Chapter 5 : Miss Scarlet in the Conservatory with the Candlestick
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“You already knew?” He demanded, deflating, as his eyes caught on something on the ground.
“Knew what?” asked befuddled Rose, forehead creasing.
Albus ignored his cousin, though, and reached for a book on the faded red carpet.
Welsh Greens: A Comprehensive Guide for the Apprehensive.
“The BGE… it’s a Welsh Green,” he mumbled slowly, turning the book over in his hands and squinting at the lettering on the back.
“You mean it’s a drag – ”
“This isn’t your book?”
“No, it’s Sc–” Rose stopped. She stared. And her mouth fell open. “Scorpius.”
She turned to Sarah, her eyes round and wide like the saucers in the divination room.
“D’you reckon?” She whispered, her jaw still not quite hinged correctly.
“I mean–” Sarah began, inarticulate.
“It does makes sense, doesn’t it–?”
“Stop,” Albus interjected flatly. “And kindly fill me in.”
“Scorpius.” Rose answered. “It’s got to be him. With the egg.”
“With a dragon egg?” Sarah asked doubtfully. “An actual dragon egg?”
Her gaze lighted on Albus, revelation glowing behind her viridian eyes.
“Why’d you think it was a Welsh Green?” she asked.
Albus glanced at the faded green carpet, now a sickly sort of white from centuries of sun. He blushed.
“I set it on fire,” he mumbled.
He bobbed his head in the affirmative.
“Yeah. I took the fragment we had and I set it on fire and it started glowing but wouldn’t burn or anything.”
Sarah nodded slowly. “Okay, so…?”
“It was a really hot fire,” Albus said, as if clarifying. “One thousand six hundred degrees.” He cleared his throat uncomfortably. “Er… Celsius. And the only egg that can withstand that kind of heat is a dragon egg. Because of their moms breathing on them and all.”
A sudden spark entered his eyes, as the attention of Rose and Sarah remained undivided.
“And well, then there’s this firstie in Ravenclaw, Jacob Jacobin,” he continued, his words coming quicker. “Obviously the name’s enough to get the kid mauled but he also has to walk around with this enormous book that’s about twice his size, full of random facts. Anyways, so just now I was uh – doing my Prefectly duties, you could say,” he flashed a cheeky, crooked smile, “a bit of rescuing and all that when the kid was being picked on. And after I told the bigger guys to sod off, it was me ‘nd Jacob left there and what does the kid tell me but Did you know Welsh Greens are the only dragons that lay blue eggs?”
“So that’s how I knew. It makes sense, right?”
Rose was frowning.
“It makes sense,” Sarah agreed, a slight downward angle to her lips. “Scorpius Malfoy behind the greenhouses with a dragon. A – A Welsh Green.” She gave a hollow, stunned laugh, before shaking herself of it. “Well, I guess we know what we wanted to know,” she said. “Case closed.”
There was a shocked silence from her companions.
“That– that can’t just be the end of it,” Rose said, distress hardening her voice.
“It can, actually,” Sarah replied calmly.
Rose frowned severely at Sarah before turning to Albus.
“Won’t you have to report him? Aren’t we – aren’t we morally obligated to report this?”
“You’re a Prefect,” Rose explained stubbornly, “and he’s breaking the rules. He’s breaking the law. You have to tell Professor Pembroke.”
“No, wait –” Sarah said quickly. “He doesn’t… doesn’t have to tell.”
“Sarah!” Rose cut in, scandalized. “Bloody hell, it’s a dragon, not a– a pygmy puff. It’s a real, live, fire-breathing dragon. In a forest of all places! It’s just plain stupid!” She hesitated at the lack of support. “Right?” she asked, meekly.
“Dragons don’t actually breathe fire for a while,” Albus muttered, a bit of mutiny in his voice as he scuffed a shoe on the ground.
Rose glared at him.
“Well just lovely then, Al,” she hissed. “Yes, let’s wait until this monster – classified so by the Ministry of Magic – grows big and strong and then it can burn down the school grounds.”
She huffed out an angry breath.
“No,” she suddenly whispered fiercely. “No, we need to report him. It’s dangerous. Am I really the only one that sees that?”
