Chapter 3 : Rose's Bargain
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His blissful mood lasted for approximately thirty seconds every day that whole week.
Because Hogwarts was so impossibly massive and consisted of more hidden rooms and staircases that were even remotely sane, Albus and Scorpious were lost within five minutes and because everyone was in a rush to get to classes, they didn’t get much help from anyone.
The nasty spectre Peeves taunted them all the way around corridors, down stairs, through hidden passageways and when he didn’t get much of a rise from them, he tossed chalk, garbage and candy wrappers on their heads.
It was because of the evil little ghost that had Albus and Scorpious being late for their first ever Potions lesson and when they finally found the dank, dark dungeons, they were out of breath and in a foul temper.
Professor Zabini glanced up at them from behind his desk in a way that suggested that they would soon be disemboweled but his tone of voice was calm. “Welcome, gentlemen. How fine of you to make your presences known,”
Scorpious frowned at him a little, thinking that he was being just a tad bit sarcastic for his tastes but Albus shot him a look. “Sorry, sir,”
Professor Zabini sneered a little, his full lips looking pained with the effort and Albus wondered if his lips were cracking.
Surely there was dust at the corners from the last time that he had tilted those cynical lips upwards, “Five points from Slytherin,” he said coolly.
Albus blanched a little bit at this nasty reminder of his worst fear, “We’re not in Slytherin sir,” he announced.
“Oh?” Professor Zabini asked snidely.
Scorpious nodded, “That’s right, we’re in Gryffindor,”
Again, the professor merely made a questioning noise in the back of his throat and Albus was reminded of a monster clearing its stomach, ready for the next delicious meal that would surely come in the form of two eleven year old boys.
“I see. So, it’s…Malfoy and…” he looked at Albus with another awkward sneer (could that be dust falling to earth from the corner of his lip?) “Ah, yes, Potter. I’d recognize that messy hair anywhere.”
The class was just about full as he went on and Albus felt his ears turning red as Sally Creevey gave him an assessing look.
What burned even more was when she turned away and began talking to Lavender Patil as though he were a nasty slug that had accidently stumbled upon swans, today was not turning out so well at all.
Albus frowned at the professor. “Don’t talk bad about my father,” he snapped, because surely, who else would he have meant with that nasty look in his dark eyes?
Professor Zabini stared at him for a long time and the silence between them stretched on and on until Albus felt his cheeks turning pink with annoyance. Scorpious was opening his mouth to say something, probably something horribly inappropriate but at that moment, their teacher merely smirked.
It was the scariest thing that Albus had ever seen.
Somewhere, he knew, souls were escaping the living.
“Then that’s five points each from Gryffindor for your cheek Potter,” he looked at Scorpious. “Your father isn’t going to be too thrilled with that. And on your first day too,” he said loftily, “such a pity,”
Albus and Scorpious glared at him and then trudged their way to an empty desk and forced their cauldrons and supplies on the table. “What a git,” Scorpious muttered, “look at him, you’d bet he’s never had a hug in his life.”
“Tell me about it,” Albus muttered back. He couldn’t imagine any woman or man ever going up to this guy and holding him, not unless they wanted to burst into flames that is.
Professor Zabini went through a few simple things on that first lesson, teaching them how to make a simple Sinister Serum, a potion that could be used to create nightmares to your enemies while they were awake.
Albus couldn’t help but notice that his dark, fathomless eyes raked over Scorpious as he said these things, as if he were some sort of devil with blonde hair but it wasn’t just him, Zabini sneered his way as well.
He couldn’t remember his father ever mentioning him but his mother had, saying that he was a foul (insert naughty word here) and that she would hex him within an inch of his life if she ever got the chance.
Albus was resigned to say that he knew Potions was going to be his weakest and most pathetic subject and next to Scorpious, he had nothing to complain about because by the end of the lesson, their Sinister Serum was no more nightmarish than a teddy bear.
