Chapter 2 : Hypothermia
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Scorpius shivered slightly, hunching his shoulders against the harsh wind. It was late November – only a few more days until December – and the weather was rapidly worsening. It hadn’t snowed – not yet – but the sky was a bleak, dull grey colour and the heavy storm clouds in the distance threatened evening rain. The trees that surrounded the Black Lake, which Scorpius was sitting next to, were completely bare – they were thin, twisting skeletons, wavering slightly in the wind. The lake itself was grey like the sky, but perfectly smooth, reminding Scorpius of the glass of a mirror.
If anyone looked out one of the windows of the castle and saw him sitting, perched on the lake’s bank, they’d think he was insane. Maybe he was. Most people didn’t go and sit outside to study when winter was on its way. But though he shivered, though intellectually he knew it was cold, Scorpius didn’t really feel it. It was most peculiar. He even looked like he belonged to the winter with his pale skin, fair hair, grey eyes and lips that were rapidly going white.
Scorpius had been meaning to go to the library after Defence Against the Dark Arts, to complete his vampire paper for Professor Winchester, but for some reason his feet had dragged him out here, and he’d sat down on the bank, watched the water for a while before picking up his quill and beginning to write. He was almost finished with his essay. Now, he picked it up and read the last paragraph he had written:
Because Ambrogio and Selene could not have children Ambrogio started the first vampire clan in Florence, Italy. The vampires in this clan were humans who volunteered to trade their souls for immortality and power. When a civil war begun within the clan, many vampires left for other locations to begin their own clans and thus the species of vampires were born.
Scorpius smiled. He was quite pleased with his essay – now he only needed a concluding paragraph stating a few different facts about what was myth and what was reality when it came to such things as garlic, holy water and crosses. As he dipped his quill in his pot of ink, which was balanced precariously on his knee, the ring that he now wore on his middle finger glinted brightly, catching Scorpius’ eye. Scorpius smiled at it fondly. He’d only been wearing it for a day or two, but something about it felt…right. Like he was meant to have it. Like it was made for him, and him alone.
He gently brushed the tip of the quill against the edge of the pot, brushing off excess ink. He had just touched the quill to his piece of parchment when there was an extremely loud splashing noise from the lake.
The noise was so sudden and so unexpected that Scorpius let out a yell of shock, his knees jerking uncontrollably.
“Crap,” he muttered sombrely, looking down at his trousers. The ink pot had been knocked sideways, causing a large dark stain to spread across his leg.
Scorpius looked up at the lake, where the loud noise had come from. His eyes widened in alarm as the source of the noise became immediately evident.
A tall, thin girl was rising from the lake, a smile plastered to her heart-shaped face. Scorpius’ heart thudded in his chest as he stared at her, so hard he was half worried it was going to burst out. For a few moments he wondered what on earth this girl was doing, swimming in the lake. It must be absolutely, unbearably freezing this time of year. But then all thoughts of the temperature of the water disappeared from his mind as the girl walked slowly towards him, ribbons of water running from her hair and body.
Scorpius thought she looked like some kind of unearthly being – a fallen angel, perhaps. She was so beautiful, so unreal that she couldn’t possibly be from this realm. Her skin was porcelain-pale and her long white-blonde hair was even fairer than Scorpius’. She had huge baby blue eyes and long eyelashes. She was wearing only a thin white dress with small lacy straps. Her legs seemed to go on forever. Scorpius could only stare at her.
She reached the bank of the lake, and smiled a strange sort of smile when she saw Scorpius looking at her. Scorpius felt himself flushing, and looked away quickly. He wasn’t very good around people, especially attractive females – especially because it was usually attractive females who mocked and teased him.
Therefore, he was even more surprised when the girl said; “Hello, Scorpius.”
Scorpius looked up in alarm. The girl was standing right in front of him, soaking wet but apparently not cold at all. Her wet hair was flying around her face in the wind, as was her thin white dress. Her skin was so pale she could almost have been a ghost.
“H-How do you know my name?” Scorpius asked, embarrassed that he had stumbled over his words.
The girl laughed. She had a light, musical laugh, like bird song. “You’re in my year, silly,” she said. When Scorpius only looked at her blankly, she smiled. “Slytherins. You never know anyone but the people in your own house. I’m in Ravenclaw.”
Scorpius frowned slightly. “N-No,” he said, shaking his head and looking at his knees. “I-I would know if you were in my year. I would remember you.”
The girl laughed again. “Why would you remember me?”
“B-Because you’re…” Scorpius trailed off awkwardly, feeling heat rush into his face again.