Sarah and Albus remained ominously quiet.
“I think we should leave it alone,” Sarah ventured. “Leave Malfoy to his experiment. We hardly have substantial evidence anyway, and accusing someone of raising a dragon illegally is serious. What are we basing this off of? An egg and a book he was reading?” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, shaking her head. “Finding a book isn’t enough. It’s not–”
“Well, we have to report finding the egg at least,” Rose said. “We don’t have to bring Scorpius into it. Maybe we – we shouldn’t bring him into this. You’re right. We hardly know it’s him.” She nodded to herself briefly, firmly. “The egg though. We need to report the egg.”
Sarah frowned, and something in Albus’s eyes began to glower.
Rose’s eyebrows shot up.
“Albus, you’re a Prefect for Merlin’s sake, you can’t jus–”
“I’m aware that I’m a Prefect, thanks,” he snapped back. “However. I just cooked an egg at one thousand six hundred degrees Celsius.” Rose look confused at the relevance in this. “So,” Al continued smartly, “I am not reporting anything until I get to see the damn dragon. Because you clearly have no idea how hot that is.”
Rose looked a bit amazed at the tone her cousin had taken. Albus cleared his throat at the silence.
“I want to see the dragon,” he said with stiff finality.
“Al –” Rose began with her best attempt at rationality.
“No, wait,” Sarah quickly cut in. “Okay Al. You want to see the dragon. You’ve got two options. Option One: stroll on down to the Forbidden Forest and try to find it, or, Option Two, ask Malfoy where it is.”
Albus blew out a bit of breath, scrunching up his nose to think. Rose gave an irritated huff.
“There’s no third option?” he asked, frowning.
Sarah snorted. “Feel free to think of one.”
A silence spanning all of a minute stretched out, and Rose grew fidgety.
“I can’t take this anymore!” She said with a deep scowl. “This place is too quiet – it’s impossible to think here.”
She sprang up from her chair and marched from the library without looking back, muttering furiously about “imbeciles” under her breath. That left Sarah and Albus, still standing beneath the Magical Creatures sign, with a whole lot of jumbled thoughts and a suddenly eerily still presence.
Sarah studied Al quietly, as he in turned studied his hands, a pout in his forehead.
“You really want to see it?” She asked at length, voice like a mouse.
Albus hesitated, making sure he meant the words before he let them out, slowly, to savor them.
“Yeah. Yeah I do. Who would give up a chance to see a dragon?” A lopsided grin wore into his lips. “A real, live, fire-breathing dragon,” he added, a reverent echo of Rose.
“Not me,” she finally said.
Albus’s mouth fell into a tiny ‘oh.’
“So,” Sarah continued. “Are we going to ask Scorpius about his lovely new pet, or are we going to go find it?”
At which point something like fate happened. It appeared that Scorpius Malfoy, a boy of dubious intentions and a recent lack of brain, had realized he’d forgotten a rather important book behind in his earlier haste. This particular book was being held captive in the hands of Albus Potter, the faded silver script glistening off the cloth cover.
Scorpius had a curiously blank and innocent face as he walked into the aisle of books, but the inscrutability he displayed at finding Welsh Greens in the hands of Potter had a sort of alarm to it.
“Hi Scorpius,” Sarah said, licking her lips with what was probably surprise and maybe nerves, too.
“Hi Sarah,” he answered swiftly, gaze narrowing as it flicked from her eyes to the book in Al’s hand. “Hi Potter.”
“Hello Malfoy.” Albus cleared his throat. “Can we help you with something?”
Scorpius hesitated. “Well, yes. That book, actually. I was using it earlier. Are you nearly done with it?”
Albus made no move to hand it over or examine it further, though, and all three stood merely breathing, shifting their weight from foot to foot and expecting something cataclysmic or apocalyptic or really just anything at all.
“I really like Welsh Greens, do you?” Al finally said, something slippery in his tone.
“I – yes. I do,” Scorpius answered, a line furrowing between his two steely eyes.
“How ‘bout you, Sarah?”
She frowned, knowing they were playing a game and not sure what it was. “Yes.”
“Great. Great. We all like Welsh Greens. It’s nice to have unifying traits when we’re so different, right?”
