"Gryffindor!" The Sorting Hat announced, and was removed from Harry Potter's head.
"Ilumi Illusion," called professor Mcgonagall.
A shy girl took to the front of the room and sat down. She had pale skin, dark eyes and shiny sleek black hair. The Sorting Hat was lowered onto her head and she heard a voice in her mind that startled her a little. "Most peculiar... Slytherin father, Gryffindor mother... But you're better suited for..." The last word of the sentence was spoken loudly, rather than in her head, and it rang out through the hall, "Ravenclaw!"
Ilumi gasped and sat frozen while Mcgonagall removed the Sorting Hat from her head. "Professor," she whispered urgently. "There must have been a mistake, I belong in Slytherin, the house of my father."
"There was no mistake, child," Mcgonagall said softly. "Run along now." She gave Ilumi a gentle push on the shoulder to set her on her way off the stool and towards the table.
The usual cheers have ended and the room had become silent as Mcgonagall called the next student's name "Gabby Grantwish."
A Ravenclaw girl wearing a prefect waved Ilumi over to an empty chair, which she reluctantly occupied. Cheers erupted from the Gryffindor table as Gabby joined them, but Ilumi was so focused on her despair, her eyes refusing to look up, that she didn't even see Gabby. Her fellow Ravenclaws however, were more interested in the brief exchange between Ilumi and Mcgonagall, some of the least shy outright asking her point blank.
Ilumi waved them off saying it was nothing and gave monosyllabic answers to all their curious questions. It wasn't long before they got the message that the new girl wanted to be left alone and did just that, in favor of focusing on the more enthusiastic new students that looked like they actually wanted to be there.
Though the food was delicious, Ilumi didn't enjoy it. She went to bed hoping that she would wake up the next morning in the Slytherin dormitory and find out that this had all been a nightmare.
When the next day came, Ilumi was still very much a Ravenclaw, much to her annoyance. She got ready for the day and dug up her schedule, looking for a free period that she could use to visit the staff office to request a transfer to Slytherin.
That afternoon, Ilumi found wondering who she should talk to about her situation. She could go to her head of house at Ravenclaw, but she didn't think outright rejecting Ravenclaw would go over well. She could go to the headmaster, but that felt too extreme. She could go to Mcgonagall, since she was there during the sorting, but she had already made her opinion clear, plus she was in Gryffindor, and the transfer was between Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Finally she realized she should see professor Snape. Her father, Icarus Illusion knew Snape, sure he would fix this mistake, he must have been expecting her in his house.
Being unfamiliar with the layout of Hogwarts, Ilumi lost her way. She saw a ghost up ahead that she had seen hanging around the Gryffindors earlier. 'That's odd,' she thought, 'I went downstairs, how did I end up here?' She approached the ghost and spoke. "Excuse me, I'm looking for-"
"You don't belong here Ravenclaw," the ghost interrupted.
"Well no," Ilumi agreed. "I belong in Slytherin. I was on my way to see professor-" Ilumi was interrupted again, as the ghost started throwing things at her. "Stop it!" She yelled and pulled out her wand.
Before Ilumi could do anything, another girl came running from the other side of the hall wearing Gryffindor colors. "Stop it, Peeves!" The Gryffindor girl charmed the objects Peeves was throwing, making them levitate and spin around him until the ghost retreated dizzily. "Are you alright?"
"Yes, thank you," Ilumi quietly replied. She was staring at the girl in shock.
"That Peeves is quite a trouble maker," the Gryffindor girl shook her head. "I'm Gabby Grantwish, what's your name?" Gabby had brown hair and bright blue eyes.
It took Ilumi a few seconds to answer, "Ilumi Illusion," she finally voiced.
"Do I have something on my face?" Gabby asked curiously. She rubbed her cheek with her hand and examined it, almost expecting to see a stain of some sort, but it was clean.
"Oh no, sorry, you just look a lot like someone I knew when I was very little," Ilumi hastily explained.
"I used to live in Paris until recently," Gabby revealed. "Did you used to live there too?"
"No, I've lived in London my whole life," Ilumi replied. "I knew you couldn't be her, I was just surprised that you looked so much alike."
"Well, that's a sure sign that we should be friends," Gabby offered.
"You don't mind that we're in different houses?" Ilumi asked.
"Not at all," Gabby smiled. "Besides, there's no real rivalry between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor, everyone knows that Slytherin is Gryffindor's rival."
"But I am a Slytherin," Ilumi declared, and upon noticing Gabby looking confusedly at her Ravenclaw scarf, she added. "I was just on my way to see professor Snape about my Sorting error."
"I've never heard of a Sorting error before," Gabby commented, then elaborated with a smile. "It doesn't matter either way, house rivalries aside, we can still be friends, if you don't mind. As your new friend, I can help you find professor Snape's office," she offered, pulling out a map from her robes. "Grandma gave me this map of Hogwarts last summer and I've had time to get acquainted with it." The map was not particularly magical, it was very much and ordinary piece of parchment with diagrams and notes, but still fairly useful.
Ilumi thought about it. Gabby seemed nice enough and she had been helpful, plus she could use the extra help in finding Snape. She was concerned about what her house, her true house of Slytherin, would think if they saw her with a Gryffindor, but the situation necessitated their alliance, at least temporarily. Besides, her mother had been a Gryffindor, though Ilumi personally knew little about Gryffindors, as her mother had died when she was a baby and thus wasn't around to tell her about her house. Ilumi was mostly worried about what her best friend of childhood, Selena Salas might think. Selena was sorted into Sytherin before the Harry Potter had been sent to Gryffindor and Ilumi had been embarrassedly avoiding her since the sorting.
