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Lion, Eagle, Badger, Snake by Sheriff
Chapter 8 : Slughorn
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 4


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‘Bloody hell, Theo!’ Greg ducked. ‘You’re meant to hit those things away from us!’

‘I can’t help it if they come back again, can I?’ The other boy grinned. ‘I’ll try and hit it harder next time!’

‘Mate, I don’t care how hard you hit it right now, just make sure it’s the other way!’ Greg pointed away from himself, exaggeratedly.

Matthew couldn’t stop himself from smiling as he drifted to the ground. ‘Okay, everyone in.’ He flicked his wand as a short, sharp whistling sound echoed over the Quidditch pitch. ‘Is everyone in a better mood than yesterday, then?’ He followed the question to which he already knew the answer with a less certain ask. ‘Alright then, who’s beating, and who’s chasing?’

The first-years looked towards one another, blank looks on three of the four faces.

‘Make Theo a beater,’ Isaac was the only boy to remain alert. ‘You saw how he was hitting it!’

‘Well?’ Matthew turned to face Theo. ‘What do you reckon, mate? Beater?’

Theo shrugged his shoulders, flicking the fringe of his blond hair back behind his ears. ‘I don’t know,’ he hesitated. ‘What do they have to do?’

‘Just hit the bludgers!’ Oscar laughed. ‘Keep them from hitting our players, and do your best to hit the other team instead.’

‘Oh, right,’ Theo smiled. ‘That’s it? No tactics, no rules...?’

‘There are rules, alright,’ Matthew answered, ‘but you don’t need to worry about them too much.’ He turned back to the other first-years. ‘What about the rest of you, then? Who’s the other beater going to be?’

‘I’ll do it,’ Lucas’ left hand edged upwards. ‘The chasers should be the best fliers,’ he explained, quietly. ‘Greg and Zac are much better than me.’

‘You’re getting better, Luc,’ Greg argued back, almost instantly.

Lucas shook his head. ‘That doesn’t matter,’ he protested. ‘You’ll keep getting better, too. You’re both better than me, and you know it.’

‘He’s right, Greg,’ Theo spoke up. ‘Remember what Wood said: you don’t win Quidditch matches by pretending.’

‘Right,’ Matthew agreed. ‘Everyone knows you and Zac are the best fliers out of the first-years. Remember what happened in your first flying lesson.’ The captain grew animated as he spoke. ‘Remember that we’re Slytherin, too – we do what we have to do to get where we want to go. I know it doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends along the way, but we’ve got to have our best players in their best positions!’

‘Well said, skipper,’ Oscar clapped his friend between the shoulder blades. ‘Come on then, Lucas, Theo – we’ll do some beaters’ practice.’

‘Thanks, mate,’ Matthew nodded. ‘As for the rest of you, well, up on your brooms – let’s see if you two can score past Seb!’

*

‘Bloody hell...’ Greg repeated the same swear words that he’d used a couple of hours earlier as he collapsed, eyes closed, onto his bunk in the first-years’ dormitory. ‘I’m knackered!’

‘What, after one session?’ Theo laughed. ‘You sound like you never played any sport before!’

‘Hey!’ Greg thought about pushing himself up as he took offence at his friend’s jibe. ‘I played for my school football team for two years!’

‘Ooh, football...’ Theo smiled. ‘Isn’t that the one where you roll around on the floor pretending to be injured for half the time? No wonder you’re worn out now!’

‘What did you play, then, if you’re so fit?’ Greg challenged the other boy.

‘Rugby! A real sport for real men; that’s what my coach always said. Where you only go down if you can’t physically get up again.’ Theo glanced from Greg’s prone figure to the two magically-raised first-years, each of whom wore expressions that betrayed their utter confusion. ‘Muggle sports,’ Theo explained with a grin. ‘Football fans think their sport’s better, when rugby’s much more...’

‘Rubbish!’ Greg interrupted. ‘All you do playing rugby is throw yourself on the floor on top of each other. I can never see where the ball is!’

