Chapter Nine: New Beginnings
I didn’t know how long I had been sitting in the Owlery. But that didn’t really matter. I was prepared to sit amongst the owls for as long as I needed, to be alone with my thoughts and no one who thought that I wasn’t enough of a Malfoy.
At home, in Malfoy Manor, my boggart was always there. Living, eating, and shouting at me. That is why I had to leave my home. Eleven years of being looked down upon by my kin is bone-crushing. I thought that I had found sanctuary at Hogwarts. Instead, I found what I had been running from all my life surrounding me.
Sighing, I saw the noon sun highlight a small boy running up the path to the Owlery. He had two book bags slung over his left shoulder, and sprayed dirt as he ran with a sharp, loping gait.
I stood, and watched the school owls fly in and out of the Owlery. How I wished that I could be like them— able to fly so I could leave all of my worries behind.
The doorway to the Owlery darkened, and I turned around to see Albus Potter, with a red face and my book bag over his shoulder. His eyes widened to see me there.
“Professor Wood sent me to find you,” he said. “Here.” Unslinging it from his back, my book bag was transferred back into my hands.
I let it drop to the floor in a cloud of dust and discarded feathers. We locked eyes for a moment, and I saw that beneath the green stare, something flickered beneath. Pain? I pushed the thought away. A Potter couldn’t possibly be worried or hurt. Everyone adored them, and their high status of the Wizarding world.
“Aren’t you going to say thank-you?” Albus asked me.
I frowned slightly. “For what?”
“Wasting my lunch hours and break time to look for you,” he said, suddenly getting defensive.
I scuffled my feet and looked at the ground, covered with owl pelters.
“Oh,” I said. “Well, um, thank-you, Albus.”
If he was surprised that I called him by his first name he didn’t show it, only nodded. We stared at each other for several more moments, the silence only being broken with the hooting and flapping of owls.
“You must hate being here,” Albus said. “With me, a Potter.”
I frowned. “Why would I hate you?” I said. “You hate me, not the other way around.”
“I don’t hate you,” Albus said. “I thought you hated me.”
I grinned. “Really? This is fantastic! Best day of my life!” I jumped into the air and let a cloud of dust float over both of us, the sunlight showing the individual particles.
“Why is this the best day of your life?” Albus asked.
“Because someone doesn’t hate me for being a Malfoy!” I grabbed my book bag, spun around, and dashed out the Owlery door. I paused on the steps and called back,” Thank you, Albus!”
I was almost off the stairs when I heard Albus call back,” Hazel! Malfoy! Wait up!”
I slowed my pace and stopped on the last step. “Yes?”
Albus stumbled down the steps until he stood next to me. “Wait! I wanted to ask you this, but never got a chance. It’s about your boggart.”
I swallowed and adjusted my book bag on my shoulder. “What about it?” I said softly.
“Well, what exactly is it?” Albus said. “Are you scared of yourself?”
I shook my head. “No. That wasn’t me.” Albus opened his mouth, and I answered his question before it was asked. “It may have looked like it, but that wasn’t me. The boggart is Hazel Malfoy, as everyone expects me to be.”
Albus looked blank. “Expects you?”
“Everyone in the Wizarding world expects Scorpius and I to have Dark Marks on our forearms, and to hate Mudbloods.” I turned back to the castle, looking up at the towering structure. “But we don’t, Albus, we really don’t.”
“I know how that feels,” he said, and I turned on him.
“How? You’re Harry Potter’s son, and have the entire world in awe of you. Your father’s famous, you’re famous, and not for the reason that the Malfoys are famous for!” I was practically foaming at the mouth, but Albus didn’t step back. He leaned closer to me.
“How can you say that you don’t want people judging you for what your father and grandparents did? Are you listening to yourself?” Albus clenched his fists. “I do not want to be known for my father! When people hear the name “Albus Potter.” I don’t want to be known as “Potter.” I want to be known as Albus!”
I blinked at him. “I-I never thought about it that way,” I said. “I guess that we do have more in common then I could’ve guessed.”
Albus smiled. “You know Hazel, I don’t have any friends.”
“Are you sure?” I said. “I’ve seen you in the halls, you are always surrounded by fans and other people.”
Though you don’t look very happy about it, I added silently.
Albus scoffed. “They’re not my friends. They just want to take advantage of the fact that I know so many people, like Viktor Krum and the—“
I gasped. “Viktor Krum? Are you serious? The Bulgarian Seeker? He’s my favorite Quidditch player!”
Albus wrinkled his nose. “Bulgaria? Try Brazil.”
“Brazil’s a lightweight,” I scoffed, enjoying myself for the first time since I arrived at Hogwarts. “Bulgaria beat them in the last Quidditch Cup.”
“But they’ll win next year,” said Albus. He laughed slightly. “Hazel, what position do you play?”
“How do you know I play Quidditch,” I said, trying to steer the conversation away from my position. Albus stared at me. “Okay. Well, I play, um, Beater.” I braced myself for laughter or a teasing comment.
“I play Keeper,” Albus said, his eyes lighting up. “I’m trying out for the Gryffindor team. Are you for Slytherin?”
I shrugged. “Girls have never been on the team, and especially not when they’re Beaters.”
“You’ll do fine,” Albus said. He passed me on the stairs and waved a farewell. “See you, Hazel.”
“Um, Albus,” I asked. He turned around, squinting at the sun that was right behind me. “I don’t have any friends either. Do—“
“Of course!” Albus said. He grinned, and I did the same.
Even if Lucias and Narcissa punished me for being friends with a Gryffindor, yet a Potter, I didn’t care. I had made my first ever friend, and that meant more than my grandparent’s obsession with Malfoy honor.