"Alright," Ilumi finally decided, "I'd appreciate the help." She just had to get into Slytherin, then she could leave all of this confusion behind. She would be with her best friend, Selena, who would surely laugh about the silly mixup and welcome her into Slytherin with open arms, introducing her to her fellow Slytherin with whom she belonged. Then Ravenclaw and Gabby would be left behind and forgotten. She didn't have Gabby by any means, but she craved the familiarity of Selena and the children of her father's friends.
The girls set off to Snape's office, were about to locate it thanks to Gabby, and knocked on the door. Snape's voice beckoned them inside and they entered the office. "Professor Snape, sir," Ilumi explained nervously. "I was mistakenly sorted into Ravenclaw and I thought that maybe you could sort that out?" Ilumi heard Gabby giggling at the repetition of the word sort, while Snape fixed them with an impatient glare. "I mean, I know I belong at Slytherin."
"If you were not sorted into Slytherin, you don't belong in Slytherin," Snape coldly replied.
"But sir," Ilumi insisted, "professor, my father-"
"Stop wasting my time or I will be sending Icarus a letter that he will not be pleased to read," Snape snapped.
"Sorry professor!" Ilumi squeaked and retreated out of the office.
Gabby opened her mouth to speak, but Snape's glare made her think better of it, and she quietly retreated about Ilumi. "Wait up, Ilumi, it's not so bad. Ravenclaw is-"
"It's awful!" Ilumi frowned. Before Gabby could argue further, she made an excuse to leave, claiming she was very tired, and dashed away.
Ilumi's school term progressed quietly. At Ravenclaw she didn't bother anyone and others mostly ignored her in return. She kept to herself in her classes and didn't raise her hand like her fellow Ravenclaw often did. However, she proved she was perfectly capable of providing correct answers if any of the professors called on her.
Ilumi was at the library one day, sitting at a table next to a window, finishing her homework. She had received a letter from her father that morning, but stuffed it in her robes without opening it. She assumed that he was disappointed by her sorting and urged her to talk to the staff and fix the mistake. Yet she had already spoken to Snape and he had rejected her. She had known him first as Mr. Snape, before she started at Hogwarts. He was her father's friend and though they only exchanged a few polite greeting, he had never been so cold and snappish. He too must be disappointed by the sorting.
Gabby, who insisted on greeting Ilumi in the halls between classes and sitting with her in the few classes that Ravenclaw and Gryffindor shared, joined her table. She wasn't alone though, as with her there was an older Gryffindor girl with dirty blond hair and green eyes, wearing a prefect badge. The girl introduced herself as Ally.
The three three of them did their homework quietly, until a tap on the window brought their attention to it and the scene outside. "Selena..." Ilumi recognized her former best friend immediately. Selena Salas had platinum blond hair and gray eyes.
Selena had mostly refused to talk to Ilumi, save for when she pointed at her and loudly proclaimed as they walked down the halls "there goes the traitor!"
Selena held up a doll that looked like Ilumi and set it ablaze with her wand. She and another Slytherin girl laughed as it burned. "Those little brats!" Ally shot up from her seat and hurried out."
"Ally, don't!" Ilumi tried to stop her but soon gave up as a loud "shh!" rang out through the library reprimanding her outburst. Ilumi sighed and took her seat across from Gabby.
"Selena isn't your real friend," Gabby frowned in disapproval.
"She was," Ilumi defended. "Back when our future was set. She was going to apply to the ministry and I would be her second in command. We got those dolls together, I have one that looks like her. Though we're not related by blood, we used to be like sisters. Selena likes Draco, I was supposed to help her, go on double dates and stuff. My entire future was all set and I was looking forward to it, and now I've lost it."
"It's ok, you can go on a double date with me. My crush happens to be in Ravenclaw," Gabby confessed in an attempt to cheer her up. "He's in a different year but maybe you know him." She lowered her voice to a whisper, "Takeshi Ten, I met him when his family was vacationing in Paris. His parents stopped by to visit my grandma, she used to live in London years ago when they first met."
"Oh... yes..." Ilumi replied, still sad about admitting that her future lay in shambles. "That cute asian boy, I haven't really spoken to him much, but I had him as a partner in class the other day."
"But he's two years older than us," Gabby reminded, assuming Ilumi had confused the boy with someone else.
"Yes, I skipped my basic exorcism courses and I'm taking that class with the third years," Ilumi explained.
"Wow," Gabby sounded truthfully impressed. "You really do have the brains for Ravenclaw."
"I'm not a Ravenclaw," Ilumi glared. "Besides, I was only able to skip those courses because I helped dad in the field. He's an exorcist, and a Slytherin."
Gabby bit her lip awkwardly, she didn't mean to upset Ilumi. She felt that any sort of explanation or excuse on her part would make matters worse though. She decided to try to get the conversation going again and hopefully just move past the topic of the houses. "So, is there a boy you like?" She inquired quietly after an uncomfortable silence.
"No," Ilumi frowned, "not anymore. Selena said I should marry her brother, Saleck. He's a year younger than me, but he's tall for his age, so I don't mind. He was supposed to go out with me, Selena and Draco."
Gabby sighed with a mix of pity and exasperation. "Meet me tonight at midnight," she said resolutely.
"What for?" Ilumi asked in confusion.
