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Chapter Fourteen

Love From The Heretics


“Shush, Persephone. She's reading.”




Shiloh sighed and lowered the book to gaze upon the three girls who sat across the table from her. She had found a book entitled Passwords and Protection, as she had been assigned—first by her own ambition, and then by Jacob's spoken word—to research other possible ways to fulfil their mission. She'd brought it to the library table, looking for quiet only to find the three girls sitting there supposedly for a study session, but they had done more staring and questioning then reading. And she was never going to get anywhere with them if they weren't quiet, and Persephone wasn't going to be silent until she got her answer.

“So you know,” Shiloh replied flatly, “I have successfully read two page and until I manage to have some quiet, I'm not going to get any farther and which case, I will never get the answers.”

Persephone rolled her eyes and muttered, “Shesh, a simple “No” would have sufficed. You didn't have to go all Snape on me.”

Professor Snape,” mumbled Shiloh, though he had no idea how he had gotten into this conversation.

Persephone's eyes widened at the correction, staring at her incredulously. “Whatever.” She rolled her eyes, leaned back in her chair, but made no effort to pick up her book.

When Shiloh was satisfied that it was quiet, she put her nose back in her book.

Clattering, almost angry, footsteps distracted her again, and she looked up in time to see Jacob plop beside her. His face was scrunched and his mouth puckered as though he tasted something sour; he was furious. She knew, without asking, that his private attempt to sway Demeter had not gone well. She had never thought it was a good idea and had attempted to talk him out of it.

His reply had been, “I managed to change your mind, didn't I?”

Shiloh didn't tell him her thoughts—that she had never truly wanted to do nothing. Swaying her had been easy. Demeter didn't want to help them. Changing her unwavering mind might just prove to be impossible. Not to mention that for some unknown reason, Demeter hated Jacob ten times more than Shiloh had ever disliked him. He was the last person who could convince her, no matter how smooth and wise his words were. Symone was still convinced that Persephone was their best option, and Shiloh was willing to agree with her. But Persephone steadfastly refused to try again.

“I'd sooner suck on my big toe than try to convince my sister again,” Persephone had said, shaking her head so hard her pigtails whirled like purple and pink windmills.

So Jacob had gone, not listening to anyone's reasoning. It was quite evident how his attempts had gone. Four girls just stared at him, with mixtures of disappointment, curiosity, exasperation, and amusement, though none of them said anything.

“Well,” Jacob pressed, obnoxiously. “Aren't you going to ask how it went?”

“How did it go?” asked wide-eyed Nicolette eagerly.

“As though we couldn't tell,” Symone murmured dryly.

Persephone folded her arms on the table and leaned forward onto them, her twisted smile dancing all the way to her glittering grey eyes. “She really is a nasty piece of work, isn't she?”

Jacob shrugged his shoulders and said nothing. Displeasure still made crevices between her eyebrows, but he didn't seem eager to agree. Strange for a boy who had nearly called her the worst of names. Before she could wonder about the cause for too long, Jacob's expression suddenly brightened. He turned to her with a smile.

“So any luck on a back-up plan?” Before she could answer, he snatched the book out of her hand—making her lose her place. He surveyed the title with inquisitive eyes, before he gave a pursed smile and nodded in approval.

Annoyed, Shiloh yanked the book back out of her hands. He let it go without a fuss, only allowing his grin to turn more smug. It was as though he was constantly doing these things just to get under her skin. Worse was that if that was his intention, he was good at it.

“None whatsoever.” Not that anyone was helping any.

She waited for him to send her a disappointed look, but none came. He only rested a hand on her shoulder, patting reassuringly. “Well, keep at it. I'm sure you'll find something.”

Shiloh stared at his hand on her shoulder. His bones and the blue veins stood out on the back on his skinny hands. She wondered why she didn't feel like she had to pull away from his touch. Before she had figured it out, he lifted his hand away and selected a book from the bag he had dropped at his feet. As he spread the book at before him, she opened hers, flipped to the page she had been, and reread a few paragraphs to locate her place. She managed to read an entire page before she was interrupted again.

“Jacob,” said Persephone, “you never did tell me how you knew my sister.”

