Harry Potter was used to everything in his life going wrong. Having to live in a household where not saying "sir," meant a broken wrist or forearm and many, many, lashes across the back tended to plant seeds of pessimism in a person. But despite everything, Harry did his best to be a kind person, an act which had become extremely difficult for him to maintain. It wasn't often that Harry found himself by the Black Lake. His current situation had reminded an awful lot of his third year, except instead of Hagrid standing about knee-high in the cold water, it was him. Had that stupid piece of parchment with his name on it decided to just stay in that goblet, maybe he'd still be on speaking terms with his two supposed best friends. Harry would admit that part of the problem was his fault; instead of calming down, he had instantly resorted to antagonizing his friends, asking why they wouldn't just listen to him instead of trying to diffuse the situation to have a mature discussion on the problem.
Harry expected a reaction from his best mate when his name flew out from the goblet. Hermione, on the other hand, had blindsided him completely. Both of them had stuck beside him through thick and thin; through the Quirrell debacle, the Chamber of Secrets, even when he found out that an accused mass-murderer was his godfather. Yet when he's forcefully entered into some stupid tournament, that's when they decide to jump ship. He'd been replaying their argument over and over in his head for the past hour, and each time he could feel his jaw grow taut in anger.
"Honestly Harry, you can tell us why you put your name in," he hadn't put his name in anything.
"Just forget it, Hermione. He's a right prat, I'm tellin' ya," Harry scoffed at the memory. If anything Ron was the prat. Over and over, in perfect clarity, Harry could see Ron's betrayed glare, and Hermione's disappointed frown as the two walked away from him, leaving him to stand alone in the Gryffindor common room. With a resigned sigh, Harry skipped another rock across the shimmering face of the lake, watching it bounce four times before sinking into the dark depths.
He found an odd connotation in the feat, noticing the similarities of the smooth, sinking rock to his own life. Riding the highs for what felt like a few moments before inevitably sinking into some form of murky depression.
Harry grew a bittersweet smirk as he juggled his last rock with his free hand. Twisting his wrist, Harry leaned down to skip the final rock, mimicking the act three times as he prepared to release it.
"One… two… thr-"
Harry froze mid-swing, his shoulders tensing ever so slightly before he turned around. Locking eyes with a pair of pine green eyes that were many shades darker than his own, and long golden hair that reached his visitor's shoulders. Her lips were in a neutral line and her hands were professionally interlocked across her stomach. Raking his mind, Harry recognized the girl as a Slytherin in his year.
"Er, hello. It's… Daphne? Daphne Greengrass, right?" Harry watched the girl's lips curl into a small, practiced smile; nodding her head ever so slightly.
"That's right, I'm surprised you know," walking out of the lake, Harry bent to roll his pant legs back down, casting a quick-drying charm onto his feet to not soil his socks. As Harry thought about it, he too was surprised he remembered the Slytherin girl's name. As far back as he could think, the only interactions he had had with the girl were simple pleasantries; you're average thank you's and excuse me's. Standing back up, Harry presented his own pleasant smile, rubbing the back of his neck bashfully as he let out a small chuckle.
"To be fair, I'm a little surprised myself, I think this is the longest conversation we've had to date," Daphne hid her giggle behind her hand in a posh manner, stifling her laughter the best she could.
"Yes well, Gryffindors and Slytherins are sworn to be enemies, no?" Harry frowned at the comment, taking a tentative step backward as his hand twitched for his wand. Daphne rolled her eyes at the action, grinning ever so slightly as she took a step towards Harry.
"Relax, Potter. If I wanted to hex you, I'd have done it when you weren't facing me," Harry's frown deepened, but he conceded regardless. She had a point.
"Care to tell me why you're here then?" Harry asked. He eyed Daphne with a calculating gaze as he began walking passed her. Daphne quickly fell into stride beside him, matching his pace perfectly as she continued looking forward.
"That's simple, I wish to help you throughout the tournament," Harry nearly tripped over as the words left Daphne's mouth, the Slytherin in question smirking impishly as she watched Harry out of the corner of her eye. Quickly correcting himself, Harry cleared his throat. His cheeks held a light dusting of pink at his near misstep.
"I… I see, and why would you want to do that?" Harry watched as Daphne's impish smile faltered, disappointment and a small fraction of annoyance etching their way onto her normally impassive features.
"Am I not allowed to? Potter?" Harry tensed at her tone, up until now it held no form of malice. Clearing his throat again, Harry wrung his hands nervously.
"N-No, quite the opposite! I'd appreciate the help, all things considered," Harry did his best to smile, but his face contorted into an awkward combination of a grimace and frown.
"All things considered, you say?" Daphne's eyebrow quirked up in confusion, her cold features showing the smallest hint of intrigue. Harry shrugged at the look.
"Hermione, Ron, and I had a… a bit of a falling out recently," Daphne let out a hum, nodding her head in an understanding manner as her brows furrowed faintly.
