Chapter 2 : Drama
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Another just stunning image by Camila @ TDA.
“Nick, we got another one!” Albus called from across the entrance to the common room. I groaned; I hated the first week of school. It was full of tears, but I personally believed the hexing was good for the first years. It was a wake up call to what the next seven years would be. Yet I walked over anyways, to where Piper had set up the normal healing station. She was the best at curing curses, and going to the Hospital Wing would be giving the other houses the satisfaction of knowing we had given in. Losing was not an option. We were Slytherins after all.
“What’s your name, honey?” I asked the boy with pustules covering his body, and he gave me an incredulous look; he was eleven, not five. I immediately liked him.
“Flynn. Flynn Avery,” He responded, and I smiled.
“Well, Flynn, I have sparkly fantastic news. This is nothing Piper and the others can’t fix. I can see you’re strong; that’s good to have in Slytherin. Welcome to the house of “evil scum”, as we are lovingly dubbed.” I stuck out my hand, my voice chipper.
“My dad knew your dad. Or grandad, maybe. It’s Warrington, right? I’ve heard a lot about you, my social worker once had to rush off because you ran again. They sent me to take your spot. The year of the Stebbins, right, and Ms. Weasley?” He shuddered while I winced. The Stebbins were fond of what the rest of us called “black outs”, where if you misbehave your head meets water until you'd “black out”.
“You got spunk. I like that,” I laughed, knowing he knew that even this was a sanctuary compared to outside of school, something Al and Piper found mental, before remembering the poor kid was covered with pustules. “Now go see Piper, the girl with the blond hair. She’ll fix you up quick,” I directed, and he left, but Al arched his eyebrow at me.
“What was that-”
“Nothing!” I hadn’t told Al about the bad homes yet. I wasn’t ready, as the more the Ministry deemed me a “runner”, the tougher of homes they put me in. Harder to escape from, you see.
“It wasn’t, and I didn’t get to hear from you all holidays. Where were you?” Besides from that awful foster home? Running. Again. It was going okay, until. . .
The worst part was I thought it would be different. They were nice. . . until they saw my robes. They had gotten my hopes up, just to have them be crushed again. I thought they actually gave a damn about me. I only made it two weeks into the holidays before running, and I had spent from July 1st to August 5th on the run. The rest I spent in the Ministry. They had a lovely juvenile detention centre.
“Out and about. Speaking of holidays, how was yours?” I asked, though my eyes were still on Flynn Avery, almost daring him to tell Albus something I didn't want him to know.
“Same as always. Glaring, silence, a few hexes, and spending my time either flying on a broom or locked in my room. How was yours?”
“Same as you,” I said weakly.
“You sure?” Albus Potter was too perceptive for my liking. Thank Merlin another first year entered, bawling her eyes out. I went to comfort her, as the rest of our measly house was grouped around the five first years, trying to explain it all to them. Finally the tears stopped, and we sent the first years to their dorms. We weren’t just a house, we were a family. We laughed together, we helped each other, and we cried together. Now I could catch up with Piper, as Albus was discussing Quidditch tactics with the male members of our team. I’m a beater, but he knew I wanted to talk to Piper, so he let me be. That was why we were mates.
“All right. What happened?” Piper knew me too well. She was our resident genius, and her deep brown eyes looked so innocent and puppy-like it was hard not to give into them as soon as she asked. Her blond hair was always curly and crazy, usually pulled into two plaits. Now it was hastily thrown up into a bun, having just finished healing the first hexes of “The Week of Tears”.
“I ran away. Again.” Piper glared at me. “Don’t look at me like that! It was going well, really well, I mean, I actually thought they might actually-”
“Adopt you? Like you?” I nodded, and Piper put her arm around me. “I still can’t imagine having to hope that someone cared,” Piper ranted.
“You’re life isn’t exactly a picnic,” I pointed out.
“It’s been easier than yours-”
“But your family-”
“But they’re family-”
“So, it’s their fault-”
“I SWEAR TO MERLIN IF YOU SAY FAMILY ONE MORE TIME I WILL MURDER YOU, NICOLE ANNE WARRINGTON!” Ouch. The full name. She’s angry. . .
