Chapter 11 : The Detention
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I wake up to a confused sister standing over me. To be fair, she didn’t expect to find me in her bed.
“Where you been?” I ask sleepily. Daphne rolls her eyes.
“I’ve been out. Now, can you tell me why on earth you’re in my dormitory, instead of your own perfectly good one which actually has your very own bed in it?” Her eyes narrow. “Wait, you aren’t hiding from that Goyle bitch, are you? Because if she’s threatening you, I promise I’ll-”
I shake my head and roll over, holding up the letter from Mother. Daphne snatches it and scans it quickly, her mouth pursing with each line. Finally, she crumples it in one small fist.
“Its selfish of her to get us involved,” she says, “especially if its only been a day. Father’s a great wizard. He’ll be fine, he knows there’s more important things than reporting back to the wife every ten minutes.”
When did my sister get so old? But now she is pulling off her robes and slipping into her pajamas, her old worn ones with pink Pygmy puffs on them. She slips into the bed next to me, and her hand brushes my hair gently.
“It’ll be fine, Tor,” she says to me, as the first rays of sunrise begin to break in through the little window. “Now, try and get some sleep. You don’t want worry lines.”
I feel like a child again. I remember crawling into my sister’s bed on Christmas morning before we’re supposed to be up, whispering excitedly about what presents we might receive in a few hours. Sharing a mattress when visiting our grandparents, and spending the whole night giggling until Mother crossly told us to get some shut-eye, or else. When I used to have nightmares, and it was Daphne who was there to listen and scoff at them, telling me that my fears were silly and that they couldn’t get me, not in the world of the waking.
When Daphne shakes me awake a few hours later, all tender childhood memories are forgotten. She’s back to being the cold, haughty, ice princess that we all know and love.
After shooing me out of her dorm, I realize that my sister never told me why she got back to her bed at six in the morning. Ah well, perhaps its best if I don’t know. There’s already enough secrets to keep.
Amaris is dismayed to learn about my detention with Snape on Saturday, as she reminds me it’s the first Hogsmeade weekend of the year.
“Now I’ll have to go with the boys,” she mutters, “and they’ll make me go out in the cold to the Shrieking Shack, and I’ll probably get stuck in Zonko’s for hours-”
“Thanks for your concern about my welfare,” I say drily, but am secretly amused. Amaris would much prefer a morning spent sitting in the Three Broomsticks with a warm Butterbeer, cake, and a good book than the typical shenanigans the boys get up to.
The week passes in a blur of classes, avoiding certain people and trying to put myself in the path of certain others as much as possible.
Ginny Weasley shoots me devilish looks from across the Great Hall, and I can’t help but be a little afraid of her. Those were some nasty bats, okay?
Taurus’ behavior gets stranger and stranger with each passing day. He keeps telling me he wants to talk, but panicking and finding a distraction before he can tell me anything.
Gregory Goyle avoids me, mollified, as he’s always busy doing Draco Malfoy’s bidding, however I keep receiving notes declaring his affection and small gifts on my pillow, which I throw out immediately. Scorned Goyle sweets are definitely not to be trusted. Another meeting of the ASS is called for that Friday night, and I go back and forth with Pyxis on whether we should even attend.
Griz Goyle is as maddening as ever, but she hasn’t done anything particularly hostile to me yet. Honestly, its completely unfair as I don’t even know what I did to deserve her enmity.
The other Slytherins’ bullying of other students gets more vicious and more under-handed. I try to stay out of the spotlight, but at least two more members of my House have been sent to the hospital wing with the Bat Bogey Hex. Weasley has an uncanny ability for showing up whenever there’s trouble.
I only see Daphne a couple times. Whatever she’s up to, I don’t like it.
And there is no news of Father.
When Friday night rolls around, Pyxis and I head up to the Room of Requirement together. We haven’t had a chance to talk in the past week, but his warm, reassuring presence is always calming. That’s the dangerous thing about Pyxis: I’m always tempted to tell him about all my problems.
This meeting begins more subdued than the last, with no fiery pronouncements against Potter or Dumbledore.
“Also, Goyle has been attacked by that Weasley bitch,” Malfoy says, pointing to Goyle as if he’s a victim in need of vindication. “She seems to have a particular vendetta out for Slytherins and putting as many of us into the hospital wing as possible. I suggest,” he says, smoothing his hair back, “that we concentrate on taking the Weasleys down a peg.”