It was a question that Shiloh had been longing to ask, but hadn't had the time since their meeting with Demeter yesterday. She had been feeling as though she was missing a piece to the puzzle Demeter was, and perhaps if she knew why she hated Jacob she would have the vital piece and be able to figure out how best to persuade the Head Girl. This time, she gladly lowered the book and focused on him.

Jacob didn't look up from his book, a finger hooked under the corner of the next page to come. His eyes roamed through the lines and when he responded, his voice was distant, “I told you; it doesn't matter.”

“Oh, come on!” Persephone rolled her eyes in exasperation. “My sister doesn't hate rule breakers as much as she hates you.”

“Please tell us,” Nicolette pleaded, folding her hands together in a desperate begging position. “I'm dying to know.”

Jacob flipped a page, still not looking up. “It's really not exciting,” he murmured disinterestedly.

He was lying, Shiloh was sure. If it was nothing, if it wasn't exciting, he would not be trying hard not to tell them—even if he was doing an impressive job pretending to be completely absorbed with the book.

“Why are you avoiding telling us?” Shiloh asked.

His finger jerked, causing him to flip another page too soon for him to have finished it. He glanced up at her, and she wondered if that was uneasiness that flickered on and off his face, before the nonchalant expression returned to his gaze.

“I'm not avoiding,” he replied calmly. “Why would you think I'm avoiding? There's really nothing to tell.”

“Then why does she hate you?” Nicolette mused aloud. She shifted anxiously in her chair, making it clear that she was positively dying to know. “There has to be a reason.”

“I really wouldn't want to bore any of you,” Jacob said, but the carefree voice was giving way to something a little more strained. “Now, Persephone, what was it you called Demeter yesterday?”

Persephone smiled triumphantly. She opened her mouth, eager to tell, but Symone snapped, “Don't change the subject.”

Persephone snapped her mouth closed and glared, furious at him for almost making her fall for such a stupid and easily recognizable tactic. Jacob's light-hearted smile disappeared as he glanced from one girl to another, as though he knew that he was trapped. The expression only lingered for a moment before he shook his head in frustration and pulled at the roots of his hair.

“Bloody girls!” he snarled in annoyance. “It never occurs to you that something might not be any of your business.”

No, it hadn't occurred to Shiloh, even though she made a point of staying out of other people's business. This, however, was different. Knowing everything about Demeter was important. They couldn't trick someone if they didn't know everything about them—and her dislike for Jacob was seeming to take a significant role. She had opened her mouth to tell him so, when Persephone scoffed.

“Oh, come on. It's not like you dumped her or something!”

Jacob said nothing.

He didn't laugh at the absurdity, didn't give another explanation, and didn't gag at disgust at the thought of being involved with the snobby know-it-all. He only stared, utterly silent, as Shiloh's blood ran cold at the unspoken acknowledgement. Of all the ideas that had crossed her mind—Jacob pulling a prank on her or Demeter catching him cheating on a test—she had never stopped to consider that they had been romantically involved!

The four girls gaped at him—wide-eyed, slack-jawed, blank faced—but all stunned into silence so complete that the sound of a book closing somewhere in the library sounded like a small explosion.

“No way,” Persephone whispered, then again, louder, “No way!” The next time, she practically shouted it, “No way!”

Shhh,” Jacob, Shiloh, and Symone hissed at her in unison.

Shiloh searched about, expecting Madam Pompfrey to come around the corner, wielding her wand to hex them into silence. When she heard no rapid footsteps and saw no vulture-like figure flapping towards them, she turned back to Jacob. Her mind whirled with curiosity, but she couldn't seem to form them into question. What sort of question did you as a boy about his ex-girlfriend?

Nicolette seemed to know them all, for she jumped in, asking them quickly, with a misty tone and a dreamy look in her eyes, “How did it start? How long where you together? Why did you break up? Did you break her heart?”

Aghast, Jacob threw up his hands in two frantic signals to stop. “Woah, woah, woah!”

It was Shiloh and Symone's turn to shush him. The librarian once again had chosen a good moment to go deaf.

Jacob still had the horrified look on his face, but when he continued onward, his voice was a whisper—that still held as much insistence as his shout had. “We only had one date, all right?”

Nicolette looked disappointed. Persephone did too, though she didn't seem surprised.

“Was it really so horrible?” Symone asked, looking sympathetic, though for who or what, Shiloh had no clue.

