep sadness seeping into her from an outside source, someone sitting within their carriage. Her eyes fell into alignment with Randy’s, and in the instant their eyes met she knew his greatest sadness had come to pass, and that he was in a bleak word for it. Wordlessly, she reached out and took his hand in hers, sending a wave of comfort from her heart to his.

“You will be fine, Randy,” she told him, confusing the others who knew nothing. “Her passing was painless and a reward. She smiles down on you now from a place full of sunshine and laughter.” A tear fell from her eyes as she continued. “There was nothing you could have done to save her, Randy: she was born sick, and now she is well.” Randy took a deep breath, trying desperately to keep from crying.


“How did you know?” he asked, voice cracking with emotion. 


“I know a great many things,” she answered, her voice a faint breath of summer wind. “Things that are, things that were, and things that have yet to become reality. Your thoughts betray your heart, and the heart of your sister. Do not dwell on thoughts of the past, for they destroy your future.” She lowered her voice and leaned to whisper in his ear. “Monica’s death will allow you to save the lives of many like her. Do not lose hope: instead, learn from the experience and give life to children suffering her ailment.”


She pulled away and let go of Randy’s hand, his tears calling on her own. Susan looked completely baffled, not knowing Cordelia’s ability like Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Ron opened his mouth to speak, but Hermione clamped her hand over it tightly, knowing him well enough to understand he was about to ask a forbidden question that would send Randy into a fit of depression. Ron looked at her angrily and crossed his arms over his chest, giving up. Harry stared at Cordelia, her eyes still locked with Randy’s as if communicating with him without the use of words. Susan watched in awe, comprehension dawning on her.


After what felt like several hours, although it had only been a few minutes, the horseless carriages came to a complete stop in front of the castle, brightly lit to welcome the students of old as well as the students of new. The six students climbed out of the box, a heavy silence spread like an invisible blanket over their heads. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Susan understood what needed to be done, and walked ahead of Randy and Cordelia, who seemed completely unaware of anyone but one another. They remained at the bottom of the stairs, talking without really speaking.






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