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Title: Four Secrets That Asteria Greengrass Kept And One She Didn’t
Author: vegablack62
Recipient: birdseyeview
Rating: PG

Word Count: 3700

Beta: oddnari
Character/Pairing: Asteria Greengrass, Horace Slughorn, Stephen Cornfoot, Tracey Davis, Millicent Bullstrode, others
Summary: During her fifth year at Hogwarts Asteria has to keep a lot of secrets.
Disclaimer: The characters, places and creatures mentioned belong to JKR. I am not profiting from this work.
Author Notes: I wrote this as a pinchhitter for the hp_fivethings exchange as a gift for Birdseyeview, who wrote two excellent stories for the community.  Check out both her Alice and Frank story Hold You For A Million Years, community.livejournal.com/hp_fivethings/2069.html#cutid1 and her Asteria and Draco story The Little Things community.livejournal.com/hp_fivethings/12626.html#cutid1.  They were excellent. I’ve never written Asteria or written as a pinch-hitter before.  Many thanks to my superb beta Oddnari, whose advice improved the fic.


 Four Secrets That Asteria Greengrass Kept And The One That She Didn't

Asteria Greengrass


“Asteria, Asteria, your grades have fallen into the dustbin,” Professor Slughorn said, his moustache quivering with concern.   “If things remain as they are, much as I like you, I will have to replace you as Prefect.”  To soften the blow of his words, Professor Slughorn held out to her a porcelain bowl of crystallized pineapple.  Asteria was impressed; on the hierarchy of Slughorn’s treats, candied pineapple rated very high. She took a piece to be accommodating.  His eyes shone at her with sympathy beneath his furrowed brow.  He would have looked like a mourning walrus, if walruses wore silver embroidered waistcoats.  


“Some students, even fine students, find the pace of OWL year quite overwhelms them.” It was amazing the amount of regret, disappointment and condescension Slughorn could put on the word fine. 


Asteria stared down at her pineapple and crumbled it between her fingers.  She had prepared herself for this moment, but it still stung.  She was an ambitious girl, who had hoped to make a name for herself at Hogwarts.  Her position as Prefect was supposed to be a natural step to that end and now she was losing it.  There was no hope for it though.  Once she had figured out the way things were at Hogwarts under Snape and the Carrows she knew she needed to come up with a survival plan.  She didn’t want to be trained to be the kind of torturing barbarian the Carrows wanted, but she didn’t want to risk herself either.  She wanted to remain neutral, but the Carrows made it abundantly clear that they didn’t recognize neutrality.  Hurt or be hurt – that was their credo.  


She had decided to make incompetence her refuge.  No one could blame her if despite her best attempts, she was unable to cast dark curses well enough to hurt any one. The plan was difficult to pull off.  She doubted she could fool even the Carrows if she appeared to be overwhelmed only in her Dark Arts class, and Snape was too sharp to be deceived by anything so patently obvious.  She couldn’t just slog off her work. No, laziness would gain her the detentions she was trying to avoid.  So she created a slow slide into incompetence.  


“We Professors act as if our class was our student’s only class. We add a lot of new material all at the same time.” At those words Asteria looked up at the Professor who gave her a commiserating smile. “Some students get left behind and that’s a pity, but sadly unavoidable.”


Asteria’s head came down.  She studied the entwined snakes embroidered across the front of the Professor’s waistcoat.  The lip of the porcelain bowl had been carved to form a stylized snake biting its own tail.  Today, Slughorn was advertising his commitment to Slytherin.


“Unless things improve, I will have to name a new Prefect,” he continued.  I don’t think you can carry out your duties, especially now that Prefects’ responsibilities have been expanded.” 


Asteria’s head came up with a jerk.  This was important.  


“It hasn’t been announced yet, but the Headmaster is bringing back the Inquisitorial Squad, and all Prefects will be required to join.” 


With all her heart Asteria hoped Slughorn would replace her as Prefect as quickly as possible.    


