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Chapter Four

Nature’s Nobility

Friday 30 April 1993


The worst, most unforgivable thing Roger ever did to me was after Easter in my second year at Hogwarts. It happened a few days after Dumbledore had been thrown out of Hogwarts, following a very entertaining Potions lesson.

“I thought Gryffindors were supposed to be brave!” tittered Pansy. “But just look at them today!”

Daphne, Cecilia and I all laughed (Millicent brayed a moment later, after the rest of us had finished). The Gryffindors were huddled around their cauldrons, muttering in scared voices.

“They’re dead scared about who Slytherin’s Monster is going to attack next,” giggled Cecilia.

“I expect it’ll be Brown or Thomas,” said Daphne. “If they had brains, they’d work that out for themselves.”

“If Brown and Thomas had brains, they’d take the next train home,” said Pansy. “But they’re too stupid to think of that.” We all laughed again.

“Could the Monster make a mistake and attack one of us?” asked Cecilia.

“No, silly,” chided Pansy. “It’s Slytherin’s Monster. Everyone in Slytherin is safe.”

“Besides,” said Millicent, “we’re all pure-bloods here.”

Parvati Patil happened to catch Millicent’s eye and frown at her, but when Millicent shoved an elbow into Parvati’s ribs, Parvati dropped her eyes like a rabbit and turned back to her cauldron. It was very funny.

Of course, when the bell rang to let us out for break, we were all careful to keep together. We weren’t worried about the Monster, but it was the new school rule. Snape was accompanying us to the Charms classroom to spend our so-called “break” until Flitwick arrived.

“I don’t know why Snape bothers,” hissed Pansy to Draco. “After all, he must know we’re safe really.”

Draco gave her the thumbs up before turning back to Vincent and Gregory.

“Ooo-oooh,” exclaimed Daphne. “It’s Tracey’s brother!”

I turned my head away from the crowd of fourth-years on their way downstairs. From the corner of my eye, I could still see Pansy’s attempt at a slow, seductive smile while Cecilia wriggled and giggled and Millicent ferociously stared. It was Daphne who succeeded best; her eyelash-flutter was so alluring that for a moment it even seemed that Roger was looking at her. They were such fools! Daphne had stopped talking about how her older sister fancied Roger; now that she fancied him herself, her sister was the competition. Really, what did they all see in him! He was just a rough, arrogant boy!

I tried to think of something different to say, something that would cover up my friends’ fascinated silence. But before I had time to think properly, Roger’s voice sailed clearly over the crowds.

“Olivia, why should I care that your mother’s a Muggle-born? So is my father!”

We all froze in our tracks. The Gryffindors were nearly pushing ahead of us, for not one Slytherin was taking a step.

“Don’t dawdle!” barked Snape.

We all took a dutiful pace forward. Draco was staring at me, and Pansy gave a nervous laugh.

“Get away with you, Tracey!” exclaimed Cecilia. “Are you really a half-blood?”

I could have twisted Roger’s neck round and round in circles until his head was screwed right off! “Of course not,” I said. “Both my parents are magical. Which chapter did Flitwick tell us to read?”

“But is your Dad really a Mudblood?”

“Enough chatter!” commanded Snape.

Once we had arrived in the classroom, Pansy rounded on me furiously.

“Tracey, why did you claim to be a pure-blood if you’re not one?”

“But I am pure! I told you, my parents are a witch and wizard.”

“But… oh, dear…” She began to laugh patronisingly. “Draco, will you please explain the matter to this poor, ignorant little half-blood?”

Draco yawned. “A pure-blood is someone with completely pure ancestry. For example, if the great-grandparents of your great-grandparents were all wizards, you’d be a seventh-generation wizard. My ancestors are the Malfoys, the MacDougals, the Blacks and the Rosiers – every last one was magical.”

“Or to make it simpler,” said Pansy, “do you have four magical grandparents? If you do, you’re a pure-blood. But if your parents and grandparents are all Muggles, then you’re a Mud – ” Flitwick walked in, and Pansy hastily corrected herself, “a Muggle-born. Everything in between is a half-blood. Do you get it now?”

