Chapter 8 : Gotta Be Green
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“They found him strung up in a tree with vines wrapped around him,” Healer Richman said with a hallow tone as he looked over the enormous body of the half-giant.
Everyone in the room was silent except for Sinistra and Professor Holmes that were sobbing quietly. Harry was sat against the wall staring blankly at the ground. He was pale white and shaking all over. Hagrid had been the one to rescue him from the horrible life that he was forced to live before finding out he was a wizard. They had been together through thick and thin from the beginning. Losing him was more that Harry could bear.
Next to him, Ron wore the same defeated expression. The room was littered with the same aurors that had been prepared to go and look for Hagrid. They all had sombre and worried looks on their faces. Even the weird looking auror with the big glasses and flower earrings was looking around nervously. Something or someone had killed a teacher right under their noses.
It just didn’t seem possible that Hagrid could be dead. It was something that none of them had ever accepted as even a possibility before and now it was real.
Moments later, Scorpius burst into the hospital wing. He already knew what had happened to Hagrid but grief was absent from his face. Instead he wore a look of intense fury. He had already moved beyond grieving and was now hungry for vengeance.
“Malfoy, you shouldn’t be here,” Richman said but his words just bounced off him.
“Who did this?” he asked instantly looking at the body. Hagrid’s eyes had been closed and his mouth was shut but even through the massive beard he had, cuts and slashes around his lips were evident.
“Who did this?” he repeated but this time his voice came out as a hiss of anger.
“We don’t know...” Richman admitted.
“I’ve never seen anything like this!”
“How did he die?” Scorpius demanded.
Richman sighed. He knew that Scorpius wasn’t going to let this go. He was like a dog with a bone. Once he had his jaws locked around it, there was no wrestling it away.
“The damage to his body is minimal but there is extreme trauma around the mouth and jugular,” he explained in a low voice. “It’s as if something...forced its way down his throat.”
It made sense. Hagrid was a half-giant, his skin was like stone. If anything wanted to hurt him, it would have to attack his insides.
Scorpius walked closer to Hagrid’s body and gently laid his hand on his chest. “Goodbye professor,” he whispered and felt tears starting to sting his eyes. Hagrid was sweet and kind and loving. He didn’t deserve this.
He was dead because of Scorpius and that fact only served to fill him with a fury that he needed to unleash on something or someone.
“Where in the forbidden forest was he found?” he asked finally.
“Near the Centaur’s territory,” Richman answered.
Scorpius immediately turned away and started walking out of the hospital wing. He didn’t get more than a few feet before Cassandra appeared in front of him. He stopped and glared at her for a moment. He knew exactly what she was about to say.
“You’re angry and anger causes humans to make mistakes.”
“Get out of my way!”
“No. I will not let you place yourself in danger,” she stated.
“So, I’m your prisoner now?!”
“You can do anything you wish, except this,” she said without sympathy.
“Fine, I wanna go for a walk,” he spat.
“Through the forest!”
“I am getting sick of this crap!”
“This could be the work of a demon. They may have done this in the hopes of luring you out.”
Scorpius started grinding his teeth in aggravation. What pissed him off most was that she was probably right and he was being reckless but that didn’t matter to him at that moment. He just wanted some payback.
Something suddenly popped into his mind which calmed him down.
“Fine!” he said storming past her.
“Where are you going?” she asked.
“To my dorm!”
Suddenly she was standing in front of him looking just as angry as he was.
“You’re lying. You are going to use the one-eyed witch passageway to escape the castle. I won’t allow that!”
Scorpius’s face burned red with rage. “I thought you said you didn’t like reading minds?!”
“I don’t but under the circumstances, I think it’s necessary.”
“Wow, invade my privacy, take away my freedom and let some dangerous monster walk around looking for another victim all in the space of about five minutes. You’re starting to make Lucifer look good!” he scorned and pushed past her.
This time she didn’t retort or follow. Instead she stood there with an empty look on her face. That comment had actually stung her.
Scorpius walked into the Slytherin dorm, practically smashing his way through the portal and charging down the stairs. Sitting on his bed was the bag full of anti-monster stuff that Cassandra had fetched earlier. He started rummaging through the bag until he found the shotgun.