That should have been his first sign that he was not going to be having exactly the best week and no sooner had he thought that did he wander into Transfiguration and embarrass himself by turning his silk handkerchief into a pair of women’s underwear.
Lavender Patil had stayed red in the face for the rest of that day.
If that wasn’t bad enough, in Charms the next day, Scorpious accidentally set them both on fire as he’d tried to impress anyone who would look, seeming to think that if he were talented, the other Gryffindor’s would accept him.
He failed miserably and the two of them had been drenched as Professor Flitwick, who was very old and on his last year at Hogwarts, had soaked them through.
So, it had been back up to Gryffindor Tower to change and then to skulk back down for lunch, with everyone laughing at their singed hair and eyebrows. And if that hadn’t been enough to ruin anyone’s good mood, Herbology had been a disaster.
Albus had thought he would have the one up on the other students but he was sadly, horribly mistaken and while he shared this class with Rose, she was of little help because she detested Scorpious and refused to be around him.
Albus had had to practically shout at her to get her attention while a beautifully evil rose bush had tried to shoot thorns into his eyes, they had been told to take the thorns for Madame Pomfrey, who used the poison to cure illnesses, but he had failed amazingly at this.
Professor Longbottom had taken pity on him and had finished the work for him, saying that he would get used to it in time. Herbology apparently didn’t come easy for everyone.
Scorpious had done fairly well, collecting over five tins worth of thorns but no one noticed him at all and while they trumped back through the grounds, miserable and defeated, he was in a fouler mood than Albus.
So on that Thursday morning neither of them thought that their time at Hogwars could get any worse.
Albus should have figured that, with his luck, he should be expecting anything and when he saw the mail arrive he couldn’t sink into his seat fast enough. His owl Dobby was laden with what looked like a million letters.
Scorpious’s own owl looked as if it were showing off as it swooped brilliantly around the Great Hall, doing swoops and circles until it landed majestically on his shoulder and held out his leg for him.
Dobby fell into a bowl of cereal and nearly drowned.
“What a menace,” Albus groaned in embarrassment as the Gryffindor table roared with laughter. He took the huge stack of letters from him, dusting him off as he did so and stroked his beak, “you need to rest.”
Dobby blinked and seemed to agree as he flew off.
Scorpious had taken his letters and Albus watched annoyingly as his owl soared, like an angel, out of the Great Hall. “A letter from my Dad,” he muttered with a frown as he flicked through his neatly stacked letters, “and from Mum, her, and Emily,”
Albus wondered if her meant his step-mum but didn’t say anything as he tried to organize his own pile. It sort of sucked to have so many relatives and he groaned as he rifled through them; Freddie, Lucy, Molly, Teddy, Hugo, Lily, his grandparents, his parents, Uncle Bill, Aunt Fleur, Uncle Percy, Aunt Audrey, Uncle George, Aunt Angie and Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron had all wrote to him and he cursed, “Did James have to tell everyone?”
“Tell everyone what?” James asked as he came in, accompanied by a tall, sandy haired boy that was very wide.
“About me winding up in Gryffindor instead of Slytherin! I would have told everyone on my own!” Albus said annoyingly. “I mean, look at this!” he held up the heavy letters, each of them looking as though they were five parchment sheets long, “why would you do this?”
James laughed merrily as he sat and started to pile eggs and bacon on his plate, he didn’t look at all sorry. “Well, you were so worried about it. Thought they needed to be kept calm, they would have flipped if you’d been in Slytherin!”
Albus growled as he tore open Lily’s letter and read it. “Lily says that she wouldn’t have cared where I would have wound up,” he smiled a little and set it aside, “well, she doesn’t really care about much anyway. She’s always in a good mood.”
“She’s a Hufflepuff for sure,” James said.
“You think that’s funny?” James demanded angrily.
“I do, actually,” Scorpious said calmly while setting one of his letters aside.
Albus rolled his eyes at him before he read Freddie’s letter, “I don’t know why he has to rub it in!” he cried a few minutes later as he held up a picture of the Slytherin snake being eaten by the Gryffindor lion.
