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“Whoa.” Devon sighed, holding his head in his hands. “You had a rough night, didn't you?” 

Sophie turned to look at him, astonished. “You actually believe me?” she whispered as he looked up at her sympathetically and nodded slowly.

“You gave a perfect description of my grandfather.” He groaned, pressing his fingers to his temples. “Why wouldn't I believe you?”

“That- that was your grandfather?” She hissed, aghast, as the thumb of her right hand subconsciously traced the burned Mark on her palm. Devon offered her another small nod, his platinum hair gleaming with the light of the common room fire. “I'm sorry.” she added as his expression turned to what seemed to be anger.

“No, Sophie,” he said, smiling, and his pointed face softened almost immediately as he looked her dead in the eyes. “Don't apologize. As far as I'm concerned, I have no grandfather.”

Sophie nodded and then returned her gaze to the fire, trying to direct her thoughts to something...else, anything other than the weight that had fallen on her shoulders, the bitter danger that she carried with her now, against her will...

“Was he terrible? Lucius Malfoy, I mean.” 

Devon flashed her a look full of meaning before opening his mouth to speak. “That's the mildest word I can think of to describe him.”

Sophie shivered even with the warmth of the blazing fire, but sensing that he wasn't finished, she did not ask any more. He was staring into the fire now, eyebrows furrowed and chin resting on his clasped hands. 

“He killed my mother.”

Without thinking, Sophie moved forward to rest her hand on his shoulder in what she hoped he would see as a sympathetic motion.

“I had to watch as he killed her.” he paused, and Sophie could almost feel the pain radiating from him in the pressing silence. “He made sure I'd never forget his face, the dirty-”

“I've just thought of something.” Sophie whispered suddenly, eyebrows furrowed in concentration.

Devon immediately grew quiet and waited patiently for her to collect her thoughts. “The dream,” she moaned.

“What about it?” he asked, his confused eyes registering the fear in her face.

“What if it was real?”

Devon could not think of a feasible answer to that. “You'd better hope that it wasn't real, that's all I can tell you now.” 

Sophie released her grip on him as if she had been whipped. She drew in a sharp breath and didn't dare let it out until he reached the portrait hole and turned back to her. “I'm sorry, Sophie, I didn't mean to scare-”

“SOPHIE ALANNAH POTTER!” The portrait hole swung open so suddenly that Devon was barely able to dodge it as it swung inward. “Thank God!”

“Where have you BEEN all day? I thought- no one knew- you could've DIED!” Sophie stood limp and bewildered, eyebrows arched in a downward “V” of confusion; Eli, who had entered so raucously, crossed the room in three strides and trapped her in a smothering embrace.

“What are you talking about, Eli, I was here all day! You're overreact-”

“I am NOT,” He retorted, shaking a rolled up newspaper at her, which he threw at her as he released her and stepped back. Sophie caught the paper and smoothed out the evening issue of the Daily Prophet.

She was met with several sneering faces, eyes sick with revenge as they laughed up at her from their pictures on the front page. The title, bold and taking up nearly half of the page in itself, read: BIGGEST MASS-BREAKOUT IN HISTORY OF AZKABAN PRISON.

“Oh no.” Sophie mouthed, the newspaper trembling from the shaking of her hands as she gripped it tightly. “It actually happened. It happened, Eli, just like in that dream I had!” 

Eli was already nodding. He paced the length of the room, stopping every now and then to peer at her as she read the article. 

“They're going to be after you. They're going to want your head.” It was not Eli, but Devon who spoke first, his troubled voice cutting through the stiff silence that had settled. 

“Eli's a Potter too...why only me?”

“I don't know.” he whispered as Eli seated himself on one of the overstuffed armchairs by the fire, still lost in thought. “I don't know anything, I don't know what to tell you, I don't know if we should report this-”

“No.” Eli said hoarsely, running a hand over his mouth and chin. “We can't report it. We don't know if the Death Eaters are even after us. We ran into them at the Shrieking Shack, we trespassed in their hiding place. They could've just been trying to scare us away-”

“-or lure you back out of curiosity.” Devon finished grimly, taking the newspaper from Sophie to get a good look at it himself.

“Will someone please tell me why they would be after me in the first place?” Sophie interrupted quickly as she and Devon sat down on a couch beside Eli's chair.

