The Train Home
Pansy Parkinson had a handful of Millicent Bulstrode’s robes, pulling her along the train’s passageways. She glanced into each compartment. “Here, let’s ask them.”
Millicent realized who was there and gave a disapproving snort. “They can’t help us!”
“No one else will even try.” Pansy hissed and opened the door. “Theo!” Pansy exclaimed, “Have you seen Draco?”
Theodore Nott gave her a long, thoughtful look. “Draco? It’s a constellation. I’ve seen it many times.”
“He doesn’t know anything about anything!” Millicent hissed. “Come on!”
“Honestly, Theo, don’t be such a git. I haven’t seen Draco for hours! Where can he be?”
“Dunno. Have you asked a Prefect? Oh, you are a Prefect. Don’t you know where he is? I would have expected better of you. Mustn’t let Professor know!”
Pansy glared at him. Blaise Zabini was sitting beside Theo, smirking. The two were tall and skinny. She’d once heard someone describe one of them as stringy and the other as weedy and she had to stop herself from giggling every time she saw them.
Millicent was right, she knew. These two were worthless and she was sure they had gotten into Slytherin only because of their families. They didn’t really fit in, although she supposed they were better than any of the Gryffindors. She spoke to Blaise, “Would you help me look? I really want to make sure that Potter hasn’t done something terrible to him.”
Blaise looked away uncomfortably and squirmed, but it was Theo who spoke, “Surely you don’t think Scar-head is a match for Golden Boy do you? Ask Crabbe and Goyle where he went.”
“Gregory is missing too.” Millicent snapped “And so is Vincent.”
“I don’t know where they are. And they would hardly check in with me anyway. We aren’t in the same league, you know.” He said with sarcastic regret.
Pansy looked at the others in the compartment. Two girls sat across from the boys. One was a Ravenclaw and the other a Hufflepuff. She thought the Ravenclaw was related to Zabini. Of course, no Slytherin girl would want to be with them. There was a table and a pack of exploding snap cards. “Well, excuse me for interrupting your little love nest!” Pansy turned away.
Theo saw the shocked, hurt look on his friends’ faces and called out with a sneer, “We’ll work you in later if you want!” That didn’t seem to make anyone feel better and with some embarrassment, Theo began to reshuffle the cards.
They played one unenthused round. In the quiet that followed, the Ravenclaw girl asked, “Do you think Potter did something to Malfoy?”
“More like Malfoy tried to do something to Potter and got a quick lesson in manners. Anyway, Rena, I don’t really care.” Blaise answered.
“No, but your Head of House will.”
“And he would hold us accountable!” Theo sighed, “I have a responsibility to my fellow Slytherins. How I wish I was in Ravenclaw!”
“Does Professor Snape really expect you to look out for one another?” Rena’s friend Jane asked.
“Yes,” the boys said in unison.
“And does he really pick on Harry Potter?” Jane continued.
Theo gave her a bewildered look but Blaise laughed, “Absolutely! The little berk deserves it, though!” Jane looked shocked.
“Potter isn’t so bad,” Theo said carefully and added, “He just has the unfortunate ability to stand out when he doesn’t know what he’s doing. And it’s never good to not know what you’re doing in Potions Class. Blaise and I are the smart ones. We stay in the shadows out of sight and quietly make our potions.”
“Well, he seems talented in other magic,” Jane suggested.
“I’m going for a walk,” Blaise said, “I hate riding this stupid train.”
Theo jumped up, “I’ll come too.”
Once they were gone Rena frowned at Jane, “You do know that Potter help put Theo’s father in Azkaban, don’t you?”
Jane gasped, “Oh no! Rena, I forgot! He seems like a nice boy!”
“Theo isn’t the one in prison!” Rena snapped then softened, “Theo is nice. Blaise seems to like him. And neither one of them think they’re better than others for being Pureblood.”
Jane looked panicked, “What should I do!”
“Nothing, don’t say any more about it. Or about Potter. Remember, Malfoy’s and Crabbe’s fathers are in Azkaban too. It’s not something to talk about in front of Slytherins.”
“Theo and Blaise don’t seem like Slytherins, do they? Not like Death Eaters at all.” Jane whispered.
“Slytherins aren’t all bad and they aren’t all Death Eaters!” Rena exclaimed, wondering now how she’d become friends with this girl.
When the boys came back they had armloads of treats and Theo wore a smug look. “Did you find Malfoy?” Rena asked.
‘Were we looking for him?” Blaise asked, dumping the candy and pastries on the table.
“Yes, you were. I could tell.” Rena said. Theo grinned but didn’t speak. She knew neither boy was going to tell her anything. Blaise and Theo liked being mysterious and she thought to herself that they tried very hard to act like Snape.