“Of course it was,” Persephone insisted. “He went on a date with my sister.” She gave Jacob a mockingly pitying look. “Poor fool.”

Jacob paid her no mind, only pursed his lips thoughtfully as though he was unsure how he wished to answer the question. Finally, he responded, “Let's just say, it lasted about ten minutes and ended with Demeter throwing a book at my head.”

Persephone's mouth dropped open as though, of all the rumours she had ever heard and spread, this was the most unbelievable of all. “She threw a book at your head?” she repeated disbelievingly. “Demeter? Miss Never-Do-Anything-Improper?”

Jacob nodded.

Persephone leaned against the back of her chair, slumping as though it was too much to bear. She whistled. “My, oh my, you must have made her really mad.”

He hesitated, then nodded. “Yes, I suppose I did,” he admitted grudgingly.

“How?” Symone questioned.

He shrugged his shoulders non-committally. “The date was simply a catastrophe. After all, she was the future Head Girl and I was...” He swallowed, paused for a heartbeat and corrected himself. “—am, well—“ He fell silent as he searched for the appropriate word and finally settled with, “Well, I'm me.”

Shiloh understood that with their turbulently different personalities, of course their date was a catastrophe. She couldn't understand why they had wanted to go out in the first place. Surely they should have scene how unfit they were for one another. But they must have found out then, though it seemed petty that Demeter would hold a grudge simply because they had attempted something that hadn't worked. Shiloh was beginning to see why Persephone didn't like her sister.

“End of story?” Shiloh inquired, just to be sure.

“End of story,” Jacob promised.

“Whatever made you ask her out anyways?” Symone asked.

He shrugged as though he didn't remember, then looked pointedly back at his book. The conversation was over, they all realized, and so the girls all returned to their books, assignments and other assorted projects. Silence reigned for nearly fifteen minutes, the only noises being the scribble of a quill, the flip of a page, or the distant sound of whispers.

Symone broke it when she glanced at her watch, pulling back the sleeve of her robes to do so. “It's almost time for dinner. We best be going.”

Persephone eagerly closed her book and leaped to her feet. Jacob stretched his arms, then tucked his away in his back. Nicolette and Shiloh, however, stayed behind their books, Shiloh longing to at least finish the page and Nicolette staring down at hers as though she hadn't even heard.

“Come on, you two,” said Jacob, climbing to his feet.

When they didn't follow, he reached over and snatched the book from Shiloh's hands. She opened her mouth to protest, but he he handed the closed book back to her.

“Put it away for a while, genius. It won't hurt you.”

Shiloh ran her fingers over the cover, longing to open it and read just a bit more, searching for the information she needed to know so desperately. But then Jacob would take it away perhaps for good, and besides, a few minutes at dinner wouldn't hurt. As soon as she ate a few bites, she would escape to return to the book. So she tucked it into her bag and got to her feet.

Nicolette remained where she was sitting, and it took Persephone and Symone three times at calling her name before she looked up, looking dazzed as though she had just woken from a deep slumber.

“What?” she mumbled.

“Dinner time,” Symone said.

“As though we didn't say that five times,” teased Persephone.

Nicolette smiled sheepishly and closed her book. “Sorry, I didn't hear you.”

Soon they were walking out of the library and following the familiar route to the Great Hall in silence.

“You know, Seph,” said Jacob, “I really do want to know what you called her yesterday? In what language was that...French?”

Once again, Persephone grinned eagerly, as though she had been waiting longingly to see if he would ask her again. She glanced around to insure she had everyone's intention (which she did) and began excitedly, “It's Latin actually.”

Nicolette blinked at her in amazement. “You speak Latin?”

“Well, yes,” Persephone said, a note of what was surely embarrassment creeping into her tone. “And Greek and French. Before Hogwarts, my parents hired tutors to teach us things. They seemed to have this idea that we actually needed to be able to speak four languages. It was rather tedious, actually. Anyways, I called her a 'very large turnip'.” She grinned, quite proud of herself.

Symone and Nicolette gaped in surprise. Jacob sputtered in surprise, before bursting into a roaring laugh. Shiloh finally managed to understand why Demeter had appeared bewildered. The insult was meaningless; it wasn't even insulting. Perhaps that had been why it was so perfect. As though realizing it, Nicolette and Symone joined into Jacob's giggling. Persephone joined in, but Shiloh remained silent, listening to the laughter and unsure whether she wanted to join in.

