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Chapter 3 : The Slytherin Boys
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The Slytherin Boys
Much thanks to Sherlock. @ TDA for the chapter image!
Slytherin House: The Boys’ Dormitories
After the feast, feeling well fed, I wait until the common room is empty and sneak up to the boys’ dormitory. Rap-tap-a-rap. I knock the secret code to give them warning to cover up –Pyxis unclothed is something I’ve seen before and never want to see again- and let myself in. Pyxis, Phin and Taurus are huddled in the corner of the room, and they grin when they see me enter with my dark green blanket wrapped around me. The dungeon gets cold at night.
Guinevere the black cat comes mewling, rubbing herself on my legs and looking up adoringly. I scoop her into my arms and laugh as her rough tongue licks my cheek.
“Missed me?” I murmur into her fur.
“Look, it’s the witch and her familiar,” Taurus says as he scoots over to make room for me. Phin passes me the source of the smoke and the sweet smell in the room.
“Muggle drugs,” Phin laughs to my confused expression. “I smuggled it in past Filch – I guess he was more concerned about Dark objects than a couple herbs.”
“Maybe he thought it was a potions ingredient,” Pyxis points out. “Stinking squib,” he adds as an afterthought.
I hold the strange Muggle drug to my lips uneasily and inhale a little. Guinevere meows disapprovingly and springs off my lap, probably to look for mice under the beds.
The boys laughed as a fit of coughing consumes me. I wrinkle my nose up.
“Not for me, I think.”
“How was your reunion with Troll and the she-devil?” Phin asks as the others snicker. He’s talking about my fellow dorm-mates: in addition to Amaris and I, our dormitory is plagued by the presence of Griz Goyle and Demetria Avery. Both are dumb, cruel and careless.
“They’re ok. Demetria got her nose pierced over the summer, she’s well pleased about it. I suspect that she got something else pierced too, by the way she was hinting about it.”
Phin and Pyxis nudge each other. I glance beside me at Taurus to see him roll his eyes.
“You’d pull that, yeah Nott?”
I laugh at the scuffle that follows. Sometimes I wonder if I should have more female friends, but its these three boys – and Pyxis’ elder brother, Theo – who keep things light hearted when the world seems to succumb to dark and gloominess. When I got an owl from my mother explaining that my father had gone missing last year, it was the boys who snuck out to the Quidditch pitch with me at night and let me blast Bludgers at them until I was too tired to be frightened. When the Dark Lord rose to power and I overheard my parents talking about it, the boys were the first ones I whispered the exciting news to.
As if he read my mind, Phin turns to me, his face full of expectation.
“Alright, Tor. We know you’ve been at home all summer. We know that your father is a… you know what.”
“What are You-Know-Who’s plans for Hogwarts?” Taurus whispers. “You must know something… you must tell us.”
I think of the summer spent trapped in the confines of our little garden and grounds, of masked visitors Apparating and storming into our home in the dead of night. I think of the quiet arguments between my father and his closest friends, some ending with wands drawn. I remember the nights when I was sure he wouldn’t come home. I think of my parents’ conversation with Daph and I as we were about to board the Hogwarts express.
In my childhood, my father was our golden hero, our black knight. He would return home each day, plant a glamorous kiss on my mother’s lips, and hoist me onto his shoulders. He would read me my favorite stories from Beedle the Bard. When I begged for a second story, he always relented. Now, all I ever see is that other side of him, the serious side, the hardened warrior.
Clustered somewhere around Platform 13 ¼, my father looked Daphne and I sternly in the eyes.
“Important things are going to happen at Hogwarts this year. Great things, but if those involved fail, then I fear our Master’s wrath.” His lips twisted in a sneer. “And the Dark Lord expects them to fail."
My mother looked intently around us to ensure that nobody was listening in, be they passing Muggle or wizard.
“The Malfoy boy,” she demanded. “Are you friends, girls?”
