Chapter 2 : Sinister
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All night, people ran in and out of the Fat Lady’s portrait. Rose and Scorpius weren’t bothered. In fact, they were not even noticed, a little way down from the painting and the crime scene, in the same position they’d been in for hours. Soon after being carried away by Scorpius, Rose came out of shock and cried so hard her eyes actually hurt.
She couldn’t fall asleep. She couldn’t even shut her eyes – every time she did, she would see Hilary – arms splayed and held out by ropes, her white nightgown stained a horrible red. Rose would jerk her eyes open again, shuddering at the image. Scorpius didn’t ask what she was seeing – he knew.
Almost immediately after the body was found, the Head of Gryffindor, Professor Longbottom, ushered an immediate evacuation of the Tower, and alerted all other Heads of Houses. Hogwarts was sealed off, just as it was during the Sirius Black alleged assault. The enormous double doors were shut off with a myriad of locks and bolts two feet thick, and protective charms and spells were put up all around the castle.
“Rose,” Scorpius hadn’t used his voice in a few hours, and had to clear it, “Rose, maybe we should go to the Great Hall with everyone else…” She shook her before he had finished.
“Not there…not with everyone…” she whispered the words until her voice was so soft, Scorpius couldn’t hear her.
He sighed, knowing they couldn’t stay in the spot they were rooted to. Scorpius heaved himself – as well as Rose – up and looked around trying to think of a place they could go. Somewhere, without many people… Scorpius thought of a place quiet enough, with a lot of sunlight in the mornings, and they wouldn’t even be disturbed there.
He walked into the empty Hospital Wing, and just as he suspected, sunlight was beaming through the windows as the sun rose. It was very early, but in the beginning of Fall, the days were still long, and the windows of the room faced directly east.
Scorpius walked over to one of the windows and spoke to Rose, “Open your eyes, Rose.” She did as she was told, and shielded her eyes from the light. Soon, however, Rose’s eyes adjusted, and she could look at the sunrise. She climbed out of Scorpius’ arms and walked to the window, pressing her hands against the glass.
Rose sighed and her shoulders slumped, “I wish I could open the window…just for a little air…”
A bit later, Rose and Scorpius occupied a hospital bed – Rose with her head between her knees, and Scorpius sitting opposite her with his legs crossed and his head in his hands. Rose lifted her head to look at him, now concerned. She ran her fingers through his hair to lift his head, and saw his eyes were wet again.
He shrugged off Rose’s hand and wiped his face, “What is it?” Rose asked. For the first time in a while, her voice was above a whisper.
Scorpius shook his head. Rose reached out to him, but he instead got out of the bed, away from her, “Don’t. Just don’t.”
“Scorpius, I…What did I do?”
“Not you…” He shook his head again, his face contorted in grief, “Never you…It’s my fault, Rose. She’s dead because of me.”
“Hilary,” Rose flinched at the name, “She was in Hogsmeade, just before you came. I told her to go back to her common room…I- I-”
“Stop.” Rose got out of the bed and walked to him, “Don’t do that to yourself. You did not do that to her.” She grabbed the collar of his shirt to make him look at her.
“I can’t get that picture out of my head…”
“That makes two of us,” Rose repeated his words from the alleyway. She couldn’t believe that less than 24-hours ago she was trying to stop Scorpius from running away. They were laughing – joking. Jasmine was in a good mood, and Scorpius had even put up with Shane’s usual behavior. But then they had both gone to their dorm rooms and then –
Rose stopped the thought right there. But another thought occurred to her: “How did you save me so quickly?”
“Hm?” He seemed to be trapped in his thoughts as well.
“I heard you calling my name. And then you carried me away…how did you get to me so quickly?” She sat back on the bed, and Scorpius followed her.
“Every dorm door is painted the same way…with the same words. When I saw it, I ran up to you, hoping to stop you from going inside. I was almost to the Fat Lady when I saw the exact same paint, and I heard you scream…I was so afraid something had happened to you.”
“Nothing did,” Rose stressed, crawling towards his turned back and hugged him shoulders, “I’m here. I’m me.” Scorpius gave his tight smile, but that’s all he gave. That wasn’t good enough for Rose. “Scorpius.” Her voice was firm as she said his name, making him turn to look at her. She grabbed his folded knees and shifted him towards her. He smirked at her, amused by her persistence when all he wanted to do was wallow.
“I never knew you worried about me so much,” Rose said, smiling slightly.
“Whatever comes out of this,” Scorpius gestured to the two of them, “Whatever happens…I’m never going to let anything hurt you.”
Rose’s eyes smarted as she leaned and kissed him, “I know,” she whispered. Rose smiled, really knowing she was safe with him. Just then, a crowd bustled into the Hospital Wing, including Jasmine, Shane, Albus, Lily, James, and…their parents?
“Rosie!!” Hermione Weasley cried as she spotted her daughter, and rushed towards her. Rose got up and walked to her, so her mother wouldn’t run so far. Hermione took Rose and squeezed her so tightly she couldn’t breathe – it was kind of nice. Her dad hugged her next and she breathed in his familiar smell.