"We're breaking into the headmaster's office and forcing the Sorting Hat to resort you," Gabby confidently declared.
Ilumi gaped, "not funny."
"I'm not joking," Gabby insisted with a serious expression.
"We'll get in trouble!" Ilumi hissed.
"You're miserable," Gabby stated as a matter of fact. "I think you're better off staying away from people like Selena, who only want to be near you if you're of use to them, but it's not my place to tell you where and how you find your happiness. As your friend, it's simply my job to help you obtain that happiness, whatever that may mean."
Ilumi was speechless and Gabby simply smiled. Finally, Ilumi found her voice, "why are you doing this for me? I have little to offer as your ally."
"You're my friend, I don't know why, but I feel like we're meant to be friends," Gabby half explained, though she didn't fully understand it herself.
"Thank you," Ilumi quietly replied, not fully understanding Gabby's logic herself.
The girls planned the details on their excursion and Gabby introduced Ilumi to a valuable ally, a ghost girl named Myrtle. Ilumi wondered at Gabby's ability to make friends. Myrtle agreed to be their lookout that night, since Gabby was always so nice to her. She was able to safely guide them to Dumbledore's office without being caught.
They attempted to open the pathway to the office but were at first unable too. Myrtle tried to open it from the inside, but something prevented her from going through those particular walls. The three girls were focused on the statue and guessing passwords, when the statue seemed to look at something behind them and stand aside. The girls, both living and ghostly, blinked in confusion, then looked behind them, but there was nothing there.
Ilumi squinted at the wall and began to reach out with her hand, but stopped as Gabby urged her. "What are you doing? C'mon, get inside!"
Ilumi hurried to the office muttering, "must be Myrtle," under her breath.
"Myrtle must be what?" The ghost inquired curiously.
Ilumi shook her head hastily, "its nothing, I just thought I sensed a presence, ghosts sometimes cause that to happen. I should be used to it by now though."
"Oh!" Myrtle squealed with a mix of delight and curiosity. "You have other ghost friends aside from me?"
"Um... well..." Ilumi began shyly, though Gabby interrupted with excitement.
"Ilumi's dad's an exorcist and she helps him. She's even taking exorcism classes with the third years!" Gabby supplied with a smile, which caused Ilumi to shake her head in horror.
"What?!" Shrieked Myrtle. "An exorcist?!" She looked very upset. "Are you going to make me disappear? Go away forever? Forgotten? Erased? Ooooooohhhhh!" Myrtle flew off crying loudly. Though she had been unable to enter the office through the walls earlier, exiting it didn't seem to be a problem.
"Myrtle, wait!" Ilumi tried to stop her, but it was too late.
Gabby had both her hands clasped over her mouth with wide eyes. She dropped her arms limply to her sides and gasped, "I'm so sorry! I didn't realize that she would be that upset. I should have known, stupid, stupid." The palm of Gabby's hand met her forehead in frustration.
"It's ok, she was a bit of a drama queen anyway," Ilumi sighed. "More importantly..." She looked up at the portraits that lined the walls, their occupants now wide awake and staring at them thanks to Myrtle.
"More importantly," one of the portraits of a past head master spoke in a commanding stern tone. "What are you doing-"
Ilumi spoke an incantation that was unfamiliar to Gabby and all of the portraits fell asleep. "Enchanted portraits aren't that different from haunting as in a sense. Don't worry, they'll forget about this and assume they slept through the night without interruption."
"You really are talented," Gabby awed. "I bet you could have exorcised Peeves all on your own," she joked.
"I was going to," Ilumi admitted and Gabby's eyes went wide in surprise, she had only been joking. "It's a good thing you came along and drove him off. Dad told me not to exorcise the Hogwarts ghosts without Dumbledore's permission, and he also assured me that the headmaster wouldn't give me permission, so I shouldn't bother asking. Peeves would have been easy pickings though. The Bloody Baron on the other hand, I don't think I have enough power in me to exorcise him. Dad could do it, but I still have a way to go."
Leaving Gabby to gape at the casual matter of fact tone in which she spoke about doing something that most of the students would be unable to do, Ilumi turned her attention towards the Sorting Hat. The Sorting Hat had been quietly observing the happenings and now wiggled uncomfortably as it was grabbed from its perch. "Alright hat, it's time for you to correct your mistake and sort me into Slytherin." Ilumi placed the hat upon her head.
"Slytherin doesn't fit you," the hat insisted in Ilumi's mind. "You're certainly intelligent and a fast learner, but book smarts and cunning are different. You're too innocent. You don't have the courage of Gryffindor, which your friend Gabby displays abundantly, you don't have the sly wits of Slytherin of their ambition, but you're intelligent, even if you're only willing to put that intellect towards subjects that amuse you. Ravenclaw is the best fit for you, but if you hate it so, with Dumbledore's approval you might move to..." The Sorting Hat spoke the last word aloud, "Hufflepuff!"
Gabby gasped and Ilumi growled. Ilumi grabbed the hat roughly off her head and lifted it to thrown it across the office in anger, but she froze upon hearing someone shout, "stop!"
Gabby jumped startle and Ilumi froze in place. Gabby's voice had not been the only one to ring out. She had chorused the word alongside the voice of a man. "I knew it, it wasn't Myrtle."
Ilumi closed her eyes and reached out, then she froze and opened her eyes when the man's voice spoke again. "That's enough, it wouldn't do you good to pull my beard on top of breaking into my office." Dumbledore's appeared before them with phoenix perched on his shoulder.
