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Chapter 8 : The Misfit Oddities
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Albus felt the last remains of his soul slipping from his body as he inhaled the rotten rat entrails that he was pickling. It was a chilly Thursday evening and he found himself gagging weakly as the slimy guts slipped through his fingers, his dragon hide gloves coated in green, sticky potion, “Merlin, kill me now.” Scorpious whispered beside him and when the Almighty Merlin did nothing, even when he begged, he cursed under his breath.
Luckily for them, Professor Zabini was looking idly through his Evening Prophet but that didn’t make Albus feel any better. They had been in various horrible places this past week for beating up Smith and he could only imagine what the monster was going to do to them for stealing the Sorting Hat, “Just be thankful that it’s almost over.” Albus muttered beside him.
Scorpious glared at him as if it was his fault but his moody blonde friend was a lot crankier than usual. After they had stolen the Sorting Hat, they’d gotten the most vicious Howlers from their parents, he, Albus and Rose getting an extra for beating up that prat Smith, “He’ll come up with something else for us to do.”
Albus knew that he was right but he was too busy pickling the entrails in a large, ancient jar. It was already filled to the brim with rat heads and legs and it made him never want to look at the helpless creatures again, “Like kick each other.”
“Or look at your cousin for another half hour.” Scorpious muttered and Albus rolled his eyes. Throughout the entire detentions, he and Rose had been scrapping with one another to the point where he’d even gotten a split lip from a hex that his cousin had sent to his friend.
Rose was currently sniffling over her own entrails, her bushy red hair tied back and her lips set in a grimace. “Would you stop picking on her so much? We’re supposed to just get through this detention!” Albus hissed.
Though all of them had gotten a Howler, Scorpious had gotten one that still haunted him a little. Instead of a screaming banshee of a mother, he had merely gotten a silent, icy warning, “YOU HAVE SHAMED THE MALFOY NAME. ON THE HOLIDAY, EXPECT A MOST UNPLEASANT PUNISHMENT…” and Albus had known that it hadn’t been his father.
The voice had sounded gravely and croaked and he’d thought of a troll of some kind or a man-eating beast from hell. Albus knew that his friend was really nervous about going back home, he himself was scared that he would be beaten to a pulp and that made him want to crawl into a hole, “If I see you talking again Potter Jr. and Mr. Malfoy, I will personally keep you here until morning.” Zabini suddenly said, his voice slithering around them like poison.
It was bad enough that he made fun of them in Potions for failed attempts and the fact that they’d practically lost nearly all of their House any points or pride. Sally Creevey had gone so far as to actually punch Albus the other day before Scorpious had hexed her and made her hair turn into worms, “Yes sir,” they both grumbled sourly.
Zabini was glaring at them, his dark eyes haunting before he bent and continued to read in the newspaper. Albus wondered if he were checking on the latest death and he glanced at Scorpious and didn’t want to talk about the fact that Rachel Travers had been found dead outside of her home…her throat cut and her blood gone.
It was causing some panic and people were still blaming his father even though he had been cleared along with other Death Eater parents and Albus was growing rather concerned now.
What kind of vampire was doing this? And why just Death Eater kids? He hadn’t had time to go to the library or bother Hagrid or Professor Longbottom because he was so steeped in his own misery and shame.
He and Scorpious could barely walk out of their dorm without being beaten up and because James and Mason protected them on occasion, Albus was growing rather eager to leave Hogwarts.
With the entire school hating them and the fact that he failed at almost everything he did, Albus Severus Potter was very close to throwing in the towel and living as a nomadic loser. Scorpious would come with him of course and they could live off of radishes and creek water, “What do you think he’ll make us do for stealing the Hat?”
Albus didn’t want to think about it but he frowned a little as he glanced up at his cousin, her tears still falling down her cheeks. She hadn’t apologized or anything and because she and that annoying Sue Corner were being bullied, he hardly saw her in the corridor anymore, “I don’t think I want to know.” He whispered back.
Scorpious shuddered a little but after a while they worked diligently together, his friend casting mean looks at Rose every so often before Zabini told them, quite nastily to get out of his sight for the night. They would be back tomorrow night of course and after cleaning up and having Rose cleaning under Albus’s nails for him, the three of them filed out of the dungeon and started for their common rooms.
“I don’t think I even need to bathe. He’ll have us doing something equally as disgusting tomorrow,” Albus said now.
Scorpious nodded and glared at Rose. “How’s it feel, Weasley? If it hadn’t have been for you, we wouldn’t be in this mess!”
Rose had been ahead of them and turned around swiftly. Albus had dried her face off for her so there were no tears but all this girl emotion was frightening regardless, “Oh, shut up you prat! And no one told you to beat up Smith for me!”
Scorpious sneered. “Who says I was doing it for you? Albus is my friend, not you, Weasley.” He snapped and Albus was surprised by this because he hadn’t really acknowledged that they were indeed, friends. He usually just said they talked a lot but he must have been pretty mad, “jealous?”
“Of your love affair? Not likely.” Rose said meanly and Albus rolled his eyes.
Albus said. “Well, Scorpious is blonde and I like my men blonde and moody.” Scorpious roared with laughter and Rose snorted before turning around and stomping ahead of them.