“You know what Dad did. He killed their leader, their Lord. What better way to get revenge than to cut down the people he loves?” Eli replied, his voice cracking with exhaustion.

Sophie swallowed hard and stood, having heard more than enough about Death Eaters and Dark Lords for one day. “Let's just forget it for now, okay? If something else happens, then we'll talk. For now, we have Quidditch practice in the morning and I'm swamped. Try and get some sleep, you two, okay?” 

Neither of the boys made to stand and leave. Sophie turned her back on them and headed up the stairs to her dormitory as her palm tingled uncomfortably.

 
It must be here, it must!” the man growled impatiently as he rummaged through the drawers of a battered, torn writing desk, absently flinging moldy pieces of parchment, dried ink bottles, and broken quills behind him as he searched. “Where else would he hide it, Pansy? What better place to hide something that shouldn't be found than here in this deserted wreck?”

Pansy was in main corridor, tearing up floorboards and investigating the dusty surface beneath them, her eyes squinted and scanning ever last speck of ground. “The Dark Lord's mind works in mysterious ways, Lucius. Are you sure he gave you no hint, not even a minuscule suggestion as to where he's hidden it?” She sighed as she crawled forward on her knees to pry up another floorboard. 

Nothing that I can recall. He wasn't planning on defeat, Pansy, so I assume he didn't feel the need to confide in me.”

What about the original hiding place?” she persisted eagerly as she leapt lightly to her feet. 

No, I've inspected countless times. It isn't there.”

It could've been stolen. Didn't he trust it with the Blacks?”

Lucius nodded absently as he proceeded into what must've been a lovely dining area at one point in time. He proceeded to the china cabinet in the far corner of the room and rummaged through it.

The Blacks were a noble family, they lived for and completely supported the Dark Lord and his views. They would never have stolen it. He may have ordered them to protect it, but after their line died out, he would have taken it back-”

But what if it was stolen? Without his knowledge, I mean-”

The Dark Lord would not allow that to happen!” Lucius barked, by now aggravated. He slammed the doors of the cabinet shut with such forced that the glass panes along its face shattered and china rained down on his sleek leather boots. Lucius shook the fragments of broken china and glass from his shoes and stalked past his companion, his shoulder brushing hers as he went. Pansy persisted hastily.

There was a traitor in the Black family, Lucius, do you remember? Perhaps-”

No, Pansy, that's ridiculous.” he interrupted impatiently. “Now keep searching, we're not leaving until we find that locket-”


Sophie's eyes fluttered open, partially glued shut with sleep. She scrubbed the sleep from her eyes and lifted her head from her pillow. Through the one large window of the girls' dormitory, the horizon, though still dark, revealed a faint gleam of the lightest of blues, the first suggestion of a sunrise. Sophie, dimly wondering what had awoken her, sank back to the pillows, tugging her blanket tighter around her. 

 
She awoke an hour earlier than usual the next morning only to find Devon Malfoy waiting to escort her to breakfast in the Great Hall. They set off slowly, trying to waste time so that they would not arrive in the Great Hall too early. At first, Sophie was reluctant to speak freely for fear of being overheard, but Devon eventually calmed her, repeatedly stressing that surely none of the other students would be roaming the castle so early on a Saturday.

“You're still worried.” Devon stated plainly as they walked, the early morning sun's rays reflecting warmly on his platinum blond hair as the grass crinkled softly beneath their shoes. He had led her outside and around the Black Lake, and Sophie could just see the looming Quidditch pitch in the distance.

“I- no, I'm not. Why d'you say that?”

“You're biting your lip, you do that when something's bothering you. And you haven't said anything since we left.”

“I'm tired, is all.” She grumbled, annoyed that he had been so perceptive. Her teeth immediately shrank away from her lip and she crossed her arms, determined not to be caught biting her lip again, thus giving herself away.

“What's up?” he persisted, chancing a sideways glance at her. Sophie's eyes met his for a millisecond and they held the gaze until he finally broke it with a small sigh.

“Where are we going, anyway?” Sophie sighed, presenting an apathetic disposition. She watched as a pale pink gleam was added to the mix of the colors of the early morning sunrise. Her breath left her mouth in small clouds and she drove her hands into her pockets as they walked.

Devon shrugged. “Thought you could use some fresh air. And I know this Death Eater business is really getting to you. Want to talk about it?”