Gabby gasped, "Headmaster!" She stared in shock as the pieces fell into place. "He was invisible the whole time!" She suddenly came to the same realization her friend must have reached. "He must have made himself briefly visible or partially visible behind us when we were focus on the statue and that's why it let us in!"
"Which means that we technically didn't break in," Ilumi clung to that ray of hope.
"You were able to sense him!" Gabby exclaimed, impressed. "You almost grabbed his beard, twice!"
"You shouldn't speak as if pulling an old man's beard is a good thing," Dumbledore shook his head.
"Oh no! I didn't mean it like that!" Gabby was quick to amend.
"We're sorry headmaster, I tried so hard to sort out this misunderstanding, but professor Mcgonagall and professor Snape weren't able to help, so that's why we're here," Ilumi hastily explained.
"I know about your disagreement in regards to the sorting, but why didn't you try to talk to me instead of threatening the Sorting Hat?" Dumbledore calmly inquired. Ilumi hastily but gently place the Sorting Hat on Dubledore's desk, as if she could look less guilty if she wasn't touching it.
Before Ilumi could come up with an excuse, Gabby interjected. "It was my fault, I was the one who made her come. I thought that if she got sorted into Slytherin she would be happy and I wanted to help. Please don't expel her, it was entirely my fault."
"Then I should expel only you, miss Grantwish?" Though Dumbledore was speaking to Gabby, he eyed Ilumi from the corner of his eyes.
"Yes," Gabby nodded bravely, "only me."
Ilumi opened and closed her mouth like a fish, unable to produce any sound. "Slytherin!" The Sorting Hat bellowed.
"What?" Ilumi stared at the hat. "I'm in Slytherin? I'm in Slytherin!" Ilumi cheered.
"Congratulations!" Gabby smiled sincerely.
Dumbledore sighed, "I was going to give you both detention for an hour every day after school for the next week. But since only miss Grantwish is to blame, then I'll have to expel her."
"But why professor?" Gabby pleaded. "You could simply give me two weeks of detention instead." She suggested desperately.
"I'm afraid not. Even if I agree that you technically were allowed in rather than breaking in, you're still breaking curfew. Breaking the rules alongside your fellow students is bad enough, but instigating other students to break the rules when they wouldn't have done so if left to their own devices is quite detrimental." Dumbledore explained. "That is what I have been given to understand happened, right?"
There was a tense silence, until Gabby quietly replied, "yes, sir."
Dumbledore let out a breath of disappointment, but before he could speak, Ilumi protested, "no." The headmaster looked at her expectantly. "It was my fault too and I can't understand why anyone would risk expulsion for me, but I don't want that to happen. Headmaster Dumbledore, I agree with Gabby's idea, she came up with it for me, so it's my fault too."
"Ravenclaw!" The Sorting Hat screeched.
"Oh shut up," Ilumi glared.
"Alright then, detention it is for both of you. You'll be cleaning the classrooms together and I'll even allow bewitched cleaning supplies." Dumbledore nodded with a satisfied smile. "There's a condition though, you can't split the work between you. You must clean together. That way you can get the hang of doing something productive as a team, rather than teaming up to break the rules. That's not so bad, is it?"
"Thank you headmaster!" The girls chorused.
"Good, now don't break any more rules. Go back to your rooms now," Dumbledore sent them in their way with a parchment certifying that their punishment had already been decided, in case they ran into the caretaker and his cat and he tried to assign them an additional more severe punishment.
The two girls talked as they walked. "If bewitching the cleaning supplies is allowed then we won't have to do much at all. It'll be just like hanging out after classes," Gabby smiled. "We got off easy, but I feel bad that you had to sacrifice yourself for me."
"You're too nice," Ilumi concluded.
"Ally said that too," Gabby recalled. "She said that I was too nice and easy to take advantage of, but that because of my niceness I would make friends that would defend me. I'm not sure where she got all that from, I'm not that nice. I just do what I think I should do. I'm very grateful for my friends though, especially you."
Ilumi shook her head and laughed bitterly. She couldn't believe she almost abandoned Gabby to save herself from a lesser punishment. "So, do you know how to bewitch cleaning supplies? I've never done it before."
"Yup," Gabby nodded, glad that she could teach Ilumi something. "I can show you, it's not hard."
"Great, then it should be easy enough to get through detention," Ilumi voiced. "Too easy in fact," she added thoughtfully. "I suppose my real punishment is being stuck at Ravenclaw. I really don't think they'll move me now."
"It's not so bad," Gabby searched for some way to help her friend cheer up.
"Yeah, I guess not. I've survived so far," Ilumi finally gave up on Slytherin. "I don't miss Selena as much, she would never do for me what you did. You've become more of a sister to me than she was."
"I'm very happy you think so," and Gabby looked sincerely so. "I think of you as a sister too."
"Then we'll be sisters and best friends from this day forward," Ilumi agreed.
"Forever!" Gabby cheered.
There was still the pending matter of the letter from her father, but Ilumi decided to deal with it the next day, for now, she was tired and wanted to sleep.
