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Yes, this is an asterix chapter, and by now you hopefully know the drill. Enjoy!

                                    Beautiful image by Ande @ TDA

No News is Good News

Gravity – Sara Bareilles

‘Nothing travels faster than light, with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own rules.’
- Douglas Adams


Sunday was not a good day for breakfast, and a Sunday after a Quidditch match was even worse. Most people barely made it down at all, even though breakfast was put back an hour to allow them a bit of a lie-in.

So it was a very sleepy and slightly grumpy group that sat down at the house tables in the Great Hall that overcast and rainy morning.

Even the teachers looked a bit the worse for wear. Professor Vem was yawning hugely as he passed Professor Longbottom the marmalade, and Professor Shinto was nodding over her porridge as if she’d fall face-first asleep into it at any moment.

Or perhaps not. Oh well. They could live in hope.

The owls came flying through the window, alighting here and there as they did every morning. Most people didn’t even look up from their food, just reached out to take their assorted packages and letters and kept eating.

Dominique, however, looked very confused when an elegant white owl dropped a letter on her toast. She held it up in front of her with a wary expression, like it would suddenly turn into a Howler at any second.

‘Open it, already,’ Lily prompted impatiently.

Dominique frowned and slowly slit the envelope.

‘I’m not expecting anything…’ she murmured as she took out the enclosed parchment. She examined the folded paper briefly before yelling down the table,

‘Rosie, Lily, Molls, this is addressed to you too.’

The other girls rose from their places to come and stand behind her, but before they reached her side, Dominique let out a squeal of excitement and turned to them, eyes bright.

‘Teddy proposed! They’re getting married!’

The Gryffindor table was plunged into chaos. The letter was passed around from girl to girl, read and re-read, exclaimed over, commented on and generally hailed as the most exciting thing to have happened in a long time.

Victoire had asked Dom and Rose to be her bridesmaids; James read when he finally got a hold of the letter. Lily and Molly were to be ushers and helpers on the day, and apparently one of Victoire’s other friends was going to be the third bridesmaid.

Teddy also asked James if he’d be a groomsman, knowing no doubt that James would indeed read the letter, even though it wasn’t addressed to him. James was all too happy to take him up on the request.

But his smile and his good mood faded somewhat as he read on.

Teddy and Victoire had invited all their friends, which constituted the majority of Gryffindor House, to the wedding, which was going to be held in late February.

Anastacia was included in the list of invitees. This was going to cause no end of trouble, he could see that already. For one thing, she’d surely have to refuse, which would upset Victoire. Secondly, how on earth was she going to hide the fact that she’d been invited from her guard or explain why she couldn’t go – whatever that reason may be – when the majority of the House would be talking of nothing else for months?

He looked up, searching for her through the crowd of excited family and friends. It was only because he was looking at that precise moment that he saw it, what everyone else missed.

Because Anastacia had also received a letter, but, unlike Dom’s, hers didn’t seem to be filled with good news. Her face was the colour of sour milk and she was staring fixedly at the parchment in her hands. As he watched, she took a furtive look around, decided that no one was watching, and crumpled the paper into a ball, slipping it into her pocket.

Then she turned to the rest of the girls and, with only a slightly subdued smile, joined in the general chatter and merriment. James continued watching her for a long moment, but she showed no sign of distress and made no indication that she would ever explain what had happened.

So he did what he usually did when it came to her secrets; shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, and tried to ignore it.

Dom and Rose were already talking dresses with their friends, and James turned to the side as he caught the tail end of a comment from Sam.

‘What? Sorry mate, I was miles away.’

‘I’ll bet,’ was Sam’s dry response, but he repeated the question.

‘So, who you going to take, then?’

James was taken aback for a moment.

‘Take? To what?’

His friend made a sound of disgust.

‘Wake up, mate, the morning’s nearly over. To the wedding; who’re you gonna take to the wedding?’

‘I dunno. Do I have to take someone?’