He had seen them used in so many movies that he was pretty sure he could work it just fine. It was heavier than he expected and didn’t smell too good. He opened up the breech and loaded two iron cartridge rounds into the barrels before snapping it shut again.
He chucked the gun down on the bed and let his face fall into his hands. Reality was starting to fight back. Cassandra had been absolutely right. He was just a kid. He had no idea how to fight a demon or the devil or save the world. He just wanted payback for what had happened to Hagrid. He was pretty sure that Harry and Ron did as well.
Suddenly he jolted up. Hagrid’s death was going to hit the Potters and Weasleys worst of all.
Hugo and Dominique!
What would they think of him now? They’d probably hate him for bringing this down on them. Usually, that thought alone would be enough to make him steer clear of them but this time he couldn’t. He needed to go see them.
He rushed out of the Slytherin dorm and back into the school. He had no idea where they’d be, probably in the Gryffindor tower. He raced up there but was immediately met by the portrait of the Fat Lady who was not going to let him.
“Look, could you just tell me if Dominique and Hugo are in there?!” he pleaded.
“Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t,” she snorted.
“I swear I will get some paint thinner and take a couple pounds off you if you don’t tell me!” he roared.
The Fat Lady’s jaw dropped open with outrage.
“She’s in the great hall,” a quiet voice said from behind him. “They both are.”
He turned to see James standing there. His normal confidant charisma was absent and his face was pale. For some reason, all the hatred between the two seemed to have vanished.
“I’m sorry...I didn’t want this,” Scorpius said but James didn’t want to hear it.
“You should go...they probably won’t be there for much longer,” James said walking past him.
Scorpius wanted to say something more but the words just wouldn’t come. He rushed away back down towards the Great Hall. James had been right. They had already left the Hall and were now slowly walking down one of the ground floor corridors when he found them.
Hugo was shaken and looked just as pale as James while Dom had mascara streaks running down her face. She had been crying. It was strange seeing her like that. Scorpius had always seen her as the toughest girl in the school and crying simply seemed beyond her.
They stopped walking and looked at him. None of them seemed to know what to say. After a few moments, Hugo spoke up.
“Was it a demon?”
“They don’t know. Cass seems to think so,” he nodded quietly.
“Is she going to kill it?”
Scorpius sighed. “No...she’s not here to hunt demons, she’s here to protect me.”
Hugo looked away in anger.
“I wanted to go after it, but she -”
“Don’t be a moron Scorpius! Of course you’re not going after it!” Dom snapped.
Scorpius was a little taken back. He had thought she of all people would be begging for blood at this point.
“Voldemort did the exact same thing to Harry during the war! He goaded him the deaths of other people in order to draw him out!”
“I seem to remember that it worked,” Scorpius reminded.
“Yes and he almost got killed! If fact, technically he did get killed, he just didn’t stay dead!” she said angrily. “Are you going to be an idiot your whole life?!”
“Hagrid is dead because of me!” he shot back. “These things are after me and he paid the price!”
“And do you think he’d want you to charge off, half-cocked and -”
“Oh, yeah,” Scorpius interrupted and pulled his wand. “Accio.”
About a minute later, the sawn-off shotgun levitated through the air and into his hand. “I’m not going anywhere without this thing now!”
“For crying out loud! You’re not Rambo, Scorpius!”
“I will be if this demon shows up!”
“Listen to yourself! You’re insane!”
“More people are going to die unless we stop that thing!” he yelled.
“And if you kill get, everybody dies! We have to find out who is going to raise Lucifer and stop them! That is the only way this ends!” Dom shrieked back.
He didn’t understand. Why didn’t she hate him? More importantly, why was she still trying to help him?
A scream ripped through the corridor. It was man, and it was close.
The three of them bolted down the corridor towards where the noise had come from.
The second scream told them exactly where it was coming from. The Greenhouses!
The rushed up to the door of Greenhouse three and shoved it open. All three of them practically had heart attacks at what they were seeing. Every single plant in the greenhouse was going berserk. Thorny vines and roots were flying all over the place. Poison darts were being fired from pods and in the middle of it all, Professor Longbottom was wrapped up and being flung around by his own beloved greenery.
