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Chapter 8: Trick Sweets and Blood Traitors
When dinner rolled around, Rose, James, and Albus were prepared. They brought down most of what remained of the butterbeers and sweets they’d brought with them at the beginning of the year rather than risk eating food that had been meddled with by a pair of very mischievous third years. Roxanne, however, decided against taking these precautions on the grounds that babbling incoherently could be highly entertaining.
It turned out to be one of their most memorable meals at Hogwarts thus far. Fellow students began to suddenly and inexplicably turn into large pelicans for just long enough for the people around them to realize that they hadn’t simply dozed off before turning back into themselves. Others began to babble nonsense - and unlike the trick sweets, this effect did not seem to fade quickly.
Though everyone realized quickly that the food had been tampered with, avoiding the dangerous dishes proved to be a difficult task: there was no discernible pattern to what had been targeted. Many people seemed to decide that going hungry one night was preferable to the effects caused by the food and chose to stick to the drinks.
Hugo and Lily had evidently foreseen this response and added potions to the pitchers as well, some of which took a good five or ten minutes to take effect.
After about fifteen minutes, students across the Great Hall were slumping half-asleep in their chairs or looking around as if they could not remember coming to the Great Hall to begin with. When dessert appeared, many were not lucid enough to be wary of it.
On one hand, they did stop turning into pelicans, but on the other, they began to turn into large canaries, and they babbled more than ever. She looked up at the high table, surprised that the teachers still hadn’t said anything. They all looked unexpectedly mellow.
Albus leaned over to her and whispered, “I think they’ve been given calming draughts. Lily and Hugo couldn’t have made those - I bet you anything Roxanne gave it to them.”
Professor McGonagall eventually seemed to come to her senses and stood up. Rose was too busy giggling at Roxanne, who had found a babbling gummy in her desert and decided to eat it anyway, to really pay attention to what McGonagall was saying, but she heard enough to gather that once they found the people responsible for this, they would be put in detention. She also gathered that prefects were still supposed to patrol that night, assuming they felt capable.
“C’mon, Rose,” James said as Roxanne continued to ramble on about Quidditch. “Just say you forgot, with this mayhem half the prefects who are supposed to patrol will.”
“I know,” she replied. “But I really should.” She swallowed the rest of her butterbeer and looked at the clock. “I’ve got another few minutes.”
She looked over at the Slytherin table to try to find Noah, who she was supposed to patrol with; to her surprise, he was already heading toward her. She was about to point out that they still had a few minutes when she realized that his attention was on Albus instead.
“What’s up?” her cousin called out. “Don’t you have to go patrol in a few minutes?”
“Yeah.” Noah stopped next to them. “Hey, Rose.” She smiled back. “Yeah,” Noah repeated. “That’s why I’m over here.”
Roxanne pointed across the table. “You’re Noah Nott.”
“Yeah. I know I am.”
“You’re actually a pretty good seeker, you know,” Roxanne told him. “We all think so.”
“Thanks, I guess. Look, Al, we do have to patrol in the next few minutes, that’s why I’m here. Scorpius… well, when we came down to dinner, he mentioned that he’d heard a rumor that the food would have some interesting effects when consumed, so neither of us actually ate anything until we thought we’d figured out what was safe.”
“Did you see that the purple granite tells about chips and cigars?” Roxanne asked no one in particular.
Rose giggled. Noah looked like he wanted to laugh, too, but managed to restrain himself. “Well, I guessed lucky, and he… didn’t. I think he got a babbling gummy, too. And he kept drinking, because he hadn’t heard anything about potions being put into pitchers, which you obviously did.”
Albus shook his head and took another sip of his butterbeer. “No, we just thought we’d play it safe.”
“Ah. Anyway, I’m pretty sure there was a sleeping draught or something in whatever he drank, because he’s gone really loopy.”
Albus drained the rest of the bottle and stood up. “Do you need help?”
“Yeah. Parkinson and Flint offered to help him back to the common room, but you know how they are, and Vera Zabini’s fluttering her eyes at him, and you know how she is.”
