Chapter 20 : XX - In Fragments
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“How much longer will he be?” moaned Robert, “I mean, I want get in there and find out what he’s doing!” Fate lifted her long hand and intervened as at that moment Mercutio rounded the corner and appeared in front of them, oblivious to the six boys standing beside him. Looking over his shoulder he darted onwards until he reached the top of a flight of stairs which he started to descend very quickly. Jumping into action, the six boys silently followed him and without being seen they disappeared into the enveloping darkness behind him.
They expected to descend down and down into the midnight darkness but Mercutio stopped abruptly on the second floor and veered away from the staircase, leaving the rest trailing in the wake. James picked up his pace as he began to jog after Mercutio, his friends cantering behind him like guard dogs. They watched Mercutio head disappear into a room quite suddenly and James reached the door first and read the peeling sign on the old wood. It was Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. Exchanging worried looks the six boys followed Mercutio’s path, as their hearts hammered in unison.
Scorpius stared at Mercutio who was briskly walking up to the basins. He watched as his old friend rested his small hands on the dirty rim of one of the sinks and then gazed up into one of the fragmented mirrors. It was through the distorted reflection in the mirror that Scorpius saw his friend’s deathly white face and red eyes; evidently he had been crying. Moving towards him, Scorpius was on the brink of revealing himself to his friend when a terrible noise ripped through Mercutio’s body, sending shivers up Scorpius spine. Mercutio was a Parselmouth.
Then, as if a great earthquake had struck, the sinks were pulled away from each other, arranging themselves in a symmetrical pattern and revealing a great black drop beneath the ground. Mercutio sat on the edge of the hole and with a little sigh pushed himself into the darkness. Scorpius just caught sight of his opaque figure sliding down the rough rock and wanting to follow Scorpius scampered after him, pushing himself into the unknown darkness.
The rock formed a giant slide and Scorpius found himself whizzing down the tunnel, cold air rushing past his head and screaming in his ears. He could see Mercutio’s outline in the distance and he kept his grey eyes focussed firmly on his friend, not wanting to lose him for fear of getting lost in a web of underground passages. Scorpius swore he could hear scraping on the stone, but he banished those thoughts as he was propelled off the slide and landed with a thump onto some hard rock. Pulling himself up quickly, Scorpius followed Mercutio’s tracks along the underground tunnel. Suspecting he knew what this place was, shivers darted up his bruised spine for the second time that evening. The Chamber of Secrets was not the place that Mercutio Prince would spend his time hanging around in of his own free will.
Soon the path opened out onto a giant subterranean room. It was entirely made of ancient white marble, overtime become tarnished to a light grey. The wall opposite the passage was adorned with an enormous ghostly face. The face was gaunt and its cheeks were filled with shadows and it had a long swirling beard, its long tendrils lacing outwards and stretching round the cavern. The face held a certain familiarity about it for Scorpius, but he could not picture where he had seen it before. Mercutio had positioned himself in the centre of the room and he looked up at the giant countenance of Salazar Slytherin. Streaks of tears were on his pale cheeks as another horrible sound ripped through his tired body. He seemed disgusted at the fact that he could speak Parseltongue and his voice sounded croaky, but at its command the mouth of the face opened to reveal a dark cavern, as black as the night. Then Scorpius heard the slithering. The snake appeared, its mouth laced with blood and its teeth razor sharp. Maybe Mercutio had been going down to the forest to catch food for it, and recently all the cockerels had been found dead. It was put down to the freezing weather, but now it seemed as if it was Mercutio carrying out the crime.
“Forgive me,” muttered Mercutio as the Basilisk slithered out of his hiding place, gliding gracefully into a pool of water adjacent to the face. Scorpius watched wide eyed, his heart hammering in his chest as the snake lifted its head back out of the water and tilted it upwards, as he took in the scent of the air. Then, without a moment to think the Basilisk lunged at Scorpius, wilding gnashing with his razor sharp teeth. Spinning out of the way, Scorpius disillusionment charm suddenly was washed at out of the way, causing his friend to see him. As Mercutio bellowed something in rasping Parseltongue the Basilisk slithered back into the water, leaving Mercutio staring at Scorpius, his eyes wide in terror.
“Scorpius,” he gushed in a panicky voice, “what the hell are you doing here?” His usually rosy face was pale and he looked sickly. His breathing was shallow in utter terror and panic for he was just realising that he may have just lost his chance at staying at Hogwarts. Scorpius stared at him incredulously; he could not bring himself to say anything. His friend was coming down to the Chamber of Secrets to feed a Basilisk; he did not think Mercutio would ever have made a dark wizard or yet another Heir of Slytherin.
“Mercutio,” whispered Scorpius feebly his voice barely audible over the crushing silence, “how did you get a new Basilisk, I thought it was dead?” The question sounded ridiculous in light of the situation, but Scorpius could not bring himself to ask questions that would get him closer to the truth. Mercutio looked slightly relieved at this question, but then realising the gravity of the situation, composed himself once more and began to speak shakily.