“Well, there are only two of them left at the school,” Theo comments drily. “Ron Weasley gets into enough scrapes without us getting involved. And I don’t want to get in trouble for Quidditch sabotage. There is a match coming up, Draco.”
Theo is curled up with Christiana on his lap, arms wrapped around her and cheek resting on her back. I look away to avoid the usual flare of jealousy. Poor Theo looks tired. Gone is the angry boy from the last meeting: a good nap seems preferable to pureblood action.
Malfoy seems to have other ideas.
“Are we losing our nerve, Nott?” he snaps, eyes flaring up at his dorm-mate. “Worrying about Quidditch in times like this is childish. We have higher callings to worry about: there will be plenty of time for worrying about Quidditch when the wicked side has been defeated.”
Theo bristles, pushing Christiana gently off his lap and getting to his feet. “And what exactly can we do, Malfoy? This is Hogwarts, it’s a school. None of the action is happening here. And even if You-Know-Who needed a spy, it’d be impossible under Dumbledore’s eye. Give up, you’re useless and you know it.”
Both boys draw their wands and point them at each other, glaring daggers. I resist the urge to roll my eyes and look around at everyone else. Zelda and Christiana are exchanging confused glances. Pyxis looks annoyed, and leans back on his cushion to watch and action. The Goyles… well, who knows if they’re even thinking about anything, other than being ready to spring to Malfoy’s aid.
“Draco…” Parkinson begins quietly, but he pays her no mind. I push my mind towards Theo’s and realize that he’s running over jinxes in his head, some more unpleasant than others. This is about to get nasty.
“Alright, let’s take it down a notch,” a voice says, and I realize that its my own as I get to my feet. “Relax, everyone is on the same side here.” My treacherous feet plant me in the most dangerous spot in the room: right in between the wands of two sons of Death Eaters. Crap. Why, Tor, why?
“Tor, get out of the way,” Theo says through ground teeth.
“No,” I tell him shortly. “Honestly, you’re both being macho idiots. There’s more important things than who has the most powerful stick.” I can hear Pyxis groaning behind me, but remind myself not to care. “Theo, Draco,” I say, turning to look at Malfoy. “I know its frustrating, being cooped up here. I get it, trust me. You might not know this, but my father hasn’t been heard from since the weekend.” I swallow. “I know both of your fathers are in Azkaban, and that must be really hard to cope with. But tearing each other apart isn’t going to solve anything: save it for the Order. We need to learn, and train, and be strong and brave, and someday soon we’ll join the fighting too. We’re not Death Eaters yet.”
I step back, a bit embarrassed but happy with my speech which has hopefully emasculated them enough to step back and put their wands away. I feel warm arms come around me from behind me: Theo.
“I’m sorry about your dad, Tor,” he whispers into my hair, giving me a tight hug.
I nod, smiling a little. But I can’t help but notice how Theo’s positioned me: as a human shield between himself and Malfoy’s wand, which is now pointed directly at my heart.
“You should watch your mouth, Yaxley,” Malfoy sneers, and he says my father’s family name like its an insult. “And just so you know, some of us have been chosen by the Dark Lord. Maybe you lot are still weak, but you’re in the presence of the newest Death Eater.”
He whips up his sleeves on his left arm, and there it is, grinning up at me. I can’t help myself: I take a step back into Theo, and his arms fall from around me in shock.
The Dark Mark.
Malfoy’s revelation breaks the little meeting up pretty quickly. Pyxis, Theo and I walk quietly together, not daring to talk until we know we are alone. Once we reach the dungeons, I pull the Notts into the empty Potions classroom, and we huddle together.
“I just can’t believe it,” Theo says, teeth chattering angrily. “I can’t believe the Dark Lord would choose Malfoy over…”
He cuts off, but I know what he was going to say. Over me.
“He’s a git, a power abusing, overblown git,” Pyxis mutters. “Do you think he’s the Dark Lord’s replacement for Mr. Malfoy?”
“Does he need another leeching lackey?” Theo sneers. “Draco’s at Hogwarts. What’s he going to achieve? Anything You-Know-Who needs, he’s got Snape, right? He’s already got a spy.”
The fact that Professor Snape is still a Death Eater is a great secret. Even though we all three know, Theo could get in a great deal of trouble for mentioning this fact.
“Maybe Malfoy faked it,” Pyxis says uncertainly. But Theo and I shake our heads.
“I was too close, Pyx. I could… feel it. That sounds crazy, but it’s the exact same as the one Father has. Its done. He’s a Death Eater.”
