Chapter 3 : III. Six Feet Under
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Scorpius did genuinely try to mind his own business. The only reason he talked to Hayden Oakley, a very chatty boy in his dorm, was because Hayden had attached himself to Scorpius the moment the blonde boy said “Pass the peas, please.” He didn’t really want to get rid of Hayden, admittedly - the boy was pretty much the only friend he had. He wasn’t as charismatic as his classmates, much as he really didn’t want to admit it. Even Scorpius knew that Hayden could find better friends if he tried, but he was selfish and kept the other boy close to his side - it wasn’t like he had any other choice.
This was how he found himself after lunch one afternoon, walking with Hayden to their next lesson - Charms, way up on the third floor. Today, Scorpius actually found something in common with the other boy - moaning about the walk from the Great Hall and the dungeons all the way up.
“I don’t understand why they don’t just have all of the classrooms on the bottom floor, or on the first floor at the very least,” Hayden was saying to him, and Scorpius nodded, determined to fill up the awkward silence.
“I know, right?” he groaned. “Though, the downside is that that way, we won’t have any excuses for being late because all of the classrooms are so near to us.” Here, Hayden frowned, puzzled, though his eyes lit up once more once he found an easy solution to the problem Scorpius presented to him.
“Well, we could always transfer into Gryffindor or Ravenclaw,” he said slyly, nudging Scorpius in the side and giving him an exaggerated wink. “Since their common rooms are all the way at the top -” Merlin, a Muggle-born could learn so much in only a few days. “- we could just swap places. It’ll probably be easy to find a Gryffindor or Ravenclaw who’d be willing to swap common rooms and make it to class early.”
Scorpius nodded slowly, seeing Hayden’s point as he absentmindedly adjusted his bag’s perch on his shoulder, the easy chatter fading into an easy silence. It wasn’t uncomfortable, he realised, like he expected it to be - instead, the silence was that of two very well-worn friends. Were he and Hayden well-worn friends? Maybe they would be in the future, but Scorpius genuinely didn’t like to think that far ahead.
Scorpius and Hayden turned the corner right at that moment, Hayden smiling to himself as he drifted off completely into his own little world - much like he had done for the past few days, admittedly, but Scorpius didn’t mind - and suddenly the blonde boy realised that it was too eerily silent for his liking. Were they late for class? Scorpius didn’t think so, they were one of the first to leave the Great Hall after lunch, but why was it so quiet already? The only silence he had ever heard like this before was -
“Good Lord, what have you done?” Hayden breathed behind him, having slowed to a stop in the middle of Scorpius’ sudden lapse into thought. Startled at the sudden noise, Scorpius glanced to who seemed to be the culprits - two boys and a girl, forming a trio that he had heard the likes of over the past eleven years.
“Copying your father, Potter?” Scorpius found himself asking not unkindly, glance switching from Albus to the girl to the other boy. “Except I don’t think your dad destroyed the castle floor.” This was followed by a pointed glance to the hole in the floor, and Albus flushed.
“Actually, I’m pretty sure Mr Harry Potter destroyed a bit of the castle in the Battle of Hogwarts,” the girl piped up, looking like she wanted to throw Scorpius out the window, but the other boy elbowed her in the side with a quiet mutter of “Shut up, Claire.” Scorpius was thankful for it, not that he would admit it out loud. That Claire girl certainly looked strong enough to throw someone out a window.
“It wasn’t our fault,” Albus said in a determined sort of voice, completely ignoring his two friends as they bickered to themselves, occasionally elbowing or hissing at each other. “The castle’s meant to be strong, isn’t it? We weren’t supposed to know that we’d create a hole in the floor just because -” Here, Albus paused, obviously hesitating telling Scorpius and Hayden exactly why the hole came to be in the first place.
“- just because we stepped on it!” Claire finished with a flourish, an entirely fake smile plastered on her face as she stepped away from the other boy and turned to face Scorpius and Hayden, suddenly paying attention to their conversation instead of her own. “Obviously, the castle’s getting weaker by the minute and stuff, okay, bye bye!” And not even stopping to see if Albus or his other friend agreed with her story, she grabbed the two boys by the arms and dragged them away, chatting a mile a minute. Scorpius supposed that that was what one got when they had a girl for a best friend.