After their classes, with the cleaning supplies doing all the work for them in the background, Ilumi and Gabby sat down in an otherwise empty classroom. Ilumi pulled out the letter from her father, determined to send him some form of reply, or at least read what he wrote. Gabby sat next to her, supportive as ever as Ilumi read aloud. "Dear Ilumi, I have been waiting for a letter from you, but finally couldn't wait anymore. Severus told me, after I admittedly pressed him for details following your silence, that you were sorted into Ravenclaw and that you and Selena Salas are no longer friends. I tried to convince him to do something about the matter, but he refused, sounding a bit annoyed. If he seems to be annoyed with you, don't blame yourself, he is annoyed at me. If you feel that you are being treated unfairly by any of the teachers though, or any students try to pick a fight, please notify me immediately. As for the matter of your sorting, I spoke to Dumbledore and he convinced me that perhaps you're safer in Ravenclaw after all. Do your best in your classes and try to make new friends, but be careful with the kind of people you associate with. Please write to me soon." Her father's ornate signature decorated the bottom of the page, signaling the end of the letter.
"Look at that, he's not even mad," Gabby smiled, but Ilumi was frowning. "What's wrong?"
"This may sound weird but part of me wanted him to be fiercely disappointed. To tell me to fight. I don't know, I just want my neatly laid out future back. It's weird not knowing what going to happen," Ilumi was having trouble explaining it. "Dad protects me, but Selena was the one guiding me. Plus I never understood what he meant about the safer houses. Aren't they all safe? I guess this is just my last bit of hope for Slytherin dying."
"Do you like Draco or something?" Gabby inquired suspiciously.
"What? No! Well, yes, but that's not the point. I never though of him that way because Selena likes him and she really wanted me to date her brother. He's cute, I wouldn't have minded," Ilumi babbled.
Gabby giggled, "I thought you might like a Slytherin boy. This couldn't be about Selena anymore, or about your father, so this is the last reason your clinging to... But what about yourself? What do you want?"
"I don't know," Ilumi replied truthfully. "How did you guess about Draco anyway?"
"He's one of the most notorious Slytherins. Anyway, he's not very nice, you can do better," Gabby insisted.
"I'm not going to try to get his attention," Ilumi assured. "I think I'll just focus on classes."
"There's something on my mind though," Gabby admitted.
"What is it?" Ilumi curiously asked.
Gabby bit her lip nervously. "I shouldn't..."
"It's alright, say what you need to say," Ilumi encouraged.
"Not that I'm passing judgement or anything, but this part of your dad's letter about being careful with the people you associate with..." Gabby trailed off into silence.
"It's not about the non-magical," Ilumi assured. "My father comes from non-magical parents, they passed away when I was a baby, but dad speaks fondly of them."
"Oh, so he was talking about character, good. Sorry to ask such a weird question," Gabby apologized, feeling embarrassed.
"No worries," Ilumi shrugged it off. "Besides, he's not talking about character exactly, but of convenience. He doesn't want me making friends with nice people who attract trouble, even if it's not their fault. He told me much more plainly before I got on the train. Don't be a hero, it's not worth it, he said."
Gabby frowned, "I think it's worth it."
"He has his reasons," Ilumi stated simply, and the subject was dropped.
The subject wasn't picked up again until the end of their third year. By then the Harry Potter had managed to find the Sorcerer's Stone and the Chamber of Secrets. Selena had managed to pick a fight with Ilumi and lose terribly thanks to Ilumi commanding Peeve to go on the attack. She had developed a reputation for being excellent at exorcism and the resident ghosts tended to be a bit weary of her, especially Peeves, who was, in Ilumi's own words, "an annoying low level ghost." The only ghost who wasn't afraid her was the Bloody Baron, but she knew not to pick a fight with that one.
Gabby had mended their friendship with Myrtle, who was still a little apprehensive about hanging out with an exorcist, but could at least carry on a conversation without whining too much. Ilumi was doing well in her classes overall, though she wasn't the overachiever some her classmates were, she was competent. Gabby was also doing well. She would have joined the Quidditch team if not for the fact that she felt bad about taking the spot away from someone who might want it more. Oliver Wood had begged her to join, but she had apologized and suggested giving someone else a chance. Ilumi prefer to watch, rather than play. She had been getting along better with her fellow Ravenclaws and had made herself at home in the house.
The whole Sirius Black event had come and gone, and the topic of heroics and Icarus' adversity to them came up again on the train leaving Hogwarts for the summer holidays. Gabby wasn't sure how it came up, they were talking, one thing leading to another, and the next thing she knew, she was asking Ilumi about if she thought heroes were cool or foolish.
"Both," Ilumi replied. "They seem cool, they go out in a blaze of glory, like fireworks, but they go out, then there's nothing left but their memory and that's not good enough." Gabby bit her lip like she did when she was nervous. Ilumi already knew what was on her mind. "You want to know where I'm coming from don't you?" Gabby nodded and Ilumi closed the train compartment door where the two girls sat alone, save for Ilumi's cat and owl, and Gabby's cat. Ilumi took a deep breath and began, "never repeat this to anyone."
"I promise," Gabby swore.
"My mother was a Gryffindor, that and her appearance from pictures is all I know about her," Ilumi revealed. "It's not something we talk about much, dad says it's safer that way. I think it just makes him sad, so I don't bring it up. When you know who was in power, dad's non-magical parents were killed. He had lost them and didn't want to lose anyone else, but knew he couldn't stop the Death Eaters on his own. He instead resolved to join them, convince them that he would have killed his parents himself if they hadn't beaten him to it and that he was one of them."
Gabby gasped in admiration, "he was a spy, he infiltrated them."
"No, he was a Death Eater, but only in pretense, not a spy though," Ilumi clarified.
Gabby looked confused, "he wasn't a real Death Eater, right?"
