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Vermillion Bird by quixotic
Chapter 4 : The Final Four
 
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Headmistress McGonagall sat in her office and stared wearily at the papers on her desk. Fifty years of teaching at Hogwarts had clearly taken its toll on her. Not to mention the unwelcome problems that visited ever so often. The newest one, the song of the Sorting Hat, was proving to be more sinister than she had expected. She couldn’t say that the song had taken her by surprise, because it didn’t, but it certainly confirmed her worst fears. Hogwarts must take action immediately. “We have found three of the students, Headmaster,” she said to the portrait behind her. Although it had been more than twenty-five years since the death of Albus Dumbledore, she still referred to his portrait as ‘Headmaster’, just out of habit.
“Indeed we have Minerva,” replied the portrait of Albus Dumbledore, wearing his usual smile, “However, we must not get too comfortable, for there is still one more child to be found.”

Minerva sighed tiredly, for there were always more things to do. “We must find that last child soon,” she murmured, staring at the reports on her desk. More and more children had gone missing in these last few months, as reported by the Ministry, all in the dead of night. The Aurors lead by Harry Potter were trying their best, but it was clear that even they were nearing a dead end. The headmistress leaned back in her chair, exhausted. When did things ever get this complicated?

ŘŘŘŘ

“Alright class,” Hagrid boomed, his voice resounding throughout the grounds. I perked up, eagerly awaiting the next creature we would be studying this year. Care of Magical Creatures was by far, my favourite class. Today, Ravenclaw was to be sharing their class with Slytherin. I was surprised to see Scorpius here, for surely someone as highborn as him had better things to do than messing about with animals? Clearly not, I supposed, as he made his way to me. “You like this class?” he asked and I nodded, rather defiantly in my opinion. “Very much.”
He squinted in the sunlight, trying to make out what exactly Hagrid was bringing to us from the forest. “My father hated this subject in school,” he said and I snorted recalling the tales of the great Draco Malfoy being transfigured into a ferret. A beautiful blonde one, no doubt. Safe it was to say that animals and Draco Malfoy were not very compatible.

Before we could say anything more, Hagrid was back. “These creatures are called Thestrals,” he said to the class, “How many of you can see them?”
My hand shot into the air along with a few others in the class. Scorpius’ hand remained by his side. “Why can’t I see them?” he asked me curiously as we made our way to pet them. I gave him my best ‘duh’ look. “That’s because only those who have seen death can see them,” I replied, dreading the question that was sure to follow.
“So you’ve seen death?”
My shoulders slumped but I nodded anyways. Might as well tell him the facts. “I saw my mum die,” I explained quietly and his eyes widened. “She..um..burnt to death in Diagon Alley.”
“Merlin...,” Scorpius whispered, “I’m so-,”
“Don’t apologize,” I interrupted him. I hated it when people pitied us. Mum was long gone, we just had to accept it. It didn’t make handling fires any easier, though. After she died, fire was my greatest fear. I had several nightmares of being burnt alive just like her in the past, that occasionally resurfaced. I think Scorpius figured that I didn’t really want to talk about it from the way he tactfully changed the subject.

“How do they look?” he asked, referring to the Thestrals. I stared at the creatures with their dark sleek skin and leathery wings, eyes so bright that they glittered in the sunshine. “Beautiful,” I murmured and Scorpius smiled.

A burst of laughter behind us averted my attention from the creatures and I turned around. Joseph Fletcher and his cronies where making fools of themselves again, trying to produce a Fiendfyre. Due to their incapability to recite even a simple charm, they weren’t making much progress. Suddenly, a jet of fire burst from Fletcher’s wand, flickering dangerously near the trees above. Fortunately nothing happened, but I knew one spark could set the forest on fire.

Turning back, I started to sketch the thestrals along with the rest of the class. “You draw well,” Scorpius said appraisingly, staring at my drawing. “You would too, if you could actually see them,” I pointed out and he rolled his eyes. “Don’t be modest,” he chastised before continuing his drawing, which due to his inability to actually see the creature was limited to whatever he copied off mine.