“You don’t believe them, do you?” Hayden muttered under his breath, once the trio had turned the corner. “If what Claire Sutton said was true, then stones would be crumbling under our feet right now and we’d be standing on the first floor.” Scorpius glanced at the boy, suddenly interested. It was almost as if Hayden had read his mind - how had he known what Scorpius had just been about to say?
“No,” he admitted quietly, before steely grey eyes narrowed and Scorpius took Hayden by arm and dragged him after the trio’s rapidly retreating backs. “And we’re going to find out exactly what they’re keeping a secret from us.”
Merlin, Scorpius had never felt so much like a spy in his entire life.
“NATHALIE! OVER HERE!” Nathalie tried not to blush too much as she twisted around to stare at who called her name - and tried not to groan at the familiar face that popped up behind her.
“God, Cami,” she groaned quietly, knowing that the Professor could come in at any moment. Nathalie rolled her eyes at Camilla Asher, a fellow Hufflepuff, as she dropped into the seat next to the girl. “You’re right behind me, you don’t have to yell.” Camilla shrugged cheerfully, a bright smile on her face to match the bouncy pigtails in her hair.
“Get over yourself, Nat.” At this, Nathalie turned to face Camilla properly, a horrified look on her face practically gaping at her friend. Camilla, however, merely rolled her eyes, although there was a pink tint on her cheeks. “Come on. You call me Cami, why can’t I call you Nat?” Nathalie sputtered out an incoherent answer, though managed to calm down enough to give a proper one.
“B-because you let me!” she countered, obviously flustered judging by her pale cheeks and wide blue eyes. “And everyone calls you Cami, not just me!” Camilla was a very difficult person to get along with, according to some other - ruder - girls in the Hufflepuff dorms, but Nathalie had been the ‘unfortunate’ girl to become glued to her side.
“Whatever,” was Camilla’s oh-so-eloquent answer, and Nathalie pursed her lips before a loud coughing sound diverted her attention from the petite brunette. Both girls blushed once more at the sight of Professor Stein’s, formerly Professor Chang’s, eyes trained on them. Nathalie slumped down in her seat, knowing that most of the class’ eyes were trained on her and Camilla.
“Now that we have all silenced ourselves,” Professor Stein said, a slight smirk curving her lips which made both Nathalie and Camilla blush that little bit more. “We can continue on with the lesson. Does anyone know the spell for conjuring butterflies already?” Dead silence, but Professor Stein merely pursed her lips, as if she was genuinely expecting an answer from them. Much to Nathalie’s surprise, beside her, Camilla tentatively raised her hand.
“Papilius,” she murmured with an uncertain tone in her voice, but Professor Stein appeared pleased by this answer, and waved her wand as she murmured the incantation, causing two butterflies to erupt from her wand.
“A point to Hufflepuff, Miss Asher, thank you. It is a very simple charm - although most of you should only be able to produce one, if you are particularly adept at Charms, you may be able to get two or three. Try it, everyone, and the person who manages to conjure the most shall get five points for their house.” An excited hum of chatter started up at the instruction, but Nathalie merely turned to Camilla with wide eyes.
“How did you know that?” she demanded, almost crossing her arms. “What would that spell even be used for in everyday life?” Camilla refused to answer, a pink tint to her cheeks, and instead changed the subject from her knowledge of the spell instantly, effectively distracting Nathalie. Even though it had only been a few days since the two of them had met, Camilla already knew part of Nathalie’s ways.
“Hey, remember that History of Magic lesson we had with Pearce earlier?” she asked, poking Nathalie in the shoulder as she grinned at the blonde. “Well, I looked up that thing he was talking about.” Nathalie glanced up in the middle of performing the spell, curiousity instantly ignited. There were so many sides to the magical world she hadn’t ever dreamed of before.
Camilla shot Nathalie a look at that one, lips pursing, and continued as if ignoring Nathalie’s question, “He was talking about the River Loreley, you know, the one that disappeared years ago?” Nathalie rolled her eyes, frowning, only half paying attention to the spell now.
“Rivers don’t just disappear mysteriously,” she said stubbornly, echoing her earlier words to Camilla from that morning after the lesson. “Not even in Hogwarts. It doesn’t make sense, how can it just not be found after it’s been there for ages and ages?” Camilla merely shrugged, and gave a heavy sigh.
