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Chapter 2: Getting Involved
The girl’s quick footsteps tread light. The soles of her black kitten heels fell almost silent on the hard floor of the castle.
She was irritated.
A fight in the Tower. Typical boys , she thought with a shake her head. Couldn’t let it lie when they made their way safely back to the common room. Couldn’t let a Professor handle the situation.
Of course not, that required admitting to the Head of House they’d been taken.
Angela Phillips moved on instinct through corridors she knew would be empty. A practice honed from six years of observing student behaviour and traffic patterns in and around Hogwarts with an eye to avoiding crowds. She had a better than average knowledge of hidden passageways, but that didn’t help her on the seventh floor. Too many randy Gryffindors shared knowledge of and regularly used the shortcuts in this part of the castle.
They should’ve kept Scorpius on a tighter leash.
Al was usually better at channelling Malfoy’s aggression and offsetting his impulses. How Al managed or why he bothered remained the great mystery of their year. The balance of cooperative competition those two demonstrated was unlike any kind of friendship Angie had ever witnessed.
And Angie had witnessed quite a lot, from an early age.
She’d observed the evolution of the Potter/Malfoy alliance, along with the rest of Hogwarts, since they were all newly Sorted first years. The relationship defied logic, but she shuddered to think what life in Slytherin would have been like if those two had maintained their initial animosity.
Thank Merlin competition with the rest of the school provided them with a shared goal.
This incident would be a blow to the entire House.
The threat of such a setback motivated her into an action she’d never normally consider. For that reason, she found herself in a different Tower that evening, facing the door of another Head of House. A group from Slytherin and Ravenclaw had been escorted to the Headmistress’ Office for discipline. But without a certain Gryffindor, no one would know the full story, and Slytherin would lose a competent Prefect.
Not to mention a Quidditch captain and any chance at winning the match next weekend.
She paused outside the panelled wooden door without knocking. Angela disliked getting involved. Involvement led to problems and history proved the messenger was likely the first to get shot. She’d become well practiced at avoiding what she knew.
If the student body ever found out she might pick up on actions or secrets from their past simply by passing them in the halls, her remaining time at school would turn into a nightmare. People kept their secrets for a reason, and ironically, they quickly mistrusted anyone who found them out.
Such was the curse of her gift.
Two students at Hogwarts knew. One of them hated her. The other wanted to rehabilitate her.
The staff knew, but maintained her privacy as she did theirs. For the most part, they indulged her coping mechanisms from a respectable distance. The man behind the door was different. He’d learned more about her than the existence of her ability. He learned about her life and extended a kind, sympathetic offer to talk whenever she needed.
She breathed in, knocked decisively and answered the invitation to enter. “Good evening, Professor Longbottom.” The surprise in his face quickly morphed into a pleasant, encouraging smile when she asked, “Do you have a moment?”
“Angela.” He greeted her from behind a desk piled with papers, weighted down here and there with a pot or potting tool. Neville Longbottom looked out of place inside. Had he not assumed duties as Deputy Head in addition to his post as Head of Gryffindor, Angela expected he’d only be seen in the castle for meals and meetings.
She was encouraged by the fact that he remembered her name. The man had a habit of referring to students in generic terms when caught without a seating chart in front of him.
“Very nice to see you. I have time.” As he spoke, a note flew in and hovered, opening itself, above his desk. The Hogwarts watermark on the back of the parchment was unmistakable.
“If the note’s from the Headmistress, what I have to say impacts the meeting you’re being invited to attend,” Angela informed him, unclasping her hands, which by habit knit themselves together when she had nothing in them. “Please hear me out before you go?”
His brows drew together slightly as he scanned the note. “Have you spoken to Professor Vector?”
She gave a single shake of her head. “The same information coming from the Head of Slytherin would seem biased,” she explained, “and it concerns a Gryffindor fourth year.”
Al paced the vestibule outside the Headmistress's office, waiting on his turn for interrogation. The gleam of a brass griffin mocked him from the polished oak door. He was left on the wrong side, excluded from everything happening within.
He’d messed up. Huge.
Headmistress Bonaccord had been a Ministry appointee. Her work on the committee to rebuild Hogwarts after the Second Wizarding War had put her on a short list of possible Head candidates. When the latest retirement created an opening, she filled the position. More politician than educator, what she said was never as revealing as what she did. And she had left Al, the only Prefect involved, in her outer office when they‘d arrived.
He’d be last to go in and he’d be asked to leave his badge on the desk when he exited. That’s why the student Heads were called in. Head Boy Wyatt, a Ravenclaw himself, and Head Girl Cynthia, a Gryffindor who fancied Al’s brother and couldn’t stand Al.
He should’ve let it go but…. He didn’t mind being accused of the things he’d done. He’d own to that. But he wasn’t going to be accused of something he didn’t do.
“Admit it, toss-pot, you cheated!” This time the charge came in a harsh whisper from one of the other Ravenclaws who’d jumped them. The bloke didn’t even play Quidditch, and Al had no idea what his name was.
Al ignored him like he should have ignored Oscar. He’d tell himself the only value in mistakes was learning not to repeat them. He had yet to determine how much this lesson would cost him.
“Nobody has to cheat to beat your team.” The retort came from Scorpius, who’d settled into an odd calm as the chaos around him increased.
“We won because you missed eighty percent of your shots on goal. And don’t make me point out the pitiful formation of your Beaters." Scorpius continued in a tone so matter of fact he could have been be discussing the weather with the three blokes he’d cursed multiple times an hour before. "Their game’s so shallow it's like they’re afraid to use the whole pitch."
Further proof Scorpius thrived on anarchy.
Professor Longbottom leaned against the front corner of his desk. The preliminary incident report he’d received rested loosely in his hand in front of him. “They fought over Quidditch.”