They ate and played cards. Then Theo and Rena each pulled out books while the other two sat in boredom. The door opened to Pansy and Millicent again. Pansy took charge; “I am worried. We’re almost at the station. You have to help us look. They are your mates; it’s your responsibility! And as Prefect, I’m telling you!”
“Malfoy is not my mate,” Theo said sharply. “He may be Professor Snape’s pet, but he isn’t my mate. And I have found him. He and his mates have celebrated the end of school a little too much and are currently in the boys’ toilet, in no shape for polite company.”
Pansy’s eyes narrowed as she studied Theo. “I don’t think Draco was in a mood to celebrate.”
“Well,” Theo shrugged. “Maybe it wasn’t a celebration. But I think they must have mixed up a bad batch of potions. You could ask one of the older Slytherin Prefects to check on him. I’ll bet the Quidditch team would be glad to have a reason to kick him off.”
Pansy’s eyes widened at that thought and Theo continued, “But don’t worry. I won’t tell. It could affect his standing as a Prefect then they might have to promote Blaise or me. And I’ll see that he gets off the train all right. I’ll do it out of my deep affection for Professor Snape and the House of Slytherin.”
Her face softened a bit. “Thanks, Theo.”
“It’s nothing.” He sighed. She turned to leave and Theo added, “Pansy, he wouldn’t want you to see him, so I wouldn’t hang around to say goodbye, if I were you.”
“Oh…Yes, of course,” she said, shutting the door.
Jane looked at her watch. “I want to say a few good-byes. See you all in September! It was good meeting you, Blaise, Theo,” she added shyly.
Theo looked startled and muttered something back. As soon as Jane was gone he shot Rena a dark look. “She’s a bit thick, even for a Hufflepuff.”
“Don’t judge Hufflepuff by one girl,” Rena sighed. “That was so sweet of you to help Malfoy.”
“Hardly.” Theo growled.
Blaise started laughing. “He isn’t in the toilet. Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle have done it again!”
Theo explained, “They look like they took a bunch of jinxes all at once. There are three slug-looking things stuffed in a luggage rack two compartments back. I’ll wait till everyone is off the train then see if I can restore them. ”
Rena looked shocked, “And if you can’t?”
He shrugged, “It’s an improvement! Even the good professor would have to agree with that. Besides it isn’t the first time.”
Blaise laughed again. “Malfoy was so sure he was going to get back at Potter! Wanted us to join in. He was pretty annoyed we wouldn’t help. Said Theo had a duty to get even.”
Rena saw that Theo was embarrassed. He saw her look and shrugged, “Professor Snape told me personally to stay out of trouble. And anyway, I don’t really have a fight with Potter. What my Dad does is his own business.”
Blaise and Rena had begun gathering their things as the train slowed and passed into the terminal. Theo grew quiet and looked out at the people waiting on the platform. Always it was the eager faces of mothers that caught his attention. Mrs. Malfoy, a tall blonde woman stood defiantly in a shaft of sunlight that made her appear to glow. He wondered if she did it on purpose. Mrs. Crabbe and Mrs. Goyle were huddled together as if protecting each other, both very anxious looking. He wondered if any of the others knew how good it was to have your mother meet you? This year he didn’t even have his Dad. His eyes started to well, and he shook his head.
“There’s your Mum,” he said to Blaise.
Blaise and Rena looked out the window. Rena waved and dashed out of the compartment, “Bye!”
Blaise spoke, “Maybe I can change Mum’s mind. I’ll talk her into letting you come.”
“Don’t worry. Professor has set something up for me. I’m not really going to an orphanage.”
“Then why didn’t you tell me!” Blaise demanded, looking a bit hurt.
Theo shrugged. “I’ll send you an owl.”
Blaise stared at him a moment. “Want some help?”
“If you have time,” Theo agreed. “I was thinking of a restorative potion that I just happen to have in my pocket.”
“What? No foolish wand waving?” Blaise joked. “It wouldn’t happen to be the potion that leaves the subject smelling like rotten eggs would it?”
“Don’t worry. It should wear off before school starts,” Theo grinned. “And if it doesn’t, I’m sure Professor will have an antidote.”
“Blaise kept his seat, but Theo stood at the doorway watching the others leave. He spoke quietly to those he knew, although Blaise was his only real friend. Near the end of students was the famous Gryffindor Trio. Potter looked up, catching his eye. There was a look of uncertain recognition.
“Have a good holiday, Potter.” Theo said evenly, trying to smile.
Potter’s eyes widened. Granger stared, her face pale. It was Weasley who spoke, “Go on, don’t bother with him.” The three moved on, Nott’s eyes following after.
“Oh, to be in Ravenclaw,” he muttered and started down the aisle to rescue his Housemates.