“That’s not the point, Nat!” Nathalie glared at her. “Fine then, have your way, Nathalie. The point is that it just did and we’re supposed to do a stupid project on it together! What kind of cruel Professor assigns a history project to first years in the first week of their first year? That’s why we’re called first years!” Nathalie suddenly realised what would happen before it did, and her heart plummeted as Professor Stein passed their desk, obviously hearing what Camilla was saying.
“Apparently I do, cruel Professor that I am, Miss Asher, Miss Levett.” For the second time that class everybody’s attention was suddenly directed towards the two girls, and Nathalie couldn’t help but blame Camilla for talking so loudly about Professor Pearce’s assigned project, due on Halloween. “Thank you for reminding me, girls! To help you all settle into the general system of Hogwarts, I will be giving you all a project on the types of charms one can use in an everyday situation, due in two weeks time. You will also all be performing a demonstration on one of the charms you have chosen in front of the class, so you all better get studying because I will be using your results as a starting point for future lessons, and as a factor in how much you have improved in your End of Year exams.”
The whole class of first years groaned, and Nathalie winced. Two projects received in one day? Ugh, this was just brilliant. They had only just started, couldn’t they be given at least a little break? She’d have to beg Camilla for extra help on this - she had a feeling the other girl was good at Charms, and as if almost reading her mind, Professor Stein said, “Speaking of which, Miss Asher, since you appear to be already finished judging by the amount of things you can say to Miss Levett in a matter of five minutes, can you please demonstrate the Butterfly Charm for us?”
Camilla inhaled deeply, caught by surprise as evident from a flash of terror in her eyes, which was immediately smoothed over by an encouraging look from Nathalie. Her hand obviously trembling, she muttered just loud enough for the rest of the class to hear, “Papilius.” Nathalie’s heart almost stopped with the suspense, but her eyes lit up when one - no, two - no, three butterflies erupted from the end of Camilla’s wand. The delighted look on her face was almost matched by the pleased one on Professor Stein’s.
“Excellent work, Miss Asher!” Professor Stein praised, a genuine smile making her appear much younger than she usually was. “That’s five points to Hufflepuff for conjuring the most butterflies!” In the distance, the bell rang, signalling the end of Charms for the day. “Class dismissed, everyone, and I’ll be giving you all more details on your project on Monday.”
“Cami!” Nathalie squealed as soon as Professor Stein appeared to be out of earshot. “Ohmygosh, congrats! That’s six points to Hufflepuff, all because of you!” A fierce blush spread like wildfire over Camilla’s face, and she shoved Nathalie lightly, obviously not used to receiving compliments.
“Thanks,” she murmured shyly, swinging her bag over her shoulders as she shoved books haphazardly into her bag. “It’s not a big deal, you know. You can earn points, too. I just happened to earn a lot in this particular lesson.” Nathalie couldn’t help but roll her eyes as Camilla’s rather pathetic attempt to play her achievement down. She had heard from an older Hufflepuff that Professor Stein was a very strict teacher who only gave praise to those who deserved it, and Camilla obviously had.
“If you say so,” Nathalie teased, in a particularly good mood that day. “Come on, let’s go, or else we’ll be late for Herbology.” Camilla’s eyes properly lit up at this one, and Nathalie laughed. Her friend really did have strange tastes, sometimes.
There was something very strange about this classroom, Scorpius couldn’t help but think later on that day, as he and Hayden waited patiently for the last of a Gryffindor-Hufflepuff sixth year class drift out from the Charms classroom. The thing was, it was his exact idea of a perfect classroom. Large windows looking out onto the grounds banished any need for torches, and the desks were placed in platforms facing the window and the Professor’s desk smack in the middle. It almost made him want to teach Charms, just to get this particular room for it.
Too bad he was awful at it.
“Papilius!” Scorpius snapped at his wand, flicking it impatiently as next to him Hayden made one or two butterflies erupt from his wand as he lounged lazily in his chair. Annoyance flashed in Scorpius’ steel grey eyes, which only narrowed determinedly once he saw that so far, he was the only one who hadn’t achieved the spell yet - and he did not want to be known as the only first year in the whole school who couldn’t conjure sodding butterflies. “That’s it, my wand’s broken, I just know it.”
Hayden shot the blonde boy an amused glance, watching Professor Stein out of the corner of his eye just in case she would somehow walk over in the space of two seconds and overhear them not doing any work whatsoever. “Broken? You said you bought it new. I mean, I would understand if it was your parents’ old one or something, but you said so yourself that the first wand you tried, you knew it was yours.”