They settled on the top row of the Quidditch stands, though the benches were covered with a layer of morning frost. Neither spoke, and Sophie for once admired Devon Malfoy's patience as he waited several long minutes for her to reply.

“I had another dream last night.”

“What about?”

“Your charming grandfather.” she sighed, pulling her knees into her chest. “He was looking for something that the Dark Lord's hidden. A locket of some sort, at least that's what he said.”

“I wouldn't worry about the Death Eaters so much, Sophie. You'll be safe here, at Hogwarts. We'll just have to be more careful-”

“We?” Sophie asked abruptly, advancing quickly to a standing position, her voice harsher than she had intended it to be. “Since when were you involved in this?”

“Guilty by association.” he snorted, unpertrubed, and flashed her what seemed to be his signature smirk.

Sophie laughed, and her worries seemed to settle in the back of her mind, rather than plague her brain with a constant unease. The sun had fully risen and it warmed her flushed cheeks as she skipped down two benches lower with obvious reluctance. “We should be getting back soon.”

Devon nodded in agreement and leapt forward to catch up with her; they climbed down from the stands clumsily, then headed for the Black Lake. 

“Oh,” Sophie recalled as they traipsed through the front doors, soaking in the welcoming warmth of the castle. “And I meant to ask you before. Where have you been all these years? I don't remember much of you, and your father hasn't been to visit in a while-”

“It's- it's just been sort of difficult since mum died. My father sort of withdrew himself from his friends, and I had to go with him. We moved to France, I learned the language, attended a Muggle school until my Hogwarts letter came-”

Sophie gave a start as a gust of wind came from behind her and the door creaked open. She whirled about, eyes narrowed and scanning the Entrance Hall, but there was no one in sight. She stepped forward and closed the door firmly behind her. 

“Anyways, you want to grab some breakfast?” Devon offered, holding the door to the Great Hall open for her. Sophie shook her head slowly, still transfixed on the great oak front doors in front of her.

“Sophie?” 

“I- I'm not very hungry, thanks. I'll meet up with you at Quidditch practice, okay?” she called over her shoulder as she set off at a brisk walk, not even bothering to look back at him as she rushed off to the left side corridor.

Someone had been there. She had sensed it, she had heard the ragged breathing, as if the person had been running. Whether by the concealment of what had to have been very Dark magic, or the offhand chance that the intruder owned an Invisibility Cloak, someone had slipped into the castle and Sophie had been the only one to notice. Sophie paused, straining her ears to hear the echo of footsteps that was sure to sound from the third floor corridor. She drew her slender wand, although she only knew one spell with enough accuracy to actually cast it.

And what good would Expelliarmus do against a fully-trained Death Eater, anyways?

Sophie's heart was racing, beating painfully against her ribs, the hairs on the nape of her neck stood on end, her palms grew sweaty as she heard the footsteps leading off into the distance- towards Gryffindor Tower.

She stole forward as quietly as she could manage, not daring to breathe and wishing she had brought her Invisibility Cloak..  She rounded the corner, then flattened herself against the stone wall; a cloaked figure stood before the portrait of the Fat Lady, a low whisper coming from beneath a coarse black hood. Sophie edged forward and found shelter behind a suit of armor. 

“Password?”

The figure was about to speak, her lips beginning to form a word, but she then turned suddenly, her eyes trained on the suit of armor behind which Sophie stood, frozen in fear. Sophie was suddenly overly aware of her ragged breathing, and she cupped a hand over her mouth to silence it...

The figure started for the suit of armor, a knife gripped in one hand and a wand in the other.

“Let me guess,” the drawling undertone of a woman came from the hood of the cloak, and Sophie, paralyzed in fear, recognized it at once as the voice of Pansy Parkinson. “It's the Potter girl, isn't it? Finally caught on and come to save the day, eh?”

Run, her instincts screamed, Run, you idiot! Sophie tried to dodge the Death Eater, but her legs were glued to the floor and refused to move.

“What- What do you want from me?” Sophie whispered, and on impulse, she surrendered and stepped out into the hallway, exposed and nearly defenseless, as Pansy's smirk mocked her every move.

