Snow covered the grounds as winter set in at Hogwarts. Icicles hung from windows and doorways. It became a hobby for students to jinx them to fall on other unsuspecting people.
Sofia met Luke outside of the entrance to the the Great Hall on the evening of Professor Slughorn's Christmas party. She had not wanted to attend, but now that she was no longer avoiding him, she found it easier to show her face in public.
"You look magnificent," Luke said to her.
She smiled and blushed. He took her hand and lead her gently up the stairs and through the corridors to Slughorn's office. The halls were quiet; most students were in their dorms preparing to leave for the holidays.
"Are you going home for Christmas?" Luke asked her.
"Yes. I miss my family very much. Are you?"
"Yes. My parents are worried that Hogwarts will be vulnerable with so many students gone. Maybe you could come meet them over the break."
"I'd like that," she said. "But you had better ask my father first. He's very strong on traditions and chivalry."
Luke gave a light laugh as they reached Slughorn's office. They could hear the rumble of the party as they paused outside for the briefest moment before walking inside.
The ceiling and walls had been draped with emerald, crimson, and gold hangings, so that it looked as though they were inside a large tent. The room was crowded and stuffy and bathed in the red light cast by an ornate golden lamp dangling from the center of the ceiling. Real fairies were fluttering elegantly around it. There was singing coming from the far corner.
"I didn't think it would be this crowded," Luke noted.
There were probably thirty or so warlocks and witches in addition to a handful of Hogwarts students and staff. They were all drinking and eating merrily, as house elves dashed around to take care of whatever needed taking care of.
"Ah, Sofia, you look lovely!"
Slughorn danced over to her and held out his hand. She offered him her own and he shook it gently.
"And you are Luke..."
"Wolfrick," Luke told him. "Fifth year."
"Ah yes, of course. I must say you performed quite brilliantly on your last essay. It was absolutely marvelous, almost perfect if I say so myself. Now, I have some people that I would like both of you to meet."
For what seemed like the next half hour, Slughorn lead Sofia and Luke around and introduced them to people who Sofia supposed were really prestigious and powerful. However she forgot most of their names before they even moved on to the next. There was one witch, however, who stood out from the rest.
She had long delicate auburn hair and piercing blue eyes. She was tall and young, with the presence of someone who knew they were important.
"This is Jennifer Marquis, a descendant of none other than Rowena Ravenclaw herself."
The woman suddenly had Sofia's undivided attention.
"Are you a direct descendant or descendant by marriage?" Sofia blurted out.
The woman smiled.
"Direct descendant. My grandmother changed her name from Ravenclaw to Marquis to get rid of so much attention around our family."
So, there was more than one living descendant of the four founders. There was more than one person who could command her. If this person were to order her not to obey Voldemort anymore, maybe she could be freed from his service. It just might work.
She felt Luke squeeze her hand and she looked up at him. His eyes were nervous, worried about how she would react learning there was another person who she was bound to serve. He did not realize that she though this was a good thing, possibly the only thing that could save her. She just had to speak with the woman alone.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Ms. Marquis. I wonder, could I have a word-"
She was cut off by a commotion at the front of Slughorns office. Everyone in the room turned. To her horror she saw Draco being dragged by the ear towards Slughorn by Mr. Filch.
"Professor Slughorn," Filch wheezed. "I discovered this boy lurking in an upstairs corridor. He claims to have been invited to your party and to have been delayed in setting out. Did you issue him with an invitation."
Draco pulled himself away from Filch and glared at him furiously.
"All right, I wasn't invited!" He said angrily. "I was trying to gate-crash, happy?"
"No I'm not!" Filch said, though looking quite gleeful. "You're in trouble, you are! Didn't the headmaster say that nighttime prowling's out, unless you've got permission, didn't he, eh?"
Slughorn cut in before anyone could say anything else.
"That's all right, Argus, that's all right. It's Christmas, and it's not a crime to want to come to a party. Just this once, we'll forget any punishment; you may stay, Draco."
Sofia took a step towards Draco but Luke held her back.
"Sofia, don't," he begged.
"I have to talk to him," she argued but he held her back.
"No, Sof. I can't let you near him," he lowered his voice and his expression became grave. "He's dangerous. You know what he did to Katie."
"You don't know that was him!" Sofia snapped.
"You don't know it wasn't."
"What proof do you have?" She demanded. "He was in detention that day."
"It doesn't mean he wasn't a part of it. So what if he didn't mean for Katie to get hurt, he was trying to kill someone. You don't think he'd hurt you, but what if you got in his way?"
Sofia looked past Luke. Draco was walking out of Slughorn's office, being lead by a furious looking Snape. Luke followed her gaze but kept his hand firmly wrapped around hers.
"Please, Luke. I'm all he has."
"He's got Snape from the looks of things."
Sofia did not want to argue with Luke, but she knew if she pushed hat enough that he would let her go.
"Luke, you know you can't stop me. You know I'm going whether you like it or not. You and Draco have always been jealous of each other and I won't have any more of it."
Luke dropped her hand, looking furious.
His angry voice made Sofia hurt, but she had to this. She needed to be there for Draco. She caught a glimpse of Jennifer Marquis as she walked towards the door. She hesitated, and almost stopped, but Draco was more important than she was. She cared about him more than she cares about herself.
She walked quickly out if Slughorn's office, leaving the noise of the party behind. She hurried through the corridors, looking for signs if Draco and Snape.
As she turned one corner, she ran into Draco. Literally. She stumbled backwards and would have fallen had he not reached out a hand and caught her arm. He pulled back up straight and looked worried.
"Are you alright?" He asked.
Sofia opened her mouth to answer but stopped. He looked awful. Dark circles were lying below bloodshot eyes. His skin was a pale yellowish gray. He looked like he had lost weight.
"I-I'm fine. But Draco, you look awful. What's wrong?"
He let go of her arm and stepped backwards. The worry disappeared from his face and was replaced with a cold hardness.
"Nothing. I have to go."
She grabbed his arm as he tried to turn away and held it tightly.
"Please," she begged. "Talk to me. Let me help you."
"Let me go, Sofia. You can't help me. No one can."
He tried to pull away from her but she held on tightly.
"I won't let you face this alone," she whispered to him. "Please, just let me in."
"Let me go," he growled.
She was too busy staring into his dark eyes that she did not notice him pull his wand from his robes until she was already flying backwards through the air. She hit the hard stone wall and fell to the ground.
She looked up as her head was spinning. She saw Luke running towards her, and Draco with a horrified look on his face as his wand shook in his hand. Luke pulled his wand out and began shooting curses at Draco. Draco turned and ran, fleeing from the scene.
Luke bent down beside Sofia.
"I'll kill him Sof, I'm going to kill him."
Sofia sat up.
"No. Luke please, he's just lost. He just needs someone to help him."
"He tried to hurt you! Sofia, get it through your head. He's not your friend."
"He was," Sofia whispered, more to herself than to Luke. "He's just lost."