As she rounded a corner, she squealed and they rushed up to see her helping Lavender Patil up. Scorpious frowned as the two girls apologized to each other, checking for wounds, “Oh, she’ll live! Merlin!”
Rose and Lavender Patil were not at all friends but Albus supposed his cousin had to thank her eventually for what she had done. “Shut up!” she snarled.
Lavender was smoothing out her robes and Albus watched as she smiled at Scorpious disarmingly. It made him blush for some reason, he wasn’t quite sure what to make out of her, “Hello, boys.”
Albus liked Lavender. Not like that of course but while she was rather odd, he liked her anyway and it was nice having someone else to hang out with when Scorpious was getting on his nerves, “Did you wait up for us again?”
Lavender had been hanging out with them ever since the night she’d practically spared their lives. She waited for the two of them in the mornings and they walked to breakfast together and sometimes she did their homework for them too and Albus wasn’t sure what it was but she could handle Scorpious better than anyone he knew so far. “I was a bit late. I got caught up reading my sister’s Charms book that she loaned me.”
Scorpious sneered as he walked up, shoving Rose out of the way smoothly and pinching her face in his hands. It was his customary greeting, Albus noted because he hated that she couldn’t look either of them in the eye without spluttering, “Why. Are. You. Such. A. Nerd?” he demanded out of her now, smashing her face.
Lavender flailed and looked as if she might cry but Rose said to Albus now, her tone crisp. “I’m going to head back up to Ravenclaw Tower.”
“Does your mean friend still have my Cloak?” Lavender asked Rose distractedly while Albus smacked Scorpious away from her.
Rose gasped. “Sue isn’t mean!”
Albus didn’t want to remind her that her nasty friend had tripped him down the stairs the other day. She seemed to think that he had touched her breast on purpose or something and if their older cousin Roxanne Weasley hadn’t have caught him (She’d even carried him over her shoulder until they were on the last step. It was a moment he would like to forget) he probably would have broken something. “Sure, Rose. She’s spectacular.”
Scorpious was pinching Lavender’s dark cheeks as he snapped. “She’s a hag! Just like that Creevey girl.”
“Sally just talks a lot!” Lavender whined.
Albus smacked Scorpious away again as Rose said. “I can get your Cloak for you if you want, Patil.”
“Why not just take a trip up there ourselves? Corner might burn it on purpose.” Scorpious said while Lavender looked at him warily. He grinned evilly but caught the look on Albus’s face and halted immediately on whatever he had been about to do, “go on, Weasley. Lead the way.”
Rose looked really annoyed before she started to turn down the corridor in the opposite direction, the three of them following her. Albus had never been to the Ravenclaw Tower before but their older cousin Dom-Dom (Dominique Weasley) had told them that it was quite a walk when he’d talked to her briefly in the corridor (After she’d kissed his face and patted Scorpious absently on the head and pecked Lavender on the cheek).
“How was your detention?” Lavender asked now.
Scorpious angled his head at her. “When do your detentions start?”
Because she had lied for them all and had said that the idea had been hers alone, Lavender was being punished more than them. “Oh, it started earlier this morning. I got an owl in my dorm to help Mr. Hagrid at his hut; he showed me two-headed piranhas!”
Albus hadn’t been to see him but he now wondered if that weren’t such a bad thing. “He didn’t ask you to pet them did he?” he cried.
Lavender shook her head and pushed a lock of her black hair behind her ear and Scorpious grumbled at her. She idly patted him on the arm and he went to smirking to himself, which annoyed Albus for whatever reason, “It was fun, actually. We talked for a long time and then he gave me one of the piranhas as a pet! I’ll show you when we get back to Gryffindor Tower—I’m thinking of putting Samantha Jordan’s cat in the bowl.”
Albus and Scorpious roared with laughter.
Rose was leading them up many flights of stairs now and they panted and wheezed for a long time before they were walking down a lit corridor. Peeves darted by at some point with a pair of blue panties on his head (That Albus had made yesterday in Transfiguration) and tossed trash at them, “Misfits Oddities and little Miss Sniffly Weasley!” he jeered.
Lavender shot a jinx at his retreating figure and Albus wasn’t sure what it did but he cursed nastily over his shoulder at her. “That thing doesn’t have any respect for anyone!” she said.
Scorpious was staring at her in amazement as Rose said heatedly. “Well, he likes Roxanne a lot. I never see him bullying her.” She muttered sourly.
“That’s cause her last name’s Weasley and Uncle George is her dad. He liked him and Uncle Fred remember?” Albus reminded and his cousin shrugged a bit, looking sour.
He supposed having a ghost make fun of you for being a cry-baby was a bit annoying. Scorpious stabbed Albus in the arm with his wand to get his attention, “You mean that black girl, right?”
Albus frowned. “My Aunt Angie is black.” He explained while Lavender looked rather curious about his family, having only met a handful.
Scorpious waved that away. “I don’t care about that! But how is it that someone that gorgeous is related to Weasley?” he jerked his thumb at Rose, who spluttered indignantly.
Albus asked. “You think my cousin is pretty?”
Rose snarled. “You’re not the most handsome creature on the planet Malfoy!”
Lavender said. “I think you're pretty, Weasley.”
