Chapter 5 : Opportunity
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Nobody seemed able to break the hushed atmosphere. It was McGonagall who ultimately ordered us to sit down like civilised folk.
“I am disgusted. Thoroughly disgusted by your behaviour today”, she said, every word puncturing the solemn silence. “You were elected Prefects because of your awareness and your understanding that there are bigger things outside these walls. Students look up to you. But today….I am tempted to relieve all of you of your positions. Your Head Girl is trying to promote unity and this is how you repay her efforts? Mr Malfoy is your superior and your co-worker. I expect you to treat him as such”.
“Now”, she took a deep breath. “Does anyone have anything to say for themselves?”
My hand was too numb to move.
“Excellent. Rose, I expect a full report of today’s meeting on my desk by midnight. Do I make myself clear?”
I gave a nod because a nod was all I could give. The Headmistress straightened her ruffled emerald robes then, her features a little tired, strode out the Room of Requirement.
Everyone then turned to me, their gazes antagonistic.
“Edgar”, I said quietly. “Please scribe”.
The ever faithful Ravenclaw pulled out a tawny quill and raised it above the piece of parchment, all set.
“As you all know”, I began, struggling to keep an even tone. “Patrolling starts tomorrow night. I have placed a chart near the bathroom if anyone needs to be reminded of the-”
“I don’t think patrolling should start until Monday”, drawled a voice.
Pursing my lips, I looked straight up.
“I haven’t seen this chart”, he continued, “and Head Boy is required to look over all documents passed on to the Prefects, as well as the Head Girl”.
Keeping a check on my temper, I retrieved a chart from my bag and leaned over the table to push it towards him.
He snatched it away and held it up to the light. I watched him impatiently. Just the very way he was sitting was an insult. His legs were spread wide open, welcoming anything or anyone and his arms, which hung over the chair that was far too small to contain him, brushed against his outer thighs, his fingertips tapping the trouser material.
“And who am I patrolling with?” He asked, dropping the chart, which floated to the floor.
“Head Boy and Head Girl always patrol together”, blurted out the imprudent Patricia.
His eyes turned to her, raking over her face which turned redder than the scarlet and gold tie pinned to her shirt.
“Me”, I said. “You’ll be patrolling with me every other night”.
His head snapped up. “Sure you can manage me every other night?” He smirked.
A few of the boys, primarily Zane, snickered.
“Underline that”, I said to Edgar.
Malfoy stood up and walked round. As he reached Edgar, he leaned forward and pinched the quill from his hand.
“The Head Girl then proposed that Prefects should have the right to issue detentions and remove house points when seen fit…”, he said, writing it down as he spoke.
“Those rights were removed for a reason”, I scowled. “People abused them”.
“She then went on to say that Head Girl and Head Boy, should also be allocated separate living accommodation, away from the……masses”.
I spluttered. “I am perfectly happy in the Ravenclaw Dormitories, Malfoy”.
He handed the parchment back to the speechless Edgar.
“You would be happy in a pig sty Weasel”, he sneered. “Now. Someone tell me what jinxes are prohibited and I will find a way to rectify that”.
I literally flung myself through the Headmistresses door.
“Professor”, I said steadily. “I demand to know why you saw it fit to appoint Mr Malfoy as acting Head Boy!”
She blinked at me and leaned back into her seat. “Surely I do not have to explain myself to you of all people, Miss Weasley”.
My bottom lip quavered. Around the room, fifty other Headmasters and Headmistresses were peering down at me, some tittering. I had only been in the Head’s Office twice and yet I still found myself marvelling at the intricate detail of the room.
“I sought to do what you have been trying to achieve, Miss Weasley. House Unity”.
“Then why didn't you bring in Ethan Nott, or James Bletchley? Why did it have to be him?”
“Miss Weasley. What do you know of Scorpius Malfoy?”
That stumped me. “I know enough”.
“Do you?” She raised an eyebrow. “Mr Malfoy himself is a very isolated member of the Hogwarts community. He rarely talks to anyone. He takes his food from the Kitchens and eats it in the grounds. He is a clever, but tends not to put his hand up in class-”
“So you think we should accommodate his behaviour so he can become more involved with the school?”
“No. I think we should allow him the opportunity to prove who he is”.
“That might not be pretty”, I said icily.
“Perhaps not. But everyone deserves a opportunity”.
Still unconvinced, I went in for the kill. “His father was a Deatheater”.
The Headmistress sighed and looked at me, her head slanted. “You think we should judge him by his Father’s errors”.
“I think we should take to into account we are putting a dangerous family into a powerful position. Head Boy can control the school as much as any Professor”.
“I am the one taking that risk. Not you, Miss Weasley. Now”, the door behind me creaked open. “I am off to bed and advise that you do the same”.
Lifting my chin, I stalked out the office. I felt as though my stomach was brewing. Being betrayed by one of the few people I respected was a blow, a mighty blow. And all though I tried to reason with my anger, it all came down to same hard facts.
Malfoy was unfeeling.
Malfoy was dangerous.