"Right, he wasn't real, but he wasn't a spy either," Ilumi explained. "He was pretending to be one of them, not to pick a fight with them later, but to keep his family safe. It wasn't about revenge, though he certainly wanted it, it was about making a dangerous enemy believe that there's no need to attack him. He wasn't planning to do anything else with his position, just to protect us."
"Well..." Gabby mused. "That in itself is heroic. He wasn't willing to risk his family to fight you know who, but he was willing to risk his own life."
"Nonetheless, he had to do a few nasty things to keep us safe. Mom decided to take a risk, I'm not sure of the details, she tried to help too much, and she was killed as a result. Dad really wanted vengeance then. The Death Eaters killed his parents and his wife, but if he rebelled, they would kill me too. Ultimately, he decided that his daughter was more important than his vengeance and didn't act. After the whole thing with the Harry Potter happened, a lot of people were angry at dad for not prioritizing what they called the grater good."
Ilumi leaned back on her seat and continued. "I'm not angry though, he was trying to protect me. I too would sooner watch the world fall apart instead of losing my dear child. Mom's family wasn't happy either, I think. Though he has never directly told me, I think they just denounced him, and thus me, it's either that or they're all dead. It was a matter of priorities, dad couldn't take revenge while he still had something to lose. Snape knew about this, they've known each other for years. He was the one who helped convince Dumbledore that dad wasn't a real Death Eater. His defense during trial was that he was cursed, since that had a better chance of granting him a pardon than this more complicated explanation," Ilumi finished.
"Wow," Gabby sighed. "And here I thought my family was complicated." She laughed without humor.
"How so? You live with your grandma, right?" Ilumi recalled.
"Yes, she was formidable before, though she took one too many curses during her time in the Order of the Phoenix, a group made to fight... him," Gabby revealed. "We've both suffered because of him." When Gabby was feeling angry, frustrated or sad, she couldn't even bare to say he who must not be named, or you know who, she simply let out a bitter him, as if the word tasted like poison.
With a sad sigh, Gabby continued. "My mother, her name was Greta Grantwish, was in the order too, I never knew my father, grandma said that he and mom broke up when I was a baby, or that he abandoned us, or that he's dead, I'm not allowed to carry or even know his name. Her story changes, she gets confused sometimes. It's a touchy subject, she didn't like him much. Whatever might have happened to my father, the fact of the matter is that mother died in the Order of the Phoenix, though grandma has never revealed how. That's a touchy subject too."
The girls parted ways with heavy hearts and went home for the holidays. Ilumi was picked up by her father as usual and the healer that usually tended to the elderly Garitha Grantwish came to get Gabby, as her grandmother wasn't in the proper health to make the trip herself. Gabby thought about everything Ilumi had told her. She wasn't angry at Mr. Illusion, though her grandmother would likely label him a coward.
Still, Gabby thought his motives were noble enough and she wished that her mother had also prioritized her daughter, the way Ilumi's father prioritized his. Then maybe she'd still be alive... 'and so would he who must not be named,' Gabby imagined her grandmother would argue. Someone always had to be sacrificed, Gabby knew, she would rather it be herself honestly, but she wouldn't sacrifice herself if it meant bringing other down with her.
She wasn't resentful to her mother though, not really. Gabby knew that Greta Grantwish was doing what she thought would ensure her daughter's future, even if it sadly ended in her death. Greta lost her life and Mr. Illusion risked his life and lost his reputation and possibly his peace of mind, they both sacrificed much for their daughters in different ways, but it was all for them.
The summer passed quickly and the forth year came and went. Selena Salas got into a fight Pansy Parkinson, and had the nerve to call out to Ilumi for help. They were fighting over Draco, whom Ilumi though was cute, but nothing more than that. Aleck Salas wasn't even as much as cute in her eyes anymore. He was good looking and was steadily growing into a handsome young man, but Ilumi couldn't stand him and his constant need to bring her down. She had gotten good at defending herself though and Gabby always had her back.
When the time came for the ball, Ilumi received an invitation from Takeshi, the asian boy that Ilumi thought Gabby liked. Since the girls were always together unless they were forced apart to attend classes or retreat into their dormitories, he had little choice but to ask Ilumi right in front of Gabby. Ilumi froze, red faced and speechless. "Say yes," Gabby encouraged. When Ilumi remained silent, Gabby went ahead and answered for her, "she says yes!"
Takeshi Ten left with the impression that Ilumi had agreed to attend the ball with him, though he wasn't entirely sure if she was thrilled or horrified.
"What about you?" Ilumi had sputtered as Takeshi disappeared down the hall. "You've been talking to him more lately."
"I was sending him your way," Gabby revealed with a giggle.
Ilumi gaped, "you can't!"
"He likes you, that's a fact," Gabby assured.
"Gabby I swear, if you're testing to sacrifice yourself for me again," Ilumi warned.
"I'm not!" Gabby argued. "I don't have a crush on him anymore, I just see him as a friend now."
"Maybe I should just skip the ball, that's what I intended to do. I only stayed over for Christmas because you were staying," Ilumi paused in realization. "Did you plan this? Me staying, for him?"
"Oh c'mon, you can't tell me you don't like him," Gabby smiled teasingly, while Ilumi groaned exasperated. "Besides, I'm going with..." Gabby paused and looked around, spotting a Durmstrang boy walking down the hall in the opposite direction. "Hi Lez, got anyone to go to the ball with?"