Scorpious stuck out his tongue at Rose even as she smiled at Lavender happily before marching down the corridor. There was a large white door at the very end as Albus heard his blonde friend say, “I think all of your cousins I’ve met so far are pretty! Merlin, it’s not fair at all!”
“What’s not fair?” Albus laughed. He was used to his Aunt Fleur and her daughters being inhumanly pretty and the effect wore off after a while and he had never really noticed if his Aunt Angie, Hermione or Aunt Audrey were pretty (The last had a lot of tattoos so he was almost always distracted).
Scorpious kicked at the ground. “That you’re surrounded by beautiful women while I’m left looking at my mum and sister!” he cried. Albus laughed, “If your cousin Roxanne stops dating my brother, tell her to marry me.”
Lavender was startled. “You have a brother?”
Albus was surprised by this but Rose now said. “Shush, I’m trying to hear the riddle!” she cried.
Jerking towards the door, Albus saw that they were standing in front of an eagle knocker. It was very pretty but he jumped (Lavender grabbed his arm) as the beak opened and asked in a pretty, sing-song way, “What do men abuse and women lose?”
Rose was frowning thoughtfully. “Common sense?”
The knocker shook its head. “Try again.”
Scorpious snorted. “Money?”
Another shake of its head and Albus tried. “Time?”
When the knocker shook its head again, Lavender sighed and said bluntly. “The answer is love.” They all turned to stare at her and to their surprise, when Rose pushed at the door, it opened instantly.
They all stepped inside and Albus saw that the Ravenclaw common room was elegant, bright and had a snooty quality to it that made him feel dirty. Statues of Rowena Ravenclaw littered corners while bookshelves rested against the walls and there was a large, monstrous window that showed the mountains outside. It was very pretty actually but Albus liked the comfort of his own common room instead, “Uh, hello,” he said stupidly to some of the students loitering around.
Most of them were sitting in Victorian furniture or at study tables but at the sight of Albus, Scorpious and Lavender, who was looking bored, they frowned. Rumors about the three of them had spread like dragon fire and he hoped that they didn’t beat them up; Goyle had already hinted that he would gang up on them soon, “What are they doing here?” Sue Corner asked sharply as she got up from a desk, walking up.
Rose said hello and the girl smiled at her, all friendliness but Albus raised his upper lip at her. Scorpious glared and Lavender just swayed in place, “Patil wanted to get her Cloak.”
Sue pushed a lock of her black hair behind her ear and appraised Lavender as if she found her highly lacking. Out of the two of them, she was obviously a lot prettier but Albus wanted to kick her in the face, “Thanks for that, Patil.”
“I was only doing it for Albus and Scorpious.” Lavender said their blonde friend’s name absently and Albus had a feeling that she was picking on him. Scorpious frowned at her and pinched her nose, “could I have my Cloak please?”
“Sure, take a seat but try not to turn anything into a pair of panties, Potter.” Sue Corner jeered before walking off. Rose gave them a weak smile as the three of them glared after her.
“Take a seat and I’ll show you some new sketches that I made, Albus.” Rose said and because Albus actually liked her art, no matter if he thought her hand would fall off, he nodded. The four of them skirted around some seventh years and went to sit at a study table.
Scorpious was looking uncomfortable but Lavender yawned a bit while Albus wondered if the desk were made out of white marble. “You have talent?” he heard his moody friend ask.
Rose scowled at him before taking out a sketch book from her robes and placing it on the table. “I do, Malfoy. Are you always so charming?”
“Always,” Scorpious spat arrogantly.
Lavender looked bored and Albus asked. “Have you been up here before?” and she nodded. “Oh…you’re older sister is a Ravenclaw right?” she nodded.
Rose asked curiously. “What’s her name?”
“Nora Patil.” Lavender said shortly before looking around and pointing across the massive common room. They looked and Albus saw a pretty girl with long wavy hair chatting with a group of guys and a few girls, looking elegant and everything his weird little friend was not, “yeah, there she is. Behold her sheer majesty.”
Scorpious roared with laughter. “You’re really sarcastic.”
Lavender turned away. “It happens when you get five sisters.”
Albus stopped looking at Nora Patil, who hadn’t even noticed that her sister was here and asked in surprise. “Five?!”
Rose was looking rather startled. “Wow, five sisters, Patil? That must be amazing!” she only had her younger brother to play with at home and he hated having his hair brushed, Albus noted.
Lavender didn’t look as if it was any fun and she picked at a piece of lint on Scorpious’s robe sleeve to distract herself. “It’s not, really. I get all their old things and I hate it.”
Albus was really surprised by this and he stared at her robes carefully and saw that they were a bit faded. “So one of your sisters was a Gryffindor?”
“My sister Angelina,” Lavender said absently.
Rose smiled. “That’s our aunt’s name!”
Lavender blinked owlishly. “It is…isn’t it?” she asked dreamily before recalling with a small gasp that made Scorpious pull at her ear, since he’d jumped, “my mum said that some lady named Angelina helped her at the War. I never really thought about it before now.”
Albus was very surprised and proud of this fact because his family was very brave indeed. But his Aunt Angie never talked about it really and Rose asked, “So where are your other sisters?”
“Eloise and Jada are twins and they’re in Egypt, they’re curse breakers. Miranda is the oldest and she owns some fancy boutique and is rarely ever home, thank God and Angelina ran off from home with some bloke from Pudmore United and we don’t see her much.” Lavender said in a bored, uncomfortable rush.
