Chapter 1 : Autophobia
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The library was Scorpius’ favourite place in the school.
He loved the feeling of being surrounded by so many different books, all of which contained hidden secrets, stories which he was yet to uncover. It was like being surrounded by friends. Friends who were always there for you, would never leave your side. Never laugh at you, never betray you.
In the Hogwarts Library the books were stacked haphazardly all over the place. Sometimes it was a little like being trapped in a giant labyrinth. Some of the stacks of books, at least twice the height of Scorpius himself, were so lopsided that he was always worried they were going to fall on him. Of course, they never did. Probably because they were enchanted.
Scorpius loved the feeling of a book in his hands. He loved the way it felt as he opened to the first page and then gently thumbed through the pages, reading each inked in word ever so carefully.
But the thing he loved most about the library was that it provided an escape. Most of the time, anyway. There was currently a large group of seventh year Slytherins sitting a couple of tables over. They were laughing and talking loudly, but Scorpius did his best to ignore them.
He flicked through several pages of the thick book in front of him. It was very old, bound in dark, heavy leather. The pages were yellow and stained and the front of the book had been coated in dust when Scorpius had lifted it from the shelf, as though no-one had used it in quite some time.
Scorpius paused at a large black and white illustration. It pictured a person – or, more precisely, a vampire – rising from a shallow grave, baring its fangs which were dripping with blood. Scorpius shivered slightly, and read what was written underneath this illustration:
The transformation into a vampire is a complex and often dangerous process – the weak often do not survive it. To become a vampire one must first ingest a sufficient amount of vampire blood – this can be through the mouth, an open flesh wound or other methods – and then must die while this blood is in their system. They must be buried underground and climb out of their own grave – not all have the physical strength to accomplish this. To complete the transformation the ‘fledgling’, which is the term for a Halfling or a newly made vampire, must drink human blood from the vein.
Scorpius shuddered slightly, and turned to the next page. It was interesting, in a morbid sort of way, he thought, but not what he was looking for. His Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Winchester, had asked for an essay on the mythology of vampires, which was due in a few short days. Scorpius couldn’t believe that he hadn’t finished the essay yet. It was completely unlike him.
There was a loud snigger from the table where the seventh year Slytherins were sitting. A sharp pain suddenly flared up in Scorpius’ chest, and he couldn’t resist looking over at them. There were four of them: Satrina Roland, Malik Zabini, William Sloan and Ismene Nott. Ismene Nott was their leader, and Scorpius’ least favourite person in the entire school. She was part of the reason Scorpius had no friends in this hellhole, and spent all his time in the library, by himself. She was beautiful – she had big dark eyes and long black hair, like Snow White in the Muggle fairytale. The moment he had seen her, Scorpius had fallen in love with her. And she’d treated him like dirt, and made sure that everyone knew it. That horrible, sick feeling rose in Scorpius’ stomach as he thought about it, all the pain Ismene had put him through, and he turned away from their table sharply, feeling like he was about to vomit. He flipped through a few pages of the book, but he could still hear them murmuring. Instinctively, he wondered if they were talking about him.
Scorpius had come to a promising looking passage about the myth of an Italian man called Ambrogio, who was said to be the first vampire. Trying to concentrate and ignore the disruptive murmurings a couple of tables over, Scorpius bent his head and began to read:
Ambrogio was an Italian adventurer who, on his travels to Greece, fell in love with a beautiful maiden called Selene. Apollo, the God of the sun, had been watching, and when he saw that Ambrogio was planning on taking Selene back to Italy with him, he grew very angry and cursed Ambrogio so that the touch of sunlight would burn his skin and cause him great pain. Ambrogio fled and hid in a cave, where Hades, the god of the Underworld made a deal with Ambrogio: if he stole the silver bow of Artemis, he would give his blessings to both Selene and Ambrogio, so that they could live together for eternity…
“What’s the freak reading, do you suppose?”
Ismene’s voice rang out across the library, loud and clear, designed for Scorpius to hear. He didn’t even need to think about who the ‘freak’ might be. His hands began to shake and he clenched them into fists. Don’t let her get under your skin, he tried to tell himself, but even in his head his voice was shaking, don’t do anything you’ll regret. It’s what she wants. He bent his head and tried to keep reading the story of Ambrogio and Selene, but the words were blurring together on the parchment.