“I hatched it,” he said, almost emotionlessly, “Lestrange told me to, as I’m the only Parselmouth in Slytherin. Apparently we are going to need it for the takeover.” Horrible thoughts flooded Scorpius’ mind, dead Muggleborns and people everywhere. Dead Orion, dead Marie, dead Isabelle and worst of all a dead Rose flashed into his head. Mercutio was only a little boy; he had no hope of controlling a colossal monster and there were bound to be accidents and worst of all purposeful deaths. His blood boiled with incandescent rage and he was about to scream at Mercutio when a new voice cut through the icy silence.
“Alright, hands up both of you!” Scorpius recognised that voice immediately and it made all his hairs stand on end. It was James Potter. The two of them turned round cautiously to be greeted by James and a crowd of his cronies. Uther, Robert, Albus, Duncan and Aaron all had equally arrogant and smug grins on their faces. They clearly felt they had got two of their old rivals cornered. James had his wand pointed directly at Scorpius’ chest and the other five boys stood smirking behind him. In the corner of his eye Scorpius could see Mercutio putting his hands up, a look of terror on his boyish face.
“Well, well, well,” sang James nastily slowly walking towards his prisoners, “this little escapade of ours will have done two things. First, it would have scuppered Lestrange’s plan to take over the school and second it will get you two expelled.” Scorpius did not say anything, his expulsion for dabbling in the dark arts would put a stopper on his and Rose’s plan of revealing their relationship and he could not have that happening.
Suddenly, there was a mighty roar. The Basilisk had reared its head majestically out of the rippling pool, leaving the Gryffindor boys shrieking with horror. Then the snake launched itself at them. They scattered, each of them pulling out their wands as Mercutio ran towards the Basilisk bellowing orders in Parseltongue for it to stop. The snake calmed, but the Gryffindor boys were still panicky and wild. James had jumped to his feet and ran towards the snake pointing his wand at it.
“This has gone far enough;” he shouted dramatically, “you two are maniacs for thinking something like this should be kept in a school! Avada Kedavra!” The spell left James’ wand as a brilliant green light and it soared through the air towards the Basilisk’s glistening scales. But it bounced off the Basilisk’s thick hide and it careering into a different direction in flew straight into Mercutio’s narrow chest. He crumpled instantly into a ball on the floor as it suddenly clicked in everyone’s heads what had just happened; Mercutio was dead and James Potter was a murderer.
Scorpius looked at his friend’s corpse. He remembered all the good times they had had; playing Quidditch, exploring Hogwarts at night and the joys of double dating, but now it was all just a memory. Mercutio was dead. Then the emotion hit Scorpius; the crippling pain of a lost loved one gripped his heart and would not let go. He staggered forward towards Mercutio’s body but the giant Basilisk had other ideas. It roared with the same fury and anguish that Scorpius felt. It no longer had a master to obey; it was now a wild animal. It jumped at Aaron who was the closest to it and he managed to jump out of the way. But Scorpius was not worried about the snake now; his eyes were set firmly on James Potter.
Ignoring the screams of the other Gryffindor boys and the spells being shot around the ancient cavern he strode towards James with a thousand angers in his heart. James himself was still staring at Mercutio’s dead body in horror and disgust but Scorpius did not care for James’ half hearted remorse or fake horror. This boy had caused enough trouble to last several lifetimes. He had murdered Mercutio and he was going to pay.
“You killed him!” Scorpius bellowed with mad rage raising his shaking wand, “you killed him!” James did not so much as lift a finger to defend himself as Scorpius cast a silent spell. The jinx hit the murderer in his broad chest and sent him flying across the room at a break neck speed. He was propelled into the harsh wall of the chamber to the horror of his five friends. There was a deafening crack as he hit the cold stone and slid down to the floor, landing with a crash. The spell, driven by the emotion coursing through Scorpius’ body had made the spell a thousand times more powerful than it was meant to be. Several of the boys were peering at James’, his eyes were pointing opposite directions and it was clear for his awkward positioning that the awful crash into hard marble had rendered him dead.
Suddenly there was a loud crunch of stone. The impact of James’ body on the ancient walls had caused a vibration to ricochet round the crumbling formation of the Chamber and Salazar Slytherin’s ancient face began to fall away from the wall. Rocks and boulders that used to make up the intricate countenance tumbled down into the pool and onto the waiting Basilisk, who with one hard knock on the head collapsed into the glistening oasis of water.
Malinda smiled with triumphant glee; she had finally finished her essay on Bridget Wenlock, and in time for Kingsley’s return to London after spending Christmas in his family’s large white marble mansion in Cornwall. That meant that Malinda would be able to spend more time with him and the thought excited her. During Christmas she had only seen him once and that was at the Annual Ministerial Ball and she hadn’t actually spoken to him. Stretching back in her seat she relaxed her tense muscles for a moment and subconsciously let sleep take over her tired body.