Jazz got to her after her father, blubbering about how worried she’d been when she couldn’t find Rose or Scorpius. Rose embraced her cousins and Shane after that, and then greeted her Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny, “How did you find…?” Rose asked, trailing off. Harry held up his all-knowing, all-infamous Marauders Map, still clutched in his hand, opened to the Hospital Wing.
Harry was talking at Rose, but she wasn’t really paying attention. Instead, her gaze drifted over to Scorpius, who was talking with his father. Eridanus was there as well, shrugging against a wall behind his brother and father. Scorpius looked over to Rose and strained a smile, but was brought back by stern words from Draco.
Rose looked over to Eridanus, who returned her gaze evenly and winked at her. She clenched her teeth angrily and turned away, not wanting to put up with his stupid antics right now.
After a minute or two of talking, the adults announced that they had to leave, “We must meet with Headmaster Charleston,” Harry told the kids, “Go back to the Great Hall after we leave, that is where all the students are supposed to go.”
“Why can’t we come with you?” Rose asked, protesting.
“The closing of the school is no discussion for you attend,” Her mother answered, slightly chastising.
“You can’t close the school!” Rose’s shout was louder than the rest of the teenagers’, “Hogwarts has never closed, not even when that student was killed in the Tri-Wizard Tournament!”
Harry looked sympathetic, but not hopeful, “Nonetheless, Rose, the adults have to talk about the threats painted on the door, and I don’t think that’s something you want to hear.”
The adults left after that, leaving the kids to mull over the new developments. People apologized to Rose about the murder, and how she discovered it; and Jasmine hugged Scorpius in one of her world-famous bear hugs, which he happily returned. Scorpius and Albus shared a one-armed hug, but Shane and Scorpius didn’t really acknowledge each other.
Those two had never gotten along. Ever. It had probably started when Scorpius and Rose had first gone out last year. Shane had liked Rose for a while, but she only had eyes for Scorpius, and for that, the Slytherin was very grateful. Still, Shane was persistent, and being in every class with Rose and Jazz helped his popularity. Yes, their spats were petty, but they ran deep and ragged.
Rose was sitting back on the bed – her legs just wouldn’t hold her up for long periods of time. She was so exhausted, the muddy thought of actually going back to the common room to get some Z’s popped up in her mind.
Which only brought back the images.
Rose flinched so violently, she almost fell out of the hospital bed. Scorpius was standing next to her and caught her shoulders, steadying her. “You should sleep,” He murmured, rubbing her arms to get rid of the Goosebumps.
Rose shook her head, “Every time I close my eyes…I see…her. Those words, the blood.” She put a hand over her mouth to stop herself from continuing.
Scorpius looked at Rose with sad eyes and opened his mouth to say something, but what cut off, “Rose, you okay?” Shane walked over and put a hand on her back.
“Oh, nothing a little sleep won’t help,” Eridanus called from across the room, “Everything will be back to normal tomorrow.” Rose whipped her head around and narrowed her eyes at the boy. She then shrugged off Scorpius and Shane’s hands and stormed out of the room, glaring at Eridanus on her way out, “What?” Eridanus looked offended at her sudden exit.
Jasmine made a disgusted sound and left after her friend, “What the hell is wrong with you?” Scorpius asked, walking over to his older brother.
“Oh, come on!”
“No! I have put up with so much from you – and I’m tired of it! You’re insensitive, you are immature, and you have no idea what’s really going on here! Do you?” Eridanus was stunned into silence, “I am sick to death of the way you treat others. We’re in a catastrophe, and you laugh it off! Grow up.”
Scorpius walked away, shoving Eridanus’ shoulder in the process. Everyone besides the deflated boy left the room, leaving Eridanus alone with his thoughts. Scorpius had never spoken to him like that.
The noise of a thousand students filled the Great Hall as Rose entered. She was one of the last to walk in, and the doors had already been closed. The only people behind her were the others in she’d left in the hospital wing. But Rose didn’t want to explain her sudden storm out of the room, and she had just needed to get out of there.
When she managed to push the heavy double doors open, Rose was noticed by everyone. An innumerable number of eyes stared in the direction of the entrance, and as everyone one of them registered Rose Weasley, the chorus of voices died very quickly, replaced by knowing stares and a few suspicious whispers.
Grey enveloped the entire room, the banners were dull, as well as the light shining through the windows. Perfect for a funeral.
Frozen to the ground, Rose couldn’t move away from the weight of the eyes. Thankfully, she felt an arm swing around her shoulder, and Rose grabbed the hand of Scorpius before they walked down the center aisle. They both could feel the thousands of eyes follow them, and more whispers started up.
Scorpius followed her to the Gryffindor table and sat with her, both straddling the bench and his arms around her waist. Rose felt protected by every touch he gave, and she held his arms tighter.
Some of the teachers at the head table noticed Scorpius sitting with the Gryffindors, but they didn’t make a fuss. Instead, many of them twitched with irritation when more students arrived in the Hall. Jazz and Shane came to sit by Rose and Scorpius, and Jasmine smiled at him for his choice of sitting arrangements.