He was being held up in the air by vines that had wrapped themselves around his torso and wrists. Blood was dripping from dozens of different wounds all over his body and he seemed to be getting squeezed as if attacked by a boa constrictor!
Dom, Hugo and Scorpius immediately opened fire at the plants that shook and rushed away as the spells collided with them. Some of the vines around Professor Longbottom loosened but he wasn’t free yet.
Finally Scorpius took aim with the shotgun and fired both barrels at the same time. A horrible shriek sounded out and the plants suddenly fell to the ground, lifeless. Longbottom hit the floor with a horrible thud and stayed there, not moving.
“Those things are loud!” Hugo yelped rubbing his ear.
The three of them rushed over to the fallen Professor. He was in bad shape but alive. His breathing sounded terrible and he was still bleeding heavily.
“Cassandra!” Scorpius yelled at the top of his voice and she was there instantly.
The angel crouched over Longbottom and laid her hand on his chest. Nothing seemed to happen.
“He’s been poisoned. His wounds aren’t healing,” she said calmly.
“You gotta do something!”
Cassandra closed her eyes and a low, glowing white light started to emanate from her palm. The wounds of the Professors body stopped bleeding and his breathing eased but they didn’t disappear.
“I’ve stopped his bleeding. He needs to be taken to a hospital immediately.”
“What are you waiting for?! Zap him to St, Mungo’s!” Scorpius said quickly.
She looked at him and he already knew what she was about to say.
“I’ll be fine for five minutes! Take him, now!”
She turned away and then disappeared in front of their eyes taking Professor Longbottom with her.
The three of them, still alert and shaking looked around and the non-moving plants.
“What the hell is going on?!” Hugo blurted.
Within minutes, Harry and all other present members of the auror department were on sight and investigating the Greenhouse. Cassandra returned and informed them that Neville would live but it would take a while for him to recover.
Scorpius, Dom and Hugo were sitting in the corner trying to stay out of the way. He examined the shotgun. “This thing really does come in handy,” he remarked. “What were you saying about Rambo?”
Dom glared at him. She had wiped away the mascara stains on her face and Hugo’s facial colour had come back. Despite what had just happened, their spirits had actually been lifted. They had saved Neville’s life. They had fought, without hesitation against something they’d never seen before.
“Careful you idiot! That’s evidence!” the auror woman with the horrible flower earrings yelled as another auror stepped on one of the severed vines.
“This is weird,” Ron huffed standing next to her. “Venomous Tentacula is always attacking people but Hellebore is completely harmless. Why would it suddenly try to kill Neville?”
He was right. Half the plants in Greenhouse three could only harm a human if they ate about ten pounds of it. Yet, they had suddenly become vicious monsters for no apparent reason.
“Please, tell me we aren’t taking about some kind of irony demon here,” he asked looking at Cassandra.
“I’m not sure I understand,” she admitted.
“Hagrid loved the Forbidden Forest and then he gets killed by it and Neville’s been into plants since he first came to Hogwarts and suddenly they try to kill him!”
“I’m not familiar with any demons that use irony as a motive for killing,” she said.
“Well, then why did this place go all little shop of horrors?” Scorpius asked.
Cassandra walked over towards where the aurors were gathering up samples. She tucked her wings in a bit more than usual in order to move past the tables full of plant pots. She reached down and picked up one of the severed vines. Holding it in her hand, she closed her eyes and concentrated.
It only took a few seconds before she let go of the vine and turned back towards Scorpius.
“It’s not a demon...it’s a Dryad.”
“A Dryad, a Forest Nymph,” she said.
“A Forest Nymph? I thought they were a myth,” Dom said looking confused.
“Yeah, we thought angels were myths too but, oh, wait, there’s one,” Scorpius said sarcastically.
Dom looked like she wanted to slap Scorpius. It was good to see her back to herself again.
“Okay, what’s a Forest Nymph?” Hugo asked.