Surely the hallways would soon begin to crowd with students seeking a steaming hot breakfast in the Great Hall; if she could just dodge Parkinson long enough, the Death Eater would be forced to leave Hogwarts or be caught and sent back to Azkaban where she belonged.

“Oh, not much at the moment.” Pansy sighed nonchalantly. “You see, I'm looking for something- a very valuable trinket, let's call it. I have cause to believe you have it, and it belongs-” she stuck the knife in a suit of armor and held out her empty, gloved hand. “-to me.”

Sophie was backing away, the honest confusion obvious on her face. “Whatever you're looking for, I can't help you. I haven't got anything you want.” She insisted firmly, gripping her wand all the more tighter.

“You know what I'm looking for.” Pansy retorted. It wasn't a question.

“No.”

“Don't lie to me, Potter! Cruci-”

Sophie turned and set off at a sprint, the force of the curse gone amiss striking the side of her face like a blunt knife. She turned the corner and didn't dare glance back over her shoulder; the second set of quickened footsteps behind her told her that Parkinson was not far behind.

If she could just reach the Entrance Hall, Parkinson would be exposed and carted off to Azkaban-

Two jets of purple light missed her by inches; a portrait was struck to the marble floor of the corridor and the glass shattered, crunching under Sophie's sneakers as she ran. 

Sophie found an empty classroom and dove into it, panting wildly. She sank into a crouch, hands resting on her knees, as she tried to catch her breath and slow her racing pulse. As she turned back to close the door behind her, it burst open, striking her in the head and knocking her off her feet as Pansy Parkinson stormed in, wand showering sparks everywhere. 

She grabbed Sophie's wrist, hauled her to her feet, and then pinned her against the wall, one hand clutching her throat in a choke. “You'd better watch your back, Potter.” she growled vehemently, brandishing her wand. “Stupefy!

 

“I don't think all of you realize how fortunate the team was this year to have the no first year players rule discarded. If not for McGonagall's sympathy, the team wouldn't be half as great as we are right now.” The Quidditch Captain, Jacob Higgins, stood in changing rooms with one foot resting on the bench in front of him, delivering his pre-match speech as was his custom for every Quidditch match. 

Sophie rushed in at that moment, clad in her red and gold quidditch robes. She attempted to blend in with the rest of the team so as not to be called out by the captain as she pulled on her leather Chaser's gloves. Devon Malfoy and Nate Finnigan, the other two Gryffindor chasers, whispered back and forth to her left. Gavin Hart and Jack Lawrence stood on Sophie's other side, trying to subtly attract her attention. Eli seemed to be the only team member willing himself to listen to Jacob's speech. 

“First years, I should warn you,” Jacob said sharply, honing in on Sophie, Devon, Gavin, and Jack. “The Slytherins play rough. They'll play dirty, and they can get away with almost anything. They don't fight fair, and you've probably had a taste of their sportsmanship by now-”

Sophie had. The only first year Slytherin Chaser, Malcolm, had already twice threatened to knock her from her broom in the weeks before the first match of the season. Over the past two weeks, the Gryffindor Quidditch team had taken to traveling in packs to ensure safe passage to classes.

“Ready, team?” Jacob shouted over the climbing roar of the crowd just outside the changing room.

They stepped into formation, brooms slung over their shoulders, and stepped onto the field. Gavin jogged up beside her and whispered, “Don't worry, we won't let them knock you off.”, then took off into the air at the sound of the whistle.

 

“GO, GO, GRYFFINDOR! GO, GO, GRYFFINDOR!” the deafening cries on the Gryffindor end of the pitch made Sophie's head throb as she raced down the pitch, wide open and waiting for Devon to pass the Quaffle on to her. Devon arched his back and threw the ball towards her with all his might; she dived, trapped it beneath her right arm, and streaked for the goal. 

“SHAKE HIM OFF, POTTER, SHAKE HIM OFF!” She could hear Jake Higgins' hoarse yells even over the roaring of the crowd; before she had the chance to glance over her shoulder at the Slytherin player tailing her, Malcolm had plowed into her from the right side, jolting her forward. She wove right and left in an intricate pattern, avoiding his blows each time as he surged forward with frustration. The goal was close, it was in throwing range; Sophie brought the Quaffle back behind her and pitched it forward towards the leftmost goal hoop-

“AND IT'S 10-0 TO GRYFFINDOR!”