“But it’s true! You were so close to your older brothers, your mum-”
“Until they started acting like complete and utter idiots. And my mother could be dead for all I care,” Piper seethed.
“Don’t say that!” I pleaded, though I was proud of my Slytherin self for successfully switching the topic. Or at least I thought I had.
“Don’t think you’ve gotten away with this. Why did you run, Nicki? I thought we talked about this. . .” She thought I had “commitment” issues. I just preferred running to actually facing my problems. How was that a problem?
“Look. They were amazing, it was like they actually gave a-”
“Nick,” Piper warned.
“It was like they actually cared. Then they saw all my school stuff. Then it happened. Again. The cold shoulder, the way they looked at me. I couldn’t take it; I ran,” I admitted, and Piper put her arm around me; she knew I was on the verge of tears. It was just so bloody hard sometimes, being a foster kid.
“How long. . . how long did you run?” She asked nervously, though her arm was rubbing comforting circles on my back. I saw her glance up, and she and Al had a private conversation with their eyes. I hated when they did that.
“July 1st to August 5th. A new record,” I told her, and she gasped.
“All that time? How did you eat? Where did you sleep?” She said worriedly, but I did not want to give her the details. Until I saw those sad, brown eyes. They looked so innocent and curious most of the time, like she was just seeing the world for the first time. Now they looked as if they wish they hadn’t.
“Rats are tasty. Sewers and park benches are comfortable,” I shrugged.
“Nick!” She slapped my arm. It was healthy enough, though the Ministry food wasn’t exactly gourmet. The best thing I atehad all summer was a butterbeer in my “counsellor's” office. It was required after running away more than twice that we problem children “addressed our issues”.
“Where were you the rest of the summer?” My look was enough.
“You need to stop being sent to the Ministry. Pretty soon they’ll expel you!”
“Yep. The next time I run, I get expelled. I believe I was told that every day by Ms. Dominique Weasley, my magical social worker.” I hated her, and she thought I was a nuisance. That and she had to Apparate or floo me to my new “home” every summer break. Albus heard “Weasley” and had walked over.
“What’s this I hear about my dear cousin?”
“Bloody bint,” I muttered under my breath.
“What’d Dommie do now?”
“Put me with more pricks. I ran away, and ended up spending the last month of holidays in the Ministry,”
“I knew that much. My dad’s Harry Potter, remember? He knows when someone is one run away from being expelled,” Albus said, smirking only slightly. Of course he would know, his dad saved the bloody planet!
“She ate rats, Al!” Piper exclaimed, before bursting out into tears. It normally doesn’t bother her, I wondered what was wrong.
“Looks like I’m not the only one with a secret,” I commented before Al and I put our arms around our friend.
“It’s just. . . it’s just, you know? This is too much, and everyone hates us, they hate us all. Just because. . . just because we’re Slytherins! Even the professors! First years don’t deserve to be hexed! They’re always so sad! They don’t deserve this! No one does! And so many of us. . . so many of us are labelled “problem” kids”, because our parents chose what their families told them to! So they grow up alone, and end up eating rats!” At least that’s what I understood through the tears.
“Blimey, Piper, what happened?” Al asked, looking astonished at Piper’s watery eyes.
“It’s. . . it’s my dad. Normally it’s just my mum and brothers who have problems with. . . with Slytherin, but Dad is acting colder, and I can’t lose him, too! I’ll have no one!” Piper and her dad weren’t particularly close, but Neville Longbottom was a pretty cool bloke, as cool as someone who hates Slytherins can be. At least he didn’t hate us as much as Professor Creevey did. . .
“You’ll be like me!” I said cheerfully, though Albus glared. Everyone was emotional today it seemed. I guess it came with the Week of Tears.
“No. I like Uncle Neville, he’s a good bloke. He really cares for you, and-”
“Oh cut it out, Albus! He can hardly look Piper in the eye and you know it!” I said getting annoyedin an annoyed manner; I hated when people sugarcoated life. “Life is a piece of dragon dung, so get over it. It doesn’t get any easier from here,” I said harshly, and my comment was met with silence.
“Nick, can I talk to you a moment?” Albus asked pleasantly, though his teeth and fists were clenched.
