Chapter 3 : Sanguinem Ulcus
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Scorpius turned, eyes widening in surprise when he saw Ophelia, pulling back a chair so that she could sit down beside him.
“W-What are you doing here?” Scorpius said uncertainly, looking around at the rest of the class. Nobody was paying any attention to him – they never did. Every Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson, Scorpius sat at the back of the class, by himself. At the moment, Ismene Nott and her gang of Slytherins were grouped together at the front of the class, talking loudly. Rose Weasley and her cousin, Albus Potter were laughing about something with their Gryffindor friends. Even the Ravenclaws, sitting right in front of Professor Winchester’s desks with their books and quills out, were talking to each in quiet murmurs.
Ophelia rolled her eyes. “I’m in this class, silly,” she said, flicking her pale blonde hair behind her ears. She sat down beside Scorpius and began to take her supplies out of her bag. Scorpius felt his pulse quicken. She was sitting very close to him. Close enough that he could count every one of her long, dark eyelashes, close enough that he could see the shine of her dark red lip-gloss. Scorpius tried to avert his eyes, tried to look down at his vampire essay in front of him, but he couldn’t help but notice that the top few buttons of Ophelia’s school blouse were undone. Every time she leaned forward, the collar gaped slightly…
Scorpius felt himself going red as Ophelia smiled at him – she’d clearly noticed that he was watching her.
“Why are you sitting with me?” Scorpius asked. “Why not over there, with all the other Ravenclaws?”
Ophelia waved her hand. Her long nails were painted red – the same colour of her lips. “I like you, Scorpius,” she said. “You’re much more interesting than my boring fellow Ravenclaws.”
Scorpius felt his face cracking into a broad grin, a faint flush painting his cheeks. Ophelia liked him. Suddenly, Scorpius wished that Ismene would turn around so that she could see him with the most beautiful girl in the school.
Scorpius was still smiling when the door swung open and Professor Winchester walked into the class. Instantaneously, the class fell silent. Professor Winchester was not the sort of person you wanted to mess with. He looked rather intimidating with his thick black eyebrows, dark hair and sharp jaw, and Scorpius had a feeling that a good percentage of the class was afraid of him. Scorpius, on the other hand, thought he had a rather good relationship with his Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor. Probably because he was the only one who ever handed in homework on time.
“Settle down, class,” Professor Winchester said, in his slightly drawling voice. Of course, there was no need for him to say ‘settle down’ as everyone was already staring at him like they’d recently been petrified. Ophelia rolled her eyes at Scorpius.
“Your vampire essays are due today,” Professor Winchester continued, looking round the class in a careless sort of way. “If anyone did not complete this essay, know that I will be very…unimpressed.” He gave a lazy flick of the wand, and twenty-four vampire essays flew into a neat stack on the desk behind him. “Excellent,” Professor Winchester said, without smiling. “Now, today we will be moving on to defending ourselves against minor jinxes…”
“Are you serious?” Ophelia suddenly interrupted, raising a single delicate eyebrow. Scorpius stared at her, as did many other members of the class. No-one, not ever, interrupted Professor Winchester when he was talking. It was like having an argument with death itself. “We already did Defensive spells last year.”
Professor Winchester’s mouth turned into a very thin, almost invisible line. “I wasn’t aware that I allowed students to interrupt me while I’m speaking,” he said, his voice quiet. “If you do it again, I will deduct fifty house points.” This threat didn’t seem to worry Ophelia. As soon as Professor Winchester turned away, she just smirked and made an obscene hand gesture. Scorpius stared at her in shock.
“What?” she whispered, her blue eyes twinkling. “He’s a bigot. Someone needs to put him in his place.”
“But…he’s our professor,” Scorpius argued.
Ophelia sighed, and patted his hand gently. Scorpius felt every nerve in his body tingle. “Don’t be boring, Scorpius,” Ophelia said. “Otherwise no-one will want to be your friend.”
Scorpius looked away from Ophelia, his gut clenching slightly. He suddenly noticed, out of the corner of his eye, that Rose Weasley was staring at him, her eyes narrowed in what was clearly confusion.
“That Weasley girl is such a bitch,” Ophelia hissed into Scorpius’ ear. “She thinks she’s better than the rest of us, just because of her last name.”
Scorpius knew she was right. He smirked over at Rose, who gave him a disgusted look, and turned back to the front of the class.
“It’s time to put your knowledge into practise,” Professor Winchester suddenly said and a sense of alarm jolted through Scorpius’ body. He hadn’t been listening to a word the Professor had been saying! “Get into pairs and practise blocking each other’s unfriendly spells,” Professor Winchester continued. When no-one from the class moved, but just stared at him like frightened ducklings, he snapped; “Now!”
Chairs instantly began to scrape and there was chatter scattered across the classroom as the rest of the class got into pairs. Scorpius’ heart pounded unevenly as he looked over at Ophelia, who was now admiring her reflection in a small silver mirror. He twisted the ring that he wore on his left hand anxiously. Would she even want to be his partner?
“Um…Ophelia?” he said, his voice shaking slightly. “Do you…do you want to be my partner?”
Ophelia smiled. “Like you even have to ask, Scorpius,” she said. “Of course I’ll be your partner, silly.”
Scorpius let out a deep breath he had not realized he had been holding.