Al was smiling serenely, looking at the two before him if they were in a counseling session. Sarah looked perplexed and Scorpius, annoyed.
“I don’t know what you’re on about, Potter, but I’d really like that book, if you don’t mind.”
“Right. Of course.” He wore a conspirator’s smile. “I’ll tell you what, Malfoy. The book’s all yours, if – if I get to see the dragon.”
The mask slipped.
“Wh – ? There’s no – ” The furtive whisper (for his voice had indeed dropped lower) was stopped in its tracks.
“Please, Malfoy,” Albus said, a condescending scoff in his tone. “There’s a dragon. I’m not thick. I’m not mean either. I’m not reporting you and I’m not holding this over your head. I’m just… curious.”
Scorpius shook his head rapidly.
“There’s really no dragon, Potter. I have the foggiest why you’d think I had one, but I don’t.”
Scorpius turned, his gaze tumbling into Sarah’s.
“We know there’s a dragon,” she said quietly, her green stare intent. “We know it’s yours.”
His mouth was opened slightly, and agitation could be read in the wringing of his left wrist.
“And once we see it,” she continued, irenic. “We no longer give a crap.”
Scorpius looked shattered.
“Please, you have to understand,” he began in an undignified mumble. “You – you can’t tell anyone.”
“We don’t plan to,” Sarah promised, turning her gaze to Al, who nodded briefly, business-like.
A look of what seemed to be self-loathing plastered itself onto Scorpius’s face.
“Come now,” he muttered. “Just… follow me.”
So they did, their pace quickened with excitement, their feet tripping on his slow, dreading heels.
The three left the castle in the V formation of migrating birds. Together, they made their way into the end of the day, which was perhaps really more the beginning of the night. The sun was gone, and any warmth with it. One corner of the sky was already plunged in deep blue, the rest left a morose gray. They were startling against the dark expanse of ground, having come straight from the library in their white-shirted uniforms, without cloaks to huddle in. Hair rose along arms, along necks. Noses froze and a solid chill settled into their skins.
Long, brisk strides soon carried them to Greenhouse Six then behind, where, in a remarkable shock of red hair and cold limbs, the inexplicable Rose Weasley stood, frozen shirtsleeves crossed over her body as she nudged at something in the grass with her shoe. An egg fragment. A blue egg fragment. Her eyes, probing into the depths of the forest, were drawn away by the sound of footsteps, and in astonishment registered first the most familiar face, Al’s. Then Sarah’s. Then Scorpius’s. Malfoy’s. Scorpius Malfoy’s face.
Several pairs of eyes blinked several times.
The four stood, frozen in cold and shock. Finally:
“You chose option one?” Sarah asked, a pert grin lighting her eyes.
“You chose option two?” Rose shot back, eyes searching their party of three in disbelief.
“Wait – ” Al cut in. “You were trying to find the dragon? After all you said, you were trying to find it?”
Then suddenly Scorpius was rounding on her. “You know about Elsie? How many – ?”
It was three voices, one incredulous question.
“Elsie?” Albus repeated, sounding almost outraged. “You named it Elsie?”
“I like it,” Sarah offered quickly, shrugging her honesty.
“Elsie’s no name for a dragon,” Al protested. “It’s a name for a… a tea set.”
Scorpius glared, a simmer in his eyes dangerously close to boiling. Without a word he marched into the forest, Al scrambling behind as he realized it was perhaps not the best time to argue. Rose followed, tripping over herself in her usual display of femine grace.
Sarah stayed half a second behind, surveying the clearing just before the woods. Darting her eyes to each side, she then plunged herself into the darkness the forest offered, following the fluorescent white shirts in front of her as they glowed in the murk of bark and dirt.
They kept walking until the sky had obfuscated, and darkness was falling down between them. The shirts were glowing more and more feebly as less and less light could be caught in the white cotton thread. Trees rustled and Sarah found herself hoping Elsie wasn’t too far in. She had the sneaking suspicion that most forest-dwellers weren’t too keen on out-of-bounds students.
A/N: It's not as finished as I'd like it to be, but I figured I better put it up since it's been way too long since my last update. Please leave a review.