The game came to a close at 180-160 to Gryffindor, but Sophie, who was getting terribly uneasy about the immense pile of schoolwork she had yet to complete, had no time for the celebration that was to be in the Gryffindor common room afterwards. She headed straight to the library, the meeting place she and Devon had agreed on, and waited.

He had promised to meet her there so they could get a head start on an essay about Levitation Charms, but when three o' clock, the designated meeting time, came around and he had not arrived, Sophie couldn't help but worry.

It was nearly three-thirty, and he still hadn't shown. Sophie paced around and around the table at which her books, parchment, and quill lay scattered, trying to be patient. 

It was nearing four o' clock; why had he kept her waiting? He obviously had not planned on actually showing up. Sophie gathered her things and rushed from the library in search of him, a gnawing worry biting through her frustration with him.

She was rushing down the nearly deserted corridor in a mounting panic. Maybe he just forgot. Yes, that's it. He went to Gryffindor Tower to fetch his things and was distracted by the party-

It was then that she saw Gavin and Jack on their way to the library from which she had just come, their schoolbags draped over their shoulders as they spoke in hushed voices.

“Gavin! Hey, Gavin!” she called, rushing up to meet them. Gavin stopped abruptly and murmured something to Jack about catching up with him later. He waited until Jack had entered the library and closed the door behind him before turning to acknowledge Sophie.

“How may I help you, Sophie?” he grinned casually, his raven curls falling into his deep blue eyes. 

Sophie sighed wearily, running a hand through her hair in her distress. “Have you seen Devon lately? He was supposed to meet me in the library about an hour ago, and he never showed. I'm starting to worry about him...”

Gavin's playful grin quickly evaporated and shook his head slowly. “Sorry, Soph, can't say that I have...he wasn't in the common room when I stopped by for my books...”

“Oh. Okay. Well, could you do something for me?”

“Sure, anything.”

“If you see him, would you let me know?”

“Well...Jack and I could help you look for him, if you'd like.”

Sophie smiled gratefully and thanked him as he entered the library to fetch his best mate.


Sophie flew up the stairs and into the common room; dodging Eli and her Quidditch captain, Jake, she rushed up the girls' dormitory stairs two at a time, stuffed the Invisibility Cloak in her messenger bag, and returned to the common room. She had almost made it back through the portrait hole when she felt Eli's fingers close around her wrist and trap her inside. 

“What are you up to, Sophie?” he asked, accusation dripping from his voice as he pulled her into the emptiest corner of the common room.

“We- Gavin, Jack, and I, that is- well, we wanted to explore the castle a bit, see if we could find that, uh, secret room you were talking about-”

“The Room of Requirement?” Eli asked. Sophie nodded much more enthusiastically than was necessary. He was believing her every word-

“Yes, the Room of Requirement-”

“I could show you the room, if you want.” he offered, and Sophie rocked forward on her toes uneasily. She realized she had been biting her lip, as Devon had pointed out earlier, and released her grip at once, hoping her brother hadn't noticed. 

“No, no- we want to find it on our own, you know...just to prove we can do it, you know...so I was wondering if we could borrow the Marauder's Map- just for one night, and I'll take really good care of it-”

“Sure, go ahead. I'll fetch it for you, just wait here,”

 
It had gone much smoother than she had planned. Sophie met Gavin and Jack back at the library, the Invisibility Cloak and Marauder's Map now at hand, and they set off about the castle, deciding it was best to start in the dungeons and work their way up to the seventh floor. 

“So,” Gavin asked Sophie as they made their way to the second floor. “You think he's in danger, don't you? That's why Jack and I are mixed up in this?”

“Yes, I do.” Sophie whispered, “And no, that's not why you're here. You're here because you two wanted to come, and whatever happens tonight, if anything happens at all of course, isn't my fault.”

“I know.” Gavin replied shortly, peering over her shoulder at the Marauder's Map.

“Good.” Sophie said absently as her narrowed eyes scanned the map for the dot labeled “Devon Malfoy” that had to show up somewhere at Hogwarts...

“He's not on the map.” She concluded finally as they arrived at the third floor. She stopped in mid-step, and Jack and Gavin returned to her her side. “He's not on the Hogwarts grounds.”