‘No, that’s what the forwards do,’ Theo retorted. ‘If you’re a scrum-half or a fly-half, then you’ve got to be everywhere, passing, tackling, running – even kicking sometimes...’

Greg glared at the other boy, but was saved from having to continue the argument by Lucas’ interruption. ‘Do you think they’ll teach us about these sports in Muggle Studies?’

‘They should do,’ Theo responded almost instantly. ‘Think how important Quidditch is for you wizards... Football and Rugby are the same for Muggles.’

‘You wizards?’ Isaac questioned.

‘What?’

‘You just said “you wizards”. Didn’t you realise?’ Isaac repeated himself, nervously.

‘Oh,’ Theo realised what he had said. ‘Shit... sorry. I mean...’

‘It’s okay,’ Isaac cut off Theo’s stumbling attempts to apologise. ‘I know it’s easy to say things you don’t really mean,’ he looked pointedly at the other boy.

‘Yeah,’ Theo bit his bottom lip, remembering their argument the previous evening. ‘You’re right. Sorry – really – and for yesterday as well...’

‘It’s okay,’ Isaac repeated himself.

‘Quidditch is important to us wizards.’ Theo, still feeling the need to correct himself, let his grin grow wider as he saw Isaac return his smile, happy in the knowledge that his friend wouldn’t hold any grudges against him. ‘I still love rugby, though,’ he maintained, suddenly darting beneath his bunk to root around within his travelling trunk, before emerging moments later with an oval-shaped ball. ‘Here, Greg!’ With a snap of his wrists, the ball fizzed the short distance between the two muggleborn boys’ bunks, spinning sharply on its axis as it flew.

‘Woah,’ Greg’s eyes widened as the rugby ball sped towards him, and the boy lifted his hands up, reflexively, parrying its path towards his face before catching it on the rebound. ‘How do you throw it that hard?’ He lobbed the ball gently back to his friend.

Theo didn’t need a second invitation to show off his skills again, and made a show of clasping his hands onto the two ends of the rugby ball, his right hand taking the bottom and his left resting more gently on the top. ‘It’s all in the spin,’ he explained. ‘The left hand shows you where the ball’s going to go, and the right hand sends it.’ He flicked the ball up in the air a couple of times, letting his left hand slip – apparently aimlessly – off the side of the ball, before turning his body and spinning the ball towards Greg with unerring accuracy.

‘Cool...’ Greg admitted, resting his hands on the ball in the same way as Theo had demonstrated before sending it back towards his friend – without anything like as much spin, pace or control. ‘I guess it needs practice?’

‘Yeah,’ Theo laughed. ‘My coach always said that there wasn’t anything that didn’t need practice – not if you wanted to be the best player you could possibly be.’

‘I think he’s right,’ Isaac broke his own silence. ‘I was looking through one of my Puddlemere programmes last night, and I found something about Professor Wood’s career. Right back when he was at Hogwarts, he was famous for taking practice and training way more seriously than anyone else.’ He paused. ‘So, I was thinking, why shouldn’t we do the same? We all know what everyone thinks of Slytherins – let’s prove to them all that they’re wrong... and let’s start by practising doing that with the quaffles.’

‘Is that allowed?’ Theo asked, spinning the rugby ball up to himself once again.

‘Why wouldn’t it be?’ Isaac answered back.

Theo shrugged. ‘How would I know? I’d never even heard of Quidditch last week!’

‘It’ll be okay,’ Lucas assured the muggle-born boy. ‘There are lots of rules – 700 of them, in fact – but most of them haven’t been used in hundreds of years,’ he explained. ‘Most of them are just about not interfering with the other players while they’re flying.’

‘Unless you’re hitting those massive rocks at them, right?’ Theo shook his head.

‘They’re called bludgers,’ Lucas insisted, ‘and they’re not rocks... well, not any more.’

‘So what won’t I be allowed to do?’ Theo asked.

‘Take hold of someone’s broom, grab someone’s robes, collide with them on purpose...’ Lucas started listing the rules of the sport.