“Look at him, sitting there all by himself,” Ismene said, giggling girlishly. “How has he not got any friends?”
“What was it you called him the other day, Ismene?” Satrina Roland asked. Her voice was light and girly, which didn’t match her bulky, square physique at all. “A panty-sniffer?”
Ismene let out a shrill shriek of laughter. “You hear that, freak?” she said loudly. “You’re a panty-sniffer!”
Scorpius was shaking all over. He ground his teeth together, staring down at the table. The library was his place. His place to get away from the world, to be with the only person who gave a damn: himself. Why couldn’t they just leave him alone? Once, he’d wanted to be one of them. To be ‘cool’, to be respected like his father once was. Now he just wanted them to leave him alone. He was past caring.
“You know Is, I don’t think he even knows what that means,” said William with a snort.
“Look at him,” Ismene sneered. “Sitting there with his lovely big book, shaking all over. Hey, freak!” she called out. “I bet I know what you want to do right now! You want to curse me, don’t you? Well, go on then! I’m right here!”
Scorpius felt his left hand twitch. His wand was shoved into his pocket. It was right there. And he knew a thousand different curses. Nasty ones. He knew some curses so old that his father hadn’t even used them, not even in the war against Lord Voldemort. Reading was his favourite pastime and he’d had plenty of time to read up on dark magic.
He knew how to boil ones blood to a temperature so hot that they died. He knew how to break someone’s neck with a single wave of his wand. He knew how to make someone feel like a hundred scorpions were crawling around beneath their skin, to the point of madness. He knew how to turn someone’s flesh inside out, drawing it out slowly, painfully.
He could use any of those curses on Ismene Nott. And he wanted to. Oh, how he wanted to.
But he wouldn’t. He would show restraint.
He slammed the book shut, his hands still shaking. The effort of trying to ignore Ismene and her gang’s antagonising comments was taking a lot of effort out of him, and when he unclenched his palms it was to find them bloodless, yet sticky with sweat. He wiped them on his robes, carefully placed the book about vampires in his bag and swung it over his shoulder. He would go into the restricted section, find a couple more helpful books and then take them back to the dormitory, to study there. If William and Malik were at the library, then it would probably be empty. And he would have some peace.
“Aw, did we hurt your feelings?” Ismene crooned, as Scorpius walked stoutly towards the restricted section, which was separated from the rest of the library by a rather low rope fence. Most students had to get a note of permission from one of their teachers to use it, even the seventh years. But Scorpius was in the library so often that the seemingly ageless librarian, Madam Pince, had given him permission to use it whenever he wished. He was, after all, Hogwarts’ best student.
“He can’t even stand up for himself, it’s pathetic,” said Malik in his smooth, slimy voice. “He clearly doesn’t have a pair of balls…”
“I do,” said Scorpius quietly. He didn’t turn around to face them, though he knew that all four of his fellow Slytherins had heard him, because there was sudden silence.
Then Ismene made a gurgling noise, like she was trying to hold back a snort of laughter, and said; “Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that?”
“I do have a pair of balls,” Scorpius said, more loudly, which only resulted in a cacophony of laughter from his peers.
“I’m glad we sorted that out,” Malik said, and they all laughed even harder.
Scorpius felt himself flushing, his heart thumping away beneath the layers of flesh and muscle and bone that guarded it. The thumping of his heart, the only thing that was keeping his body moving, working. Such a fragile system. All it would take would be a single curse…and then his heart would stop pumping blood throughout his body and he’d be gone. Maybe it would be better that way.
Scorpius took a long, deep breath of the musty library air, perhaps to remind himself that he was one of the living. Then he continued to walk away from Ismene and her gang of Slytherins, taking slow, deliberate steps.
He journeyed deep into the restricted section, which was more expansive than it looked from the outside. He went far enough that he couldn’t see or hear Ismene and Malik and the others, talking about him. He could only hear the slightly unsteady pounding of blood in his ears.
This area of the restricted section was extremely dark and tall shelves, made of dark wood, towered above and around him. He could barely see his hand when he waved it in front of his face, let alone the titles that were written on the spines of the books.
Scorpius reached a hand into his pocket and drew out his wand, which he clutched fondly in his left hand. Hawthorn and phoenix feather. He always felt safer with his wand in hand. To Scorpius his wand was a sort of safety blanket. A wall between himself and the rest of the world. Lumos, he thought, and a small light flared up at the tip of his wand, lighting his path.