Theo seems to come to a conclusion. He sets his jaw and rearranges his face in that stubborn way he has.
“I think we need to turn this measly pack of Slytherin spawn into real fighters,” he says, looking at Pyxis and I to see how we’ll react. “We need to learn real spells and practice dueling. We need to hold our own, in case its us next, so when the Dark Lord notices us, he’ll be impressed.”
I nod slowly. “I… have some experience with the Imperius Curse, and with Occlumency. Father… had been teaching me.”
Theo nods. “That’s just what we need.”
“Do you think He’s been teaching Malfoy anything?” Pyxis asks hesitantly, gauging the look on Theo’s face. “You know… spells the other side would never dream of. The Dark Arts. Because maybe he could show us-”
Pyxis looks relieved when Theo nods again, approvingly.
“I’ll speak to Malfoy and try and arrange it. If he’s going to lord his new status over us and call these meetings, then I think we should get some use out of it. And don’t worry, Tor,” he grins wryly. “I’ll be diplomatic. I’ll be the perfect gentleman.”
But as we head our separate ways to bed, tired but exhilarated with Theo’s plan for the ASS, I still can’t shake my parents’ words from Platform 9 ¾: to stay away from Draco Malfoy. If Father could see me now, what would he say?
The next morning, I run upstairs to check on Boot’s potion before my detention. It’s a crucial day in the stewing process: if the mixture starts boiling, then everything is on track.
He is grinning triumphantly over it as I enter the secret room. “Check it out,” he tells me, moving aside. “Look at those beautiful bubbles.”
The potion smells foul but I’m thrilled as well. He’s finally confessed to me that its Polyjuice Potion he’s brewing: not for any particular purpose, but just for the challenge. Ravenclaws.
“The potion looks perfect,” I tell him. “Boy, ya done good.”
Boot pulls me into a goofy hug, and his warm breath tickles my hair. “You know, when I first met you, Feisty, I thought you were a little strange. A typical Slytherin, you know? But I think you’re alright. I like you.”
He smells like cinnamon and sunshine. I bask in his touch, in his scent, this mysterious person who has become such a lighthearted, constant presence in my life without even realizing it.
“I guess you’re alright too,” I say, giggling, and scurry out of the way as he mock-curses at me scoops me up around the waist. Breathless and laughing, we tumble to the window seat, and he holds me down and tickles me on the ribs as I squeal and fight back, not even holding back my flailing fists.
“Gerroff! Boot! Ahhghhh!”
I hate being tickled.
“I have a detention! Do you want Snape coming after us?”
He arranges a look of pure terror on his face and rubs his brow with one hand, keeping my wrists securely pinned with his other hand. I realize that he is sort of, well, straddling me, but as I come to terms with this fact and his closeness he springs off the window seat.
“You should get going then, milady,” he says, “and I have a certain village to visit. Potion ingredients to stock up on, quills to be sharpened, books to be purchased.”
“Don’t make me jealous,” I growl, straightening my clothes. “I’ll be having a jolly old time writing lines with Snape.”
“Yeah, its pretty cruel to give you detention on a Hogsmeade weekend,” Terry adds. “What time will you escape?”
“I’m not sure, maybe if I’m lucky he’ll let me out for a couple hours in the afternoon and I can get out of this castle for once.”
“I wish you the best.” Boot raises his hand in a mock salute and I return it, rolling my eyes, before skipping off to Snape’s office. Terry Boot makes me happy. I’ve never truly laughed before Terry Boot.
Snape doesn’t even look up as I enter his office, his dark head bent low over a piece of parchment. I stand silently as the scratching of the quill subsides, he folds the parchment in thirds, and tucks it into his robes.
“Today, you will be re-pickling potions ingredients from my personal stores,” Snape informs me. I try and prevent the disgust from showing on my face.
“You will remove it from the jar, clean said jar, and add some new preservation substance, thus replacing the object in the replenished liquid,” he drawls, and motions me over to a bench and table in the corner of his office. On the table are several nasty-looking jars, and as I pull on a pair of plastic gloves Snape reaches in front of me and grabs a jar of-
“Bat wings,” his lip curls in amusement. “The task seemed fitting.”
Disgruntled, I take my seat and stare at the jar. At least these ones aren’t attached to real bats and coming out my nose. Stifling a shudder and swallowing my weak stomach, I grit my teeth and reach into the smelly goo.