James laughed, “Relax, Al, it’s not like you’re the snake!”
“It says so right here!” Albus said as he pointed to a corner where his name was plastered on in big black ink.
Scorpious was reading his sister’s letter and he laughed out loud, it sounded slightly mad and Albus flinched a little. “My sister is ashamed, says that I’ve ruined the family traditions and that I should pitch myself in the Black Lake.”
“Sounds charming,” Albus heard James say.
“And then she sends her love. Ah, Emily, you never change,” Scorpious said with an oddly fond smile. “My father wants to know how my week has gone, you don’t mind if I tell him about the pink panties do you?”
“Pink panties?” James asked with interest. “Been sneaking into the girl’s dormitory already, Albus?”
Albus flushed, “No!”
James frowned in heavy disappointment. “I don’t think we’re related.”
Scorpious interrupted smoothly, “What happened to them anyway?”
Albus coughed into his fist, “I don’t know, actually.”
“Are you wearing them?” James asked casually.
Albus tossed a slice of ham at him. “Git, like I would!” he cried as he noticed a few people looking down at them, obviously trying to listen in. “And anyway, where do you get off sneaking into the girl’s dorm anyway?”
James turned a blind ear to these words and nudged his wide friend in the shoulder, “What’s up?” he asked, noticing his dark look as he read a copy of the Daily Prophet.
The boy turned to him, face grim. “Some Death Eater kid was murdered last night.” He whispered and he wasn’t the only one who was very grim about this news, people all along the table were gasping and looking worried. “Apparently, from what it says, he’s the fifth one that’s been killed.”
Scorpious had gone pale and was holding one of his letters in trembling hands but his eyes were as hard as granite. Albus placed a hand on his arm, “How was the kid murdered?” he asked.
James was obviously more worried that Scorpious was going to explode in front of Albus but he didn’t say anything, at least not yet.
“Mason,” he then said as Albus looked curiously at him, “this is Mason Finnigan, Chris’s older brother.” He pointed down at Chris Finnigan and Elliot Thomas who were recounting Scorpious and Albus catching on fire in Charms to Sally Creevey and Lavender Patil.
“I’m Albus, this is Scorpious,” Albus said as Scorpious made no attempt at all to introduce himself, he was too busy staring at his hands as if they were fascinating.
Mason nodded at him with a grin and then went back to looking at the Daily Prophet. “You think it’s okay to be hanging around him?” he asked, jerking his finger at Scorpious.
“How original, like I haven’t heard that one all week,” Scorpious snapped as Albus laughed.
“What’s up?” James asked when Mason looked more grim than ever. “Come on, you can tell us. There’s only one Death Eater kid over here.”
Scorpious spat, “What are you trying to say?”
Albus intervened, “Would you knock it off, James? I mean, really, just cause his dad was a Death Eater doesn’t mean that he’s gonna be one.”
Mason was ignoring all of them as he read the Daily Prophet with a dark look and said eventually, “Apparently, they think it might be vampires. All of the kids were drained of blood and left in dark, damp places, vampires love that sort of thing, but it’s weird, there aren’t any known vampires in Britain anymore.”
James looked uncharacteristically grim for a moment himself before whispering to Albus, fingers moving in a mysterious, mocking way. “Well, everyone except for Zabini that is—”
“Oh, give it a rest!” Mason said with a shake of his head. “I mean, really? He’s not a vampire just because he hardly eats, stays out of the sun and wears a long, dark cape and sucks the souls out of the living. All Slytherins are like that.” He said as James roared with laughter.
Albus and Scorpious gaped at each other in horror. Even though James and Mason were joking, he still couldn’t quite dismiss the thought that Zabini could probably suck the souls out of the living.
He would have to keep his eye on him, it would be a little irritating if Scorpious was killed before he could even introduce him to his parents and force him to get along better with Rose.
Aside from that, where was Zabini anyway?
Was he out there now on the grounds luring some helpless girl, who looked a lot like Sally Creevey, into a dark corner and sucking her blood to really eerie music that just so happened to be playing in the background? Could it even be possible?