“Oh. So am I a half-blood?” asked Millicent.

My face burned (I wished I was setting fire to Roger). Daphne patiently explained, “Yes, Millicent. Since you have a Muggle grandmother, you are definitely a half-blood.”

“Tracey has a Muggle grandmother and a Muggle grandfather,” countered Millicent dispassionately.

Cecilia was nearly in tears. “Tracey, you were dead unfair not to tell us!”

Daphne put an arm around Cecilia and spat at me, “Exactly. At least Millicent was honest about who her family are.”

“You never asked about my family!” If Cecilia was going to keep blubbing like an idiot, I hoped she would weep enough tears to drown Roger.

“Grandfather Burke married an honest Muggle who knows her place,” remarked Millicent. “But Muggle-borns try to live like wizards. They never get it quite right.”

Flitwick called the class to order even though it was really too early, so I was saved from having to retort that Millicent was a person who never, ever got it quite right and that Dad was not “like” a wizard, he was a wizard. It was a good thing I didn’t say anything so foolish, because of course no Slytherin accepts this argument.

I was a Slytherin. I had house pride to consider.

Cecilia sat down next to Millicent for the lesson. When Flitwick told us to practise in pairs, I had to work with Gregory. He was so slow that I nearly cast a Slow Motion Hex on him, just to see how long it would take anyone to notice the difference. They ought to force Roger to work with Gregory for the next twenty years, I thought. That would be a fair punishment for his blabbing!

But I was the one being punished, because Pansy still wasn’t letting anyone speak to me when we arrived down in the common room at the end of the afternoon. Pansy plumped herself down on a green sofa, and Daphne sat next to her. Cecilia stared at me for an agonising three seconds before giving in to Daphne’s tug on her sleeve and sitting down with them. Millicent didn’t even look at me as she chose a green ottoman at Pansy’s feet. Pansy took out a bag of mint humbugs and offered them around (Daphne first; Cecilia second; Millicent took the broken one) before beginning a conversation about dress-robes.

“Mummy says I need new ones for the round of summer parties. We’ve planned out all the designs, but there doesn’t seem to be any point in cutting and stitching right now because I’ll have grown by the summer.”

“I thought Madam Tatting could stitch a little growth-allowance spell into the seams,” said Daphne.

“She can, but it’s never as precise as made-to-fit, is it? I’m to have one robe in silver, one in turquoise and one in some shade of pink. Mummy tried to talk me into a deep blush-pink, but I’m more a pale salmon-pink person, don’t you think?”

“I think blush-pink would suit you, Pansy,” I said.

She ignored me completely. “As I said, I’m having pale pink, and I can’t choose between three frills or five…”

Cecilia firmly turned her head around and stared at Pansy. I knew then there would be no point in trying to join in. It was all Roger’s fault! If he had kept his big mouth shut, I’d still have my friends. How could he say such a stupid thing about our Dad when he knew everyone was paranoid about Slytherin’s Monster? If the Monster came roaring out into the corridor this moment, I’d happily throw Roger in front of it and hope it ate him too!

Well, I had learned one thing. A true “pure-blood” had four magical grandparents or perhaps even more magical ancestors than that. How many Slytherins could honestly claim to be “pure” for seven whole generations (or whatever their sacred number was)? I was good at maths and I knew there had never been enough wizards in Britain to produce even twenty families with seven-generation purity. So unless these very special “pure-bloods” were constantly marrying their first cousins, they must be lying about something!

I found I had drifted up to the bookshelves. The Slytherin common room didn’t have walls plastered with dusty book-cases like the pretentious Ravenclaw Tower, but it did have a couple of rows of leather-bound tomes in the far corner. Miserably browsing their thick spines, I saw that we had been provided with a few essential volumes such as Quidditch through the Ages, A Concise Dictionary of Spells, The Atlas to the Wizarding World and Nature’s Nobility: A Wizarding Genealogy.

A genealogy? I angrily tugged the dusty old book off the shelf, wondering whether it would be full of lies about families who wanted to claim blood-purity. When I read that it had been published in 1927, I nearly decided that it was too out of date to be relevant, but then I caught a glimpse of the year “1992”. Just last year! What’s more, it was under the familiar name of Malfoy.