‘What if it’s by accident?’ Theo set the rugby ball down on the bedsheets by his side.

‘Well...’ Lucas hesitated, looking to Isaac.

‘It depends what the referee thinks,’ the other magically-raised boy explained.

‘Cool,’ a wide grin spread over the muggle-born’s face. ‘Just like Rugby.’ He picked up the oval ball again, spinning it back towards Greg. ‘My coach always said that if the referee lets you get away with it, then it’s fine by him.’

Greg laughed as he caught the rugby ball. ‘I bet he would have been in Slytherin.’

‘Alright,’ Lucas hesitated, ‘but how are we going to practise properly,’ he asked, ‘when we haven’t got any brooms?’

‘Can’t we get some?’ Theo held his hands up to his chest, gesturing for a return pass.

‘No,’ Lucas answered, flatly. ‘It’s in the school rules. First-years aren’t allowed to have their own brooms.’

‘Their own brooms?’ Greg half-repeated his friend’s assertion. ‘Is that what it says, exactly?’

‘Well, yeah.’ Lucas shrugged. ‘So what?’

‘Wait and see,’ Greg smiled. ‘Wait and see.’

*

The potions classroom was only a short walk from the Slytherins’ dungeon, and as the four boys filed along the narrow corridor towards the arched door, they caught up with the gathering of Hufflepuff students with whom they would be sharing the lessons.

‘Slughorn’s a Slytherin, isn’t he?’ One of the waiting boys whispered to one of his friends.

‘Yeah,’ the other boy confirmed. ‘He used to teach my mum. She says that Slughorn used to be really good, but his heart isn’t in it any more, not since, since...’

‘Since the war?’ The first boy finished his friend’s sentence, before turning to head quietly into the high-roofed classroom. The four Slytherins followed close behind him, picking out a circular table in the far corner of the room.

‘Good morning,’ the professor pushed through a wide door in the opposite corner, muttering to himself as he wedged his ample body into a wide armchair that squatted behind a long bureau. ‘Please turn your textbooks to page 11,’ he intoned as he completed a roll-call. ‘This is a very straightforward potion: a simple revitalising draught. So long as you have purchased supplies as instructed, you will find that you have all the correct ingredients. If this is not the case, you will find them in this particular cupboard.’

Lazily, Slughorn flicked a wand towards the edge of the classroom, and a pair of double doors slid open. ‘Work with the student beside you. You have until one o’clock, at which point you will submit your potions for grading. Begin.’

‘Is that all he’s going to tell us?’ Theo shook his blond fringe away from his eyes, watching the teacher beginning to leaf through the yellowing pages of a tired book. ‘Read the textbook? I could sit there and tell everyone that.’

Isaac shook his head. ‘I guess that explains why we never see him in the dungeons, too.’

‘What?’ Theo answered back, sharply. ‘Why would we see him in the dungeons?’

‘He’s head of Slytherin House,’ Isaac explained.

‘Oh, right.’ Theo nodded, settling back onto his wooden stool. ‘I see what those Hufflepuff boys meant.’

‘Who’s going to work with who, then?’ Greg spoke up.

Isaac shrugged. ‘Does it matter?’

‘Well, you two are both magical,’ Greg thought out loud, ‘and me and Theo aren’t,’ he continued, ‘so maybe we should split that up.’

‘Sure,’ Isaac nodded. ‘I might as well go with you, I guess, seeing as I’m sat next to you.’ He glanced to his left, looking towards Lucas. ‘If you don’t mind working with Theo?’

‘That’s fine,’ Lucas nodded, reaching down below his stool for his potions kit.

‘Cool,’ Theo smiled. ‘Hey, if we manage to make a good one, do you think he’ll let us keep it to see if we can keep awake in History of Magic?’

‘I don’t think he’d even notice you’d taken it...’ Isaac remarked, looking over his shoulder towards the disinterested teacher. ‘Why would you want to waste it on Binns’ lectures, though?’ He grinned.