“Well. . . I think I might be busy,” I said dramatically, secretly fearing what he wanted to talk about. Albus didn’t listen but grabbed me by the arm and dragged me into another corner of our common room.
“Why did you say that?” He asked, his eyes emerald flames.
“Which bit? The part about Professor Longbottom, or the part about life?” I asked innocently.
“It’s true,” I said simply. “It’s the truth and anyone who naively hopes it will change is barking.”
“You need to stop being so pessimistic. I thought that’s what-”
“The counsellors don’t give a rat’s fart unless they’re being paid. Your cousin herself told me that,” I answered, knowing where this was going.
“It’s not good to keep all that anger bottled up, Nick,” Albus warned before suddenly smiling. “I dunno what I would do if I could only visit you once a year because you were in Azkaban because-” Albus started, as it was a long-running joke that one day I would go on a killing rampage and murder around three quarters of the student body.
“I killed all of your cousins? Transfigured Professor Creevey into a green and silver pony that could only sing in a high-pitched voice?” But all the colour drained from Al’s face. Someone was standing behind me.
“As amusing as that would be, Ms. Warrington, I am afraid that could potentially warrant some punishment, and I really don’t want to have to fill out all that paper work.” Professor Zabini chuckled, and I immediately relaxed. Professor Zabini was our head of house, and he was our defender and protector in student vs. professor cases.
“Darn. I learned all those spells for nothing,” I replied, as it wasn’t weird for us to joke around with our head of house. He often came into the common room, as there were around twenty to thirty Slytherins total compared to the seventy in all of the other houses. It was pitiful, really.
“May I have a word, Nick?” This was about the Ministry, I could tell.
“Does it have to be alone?” I asked, glancing at Al. Professor Zabini sighed.
“Preferably, as it involves the Headmaster,” He replied, looking grim. I hated Headmaster Anslem. He hated me, and if he wanted to see me this early in the year it must involve the summer.
“Will Ms. Weasley be there as well?” I asked, hoping she wouldn’t be.
“Yes. I am allowed in, so I will see what I can do, aye?” So I left Albus and headed towards my doom, while everyone else watched. We had no secrets in this house, as most were in the same position as me.
So Professor Zabini and I walked in silence until we came to the Headmaster’s office. He stopped suddenly and turned to me.
“Did you run again this summer?” I sighed; I really hated the first week of school.
“Yeah,” I answered simply.
“Was it because of the . . . home?” He knew some homes were worse than others. He talked to the other foster kids often, and some spilled on the more scarring bits.
“Did they. . . hurt you?”
“Not physically, if that’s what you’re trying to get at. It was actually going really well, until they saw my school stuff. Apparently they didn’t know they signed up to take in a Slytherin,” I said plainly without giving way to the tears I had nearly spilt in the common room before.
“So how long did you run?” He knew not to probe further. I never told anyone the details, as that was between myself and I.
“One month, four days, eleven hours, and thirty-three minutes. A new record, I think,” I smiled at that.
“I’m impressed. You know the first year, Flynn Avery?” I nodded, that was the boy from the common room. “His record is the longest after you, but it was only for two weeks.”
“You just need to learn how to hide. I could teach him, if you want. . .” I smiled, as I had almost been caught a few times. Luckily I wasn’t afraid of dark alleys in bad parts of London.
“Merlin, no. We have enough trouble keeping track of you. Let’s go see what they want, shall we?” Then I knew. This wasn’t going to be good.
“-She never finished serving her detention!” Ms. Weasley shouted, and I was confused. There wasn’t a punishment for running away, except if the school decided you were too much of a problem child to attend.
“She didn’t break any laws! She’s not a criminal!” I wanted to hug Professor Zabini, if I wasn’t afraid I would melt. In meetings like this I sat quiet and still, my face an unreadable mask, while Professor Zabini fought like hell for me.
“Read the law! Subsection B-17! It’s there in the print!” Ms. Weasley threw a copy of our constitution on the table in front of me.
“No. There is no such thing as B-17!” Professor Zabini yelled, before the Headmaster cut in.
“Let Ms. Warrington read it.” That sick, twisted gargoyle.