Rose didn’t know, but Albus clearly did. “Yeah, I’ll help him to the library or something until curfew.”
Rose frowned. “Al, you might get tossed out of the library if he’s being anything like Roxanne.”
They looked over Roxanne. “Hovering hummingbirds eat baby alligator’s teeth off hatchets,” she told James and a few second-years, looking very somber.
Albus blew out a breath, his brow furrowed. “I’ll figure it out.”
He made to get up, and she caught his sleeve. “Let me give you the map, then you can just avoid them,” she muttered, reaching into her bag for the book it was hidden in. “Just in case you gave time to do that homework,” she said, making sure her voice carried.
Albus put it in his bag. “Thanks.”
She followed the two of them away from the table. “We probably ought to start patrol, huh?”
Noah sighed. “Lucky us. I almost wish I had eaten something like Scorpius, then I wouldn’t have to deal with whatever pranks are planned for after dinner.”
Rose looked back at the Gryffindor table. “Well, if it makes you feel any better, James and Roxanne probably won’t be doing anything more tonight, not with her like that.”
“Strangely enough, it does.”
It was Rose’s luck that brought her through a hallway just as Albus was coaxing Scorpius into a secret passage. The blond boy appeared to be listening, but when she approached, he smiled at her without any hint of unpleasantness - a disarming event in and of itself. “You gave us magic and we avoided Flint and Parkinson, which is good because they hate blood and traitors and the sky in the place in the grindylow.”
Albus glanced at the map quickly. “I’m trying to convince him to go upstairs to the Room of Requirement - that’s probably reasonably safe.” Apparently he saw no immediate danger, because he leaned against the wall and answered her questioning glance in an undertone. “Noah and Scorpius think that Flint and Parkinson see them as blood traitors, so they’re not really people you’d trust at your back.”
Scorpius leaned in close to Rose. “Virus Zabini is a kind of toad. Did you know know that toads don’t fly in aeroplanes or fellytones?”
“Yes, thank you. Are you sure she’s not, you know, a person?.”
Scorpius shook his head. “Toad,” he said confidently. “Her nose is squashed and her hair is ugly. Also she doesn’t have a chest. Also—”
“Thanks, Scorpius,” Albus said loudly. He looked at Rose. “None of us can figure out whether she thinks he’s a blood traitor or fancies him or a little of both, but he really can’t stand her, and he’d kill us both if we let him go back to the common room alone with her.”
“You know, I think it’s good for a girl to have a chest. Otherwise, you could see her lungs and her heart, and there would be blood, and I’m not a vampire or even a dragon.” Scorpius stepped past Albus to put an arm around Rose’s shoulder. She successfully fought off the urge to jump, though her heart did skip a couple beats. “You know, Red,” he said, “you have red hair. Is that why you made mine red? My hair looks better its real color. I’m really quite dashing that way.”
“I’m sure it’ll fade soon,” she told him, though in truth, she wasn’t actually all that sure of it. James and Roxanne knew their jinxes well.
“Well, good, ‘cause I look like a Weasley cousin right now and I’m not a Weasley. I’m also not a stoat. Or a ferret. My father got turned into a ferret once, did you know?”
“I did, actually.”
“Well, if I was a stoat, that would be really inappropriate,” he said. “Because I don’t believe in incest. I’m learning about muggle science over this last summer, and I learned about DNA. It’s interesting, isn’t it?”
Rose was struggling to follow his train of thought, and Albus was clearly in a similar position. “Yes,” she said slowly. When her muggle grandparents had taken her to a science museum when she was younger, she’d found genetics quite interesting. She hoped that was what she was agreeing to.
“I think you’re both some really distant cousins of mine,” Scorpius decided. “Whales and squids are also kind of the same because they exist in water, though. We only have a squid here. Do you think it ever ate anyone?”
“I don’t think so,” Albus said. “Come on, Scorpius. Let’s go down upstairs.”
As he started to lead Scorpius toward the through the passage, though, Scorpius stopped and looked at Rose again. “You do not look squashed and I cannot see your lungs or heart. And I am not a ferret.”
“Glad to hear it.”
“Also, I lied before.”