“I’m Ophelia,” the girl said, and when Scorpius looked up, she was smiling. As he looked at her, he was suddenly struck by how…kind she looked. How much compassion was in her eyes when she looked at him. Normally when people looked at Scorpius, there was a glint of malice, or ridicule or cruelty in their expressions. But Ophelia had none of that. She just smiled sweetly at him, her blue eyes shining.
“What were you doing in the lake?” Scorpius found himself saying. “Aren’t you freezing?” The words tumbled from his mouth, without his permission.
Ophelia shrugged. “I’m so used to the cold that I don’t really feel it anymore,” she said. “What are you doing out here?” She strode forward, and before Scorpius could register what she was doing, she’d crouched down beside him and pulled his vampire paper out of his hands.
“Hey! Be careful with that!” Scorpius said, eying her nervously. “That’s a…a very important essay.”
Ophelia wrinkled up her nose. It was strange, Scorpius thought, that expression would make most people look ridiculous, but on Ophelia it just…made her look even more beautiful. Scorpius doubted she could ever not look beautiful.
“Pfft,” Ophelia said. “Boring.”
“I-It’s not boring!” Scorpius said. “Defence Against the Dark Arts is my favourite class! And vampires are a very complex species. Most people think they are beasts. Ever since the second Wizarding war witches and wizards have been more lenient, more compassionate towards the plight of werewolves, but vampires are seen as nothing more than beasts. We even have hunters…”
“No offence, but I don’t really care,” Ophelia said lightly, handing the piece of parchment back to Scorpius. She stood up, brushing a strand of blonde hair behind her ears. Scorpius felt his heart sink as she turned away from him, back towards the lake. Great. The first girl he’d ever talked to properly, and he’d already blown it. She probably thought he was boring. Maybe she even thought he was a freak, like the rest of school. Maybe she was thinking it right now.
The thought made him feel cold. He looked down at the ring on his left hand, and began turning it round and round his finger.
“That’s a cool ring,” Ophelia said unexpectedly.
Scorpius looked up. She was still standing in exactly the same place. “What?” he said uncertainly.
“I said, that’s a cool ring,” Ophelia turned around, and smiled at him. “Where did you get it? Did you father give it to you?”
Scorpius bit his lip. Of course she had to mention his father. Scorpius loved his dad with his all his heart. He had always been there for him, providing for him, making sure that he had everything he needed. Ever since the end of the war, he’d worked hard to make the name of Malfoy respectable again, to forget the past. But many people still held grudges against him, one of the reasons Scorpius was such an outcast at Hogwarts.
“No,” Scorpius said, wincing at the defiance in his tone. He hardly ever spoke so brusquely. “No, I…found it.”
There was a long silence. Though he didn’t want to look at her, Scorpius’ eyes kept flicking in Ophelia’s direction. She was standing still, impassive, like a statue made of glass. Her face was unreadable.
Finally, she smiled. Scorpius realised now that it was the most beautiful, most captivating smile he had ever seen. Her lips were very red – the only colour on her body – and her teeth were straight and white. Scorpius never wanted her to stop smiling.
“Go in the lake with me,” Ophelia said.
Scorpius’ eyes widened. “W-What?” he stammered.
Ophelia laughed. “You need to have more fun, Scorpius Malfoy,” she said. “You’ll never make any friends if you just sit around doing homework all day. You do want to have friends, don’t you?”
Scorpius nodded wordlessly, and Ophelia’s smile broadened.
“I can be your friend,” she said. “I know you’d like that. I can tell by the way you look at me. And my answer is yes. You can be my friend.”
Scorpius stared at her. “I can?”
“Oh yes,” Ophelia said. “But first you have to prove yourself to me. Prove that you’re the kind of friend I want to have. The kind who knows how to be wild.” She held out a hand. She had thin, dainty fingers and long nails. “Take my hand,” she said. “We’ll jump in together. And I won’t let you go. I promise.”
Scorpius believed her. He wanted to believe every word that came out of those perfect red lips. He got to his feet, his vampire essay falling to the ground. He walked slowly towards Ophelia and placed his hands in hers. Their fingers intertwined. Her skin was like cold marble.
“Very good,” Ophelia said softly, and her voice was like a chant. She tugged Scorpius’ hand slightly, and they moved into the lake.
The water hit Scorpius’ legs like shards of ice. He began to shiver, his teeth chattering together, his legs going numb. Every instinct he had was screaming at him to get out of the water, to go back to the common room and sit by the fire. But Ophelia’s grip was firm, and as she tilted back her head and laughed at the sky, her hair a pale halo around her face, Scorpius felt his lips twitching into a smile. Ophelia was…entrancing.
As the lake water hit his mid chest, a horrible aching feeling spread through Scorpius’ muscles, but Ophelia just looked over at him, and said; “Are you not having fun, Scorpius?”