And Malfoy was up to something.
Harrison and Chrissy were both up when I returned to the common room. Chrissy, her hair beginning to fall out her bun and her makeup fading, was nestled in Harrison’s lap reading a book, whereas Harrison was clipping his broomstick tail, his tongue held between his teeth.
“Thank Merlin”, Chrissy exhaled as I sat on the same sofa in front of the blue fire. “I thought you’d eloped with Albus”.
I gave her a look that plainly said I would be not taking those jokes well.
“I got you some food, as promised”, Harrison said, looking over from his broom.
“Thanks”, I mumbled, grateful for the plate of steaming Lancashire Hotpot left on the table in front of the fire.
“So.” Chrissy said, giving me that coy smile. “How was Prefect Meeting?”
“Malfoy is the new Head Boy”, I said darkly, stabbing the potato with more vigour than necessary.
“What!?” Harrison exclaimed, cutting off four twigs at once.
Chrissy frowned. “Ew”.
“How did Malfoy come to be Head Boy?” He demanded.
“McGonagall thinks that his position will provoke house unity”.
Harrison scowled. “I can tell you what it will provoke and it won’t be house unity”.
I chewed thoughtfully. I couldn’t deny that the Slytherin Prefects had been far better behaved that then usually were. And the reason that Toby Finnegan kept his mouth buttoned up was because he was too frightened that he would sustain the same treatment at his badge. Fear wasn’t respect though. Malfoy wouldn’t be allowed to bully his way into power on my watch.
That wasn’t to say he didn't try. Every corner I turned was riddled with his repressive punishments. If it wasn’t students complaining that he had taken house points away for irrational things, such as ‘failure to close mouth when eating’ or ‘having a Aunt that worked for the S.P.E.W.’, then it was the more physical reprimands he used when stopping conflicts in the corridors.
“Surely you have enough to report him”, Harrison said over breakfast the following Monday morning.
“McGonagall said I must collect a hundred signatures if I want to get rid of him”, I said, probing a second year’s mouth. “Including twenty-five from Slytherin”.
The girl in front of me wailed as I tapped the two extended front teeth with the tip of my wand.
“Go see Madam Pomfrey,” I advised. “I'm sure it’s Densaugeo, but I wouldn’t want to try and counter-hex it”.
The girl nodded, wiping her eyes and hurrying off towards the Hospital Wing.
“So far I have thirty-one”, I grimaced, turning back to Harrison.
“It’s a start”.
I nodded. “I start patrolling with him tonight. Hopefully then I can educate him then”.
“I wouldn’t like to be the person to run into you two when your educating”, Chrissy murmured from behind the Daily Prophet.
“Anything interesting?” Harrison asked, leaning over the table and almost knocking over the goblet of pumpkin juice.
I caught it before it spilled over Chrissy.
“Uncle Harry caught Rosier yesterday”, she said, setting the newspaper down and pointing to the article. “Put up a fight though”.
I glanced at the article. Rosier had been found in Norway after a very chaotic chase across the country. And though the case was documented as successful, it still couldn’t hide the alarming truth that out of the four-hundred and seventy prisoners only ninety had been found.
“There’s no structure to this at all”, Harrison said, shaking his head. “They’re supposed to be re-grouping, not fleeing the country”.
“Maybe trying to find someone to structure them”, I said quietly.
“A good observation”.
I almost dropped the goblet.
“Birds eat snakes, Malfoy”, Chrissy warned, her cornflower eyes narrowed.
Malfoy ignored her and leaned back against the bench. “A little tale has reached my ears. And it tells me that you are trying to get me sacked. Why, oh why Weasel, are you trying to do this?” His eyes locked with mine.
“Are you really that blonde that you can’t see why you are not appropriate for this position?” I replied irritably.
“I don’t think we should start comparing hair Weasel”, he growled, his gaze raking over my corn-coloured plait.
I shoved the piece of parchment with the thirty one signatures in his face. “I am sixty-nine names away from sending you back to the dungeons, Malfoy”.
He sighed and let his overcast irises wander lazily over the names. “I see no Slytherins clamouring for my resignation”.
“Your right”, I said,. “But it doesn’t take much for Slytherin to cave in under a few threats. After all”, I gave him a derisive look, “you’re not exactly known for your valour”.
“You couldn’t make a threat if your blood depended on it”, he sneered.
“I don’t think we should start comparing blood, Malfoy”, I hissed.
His upper lip curled and without warning, he jerked sharply. The parchment ripped down the middle.
“No.” He let the two halves fall on my lap. “Because you will always lose, Weasel”.
Then, making sure to give both Chrissy and Harrison a contempt filled smirk, he stalked away.
Shaking with anger, I picked up the remains on my petition and placed them gently on the table.
“You can reparo them”, Harrison told me kindly.
I nodded. But we both knew it wasn’t the act. It was the maliciousness behind it. Malfoy was right. He would never not be pureblood. I would never not be half-blood. And deep down, even though I knew blood made no difference that bothered me.