“What else did they say about the attacks?” he asked Mason.
“Not much, you know how the Daily Prophet is. They like to put the hush on things like that but I could ask my mum, she works there.” Mason said with a frown, “that Anthony Nott kid was decent, so it says,”
James took his copy of the Daily Prophet, read a few more things and then pushed it at Albus, who shared it with Scorpious. The headline read:
Fifth Murder in Vampire Attacks
The Daily Prophet has just gotten word that Anthony Nott, son to Theodore Nott has been found dead, the anonymous source reports that his body was found outside of the Leaky Cauldron late Thursday evening.
Nott, a former Quidditch player for the Chudley Cannons, kept a quiet life with his mother and father as he recovered from a knee injury that resulted in his leaving of the team last fall. The family of course is devastated by the loss of such a talented and generous individual but this is only the fifth in several murders that have swept over London since early this summer.
Aurors are working hard to discover the motive for these crimes as we all know that vampires were neutral to the war against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named over twenty years ago, but the fact that many Death Eater children have been murdered has been noted.
Harry Potter, Head of the Auror Department is working night and day to find out whom the murderer may be and if more future Death Eater children are in danger of having their lives taken away from them.
He is advising all parents to be alert and to report to the Auror Department for questioning in these events and for their protection, and because Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry houses well over fifty Death Eater children, many parents are concerned.
Most notably perhaps is the son of Draco Malfoy, former Death Eater and now renegade leader in Muggle-born rights, is currently attending his first year at Hogwarts. We have no idea whether his father is behind these attacks or if his son may be the next article in the Prophet, but we can all hope that these gruesome murders are finished long before then.
“Gits!” Albus cried angrily as he tossed the newspaper aside. “I mean, who says that your dad is the one doing this? After all the good he’s done?” he asked as Scorpious looked angrier than he had ever seen him.
“Did you read that? They want me to get killed!” Scorpious screamed furiously. “I’m not going to be the next article in this bloody paper!”
“What a pity,” James said sarcastically.
Scorpious glowered at him. “What was that Potter?” he snarled.
James waved a lazy hand at him, looking more amused than grim. Even Mason had lost his serious expression and was happily eating his breakfast as if this horrible news were ordinary, “They were only saying that you could be. If someone is targeting Death Eater kids—”
“Shut up, James!” Albus snapped furiously. “Scorpious isn’t going to be in this paper, not while Dad is working on it! And Uncle Ron too!”
James looked as if he might say something to that but Albus narrowed his eyes on him, daring him to say that the great Harry Potter couldn’t solve a problem. His brother, as obnoxious as he was, couldn’t even do that, “Well, we don’t know if they’ll ever catch the vampire or not, Dad won’t tell us anything!”
Albus thought for a moment and suddenly felt very foolish. “Professor Longbottom was an Auror for a while so he should know how things are done, we could ask him about what’s going on!” he cried hopefully.
James held up his hands. “Would you relax, Al? It’s not like anything could really happen here, at Hogwarts!”
“How were most of the Death Eater kids killed? None of them went to Hogwarts right?” Albus asked hopefully as Scorpious regained just a bit of his color, seeming to take James’s words with a lot of relief.
Mason shrugged as he looked up at them, swallowed his food and said. “Not from what I know, most of them were older but that doesn’t mean anything. They could be trying to get to the younger ones later.”
“There’s no way a vampire could get here,” Albus said as he took in his friend’s pale face, even his own hands were trying to shake.
“There are worse things in Hogwarts than vampires, Albus. Dad told me once that a troll got in!” James said with an ominous chuckle.
“That’s not the same!” Albus cried.
Mason laughed. “No, trolls are dumb but vampires are one of the most powerful creatures in the world.” He said with a fascinated look. “Really, Al, do you know anything?”
Albus flushed. “I know things, just that, what if Zabini—”
“Zabini is a vampire,” James said with a certainty that disturbed both Albus and Scorpious, “don’t doubt us on that, Al,” he said seriously.