"Yes, the Weasle and the muggle-born," Harry could only nod his head in confirmation, even if the less than appealing nickname of his red-haired companion was uttered. "Fed up with your antics, I presume?"
"What?" Harry could barely stop the bite of annoyance that coated his question. Daphne seemed to notice, as she peered at Harry through the corner of her eyes, her lips once again taking the form of her impish smile.
"I'm only kidding, Potter," Harry visibly relaxed, although his exasperated expression remained present. Daphne rolled her eyes at his expression.
"If it's any consolation, I believe you," now that threw Harry for a loop. His feet seemed to freeze underneath him as he suddenly stood rigid. His eyes went wide in confusion as his mouth flew agape. Harry assumed he resembled a fish out of water. "What?"
Daphne let out a chuckle as she paused to look at him, once again raising her hand to cover her mouth.
"Transfigure yourself into a parrot, Potter? I said I believe you. Anyone with a semblance of common sense would as well," Daphne spoke as if her declaration was the most obvious piece of information in the world. Crossing her arms over her chest, Daphne looked at Harry with an amused smirk, her left eyebrow raised in a much similar way. Harry's confused frown merely grew.
Rolling her eyes, Daphne took a few steps closer, staying within an arm's reach of Harry. Grinning wildly, she uncrossed her arms and poked her temple. "Unlike others, I chose to look at past experiences. Unless you have the observational skills of a troll, it's pretty clear to me you hate the spotlight, why would you throw yourself right into it?"
Harry had to give the girl credit, her hypothesis made sense. He just wished other people could see what she saw.
"Well, t-thank you. It means more to me than you think," Harry could feel his confused frown curl up into a smile. A rather big one at that. Daphne's impish smile also became much softer and caring as well.
"I can imagine. It's not every day your whole scho-"
Harry noticed the blonde girl go nearly rigid as what he assumed was a nickname was called out farther down the long hallway they stood in. Daphne turned around slowly as if she were confronting a bear, Harry merely followed his companion's gaze, hearing the girl beside him mutter "oh god," under her breath.
A girl was running, well stomping, towards them. She had hair akin to Hermione's but was wavy instead of bushy. Her skin was a darker, coffee with milk sort of color and her eyes burned with a fierce amber shade. The longer Harry watched the girl march towards him, he started to notice some of the finer details of her. Like the black slouchy beanie that sat atop her head that somehow managed to compliment her school robes well and the red ball lollipop, she kept flicking between her teeth with her tongue.
"Daphne Greengrass, you slimy, two-timing, son of a- oh," The girl's escapade froze as she finally noticed Harry, the boy offering a small wave and a meek hello in response.
Daphne let out a huff as she crossed her arms, closing her eyes as if to control her emotions before sending a sharp glare to the new arrival.
"I suppose you two meeting each other would be inevitable, but this happened much quicker than I initially thought," Daphne grumbled out. With a defeated sigh and a small pout, Daphne gestured loosely to the dark-skinned girl standing near her.
"Harry, this is Tra-"
"Tracey Davis! The one and only friend of one, Daphne Greengrass!" Daphne let out another huff once Tracey finished. The blonde girl pouting, while her dark-haired friend shot out a hand for Harry to shake, smiling wildly as she did so. Daphne seemed to shake her head before looking back up at Harry.
"As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted. Harry, this is my one, and only friend, Tracey Davis. Tracey, I'm sure you can figure this one out for yourself, I'd be rather ashamed if you didn't," The last bit of her sentence came out in a jumbled mess, a comment Daphne wanted to keep to herself. Tracey either didn't hear or didn't pay any mind to the comment, as she simply kept her arm extended, shaking it ever so slightly as if to urge Harry to shake it.
Letting out a small laugh, Harry grabbed Tracey's hand with a firm grip, shaking it once while giving the girl a polite smile.
"Pleasure meeting you, Tracey," the girl in question merely grinned in response, taking her lollipop out of her mouth to point it at him; the ruby red color of the lollipop matched the nail polish Tracey decided to wear that day.
"Pleasures all mine, Wonder Boy," Tracey mimicked that wand motions of the levitation charm with her lollipop before placing back into her mouth, shifting her gaze from Harry over to Daphne with both an amused and teasing glint in her eyes. Daphne seemed to recognize the look, as her shoulders immediately tensed as she stared wide-eyed at her friend.
"Must we do this now?" Harry tried to suppress the grin that formed. Whatever conversation Daphne was about to have, she dreaded it. Tracey paid her friend's pleading tone no mind.
"Oh, but of course my pureblood princess," Tracey wasted no time in wrapping her arm around her friend's, giving Harry a warm smile as she started pulling her friend farther down the hallway.
"We'll be back in a jiffy," With a mock salute, Tracey all but dragged her blonde haired friend further down the stone hallway the trio stood in. Harry noticed the two girls stop only a few meters away from him, he rose an eyebrow curiously but decided against moving from his spot, leaning against a nearby pillar for support.