Jacob, who walked beside her, rubbed his elbow into her ribs, leaned over, and hissed in her ear, “Laugh, Shi. It won't kill you.”

She forced a smile, but it felt fake and pasted.

“You can do better than that.” His hot breath tickled her ear and she moved away from the unpleasant sensation.

She frowned at him. What did he care if she laughed or not?

He reached a hand to her ribs, squeezing and tickling. Her lungs clutched together so tightly she thought they might explode from the pressure and she ached to relieve it, but laughter was the only way. She would not give him the satisfaction. She clamped her mouth shut, held her breath, and fought against the urge, but he increased his efforts until a shivering breath escaped her nose, as though it was trying to laugh since her mouth refused. Shiloh picked up speed, trying to dance away from him, but he lassoed an arm about her waist and trapped her again him, still tickling. She was being trapped, she realized and she worried that the crushing fear that always came when someone overpowered her would begin to choke her. She wiggled away and to her surprise, found his grip so gentle she escaped easily, without her heart even skipping a heartbeat in worry.

“Oh no, you don't,” Jacob hissed, capturing her again as loosely as before.

Her lungs were aching, about to burst if she did not laugh. But she wouldn't give in!

The other three girls were watching her, snickering. Her best friend obviously didn't see reasons to intervene, and why not? He was, after all, only tickling her. She was on her own.

“Stop it,” she snapped, trying to sound fierce, but she was too breathless to have any force. “Stop it now!”

“Never,” he replied, tickling her so wildly a stubborn giggle fought its way through her lips.

Others were staring, she realized. As random students wondered by they cast bewildered glance, disgusted sneers, even smiles. Embarrassment burnt Shiloh's cheeks and she forced herself out of his reach. He stretched for her again, but she slapped his hands away.

“Quit! Everyone is staring at us.”

“Since when have you cared what people thing?” And he lunged again.

She leapt away, almost colliding with a student. She tripped trying to avoid him, and if Theodore Nott hadn't caught her, she would have tumbled onto the hard ground.

She gave her fellow student an apologetic glance, and he stared back at her so dumbfounded she meant to apologize vocally. She found herself having to flee a stalking Jacob. She'd have to apologize later. Right then, she was too busy darting in and around people, trying to escape from the boy who was racing after her.

She was embarrassed, exhilarated, and she felt like laughing—as nonsensical as that was!

Finally one of the girls decided to rescue her. Symone stepped in front of him and placed her hand on her hips, giving him a scolding look. Shiloh slowed to a stop a safe distance away.

“All right, leave her alone,” Symone ordered.

Jacob only reached for her and began to tickle her as well. She stood firm and glared, though a smug smile graced her lips.

“I don't think so. I've had three siblings; I've learned not to be ticklish.” Symone stuck out her tongue and waltz a few steps away mockingly.

Jacob only closed the steps and encircled his arms about her. He pinned her against him, just like he had with Shiloh. He ran his fingers under her chin, the back of her neck, her armpit, her rib, but Symone did nothing more then clamp her lips together and roll her eyes impatiently.

Persephone jumped onto his back, wrapping his arms around his neck and her legs about his waist. She grinned and snickered, more into joining the fun than saving her friend. Nicolette yanked on the arm that was tickling Nicolette and Shiloh ran forward to rescue her best friend from his grasp. Symone them began tickling Jacob.

“Help!” he called mockingly. “I'm being attacked by banshees!”

“Banshees!” Symone snapped in return. “Who are you calling banshees?” She tickled him harder.

Laughter filled the air, and Shiloh watched on. She was indeed amused by the sight, even if people were still watching, even if she really didn't much like that fact.

Jacob suddenly broke away a few steps, moving awkward for Persephone still hung on his back, and before Shiloh could move, he captured her again and began tickling. Symone yanked on his arm, but he managed to claim his hand back. This time, Shiloh couldn't help the laughter that her burning lungs insisted it be relieved with. She giggled uproariously.

Few people remained in the hall, one who they did not recognize until she came to stand before them. Demeter Andreau stood before them, looking into Jacob's face as though a strange beast had just exploded from there.