“It’s an extremely powerful creature that has the ability to manipulate nature itself. That’s why Nevillie’s wounds weren’t healing, they had been effected by the Dryad’s power,” Cass explained. “They’re known for attacking those that they believe have sinned against the forest.”
“Well, that doesn’t make any sense. Hagrid loved the forest and Neville loved plants,” Harry said looking puzzled.
“What may construed as love by humans could be seen as violation by a Dryad. Hagrid cut down trees, Neville collected seeds and uprooted plants, these things may have offended it.”
“So this thing is like demonic Green Peace? Wonderful!” Hugo groaned.
“Wait, why now? I mean, they’ve been doing that stuff for years?” Ron asked.
“The same reason your people have fallen into believing that they were only myths. Nymphs have been dormant for a very long time. Lucifer’s rise must have awakened them.”
“So you’re saying that freaky creepy crawlies are coming out of the woodwork now because they can smell an apocalypse on the horizon?” Scorpius asked.
“Yes. I told you his ascension would have side-effects.”
“Terrific, so...how do we prune the sonofabitch?”
“As I said, Dryads are very powerful. They can take human form and even angels cannot sense their presence, however, they do have a major weakness that can be exploited. Forest Nymphs draw their power over nature from a single specific connection. A sacred tree,” the angel said.
“And if we were to take a chainsaw to that sacred tree?”
“The Dryad would lose its power and become vulnerable to attack.”
“Awesome, let’s get lumber jacking,” Scorpius said jumping up.
“No,” Cassandra said instantly and moved in front of him.
“I’m not in the mood for this, Cass! You said I can’t go and fight demons, this isn’t a demon. It’s just a plain old fashion monster and it needs to be stopped!” he barked.
“You’re not ready to fight something like this! My orders are to protect you at all costs,” she reminded.
“Yeah, and who gave those orders?”
“Well, I’d like a word with them!” he hissed.
Cassandra actually moved backwards slightly looking uncomfortable. “You wish to make a complaint about me?”
“Yes, I do!”
He actually regretted saying it as soon as he saw the look of fear in Cassandra’s eyes. She was afraid of her bosses.
“As you wish,” she said. She disappeared but this time wasn’t like the last. A white burning light erupted around her and when it vanished, so had she.
She had returned to Heaven.
“Well done Malfoy!” Ron spat.
“Yeah, what the hell is the matter with you?!” Harry agreed standing next to him. “We have got a serious situation here and you decide to get rid of the strongest weapon we’ve got!?”
“She said I was supposed to fight the devil and save the world! How am I suppose to do that if she’s gonna act like a fanatical babysitter the whole time?!” Scorpius yelled back.
“Dad, he’s right! We’ve gotta stop this thing!” Hugo said backing Scorpius up.
“But we can’t if we’re going to be sent to the naughty corner every time we try!”
“You’re acting like a whiny brat! I’ve already lost one friend today and another is going to be lying in a hospital bed for the next two months! This thing is dangerous and we might not be able to stop it without her!”
“Then you have her! I never wanted this! I didn’t sit up at night praying for a destiny and to be a saviour!”
“Neither did I!” Harry growled back.
They were face to face even though Harry was still about half a foot taller than him. They both looked ready to brawl.
“Alright! That’s enough!” Dom said shoving them apart. “Can you two measure testosterone some other time! Back off Malfoy!”
Scorpius stepped back, still fuming.
“That means you too,” she said throwing an icy look at Harry who amazingly obeyed her.
Scorpius turned around and stormed away. After a moment Hugo got up and followed. As soon as they were away from the others, Scorpius took Hugo aside and spoke to him quietly.
“You serious about stopping this thing?” he asked.
“It killed Hagrid, of course I am!”
“Good. We’re going to but we’re gonna have to do it alone.”
“Because...when we busted in that door and saw Neville being attacked, none of us hesitated, none of us ran away. We fought and we saved him. If this is what we were meant for then we can’t spent the rest of our lives expecting to get rescued by angels and aurors, we gotta be able to stand on our own two. We gotta do this by ourselves.”
Hugo thought to himself for a second then looked Scorpius in the eye.
“Alright. Let’s do it.”
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