Angela had declined the offer of a chair, preferring to stand in the open space a few feet in front of the door. “Quidditch, yes, but it was precipitated -escalated- by a deliberate act of House persecution.”
“Albus, Scorpius and … ”
He nodded. “Three of the most intimidating personalities in this school. I‘m not sure you‘re going to convince anyone they were picked on.”
“They weren’t whining about it, Professor. They got themselves back to the dorm and went on with it. Anyone who’s ever been targeted -”
She bit the inside of her lip. She hadn’t considered his history. She hoped he didn’t think she’d led the conversation in that direction to manipulate him. Too late to do anything about that now.
Plunging ahead, she continued, “Then you’ll know the benefit of choosing your battles and sometimes leaving well enough alone.”
“They left the prank alone. The fight-”
“-was a battle they didn’t choose. Well… maybe Scorpius. Point is, they weren’t out looking for a fight.”
In the back of her mind, she registered herself lecturing a professor in a way some might consider insolent. Longbottom seemed unperturbed by the force of her argument, but perhaps remained unconvinced she even had a case to argue.
She’d come this far, so she’d make one more appeal. “The others, the ones who sealed them out of the castle, were angry because their efforts didn’t cost Slytherin anything. They went after those three and kept after them until they fought back. That brought everything to a head, and unless everyone comes clean, Slytherin’s going to be unfairly punished.”
Her eyes tracked Professor Longbottom’s movements as he put the incident report on his desk and walked around to pull a quill and piece of note parchment from his top drawer. Angela caught a quick glimpse of the Gryffindor crest on it.
“Davey Newton,” he said as he scrawled the name across the paper and signed the note. The note folded itself and slipped through the door.
Xavier was certain that Oscar Newton had never, in his life, let anything rest. Oscar’s tenacity had been grating on Xavier for the past half hour as they faced off in a room full of heads: School Heads, House Heads, and Student Heads. All now splitting from Oscar’s self righteous tirade.
The eldest Newton had one year as Quidditch captain, and he wanted the House Cup. He’d always been in the shadow of Wyatt Eaton, Ravenclaw’s resident golden boy, and couldn’t stand that most of the school preferred to believe the match wouldn’t have been lost if Wyatt hadn’t stepped down from the team, and his captaincy, when he accepted the Head Boy badge.
Whole school would rather think anything than admit Slytherin had the better team. Xavier rolled his eyes at Oscar‘s incessant harping of the issue. Aloud, he said, “So our Seeker bumped yours going for the Snitch. Definition of the position, mate.”
“‘No player shall fly toward another player with deliberate intention to collide’," Oscar shot back. "That hit landed my Seeker in the hospital wing.”
No surprise. Xavier suppressed another eye roll. Couldn’t possibly have picked a scrawnier girl for the position. A stiff wind could’ve landed her in the infirmary. No surprise he memorized the regulations either, the poof.
“I’ve heard quite enough of these accusations,” Professor Vector interjected, having waved a finger at Xavier to prevent a retort. “The hospital wing was a precautionary measure, and your Seeker was released before the stands cleared.” She crossed her arms in front of her in a brisk motion which sent the scarlet fabric of her bell sleeves billowing from her wrists. “Albus is a highly tactical player who wouldn’t commit an intentional foul. He didn’t get away with it, ” she stressed to Oscar. “He didn’t do it.”
“Exactly,” Xavier agreed, taking the high road now that he had his Head of House at his back. “Al wasn’t bound by the rules to change his trajectory.” Realizing by the expression on Professor Vector‘s face the problem with his word choice, he added, “Al couldn’t even see the need to swerve until too late to avoid the impact.”
“I’d like to think so.” Mistress Bonaccord intervened, having let the verbal sparring go as long as she intended. “And Madame Smethwyck ruled it so.”
Judicia Smethwyck nodded her appreciation for the Headmistress’ support. As a recent appointee, having a call questioned on her first official match, had not been a promising start. Having controversy resurface over a month later was discouraging in the extreme. “There was no intent to collide,” she said yet again. “The Slytherin Seeker started his dive before the Ravenclaw Seeker crossed into his path.”
“We will not question her judgment,” the Headmistress decreed, “and the match will not be replayed in my office or the halls of this institution.”
“Albus is being accused of aggravating rather than mitigating the fight,” Longbottom clarified before he opened the door for Angela. “Did you see him cast a curse?”
He’d pushed Oscar Newton to the wall in a controlled Body-Bind. The curse could have been a preventive action, had Al not then stood nose to nose with Oscar, his green eyes livid and voice dangerously low. Oscar’s wide brown eyes and frozen expression had registered his disbelief and no small amount of anger at being incapacitated by someone a year his junior.
Angela hadn’t been there, but she’d seen everything walking through the empty hallway after the fact.
She’d seen Al throw the curse, and she’d hoped she wouldn’t be asked that level of detail. Stupid, stupid boys.
“Ravenclaw’s new captain accused Al of Blatching,” she said. Not offering an excuse, merely an explanation.
“Wands will be checked for spells, if the Headmistress warrants it. There'll be no hiding the fact.” Longbottom sighed. “I suppose that’s why you came to me. Let’s get going. They'll be waiting for us.”
“Interesting development,” Scorpius commented.
Al looked up from the groove he was wearing in the floor outside Bonaccord’s office. Professor Longbottom rode up the spiral staircase with his hand on the shoulder of a puny Gryffindor in Lily‘s year. But, it was the girl behind them that drew Al up short.
She followed at a distance.
So, a lot of perspectives here. Hopefully, it worked without wandering into the realm of head hopping. I'd love to know what you thought of it.
Thanks again to Danii for looking this chapter over for me!