My day became a little brighter from then on. Even with the dark promise of tonight hanging over my head, I still managed to receive two O’s from Flitwick in Charms and a Illimim Cactus plant in Herbolgey, as a prize for retrieving the most buds from the Tentactula. I was in a better mood, until I saw I had a double lesson at the end of the day.
I had been avoiding using the time-turner since the accident in the broom cupboard. The fact that I had miscalculated the turns was embarrassing enough, without the disadvantage of being found by the previous caretaker and pulled into a office around thirty years before I was even born. The whole incident left a nauseating feeling in my stomach. I knew I couldn’t possibly scramble the notes off someone again, so, clutching my tumbling stomach, I hide behind a large pillar on the seventh floor and flicked the hourglass once.
Letting the door go, I walked quickly over to the desk, where the small witch, her thick black curls spread over her back, was making notes with a quill.
“Professor?” I said nervously.
She looked up, her ballerina features poised with uncertainty. “Miss Weasley”. Her voice was very sharp and imposing for someone so small and frail.
“I would like to apologise for my behaviour last lesson”, I began slowly, “it was wrong of me to speak to you like that”.
A smile glided across her mouth. “I am glad you recognise your mistake, Rose. I urge you think more about what you say. Having a famous family isn’t always going to serve you well in life”.
I swallowed down the impulse to retort back.
“If you’d like to go sit at the back again”, she said, turning to her work.
It took me a moment to move. I had assumed that apologising would earn me my seat back next to Chrissy. But from what she had said, no amount of apologising was going to conciliate this roaring grudge.
As the rest of the class filed in, I went to the back and sat down. Chrissy frowned at me as she came in and I rolled my eyes towards the Professor. Snapping her head forward, the girl looked at the teacher, he gaze guarded.
“Is anyone sitting here?”
Tearing my eyes away, I looked up. Rictor Haven was slouched in front of me, his broad arms holding his stack of books close to his chest.
“No. But I wouldn’t sit with me unless you can cope with indirect bullying”, I warned, a little disdainfully.
The boy hesitated, trying to figure out if that was a yes or a no and then finally opted to sit next to me anyway.
I tensed a little as he sat down. This was sure to be fun, a Quidditch fanatic with no more brains than the little golden ball that evaded him for most of the game.
“So your James’s cousin?” He asked. His voice was a little soft for a boy, especially a Quidditch Captain.
“And Albus’s and Lilly’s and Lucy’s and Fred’s and Molly’s and Dom’s”, I replied scathingly. “Though the latter hasn’t spoke to me since Christmas”.
“Big family”, he noted.
“Big doesn’t do it justice”, I scowled.
“James told me that I shouldn’t talk to you about Quidditch or Magical Creature Rights or Fred’s Dad’s Joke shop and a whole lot of other stuff that frankly I can’t remember”, he said, grimacing a little. “So, do you wanna tell me what I can talk about?”
I blinked. “Why would you want to talk to me?”
It did occur to me, as I finished the sentence, that it probably wasn’t the best thing to say to the seventh year Gryffindor that looked like he had taken all the good aspects from the other boys in school and meshed them into one.
Rictor shrugged. “I see you in the library sometimes, by yourself. And the other day I wondered why you’re always by yourself,”, he added hastily. “So I wondered why if you could tell me why that is and if I'm doing something wrong by sitting here, with you?”
By this time, my eyes had bent into slits. “How much are they paying you?”
“Paying me?” He echoed.
“Yes”, I said, through tightly pressed lips. “How much are they giving you to do this? And which one of them is it?”
“I'm not being paid”, he said earnestly.
“James? Fred? My Dad? One of my Uncles? Al wouldn’t dare”.
“Wait. You think that someone in your family paid me to come and sit next to you?”
“No. I think someone in my family paid you to recite those very sweet lines and pretend, very unconvincingly I might add, that you suddenly found me fascinating”.
He stared at me and I stared straight back.
“I hope everyone has completed the essay I set on Dark Wizards last lesson”, Professor Whitlock said, collecting the papers from the front row of desks.
Distracted by the call for work, I reached into my bag and took out the three-hundred page essay I had spent all yesterday afternoon working on. I was satisfied that it was another O piece of work, but whether or not it would graded fairly was anyone’s guess.
“What is this?” She said, upon reaching my desk. Giving a brief scan through my work she tossed it back to me. “I set the essay to be eighty pages long”.
“I thought you might appreciate some more background research into my argument”, I said, at a loss for an explanation. Never before had I been told off for broadening the word limit.
“I would appreciate not having to comb through waffle”, she said and moved on to the next desk. “I want the correct essay on my desk tomorrow morning”.
“But this is the correct essay”, I protested. But if she heard me, she didn't acknowledge me.
I was seriously wondering if I should drop History of Magic. I had never had to drop a subject before and the thought that this stupid woman would be winning was no more than tortuous. But I wasn’t sure whether my frayed nerves could take anymore.
“Honestly”, Rictor said suddenly, “no-one is paying me”.
I pursed my lips and bent over my parchment, snubbing his pleas.
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