Albus winced. “Let’s go, Scorpius.”
“The giant squid is not preferable!” Scorpius called over his shoulder as the tapestry fell back over the opening.
It took Rose a moment to remember what he was talking about. When did, she felt her face get hot.
Rose ran into Noah about forty-five minutes into their patrol as she was going upstairs to the second floor and he was turning off the landing of the third.
“Hey,” she said, ascending an extra few stairs. “Bump into any trouble?”
“Not yet,” he said, leaning on the bannister. “Other than the few firecrackers still flying around. You?”
“Nope. Can I ask you something?” He raised his eyebrows. “I bumped into Albus and your cousin as they were going upstairs, and I asked Albus why you guys don’t trust Flint and Parkinson. Your cousin started babbling something about blood traitors, and Al said that you both think they both see you as blood traitors. And I was just wondering…”
“Why?” She nodded. “That’s actually not all that personal. They’d probably tell you if you asked. Well,” he checked himself, “maybe not you, but most people.” He sat down on a step. “We should probably be patrolling.”
“Five minutes won’t hurt anyone.”
“Yeah, probably not. Okay, so - so your family is filled with war heroes who were always on the right side. They won. People like Parkinson and Flint? Their families were on the wrong side then, and the only reason they’re not still on it is that there isn’t someone leading them.”
“But what about your family? Weren’t all of you on the wrong side, too?”
Noah sighed. “I guess, but it wasn’t quite so simple for us. I’m assuming the Greengrasses aren’t the ones giving you pause?” Rose shook her head. “Yeah, didn’t think so. Well, it’s one thing to have abstract aspirations for a pureblood society, and another to watch your classmates - even classmates you don’t like very much - being tortured and killed over it. Scorpius can tell you about his family if he likes, but I’ll just say that my uncle Draco was young, really young, when he decided to support Voldemort, and… well, he changed.
“My father - well, he’s never been very interested in being part of a group. My mum says he was always a loner in school, too. On one hand, yeah, he did buy into some of the pureblood propaganda, so I’m not going to stand here and tell you that he’s as pure as freshly fallen snow. But he wasn’t a death eater, and he didn’t like Voldemort’s society very much.”
Rose considered that for a minute. “But I still don’t understand how that makes either of you blood traitors.”
“Well, it doesn’t, but we weren’t raised in households that were big on blood purity. I mean, when I say that my father changed, I don’t mean that he sat in his manor and just didn’t actively go after muggleborns. I mean that he changed. He deals with muggleborns on a regular basis, and he does it just fine. I mean, I don’t know how he’d react if I brought a muggleborn home, but it’s progress.
“I mean, if I cared about blood purity, I imagine that it would matter what my father believes - I’d be welcomed me in with open arms. But I don’t, and neither does my brother.” He grinned and added, “And, hey, Scorpius and I hang around with Albus an awful lot, which would probably be enough to convict us all on its own.”
“Well, Al’s father hardly inspires fuzzy feelings in people who want a pureblood society, and most of the Weasley aren’t even purebloods anymore.” He got up. “Does that answer your question?”
“Yes,” she said. “Are most people in Slytherin still into that blood purity thing, or is it just them?”
He grimaced. “Well, no. Not really. There are other qualities important to Slytherin house, you know—resourcefulness, for one,” he said, glancing at her, and she knew he was thinking about Scorpius’s reaction to his red hair. “There’s a pretty sizable splinter in our year that’s really into blood purity, but our year is the worst. They mostly leave us alone, probably because we’re better at magic than them and none of the Slytherin prefects have any patience for that stuff. But I wouldn’t trust them for a moment if they had the opportunity to do something.”
“Thanks,” Rose said, though it felt a little inadequate as a response.
Noah shrugged. “Really, it’s not a huge secret. They probably wouldn’t tell you anything, but they’d tell almost anyone else. They’re not shy about it.”
“Yeah, well, still. Thanks.”
“No problem. Back to patrol, then.” He started to head back up the stairs.
“Hopefully it’ll keep being uneventful.”
He held up crossed fingers and grinned, and she did the same as he disappeared into the corridor.