Scorpious was amazed and stared at her for a moment before leaning back to stare at Nora Patil. “You two don’t look much alike, you know.” Albus kicked him under the table and he snapped under his breath, “They don’t!”
Lavender hadn’t heard. “Nora is probably going to be Head Girl next year and after she graduates it’ll just be me.” She sounded relieved, “not that anyone would notice.”
There was an awkward silence after that before Rose asked kindly. “Would you like to look at some of my sketches?” and Lavender was instantly distracted as his cousin opened her sketchbook.
Albus knew that while Aunt Hermione was excellent at just about everything, Rose was very good at drawing. He leaned forward with a reluctant Scorpious to see charcoal drawings of Hogwarts, the Black Lake and the mountains in the distance…and quite a few of various students.
There was one of Sue Corner (Scorpious gagged), James and Mason looking almost eerily identical and a few of Albus himself, “These are really good, Rose!” he cried.
His cousin’s cheeks turned pink. “Thank you Albus!”
Scorpious sneered. “I suppose they’re okay.”
Lavender shot him a look. “You’re just saying that because there’s not one of you in here.” Scorpious turned in his seat and smashed her face in his hands.
While the two of them argued with one another, Albus too tired to really save Lavender this time, he continued to look through Rose’s sketches. After a while, he jumped as Zabini’s face dominated a piece of parchment, “Merlin, it looks just like him!”
Rose had been watching Scorpious and Lavender (Who was sniffling by this point with the other boy trying to soothe her in his own weird way) but said to Albus. “It does, doesn’t it? I’m actually pretty proud of it!”
Albus was actually really disturbed because he had never seen this expression on the man’s face before. Zabini apparently had captured Rose’s attention some other time because he had never seen his dark eyes…sad before and it unnerved him, “Why was he looking like this?”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Rose said with a shrug. “He was just standing around and he looked really sad so I wanted to sketch it. He’s rather mean, isn’t he?”
Sue Corner came up just then, “You would be too if everyone thought that you were a vampire. Here’s your Cloak, Patil,” she pulled something from her robes and handed Lavender the Cloak back and the girl clutched it to her chest before stuffing it into her robes.
“Thanks,” she muttered to Sue Corner.
The other girl looked rather annoyed but flicked her eyes at her dismissively and Albus demanded. “What were you talking about anyway when you blessed us with your presence?”
Rose shot him a worried look. “Albus…”
Apparently that hadn’t bothered Sue Corner. She had something tucked under her arm and Albus saw that it was a moldy old book of some kind, “I was just looking through this book and I thought Malfoy would like to know that he isn’t going to be eaten after all.”
There was a pause as Scorpious patted Lavender on the cheek and turned to stare at her in disgust. “Excuse you?” he snarled.
“At least not by a vampire anyway,” Sue Corner drawled before making herself comfortable beside Rose.
Scorpious idly took out his wand but Lavender smacked his hand down and asked the girl calmly. “What are you talking about?”
Sue Corner had been glaring meanly at Albus, her cheeks a bit pink as he’d regarded her with pure dislike. Rose was looking anxious, “Oh, I was just doing some research after the last murder and I sort of know for a fact that it’s not a vampire that’s killing kids.”
Scorpious was looking reluctantly intrigued by this but Albus was glaring at Sue Corner and wondering what the heck her problem was. Lavender was frowning at her as well, “So, enlighten us all, Corner. What do you think it is?”
Rose said for her friend. “We were thinking that it was a werewolf.” Albus sent her an accusatory look and she paled a bit, “both of us were rather worried about everything because there are a lot of Death Eater kids here,”
“But nothing can get into Hogwarts!” Albus cried desperately.
Sue Corner sighed irritably. “We were just thinking hypothetically, Potter. Merlin,” she said in annoyance and almost kicked her in the face for sure. “Just say that something did get past the wards here…I overheard Professor Chang saying that they block out things that are dead, like Inferi—”
Scorpious was blank. “What?”
Lavender explained. “The reanimated corpse of a person that’s controlled by a Dark witch or wizard.” She looked pale in the face and Albus felt ill to his stomach because Voldemort had done something similar years and years ago. They had learned about it in History of Magic earlier in the week, “and you assume that it’s a werewolf because…?”
Albus had never heard so much dislike coming out of Lavender’s voice before and her eyes looked a bit strange, almost red around the edges but he shook it off. Scorpious’s eyes turned that color every so often, “Well, I was reading a bit more closely and it said that flesh was taken from the victims. Vampires don’t eat flesh!” Rose cried and Albus shuddered a bit. “Werewolves do.”
“But that doesn’t explain why they would be drained of blood.” Scorpious pointed out annoyingly. His skin was grey with fear and shock, “werewolves don’t drink blood.”
Sue Corner and Rose looked at each other as if they hadn’t thought of that.
Lavender spoke up again, her voice calmer, that weird glow in her red eyes gone and Albus was relieved to see it missing. “Unless it’s a werewolf pretending to be a vampire, but I don’t think that they got involved in the Second War at all…except for Greyback.”
The name caused Albus and the others to stiffen because they had all heard about him, that monster that had killed and devoured children. He had been dead for years but his name still made him pale considerably, “Well, all werewolves are evil like that guy used to be.” Sue Corner said bluntly.