4. Linus Douglas Malfoy, born May 1963, is employed by Gringotts and resides in Gloucestershire. He married July 1986 Hazel Morgause, elder daughter of Thaumas Parkinson, and they have the following issue.
Daisy Marpessa Malfoy, born February 1988.

Marigold Roxana Malfoy, born April 1990.

Ivy Albina Malfoy, born June 1992.
5. Letitia Rubina Malfoy, born June 1966, resides in Norfolk. She married July 1985 Claud Algernon, younger son of Oliver Greengrass, and they have no issue.
Yes! Pansy had told us all about her three nieces (Draco’s cousins) and they were definitely named Daisy, Marigold and Ivy. This must be one of those magically-updating history books, I reminded myself. Madam Pince had explained how a magical reference book that self-updates every time new facts arise is unable to lie, so perhaps I could trust Nature’s Nobility.

Hardly knowing why I needed to do it, I pulled a clean exercise book out of my bag and charmed it so that only I could open it. Then I rummaged for an ink-bottle: not the one I used in class, but one that Roger had bought me in Zonko’s. (Why did I have to think of Roger at a time like this?) Indigo’s Incognito Ink was charmed to be invisible to everyone except the writer. I dipped in my quill, considered a moment, then wrote on the cover:

TRACEY’S BOOK OF THE DEAD.

Then I turned to the first page and began to take notes.

I read and read Nature’s Nobility. I learned when wizards had been born and died, where they had lived and worked, whom they had married and divorced, and how many children they had had. I took feverish notes on the Malfoys and the Parkinsons, the Greengrasses and the Runcorns, the Crabbes, the Goyles and the Bulstrodes. There weren’t any wizards named Davies, of course, but there were lots and lots of Boneses.

“Tracey, why are you doing your homework on the floor?”

I banged Nature’s Nobility shut. “Millicent, don’t creep up on me like that!”

Millicent dropped heavily to her knees. “Let’s see the notebook, then. Oh, it’s blank. You need to listen to me, Tracey. I’ve come to help you.”

“Mind your own business!”

She slapped my upper arm, but not spitefully. “Rude! I came to say… Us half-bloods… We need to know our place.”

“What place?” I demanded furiously. “We’re witches, aren’t we? I have more brains than any of those so-very-important pure-bloods!”

“We’re half-blood witches,” said Millicent. “The pure-bloods won’t hurt us. But we have to know our place. It’s blood first and money second. We have to respect that. We can use things like muscles and brains and – and good looks to help ourselves get ahead, but we mustn’t pretend they count.”

She scowled, but I suppose that was her way of smiling, and stomped back to her place on the lowly ottoman. It was only today that Millicent had found out she was technically a half-blood, yet she had already adapted to the news! She had known all along that she wasn’t as important as Pansy or Daphne, even if she hadn’t quite understood why.

Who made the rules anyway? I fumed. We’ll see whose place is where!

We were forced to stay in the common room all weekend, so there was nothing to do except research my classmates’ families. Nature’s Nobility was teaching me that all pure-bloods were related to each other, which meant my pure-blooded classmates were probably related to famous pure-blood criminals. I made a list of events to research in future (if we were ever allowed to use the Hogwarts library again).

1. Read reports of old trials to find out why everyone went to Azkaban.

2. Read newspaper archives to find out if family members were involved in famous scandals (e.g. divorces).

3. Ask Grandma & Grandpa Bones how much they know about other Diagon Alley traders, esp. in Knockturn Alley.

4. Ask all grown-up relatives & friends who bullied them when they were at Hogwarts.

5. Also ask about Hogwarts scandals, e.g. thefts, cheating at exams, famous Quidditch fouls, sex, drugs, expulsions, etc.
Pansy sniggered as she walked past me. “Look at the half-blood! She’s been sitting in that corner all day trying to write poetry!”

“She hasn’t written much,” said Daphne. “She’s staring at a blank page.”