Rose was so absorbed in her own thoughts that she didn’t even realize her patrol was up until she caught sight of a clock on the first floor that read 8:45. When she turned to head back toward the stairs, however, she saw Scorpius leaning against the wall just ten feet behind her.
“Hey, Red.” When she jumped, his teeth flashed in the dim light. “Scare you?”
She tried to ignore her racing heart. “No.” She didn’t know why she’d been so startled; the ghosts frequently floated through walls to great passing students, and the secret passages allowed students who knew about them to appear out of nowhere. She’d just been so sure that she was alone, and the idea that he’d been able to sneak up on her was disconcerting.
“Thanks for giving Al the map,” he said. “We didn’t actually end up needing it, but it was still decent of you.”
“You knew where I was!”
“Well, yeah, but I promised I wouldn’t do anything but scare you a little. He said I’m not allowed to use it to look for you if I’m planning any kind of retaliation for this stupid hair.” He straightened. “Not that I know what he’s talking about.”
“I keep telling you that I didn’t do it. I was with Al the whole time.”
“Yeah, well, maybe you’ve got a time turner, or maybe you just passed the task off to one of your adoring cousins. I don’t care. I know it was you.” He ran a hand through his hair. Rose couldn’t hold in her laugh, and he scowled. “I know, it’s hilarious, isn’t it?”
“Have you looked in the mirror?” The frown deepened, so she changed the subject. “Well, what do you want? You didn’t just come here to scare me, and this isn’t the fastest way to your common room from the Room of Requirement.”
“I don’t really remember everything I said after I fell victim to that clever prank by Lily and your brother-”
“Oh, come on. It was funny.”
Scorpius allowed a small smile to creep across his lips. “All right, yes, it was, and I was stupid to trust the drinks. Anyway, I do think I remember starting to go on about blood traitors, and I wanted to make sure you knew that I wasn’t calling you one.”
Rose stared at him for a moment. Was Scorpius Malfoy apologizing to her, even if in a fairly roundabout way? “Oh, no, that’s not what you were saying at all, and I knew it. But thanks.”
“Yeah, well, I might not like you, but that’s personal. Your parents are probably perfectly nice people who just have the misfortune of having you as a daughter.”
“Thanks ever so.”
“Anytime.” He frowned. “Well, then, what was I talking about? I’m pretty sure I remember saying something about blood traitors.”
She looked down the hall, but they seemed to be alone. “Both Albus and Noah seemed to feel very strongly that you shouldn’t be alone with some of the other people you share a dormitory with, and I was wondering why. You started babbling about blood and traitors.”
“Oh. That makes sense.” He gave her an assessing look. “What’s the matter, Red? Shocked that anyone in Slytherin could possibly be considered a blood traitor?”
“I didn’t think that either of you were big on blood purity, you know.”
“You didn’t think anybody actually considered us blood traitors, though, huh?” She shrugged. “Well, they do. Look, Red, I know that you don’t really understand it - probably because you don’t even try to - but there actually are good people in houses that aren’t Gryffindor.” When she opened her mouth, he added, “Or Hufflepuff. Or your cousins.”
“I know that,” she said. “I just think that the other houses are less brave.”
“Bravery isn’t the only thing that makes a good person, nor is it as important as you seem to think that it is.”
He cut her off. “Look, your mother is a war hero. Everyone knows that.” She glowered, and he held up his hands. “No, really, I mean it. She’s a hero, and she’s a good person, and yeah, she’s incredibly brave. My father always talks about her with a lot of respect.”
He closed his eyes for a minute. She was clearly trying his patience. “Yes, Red, really. And she deserves it. But what are you saying about my father, exactly? That he should have just died? That he liked seeing his classmates tortured and killed?”
Rose wasn’t sure what to say, and for once, she managed to hold her tongue.
“Look, Red, I’m sorry, but whatever you may think of them, I love my family. My father did what he had to do to survive. I’m sorry if that doesn’t live up to your Gryffindor standards, but it’s true. And, by the way, in case you forgot, my grandmother lied for your uncle in that last battle.”
Rose had, indeed, forgotten that.
