Astoria Greengrass shifted under her green and silver blanket, recoiling from the thin shaft of sunlight streaming in through what counted as a window in the Slytherin dormitories.
"Get up," Pansy Parkinson snapped from the entrance to the girl's dormitory, already clothed in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry uniform: black robes and a tie that corresponded to her house.
"I'm trying, but my bed keeps eating me," Astoria grumbled. Pansy looked at her for a second, head tilted slightly to the side. Sometimes Astoria thought most humor was forbidden in the Slytherin house. She sighed. "Coming."
Pansy threw some of her clothes at her, her expression softening slightly. "Breakfast in five. The group's waiting."
The Group. Also known as Gregory Goyle, Blaise Zabini, Pansy Parkinson, Daphne Greengrass (Astoria's older sister), herself, and, most importantly, Draco Malfoy. The boy she couldn't for the life of her figure out.
Astoria got out of bed and took a quick shower before sliding into her uniform.
"Your tie isn't on correctly," a voice said from the doorway. Astoria looked up to see Draco leaning against the doorframe.
"Sor-ry," she said sarcastically. He smirked.
Sarcasm: the one type of humor Slytherins did understand.
"Why are you even here?" she asked him, tying the last lace on her sneakers and joining him in the doorway. He eyed her tie. Rolling her eyes, she retied it the correct way.
"I wanted to make sure you were awake," Draco said, nodding in satisfaction at her new efforts.
They stood there for a second.
"How's Pansy?" she blurted out. He looked surprised but answered nonetheless.
"She's fine. Unreasonably excited about us..." Astoria knew when he said that that he meant himself and Pansy, his girlfriend, not her, even though she wished it was her. "Being in the seventh year for real and all that," he mused. His expression was cold.
"It sounds like a big deal," Astoria said, her head slightly bowed to hide the hurt in her eyes. He was so arrogantly oblivious...
"Whatever. I have bigger things on my mind."
Astoria was going to ask him what those things were but decided against it. Instead, she extended her elbow to him mockingly. "Shall we?"
Draco bowed. "We shall," he said, placing his hand on her arm as they descended down the staircase. He let go when they reached the common room. Pansy would get jealous, though Astoria kept telling herself that there was nothing for Pansy to be jealous of. She and Draco would always be (at best) friends.
"- filthy little Mudblood thinking she's so great because she got Head Girl -" Pansy was saying as Astoria and Draco walked over to the group. She broke off when she saw Draco. "Draco!" she squealed, her voice an octave higher than usual, before kissing him for a little too long (in Astoria's opinion, anyway). Draco pulled away and examined the group, making sure they were all there.
"Let's go," he said as if he hadn't been passionately making out with his girlfriend five seconds before. Pansy linked arms with Astoria as Draco lazily slung his arm over his girlfriend from the other side.
"What were you saying?" Astoria asked her friend as they walked to breakfast.
Pansy frowned. "The Mud- Granger girl got Head Girl this year," she said, stopping herself before she said "Mudblood" in Astoria's presence. Astoria's late mother had always hated the word, and, as such, she and her sister refused to say it.
"Who's Head Boy?" Astoria asked.
"Harry Potter, of course," Pansy snarled, glancing over at the Gryffindor table where the Boy-Who-Lived was eating breakfast with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.
"It's Pothead, Pansy," Draco corrected loudly as they sat down at the Slytherin table. Pansy laughed, and Draco looked incredibly pleased with himself. "Must be tough for the Weasel, won't it? His best friend and girlfriend living together..."
"Oi, Ferret! Shut up before your teeth fall out!" Ron called from the table opposite theirs - the Gryffindor table.
Draco stood up, followed by most Slytherin seventh years, excluding Daphne and Astoria. "Make me," he said, his lip curling.
Potter stood up quickly, his sudden movement rattling his table. "Gladly."
Suddenly, almost all Gryffindor seventh years were also on their feet, wands out.
"Draco!" Astoria hissed, looking up at him. "You don't want to do this. Sit down before anyone gets hurt." Despite her warning, his gaze remained straight ahead, ignoring the girl as if she was a fly buzzing around his head. "Draco!" the sixth year said, a little louder.
"Does somebody not want to fight? I suppose that's what to be expected from a Slytherin," Seamus Finnigan jeered, pointing his wand straight at Astoria.