Daphne looked down guiltily. How could we not know him? He’s in Daphne’s year, her best friend, Pansy, is possibly dating him, although I’ve always been convinced Daph fancied the blond rat for herself. We knew him growing up, we attended his birthday parties at Malfoy manor. Lucius Malfoy and Father are old friends.
“You must keep your distance from him,” my father urged. “Swear, as if he fails, it may bring disaster – and shame - upon our family. The family is marked, and you must keep your distance.”
Solemnly, like obedient nursery children, Daph and I promised to stay away. I have to admit though, my curiosity was alerted.
My father kissed us each on the forehead, coolly and briskly.
“Good. Now, learn your lessons, keep to yourselves, and trust no one who does not support our cause. Do not draw attention to yourselves, do nothing to incur suspicion, for now that He has returned the star of the House of Yaxley is rising.” He gave Daphne a particularly hard look.
I choose not to share this conversation with the boys. While Pyxis’ father is of course a member of the Dark Lord’s inner circle, I know Taurus and Phin prefer to lie low and not declare direct allegiance. However, I’m positive they support our cause. We’re all Slytherins, after all.
“Malfoy,” I say instead. “Is he really quitting the Quidditch team?”
Pyxis frowns. “Seems silly to quit after buying your way in, doesn’t it. Slimy git, the whole family. Rotten to the bone.”
“Are you thinking of going for Seeker, Tor?” Taurus asks. I nod, smiling.
“Hey, it can’t hurt to try. You’re a good little flier.” He pats me on the back encouragingly.
“Little? I’m two months older than you, prat,” I reply, shoving him, but its all in play. Honestly, Taurus is one of the nicest guys I know.
“It’d be good to get another female on the team,” Pyxis says. “The lads need some common sense on the pitch, especially with my brother’s hot head.” I snort at the idea of poised, calculating Theodore Nott being a hothead, and the rest of us laugh as well. I suspect the Muggle drug is going to our heads.
Our sports talk is interrupted by a loud Crack! as the Nott family house elf, Selby, appears in the room.
“Master,” he squeals, bowing so deeply to Pyxis that his nose grazes the floor. “Selby has brought the crisps and cakes that Young Master requested…”
“Yes, cheers Selby,” Pyxis replies amicably. “Everything all right back at home?”
Selby bows low again at being addressed by the youngest member of the Nott family.
“Master is most gracious! Master’s noble aunt is entertaining tonight, but Selby was sent from the room, so he was able to come and do young Master’s bidding!” He notices me and bows low again. “Mistress Yaxley’s own father is in attendance at the home, and looking very great indeed! Ah yes, Selby thinks he is most great!”
I smile at the little being. “Thank you, Selby. And for the crisps.” I’m happy to see my favorite flavor, Cheese and Onion, and tuck away a couple of the little bags for later.
“You may go, Selby,” Pyxis adds, and with another low bow and loud Crack!, the house elf disappears again.
“Funny how they can do that,” says Taurus, stuffing his face with what looks like half a chocolate toad cake. “You know, Apparate in and out of Hogwarts at their will. Funny elf magic.” Except it sounds more like “fuuu ulfff maaah.”
The talk returns to Quidditch as I smile at Pyxis, thinking how gracious he is to little Selby. I never had a House Elf, but I used to ask my mother for one every Christmas. I wanted a House Elf to play dress up with, like a little doll. The Elf could have been my confidant when Daph did something dreadfully mean or unfair, which was quite often. I know some wizarding families were very cruel to their servants, but Mr. Nott was always kind to Selby, keeping him loving and loyal. And I have to say, this toad cake is really fabulous.
“D’you reckon You-Know-Who ever went out for Quidditch?” Phin says thoughtfully. Pyxis and I exchange incredulous looks.
“Actually, Mister Phineas,” I say slowly, “I have it on good authority that You-Know-Who was a top-notch Beater.” I stuff another toad cake into my mouth to contain my laughter.
“My father says there was nothing like seeing him fly- like ballet in the air,” Pyxis adds dreamily. “Like…er, cream on a broomstick.”