‘Do you know anything else about Slughorn?’ Greg asked his partner as he counted out a stack of small, black figs.

‘Not really,’ the other boy shrugged. ‘My uncle had left by the time he came back to teach here again.’

‘You mean he taught here before?’

‘Oh, yeah,’ Isaac finished pouring a measure of sky blue liquid into a glass vial. ‘He taught here first a long time ago – he started in the 1940s or something – and then he came back in, um, it must have been 1996... during the Second War.’

‘When Voldemort returned,’ Greg completed his friend’s sentence, ‘and half of Slytherin fought with him.’ He gazed back across the room to the professor, idly flicking through the pages of his book.

‘Slughorn fought against him.’ Isaac recalled. ‘Together with McGonagall, they duelled him – before Harry Potter defeated him for good...’ he sighed. ‘Right after he watched the rest of Slytherin run away to save their own arses.’

‘No wonder people say his heart’s not in it any more,’ Greg remembered the Hufflepuff boys’ words in the corridor before the lesson. ‘Who can blame him?’

Isaac shook his head, slowly. ‘No one ever told me this part of the story,’ he sighed. ‘It always ended with the heroes of Gryffindor living happily ever after: but if Gryffindor ends up being full of people like Dawlish, then I’m glad I didn’t get sorted there.’

‘I guess things don’t always turn out the way the stories make you think they should do,’ Greg shrugged, brushing the figs together into a pile with the back of a steel knife. ‘The stories about Slytherin aren’t all true, are they?’

‘Well...’ Isaac hesitated. ‘Some are...’

‘You know what I mean,’ Greg insisted, ‘about everyone being a selfish tosser. ‘I’m proud to be in Slytherin.’ He turned back to the pile of figs, striking at them with aggressive, haphazard cuts as they crumbled into chunks and slices.

‘So am I,’ Isaac whispered, ‘but, you know, it’s still difficult to say that out loud.’ He blushed slightly, looking away from his friend and back down towards his potions textbook, accidentally catching the sleeve of his robe on the neck of the vial as he moved. ‘Shit!’

Greg reacted in an instant, stretching out his left arm to seize the neck of the container as it tumbled towards the classroom floor, spilling its contents across Isaac’s lap. ‘Are you alright, Zac?’ He lowered his voice. ‘Did Slughorn see?’

Isaac glanced over his shoulder. ‘Not bloody likely,’ he grinned, ‘as if that dozy old bat would notice anything,’ he snorted.

‘Okay... alright,’ Greg blinked, returning the empty vial to the bench in front of him. ‘I’ll just go get something to clean that up.’ He hurried across the room to a workbench set against the wall, where a pile of old cloths and rags lay, stacked in a precarious pile on a high shelf.

‘Hey,’ Greg recognised the boy standing in front of the workbench as being the Hufflepuff whom he had overheard outside the classroom on his way in. ‘Can I...’

‘Take them!’ The boy stammered, unsteadily shoving a pile of half-chopped figs towards Greg. ‘Please! Just leave me alone!’

‘What?’ Greg recoiled.

‘Have them. I mean it!’ The Hufflepuff boy’s short black hair seemed to stand out against his forehead as his skin turned pale.

‘I don’t want your figs,’ Greg shook his head, gently pushing the chopping board back to the other boy. ‘I was only going to ask if I could get one of those towels,’ he pointed up to the shelf above the Hufflepuff’s head. ‘Why did you think I wanted to take your figs? Cause I’m a Slytherin?’

Greg rolled his eyes, watching the colour return to the other boy’s face in a reddening rush as he stood aside. ‘Thanks. It’s just my friend’s just spilt this blue liquid all down himself and we need to clean it up before Slughorn sees...’ He pulled the topmost rag from the pile and half-turned away to head back to his own desk, only to pause as the Hufflepuff boy stammered another question.

‘Blue liquid?’

‘Yeah,’ Greg nodded, ‘the one in the potion.’

‘Alihotsy?’

‘I don’t know, I’m muggle-born.’

