Chapter 3 : III: A Plan
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Rose Weasley frowned slightly. “You know, I could have sworn I just saw you in the Entrance Hall…”
“Must have been someone else, I’ve been in Potions all afternoon. So… hey.”
There was an awkward silence, before both Rose and Scorpius opened their mouths to speak at the same time. Rose grinned and Scorpius chuckled, running a nervous hand through his hair, before gesturing that she should go first.
“Well… McGonagall just gave the okay for the party…” she said hesitantly, looking down at her schoolbooks. The corners of Scorpius’ mouth twitched. “And I was wondering…”
“I’d love to go with you.”
She looked up, wide-eyed, and her face split into a relaxed smile. “That obvious?”
“Your face is the same colour as your hair. I guessed that you weren’t asking me to help you with Transfiguration homework.” Scorpius admitted, leaning against the wall. “Although… I’m pretty sure your brother doesn’t like me all that much. What would he say if he knew you were coming to a party with a Malfoy?”
Rose scrunched up her nose in annoyance. “It’s a seventh year party and it’s none of his business.” she gave a one-shouldered shrug. “So I’ll see you later?”
“Hey Becky? Have you seen Rose?”
Becky Allan took a sip of her punch and looked around the heaving room. “She was talking to Jenny a few minutes ago. I think they went out for some air.”
The bizarre company received a lot of curious glances as they rushed through the school corridors, a livid Headmistress sweeping ahead of them with her robe billowing out behind her in a manner reminiscent of the deceased Potions Master. Matron Walker was shuffling quickly after her wringing her hands, and Professor Dahlia and Scorpius Malfoy were bringing up the rear.
They almost literally ran into the person they were looking for on their way back to Minerva’s office, standing mournfully by a castle window. “Nick!” the Headmistress barked unceremoniously. “I need you to get a message round as quickly as possible.”
Nearly Headless Nick certainly had his own problems, but he had haunted the school for long enough to know when he was needed. For the first time in a long while he listened without question, and then sped off to find Peeves.
“Headmistress?” Scorpius spoke quietly, staring out of the window that Nick had been previously occupying.
McGonagall ignored him. “Grace, I want you to go back to my office and stay with the children. Don’t let them leave. Alice, go into the school hall with everyone else and try to keep everyone occupied.”
“I’m going to the owlery to send a message to the fools in the Ministry. There is no way another murder is being committed in my school, and if I have to go to London and drag the Aurors here myself then that’s what I’ll do- what, Mr Malfoy?!”
Scorpius looked at her. “I have an idea.”
“Mr Malfoy, would you please be quiet?!”
Scorpius apologized and sat back in his seat, ignoring the disapproving glare that the Weasley girl shot him. What did he care about this lesson anyway?! His mother worked in the Ministry’s Time department for Merlin’s sake, he knew everything there was to know about timeturners! He humoured the teacher anyway and made notes on a scrap of parchment, glancing desperately at his watch every five minutes until the bell for lunch rang.
He then proceeded to mentally question when the hell he was ever going to use all this crap in real life.
Scorpius ran. He ran like he’d never run before in his life, mouth clamped shut in fear of either screaming or throwing up. Time seemed to have stopped, and he had no idea how long he had been running when he crashed through McGonagall’s office door, although the dull ache in his legs seemed to confirm it had been a few minutes in the least.
“HEADMISTRESS!” he all-but-screamed, staggering to her desk. “It’s… it’s Rose Weasley!”
“That’s… out of the question, Malfoy.” McGonagall said, shaking her head. “It’s… no. Just… no. That would break so many rules that I couldn’t even begin to list them. Time travel isn’t done, Malfoy, and there’s a reason for that. Bad things happen-”
“But Harry Potter and Hermione Weasley did it when they were in school.” Scorpius interrupted, a little of the light returning to his eyes at the thought of doing something proactive. “They saved Potter’s godfather, and they only had to go back a few hours!”
The corridor was silent. Nick and Peeves had done well; the entire school had been bundled into the Great Hall in under ten minutes and the teachers were currently in the process of registering them all present. McGonagall stared into the stormy grey eyes of Malfoy. He really thought it could work. But it was a ludicrous idea, it could never succeed… if Dumbledore had been here he would have dismissed it within a second of it escaping Malfoy’s lips.
“But he’s not here.” Malfoy said, and Minerva realised she had spoken the last part out-loud. “He’s not here anymore, and you need to do something about the murderer running loose in your school. He’s not Headmaster anymore. You are.”
Minerva looked at him for a long time. “You really think… that this will work.” she said, no louder than a whisper. “You of all people know the repercussions of toying with time.”
“Then there’s no-one more able than me to do it.” Scorpius replied firmly. “But this isn’t up to me. You’re in charge, you need to decide if it’s worth the chance that I might mess up…”
The door at the other end of the stone corridor opened and Grace Dahlia strode in, followed by the twitchy Matron. Minerva knew something was wrong instantly. Doom was etched across the faces of the two women and even before Grace opened her mouth the Headmistress knew what was coming.
“One of the students is gone.” she breathed. “We checked his dormitory and there are roses all over his bunk.”
Minerva turned numbly back to Malfoy, but Grace wasn’t finished.
“Minerva.” she whispered, eyes glistening with withheld tears. “It was a first year.”
The Headmistress stared, praying that she hadn’t heard her correctly. “A first year.” she repeated, feeling all of her resolve slide to the cold floor. She looked down. Half concealed beneath the toe of her boot was a crushed red petal, crumbling at the edges and looking rather trampled. “What was his name?”
“Louis Weasley.” the Matron supplied glumly.
Scorpius looked up, shocked. “That’s Rose’s cousin.” he managed. “Have you found his…”
“No.” Grace shook her head. “I checked on the bed, but there’s just a ton of petals. I left Professor George in your office with Rose’s family and told them to lock the door and not leave under any circumstances. The Ministry still aren’t here. Minerva, what do we do?”
Minerva inhaled a shaky breath and looked around at the three of them. “Grace… Scorpius has an idea. Scorpius, what you are looking for is in my desk drawer, here’s the key. Explain to Professor Dahlia on the way to my office. She will accompany you.” her face set determinedly. “In the mean time, Alice and I will send another owl to the Ministry and then await either the two of you or the Aurors in the Great Hall.”
The four stood silent for a moment, before inclining their heads in understanding and splitting in half.