Horace Slughorn


Asteria furtively made her way down the dark maze of hallways that lead from the Slytherin Common room.  Mandy was sick, and the new Prefect had sent Asteria to get Madam Pomfrey. Theoretically she was safe, a Slytherin former Prefect out on Prefect’s business, but Death Eaters, Carrow’s student goons and for good measure, DA members roamed these halls at night.  


A soft sound brought Asteria to a stop. She flattened herself against a wall and listened.  Asteria could hear the furtive steps and breathing of someone sneaking down the corridor and then a soft Alohomora and the click of a door shutting. She hurried over to Slughorn’s office and listened, using a Big Ears charm.  She could hear whispering, two voices.


“We go through Polyjuice like water; we need Boomslang, Steve.  It’s in the cabinet.”


A quiet voice answered, “It’s locked.”


Alohomora, idiot just like the door.”


Asteria couldn’t believe Slughorn would use nothing more than the simplest locking spell on his office or his potions cabinet. 


“Michael, there’s a lot of Murtlap here. We’re running short.”

“Take what you think we need, Cornfoot.  Just remember don’t ever take more than half a flask and always leave some behind. Don’t bother taking Dittany. Longbottom keeps us supplied with that.”     


Was Stephen Cornfoot in the DA? They mentioned Longbottom and he certainly was. The Michael could be Michael Corner; the whispering made the voice hard to recognize. Asteria strongly suspected he was a DA member. Stephen must be one too. Why else would Stephen be sneaking around at night stealing Potion ingredients? 


Discovering that Stephen Cornfoot was breaking into Slughorn’s office for any reason was a shock. The boy was a weedy Ravenclaw swot with thick glasses, who spent all his time reading and was obsessed with Ancient Runes and Arythmancy. Asteria doubted he’d thrown a curse in his life -- or a punch.  He had two younger sisters in Slytherin, who both seemed to regard him with affectionate amusement and even as a bit of a joke.


“I don’t get it,” the boy she thought was Stephen Cornfoot, whispered.  “The DA just runs through potion ingredients, we must rifle this cabinet every week, yet we need nothing more than Alohomora to open the doors? Doesn’t Slug--”


“Don’t ask questions. That only leads to trouble. Look at the time.” The voice grew tense.   “Hurry up! I wanted to be out of here by now.”


Asteria stepped back shocked. Slughorn had to be helping the DA. He had to be letting them steal potion ingredients. Suddenly she remembered Slughorn coming up to her shortly after she lost her job as Prefect. He’d told her that in his experience those students who did poorly at Dark Arts tended to do poorly at Charms, and sometimes Transfiguration, but had no problem with Potions and Herbology.  He had figured out what she was doing.  He’d been giving her hints on how to keep up her charade and still be able to study a bit. Well, he had figured out her secret and now she knew his.  She snuck away from the door and made her way to Madam Pomfrey.   


Tracey Davis


“You’re coming with us,” Greg Goyle said, as he grabbed Asteria’s arm.  That bloke was throwing his weight around more and more.  He couldn’t do anything without trying to intimidate people.  “We’re giving out detentions and Carrow says your curses need practice.”  


Asteria tried to pull away from him, but that just made him pull her arm up higher and hold it tighter. In this position they marched past gawking students toward Crabbe and Tracey Davis, Asteria wondering the whole time if she was supposed to give a detention or get one. 


Tracey lifted a bottle from the pocket of her robes till the top was visible.  She had Firewhiskey. “Let’s have a few drinks before we start,” she said.  


“We’ve work to do,” Goyle said, motioning with Asteria’s arm to make it clear what he meant.


“That one is twitchy as hell,” Tracey said with a nod to Asteria.  “She’ll need a few drinks to get the job done. It helps me.”


Goyle snorted with derision.  He obviously didn’t think he needed a few drinks before he could curse someone.


“C’mon, you know you want to,” Crabbe wheedled, his flushed face hinting that he had already started on the bottle. “We’ll have some drinks -- Cruciate some people.”  He drew out the word Cruciate slowly and carefully.