Scorpius continued to walk towards the back of the restricted section, which never seemed to end. Perhaps it never did end. For some reason, he’d never found the back of it, even though he’d explored almost every nook and cranny of the library. He let the light of his wand pass along the spines of each book on the shelf, looking for any mention of vampires or vampire related matter. He had to do well on this essay. He was in his seventh year, his final year of Hogwarts, and every single mark this year was important, especially when it came to Defence Against the Dark Arts, Scorpius’ favourite subject.
Scorpius’ gaze landed on a rather thin book. The black lettering on the spine was fading slightly, but he managed to work out what it said: ‘The Most Ancient Evils’. That sounded promising – although rather sinister, but that was to be expected in the restricted section. Younger students weren’t even allowed in here, note or no note, because some of the books contained material which would likely give them nightmares for weeks.
As Scorpius reached out a pale hand to pull the book from the shelf a sudden chill seemed to sweep through the air and he shivered, wondering where it had come from. Was there possibly a door open somewhere?
His hand closed around the book and he pulled it from the shelf. He placed it in his bag, alongside the other book, and was just about to turn and leave when something rather peculiar caught his eye.
There was a narrow gap in the space which had once contained ‘The Most Ancient Evils’ but that wasn’t what caught Scorpius’ attention. Behind it, in the place where the dark wood shelf should have been, was another book. Scorpius couldn’t have said how he knew, but something told him that this book was different to the others. Special.
Almost unconsciously, he found himself leaning in towards it, his whole body quivering slightly in a sort of nervous anticipation, the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end. He was breathing very heavily, and the puffs of air that were emitting from his mouth could be seen hovering in front of him, in the unnaturally cold air.
Scorpius’ eyes widened as he neared the book. Because written on its spine, in clear, golden letters, was the name ‘Scorpius’. A horrible sort of shudder engulfed Scorpius’ body. He suddenly felt as though he’d been pushed face first into a bath filled with icy water. He knew immediately that there was something off about this book, about this whole situation. Intellectually he knew that he should back away, get out of the library and go back to the dormitory.
But there was something so…alluring about this book. Something that entranced him, ensnared him, like an animal caught in a hunter’s trap.
He closed his hands around the book, and pulled it from the shelf.
He thought, once he’d touched it, he’d feel something. A coldness. A darkness. Something spreading through his veins, like poison in his blood. But he felt nothing. Just his usual emptiness.
With wide grey eyes, he opened the book. His fingers were steady. The pages were thin, as spidery and delicate as cobwebs. He turned through them carefully, seeing but taking nothing in.
And then, quite suddenly, there was the tiny clanking sound of metal against wood. Somewhat surprised, Scorpius looked down to see that small ring had dropped from between the pages of the book and landed on the bench that ran along the bottom of the bookshelf.
He put the book down, and paused for only a moment before picking the ring up and holding it to eye level, examining it closely.
It was silver – not just painted silver but real, pure silver. It looked old, and was slightly stained with rust. The band was plain and thin, but there was a large bulky design on the front of it – a crest of some kind, by the looks of it. A small crescent moon and a tiny bird of some sort beneath it – a raven, perhaps. A miniature red gemstone glinted from the bird’s eye. It was a big, tacky thing. And yet, at the same time, it was beautiful.
Where had it come from? And what was it doing inside a book that said my name? Scorpius knew he should probably be asking himself these questions. Somewhere, at the back of his mind, a tiny voice was screaming at him to not be so foolish. The ring couldn’t have just come out of nowhere. And yet somehow…it had appeared to him.
Ismene’s face suddenly appeared in Scorpius’ mind. He saw her dark eyes, narrowed in disgust as she looked at him, her thin lips curving upwards into a sneer. And he remembered the pain he felt every morning when he woke up and went down to breakfast. How he sat at the very end of the Slytherin table, alone.
He didn’t hesitate for a second longer. He slid the ring onto the middle finger of his left hand.
Hey there! Welcome to my new story! The idea for it hit me randomly, and I was surprised at how easily the words came tumbling out. Anyway, this is going to be about five chapters long, so it would be awesome if you could stick around till the end, and maybe take a little time to review?
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