“Oi, don’t say that! Our friend Teddy Lupin’s dad was a werewolf and my dad said that he was a really great person!” Albus said angrily and Sue Corner jumped and even Rose was glaring at her a bit, her cheeks flushed. “Come on, Scorpious, Lavender; let’s go back to our dorm.”
The other two seemed to agree with this but Rose took Sue Corner’s moldy and handed it to Lavender. “You…uhm, like to read, don’t you?”
“I do,” Albus heard his friend reply stiffly.
Rose said nervously while casting her eyes at Scorpious. “Well, uhm, you seem really smart and everything and this explains a lot of stuff about monsters and maybe you can figure all of this out.”
Albus wondered if it was some sort of peace offering and Lavender took the moldy book and nodded at her. She walked off across the common room to her sister, who had finally noticed her and called, “Lavvy, come over real quick!”
Scorpious was looking furious. “We’ll see you around, Weasley…nasty—” he said something to Sue Corner that had the common room falling silent and Albus dragged him away before the girl could take out her wand, her cheeks flaming red.
“Prat!” Sue Corner called after them.
Rose said to her. “You shouldn’t have said that thing about werewolves!”
“How was I supposed to know? I’m sorry, Rose but you know I hate that stinking Malfoy—” Sue Corner spat.
Scorpious twitched with annoyance and took out his wand and sent a curse flying over at Sue Corner before he could stop himself. It missed and crashed into the wall, a crater forming and Albus screaming, “Stop it!”
“Levicorpus!” Sue Corner shouted.
Albus was panicking and put his wand between them. “Protego!” and his Shield Charm exploded between them and though it wasn’t very strong, it blocked Sue’s attack and sent it flying.
There was a bang.
A fifth year girl was screaming several feet from over the ground, her arms flailing as the common room roared with laughter. “Get me down!” she screamed, desperately trying to push her skirt up.
Scorpious was glaring at Sue Corner but Rose was panicking and as Albus became quite amazed with his own unexpected magic, Lavender rushed up. “Come on; let’s get out of here before someone calls a teacher!”
Albus, snapping out of his thoughts, grabbed Scorpious’s hand and they ran out of the common room to laughter and cries of confusion. As they ran down the many stairs, tripping and cursing, he snapped at his friend, “What’d you go and do that for?!”
“I hate her! She’s just like everyone else!” Scorpious panted as they finally made it back down, all three of them panting and wheezing. “Who does she think she is, anyway?!”
Lavender had to stop at some point; her hand braced on a wall, the moldy book in her other hand. “Could…could you wait up?” she panted.
Albus stopped and Scorpious snatched his arm back and shoved it in his robes and glared at them both. “Sorry,” he said to Lavender, walking up to her and rubbing her back. “Say you’re sorry Scorpious!”
“I’m not sorry! You should have let me stay and beat that hag up!” Scorpious spat angrily and his cheeks were flushed. For the first time, Albus thought he saw tears in his eyes, “everyone hates me and they wouldn’t care if I died!”
Lavender finally caught her breath. “I would care and you’re not going to die!” she cried, her cheeks turning pale. “Don’t think like that!”
Scorpious turned away from them and hissed. “You two are mental! I’m going to be killed…I’m going to be in that Daily Prophet,” before Albus could say anything, Lavender rushed up and pushed angrily at him.
“Shut up! You’re not going to die!” Lavender said and Scorpious looked as if he might argue that but she wrapped her free arm around his neck and hugged him. Albus watched his friend spluttering stupidly, “I like you, Scorpious and Albus likes you and we’re not going to let anything happen to you.”
There was a silence that was only broken up as Nearly Headless Nick floated by with the Bloody Baron and Albus saw that they were in deep conversation. Though he couldn’t hear what they were saying, it probably had nothing to do with him anyway and as they passed by, their chilliness leaving as well, he said to Scorpious, “She has a point you know. If you’re going to get eaten, why not get eaten with friends?”
Scorpious was blushing furiously and Lavender hadn’t let him go yet and he absently patted her on the back. “…Uhm…thanks…I guess.” He muttered.
“We’re going to get eaten together and that’s the only way that I’m going to like it!” Lavender cried hotly, letting him go. She chanced a glance out of the window, probably to wipe at her tears when she stopped short, “w…what is that?”
Albus walked up and thumped Scorpious on the back and they turned to look out into the night. From here, they could see a hint of the Black Lake and the imposing structure of the Forbidden Forest as the trees swayed in the breeze, Hagrid’s hut lit as Albus saw a dark, menacing figure working through the dark.
It seemed to be floating above the ground and Scorpious pressed his slightly flushed face to the window and gasped. “…It’s Zabini!” he cried.
Lavender was looking green in the face. “B-but you don’t know that!”
Albus was peering down at the dark figure but it was unmistakable to miss the flow of that familiar, sinister cloak. “I think it is! What’s he doing wandering into the Forbidden Forest?!” he cried, panicking.
Scorpious was pressing his face to the glass before Lavender said in a tone that suggested that she were smarter than both of them. Albus was aware of this fact but heard her say, “Well, he has to go in there for supplies for the stuff we need for Potions. But I don’t know why he’s going in right now…there’s nothing really out there really but Wolfsbane.”