Snape and I work in easy silence: me trying to forget about what I’m touching and him scribbling furiously, be it grading or letters, I can’t tell. Finally I work up my courage to address him. Snape may be a teacher, but he’s also a family friend.
“Professor, I was wondering if… if its alright that I’m asking… if you know anything about what’s happening to my father?” I command my voice to be steady and it obeys.
Snape sets down his quill, but his eyes are not unkind.
“Astoria, your father has a very difficult role with… our organization. He must play a role of a double agent: keeping the enemy close and never betraying his true master. He, like myself, is the most useful in this position.”
“But is he alright? Is he… alive?”
Snape sighs. “All I can say is that your father is alive, at least for now. He has had a very difficult diplomatic position and I cannot tell you any more than that. But you must be brave, because he is working as hard as he can to ensure a better life for you and your family, as well as all wizarding kind.”
“Thank you, Professor.”
“Astoria, do you know why your parents decided to have you go under your mother’s last name?” For some reason, I don’t mind Snape calling me by my loathsome full name. For him to call me “Greengrass” would be incorrect, “Yaxley” would be too formal, and “Tor” too casual.
“Er, I suppose so, sir.”
“If your father’s duplicity is discovered, then it would immediately put great targets on you and your sister’s backs. Even Draco walks a fine line by being the son of a named Death Eater: indeed he would be mindful to keep a lower profile…” Snape sighs a little to himself then turns back to me. “But there is another reason. If you are known not as daughters of Yaxley, but of the neutral and low-key House of Greengrass, then someday you will have been groomed and ready to take his place. As… for lack of a better term – a spy. You should think carefully about what you want.”
“ I look forward to the day when I can join your ranks and be of service to the Dark Lord.” I say this with pride, with a ripple of a smile, every inch a Slytherin and a daughter of Orpheus Yaxley.
Snape looks at me thoughtfully, his black eyes unreadable, his mind a blank, slippery and impenetrable wall.
“You’re a clever girl for your age,” he says. “I can only hope that you will choose the best path before its too late.”
I take this as Snape being cryptic and turn back to my work, which has unfortunately moved on to giant slugs. Finally, around half three, Snape sets me free.
I run straight to the dorm, grab my coat, and skip out of the castle to relish in my freedom. If I’m lucky, I’ll still be able to catch everyone in the Three Broomsticks, maybe pop around to Honeydukes and buy myself a sugar quill and replenish my Chocolate Frog supply. I think of something funny – when the Dark Lord comes to power, will all the Chocolate Frog cards be replaced with images of Death Eaters? Will Dumbledore be stripped from each card and my father’s face put in his stead? This image, along with Snape’s reassurance that my father is alive, amplifies my mood. Maybe I’ll even be on a Chocolate Frog card someday!
After getting past Filch at the gates, who seems bored and out for some fresh blood to throw into detention, I half run and half walk down the path. How Amaris will squeal when she hears about the pickled slugs! Maybe I’ll even run into Terry Boot with his friends, and we’ll pretend we don’t know each other but secretly he’ll wink at me from across the pub…
My thoughts are interrupted by two girls walking towards me. One I don’t recognize, but the other rings a painful bell. Its her, although I’d nearly forgotten about Ginny’s words of caution. Leanne. Leanne Briar.
I bitterly think to myself that she doesn’t look like much: hair whipped and tangled by the wind, a pale face and dark eyes. She’s shorter than me, too. Sure, she’s in Ravenclaw, and I try to shake the image of Leanne and Boot studying together, heads bent close over a candlelit piece of text…
Leanne and her friend appear to be arguing. Good, the serpent in my head hisses. I hold my head high as they approach, but then something happens that erases all thoughts of jealousy from my mind.
Leanne’s friend suddenly levitates into the air, her arms spread wide in a most unnatural way, her lips parted in a silent scream. Around and around she spins, rising higher and higher while Leanne screams loudly and tries to reach her friend.
But the worst part isn’t in my eyes, but in my mind. Like a piercing needle, like a fanged serpent worming through a keyhole, the possessed girl’s mind aggressively attacks mine. I find myself falling to my knees as images – of pain and destruction, of blood and betrayal, and worst, of pure hatred and evil – invade me, invade every pore and nerve of my being. Keeping Father out of my head was nothing compared to this. The pounding continues, reverberating against the sides of my skull, a girl screaming inside my head, begging for escape.
A/N: Reviews would make my day!!!
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