‘Muggle-born?’ The Hufflepuff shook himself, before remembering his train of thought. ‘That’s Alihotsy. He needs to go to the hospital wing!’

‘What?’ Greg responded, sceptically. ‘Really?’

‘Yes,’ the other boy nodded, frantically. ‘Alihotsy makes you hysterical!’

Greg cast a nervous glance across the room to his friends’ table, where – true to the Hufflepuff’s prediction – Isaac was giggling uncontrollably to himself. ‘Oh, God...’

‘Don’t worry,’ the other boy reasoned, ‘Madam Pomfrey will have seen it before. She’ll be able to sort it out, no problem.’

‘Okay,’ Greg nodded, jerkily. ‘Thanks. See you.’ He hurried back across the room, cloth still in hand, to lift Isaac from his stool and guide his friend towards the exit. ‘Pack our stuff away, will you?’ Theo and Isaac nodded as they heard their friend’s request. ‘Professor,’ Greg raised his voice, calling across the room. ‘I’m taking Isaac to the hospital wing.’

Without waiting for a reply, or even an acknowledgement, Greg headed for the door.

*

‘What do you mean, you don’t know his name? How can you want to visit someone you don’t even know?’ Greg heard the prim voice of the school nurse, Madam Pomfrey, as he sat on the hard chair beside the bed in which Isaac slept.

‘I know why he’s here, for Alihotsy,’ a boy’s voice argued back. ‘He’s a first-year, and he’s a Slytherin.’

‘It doesn’t matter if he is a sixth year and a Ravenclaw, Mr...’

‘Jones,’ the boy replied, despondently.

‘Mr Jones,’ the nurse completed her sentence. ‘If you don’t know the boy well enough to know his name, then I can’t see how he will benefit from your visiting him.’

Greg stood up, taking the handful of steps towards the doorway that necessary to recognise the Hufflepuff boy from the Potions class. ‘His name’s Isaac Davies,’ he announced, ‘and even if he doesn’t want to see Mr Jones, I know I do.’

The nurse relented, rolling her eyes theatrically as she turned away from the waiting children. ‘Just make sure you keep the noise down.’

‘Thank you,’ the black-haired boy reddened as the nurse trotted back to her desk.

‘Don’t worry about it,’ Greg smiled. ‘We more than owe you one.’ He held his hand out. ‘I’m Greg Bennett... and, well, you know that’s Isaac.’ He indicated the sleeping boy. ‘Nurse Pomfrey says he will wake up by four.’

‘Glyn Jones,’ the Hufflepuff introduced himself, tentatively shaking Greg’s hand. ‘Well, my full name’s Glyndwr, but no one calls me that because they can never spell it...’

‘G-l-y-n-d-o-w-e-r?’ Greg guessed, gamely.

‘Nope,’ the Hufflepuff boy shook his head, ‘no vowels. It’s Welsh. Mum named me after the wizard who led Wales, the last time it was ever free of England.’

Greg grinned. ‘I suppose you support Wales at Quidditch, then?’

‘It’s not like I’ve got any choice, is it?’ He blushed. ‘Mum would kill me...’

Greg blinked, gazing back blankly at the other boy. ‘Um,’ he stammered, ‘Why?’

‘Gwenog Jones,’ Glyn explained. ‘She plays for the Holyhead Harpies. Beater. Captain.’

‘Okay,’ Greg nodded as a look of understanding crossed his face. ‘Cool.’ He set himself back on the chair beside Isaac’s bed, and Glyn did the same on the opposite side of the bunk. ‘I never thought you’d come and visit.’

Glyn shrugged, looking away from the other boy’s eyes. ‘I felt like I ought to. After... you know...’ he tailed off.

‘Thanks,’ the Slytherin answered, ignoring the other boy’s half-sentence. ‘I don’t know what we’d have done if you hadn’t known about Alihotsy.’

‘Someone else would have worked it out,’ Glyn offered, weakly. ‘I bet Slughorn would have realised what it was pretty quickly.’