Scorpius shook his head. “N-Not really,” he said.
Ophelia giggled and looked straight at him, her eyes very round and blue. “You will,” she said. And then she reached out a hand and splashed him. As the icy grey water splattered against Scorpius’ face, a sudden warmth spread through his body, and he smiled. Suddenly all his worries disappeared. He forgot about Ismene and her gang of Slytherins, he forgot about the vampire paper and he forgot about the cold and his fear.
For the first time in a long time, he laughed. It was a foreign sound to him, slightly scratchy from disuse, but it was a good sound nevertheless.
“There!” said Ophelia triumphantly, closing her eyes and lying down, so that she was floating on top of the water. “You’re having fun now, aren’t you? Isn’t the water lovely?”
Scorpius nodded. “It is,” he said, and he lay back and closed his eyes. The water lapped gently around his ears. Somehow, his hand found Ophelia’s, and she threaded her slim fingers through his.
Scorpius smiled. For the first time in a long time, he felt content.
“He’s got a severe case of Hypothermia,” someone was saying, as if from a great distance.
Scorpius realized two things at once: one, that he was lying down with his eyes closed and two: that he his whole body was shaking from the cold. He was oddly drowsy, as though he’d just woken up from a pleasant afternoon nap, and he didn’t seem to be functioning properly. His eyes weren’t working and all the noises around him blurred together slightly. He tried to open his mouth to speak, but no sound came out. What was going on? Where was Ophelia?
“Thank goodness you found him when you did, Rose,” someone said. “Otherwise I fear he could’ve…”
“But he’s going to be alright, isn’t he?” a slightly familiar voice said – brusque and a little husky.
“Yes, yes, he’ll be fine,” the person – a woman – talking, sounded impatient. “Here wrap him in this blanket. There’s a spell I can do to reduce the cold…”
Scorpius suddenly felt a heavy blanket being placed across his body, a pair of rough hands briefly touching his neck before withdrawing.
“There,” the impatient woman said, and Scorpius suddenly felt a great warmth spreading through his veins, like he’d just engulfed a great portion of hot chicken soup, like his mother always made when he was sick. “That should do the trick.”
“He looks so pale.”
“That’s the hypothermia talking, my dear. The spell should’ve taken away most of the cold, but I’m going to fetch him a Pepper-Up Potion, just in case. You stay here with him,” the woman speaking added firmly.
“Yes, yes, of course.”
Scorpius slowly opened his eyes and saw that he was staring up at a plain white ceiling. He knew immediately where he was: the Hospital Wing.
“Oh, you’re awake now, are you?” the husky voice said. Scorpius turned his head slightly and saw Rose Weasley sitting on a chair beside his bed, looking at him with intense dislike. Scorpius frowned slightly. She looked the same as she always did: bushy red hair, a splattering of freckles across her face and a self-satisfied, confident smirk on her face.
On his first day of Hogwarts, Scorpius’ father had told him to stay well away from Rose Weasley. He’d said that she’d only be bad news. Scorpius had listened to his advice. Rose Weasley was his least favourite person in the school – well, apart from Ismene Nott.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, in what he hoped was a demanding tone.
“Seriously?” Rose looked disgusted. “Is that honestly how you’re going to greet the person who just saved your damn life?”
Rose rolled her eyes impatiently. “You complete moron,” she said calmly. “I found you, floating on top of the Black Lake. I thought you were dead. It was me who brought you to the Hospital Wing. You were unconscious. I couldn’t find a pulse. If it weren’t for me you wouldn’t even be here right now.”
Scorpius stared at her. He knew he should say thank you. He knew that was the right thing to do. But he didn’t understand what was going on. He didn’t understand how he’d ended up here, with Rose Weasley sitting by his side, looking down on him like he was a piece of scum.
“Where’s Ophelia?” he asked, his voice slightly hoarse.
Rose raised her eyebrows in disdain. “Who?”
Scorpius suddenly felt panicked. Rose hadn’t found Ophelia? What did that mean? What if she was floating, face down, in the Black Lake right now?
“There was a girl,” Scorpius said desperately. He didn’t care who Rose was, he had to make her understand. Understand that Ophelia’s life could be in mortal danger. “There was a girl with me. Is she…did you find her too?”
“There was no girl with you, Malfoy,” Rose said irritably. “Maybe you were imagining things.”
“N-No,” Scorpius said, struggling to sit up. The effort sent jolts of pain through is arms and neck. “N-No, she was there. I swear it…”
“Lie back down, you twat,” Rose said, pushing him back down onto the bed without much care. “Jesus, do you want to make yourself sick all over again?”
Scorpius didn’t say anything. His heart was pounding. What had happened to Ophelia? Where was she? Did she get out of the lake?