“I’ve never done it drunk before.” Goyle’s dull face broke into a smile. “It might be fun. Alright, we’ll see how it feels.”


Tracey laughed and the four of them made their way down a series of unfamiliar corridors, Crabbe leading the group while Goyle steered Asteria by the arm.  Finally they ducked into an unfamiliar classroom and settled down to drink.  Tracey pulled the bottle out, took a swig and handed it to Crabbe, who drank from it before putting the bottle in Asteria’s hand, and standing over her until she drank.  Goyle grabbed the bottle from her while she gagged over the unfamiliar fire.  Asteria was half glad for the booze; she didn’t want to be sober for what she had to do.  She hoped the drink would make a good excuse for failure.    


As the bottle passed from Goyle back to Tracey and then repeated its way around the circle again and again, Asteria tried to catch the other girl’s eye hoping to find some link with her, but she could find no sign of understanding or concern there.  Tracey simply ignored her.


“That’s enough,” Tracey finally said stashing the bottle back in her robe pocket.  “Let’s go, or we’ll never be able to do our job.”


Crabbe and Goyle jumped up, while Asteria struggled to her feet, feeling woozy.  Goyle grabbed her arm dragging her with him as they followed Crabbe to the dungeons where the students were waiting for their detentions.  Asteria tripped and stumbled in her drunken attempts to keep pace with the larger boy. Her stomach was heavy and churning with unfamiliar firewhiskey and nervousness as she lurched along beside Goyle. 


“Slow down, Goyle,” Tracey said.  “I’d stop rushing that girl if I were you. She doesn’t look good.”


Crabbe and Goyle stopped.  Asteria leaned a hand against the wall of the corridor, hoping for stability as her stomach roiled and her head spun.


“As a matter of fact, I think it’s too late. You are about to get a nasty surprise.” Tracey laughed. 


Crabbe jumped backward with a squeak, as Goyle shoved her away from him.  The last was too much for Asteria who responded by throwing up all over her shoes, the floor and her own clothes, while Crabbe and Goyle jumped even farther back, shrieking and cursing.  Millicent Bulstrode poked her head out of a room farther down the corridor.  Tracey waved her over.


“What took you all so long?”  Millicent asked as she joined Crabbe and Goyle. “I’ve been waiting for you.” She carried six or seven wands in her hand. 


“Is Blaise in there?” Tracey asked, nodding toward the room. 


“No, Zabini took off with Mandy and left me alone with these sixth years from Ancient Runes. Why they’re in detention, I’ll never know. They’re all pretty cowed and easy to handle.”  Millicent, her nose wrinkled in distaste, nodded toward Asteria.  “Is she sick? What’s wrong with her?”


Without answering Tracey pointed her wand at Millicent, Crabbe and Goyle.  Confundo,” she cried.  All three gave a start and stared back at her, confused.


“Our work is done,” Tracey said in a firm voice. “We’re finished with detention. We hit them hard and can leave now.”


All three nodded.


Tracey pointed to Asteria. “Princess Precious here drank too much and so she couldn’t handle her first time. She came out to throw up.”


Millicent nodded in sympathy. Crabbe laughed. 


“Everyone she hit came off pretty light, but she’ll get used to it. I’ll clean up this mess here and get her moving,” she said with a nod to Asteria. “Then I’ll catch up with you later.”  She pulled the bottle of firewhiskey out of her pocket and handed it to Crabbe. “Share this with Milly.”


At those words Millicent laughed and dropped the wands she was carrying with a clatter on to the floor.  “That lot can sift through these to find their own.”  She gave Crabbe a push on the shoulder and the two of them walked down the hall with Goyle trailing behind as Tracey vanished all evidence of Asteria’s sickness.  


Tracey glared at Asteria. “I don’t care what you think about what I did, so don’t bother talking,” she said. She lifted her wand and pointed.