‘If he’d even noticed,’ Greg shook his head, before realising that Glyn’s eyes were fixed on the Slytherin badge on the side of his robes. ‘Glyn,’ he  called the other boy’s name. ‘Forget it. It’s not your fault that Slytherins have been tossers for hundreds of years.’

Glyn blushed again. ‘I didn’t mean...’

 ‘I said forget it!’ Greg laughed. ‘You’ve realised that we’re not all just evil Slytherins from story books...  and quicker than Isaac did, as well.’ Greg cast his mind back to the previous week. ‘With much less swearing, too.’

Glyn’s serious expression relaxed into a laugh for the first time, and a natural tan drifted back into his cheeks. ‘Do you mind if I ask you something... something about Slytherin?’

‘Sure,’ Greg nodded, ‘on one condition: I get to ask you a question after.’

‘Okay,’ Glyn agreed. ‘Well,’ he began, searching for the right words to frame his thoughts. ‘I thought... I was always told... that Slytherin was always about blood purity, more than everything – but you’re muggle-born. How does that work?’

‘Good question,’ Greg sighed. ‘The Sorting Hat never said anything about blood. It said that Slytherin would give me opportunities, and I told it to put me there if it was where I belonged. I think I knew it couldn’t be all bad, because Matt and Ossie were Slytherins too – they’re in the fourth year and I knew them before I started. We’ve all decided that we can make being in Slytherin into what we want it to be, not just what the old stories said it was. There’s nothing that says you have to be a tosser to be a Slytherin.’

‘Alright,’ Glyn nodded, ‘I guess that makes sense. The Sorting Hat never asked me anything like that... it just said Hufflepuff the moment it sat on my head.’ He sighed. ‘So, what’s your question?’

‘You said that Slughorn used to teach your mum,’ Greg began. ‘I just wondered if you knew anything more about him. You see, he’s Head of Slytherin, and we’ve never even seen him to talk to him...’ He hesitated, wondering how much of his plan he could share with the Welsh boy. ‘We need some teachers on our side if we’re to do a proper job of rebuilding Slytherin.’

Glyn shook his head. ‘Mum never told me much,’ he shrugged. ‘She was always one of his favourites – she still sends him Harpies tickets whenever he wants them... although that isn’t very often any more. She said he was like a magpie, always after the shiniest, prettiest things that he could take a piece of for himself.’

‘Thanks,’ Greg nodded. ‘Sounds like we could make him interested in helping us, so long as there was something in it for him,’ he thought aloud. ‘The man who rebuilt Slytherin,’ Greg smiled. ‘I think he’d like that... Hey,’ an idea began to form inside his head. ‘Me and Zac are going down to see him after he gets out the hospital wing. Do you want to come along?’

‘Why...?’ Glyn regarded the blond-haired Slytherin suspiciously.

‘Well,’ Greg answered. ‘You could tell him your mum says hello: try and get on his good side,’ he shrugged, ‘but it would really help us out if we could prove there were kids in other houses who didn’t hate our guts,’ he smiled. ‘Or, even, kids in other houses who we could call our friends.’

‘Sure,’ Glyn smiled. ‘Count me in.’

*

Slughorn’s quarters lay through a wide wooden door in one corner of the potions classroom. Later that afternoon, after Isaac stirred from his magical sleep, the three boys waited beside its iron knocker for the professor’s answer.

‘Who’s that?’  The man pulled half of the door slowly backwards, peering a single bulging eye through the gap that it produced. ‘Who are you?’

‘We’re first-years, sir,’ Greg answered. ‘I’m Greg Bennett, this is Isaac Davies – we’re both Slytherins – and Glyn Jones, he’s Hufflepuff.’

‘What have you got yourselves into now?’ The man admonished, shaking his head as he eased the door open. ‘Not a week in and in front of your Head of House already.’

Greg gritted his teeth, biting back a retort, but Isaac couldn’t stop himself. ‘Is that the only reason we should come and see you?’

‘Zac...’ Greg whispered. ‘Steady...’