Jacob froze, his arms still wrapped about Shiloh, and the laughter was snatched out of their throats. Persephone still dangled on Jacob's back like a backwards necklace. Shiloh was sure they made quite a sight and knew that this would not gain any ground with the Head Girl.

“What are you doing?” she asked, incredulously. She was gazing at Jacob, and for a moment, Shiloh was not sure what she was really asking.

“This is what we call having fun,” Jacob replied. “But I can see how you wouldn't that.”

Persephone snorted in humour so loudly, Demeter jerked her head up. The Head Girl glanced about her at students eyeing them as they walked by and then quickly looked back.

“Get down,” she ordered firmly. “You're embarrassing me!”

“What will you do?” Persephone responded, not moving. “Give me detention?”

Demeter shook her head in frustration, opened and closed her mouth a few times, stared dumbly at Jacob once more, and then marched past them without another word. She was such a sight, trying to walk away look prim in proper when she was clearly frazzled. It made her walk appear forced and unreal, like she thought through every step.

“There goes Miss Turnip,” murmured Jacob.

Symone, Nicolette and Persephone giggled. Jacob chuckled and Shiloh felt her lips twitching in amusement. Then he tickled her ribs again, reminding her she needed to laugh, and she let out a few giggles.

He stooped and whispered in her ear, “Better.”

He let Shiloh go and she slipped away from them as Persephone leapt to the ground. They all turned to look as Demeter walked around the corner. Jacob's gaze turned thoughtful as he nudged Persephone's shoe with his foot.

“You know,” he said softly when she looked up at him, “you're still our best chance in convincing her.” Persephone scoffed, but before she could say more, he continued, “Your best chance in proving to her that you're not an embarrassment.”

Persephone's smile had vanished from her face and she was now staring at the corner, and the last bit of her sister's robes disappearing behind it. Shiloh wondered what was going on beneath the pink and purple hair, but as much as she wanted to know, she didn't. She was even more in the dark when suddenly a twisted smile appeared on her face.

“Or my chance to prove how much of an embarrassment I really am.”

Shiloh frowned in confusion and her fierce surprise was echoed in Jacob's, Symone's, and Nicolette's shocked features. Persephone only smiled wickedly and ran after her sister. The others followed after her, but when Persephone ran around the corner they stopped. All four of them pressed their back against the wall and discretely peeked their heads about it. It was clear that Persephone had a plan and they were giving her space to do it. Shiloh hoped fiercely that it was a good plan. The sound of her heartbeat screamed in her ears and she took a deep breath to remain calm. Whatever Persephone had planned, she hoped it worked, hoped it did not ruin all they had fought hard to achieve.

Persephone was running towards her sister, calling her sister's name in a shrill voice that caused the gaggle of girls to stop their gossiping and turn to look. Demeter whirled about to face her, a explosion of horror crossed her organized face before she quickly regained control of her features, eyeing the girls with a weighing gaze before looking back to her sister.

“What do you want?” she asked levelly.

“You know, I have never asked you for anything!” Persephone exclaimed, her voice thick with emotion. “And the one time I do, you can't do it.”

Demeter gazed at the spectators who were staring on unabashed, then calmly spoke, “You know you are being ridiculous...”

“Why do you hate me so much?” Persephone responded. She gave a shuttering sob and threw a hand over her mouth. The change in mood was such a contrast to the laughing only a little bit before, and so extreme for the girl who seemed unable to be serious for even a few minutes, that Shiloh knew it was fake. She could only hope that Demeter didn't see through it as easily as she did.

The Head Girl was only staring, fighting to keep the dignified expression on her face, even though horror, embarrassment, and concern kept trying to flicker on it. “Persephone, please don't cry,” she said calmly, almost soothingly. “It's absurd to think I hate you.”

“But you do.” Persephone's cry moved into a shrill wail that made Demeter jump and stare at the gaggle of girls who were now laughing hysterically, doubling over, hands over their mouths. “You think I'm an embarrassment!”

Jacob chuckled, muffling the sound behind closed lips so it only rumbled deep in his throat. Shiloh was not amused. She was too busy calming her clattering heart as she watched Persephone gamble everything on a game of charades that Shiloh couldn't possible understand.