“They did what they had to. They wanted to survive. They wanted my father to survive. And when she saw a way out, she took it.”
“Look, I’m not saying that my father’s parents are exactly spearheading muggle rights campaigns. My grandfather was a death eater. I’m not denying that. But they care about their family a hell of a lot more than they care about stupid blood purity. And you know what? If I brought home some muggleborn girl, my parents wouldn’t care, my mother’s parents wouldn’t care, and my father’s parents would bite their tongues because they want me to be happy.” He stopped, breathing hard.
He seemed to relax a little. “Ugh. No, I’m sorry. I didn’t come down here to get into an argument with you about Slytherin house and my family.”
“Would you rather get into an argument about looking down my shirt and whether or not you’d rather kiss the giant squid?” she asked. “We could go with that, it’s less awkward.”
He made a face. “How on earth do you find that to be less awkward?”
“Well, for one thing, it’s not a matter of life or death.”
“I don’t know,” he muttered. “I think I’d have to kill myself if I kissed the giant squid.” She giggled, and he looked at her. “Is it the hair again, or what I said?”
“What you said, mostly.”
He sighed. “I said something about the giant squid earlier, didn’t I.”
“Yeah. You said you wouldn’t rather kiss the giant squid after all. I think you also told me that I was better looking than that Zabini girl, but that bit was much harder to follow.”
Scorpius wrinkled his nose. “Of course I did.” He sounded caught between amusement and irritation at himself.
“Is she really that bad looking?” Rose asked. She didn’t really understand why Scorpius was so disgusted by Zabini; she was no Dominique, but she’d never struck Rose as especially ugly.
“Well, she’s flat-chested, her nose looks like she stole it from a toad, she’s got a unibrow, and her hair looks like straw.”
“Oh, so flat-chested girls can’t be pretty?”
“No, I didn’t say that. I mean, look at Lily. She’s pretty.” Rose raised her eyebrows at Scorpius, who looked appalled. “God, don’t look at me like that. You know that’s not what I meant. She’s thirteen.”
Rose crossed her arms. “Oh, come on, tell me the truth,” she teased. “I bet you found me plenty attractive when I was thirteen.”
She was expecting him to deny it, and was quite surprised when he said, “Well, yeah, but that was different, because I was also thirteen.” He grinned when she couldn’t come up with a response. “If I’d known that it was this easy to shut you up, I’d have started telling you that before now.”
“I’ll get used to it.”
“Probably.” The thought didn’t seem to bother him very much. “Anyway, Zabini’s also just… creepy. Toward the end of last year, she decided that she could seduce me into embracing my pureblood roots.”
Scorpius grimaced. “Yeah. It was pretty gross. I was hoping she’d forget about it over the summer, but…”
“Why you and not Noah?”
He considered this. “Probably because she think Noah’s more oblivious than me, since he’s much at ignoring her.” He shrugged. “Or maybe she just likes blonds. I don’t know.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t let it swell my head. It’s not much to be told that you’d prefer me to a large nautical creature and a creepy girl with a squashed nose.”
“You know, you’re occasionally almost tolerable.” He glanced at his watch. “I should get back to the common room.”
“Yeah, me too. I’ve got a lot of work to do for tomorrow.” She brushed past him. “Night.”
“Hey, Red?” She looked back. “I’m still going to get you back for this ridiculous hair, even if you are occasionally almost tolerable.”
“Good luck,” she said, touching her necklace.
He hesitated for a moment. “You know, I’d prefer you to a lot of girls. Shame about the personality - otherwise, I’d quite fancy you.” The lights were dim, but from the way his voice wavered, the comment wasn’t quite as off-handed as he’d presumably meant it to be.
“Thanks ever so. ‘Oh no, Rose, I’d totally snog you if you weren’t so unbearable as a person.’ You really know how to make a girl feel special.” His laughter followed her up the stairs, and when she heard his footsteps starting to walk away, she called back down, “Goodnight, Scorpius!”
The footsteps stopped, but she didn’t stick around to see his response.
A/N: If you have the time to leave a review, long or short, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the chapter! Either way, thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the chapter!