"Not yet," Lezek replied with interest.
"Want to go with me?" Gabby smiled.
Lezek grinned, "love to."
"Great, thanks!" Gabby scurried down the hall to catch up with Ilumi, who had walked ahead incredulously.
Ilumi looked back at Lezek, who was being assaulted by the glares of several boys. Unlike herself, Gabby had no shortage of boys willing to go out with her, though she still felt bad about Takeshi.
"Don't give me that look, sis," Gabby smiled. "It'll be a great double date!"
Ilumi sighed and shook her head, though she couldn't help it but to smile.
The ball went smoothly with Gabby doing most of the talking and setting things up for Ilumi to say something. The two girls were quite different from each other. Ilumi was shy and quiet, while Gabby was friendly and outgoing, but also considerate and selfless. Ilumi on the other hand was not selfless, but she was fiercely loyal. She was certainly not as self sacrificing as Gabby, who seemed to have an irresistible need to help those around her. Ilumi considered such behavior a waste, unless it was done for a loved one, not for the glory, not for the world, but for a person she loved.
Ilumi fell into silence when she danced with Takeshi, focused on the arduous task of not stepping on his feet. "You're kind of tall," she observed, out of lack of something more interesting to say. Though Ilumi herself was also on the tall side, though still well within pure human proportions, Takeshi was still noticeably taller than her.
"I'm part Russian," Takeshi laughed. "Grandpa's height is the only thing I inherited from him, at least physically."
"Oh," Ilumi searched for something to say, "I'm half American," she replied.
"Have you ever been there?" Takeshi asked conversationally and they moved to the soft music playing.
"Twice, dad wanted to show me Disney World and the Statue of Liberty," Ilumi replied, smiling at the memories. It had been Icarus' first time back in New York since he and his family moved to London when he was eight. "Have you ever been to Russia?"
After a while, Ilumi started feeling more comfortable taking to Takeshi casually, rather than speaking to him only about their classes together. Overall, it was a pleasant night.
Lezek had to go home after the end of the tournament, this he and Gabby remained as long distance friends. She never gave any of the boys who fancied her too much hope, as if not wanting to disappoint the others. The tournament ended with tragedy in more ways than one. Cedric was dead and Voldemort was back.
The fifth year was tense. Takeshi wanted to join Dumbledore's Army, but Ilumi was worried about what may happen to him if he did. Ilumi had made herself as invisible as she could without being literally invisible. She followed her father's advice and laid low, but Gabby refused to do the same. She landed herself in detention on several occasions and given the fact that she was ambidextrous, ended up with two bleeding hands. Ilumi had a fit when she found out about Gabby's punishment and decided to shamelessly abuse her power as an exorcist and her father's connections make Dolores Umbridge's life a nightmare.
It began with an innocent letter to her father, Icarus Illusion. "Dear Papa, I've gotten good marks on all my classes lately. Since I've been such a good girl, I would like to ask for a single small gift. I'd like a dreamy looking doll to play with. Also I want to give my favorite professor, high inquisitor Umbridge, a gift for being such a great teacher. I'm unable to find anything suitable in the shops available to me, so can you please send something as well. I think she would like a pretty pink diamond flower brooch." She signed the letter and headed out to send it, her gray owl perched on her shoulder. She had no problems with showing Filch the letter when she ran into him. Finding nothing wrong with it, and being aware that this girl was in Umbridge's good graces, Filch allowed Ilumi to send the letter.
Upon receiving the letter, Icarus was alarmed. His daughter only spoke in that childish baby tone when all chaos was about to break loose. Referring to herself as a good girl was code for doing something illegal and the doll she was requesting was anything but a toy. Icarus stared gravely at the letter and smiled bitterly, knowing that he couldn't persuade his daughter. She had his calm caution most of the time, but when her mother's burning temper appeared, he knew he only had to choices. Either he could help arm Ilumi, or he could let her go into battle with nothing but her rage, but there was no stopping her.
Icarus of course, decided to arm his daughter as best he could, and wrote a reply at one. "My dear sweet daughter, I'm happy to hear that you've been getting good marks, though I do hope you're not overworking yourself." He could only hope against hope that she would change her mind about this, but he knew she wouldn't. He proceeded to detail the time and date in the near future when her parcel would arrive. He was aware that all packages and post in and out of Hogwarts were being monitored and understood what she was planning to do. The term doll was exorcist slang, but the brooch would have to be a harmless piece of pretty jewelry to serve as a distraction.
At the appointed day and hour, Ilumi arrived for her parcel. It was diverted to Umbridge's office, on the door of which she knocked. "Come in," Umbridge's sweet voice came from inside.
Ilumi entered, mimicking the inquisitor's traitorous sweet smile. "Good afternoon high inquisitor Umbridge," she greeted politely. "I'm sorry to bother you, but I was set to receive a parcel about now and I was wondering if it has already passed inspection. None of the staff seem to know about it and our owl is normally quite punctual."
Umbridge had of course read Icarus' letter and knew about the gift. Ilumi however was a bit early on purpose. "I'm sorry dear, I haven't received anything for you yet." At that very moment a large grey owl entered through the window.
"Oh, how lucky, here's Ash now." Ilumi petted her owl. "Poor baby, you must have run into some strong winds out there to be this late." Ash perched himself on her forearm while Umbridge opened the parcel.
"Well dear, let's proceed with the inspection quickly," Umbridge said eagerly. The box contained a doll and another smaller box in pink wrapping paper. "My, what a pretty doll, I'm guessing your father has sent you a gift for being such a well behaved student. And what's in this little box?"