“And what’s that?” Albus questioned curiously.
Lavender thought about it. “It’s a herb, I think. Some people use it for poisons and some people think that it can cure werewolf bites but there is no cure.” She said worriedly, “perhaps Zabini isn’t so bad if he’s looking to help people.”
Scorpious snorted and they watched as their odd professor walked into the Forest and melded into the darkness, like a shadow. It was rather eerie to watch, “He’s up to something. I know he is.”
“I think he’s a vampire for sure. I don’t even think he has a reflection.” Albus said with a certainty that made Scorpious pale. “And he hardly ever eats!”
“Maybe he has constipation…” Lavender replied calmly and they sent her dull stares before she turned pink. “I mean…he’s a vampire for sure.”
Oddly, that had them roaring with laughter.
Albus stretched. “Come on, let’s get back to Gryffindor Tower and get some sleep.” Lavender frowned. “What?”
“I want you to come into my room with me to see my piranha!” Lavender said as they began to walk, though Albus was still a bit unnerved by Zabini stalking through the Forbidden Forest…probably draining some monster of its blood as they spoke.
Scorpious said lazily. “If you want to snuggle with me, Lav, just say so.” Lavender spluttered and he laughed, “No? Guess it’s just going to be me and Albus tonight.”
Albus recoiled but was glad to see that he was feeling better about all that had happened and he smiled a bit to himself, wondering if tomorrow would be just as strange as tonight had been. After all, things couldn’t get much worse.
The next morning, Albus and Scorpious were walking out of their dorm after ignoring the glares from Chris Finnigan and Elliot Thomas when they caught a bit of their conversation. “Can you believe its today?”
“I know! I’ve been waiting forever!” Elliot Thomas said.
Albus was worried now. “What’s today?” he asked them, stopping by the stairs and looking at them through their open dorm door. The two friends glared at him a bit and he snapped, “Look, I’m not going to blow you two up!”
“Didn’t you know? We’ve got our first flying lesson today! Afternoon classes are canceled after lunch for it.” Chris Finnigan answered stiffly.
Scorpious sneered. “Fall off and make our day. C’mon, Albus,” he said annoyingly and they walked down the stairs, lost in their own thoughts before he asked him, “nervous?”
Albus was actually very annoyed because if it had been in the morning then they wouldn’t have had to take Potions. Instead, he was missing nothing but History of Magic and happily Defense Against the Dark Arts, “Not really. I wonder when the Dueling Club is going to start?” he said this unthinkingly and said hastily as Scorpious frowned. “I’m only asking!”
“I don’t know. I didn’t see anything on the bulletin board.” Scorpious muttered and that was true. There’d been nothing else about it, really.
Albus wondered if they were having issues with arranging it with all the news in the Daily Prophet. Professor Chang had sounded nervous that night when they’d stolen the Sorting Hat so maybe they’d talked to Headmistress McGonagall and had it canceled?
That made him nervous because he didn’t like having Scorpious out in some dark street and getting himself mauled, which made him ask. “Say, what are you doing for the holidays?”
Scorpious had been hunting for some sign of Lavender but they didn’t find her and it was a surprise. She usually waited up for them, “Huh? Oh, I don’t know. If I don’t show, my dad will get mad and then my mum will cry and think I won’t want to spend time with her.”
“What about your sister and brother?” Albus asked curiously, wondering if he didn’t’ want to really go back home because of his scary grandfather. He wouldn’t want to go back home either but he had a spanking to look forward to when his parents saw him again and that made his butt hurt already just thinking about it.
“Who said I had a brother?” Scorpious asked sharply.
Albus reeled back. “You did! Last night!”
Scorpious thought about it. “Oh… right,” Albus sent him a look but he thought about it for a moment before shrugging, “Emily will be mad but my older brother Benjamin won’t care really, I hate him.”
Albus heard the animosity in his tone and could believe it. He loved his older brother, even if he was an obnoxious prat sometimes, “Well, why not just come round my house for Christmas?”
Scorpious looked eager even though they had already talked about this the night that they’d stolen the Sorting Hat. “Really? I’d like to meet your parents.”
“It’d be cool. I’ll send them an owl.” Albus said because he rather liked having Scorpious over at his house. It would give him someone to talk to instead of running away from Teddy Lupin, Freddie and James as they tried to beat him up.
“What do you want for Christmas anyway?” Scorpious asked him as they both waited for Lavender to arrive. After another ten minutes with more than half the students leaving the dorm for breakfast, he demanded, “where’d she go anyway? Did she fly off somewhere?”
Albus could imagine Lavender flying off into the distance and the image almost had him laughing. “Maybe she had another detention to do this morning.” That seemed to register well enough with Scorpious and he nodded stiffly before they headed out and down the corridor towards the Great Hall.
On the way, they saw Sally Creevey (She always wore a cap on her head to protect her from Scorpious now) and Samantha Jordan walking and chatting in some silly girl language. “Hey,” Albus said as he walked up.
Both girls turned and raised their upper lips at them but Albus was rather annoyed because Samantha Jordan hung round his brother and Mason Finnigan a lot so she knew him better than Sally. Scorpious sent them both glowering looks that had them reeling away a bit, “What is it Potter?” Sally demanded.