Sam clapped him on the back with a look of superiority that made James want to punch his smarmy face in. gently, of course. They were best mates, after all.

‘Course you do. Can’t turn up at a wedding without a date, now, can you? All the old biddies will talk up a storm.’

‘Well, who’re you going to take, then? Since it’s so important.’

‘Ah, never you worry about me, think about your own problems. It’s only a couple of months away…’

But James was no longer listening. His attention was on Stac, who was in turn fixated on something happening over at the Slytherin table.

As he watched, she stood up and, seemingly casual, started towards the doors of the Great Hall. James nudged Sam and stood up to follow.

‘Speaking of problems…’



Anastacia did not even get half-way across the entrance hall before she was herded into a small room off the side. She got a brief glimpse of James and Sam’s confused faces watching her go, but she was too worried to even think of an explanation to give them.

Celeste’s hand was in her own, a sure sign that the younger girl was uncertain. She must not know what was going on, Anastacia realised suddenly. Creeten had probably just told Celeste to help bring her to whatever meeting they were going to without explaining why. She must be terribly worried.

Anastacia gave her friend’s hand a reassuring squeeze, but the look Celeste shot her was a queer mixture of pity, sorrow and terror.

Something in Anastacia’s chest twisted painfully. Could Celeste know what was happening, then? Did she know more than Anastacia herself? Was there a reason for her to be scared?

Before she had ample time to reflect upon this, they entered the room. It was empty apart from one other occupant, a tall young man with dark blonde hair who turned and bowed to her as she entered.

‘Trelain…’ Anastacia breathed, the visual confirmation of her fears tearing a fresh hole in her already painful chest.

‘Your Grace,’ he answered politely in German, his eyes betraying nothing of what he was feeling, ‘I have news for you. From your father.’

He quirked one eyebrow at the others standing in the room. In comparison to him, they all looked to be scrawny little boys, and worse, they all seemed to be aware of that fact.

Creeten in particular did not look happy in the slightest to see his older brother. His face was contorted into a scowl, and looking at it only made Trelain smile faintly.

‘Perhaps we could discuss this news…in private?’

‘Leave us,’ Anastacia commanded at once, without looking behind her.

The others obeyed. Not even Celeste protested as she followed the boys into the corridor and shut the door behind her.

‘Have you read this?’ Anastacia demanded, the crumpled letter in her hand.

‘I would never presume to read your Grace’s correspondence,’ Trelain answered smoothly, ‘however; your father has made me aware of its general specifics. I have also been given my orders.’

‘Orders?’ she asked, a horrible, sinking feeling flooding her stomach.

‘I believe your father has detailed my orders in his letter.’

She smoothed the paper, re-read the words written in her father’s harsh script, not because she had forgotten what it said, but to stall for time.

She could never forget what it said; it was burned into her mind.

‘I have been appointed as the new head of your personal guard. I will reside in Hogsmeade and collect daily reports from the rest of your retainers.’

He paused delicately.

‘His Grace fears you are becoming…influenced by those you insist on associating with. He has allowed you to continue your involvement with them only because you have assured him on many occasions that to do otherwise would risk suspicion, and he has no wish for anything of the kind to fall upon you here.’

‘Then why does he act so now?’ asked Anastacia, almost desperate. Surely she had misunderstood his note, misunderstood the intentions behind his words. He could not possibly mean what she had first thought…

‘Won’t you sit down, your Grace?’ he deflected, conjuring an elegant wooden chair with an easy wave of his wand.

She did so, sinking down slowly, all the while resisting the urge to turn and run from the room, from whatever was coming next. She didn’t know if she could bear it, especially when the bad news was delivered in that level, calm, infuriatingly normal tone of voice.

‘Now that your father has entered into…negotiations with several highly-born families, he has become anxious to ensure that your conduct is constantly above reproach.’

‘Negotiations?’ Force of will kept her hands and voice steady, but it was a near thing.

‘I am not nineteen for some years yet. There is no hurry. Why should he enter into negotiations at this early stage?’