Demeter came closer to Persephone. “I don't, Persephone,” she said softly. “Please stop crying.”

“I-I don't believe you,” she stammered through her hysterical wails. “If you didn't hate me, you'd help me!”

Demeter looked first at her then at the girls, and back again. She looked frustrated and annoyed, but she also appeared sad, as though she truly hated the fact that her sister would think she hated her. Then just as quickly as the emotions had appeared, they disappeared. Demeter gaze turned thoughtful and unreadable. Shiloh held her breath, hoping that there was more to Demeter than primness and perfection. She hoped there was some part of her that cared about her sister, even just the smallest bit.

“All right, I promise,” she said at last. “I'll do it. For you.”

Shiloh's heart leapt with joy, but Persephone was not quite finished.

“Promise?” she asked, sniffing and shaking, staring up at her sister with hopeful, tear-glazed eyes.

“I give you my word,” Demeter whispered urgently. “Now please, please, stop crying.”

Persephone dried up much too quickly and her playful smile returned to dance on her reddened face. “Okay,” she agreed cheerfully. “Meet us after dinner.”

The gaggle of girls was still giggling when Persephone turned and skipped victoriously away. Demeter did not attempt to hide the bewilderment that twisted her face, made her jaw slack. It seemed all her well-rehearsed poise, all her determination to appear in control was no matched for her sister's mischievous and brilliant schemes. And Shiloh was glad! She was so very glad!

She pulled her head from around the corner, pressing her back against the wall. There was a dazed look in her black eyes, the only sign of her of the excitement that burned in her veins. Shiloh tempered her hopes carefully, not wanting them to get crushed later. She could still realize she'd been played and back out. But they had gotten her to agree—as impossible as it had seemed.
Jacob leaned against the wall beside her, grinning triumphantly. Nicolette giggled happily, and Symone beamed joyfully.

“We did it,” she sung. “We actually did it!”

It was the sight that greeted Persephone when she rounded the corner. She glanced behind her to insure her sister had left. She obviously had, for Persephone turned back around and beamed her smile all the wider. It shone with pride.

“What did you think of the tears?” she asked. “Nice touch, huh?”

Jacob laughed uproariously. “Nice touch? That was brilliant!” Continuing to guffaw joyfully, he ruffled her pink and purple hair. “That, my friend, is exactly how to be Slytherin.”

“Shiloh Sanders is such a Mudblood-lover,” Pansy snapped passionately, continuing the tirade that she had begun at dinner. Millicent and Annadel happily joined in, crackling knuckles and flipping hair to accent their hatred. And Draco Malfoy was becoming sick of it. They all sounded like a bunch of crows, cawing and screeching the way they did.

“I think her and the rest of the scum she runs with,” said Annadel, “should be thrown out of Slytherin. They are polluting our pureblood house.”

She tossed her hair once more, and Draco scowled as the blond locks hit him in the face. He hated it when she did that, and he hated the fake blond hair of hers, especially when the black roots were becoming more and more visible. His only comfort was knowing that the common room was just one more corner away. Then he could ditch these boring hags.

“And I think she's ugly,” Pansy said, wrinkling her upturned nose. “That face—there's nothing noble about it. She's far too pale, and that haircut—hideous!” The two girls nodded fiercely in agreement. “Any guy who thought her attractive would have to be out of his mind!”

Draco frowned deeply. Just one more corner, he thought. Just one more...

“Draco thought she was pretty,” Gregory piped up.

The girls about him gasped in horror and surprise. Anger exploded in Draco's gut like a firework blowing up a tin can.

“Shut up, Gregory!” he snapped, whirling towards him and contemplating placing a harmful hex into that fat nose of his.

“Well, you said so,” Vincent insisted. “You said, Halfblood or not, she was pretty and smart, and that was a rare combination.”

Draco growled beneath his breath, hating the scandalized look the girls sent him. So what if he had said that? It had been an insightful observation, nothing more. Shiloh Sanders was the smartest in their Slytherin class, other than him that was. She at the very least looked tolerable. She had a smooth tongue that had certainly come up with an impressive insult for Annadel. It had been enough for him to give her the benefit of the doubt. He had even insured that the three girls left her alone, not wanting to scare her off. She had proved to be unworthy of his kindness. Now, she was nothing more than a disgusting, filthy Mudblood-lover. Not surprising, considering she was a Halfblood.