Scorpius couldn’t help but frown - how had Hayden have remembered all of that? - but nevertheless, he just said, “Same thing, really. Anyone can step on a wand or sit on it at any given time. Someone’s obviously cast a spell on mine or something.” Hayden would have had a slightly sarcastic reply to that at the ready, if not for Professor Stein abruptly popping up behind Scorpius, and the two boys couldn’t help but jump.
“Ready to demonstrate, boys?” she asked them breezily, and Scorpius’ mouth thinned as he gave her a flat look and shook his head. Hayden, however, was more than eager to show off his newly found skill at Charms, which seemed to Hayden was the only class he actually excelled in so far this week.
“Papilius!” Hayden cried, and Scorpius almost pouted at the fact that immediately two monarch butterflies started flitting over their desk as soon as Hayden had uttered the incantation. A smile curved at Professor Stein’s lips, and she paused to tell them one last thing as she moved on to the next pair.
“Excellent, Mr Oakley, please keep up the good work. I’ll come back to you if no one else conjures two or three butterflies.”
Hayden flushed at the compliment, very pleased, but Scorpius merely sighed, and said, “Merlin, mate, you’ve got to tutor me or something. How the hell did you do that?” Hayden grinned mischievously at him, and tapped the side of Scorpius’ nose, making the blonde boy swat his hand away with an irritated look on his pale face.
“It’s a secret, of course, but if you really want to know, does natural talent satisfy you?” Hayden gave an evil cackle just as Professor Stein awarded five points to another first year from Slytherin who managed to beat Hayden and conjure a stunning three butterflies. Scorpius glared, and Hayden deflated.
“Better luck next time, mate,” Scorpius said sympathetically, clapping Hayden on the back. “Just keep practicing and give me some tips along the way, okay?” The sound of chairs noisily scraping against the floor accompanied with a ringing of a bell provided a good distraction, and Hayden absentmindedly started walking towards the exit, but not before giving Scorpius a few last words before he left.
“If you say so, Scorpius. I’ll catch up with you later, okay? I’ve got to ask...” Suddenly, Hayden looked very shifty, and Scorpius tried not to appear too interested in what the boy had to say, knowing that that might possibly scare Hayden off. “...someone a little favour. See you later?” Scorpius nodded in the affirmative, and relieved, Hayden darted off and disappeared in the crowd, leaving the blonde boy on his own.
It was a little eery, the silence in the class, with no one in there but himself. Professor Stein had disappeared after the throng of first years, muttering to herself about borrowing a book or something from the Library - Scorpius could care less what the Professors were up to in their free time - which left him under no one’s supervision and therefore free to do whatever he wanted as long as he left absolutely no evidence of his actions.
Gleeful at this discovery, Scorpius set to work rooting through the papers on Professor Stein’s desk, hoping to find some tips for succeeding Charms and any hints on upcoming surprise exams or projects. The only remotely interesting thing he discovered was that she had assigned a Hufflepuff-Ravenclaw class of first years a project on charms used in one’s everyday life, and the boy could only hope she wouldn’t decide to give it to his class, too. Sighing heavily at his failure, Scorpius gathered his things and opened the door.
Or, at least, he tried to.
Come on. Rattling the handle of the door, now irritated, Scorpius looked around him desperately. A frustrated sigh escaping from his mouth, he gathered all of his strength and shoved his full wait onto the door. The door didn’t even open - the only thing that happened was that grey dust drifted onto his blonde hair, and Scorpius stared up at the ceiling, utterly bemused.
“What the - ?” he said aloud, but didn’t have time to finish. Scorpius’ eyes widened and he yelled on instinct, diving away just as the stones that was formerly the ceiling came crashing down where he was once standing. Breathing heavily, he struggled to a standing position, staring in complete disbelief at the stones that now stood between Scorpius and the door, realisation suddenly dawning on him.
Bloody hell. He was trapped.
You guys probably hate me right now, I’m sorry :p Also apologising if any of these scenes seem rushed - by the time I was writing out Nathalie and Cami’s scene, I got a feeling that the chapter was almost finished so in my eagerness to get this out to you guys, I kind of rushed the ending bit, so if anything seems off, it’s all my fault :p How’d you guys like the glimpse of Scorpius, Cami, Hayden and of course, Nathalie? There was also a bit of Albus, Jem and Claire but we focused on them last chapter so no matter :D Reviews are love, and thanks so much for reading!