“Subsection B-17: Any minor that escapes from care over five times is considered a runaway and his or her temporary family can sue the child for infringement on their happiness and can declare them a criminal for escaping care or damage to property if necessary, if they decide the said minor should be held responsible,” I read subconsciously, my voice hollow. I had knocked over a vase on the way out, it was after the argument. Not to mention the hole I made in the wall when she demanded I fix it.
“What does this have to do with Nick?” I was trying to keep from crying as Professor Zabini defended me again.
“Well, Miss Warrington could be sued on multiple occasions with this amendment. And may I remind you, Mr. Zabini, that Miss Warrington has run away nine times, which is well over the number listed in B-17. Also, the families were devastated to learn she ran away, and some went to hell and back to find her.” Her voice was pleasant, but I knew the satisfaction and venom that secretly dripped from her words. I took the bait, so sue me.Too late. . .
“That’s a load of dragon dung and you know it! They didn’t give a damn, and now they just want to make a few galleons off of it!” Galleons I didn’t have.
“But, Nick, they don’t even have to sue. With this new law you could be arrested.” Her expression seemed to say “like your good-for-nothing parents”. What could I do with this news? I ran. It’s what I always did.
I ran far, just running. It felt good, and before I knew it I was on the Quidditch pitch. Alone, at night. Where no one knew where I was. That was a smart move, Nick. I summoned my broom, and hoped Piper hadn’t seen it fly out of the dormitory. I wanted to be alone, I needed to be. I circled the pitch three times, before coming to a halt in the centreer. Then I lay back against the broom, just right, as in the right position you could lay comfortably without worrying about falling out. So I just lay there, fifty feet in the air. Then I cried.
I cried, just flat out bawled. I cried about B-17, I cried about Piper, Al, and little Flynn, I cried about Mum and Dad, and I cried about running. I let everything out in huge, wracking sobs. I didn’t care if anyone heard, I needed to let it out. The tears I needed to cry, that I hadn’t cried since I was a first year. The ones that had come close to pouring out twice tonight.
“What the hell, Nick!” Albus pulled his broom next to mine. He had obviously seen my broom fly out of a window or something.
“Al?” I croaked, the tears still running down my face. My face was still pointed towards the stars, which meant I was still on my broom.
“It’s me,” Al assured me, and I immediately relaxed. “What happened?” His voice was soft, and he lay down on his broom next to me.
“It’s. . . it’s everything.” I hated feeling so weak; I was Nick Warrington, I was not weak! “I’m not weak!” I screamed for the entire pitch to hear. “I AM NOT WEAK!”
“You’re not, Nick. You’re the strongest person I know. Now, what in name of Merlin happened?” He sounded angry, but not at me. It was more like he was angry at the world.
“Nothing much. I could be sued, or your cousin could arrest me if she wants. In fact she might be trying to find me to do just that,” I said casually, before laughing hysterically. “Oh! I almost forgot! She also implied that it would be nice that I could finally join my “good-for-nothing” parents!” I laughed again, and nearly fell off my broom, and Albus swore under his breath.
“I'”m going to murder Dominique. Why she even works with children is beyond me,” Albus assured me, while running his hand through his hair. He always did that when he was upset; it drove Piper up the wall. Speaking of Piper . . .
“Where’s Piper? Is she okay?” I immediately questioned, as she was in such a state when we left.
“Yeah. She’s making sure the ickle firsties are okay, I think. She’s the one who saw your broom,” Albus assured me, and we just sat in silence. At least I sat in silence; Al kept on trying to talk to me. I wasn’t budging. Finally I felt as if I could face people again, so I just left.
“NICK!” Al sounded furious. I wasn’t sure why, but I had never seen him that angry before. “Where are you going?”
“The common room. Coming?” I asked, my mask firmly back in place.
“Bloody hell. You think you can just come out here, bawl your eyes out, not tell me what’s wrong, exactly, and then not respond even though I’ve been trying for the past half-hour?” He was upset, upset that I wouldn’t talk to him.