But soon she heard voices coming from outside her door and the sounds roused her. Tilting her head to look at the door she heard a loud, brisk knock and more panicked voices. She pulled herself off her chair almost cautiously but then marched towards the door. Within a second a gaggle of boys had burst into her room; some of them were crying others were just screaming. She recognised them all as James Potter’s friends apart from Scorpius Malfoy who was being held in a vice like grip by Robert McLaggen. Their voices were loud and she could not hear what they were saying so she hushed them and bid Uther to continue as he appeared the most composed.
“Professor Fairweather,” he said an inkling of despair in his voice, “Scorpius Malfoy just killed James Potter.” There was a deafening silence as the words sunk in. James Potter could not be dead; this just was just some adolescent prank surely. She watched them all, the men who had terrorised and ripped apart her school now stood before her as terrified little boys, their leader was dead and now they had nothing.
Each of their faces was a picture of either terror or grief. Uther was biting his lip akin to the way a little girl would while being told of by her mother. Aaron was pointing his wand at Scorpius, his face a mixture of fury and sadness. Robert had grabbed Scorpius by the shirt and was looking at his venomously while Duncan was consoling Albus who had heavy tears rolling down his flushed cheeks.
“Is this true Scorpius?” asked Malinda, her voice stuttering slightly. Of all the people, she did not believe Scorpius was capable of killing someone. He barely had a rivalry with James, let alone enough anger inside to push aside his conscience and murder him in cold blood. When he looked up his grey eyes that were so similar to his father shone with a mixture of remorse and fury.
“Professor,” he stammered, “he killed Mercutio!” At this there were cries of anger and indignation from the other boys. Malinda could not distinguish what they were saying and bellowed for them to be quiet. When she had silence she pointed at Uther, who was still the most composed of the people assembled, he had definitely inherited his father’s genes.
“James cast the Killing Curse at the Basilisk...” Malinda interrupted him, her voice piercing, “there was a Basilisk in this school?” The five boys gave muted nods as Uther continued, “the curse bounced off and hit Mercutio and Scorpius went mental!” Malinda looked at the dishevelled boy sitting in front of her, his usually bright grey eyes dark with remorse.
“Well,” she began bitterly, “there’s only one thing that can be done. Scorpius, you are expelled for the murder of a fellow student and I will send for Ministry representatives right now.” He did not react but kept his eyes on the floor. It was as if he was not troubled by his expulsion or the chance of incarceration in the worst Wizarding prison, there was only one thing that was bothering him and it was not his future.
Crumpled in the chair, Scorpius gazed out of the window. He was imprisoned in an empty classroom close to the Headmistress’ office and the door was flanked on the outside by several teachers. His heart was torn in two; the first half felt the pain of remorse for killing James, but the other half burst for the thought of Rose, now asleep in her bed oblivious to the heartbreak of the morning. He had killed Rose’s cousin in a fit of rage and his own stupidity astounded him. It was true it was an accident, but he still felt awful.
The door opened to reveal two people. The first was Scorpius’ wide faced mother, her eyes filled with tears. She strode towards her son and wrapped two long slender arms around his neck and sobbed freely. He did not cry however; this seemed too monstrously sad and unfair to cry at. Scorpius was not looking at his mother, but at his father who had just closed the door behind him. He was pale, but in his eyes Scorpius could see his father was thinking and concocting a plan.
“We can’t let him rot!” squealed Astoria, turning to her husband, “we can’t let our little boy wither away in some jail!” Her impassioned words had led her to grab her husband’s collar and stare into his grey eyes. With this level of emotion she looked more beautiful than ever before, but Draco brushed her aside and walked towards his son, a smile across his face.
“You’re not going to rot Scorpius,” and then he said simply, “use the knut, Montmartre, do not use it until we leave.” With those words Draco took his wife’s trembling hand in his and led her out of the room, not turning back once to look at her son. Scorpius stared after them at the old door, wondering what on earth his father meant, and then it clicked. The knut that he had received for Christmas lay just in his pocket and pulling it out he thought of Montmartre.
It was like blinking and then he stood on the grubby little porch of his father’s house in Paris. It was raining heavily and Scorpius whispered the password “purity” to enter the house. After the war his father had taken refuge here for a few years before marrying his mother. It was nothing special, but it was secret and for the while Scorpius knew it would be home. Pushing the door open, Scorpius walked through the door and into the house, wiping away the tear that rolled down his pale cheek and thinking only of Rose.
Sorry for the long wait I had to put it through the queue twice. I hope that chapter was good enough for you! Please tell me what you think. Next time...Rose discovers the events of the Chamber of Secrets and Ron comes up with a plan to make everyone feel better...
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