‘Some Slytherins don’t even know you are Head of House! You’ve never been to see us.’

‘Zac,’ Greg repeated, raising his voice sharply and cutting off his friend’s complaints. ‘We were going to come and see you after Potions, sir, but there was, um, an accident,’ he explained.

‘I spilt Alihotsy on myself,’ Isaac provided the details, ‘but I’m okay now,’ he added, hurriedly. ‘Glyn told us all about it and we went to the hospital wing straight away.’

‘And when did this happen?’ Slughorn pressed for more answers as the three children edged into the professor’s quarters.

‘This morning, sir,’ Greg answered, uneasily. ‘Right here, in your Potions lesson.’ He stopped himself saying anything further, turning to snatch a glance at his friends, as the teacher stumbled gracelessly onto a wide sofa.

‘This morning, you say?’ The man enquired.

‘Y... Yes...’ Glyn glanced to the two Slytherin boys, and replied as he realised that they couldn’t find their own words. ‘It was the lesson just before lunch,’ his face drained pale once again, ‘when we were making revitalising draughts.’

‘Well,’ Slughorn shrugged his shoulders, listlessly. ‘Five points to Hufflepuff for being so well-versed with the properties of Alihotsy!’

‘Don’t you remember, sir?’ Glyn stammered.

‘Did I see it?’ The man shrugged.

‘It was your lesson!’ Isaac snapped. ‘How could you not notice it?’ He took a step forwards towards the professor, his face reddening with every breath. ‘We’re in your house! Isn’t it your job to care about us whilst we’re here?’

‘It’s interesting you should say that,’ the professor’s eyes hardened as their gaze focused on Isaac’s furious glare. ‘You see, there is very little in this House worth caring about.’ He sniffed pompously, turning to the low table beside the sofa and lifting a pair of reading glasses. ‘One thing I have noticed, however, is your complete and utter lack of respect and manners. Detention, Sunday morning. Eight o’clock.’ He looked over the rim of his spectacles to the other two first-years. ‘All three of you.’

‘But...’ Isaac opened his mouth to argue, but his words caught in his throat as Greg grabbed him by the collar, heaving him towards the doorway before he could say anything else.

‘Bastard!’ Isaac announced, once Greg released his grip as the boys cleared the potions classroom. ‘Some Head of House he is! He doesn’t give a shit about us!’

Greg shook his own head. ‘I know... but I don’t think you helped, mate.’

‘What?’ Isaac seethed. ‘He’s just put us all in detention for no reason whatsoever, and you think it’s my fault?’

‘Zac!’ Greg warned, remembering how easily his friend had already said things he didn’t mean. ‘That’s not what I said, mate.’ He stared at his friend. ‘We know it’s not going to be easy to convince people that Slytherins aren’t all just tossers – even Slughorn thinks we are...’ He turned, noticing that Glyn had shrunk against a flat seat that was carved into the stone corridor wall. ‘I just hope you don’t.’ Greg sat down beside the Hufflepuff boy. ‘Sorry,’ he offered, limply. ‘I never knew it would end up like that.’

Glyn looked up, his eyes rimmed red and his face pale again. ‘Detention,’ he mouthed, ‘in my first week...’

‘I know. I’m sorry,’ Greg repeated. ‘Sorry we dragged you into it.’

‘It’s not your fault,’ Glyn whispered, ‘you never made me come.’ He sighed. ‘Merlin... what are my mum and dad going to say?’

‘They won’t say anything,’ Isaac had calmed down enough to answer the boy’s question. ‘Not if you don’t tell them about it.’

Glyn’s eyes widened. ‘I never thought of that!’

‘That’s probably why you’re not in Slytherin,’ Isaac remarked drily as Glyn stood up. ‘See you on Sunday.’ He shook his head as the Hufflepuff boy hurried back towards his House’s quarters. ‘I guess the Hat really knew what it was talking about with him.’

Greg couldn’t prevent a wry smile from crossing his face. ‘Now who’s judging people because of what their House is like in the stories?’
 


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