And who were they to look at him as though he might actually be insane enough to fancy her? The thought was sickening. A Halfblood would never be worthy of a Malfoy.

“You don't know what you're talking about.” Draco glared at them until Vincent began to look a bit uncertain, then whirled about and stormed off, rounding that one last, blessed corner—and nearly collided with a large crowd waiting outside the passage.

“What is going on?” he growled to himself cursing them all for inconveniencing him. Why didn't they just get out of his way! Blocking the hallway just to chatter about how well they liked today's desserts was rude!

But no, they were too large, he realized after an angry moment. They pressed together, murmuring quietly as though they didn't dare speak loudly in case something far worse occurred. It reminded Draco of that wonderful Halloween night, and he began to wonder exactly what was going on. Had another Mudblood been petrified? Or better yet, had the Heir revealed himself and was now asking for their help? Draco would be the first to agree.

He looked about until he found a familiar face.

“Nott!” he called, pushing his way through the crowd to where the lanky boy stood. His followers trailed behind him, but he did not stop to take in their own wonder or the way they appeared as desperate as he to discover his own.

Theodore Nott turned his head to look at him, giving Draco a tolerant glance that clearly read, What do you want?

“What's going on?” Draco demanded.

“We're stuck,” he replied.

“Did some idiot forget the password?” Draco stood on his toes, trying to see over and around the heads to see whom was holding everyone up. The git would get a black eye for this.

Theodore shook his head. “Even the prefects have tried. The password won't work.”

Draco frowned, continued to look. Finally he managed to strain his eyes enough to see several people wondering forward to hiss “Pureblood.” The wall didn't so much as shift.

“What the...” he murmured.

Pansy whined, “I want it fixed now!” She stomped her foot. “My paper is due tomorrow and if I don't get it don, Professor McGonagall will kill me!”

“Shut up, Parkinson!”

The words that had been on the tip of Draco's tongue did not leave his mouth, but were rather said by someone else. He twisted to see Marcus standing behind them.

“Let me go see what's going on,” he said with a confident smile. He breezed through the crowd, shoving past the rare person who didn't step out of his way. Draco followed right behind him, as did the others.

When they reached the front of the crowd, they found a prefect waving his wand about, taping it against the stone all in vain. He paused, frowned at the wall, and tapped it again. Nothing happened.

Draco searched the stone, just like Marcus, seeking anything that could be amiss, but all that seemed to be there were countless stones, all as they had been before dinner. It took them all a full minute of searching to see the small piece rolled up like a small scroll and stuck between two stones. Draco made to reach for it, as did the prefect, but Marcus shoved them both aside.

“Allow me,” he said with his infamous smile, the one Draco tried so hard to duplicate. It was charming and aristocratic, but hid something almost threatening. Like a wolf's grin.

The prefect didn't question him.

Neither did Draco.

Marcus collected the letter and unrolled it. As he read a deep, angry frown drew into his face so intensely, crevices embedded themselves between his eyebrows. Suddenly, he let out a growl that nearly made Draco jump. He crushed the paper in one iron fist, thrust it into the corner, and stormed off, hissing something about going to find Snape. He wrestled through the crowd, leaving his audience murmuring confusedly in his wake.

As soon as he was gone, Draco rushed to collect the paper. He carefully pulled it from its ball, ran his hand over it to smooth it out, then stared down upon it.

It was a note that filled Draco with disgust, horror, and rage. A note that sent him scurrying to Professor Snape to ease his burning desire for vengeance. A note that over the hours would be passed from hand to hand of every Slytherin and met with a single telling emotion of either fury, amusement, or apathy.

A note that—beneath the sketched emblem of their noble house of Slytherin—read:

As you sow, so shall ye reap.

Love from,
The Heretics

P.S. The new password is 'I love Muggleborns'.

As always I owe a huge thanks to my betas, Molly and Sandy. These girls are amazing. They beta for me even when they only get a chapter every other month and listen to me whine about writer's block. I couldn't do it without them.

Once again, this chapter is dedicated to Sandy, Julie, KC, and Sammy, and to everyone else who knows how to stand up for what is right. Here's to the real Heretics!

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