Asteria was terrified; she didn’t want to be Confounded. She didn’t want anyone altering her brain. She lifted her own wand, trying to protect herself, but before she could do anything Tracey said confundo and  Asteria’s whole body jerked in response out of fear so intense it made her nauseous.  “You helped us in detention.  You were drunk enough to be willing to cast a weak Cruciatus curse,” Tracey said as Asteria fought off another bout of vomiting.


“It’s so easy to Confound drunks.  The job is already half done,” Tracey said as she walked away, but she was wrong.  Nothing had happened.


Asteria never knew why the Confundus curse didn’t work on her.  Perhaps the all-encompassing urge to vomit had monopolized her mind.  Perhaps Tracey was just too tired to effectively Confound a fourth person.  Perhaps Asteria had mustered enough strength of will to fight it off. For whatever reason, Asteria remembered exactly what happened that day, but of course she never talked about it. If the Carrows ever found out about Tracey’s stunt they would punish Asteria for not turning her in. 



Sarah Cornfoot


Asteria sat curled up with a book in the Divination section of the Hogwarts library, hidden away by a Disillusioning charm.  She spent more and more of her time sitting in a corner, invisible, reading.  Hogwarts had become almost unendurable. Lately, hiding  had become harder and harder to pull off, as the Carrows and their Inquisitorial Squad searched everywhere for escaped DA members.


She looked up from her book. A whisper from the other side of the bookshelf was answered by another.  Two students were meeting in secret. Asteria’s heart sank. Other people’s secrets were burdens; it was just too tempting to give them away.  Threats surrounded you at Hogwarts like oxygen; you breathed them in as you walked the halls, and always they were accompanied by promises of relief if you carried tales.


“Stephen, warn your friend Anthony,” a girl’s voice said urgently. “They suspect him. I heard Crabbe and Goyle talking about it in the Common Room this morning.”


Asteria knew that voice. Sarah Cornfoot, her classmate in Slytherin, was talking to her brother, Stephen, the boy who had raided the potions cabinet.


“It’s going to be hard to get him into the Room of Requirement,” the voice of Sarah’s brother answered.  “The Carrows are parked in front of it, trying their hardest to break their way in, but they can’t do it.”  Stephen laughed. “I don’t know how, but that place is impregnable. We’ll figure out a way to draw the Carrows away.  We always do.”


Asteria could barely breathe.  God help them all if the Inquisitorial squad caught the sound of this conversation.  She could get into trouble just for listening, but she had no way of slipping past without being seen.


“Thanks, Sarah, for your help. I know you… disapprove.”


“Disapprove!” Sarah Cornfoot hissed.  “Do you know what will happen to you if you’re caught. What’ll happen to me if Nott or Crabbe and Goyle, let alone Carrow found out that I’ve been telling you things?” 


“I never asked you to give me this information.  You came up with that idea yourself.”


“Stephen, you’re my brother. Anthony’s your friend.”  Sarah’s voice sounded tired and defeated.  “But why Stephen?  Lots of people aren’t in the DA.  Why do you have to be?  Why can’t you just sit and wait for this all to end? It will some day.  Dad said it would all blow over, and that if we kept our heads down we’d be safe.  Why couldn’t you just listen to him?”


Mr. Cornfoot sounded a lot like Asteria’s father.


“What? I should sit back and let them force me into being a Death Eater, hoping that someone will come and save me before things get too bad?”  The venom in Stephen’s voice was sharp, ugly and unexpected. His words were met by silence and his voice became soft.  “Really, it’s all right. They think I’m a Ravenclaw swot, ready to spout off on books and Ancient Runes.” 


Stephen’s whispered voice became quieter and quieter as he and Sarah made their way through the stacks of books.  They were apparently leaving.  Relieved, Asteria realized she’d been holding her breath while they talked, afraid to make even the smallest sound.  She exhaled slowly, silently.  


Sarah Cornfoot was helping the DA. Asteria had never suspected. Sometimes it felt that everyone in Hogwarts was holding their breath waiting for something to happen to end their misery.