Scorpius could also feel the glares of his fellow Slytherins, but blatantly ignored them all. Sometimes teenagers could be so shallow. Headmaster Charleston entered through the door to the trophy room, followed by their parents, and he took his stance at the podium.
“Silence,” His voice rang through the hall, reminding Harry of how Dumbledore’s voice used to do the same, “I realize many of you are worried, as are most of your parents. If you should choose to leave Hogwarts, that is a decision I can not stop you from making.” Murmurs rose through the crowd.
“However,” The Headmaster brought back the attention of his students, “Hogwarts is – for the time being – remaining open. The Ministry is alerted, and there will be Aurors here, as well as the highest security, to ensure your safety.
“It breaks my heart to announce the death of a student,” Charleston began an explanation. No one spoke a word. Breathing might have stopped too, but Rose didn’t notice, “Yesterday night, at about eleven, the body of Ms. Hilary Stonesworth was found in Gryffindor Tower. The message on every House Entrance is indeed a threat to take seriously. Lord Voldemort’s reign and fall will never be forgotten. This is the first attack of a new society of followers, none of whom had ever been heard of prior.
“Be careful, my students. Keep your friends and loved ones near at times like these. And for those of you suffering,” his eyes turned to Rose, “Stay strong.”
Rose gulped under the weight of his gaze, but evenly returned it, taking his words into account. Now, there was only one more announcement the Headmaster had to make, “As a reassurance of your safety, Aurors have been stationed at every entrance and exit, as well as numerous places about the castle. They are here to protect you. Students will be sleeping in their House dorm rooms tonight. Your safety is well taken care of. Classes have been postponed today, so you may wander the halls or return to your common rooms, but any leaving of the castle, including walking the grounds, is strictly forbidden.”
The Headmaster sat after that, and with a wave of his arms, breakfast food appeared on the tables. Rose only nibbled on a piece of toast, but Scorpius had other ideas. He tapped her shoulder lightly, and when Rose’s head turned, Scorpius shoved a large piece of toast straight into her mouth.
Crumbs were everywhere, and Rose shook her head with a small smile as she brushed them off. But that’s all Scorpius was looking for – a smile. The entire room was buzzing with a strange, anxious noise caused by a thousand students too scared to speak in anything above a whisper.
Rose rolled her head back to relax it, and closed her tired eyes, resting those too. After a second of this, however, she found it hard to reopen them, “Come on,” Scorpius said, dragging Rose to her feet. Her eyes flew open; she hadn’t realized most people were leaving now, “We have to get you to bed.”
Rose nodded vaguely before mumbling goodbyes to Shane and Jazz, and then leading the way out of the Great Hall, “Hey, my dad wants to talk to me for a sec. Wait outside, yeah?”
“Yeah, okay.” Rose walked out with the flow of traffic and turned back around when she got outside the doors. Rose saw sunlight streaming through the window to her right and walked to it, leaning against the glass and warming her back.
At first, Rose was annoyed that she couldn’t get some peace and quiet, but when the voice calling her name wasn’t familiar, she looked up. The voice belonged to one of the Aurors stationed at Hogwarts. He didn’t look like your regular Auror, however. This man had an edge to him that would have screamed dangerous if you had been standing a hundred yards away.
Rose only managed a tiny nod in acknowledgement, still too intimidated by this person’s appearance to speak. He motioned her to come forward, and when she didn’t respond immediately, he gestured again, this time impatient. When Rose finally did walk over, her subconscious made a note of how dark this man’s eyes were – absolutely unreadable.
“You’re the one who discovered the murder?” Again, she only nodded. Something told Rose to keep her mouth shut – not to speak to him. The next words he uttered would reinforce that impulse.
“I’ll be keeping a very close eye on you, Rose.”
The words themselves shouldn’t have sent a shiver of fear down her spine. But the way he delivered them certainly did. He gave her a sinister smile when he said it, and his eyes had a vicious glint in them, as if he was anticipating something she knew nothing about.
Rose gulped, but found it impossible to move even a centimeter. His black eyes held her rooted to her spot, unable to look away. Rose could almost cry in relief when she felt Scorpius’ arm wrap around her waist. She dropped her eyes quickly, letting Scorpius put himself between her and the Auror.
Scorpius was not reassured by the man’s appearance of an Auror; his neck was strained in anxiety as he looked the man up and down. Scorpius had sensed it too – the aura about this guy. Dark, almost. Menacing – definitely. And stranger than the Auror’s appearance was his countenance towards Scorpius. The man gave him a baleful glare that had Rose fearing for the boy protecting her.
Rose tugged uneasily on Scorpius’ shirt until he reacted. Slowly, Scorpius backed away, keeping his eyes locked with the Auror’s, until he was far enough away to swiftly turn and swing an arm over Rose’s shoulder and guide her away. This time, however, the gesture was not comforting – it was just to get away as quickly as possible.
Rose grabbed Scorpius’ hand and held it. The warmth eased some of the tension. But despite arguing with herself, Rose turned to look over her shoulder.
He was still staring.
Those sinister eyes.
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