“That's rubbish, he has to be here somewhere!” Jack laughed nervously, and Gavin nodded in agreement. “Maybe that map of yours is lying-”

“No,” she shook her head fervently. “No, that's not possible. The map never lies, my father told us so when he-”

Her mouth fell open in a stupor as her finger passed over the knotted tree labeled “Whomping Willow”. 

“The Shrieking Shack.” She said, willing her voice to sound firm. “He's in the Shrieking Shack, he's got to be-”

“The what-?” Gavin stammered, shaking the curls out of his eyes irately, only to have them fall back into their original place. He sighed heavily, giving up on his hair, and ran a hand over his mouth and chin, thinking hard.

“There's a passageway that leads to the Shrieking Shack. It begins at the Whomping Willow.”

“Alright...if you're sure...then what are we waiting for?” Gavin mumbled, his right hand clutching the wand in his back pocket as he strode back down the stairs.

“Gavin, Jack...stop!” Sophie hissed as they reached the great oak front doors, preparing to step out into the chilly late October evening. “You should go back- to the common room, I mean.”

What?” both boys retorted at once, eyebrows raised questionably at her as she unwrapped her Marked palm and held it up in the dim light for them to see.

“There are Death Eaters hiding in the Shack. Eli and I stumbled in on them a few days ago...and they attacked. I don't want you to come, you could be killed-”

So could you!” Gavin retorted angrily, his fingers tracing the Dark Mark burned into her left palm. “No, Sophie, we're already too involved. We're coming with you.” 

 
A cold rain soaked them through as they stood at the Whomping Willow, Sophie holding the map and the other two boys standing around her, cloaks pulled over it to protect it from the night rain. The sun was almost set; Sophie had to squint to read the small inscription of the curse that was coming from her labeled dot's speech bubble.

She drew her wand and cried, “Immobulus!”, then folded the map and tucked it safely into her pocket. She started forward as the tree froze majestically in mid-swing, it's limbs becoming limp where they hung heavy with icicles that had formed from the rain. The breath left their mouths in clouds of mist as they ran forward for the small tunnel at the base of the tree; Sophie first, then Gavin, then Jack bringing up the rear.

“Know any good spells?” Gavin whispered lightly as they half-walked, half-crouched through the underground tunnel, their wet clothes sticking uncomfortably to their skin and their shoes sloshing all the while. 

“One. Expelliarmus, the disarming spell. That's all we've got.”

No one spoke until they reached the Shack. Sophie paused on the threshold, listening for the thud of Lucius Malfoy's leather boots, the soft drawl of Pansy Parkinson's voice...anything. 

“It's all clear, mates, move in.” she whispered, beckoning them forward and into the center of the dust covered, decaying room with peeling wallpaper and broken floorboards. 

She blinked and no less than ten Death Eaters stood before her in an arch, closing in fast. “Back, Gavin, go back!” she hissed, shoving them backwards and towards the tunnel from which they'd come. 

“No,” Gavin growled stubbornly, “Not without you.”

“I said GO!” she cried, but two more Death Eaters had entered the Shack from behind and now closed off the tunnel, their only hope of escape dashed, their fate sealed.  It was now inevitable fact that they would be forced to fight the Death Eaters. Sophie, Gavin, and Jack moved closer together, back to back and wands drawn as they waited for the Death Eaters to make the first move.

“Parkinson!” Sophie shouted, her voice clashing horribly with the tense silence that had formed as she Gavin, and Jack prepared to fight off the Death Eaters with only the disarming spell-

“Well, well, well, if it isn't the prodigy child herself.” Sophie whirled about to face the staircase from which Parkinson was descending. Pansy dragged a finger along the dusty handrail, examined it thoughtfully, then dusted her hand on the stained wall before stepping down onto the threshold, through the circle of Death Eaters, and halting in front of Sophie. “I was beginning to think you weren't going to show, Potter.”

“Where's Devon?” Sophie demanded fiercely, the anger outshining her fear. She made to step forward and past Parkinson, but she felt something cold and sharp at her neck and paused abruptly. As she attempted to swallow and regain some moisture in her parched mouth, she felt the tip of a knife at her exposed throat. 

“Sophie-” Gavin began dryly, but Sophie held up a hand to silence him and he swallowed his words reluctantly. 

At this, Parkinson erupted in a fit of laughs; in the space of a few seconds, her fellow Death Eaters had joined in and a chorus of tantalizing cackles pounded torturously in her ears. 