I can’t help it: I let out a little sob. When thick-skulled Phin finally realizes we’ve been taking the piss, Pyxis and I are both pelted with crisps. Taurus goads him on.
I’m thankful once again that the Dark Lord can’t penetrate my thoughts. Although, its doubtful he even knows who I am. However, I take the time to cringe inwardly at what my father would say to us laughing about the Dark Lord, the greatest wizard of our time, and the center of my family’s purpose.
“This isn’t the end, Pixie!” Phin shouts. Five seconds later, Theodore Nott is sticking his handsome head into the dorm.
“Can you buggers keep it down?” he hisses. “Some of us are trying to get some rest before we begin our extremely challenging NEWT classes tomorrow.”
“Oh, poor icky prefect Theo,” Pyxis says mockingly, “Christiana having trouble sleeping? Are you sure its not your snoring?”
“Laugh now, but you’ll have Snape down your throats if you don’t pipe down,” Theo snarls at his brother, and slams the door.
“Snape down your throats,” Phin repeats, and they all laugh again. Seriously, this Muggle drug has turned the boys from Slytherin into a group of giggling girls.
Annoyed at the mention of sappy Christiana sharing a bed with Theo, I excuse myself from the boys and head back through the common room to my dormitory, making sure to give Guinevere a pat along the way.
The snoring mounds that are Griz and Amaris are immersed in the realm of sleep under their green duvets, but Demetria has the emerald curtains of her four-poster drawn. I’m secretly glad, since it puts another barrier in between us when I’m sleeping and helpless. I’ve woken before to Demetria staring at me: that girl is creepy.
I climb into bed and wrap the warm blankets around me, thankful for the charm which keeps them cozy in the dampness that always seems to pervade our dormitory. Thank Merlin I am home at Hogwarts, this beloved and familiar place. This sanctuary. In the dark I feel like a little child again, unconcerned with the might of my family or the glory of Slytherin, but glad to be warm and safe.
My sister Daphne finds me at breakfast the next morning. A bleary-eyed Taurus and hungover Amaris – the latter of whom I dragged out of bed – acknowledge Daphne with quick nods before turning their attention back to the Honey Snitch cereal.
Once again I am thankful for Taurus, the only one of my guy friends who doesn’t find Daphne intimidating. Phin is likely to drool idiotically and blush furiously when she’s around. Pyxis Nott should be less affected, since we all grew up together, but since hitting puberty he’s been unable to speak in her presence without stammering. Its extremely annoying.
It's true that Daphne is the beauty of the family. Long dark ringlets tumble halfway down her back, while my hair is thin and prone to tangling. Her skin is clear and has never been spotty – unlike mine, I often think bitterly. Although she’s only two years the elder she’s filled out with graceful curves, while I am equally tall but slim as a board, with a body like a boy. Her cheekbones are sharp and when she speaks with someone she gives them her full attention, her arm pressing against them intently, her bright eyes unblinkingly fixed on theirs.
But its more than Daphne’s physical appearance. She has a way of commanding the attention in the room, like moons orbiting around the earth. When in the room with her, everyone trains at least one eye on her. This could be pure admiration, or the way one should pay attention if there’s a dangerous serpent about, just in case it chooses to strike.
Daphne doesn’t have friends, not in the same way I do. She has… admirers. She is cold and aloof. Even her dorm-mates, Pansy Parkinson and the bull-like Millicent Bulstrode, are intimidated, and are flattered when she chooses to honor them with her presence. They have no problem bullying pretty much every other student in Hogwarts however, myself included. When Daphne fancies a boy, she’ll never admit it to them until they have run to hell and back to please her. Daphne is an ice princess. I’m surprised the plants in the greenhouses don’t curl up in cold defeat when she enters their sanctuary, and that’s including the naturally aggressive Venomous Tentacula.
Only a select few are blessed enough to witness Daphne’s true inner self. Although I actually prefer the ice princess.