The One She Gave Away – Sarah Cornfoot


Asteria kept her eye on Nott as she allowed herself to drift to the back of the line of those waiting to go through the portrait and into the corridor which would take them out of Hogwarts.  Crabbe and Goyle had disappeared.  She’d searched the chaos of the crowd that was gathering in the Room of Requirement, the crying first-years and the panicked students shoving their way to the Portrait escape hatch and found no sign of them. She hoped they’d already gone through the portrait hole and were far from her. She was afraid of them.  Even now as they were leaving school they could hurt people.  There weren’t enough teachers around to stop them.  What’s more they were quite capable of grabbing someone and Apparating  them over to the Dark Lord.  That was Asteria’s biggest fear at the moment, being forced to join the battle on the Death Eater’s side.  She couldn’t Apparate; at best she’d be stuck there, madly searching for a place to hide.


Other Slytherins thought as she did.  She saw them floating away from the front of the crowd, hoping to wait out the others until they had all gone on ahead and were no longer in a position to bully them into fighting. Pansy was pushing her way forward, but Asteria was sure in her case it wasn’t a move to join the battle.  Pansy was terrified. 


Millicent was gone. One of the first to leave the Great Hall, she had pushed forward to be one of the first through the portrait, whether to rush home or to join the Dark Lord, Asteria didn’t know.  She was sure Crabbe and Goyle had gone to him.  Their allegiance was clear and unequivocal.


Sarah Cornfoot was hovering near Asteria, questioning every Ravenclaw who entered for news of her brother.  He hadn’t shown up yet, and Asteria doubted he would.  She remembered Stephen’s words long ago in the Library when she had sat hidden on the other side of a divide of books.  He wasn’t going to wait for someone to come and save him.  He would stay and fight, Asteria was sure of it.


Finally Nott stepped into the portrait and hurried down the corridor. Crabbe and Goyle still had not shown up.  Asteria found herself feeling safe for the first time in a long time, though the Castle was at war.  She began a slow drift to the evacuation line that lead to the exit portal.


Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs had begun to fill the room, but no matter how many entered somehow there was space for more.  That was the power of the Room of Requirement Asteria supposed. She considered it amusing that Slytherins were now retreating through the Room of Requirement, the very place where the DA had sought refuge in the last year, the very place that some of these Slytherins had tried repeatedly to break into.  They couldn’t get in before, but now they entered easily.  Asteria was pleased to have a chance to be in the Room, a place she had heard about but never had seen. 


An excited buzz rose from the Slytherin sixth years waiting in the line ahead of her.  The Ravenclaws had confirmed what she had already guessed; Stephen Cornfoot had not evacuated, but had stayed behind to join the fight to defend the castle and Harry Potter. The girls in the line thought him a fool, rushing toward certain death.  Asteria had to agree. She could not see how this collection of students could prevail against the Dark Lord. 


Sarah Cornfoot looked grim and Asteria pitied her.  She was a smart girl, who knew what would happen to those who stayed to fight. Asteria noticed that Sarah made no effort to more forward in the exit line, but seemed to drift back, melting into the crowd. When she disappeared into a mass of entering Hufflepuffs, Asteria guessed.  Sarah was joining her brother; she wouldn’t leave him behind to fight alone.


Asteria couldn’t let her do it. She ran to the front portrait, pushing and ducking her way through the crowd, claiming to be a Prefect, calling for Professor Slughorn. When she reached the portrait entrance she shouted into the corridor for the Professor until students called him back and he came to her, followed by Professor Sinistra.  Asteria explained all she knew and all she had guessed.  Sarah, a fifth year, had gone back to join the battle.  The Professor reacted immediately and pushed his way back to the room entrance with astonishing speed for so fat a man, wading through the crowd like the sea. 


He returned with Sarah firmly in tow and handed her over to Professor Sinistra. “Take this one home,” he said. “Tell the parents that their son is fighting today and their daughter  tried to join him.” 


Sarah, her face closed like a fist stared at Asteria, obviously aware of who had betrayed her. Asteria didn’t care.  She met her bitter glare without regret.