Albus was growing more panicked by the second and Scorpious looked as if he might be ill with rage. “How do you tell a vampire from a normal person anyway?”
“Kinda obvious isn’t it? I mean, they do have fangs, Al,” James said lazily while dumping ketchup on his eggs. “Don’t be a prat.”
Albus sighed and realized that he wasn’t going to get any answers out of his brother if he had to save his life. Scorpious, meanwhile, was looking very pale and his eyes were still hard, “Maybe we should talk to Headmistress McGonagall—”
“Albus!” someone called and he turned to see Rose walking up with that annoying Sue Corner girl behind her. “Did you read this?” she asked while shaking a rolled up Daily Prophet under his nose.
“Kinda hard not to with you shoving it in my face.” Albus said with an attempt at a grin as Scorpious and Sue Corner gave each other scathing looks.
“Well, at least you know now why we were getting so concerned about you. Hanging around with, with people like that!” his cousin spat, panting.
Albus was slightly concerned as he took her in. “What’s this all about?”
“It’s about you hanging out with a Death Eater brat!” James shouted suddenly, annoyed. “I’ve told you before!”
Albus turned on him.
“I’ll hang out with whoever I want, you can’t tell me what to do and don’t you dare write to Mum and Dad!” he shouted as James opened his mouth to say something else.
“But—” Rose and James started hotly.
Albus threw up his hands annoyingly. “Would you two just stop it? You’re making it sound like Scorpious is going to turn bad or something!”
“His dad was a Death Eater, Al!” James shouted back and Albus was unnerved to see that their whole table was looking at them.
“Doesn’t mean that he is too!” Albus cried. “Scorpious, don’t listen to them—”
Scorpious muttered sourly, “Maybe I will turn bad for all you know!”
Albus’s mouth fell open in outrage as his cousin laughed hysterically, forcing him to look at her again, though he wished that he hadn’t.
Rose was looking slightly mad, her cheeks were red and her hair was standing up on end.
She had seemed unhappy all week with being in Ravenclaw instead of Gryffindor but she ignored her own problems to say, “See? See? If you stay around people like him then you might wind up with your blood drained!” she cried, flinging a look at Scorpious.
Scorpious bared his teeth at her. “Come closer so I can take a bite, Weasley and get it over with.” He threatened menacingly, almost rising from his seat.
Rose drew her wand, “Stay back!”
“Would you stop it?!” Albus cried as he rose out of his seat to shove her wand arm down and to push Scorpious back as he advanced on his cousin angrily. “Even if there is some crazy vampire around, it’s not like it can get into Hogwarts!”
“Death Eaters have gotten into Hogwarts before, Albus, I mean, really, have you even read A Revised Hogwarts a History?” Rose cried shrilly as she looked at Scorpious from over his shoulder.
Albus and James looked at each other, “You know we haven’t.” He said, looking back at Rose in annoyance, “can’t you just, I don’t know? Sit down or something?” he asked hopefully.
“I’m not sitting anywhere near him!” Rose cried.
Scorpious growled, “Not like you’re a Gryffindor anyway, Ravenclaw!” he snapped angrily.
Rose’s cheeks flushed pink and she glared at him furiously, her eyes sparkling with tears. “Oh, like you would know anyway! Everyone knows you cheated the Sorting Hat!” she hissed nastily before turning her eyes back to Albus. “You need to stay away from him.”
Scorpious looked at Albus as if he would really walk away.
In fact, it was almost as if he expected it, his eyes grew sort of expectant. Albus glowered at Rose, “I’m not going to leave my friend, why is everyone so sure that we shouldn’t talk to each other?”
“It’s a tragic love story,” James murmured and Mason burst out laughing.
Albus glared over at him. “Shut up, James!”
Rose was visibly shaking from rage and some other, weird girl emotion that Albus would never be able to understand. “If you don’t belong in Slytherin and I don’t belong in Ravenclaw, ‘cause I don’t, then why don’t we prove it?”