“Here we are,” a second voice suddenly said, and the nurse matron bustled over, holding a large goblet in one hand. She smiled approvingly when she saw that Scorpius was conscious. She shoved the goblet into his hand. “Here you go,” she said. “Drink up.”
Scorpius accepted the goblet wordlessly and drunk all of the potion that was in it. It tasted like pepper.
“How do you feel?” the matron asked, observing Scorpius with her hands on her wide hips.
“I-I feel fine,” Scorpius said, although that wasn’t completely true. Physically, he felt a lot better, but he couldn’t stop worrying about Ophelia.
“Good,” said the matron. “But I’m afraid you’re going to have to stay here overnight, just in case.”
Scorpius nodded. The Hospital Wing was better than the dormitory, where Malik Zabini and William Sloan were bound to make fun of him.
“What about you, Miss Weasley?” the matron asked briskly. “Are you staying here with Mr Malfoy?”
“No,” Rose said abruptly, getting to her feet and patting down her bushy hair slightly. “No, I’m sure he’s fine here by himself.”
She walked out of the Hospital Wing without another word. Scorpius watched her go, feeling a twinge of sadness inside his chest. Once again, he was alone.
“Hey!” Someone was slapping Scorpius’ face gently. “Hey! Scorpius!”
Scorpius groaned and opened his eyes. He almost let out a shout of shock. Ophelia was perched on his bed, smiling down at him. The Hospital Wing was very dark – it had to be past midnight – and it was also very cold. Scorpius’ bed was the only one occupied, making the room feel a lot bigger than it really was. Ophelia’s pale hair seemed to shimmer in the darkness and her pale skin shone slightly.
“Ophelia!” Scorpius murmured, rubbing at his weary eyes. “What are you doing here?”
Ophelia, still crouching right next to him, her face only inches from his, laughed loudly. Scorpius looked around anxiously, afraid someone was going to hear. He wasn’t sure he was meant to have guests in the middle of the night.
“Oh, don’t worry,” Ophelia said, as though reading his thoughts. “No-one’s going to hear me, silly!”
“W-Where did you go?” Scorpius asked her uncertainly. “After the lake?”
Ophelia frowned slightly, making her look even more innocent and girlish than usual. Scorpius noticed that she was still wearing the thin white dress from the lake. Her eyes were wide, and looked a deep, midnight shade of blue in the darkness. “What do you mean?” she asked, sounding confused.
“I was unconscious,” Scorpius said. “From the cold. Rose Weasley rescued me. But she didn’t rescue you.”
Ophelia giggled. “I didn’t need rescuing!” she said. “I got out of there by myself and went back to the Ravenclaw tower to get warm.”
“But…what about me?”
Ophelia smiled and stroked Scorpius’ cheek with a pale hand. Her touch sent shivers down Scorpius’ spine, and his pulse raced. Up close she was even more beautiful. Her skin was so pale that he could see the spidery veins under her eyes. “Silly Scorpius,” she said. “You didn’t need my help.”
She wasn’t making any sense. Though she was speaking in perfectly clear English, it was as though she was talking in riddle, or another language. “You almost got me killed,” he sad, and suddenly Scorpius realized how furious he was. “I almost died because of you,” he said, his voice rising.
“I didn’t force you to do anything,” Ophelia said, still smiling. Her lips were the colour of freshly plucked, juicy strawberries. “You made your own choices.”
“Because I wanted a friend,” Scorpius said, his voice shaking. “I thought you could be my friend.”
“I am your friend, Scorpius,” Ophelia said, shaking her head as though Scorpius had just said the most foolish thing in the world. “I’m here, aren’t I?”
“I-I think you should go,” Scorpius said, although he didn’t want her to go, not really. With Ophelia by his side, on his bed to be precise, he felt…whole. Like nothing from his life was missing. Like everything was perfect. And if she left, he knew the hole in his chest would gape open again, that he would feel lonely. A freak.
“Scorpius, Scorpius,” Ophelia said, shaking her head. Her white-blonde hair cascaded down her shoulders, a waterfall of silver. “You had fun, didn’t you? I heard you laugh. Wasn’t it fun, Scorpius?”
There was a sudden bang. Scorpius almost jumped out of his skin. The door of the Hospital Wing office had opened. He heard footsteps, pattering on the stone floors, coming towards him.
“Someone’s coming!” he hissed. “Ophelia! You can’t be here! Go – now!”
Ophelia smiled sweetly. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Scorpius,” she said. She bent and kissed Scorpius on the cheek. Then she hurried away, disappearing into the shadows.
Breathing very heavily, Scorpius raised a hand and touched his cheek lightly. The spot where Ophelia had kissed burned.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter! Why not leave a review in that lonely little box down there?
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