Then, it happened. One careless spark from Fletcher’s wand and the lower branches of a nearby pine tree went ablaze. The gang’s laughter ceased abruptly as the fire quickly began to spread. Panic shot through the groups of students and Hagrid struggled to keep the Thestrals calm. The students were running to the castle and Scorpius tugged on my arm. “Come on,” he urged, “Let’s go!”
I was about to follow him when I spotted a panic stricken girl under a tree. She looked around trying to figure out where to go. Run, I wanted to tell that stupid girl, but she was rooted to the spot. Heaving a sigh, I reluctantly broke free of Scorpius’ grasp and ran towards her to pushed her out of the way. She was then safe, but no longer was I. I heard the snapping of wood, and flaming branches soon surrounded me, covering me with fire. I was paralyzed with fear, my worst nightmare was coming true. I closed my eyes waiting for the searing pain, the burning flesh, the death soon to come.

Surprisingly, I felt none of that and, if anything at all, I felt...stronger. As if the fire was giving me power, in some convoluted sense. I warily opened my eyes to take in the scene. The fires had risen to an alarming level, and I heard the hoarse voices yelling, “Augmenti!”
I chuckled, the fire was way too big to be put out by a simple spell. They all probably thought that I was burnt to crisp when, strangely enough, even my robes were fine. Taking a deep breath to see if my hypothesis was true, to see whether or not I was really immune to fire, I stepped through the wall of flames. And out into the cool forest to meet the shocked gaze of my classmates. Their jaws dropped when they saw my perfect condition. Scorpius looked stunned for a moment but began grinning like a crazy idiot. Hagrid firmly grasped my hand and began leading my towards the castle. “We have to talk to the Headmistress about this,” he muttered, “You too, Malfoy.”

ŘŘŘŘ

I sat in the Headmistress’ Office with Scorpius, Albus and Giselle. The others looked more relaxed, having gone through this before. I, however, was struggling to overcome my nervousness and its side effects. Such as puking all my breakfast out. So far, so good.

“Now, I want you to raise your hands and say the word Recludo,” McGonagall instructed and we all followed her orders. Giselle began by releasing a gust of wind (woah, that sounded really wrong) from her finger tips that nearly knocked McGonagall’s hat off. Al and Scorpius’ powers were a bit more complicated, though. Scorpius seemed to possess an aura of energy that made one feel happier or stronger than usual . He gently pressed a finger to a quidditch injury on Giselle’s arm and, to my utmost surprise, it vanished. The injury, that is. Not his finger. I guessed that Scorpius had the power to heal. He also had the power to degrade one’s health as well.

I had to say that Al’s power was the coolest of all. He could bring things to life. And kill them off again. His power did have a couple of restrictions though, wouldn’t want him bringing random people back from the dead now, did we? He could only resurrect things that had been killed less than an hour ago, with the exception of inanimate objects. It truly was an awesome power.

Finally it was my turn. Taking a deep breath, I whispered, “Recludo” and slowly, tiny flames emerged and flickered at my fingertips. Within a blink of an eye, they were gone. Choking back a shriek, I raised my gaze to McGonagall’s face to find her wearing a cat like grin, an expression of hers that one rarely saw. “Excellent,” she breathed, “Headmaster Dumbledore will be continuing from here.”
She shifted her chair and the portrait of Albus Dumbledore came to view. “What a pleasure to meet you all,” he said and we muttered greetings back to him. I found it rather weird to be talking to a portrait, but it couldn’t be more strange than talking to the eagle on the Ravenclaw common room door, I supposed.
“Thankfully we have solved, the first part of the Sorting Hat’s song,” Dumbledore began, gesturing towards us, “Now, we must find out what exactly you are to fight against.”
We nodded, unsure of what to say. Al looked a bit stunned to hear his namesake actually speak to him. I thought that it was funny watching Albus talk to Albus. The others, going by their serious expressions, did not share my opinion. “In the meantime,” Dumbledore continued with a twinkle in his eyes, “We must train you to fight this dangerous beast.”
I gulped uneasily, wondering how on earth Dumbledore managed to say it all with a broad smile. He must be used to all the chaos and disastrous times, having lived, and died, through the Second Wizarding War. “When do we begin the training?” I asked, gaining some control over my voice. Dumbledore smiled again, this time with a pitying look. “My dear,” he replied “We must begin now.”

Author's note- And there you have it! A part of the mystery is uncovered. What so you think of the story? Is it any good?
As you know, nothing you recognize belongs to me, which is of course a devastating blow. :)


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