Albus glowered in confusion. “What are you talking about?”
Rose drew herself up and looked at Sue Corner, who was rolling her eyes as if she were above this situation. “I’m saying, let’s steal the Sorting Hat.”
“You’re mental!” Albus cried as he stared at her in amazement, “I mean this isn’t you, why would you steal the Sorting Hat?”
His cousin ignored him and raised her eyebrows at Scorpious, almost as if she dared him to even admit that he didn’t really want to do it. “Well?” she asked him.
Scorpious had turned rather pink in the face from this argument and James and Mason were looking between them with amusement and what looked suspiciously like respect for Rose’s attempt at naughty behavior.
Albus felt suddenly ill, “Fine. When it says that I really belong in Slytherin I’ll leave Albus alone and if it doesn’t then you have to do something for me.”
Rose flushed as if he had asked her to start parading around in her underwear and Albus thought inexplicably of the women’s panties he had made the other day and almost laughed. “Like what?”
“Oh, you’ll know when I ask.” Scorpious said with an evil grin.
Sue Corner said, “I’m going to write this down so you can’t make anything else up later!” she warned while taking out a quill and parchment from out of nowhere.
Albus groaned, “Scorpious, someone is out there killing Death Eater kids and this is your bright idea?”
“Well, Hogwarts is safe, isn’t it?” Scorpious asked him blandly, his grey eyes fixed on Rose like a hawk stalking a big plump mouse.
“Not if Zabini is a vampire,” Albus said too loudly.
Just then, a dark, menacing shadow fell over the little group and James let out a loud, “Holy shi—” that was covered over by Rose squealing and dragging Sue Corner away, shooting furious looks at Scorpious, “If I really belong in Gryffindor you owe me, Malfoy!”
“I bet I do,” Scorpious spat nastily as she flounced off.
Albus and Scorpious then turned to look up at the tall, dark form of Professor Zabini as he glared down at the two of them.
They opened their mouths to say something but Albus was too busy wondering if he never smiled because he had large, pointed fangs or sharp, tiny rows of teeth that wanted to tear into his throat.
It was unsure how long he had been standing there but a wave of bitterness washed over him, so thick and suffocating that Albus had to take a step back, “Well, boys, it seems like my secret is out.” Zabini murmured dryly.
“So you are a vampire?” James blurted stupidly.Zabini glanced at him annoyingly, “Far from it, Mr. Potter and Potter Jr.” He said in regard to Albus gaping at him with his mouth hanging open. His dark eyes scanned over Scorpious’s face, “I’d like to have a word with you Mr. Malfoy.”
“Why?” Scorpious choked.
Bending really low, Zabini stared him full in the face and said coldly. “I’m interested in sucking your blood.” Scorpious’s mouth fell open as the professor suddenly laughed, gripped him by his upper arm and started to lead the flailing boy out of the Great Hall, “really, a vampire? Do these brats ever come up with anything original?” he asked to no one in particular.
“No wonder he’s so bitter,” James said as Albus panicked, “I’d be pissed off too if people thought I was a vampire”
Albus was wondering if Scorpious was going to wind up in the Daily Prophet after all but he hastily shook that horrible thought off. Who was he going to talk to? Scorpious was his friend, “Well, people think you’re a prat so what’s the difference?”
James frowned and tossed a slice of bacon at him that barely missed because Albus had started walking out of the Hall. “Where are you going?”
“To check on Scorpious!” Albus said and then he froze.
What could he do against a vampire anyway? He didn’t know any spells and vampires could be very powerful, he supposed, as strong as dead things could be anyway. Inspiration struck him and he ran out of the Hall, “if I don’t come back, write Mum and Dad!”
“Can I have your Gobstone set if you die?” James yelled after him.
Albus didn’t answer him because he knew what he was going to do would sound crazy to anyone who was going to be watching but he didn’t care. He could imagine Scorpious now, writhing in agony while eerie horror music played in the background just as Zabini sank his teeth into his pale throat…
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