‘It is not for you or me to question his Grace’s movements.’

Trelain’s voice had become even silkier, betraying his opinions where his face and eyes did not.

‘The fact of the matter is that his Grace is worried that your conduct here at school could have an adverse effect upon his negotiations. It is for that reason that he is making it clear, once and for all, that he wishes for you to have nothing to do with that…person’

Her head shot up, confused.

‘Person? In the letter, he mentions the Gryffindors as a whole. He doesn’t speak of a specific person.’

‘Your father has only recently become aware of this ‘specific person’, as you put it,’ Trelain explained smoothly, ‘after the Quidditch match, the one where my brother and his pathetic excuse for a guard proved themselves to be so inadequate.’

Some small, distant part of her brain that had spent its whole existence concerned with her self-preservation noted the animosity plainly evident in Trelain’s voice as he spoke of his brother. It filed that away for future reference, when she might be able to use it for her advantage.

The majority of her mind, however, was wholly focussed on the situation at hand.

‘He became aware, after the match and after he had written that letter, that there was not only a certain group with which you insist upon associating, but also a ringleader.’

He stood suddenly straighter, hands behind his back; a soldier giving a report.

‘Samuel Jordan. Owen Pennymon. Terry Markham and Josh Alsop; Mudbloods, both of them,’ he interrupted himself disgustedly before continuing, ‘Jaya Sarin. Margaret Brody.’

‘What of them?’ Anastacia asked with more courage than she felt inside, ‘Their only crime is being sorted into Gryffindor alongside me. I can no more control the Sorting Hat’s decisions than I can the sun in the sky.’

‘Their crime is wilful affiliation with you,’ Trelain went on.

‘But they do not know who I am!’ Anastacia shot back, but Trelain interrupted her hotly.

‘They do not need to be aware of their crime to be guilty of it!’

They were both silent for a moment, processing this outburst. Finally, Trelain nodded his head briefly.

‘Forgive me, your Grace, I spoke without thought.’

Like hell you did, Anastacia thought, but she kept silent.

‘As to the ringleader, well,’ Trelain continued as if nothing had happened, ‘I have also been given specific orders on how to deal with him.’

For the second time, Anastacia’s head shot up, although she tried to hide it. She saw from the look in Trelain’s eyes that she had not succeeded; he saw right through her.

She could not stop herself from asking, in a fainter voice,


Trelain’s smile was unpleasant and hard.

‘According to your father’s reports, a certain James Potter has been the instigator on many occasions of events that involve you spending time away from your guard in the company of those I have already mentioned. It is also his belief that it was James Potter who drew you away from your guard and chosen companions in the first place, and is therefore responsible for many of the changes wrought in you over the years.’

Her throat was dry. She couldn’t make out the words that she wanted to say. Now, at the most important moment, she couldn’t defend him thanks to her traitor body betraying her.

She tried to swallow and coughed roughly. Trelain muttered something and a frightened looking house-elf appeared out of nowhere holding a pitcher and a cup.

Trelain barked at the elf, and it cringed and poured a cup of liquid from the pitcher. He held the cup out to Anastacia, who took it and drank the cool water greedily.

Her throat open once more, she croaked out the words she had wanted to say.

‘What will you do, then? You spoke of orders; what are they?’

‘My orders are simple and clear; I am to coordinate your guard and collect reports on your conduct, which I will then forward to your father. In addition, I am to deal with any…problems as I see fit.’

There it was, in black and white. He’d as good as said it aloud. But she still couldn’t believe it. Something in her still refused to accept it, still needed more proof.

‘Surely, though…I mean, I don’t really see any ‘problems’ here, do you?’

The look he gave her was faintly scornful, and her already low hopes plummeted. In desperation, she stood and caught his arm.

‘Trelain…you wouldn’t? Not to someone you’ve never truly met, someone you barely know. Someone who has never done a thing to harm you or even to make you angry in anyway.’

He looked down on her from his superior height. His face was set in an expression that came close to…confusion.