This morning, she slides herself onto the bench beside me, forcing me to move over. Typical. She absently picks up a piece of the toast that I’ve so carefully prepared – butter, cream, jam, then a sprinkling of salt – and takes a bite.
“Hey,” I protest weakly.
“Listen,” my sister hisses, her face shining. “I’ve been told to invite you to the meeting tomorrow night.” She makes a face, and I hate that its still a beautiful face. “This is disgusting, by the way.” She tosses the mauled toast back on my plate. “Its secret- of course. We’re meeting in the room of Requirement, yeah, you in?”
“What kind of meeting?” I ask dully. If its some sort of Slytherin speed-dating society or girly clothing swap then I’m definitely not in. I’d rather wear Pyxis’ underpants for a week than borrow a skirt off Millicent Bulstrode.
“No, listen,” and Daphne pulls me closer. “It’s a meeting for… people like us. With… you know, parents like ours.”
I nod in understanding. “Sort of like… the young Death Eaters association of Hogwarts, a society for sovereignty?”
She shushes me. Even now, now that our father and his master are in power, its not smart to draw attention to yourself for being so closely linked to the Death Eaters. Especially after the warning Father gave us to lie low. I remind her of this.
“What Father doesn’t know won’t hurt him,” she says sternly. “Plus, he just meant we shouldn’t get involved in anything dangerous. This is just to bring together like-minded people, have a few drinks, talk about what we can do for the cause.
“Besides,” she gives me a knowing look, “there’s going to be enough people there that if something goes wrong, we can always pass it off on someone else.”
I roll my eyes. How very Slytherin of you, Daphne.
“So, about half-nine.” She continues, ticking names off on her fingers. “Us, Theo and Pyxis. Malfoy and those thugs Crabbe and Goyle. Girl Goyle in your year. Zabini. Avery and Avery. Cousin Zena. Pansy will probably be there too, since she and Draco are seeing each other.” She mimes puking – only Daphne could make that look elegant – and rattles off a few more Slytherins.
I shrug. “Okay, I guess I’ll come.” While the idea of spending time with Griz, Parkinson, and other spawn of the most ruthless killers in Britain isn’t exactly appealing, I’d rather be there knowing what they’re up to than left out in the cold.
“Fab.” Daphne smoothes my hair in a gesture that’s clearly supposed to be affectionate, but instead just stings my scalp. “Oh… and we got an owl from Mum.” She drops a letter into my lap and saunters off down the dining hall, turning heads as always.
I hope you are settling back into Hogwarts life and are eating and sleeping well. Daphne, remember this is your first year of NEWTS and to pick your classes wisely. While you clearly excel at Defense against the Dark Arts and Transfiguration, your father and I urge you that taking Care of Magical Creatures would be a waste of time. We have spoken with our friend, Walden Macnair, and warned that taking the class with that oaf Hagrid would do more harm than good if you did indeed want to continue into a career such as the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.
Professor Snape speaks highly of both of you, and now that he is instructing Defense against the Dark Arts I see no reason why you both should not achieve an ‘Outstanding.’ In news from home, Narcissa Malfoy came calling last night after we had returned from London. I sent her along with a cup of tea and refused to discuss anything of pertinence. I would advise you to do the same in dealings with your peers at Hogwarts.
With regards to dating, I hope you are choosing any and all partners very carefully. Family history is of great importance: first, ensure the boy is well-connected and of pure blood, of course. Then, make sure that if you do share family connections, the shared ancestor is far enough away.
Your loving Mum (Father sends his love)
PS. Tor: you have forgotten your red flowered dress. I shall send it the next time I am in town and can lease an owl-unfortunately Hecate can no longer manage heavier bundles.
I roll my eyes: that dress was forgotten for a reason, the reason being that it is hideous. When I tried it on last Daphne told me it was enough to scare off a Dementor.
In Charms, I relay Daph’s message to Pyxis. We are supposed to be practicing Summoning Charms. The peacock feather quill I am targeting lazily twitches and I scowl at it.
“Honestly, I think it’s a loony idea,” my friend says frankly. “Something the likes of Malfoy and my brother would come up with.”