"Actually," Ilumi smiled sweetly. "I asked papa to send me a gift to give you, since I couldn't find anything fitting in the shops at Hogsmeade."
Umbridge gasped in fake surprise, "for me? May I open it then, dear?"
"Of course, I hope you like it. Papa bought it, but I was the one who told him what to get," Ilumi's fake sweet smile was impossibly wide, making her look like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.
"Oh, I'm sure it'll be lovely," Umbridge tore off the shiny pink wrapping paper with delight. "What could it be? What could it be?" She sang as she lifted the lid of the box, despite knowing from her spying exactly what it was. The she gasped in real surprise as she stared at the brooch. It looked very expensive and was finely decorated with pink diamonds forming a flower, a lily pad flower.
Ilumi continued to smile, trying not to laugh. While mail had still been private earlier, she had told her father that Umbridge resembled a frog.
"It's beautiful!" Umbridge exclaimed in delight.
"I'm so happy you like it!" Ilumi squeaked holding back her laughter.
"Oh yes, it's so sweet of you to have gotten me a gift," Umbridge pinned the brooch on her robes. Coincidentally, she was wearing cyan robes with prominent pink accents that day, which made the brooch match and stand out. "Don't expect any special treatment though, dear," she let out a little giggle.
A giggle of mocking delight escaped Ilumi, but she was able to pass it off as laughing with Umbridge, rather than at her. "Of course not, you're already so kind that I don't think you could treat us better anyway. I know you sometimes punish people when they're bad, but you only do it to protect them, so that they won't be bad anymore."
"I'm very happy you understand dear," Umbridge was examining herself in a small mirror, admiring the brooch.
"Can I take my dolly, please?" Ilumi asked sweetly.
"Of course, dear." Umbridge handed Ilumi the doll, none the wiser to what it contained.
Ilumi thanked Umbridge with perfectly faked politeness and left the office with her large gray owl, Ash, and the pretty porcelain doll. She let Ash fly out the window to go to join the school owls, then retreated to her room. She hid the doll safely at the bottom of her trunk and hurried outside to meet Takeshi.
She arrived at a spot not too far from the Quidditch field, but far enough to afford some privacy, and saw one of the teams still flying around, practicing for their next match. Takeshi was already there and he didn't look happy. "Sorry I'm late!"
Takeshi continued to frown. "Why won't you join Dumbledore's army?" He cut right to the chase.
"I don't think it's wise to go picking fights," Ilumi insisted. "I don't want you or Gabby to get hurt. The two of you are more important to me than anyone else in this school. What's the point of helping them at the cost of hurting you or Gabby."
"But you're not helping us!" Takeshi argued. "You're just hiding like a coward." Ilumi tried to speak but Takeshi wouldn't let her get a word in. "If we don't fight for Hogwarts now, we'll lose it."
"Hogwarts isn't everything, there's a whole world out there, there's life beyond this school!" Ilumi argued.
"Voldemort is back!" In his anger, Takeshi had spoken the name without flinching for this first time, after Harry had fruitlessly tried to teach them not to fear the name in their DA meetings for so long. "If we don't prepare to defend ourselves against the dark arts, we might lose our lives!"
"Takeshi!" Ilumi shouted. "Can you trust me for once in your life?"
"Trust you to do nothing?" Takeshi spat, "I can trust you with that."
"Keep it down!" Gabby's voice interrupted their argument she she dashed over. "I was watching the practice and heard you. Angelina is having a hard time getting everyone to stay focus with your shouting!"
Takeshi continued in a normal tone, but with just as much accusatory venom in his voice. "Gabby, whom you claim to love as a sister, was hurt by Umbridge," he pointed at Gabby's bandaged hands. "And you're not doing anything but abandoning her!"
"You think I'm not loyal to my sister?" Ilumi muttered dangerously.
"It's not like that!" Gabby defended. "Ilumi is a good sister to me, you don't understand, Takeshi!"
"I don't see her doing anything to help you or anyone," Takeshi glared bitterly.
"Then I'll give you a front row seat for you to see exactly what I'm going to do to avenge Gabby," Ilumi warned.
"No," Gabby gasped. "It's here? You have it?"
"I'm going to use it tonight," Ilumi grinned threateningly, her voice at a low whisper.
"You can't!" Gabby gasped breathlessly. "It's too much!"
"She deserves it," Ilumi started to walk away from the shocked Gabby and confused and dissatisfied Takeshi.
"Wait, what's this about? What are you planning?" Takeshi demanded to know.
"None of your business," Ilumi growled, then she left.
"No, no, no," Gabby shook her head hopelessly. "I told her it was nothing, I told her I was fine, but now she'll go too far."
"What is going on?" Takeshi angrily emphasized each word.
"Oh no, I'm not about to tell you," Gabby refused. "Sisters before misters, mister," she loyally declared. "My advise is to arm yourself with a big box of chocolate frogs and go beg for forgiveness. If she put you through what she's planning, mark my words by this time tomorrow you'll be in such pain that you'll commit Seppuku just to put yourself out of your misery!" Gabby stormed off.
Takeshi was left angry and confused. He could think of nothing more to say but to lamely yell at Gabby's distancing form, "my ancestors were ronin!" He decided not to follow Gabby's advice in regards to the chocolate frogs, but he was determined to figure out what Ilumi, who was now possibly his ex, was up to.
To be Continued