‘I will do as I am ordered; no more, no less.’

It hit her almost as a physical blow. Indeed, the force should have sent her staggering, if her mind had not called on all the strength forged through years of terror and uncertainty to hold firm to.

The boy looking down at her was a boy no longer. He was in every way his father’s son; any trace of softness or kindness or mercy that had ever existed, however deep down, in his person was gone. In its place was unfailing loyalty, unflagging obedience. Qualities that made him a great soldier.

Qualities that would ensure her own obedience, as her father well knew.

He would do as he threatened. She had no doubt of that.

Gently, she removed her hand from his arm and smoothed her uniform. For some bizarre reason, she felt very calm, almost disconnected from the scene.

‘I see,’ she murmured in her courtier’s voice, ‘well, I don’t think there will be any need for that. Of course, I understand my father’s concerns; they are quite reasonable. I hope you find your stay in Hogsmeade most comfortable.’

It was clearly a dismissal, one that, with a low bow, he acquiesced to. As he opened the door to leave, Creeten nearly tumbled through. Behind him, the rest of her guard stood or leaned along the wall.

Trelain’s lip curled derisively.

‘And you have the gall to wonder why you were removed from your position, brother.’

Without another word, he turned curtly on the rest of the group and made his way down the corridor, followed hotly by an angry Creeten.

Most of the other boys drifted after them, save Alasdair McGowan, who stayed in the corridor, just out of sight from the doorway.

Celeste hurried into the room and gathered Anastacia’s still form in her arms.

‘Grace? Grace, what happened?’

Her voice dropping low, she glanced over her shoulder and slipped into her stilted and childish Italian. Alasdair spoke only English, German and French; he would not be able to understand them.

‘I did not hear well what you say. You were yelling, yes?’

‘Celeste, never mind that. It’s not important. I need you to do something for me.’

She paused while the other girl caught up, struggling to make sense of the unfamiliar words. When she was sure that she was being understood, she went on.

‘I’m going to my room now. I’ll say I have a headache. But in about an hour or so, I need you to get Scorpius Malfoy to my room without being seen.’

‘But–’ Celeste started, her face crinkling in confusion as she translated the words. Anastacia interrupted her.

‘Celeste, it’s urgent. I don’t care how you do it; just get him there, alright? Please,’ she begged, her eyes wide with fear and distress, ‘please, I have to see Scorpius.’

Celeste sighed and pressed her hand.

‘I’ll do my best; I promise you that, at least.’

She took a deep breath and squared her shoulders, taking on the blandly superior courtier’s face that had long ago become their refuge. Going to the doorway, she called out to the boy standing outside.

‘Her Grace is tired after her morning’s exertions. She has a headache and she wishes to lie down. You will escort her to her rooms.’

‘Of course, ma’am,’ Alasdair responded respectfully. He bowed low to Anastacia, marking his place as one of the lowest of the guards, and fell in behind her at a respectable distance.

Anastacia did not look back at her friend as she left. Celeste said she would do her best, and in the past, her best had always been more than enough. She was sure it would be the case this time.

However, beyond that meeting, she could no longer involve the younger girl in her plans. Her father’s knowledge of her movements and her friends was much more thorough than she had expected.

It meant that he was getting reliable information about her so-thought secret movements from somewhere, and as long as that source remained a mystery, she would not involve Celeste more than was necessary.

She silently begged her friend’s forgiveness for this new secret she was being forced to keep, and then put the whole matter out of her mind. She, unfortunately, had more important things to worry about.

Like the fact that she only had an hour to come up with a plan to save her best friend’s life.


So here we are again, at the end of another chapter, which, may I just say, is my TENTH CHAPTER! Be excited, people! I am. Also, I know that I promised relevant and no cliffhangers, but my computer is in the hospital currently, so I am working with less than half my previous work and notes, so just bear with me. Hopefully, he'll be well before the next chapter, so I can make it up to you lovely people who continue to read. Speaking of please?

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