Chapter 3 : The Culprit
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The first class of the year was always the worst. For some people it was a new start, a fresh beginning, but for Scarlett the only beginnings she could relate to were the beginnings of boredom and impatience. The first class was also guaranteed to be torture for the Slytherins considering their late night.
But when the first class of the year was History of Magic, Scarlett had to wonder why fate detested her so much. History of Magic was a chore to get through on any given day; Scarlett's personal disinterest in history combined with the monotone of Binns's voice and the unnatural warmth of the room saw to that...
On the first day of school, on the first period of school, unfortunately placed just before two free periods which spawned thoughts of 'why should I even bother', Scarlett could not stand it. Her eyes glazed over as Binns told them that there would be no need for seating charts, and she yawned subtly under her breath as she took a seat in between Bellatrix and Theodore.
"I hate this," she said under her breath, and Theodore smirked as he pulled out his parchment and a quill; he was a model student like his sister. Bellatrix, on her other side, did the exact opposite, twirling her hair with her wand and focusing intently on the clock.
"Everybody does," Bellatrix promptly replied, though it was the last words that she could say at normal volume, as Binns began his lecture on classroom etiquette that Scarlett had heard six other times. Realizing it was pointless to pay attention, Scarlett sighed, digging through her backpack until she found her book.
Scarlett had been waiting for an opportune time to read her book anyway. It was not a rare thing for Scarlett to read-- it was done when there was free time-- but it was rare for her to be reading a book of recreation, especially considering the responsibilities she already had.
But Scarlett was not eager to think about Voldemort, especially when her tattoo stung on her arm, and as she opened her book she ran away from the thought, immersed in intrigue and crime and--
"I bought you that book for Christmas," Theodore muttered, deciding that he too had memorized the lecture enough to not pay attention. "I didn't think it would be so useful."
Bellatrix's eyes furrowed as she eyed the book. "The Chronicles of Riana Charm: Tall, Dark, and Deadly?" Bellatrix questioned. "Wow, Theodore, you have the best taste."
Theodore shrugged. "She's the one that owns the rest of them," Theodore justified. "And clearly she's putting it to good use."
"Shh," Scarlett said absentmindedly, desiring to read, but--
"You do realize," Bellatrix interrupted once more, "that the culprit is the one that's least likely?"
Scarlett shook her head. "That's the problem; they're all unlikely. Except for Erick, but he's not going to kill anyone soon seeing as his family's all muggles."
"Enthralling," Bellatrix sarcastically said. "It's him, then. If you had a family of muggles you'd want to kill someone, too."
"No way," Scarlett dismissed. "And if you're so enthralled, why don't you read the book yourself?"
"It's rubbish," Bellatrix said simply.
And that was that.
The rest of the period went by quickly thanks to the suspense in the pages of her book. The book was short, and she had already read near half during the summer, so it was not surprising that she reached the climax by the time the bell rang.
Bellatrix smirked at the frown on Scarlett's face as she skimmed through the final pages of the book. "Was I right?" she asked, and Scarlett nodded curtly, walking ahead of Bellatrix to avoid the boasting that always led to an argument.
Soon enough she caught up with Theodore and Georgiana. The two were very close, with Theodore's arm around Georgiana's shoulders and Georgiana and her long hair resting on Theodore's shoulder.
Scarlett raised her eyebrows; it was unusual for them both to be so affectionate in public. "That's cute," she commented, and Georgiana lifted her head to smile angelically in reply.
"If you're so interested," Georgiana retaliated, "there's plenty of room on Theodore's other side."
Maybe she had confused angelic with devilish.
She covered the side of her face with her hair as subtly as she could, choking out as believable a laugh as she could manage. "That's rich," she said, and then immediately tried to change the subject. "What are you guys going to do with the free period?" she asked; she noticed that Georgiana smirked at her reaction.
"Sleep," Theodore responded for the both of them. "We got maybe six and a half hours, which isn't terrible, but we're going to take advantage of all the free time we have before the homework starts piling up."
"Good idea," Scarlett replied. "Great idea, actually. As a matter of fact, let me join you."
The trio walked down three corridors before Scarlett spoke again. "Where are Bellatrix and Narcissa?"
"They didn't drop out," Georgiana replied. "Right now, they are both suffering Arithmancy. I have no idea why. I don't understand Bella sometimes."
There was silence for a brief moment.
"She wants to be better than us," Theodore said. "Narcissa just doesn't want to be worse than her sister."
Theodore's words brought tension into the air instantly; Georgiana broke free of Theodore's grasp, playing with her hair. Scarlett sought Theodore's glance, and immediately the two looked down at the floor.
And, of course, they all sighed.
It was impossible to go a day in Hogwarts without thinking of being a Death Eater. Even the best moments-- even when Theodore and Georgiana showed affection, even when Scarlett was nervous in the way she should be-- were tainted with thoughts of the future. Whether Bellatrix was commentating on a silly book or Narcissa and her sister were competing for academic superiority, it was in the context of being a Death Eater. It was inescapable.
It ruined everything, Scarlett thought sourly, as the trio walked in silence and didn't attempt to make conversation again. The thought of the future ruined everything, because the future was not pleasant. The future held arranged marriages for all three of them; held promises of a war; held the probability of killing someone...
For Scarlett, the future was hard to think about. She hated to think about the future.
And, therefore, she didn't.
There was nothing pleasant about the unknown, and the unknown became even less pleasant when the only clues were bad ones.
She never once contemplated the significance of the Dark Mark, and she never truly realized how much it meant. It was another thing to not think about, another thing to avoid, because once it was there it was impossible to take it away. It was impossible to take the thought away.
Scarlett shook her head as they neared the common room. It was a bad path to walk down.
Georgiana took a deep breath, her fingers lingering in her strawberry-blonde curls. "So, Scarlett," she said. "Whose bed should I steal?"
Scarlett and Theodore grinned at the question. Because Georgiana was a Ravenclaw and should have been avoiding the Slytherin common room altogether, she had no bed of her own to sleep on. Though there were some nights when she preferred Ravenclaw--the House was compatible to her personality-- she normally preferred to stay with the Slytherins.
Normally, Georgiana would steal Scarlett's bed, as Scarlett was out later than the rest of them; some nights Georgiana found comfort with one of the attractive boys of Slytherin, to Theodore's intense displeasure. The couch was always out of the question. Georgiana was their princess, after all.
Scarlett snickered at the thought. It was better and safer to think about trivial things like this.
"Narcissa," Theodore said after some consideration. "She's at Arithmancy and then Ancient Runes with Bella. Ambrose is already back and probably sleeping too. Camilla is probably at the library, but that's kind of unpredictable. And Bellatrix would kill you."
Georgiana laughed but didn't say anything in reply, and as Scarlett didn't either the conversation again fell silent.
It was lucky that the common room came into view then, or it would have been unbearably awkward. Scarlett followed Georgiana to the girls' dormitories, giving Theodore a halfhearted wave as they left.
It did not take long for Scarlett to get into her bed and for Georgiana to get into Narcissa's, though it seemed to take Scarlett an eternity to fall asleep. She tossed and turned bed for minutes upon minutes, but it was impossible to get comfortable.
She was very troubled. Troubled because she didn't know what was going to happen. Troubled because she didn't have any answers to the questions that she didn't want to ask. Troubled because of her friends, who were just as if not more embedded in this than she was.
Troubled because of her Mark...
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