Suddenly, everyone looked at the pleading girl. Draco pulled her up, lip curling, and she knew that he was just saving face and Slytherin's reputation.
At the expense of her getting hurt if the fight started.
"Nice try, Malfoy, but I guess some people were just born to be cowards. Stupefy!"
And suddenly a red light was hitting her chest and she was falling backward, head hitting the cold hard floor with a gigantic crash...
And Draco's emotionless face blinked and then disappeared into a void of black, along with everything else.
"Astoria, wake up!"
The girl woke up to see Pansy shaking her roughly.
"Hi," Astoria said quietly, just now noticing the hospital bed she was sitting in. "What happened?" she asked as she eyed the other patients - all Slytherins and Gryffindors from that morning. "What time is it?"
Pansy squinted at the huge clock above the entrance to the hospital wing. "One in the afternoon. We all missed lunch for you, so you better be grateful."
Astoria smiled at her friend. "We?"
"Draco's waiting outside. Blaise and Daphne visited you already but you wouldn't wake up."
"Oh. What class do we have now?"
"Care of Magical Creatures," Pansy said, her tone sardonic, "Wouldn't want to miss that."
Astoria grimaced. "Well, I better get up and go. I can't fall behind."
"Say more things like that, Astoria, and you'll end up like Granger," Draco said, entering the room.
"So what happened?" Astoria asked again, ignoring his comment. Truthfully, being like Hermione Granger wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, she thought. Perfect grades, great friends, a loving boyfriend... not being in a house where backstabbing was as normal as walking...
Draco's voice pulled Astoria from her thoughts. "That terrible excuse for a human being -"
"Seamus?" the injured girl corrected him gently.
He nodded, face pale (as always), hands curled into fists. "Seamus stunned you. Of all people.." he started to boil over again.
"It's okay," she said, trying to sound brave. "I'm fine, see?"
He looked at her for a second, regained his composure, and nodded.
"I didn't know you cared so much about me," Astoria joked, head burning. Pansy shot her a look - Astoria had forgotten her place. She cleared her throat. "I think you guys can go back to class now. I'm just going to rest."
They left, and Astoria slept once more.
Madam Pomfrey was the next face she saw.
"Miss Greengrass? We need to talk."
Astoria sat up in bed, rearranging her pillows so that they were more comfortable. "Yes?" There was a mirror in the corner of the room. She looked even more pale than usual, which was saying something. Her black hair was still curly and disheveled.
Madam Pomfrey's face was grim. "While you were out, I did some customary examinations on your overall health, and it appears that something is amiss."
Astoria inhaled sharply. What could possibly be wrong with her? She'd had great health all her life. "And?"
"Do you know who Geoffrey Greengrass was?"
"Geoffrey Greengrass was the first member of the Greengrass line, and, well..." she looked at her patient again, whose face was now completely white. "Have you heard of the blood curse, my dear?"
"No," Astoria breathed, starting to feel nauseous.
"The blood curse pops up every few generations, and when it does..." Madam Pomfrey looked at Astoria, who was still holding her breath. "When it does, it's usually fatal."
"What do you mean, fatal?" Astoria said, little stars appearing in front of her eyes. She tried to push them out of her mind; she was not going to faint. Not now.
"Well, every Greengrass who has been diagnosed has died..."
The stars got darker. She took a sip of water to calm herself.
"And you're sure I have it?" She would not soil the Greengrass name by failing now. She would not.
"How long do I have?"
Madam Pomfrey thought for a few moments. "It depends. I added it to your Saint Mungo's record and contacted your father. I suggest you visit the hospital once a week from now on. We may be able to delay the curse's effects."
"Okay," Astoria said, still not quite believing. This wasn't supposed to happen to her. She was supposed to be successful, have a large family, be an accomplished witch.
"I'm sorry, dear," Madam Pomfrey said, pity and sadness in her eyes.
"Can you leave now?" Astoria asked.
Madam Pomfrey left, and Astoria smashed her water glass to pieces unintentionally - she'd been clinging to it like a lifeline throughout her visit with Madam Pomfrey, and now all the frustration was channeled into the breaking of the glass.
Astoria held her hand out, watching the blood from the glass seep out and onto her white duvet.
The cursed blood, she corrected herself.