"Why didn't you tell me you were out talking with Harry Potter!?" Tracey's voice came out in an excited whisper. Her attempts at secrecy were for naught, however, as Harry could easily hear her rather a loud proclamation. Eyeing them carefully, Harry watched Daphne practically pry Tracey's arm off of her elbow; pushing it towards her friend with an undignified groan.
"It's a rather recent development," Daphne's voice was much quieter than her friend's, her attempts at confidentiality starting much better than Tracey's.
"You mean this isn't the first time!?" Tracey was bouncing on the balls of her feet, shaking joyfully as her smile threatened to tear her cheeks in half.
"That's not what I meant! You already knew I was going to offer my assistance with the tournament!" Daphne sent a sharp glare towards her friend, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Okay, but I don't know why! You just said 'I'll help him,' in that pissy tone of yours!" Tracey's impersonation was very crude, but it didn't stop the small snort that escaped Harry. Sending an almost bashful expression his way, Daphne grabbed Tracey's elbowed and pulled her close with a sharp tug.
"Would you quiet down! He can probably hear us you ignorant gnome," Daphne's insult held close to no bite to it, a fact that Tracey grinned wildly at.
"Oh, you don't mean that," Tracey shrugged Daphne's arm off of her's, turning to walk back over to Harry before Daphne once again spun her around.
"Keep spouting nonsense, and I'll transfigure you into one," Once again shoving Tracey's arm away, Daphne sent one last glare towards her friend - earning two raised hands to signal surrender - before walking back over to Harry, a scowl masking her face. Harry couldn't help but smirk at the interaction, pushing himself off the pillar he leaned upon.
"Friends, you say?" Harry couldn't stop the joke from leaving his lips, earning a scowl and an almost inaudible growl from Daphne.
"Shut it, Potter," While her words were meant to be intimidating, her voice didn't convey her angry look; she sounded embarrassed. "Just let me know when you have a clue for the first task."
Quickly walking passed him, Daphne mumbled something that sounded like "always embarrassing me," before disappearing around a nearby corner. Harry shook his head in amusement; hearing the distinct popping of a lollipop being removed from a mouth, he turned to face a smiling Tracey.
"You'll get used to it," With a pat on the back, Tracey offered a cheeky smile. With the stick of her lollipop jutting out of the corner of her mouth, Tracey stuffed her hands in the pockets of her robes.
"Should we expect you around the Slytherin table from now on?" Harry didn't notice the sudden change of scenery as both he and Tracey started subconsciously making their way back towards the great hall. Harry grimaced at the question.
"I don't think that'd be the greatest idea. Don't suppose Malfoy cares for my presence any more than usual," Harry did his best to keep his tone lighthearted, but the smallest inklings of annoyance were still audibly present. Tracey scoffed at Harry's qualms, dismissively flipping her hand.
"We don't care for the ferret anymore than you do. No, you'll sit with the two of us of course," Tracey beamed at the prospect, her tongue still tossing her lollipop throughout her mouth.
"You two sit alone?" Harry looked at the girl with a curious frown. Tracey shrugged at the question, looking at Harry through the corner of her eyes as they continued to walk.
"Daffy's always been a bit of a wallflower unless she's at one of those dreadfully boring business parties, and the rest of the house doesn't necessarily care for me since I'm a…"
"Muggle-born?" Tracey shook her head, causing Harry's eyebrow to raise in questioning.
"Half-blood," she clarified, biting down onto her lollipop with a definite crunch. "What made you think muggle-born?"
Harry could feel his cheeks warm slightly. Rubbing the back of his neck, he focused his gaze on the hallway in front of them.
"W-Well, when you called Daphne 'Daffy', it reminded me of-"
"The duck." The two finished the sentence together. Tracey gave Harry a small smile as the boy turned to face her with an amused look.
"Mum insisted I watch cartoons as a kid. When I met Daphne in our first year," Tracey shrugged as she and Harry stopped just outside of the entrance to the great hall. "Seemed only fitting."
Turning her body to face Harry completely, Tracey offered her companion a lollipop. Harry tentatively grabbed it, unwrapping the sweet before placing it in his mouth. Tracey gave him another smile.
"I can already tell we're gonna be good friends, Wonder Boy," placing her hand on his shoulder, Tracey gave Harry a slight shake.
Harry smiled at the girl's optimism, pushing the door beside them open for them. Smiling her thanks, Tracey walked into the great hall and towards the Slytherin table, waving behind her in the process. Harry's smile remained plastered as he walked in the opposite direction towards the Gryffindor table, not offering Ron or Hermione a glance as he passed them. Ron's scowl and Hermione's frown stayed present as he sat down in front of Neville Longbottom. Looking up at the sudden presence, Neville gave Harry a shy, but kind smile as his housemate sat down.
"H-Hey, Harry. Where'd you get the lolly?" Harry simply smiled as he started filling his plate with food.