Cecilia giggled sycophantically, and Millicent, still a step behind, twisted her mouth.

I jumped to my feet. “What about you, Pansy? Have you done any homework yet?”

Cecilia opened her mouth, but Pansy interrupted. “Cecilia, don’t speak to that half-blood liar!”

You can talk, Pansy!” I retorted. “You talk and talk about so-called purity, but how did your father make his money? My grandparents say that most of his real estate is sold to Muggles.”

“That’s a lie,” she said, but she took a step backwards.

“Your father buys up slums very cheap so he can renovate them with magic. Then he sells them very dear to Muggles. Parkinson’s Real Estate couldn’t exist without its Muggle customers. Does that make it a half-blood business?”

“Rubbish,” snapped Pansy, recovering her poise. Although she was the smallest of us in height, her snap was large enough to fill the common room. “Blood-purity means having four magical grandparents, Tracey, and you don’t qualify. So don’t interfere with what you don’t understand.”

“Then where does that leave Cecilia?” I retorted. “Is she somehow a pure-blood with a half-blood mother? Tell them, Cecilia. Wasn’t your mother’s grandfather a squib?”

Cecilia burst into tears and sobbed something incoherent about “thought you were my friend”.

“This bickering is spoiling our game!” exclaimed Draco from the boys’ table. He paused his shuffle of the Exploding Snap cards. “Why don’t you all just write out your pedigrees to the last seven generations? Then you’d know who was the purest.”

“Draco Malfoy, your family might have pure blood, but it has dirty actions!” I could hear my voice rising to a near-screech, but it felt good to proclaim a spectacular scandal about a family as important as the Malfoys. “Your aunt is Bellatrix Lestrange, and she’s serving a life-sentence in Azkaban. So is her cousin, Sirius Black.”

“Sirius Black!” yelped a voice from half-way across the dungeon. “Are we talking about the famous mass-murderer?”

Suddenly there was a deadly silence. Every single Slytherin seemed struck dumb with awe because I had dared to expose the Malfoys. Draco himself was springing to his feet, his wand drawn dangerously as he called, “Silencio!

I smiled triumphantly, but my smile faded when I realised that every housemate was staring at us, yet nobody was sharing my triumph. The Slytherins were not admiring, but angry, because exposing the Malfoys was far more serious than embarrassing the small-fry Parkinsons.

I tried to gasp out words, but my vocal cords were dead. Draco’s Silencing Charm had exterminated my voice.

“Davies, you have gone too far,” said Draco. “You are a half-blood. Your father is an imposter and your mother is of no importance in our community. We welcomed you like a friend and we have always treated you like an equal, even though not one of us has the tarnish of a Mudblood parent, and some of us are from very old families indeed. Yet you will not understand the difference in your status.”

For a moment, it seemed that our audience would applaud. I could have sliced off Roger’s head and thrown it to them to use as a Quaffle!

“And how do you repay us for this privilege?” Draco continued. “As soon as we discover your lies, you turn against us like an enemy! So it’s your own fault that you no longer have friends here. Crabbe, deal the cards again. We don’t speak to Davies any more.”

The boys turned their backs and sorted through their cards. The girls were lined up in a furious procession: Millicent was scowling; Cecilia was sobbing on Daphne’s shoulder; Pansy was flushed as scarlet as a Gryffindor banner, which made her face look like a pug’s.

“She said – ” Daphne began.

“Never mind what she said,” said Pansy, her voice as hard as a diamond. “We didn’t hear it, remember? She no longer exists. As I was saying, Daphne, the sky-blue satin wasn’t my kind of robe, but it was the exact colour of your eyes. If you can talk your mother into shelling out the Galleons, I can ask Madam Tatting to place it on reserve for you…”

A strange thought darted into my head: Why do I want to talk to these boring people? I pushed that alien thought away. I want to talk to them because they’re the only friends I have! I reminded myself. I wanted to be in Slytherin, and I’d be perfectly happy here if only Roger hadn’t interfered with my friends.

I soon discovered that there was another good use for Tracey’s Book of the Dead. I turned to a clean page and listed as many ways as I could think of to kill Roger.

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