“Look, Lucius, she gives them orders as if she and her kiddie mates think they can win against us-”

“Silence, Pansy!” Lucius barked from the upstairs landing. Sophie blinked and he was standing right in front of her, his steel gray eyes narrowed at Sophie with something like curiosity gleaming behind his eyes. “Have you learned nothing from the Dark Lord? He underestimated Harry Potter, and it wouldn't suit well if we made the same mistake-”

Pansy was laughing so intensely by now that she nearly brought herself to tears. “She's a first year, Lucius, she probably doesn't even know any spells yet-”

“Upstairs, Pansy.”

The laughing ceased abruptly. “But Lucius, we agreed-”

“I said, upstairs! Now! And take that with you!” he barked, jabbing a finger at Sophie.

Pansy grabbed her by the forearm and half-dragged, half-led her up the stairs and into the only bedroom in the shack, ignoring the frantic protests of Gavin and Jack.  She dumped Sophie on the bed and closed the door behind the both of them, spewing an array of obscenities. 

Sophie?” 

Sophie gave a start as a hiss came from the far corner of the room; her eyes followed the voice and focused on Devon. He was bound from chest to ankles in thick black cords that snaked tightly around him, cutting into his skin. He sported a black eye and a swollen, bloody knuckle protruded from the cords that bound him. The right side of his pale face was caked with drying blood, and the skin of his chapped lips cracked open as he spoke.

“You shouldn't have come-”

“Here's the deal, Potter,” Pansy growled, crossing the room in and planting herself in front of Sophie, who shifted uncomfortably on the bed. Sophie fingered the wand that was now hidden in her pocket. She only knew the one spell, but it was worth a shot-

“I need you to find something for me, something very important. You find the locket I want, and you and your little friends walk out of here and back to Hogwarts free and unharmed.”

“I told you,” Pansy hissed, her putrid breath stinging Sophie's cheek as she leaned forward ominously, wand in hand. “All you have to do is find it.”

“I already have what it is you want, Parkinson, and I don't feel so inclined to give it to you-”

It was not the Death Eater, but Devon that spoke first, cutting her off completely: “Are you mad, Sophie? They'll kill us!”

“You're bluffing, Potter.” 

“Am I?” Sophie sighed nonchalantly, and added a small shrug for the fun of it. “But you know, before I hand over the locket I'd like to know what exactly it is your lot's going to do with it.”

Pansy was livid. She opened her mouth to retort, but a crash followed by a loud bellow was heard below. Several bangs erupted, followed by a series of frantic shouts; then another series of bangs, louder this time, erupted and Pansy had heard enough; she tore from the room and launched down the stairs, wand brandished like a broadsword, the door banging open behind her. 

“Do you have it, Soph?” Devon asked hoarsely as she bent down to untie him. “The locket they're looking for?”

“Have you heard anything about it? A description, what it's purpose is, anything at all?” she asked hopefully, biting her lip as she drew a pocket knife from the back pocket of her jeans and sliced through the last layer of cords. 

“It's gold and heavy, with the letter 'S' carved into it in emerald. 'S' for Slytherin, they said-”

“Anything else?”

“No. This means you don't really have it though?” he sighed disappointedly, rubbing his sore wrists tenderly. Sophie shook her head and began to search the room. 

“We're going to find it, Dev. It's got to be here, in the Shack. Why else would she have lured us here?”

“Attic.” was Devon's short reply. Sophie paused, trying to make sense of his words. She turned to face him, casting him a skeptical glance. 

“What are you talking about?” she snapped impatiently, dropping to her hands and knees to search below the bed. 

“If it's hidden anywhere in the Shack, it's got to be in the attic.”

“Yes, I think you're right,” Sophie sighed, scrambling to her feet. “But how do we find the entrance? It'll be a trap door or a ladder or something of the like...but it could be anywhere on this floor-”

“There,” Devon whispered, pointing to a small chain that hung from the ceiling in the far corner of the room. He crossed the room at a run and tugged heartily on the chain; a ladder unfolded itself from the ceiling and brought down a large cloud of dust from above. As the dust cleared, the passageway to a cobwebby attic was revealed. 

“Well,” Sophie sighed, her sweaty hand gripping the sides of the rickety ladder. “Here goes.”

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