“Look, Al,” I said coldly. “This isn’t something I can share with you. I just can’t!” I exclaimed. I felt as if he didn’t trust me to tell him when I wanted to. Then I realised, he didn’t trust me either. “You don’t trust me,” I said, and it was a simple statement. Not an emotional outburst, not a question; a statement.
“You can share it with Flynn Avery!” Ah, I see.
“Don’t go there,” I said. He didn’t know, only those who were shipped from place to place their entire lives knew. Al grew up in a loving home, with his dad, who happened to be the saviour of the wizarding world.
“Why not? You don’t even know him! The only thing you two have in common is my cousin!” At this point I started walking away. “Nick! Nick! I just want to know why the hell you’re so cold. You’re like at the beginning of every year. Piper’s terrified for you, she thinks you’re going to die of starvation or freeze to death every time you run away. Nothing will change if you tell us! We’ve stood by you for six years! Six!” He didn’t know why I wouldn’t tell him. No one needed to hear that, and I’m pretty sure Piper would throw up.
“You don’t know! You don’t!” I yelled hysterically, my voice high. Albus had caught up, and my eyes were probably as round as saucers with scared.
“Then tell me! I want to know!” He had grabbed my wrists; he knew my first instinct was to run. I just shook my head. “It won’t get better if you don’t tell anyone! What do I always say, about bottling everything inside yourself?” He looked into my eyes, and his were bright with anger, but something else was there. Pity? No. Worry. In that moment I wanted to tell him, to tell him everything, even the bad parts. But we were interrupted, by a bunch of Gryffindors, third years, I guessed. But none other than Al’s little sister oversaw them.
“Aw . . . has the little snake finally found a mate?” She asked, her fake sweetness sickening.
“What would you know about that, Lils? No boy would come near you with a ten-foot barge pole,” Albus retaliated, his voice pleasant and calm. Lily didn’t have a comeback to that. I was confused, though, Lily was a fourth year, right? Al and I are sixth years, and she’s two years younger, I think.
“Why are you even here, Potter? No one from your year desperate enough to be mates with you?” I asked, my voice cold. Lily laughed.
“I wondered when we would get to that. I have the wonderful job of overseeing these losers as they complete their initiation. The first years were all taken, so I gave them a challenge: the notorious Nick Warrington. Lovely name, by the way. I think it would be hot, if you were a boy,” She explained, and I didn’t even care about the insult. Al and I were outnumbered six to one, and if a professor came we were screwed.
“You think we can take them?” I muttered to Al in my discreet Slytherin way.
“Well, third years haven’t really duelled yet, but Lily’s pretty good,” He replied grudgingly.
“I get the idiots and you take Lily?”
“That’s about it,” He confirmed, and we stealthily drew our wands.
“What? The dirty snakes aren’t fighting back? That’s a first; I know my brother and his temper,” Lily said, lightly placing her wand on Al’s face on the word temper. Al and I made eye contact, and we were duelling. The third years were not expecting an attack from us, and Al had blasted Lily off her feet before she could register Al had his wand out. It took all of five spells to defeat them, but unfortunately the bright lights had attracted attention. We Slytherins have zero luck, it seems.
“What the devil is going on here?” What our luck. It wasn’t a professor; it was the headmaster. Who also happened to be looking for me. Just my luck.
“Nothing, headmaster,” Al lied smoothly.
“Then why are there six Gryffindors lying on the ground?” He asked plainly.
“They attacked us. We had to defend ourselves, or it would’ve been us,” I explained, though fully aware it was useless.
“Come with me. I believe Nick has some business to attend to, so Mr. Potter will have to wait outside my office,” the professor decided, and Al and I shot each other looks. This was a great way to start the year.
A/N: Yes, I know I should be working on Shattered . . . but I couldn't help but share this with you. It's kind of similar to Shattered, but much better written, and with an actual plot! (cue to gasp)
EDITS: After some amazing insight (brought on by a review by one of my FAVORITE authors ever) I have changed the headmaster's name. (AnSLEM to AnSELM) Here's why, and it's quite cool.
PARAPHRASE: Review- Sheriff
St Anselm is a moderately famous English saint, and there are a handful of churches/schools named for him. This fits with Rowling's typical etymology.
Isn't that cool? :D
Anywho, please leave a review. :) Thanks!
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