Pyxis thinks Theo and Malfoy are just upset they haven’t yet received an invitation to join the Slug Club, a society for promising students led by the new Potions Master, Professor Slughorn.
“They need to feel special, powerful somehow,” he says. “Last year there was the Inquisitorial Squad. I actually loved docking House points from those sodding Gryffindors.” We both laugh. “And remember when Umbridge gave Potter a lifelong ban on Quidditch?”
“In all seriousness, though,” I say. “Should we go? Accio quill! Accio- Argh!”
“Hey, I’d be thrilled to see my brother and Malfoy get all puffed up about You-Know-Who and how he favors them,” he says. “But between you and me, Tor, my brother is terrified.” He lowers his voice. “They act like its all grand, joining up, and yeah, it’s the inevitable future.”
“It is,” I say simply.
“I’ve read about young kids joining up with You-Know-Who,” Pyxis whispers to me. “Soon, they’re too deep. Its too late. And He knows if the thought of turning your back on him has ever crossed your mind.” He shudders. “But by then its too late. The choice is made, and the price is death.”
He angrily twitches his wand and his textbook whizzes across the room and hits him in the face. Putting Pyxis’ grim words behind me, I burst into laughter, causing tiny Professor Flitwick to glance over.
“How are your Summoning Charms, Miss Greengrass?”
“Fine, Professor,” I call back. “Accio apple!”The fruit flies into my hand and I gracefully wave it into the air. I feel Demetria Avery’s eyes on me. “Professor half-breed,” I whisper under my breath to her, as expected, and feel the tremor of laughter run through the surrounding group.
After Charms, we head to the dungeons for Double Potions with the Hufflepuffs. This is cause for excitement as us Slytherins love the opportunity to pick on the Hufflepuffs. Pratty, the lot of them.
Professor Slughorn is a short man with an incredible girth, and beady eyes which seem to take the measure of each student. After assigning us the Brew of Rectophobe, which is supposed to reverse intense fears of spiders and other insects, he plods about the classroom, peering into our cauldrons and asking after our families.
“Nott, hmm? The younger son?” Slughorn says to Pyxis, the latter of whom jumps up eagerly.
“Yes, sir, my father talks about you a great deal. He told me about a party in the Department of Magical Mixtures and Substances, when you ended up inventing, brewing and serving the potion now known as Dragon Rum!”
Slughorn tips his head in grudging acknowledgement to Pyxis and then moves on without bothering to look in his cauldron. Poor Pyxis’ cheeks turn pink.
Hastily, I turn back to my own potion, which is thus far bubbling along nicely. I look up and startle to see the great moustache peering at me.
“Very well done, Miss…”
“Greengrass,” I say, smiling sweetly. “I’m a great fan of yours, Professor.”
“My dear girl, no need for flattery!” he chuckles, but lingers by my cauldron. “Let me ask, where did you pick up this natural precision for potion-making?”
“I guess I’ve always been a meticulate worker,” I reply, grinding up some firefly eyes into a fine powder. “And, of course, Potions has always been one of my favorite subjects. Professor Snape was a good teacher.”
Before I know it, Slughorn has invited me to a dinner party in his office the following week and praised my Brew of Rectophobe to the high heavens.
“Does the potion truly work, sir?” I ask daringly. Slughorn pauses then roars with laugher.
“Cheeky girl!” he says. “Although Brew of Rectophobe has been marketed as a permanent solution to most basic phobias, the effects wear off after a couple hours. It reverses the temporary mania, but the fear always comes back to the wizard who truly fears.”
I nod. Slughorn is prevented from spilling more trade secrets with me when a whole table of Hufflepuffs starts laughing uncontrollably, pointing at a perfectly stationary dead fly. I see Taurus and Phin exchange knowing looks: apparently they snuck a huge amount of that Muggle drug into the Hufflepuff’s cauldron, which reacted with the other ingredients to create a magnified effect and a table of stoned Hufflepuffs.
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