“Have you seen Lavender?” Albus asked her abruptly, nervous and blushing.
Scorpious shot him an irritated look.
Sally thought about it. “Hm…last I saw her, she was feeding that ugly piranha thing some frog liver that she’d gotten from Hagrid but haven’t seen her since. Why?” she asked hotly.
She hadn’t really taken to the fact that Lavender hung out with Albus and Scorpious very well. “Cause we want to know, it’s none of your business!” Scorpious spat at her.
Sally huffed. “No one was asking you Other Misfit.”
Samantha Jordan spoke up and Albus saw that she was looking uncomfortably at Scorpious, as if he might bite her. “I think she got an owl earlier this morning but I haven’t seen her and that was after she fed that fish.”
Albus wondered if she were being stuffed into a closet, devoid of life in Zabini’s office and that made him worry. All the logic seemed to fade out of his brain because she probably wasn’t in a detention right now, she was probably needing their help and screaming girlishly in some dark hole.
He was seeing fogged over cauldrons, Zabini sipping her blood from a fancy goblet with gems on the rim… “Uh, thanks…” he said, pale.
Scorpious didn’t thank the girls and as they walked away, he asked Albus warily, as if he might explode. “What’s wrong with you?”
“What if Zabini is eating her?!” Albus cried.
“…It was nice knowing her.” Scorpious muttered.
Albus punched him in the arm, “Come on! She’s our friend!”
Scorpious spat. “I know that!”
“Then what’s your issue?!” Albus snapped. “We have to save her!”
“Why do that when she’s walking up?! I was just joking!” Scorpious cried angrily before pointing down the corridor at Lavender, who was indeed walking up to them, looking worn out. “Merlin, with that imagination, you should write stories!”
Albus sent him an aggravated look but turned in the direction of his eyes and saw Lavender walking up. Sally Creevey and Samantha Jordan stopped to chat with her for a moment before pointing back at the two of them and she said something before walking the rest of the way, with a grin on her face, “Hello boys!”
“Where’ve you been?” Scorpious barked. Lavender had walked up by this point and patted him on the arm without looking at him and blushed as she glanced at Albus. It irritated their blonde friend and he attacked her face, smashing her face together meanly, “what’re you looking so bloody happy about?”
Albus cried. “Would you stop that?!”
Lavender was released after Albus had somehow managed to free her from Scorpious, who grumbled and muttered angrily. “I got an owl to come and help Mr. Hagrid again! He showed me a Blast-Ended Skrewt!”
“A what?” the boys asked.
For a moment, Albus had to think but then he recalled that his Uncle Ron had gone on about the beasts to them all for story time once. Their horror was almost too surreal and he now noticed that Lavender’s robes were singed, her hair standing on end and there was ash on her face, “Did they attack you?” Albus asked worriedly.
“Not really. He only has one left after all this time, the other ones ran off into the Forbidden Forest or died!” Lavender said excitedly. “He said that I can come back to see what it eats.”
Scorpious was pale. “Looks like it ate a bit of you.”
Lavender giggled. “No, but it did drag me around the grounds.” The boys gawped in terror, wondering how she could be so happy, “it wasn’t so bad. I was really scared at first but Mr. Hagrid is so very nice. Well, I have to change but I’ll meet you all at the Gryffindor table.”
Cheerfully, she walked back towards the Tower and Albus wondered if Hagrid had given her a talk. His father had told him that he was very good at making a person’s confidence boost, sort of like how Professor Longbottom had helped he and Scorpious last week and he smiled a bit, “At least she’s alive.”
Scorpious was actually looking worried as they walked the rest of the way to the Great Hall. As usual, there was a silence as many eyes glared at them, their own House hissing a bit as they sat down across from James and Mason, “We’ve got flying lessons today you know. What if she falls off?!”
“Then there’d be one less Misfit around.” Someone jeered and they angled their heads back to the see the wide, unsettling mass of Goyle standing behind them, his arms folded. “Bet your scared, Potter, Malfoy. Famous daddies can’t save you out there on the pitch.”
James had been dumping eggs onto his plate but looked up at the imposter and said with a frown. “And what would you know? I don’t see that lovely face splashed on the cover of Quidditch Weekly.”
Scorpious asked Goyle. “Do you have a point coming over here?”
“Just thought I’d put some fear into you two losers. You’re going to fall right off your brooms and then there’s not gonna be and special treatment from anyone, especially for you Malfoy.” Goyle said meanly.
Albus snorted. “What special treatment? We destroy everything we touch!”
"Doesn't matter with princes you know. They get whatever they want!" Goyle said very loudly and Albus glared at him, not quite understanding what he wanted, other than to be a big fat git.
Scorpious was glaring at Goyle meanly, but his face was rather pale, as if he were afraid of something. “That’s just a rumor, I'm not a prince. And maybe you should stop being such a prat and get out of our faces.”
“I don’t care what anyone says, there's nothing special about you or your stupid family anymore. Dad’s into Mudbloods after all.” Goyle said and the forbidden word seemed to slime out of his tongue and the entire Gryffindor table went silent in shock and outrage.
Though Sally Creevey was too busy scenting for blood, Albus noted angrily. Before anyone could even begin to think of something to do, there was a blast of light from nearly all direction and Albus and the others ducked as Goyle was thrown back onto the floor, howling in pain. “Stinking prat!” it was Lavender and she was looking, for the first time, furious, “get out of here!”