As Professor Sinistra pushed Sarah ahead of her into the portrait and climbed in behind, Slughorn grabbed her arm.  “Ask the parents if they are willing to do what their daughter tried to do,” he told her.  “We’ll need them.”


By the time Asteria had made her own way into the Hogshead, Daphne had Side-Along Apparated five first-years home and had not yet returned from her sixth trip, so Tracey Davis Apparated Asteria back to her parents. Asteria felt odd with the girl. She considered admitting to her that she knew she had saved kids from detention, but even now Asteria was afraid.  Without saying a word, she let Tracey return to Hogwarts to shuttle another student home and then ran to her front door and pummeled it, desperate to be let in.


By the time Asteria’s parents found her on their front-steps banging on the door calling for them, they were near hysterics.  They had been terrified since the first news of trouble at Hogwarts had reached them from St. Mungos. All night parents had been rushing to the hospital with children splinched in panicked Disapparations from the school. They carried reports of a battle to come.  Word had leaked out of the hospital and spread untill even the Greengrass family heard.


Relief at being home and free from not just the battle but all that Hogwarts had become, overwhelmed Asteria.  She burst into tears as soon as the door shut behind her and she knew she was safe. But Daphne had not come home. Asteria and her mother sat all night waiting for her. Her father had gone to search for Daphne, sure that she was lying somewhere splinched by one of her frantic Apparations ferrying students from Hogwarts. Finally in the early morning he came back alone. He’d found Daphne in St. Mungos. She had returned to Hogwarts with Slughorn to defend the Castle and been injured in the fight.  She’d been hurt, but many other students had died.  Her father gave them the news and then burst into tears.  He never forgave Slughorn. 


After Tracey Davis Apparated Asteria home, she didn’t think about Sarah Cornfoot at all, until later when she heard that little under-age Colin Creevey had snuck back into Hogwarts only to die and that Stephen Cornfoot had been found crushed to death under the rubble. She remembered Sarah Cornfoot then and was glad that after keeping all those secrets she gave one away.




( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 20th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
Here via the rec at crack_broom.
I like reading about what was happening at Hogwarts during the time the Trio was Horcrux hunting and this is wonderful. I like the idea that not every rebellion was by the DA. There had to have been myriad large and small ways that the teachers and students tried to deflect the miasma of the Carrows. I'm especially taken with your Slughorn. This feels absolutely canon for that crafty gentleman.
May. 20th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Here via the rec at crack_broom.
Thanks I'm glad you found this and liked it.

I figured the DA was just one extreme of a range of behavior. Not everyone who were horrified by the Carrows would be willing to completely put their neck out, but their would be all sorts of small rebellions like simply turning a blind eye.

I'm glad you liked my Slughorn. He was definitely not a Death Eater, and found them repulsive, but his rebellions would be secretive and designed to protect him. I liked writing him.
May. 21st, 2010 01:49 pm (UTC)
I also found this at crack_broom. I really enjoyed this story - you fleshed out a very minor character wonderfully. You've painted the atmosphere of Hogwarts wonderfully, with all the tension and the paranoia but also the little acts of goodness that got people through. I especially like the telling through a Slytherin's POV; she sounded Slytherin the whole time but also fundamentally good.
May. 28th, 2010 07:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading and reviewing my story. I'm glad you liked Asteria's Slytherin pov. I wanted to create a sympathetic and caring Slytherin. Thanks!
May. 28th, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC)
Here via crack_broom
What an amazing story. You really manage to give Asteria a voice, which is even more of an accomplishment as she never has any direct speech in your fic. Many shades of grey, an excellent portrayal of a silent, brave and subtle resistance. I loved this and shall cherish it.
May. 28th, 2010 07:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Here via crack_broom
Thanks for your much appreciated set of comments. I enjoyed the Asteria of this story. I'm glad you saw her personality and voice. I wanted to show that resistance comes in many forms. Thanks again!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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