Sofia was pleased to see that her cousins settled in very well at Hogwarts. She had showed them all how to communicate by the little figurines that mirrored their tattoos, and they had all agreed to meet every Friday afternoon before dinner. She made them all promise that they would stay in touch every day either face to face or through the figurines. She knew that above all else, they had to stick together this year.
There seemed to be heavy air hanging over the school. Many students had family members or other close ones who had been killed or injured in the war, either one on side or the other, or getting caught in the crossfire. Those who did not knew others who did. Casualties mounted day by day, and there was an air of uncertainty in everyone’s mind.
Everywhere the Adema’s walked, Sophia knew they were receiving looks and whispers from the other students. They wondered why, during such a dangerous time, had they come down from their safety in the north. Some thought they wanted the glory of being the ones to finish off Voldemort. Others thought perhaps they were fighting on his side.
The evening before lessons began, Professor McGonagall called all the Gryfindors into the common room after dinner. She was as calm and collected as Sofia had ever seen her.
“Good evening and welcome back. Now I have a few things that I wish to say to you all. As you know, our new Headmaster and newest teachers are servants of You-Know-Who. I must caution against all misbehavior. Though Professor Snape has already hidden himself in the Headmaster’s office the Carrows have made very clear that they will be in charge of punishment. They will not hesitate to enforce the cruelest punishments imaginable. Curfew this year will be strictly enforced, so there is to be no nighttime wandering. Remember, nothing is as it used to be.”
“So that’s it then?”
Every head in the common room turned as Ginny Weasley stepped forward.
“We’re just going to move aside and let Snape take over? He killed Dumbledore!”
“Enough, Miss Weasley,” McGonagall said firmly. “This is not just Professor Snape we are talking about. He and the Carrows report directly to You-Know-Who. You can expect that repeat offenders will show up on his radar.”
“But we can fight!” Neville said from the corner, and there was a murmur of agreement among almost all of the students, even some of the first years. “After all, Dumbledore would not want us to roll over and let You-Know-Who take over without a fight.”
“Dumbledore is not here anymore,” McGonagall snapped. “And I can assure you that he would not want children fighting in a war that is not theirs to fight. That is all I will say on this matter.”
“But-“ Ginny started.
“Five points from Gryffindor, Miss Weasley” Professor McGonagall said. “And if you continue this behavior then you shall receive more than lost House points as punishment.”
There was an angry murmur around the common room. It was not often that Heads of Houses took points from their own.
“Now,” McGonagall continued calmly. “On a more positive note, Quidditch tryouts will be held next Saturday. All who wish to try out are to let me know by Friday. Ginny Weasley has been named Quidditch captain.”
She gave Ginny a stern look that said she would not be afraid to strip Ginny of this position.
“I suggest you all get to bed,” McGonagall said with a wave. “Classes start tomorrow.”
She left the common room quietly, and as soon as she was gone Neville stood up on the table and turned to his Housemates.
“Listen up,” he called. “Now I know that some of you are probably scared, and you have a good reason to be. But I, for one, am not going to stand around and let You-Know-Who win. For those of you who do not know, two years ago Harry Potter started the DA, a group of us who wanted to train so that we could be prepared to fight You-Know-Who. I say we bring it back.”
There were cheers of agreement around the room, and Sofia seemed like the only person not to be on board with the idea. Sofia knew that this was false optimism. These people wanted to fight. They believed that they could fight. Yet Soifa knew that if it came down to a fight, they would not stand a chance.
A surprise was waiting for the students at breakfast the next morning and it was not a pleasant one. As students filed into the Great Hall, they were stunned to see Professor Snape standing in front of the head table with Luke Wolfrick beside him. The Carrows were behind them, looking smug. Once all the students and teachers were seated he began to speak.
“Last night, this boy was found placing dungbombs outside the doors of several teachers offices. Today is the first day of classes, and this will be your first lesson.”
He threw Luke to the ground and stepped aside. Amycus Carrow stepped forward with his wand pointed at Luke.
“Crucio!” He cried.
Luke began to scream in pain, and gasps rose up through teachers and students alike. Sofia nearly puked as his screams rattled her heart. She felt every person around her holding their breath.
After a few moments, Amycus stopped. Snape stepped forward and grabbed Luke by his robes. He pulled the boy to his feet and pushed him hard towards the Ravenclaw table. Luke stumbled and almost fell, but managed to catch himself and limped over to sit next to Andrew.
“Your lesson is this,” Snape called out. “Rule breaking will not be tolerated. In the past rule breaking has often been overlooked or even praised. Not. Any. More. Anyone involved in any unsanctioned activities will be most severely.”
Sofia knew that this warning would scare off most of the people who had been so eager to fight last night. Most of these innocent students had never seen someone tortured in front of their eyes. They had never seen such evil up close and personal. Now they knew a piece of what they were up against. Now they knew just what they faced if they rebelled.
The rest of breakfast was tense and uneasy. When the students and teachers finally broke for classes, Sofia ran to Luke, unable to hide her worry for him, even though they had not spoken since their conversation on the train.
“Luke, are you okay?” She asked
“I’m fine,” Luke said dryly.
He pushed past her and left her standing alone in the crowd of students.
“He loves you,” Sofia turned to see Andrew walking towards her. “He’s doing this for you, you know. Fighting, rebelling. He said something about wanting to free you. I don’t know what that’s all about, but Sof, he really really cares for you. You are all he talked about this summer. He just wants you to be safe.”
“He can’t protect me,” Sofia said.
“Doesn’t mean he’ll ever stop trying.”
Andrew walked past her and disappeared. Sofia hurried to catch up with Natalie and Marcus, who had become instant friends. The two were waiting at her just outside the Great Hall.
“Potions first then,” Natalie said.
They hurried down to the dungeons, afraid of consequences that might come from being late to class.
“You know,” Natalie said. “I’m still willing to fight. They can torture me all they want. I’m not afraid.”
Marcus agreed and looked at Sofia.
“What about you, Sof? I’ve talked with everyone else. They’re all eager to fight. Will you stand with us?”
When he phrased it like that, Sofia had no choice but to agree. When it came down to standing with her family or possibly protecting them, she would stand with them always. They would stay together. They would fight, and maybe even die, together.