Albus and Scorpious looked up to see her walking up, Rose and Sue Corner beside her, though it wasn’t sure who’s hex had fired first. All three of them were furious and the Gryffindor table and the other House tables (Aside from Slytherin) burst into cheers. “Lavender!” they cried.
But their friend had a look on her dark face that they had never seen before and if Albus hadn’t have known any better, she looked as if she might cry. Goyle was holding his face, sprawled horribly on the ground and as Albus wondered how soon they were going to get into trouble, did Zabini show up.
He seemed to carry with him a sense of doom, decay and plain nastiness and the entire Gryffindor table blanched and the cheers died immediately, “What is going on here?” he hissed.
Lavender explained while stowing away her wand with a glare that made Albus and Scorpious exchange a look. “Sir, he said that word.”
Zabini glanced down at his feet and seemed to just now notice that Goyle was howling in pain. Albus looked down at him to see that his skin was turning purple and swollen, little mushrooms breaking along his already ugly face, “What word?” their teacher demanded.
“I’m not going to say it, sir.” Lavender snarled.
Scorpious said it. “He called my step-mum a…Mudblood.” Zabini’s nostrils flared and Albus looked away from that horrible sight at the staff table to see that the other teachers were whispering to one another.
They were going to be expelled.
This was the final straw.
Instead, Zabini’s dark eyes narrowed and as he thought the most horrible thoughts turned in his brain. Professor Chang came up, looking worried. “Blaise, what’s going on?”
“It seems that Mr. Goyle has a disgusting habit of saying foul words.” Zabini said to her, his gaze raking over her as if he found her unimportant. Professor Chang looked down and frowned at Goyle, who was now twitching, “I won’t bother taking him to the hospital wing, he’s fine where he’s at.”
Scorpious and Albus exchanged looks and James asked. “Pass the ketchup would you, Al?” and distractedly, he turned and handed his brother the bottle and watched as he dumped some on his eggs, Mason devouring a plate of pancakes and looking unconcerned.
Professor Chang sent Zabini a weary look. “Blaise, take him to the hospital wing, be a dear.” Albus and Scorpious gawped at her nerve to call that creature a dear.
That thought had him wondering a bit because he recalled that Zabini had been stalking into the Forbidden Forest last night. Though he looked as intimidating and unholy as usual, Albus could tell that he was tired, there circles under his eyes that made him wonder what he had been doing out there…feasting on the damned.
Zabini sent her an aggravated look before looking down at Goyle with a nasty smile on his face. “Fifty points from Slytherin Goyle for your disgusting language and if I get one more complaint from anymore students about you, I’ll personally--” what he said then had the Gryffindors reeling back in terror and Professor Chang gawped at him.
“Blaise!” she cried, aghast.
Goyle was now sitting up, having heard the pure hiss from hell and looked up through his swollen, purple face. If Albus didn’t know any better, he might have actually squealed a bit before Zabini reached down and yanked him up by his upper arm, “Yesh, sir,” he mumbled thickly.
Zabini said nothing else but hissed at all those who had come to watch, some of the other House students standing on benches to get a better look. “Get back to your meal! Now!” he snarled and they jumped back and went back to their cold food.
As he started to drag the boy away as if he weighed nothing at all, he paused by Lavender, Rose and Sue Corner. He glared down at them but said something to Lavender and she nodded a bit before rushing up to Albus and Scorpious, his cousin and her friend following, still rather pink in the face, “Ms. Patil,” Professor Chang started out awkwardly.
Lavender was sitting between Albus and Scorpious but she didn’t look up as she started to butter a bit of toast. “I’ll take as many detentions as possible,”
“Oh, I’m not going to give you a detention, you’re swamped enough as it is, dear.” Professor Chang said in surprise. “But I will have to have you clean out the dungeons later tonight with Filch.”
“Okay,” Lavender said.
Professor Chang now turned to Rose and Sue Corner and wagged her finger at them and fussed for a long time but Albus didn’t care because he was gawping at Lavender as if he didn’t know who she was. “Uhm, Lavender--”
Scorpious interrupted. “You’re bloody brilliant!”
Lavender jumped a bit and stared at him. “What?”
James said. “You hexed someone, Patil! Excellent spell—now, what was it?” he asked curiously, Mason looking curious beside him.
Albus shot him a look and glanced over his shoulder to see Rose and Sue Corner coming up, looking angry. “Thanks for that,” he said.
Scorpious was still going on to Lavender, who was turning red.
“It was the least we could do, Potter.” Sue Corner drawled and the sound of her voice made Scorpious twitch in annoyance and anger but he didn’t take his attention off of Lavender.
Oddly, Rose looked a bit miffed by the sight before she frowned hotly. “I don’t like that word! And to say it so casually, I can’t believe him!”
Lavender shushed Scorpious by stuffing her toast into his mouth and while Albus wondered if he would choke, she said sharply. “I can! It’s not the first time I’ll hear that word.” Her tone was acidic and it frightened him. “I hate bullies. When I almost drowned…some people threw me into the water…calling me that word…”
The entire fell silent and Albus and Scorpious stared at her in horror, unable to believe what they had just heard.
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