“Mr Malfoy!” Professor Winchester suddenly barked. Scorpius looked up in alarm. Professor Winchester rarely spoke to him so unkindly. “Have you got yourself a partner?”
Scorpius nodded stoutly. “Yes, sir,” he said.
Professor Winchester’s eyes narrowed in suspicion as though he didn’t believe him, but he didn’t say anything, instead turning and walking in the direction of Rose and Albus Potter, who had partnered up.
Ophelia rolled her eyes at his turned back. “Honestly, it’s like I’m not even visible,” she said. “He just hates me because I never hand in my homework.”
The rest of the class had already started duelling each other. Sparks and flashes of coloured light were flying everywhere. “I-I think we should start now,” Scorpius said, looking at Ophelia nervously.
Ophelia led Scorpius to a free space near the centre of the room. Scorpius withdrew his wand from the pocket of his robes and clutched it carefully in his hand, pointing it at Ophelia. As always, he felt comforted while holding his wand, like he could take on the world.
“Go on then,” Ophelia said, wiggling her fingers teasingly. “Hit me!”
Scorpius felt his grey eyes narrow slightly in concentration. Stupefy, he thought, and a jet of bright red light shot out from the end of his wand. Ophelia giggled and leapt to the side, causing the curse to fly straight towards the front of the class where it ricocheted off the blackboard. Ismene, who had been duelling with Satrina Roland, turned around to look at Scorpius, her eyes alight with malice.
“Aw, is the freak off hitting walls now?” she sneered. “I think you’ve hit a new low, weird kid, even for you.”
“Leave him alone, Miss Nott” said Professor Winchester sharply, who was passing. Ismene shut up at once, but as soon as Professor Winchester had turned his back she made a horrible facial expression at Scorpius, who felt his whole body begin to shake with rage.
“I’m sorry, Scorpius,” Ophelia said, coming to Scorpius’ side, and putting her hand on his shoulder. “I shouldn’t have ducked away from the spell like that.”
Scorpius shook her off. “It’s fine,” he said shortly, although it wasn’t. “I’m used to their teasing.”
Ophelia’s eyes rounded. “You shouldn’t have to put up with it, Scorpius!” she said. “You need to show them that you’re not afraid of them. That you have the power to stand up to them.”
“But I am afraid of them,” Scorpius admitted, his voice dropping to a low whisper. What would his father say if he heard him admitting that he was fearful of his fellow Slytherins? “And I don’t know how to stick up to them.”
“That Nott girl is a petty little fool,” Ophelia said, wrinkling her nose with disgust. “You need to give her a taste of her own medicine.” She leaned very close to Scorpius, and stood on tip-toes to whisper in his ear; “I know that you know how to do it, Scorpius. To make her so afraid of you that she’ll never torment you again. That no-one will ever torment you again. I know about all the curses you’ve read about.”
Scorpius stared at her. How did she know about those? “Don’t you think I’ve thought about using one on her?” he whispered.
“Then why haven’t you?”
“I can’t! I’m too…”
“Afraid,” Ophelia said, sighing slightly. “That’s exactly my point, Scorpius! You can’t be afraid anymore! Use one of your curses, now. While she’s looking the other way.”
Scorpius looked at Ismene. Her back was turned and she was shrieking with laughter – her body-bind curse had just hit Satrina, who was lying motionless on the floor. Scorpius turned quickly to see Ophelia wink at him and he suddenly realized just how much he hated Ismene. He hated her with every fibre in his body; the girl who had made his life at Hogwarts absolutely miserable.
His hand shaking only slightly, he pointed his wand at her back, and tried to remember everything about a curse he’d read – the one that made a person’s blood boil. He let all the hate he felt for Ismene flow throughout his body, strengthening the spell. And then he muttered the incantation: “Sanguinem Ulcus”.
The effect was instant. Ismene’s whole body began to shake. And then she began to scream. As she turned around, Scorpius saw that her face, that her whole body was beginning to turn red. She was burning up from the inside.
As Ismene began to gasp for air, members of the class began to shriek in horror, and Malik Zabini swore loudly and yelled; “For God’s sake, someone help her!”
The class erupted into chaos. Ismene fell to the ground, huge white blisters appearing on her skin. Malik knelt down beside her, holding her hand, William Sloan ran out of the class for help. Professor Winchester pushed his way roughly through the shrieking, horrified crowd of students and fell down by Ismene’s trembling body.
“Do something, Professor!” Malik demanded.
“What do you think I’m doing, Mr Zabini?” Professor Winchester growled, before moving his wand, with surprising gentleness, up and down Ismene’s body, murmuring words Scorpius couldn’t hear under his breath. Opposite him, Malik’s face was ashen.
Scorpius’ whole body was trembling. He began to back away, into the terrified crowd. He couldn’t believe what he’d just done. What a stupid, foolish, terrible, idiotic act he’d just performed. Ismene could have died. And it would’ve been all his fault.
“That was amazing,” Ophelia hissed into his ear, and Scorpius jumped. He’d completely forgotten that she was there.
“I could have killed her,” he said quietly. “I can’t believe you made me do that…”
“I didn’t make you do anything, silly,” Ophelia said. “It was your decision.”
Scorpius stiffened. “I think you should get away from me,” he said. “I think you should get away from me now.”
Ophelia shook her head slowly. “Oh Scorpius, Scorpius,” she said. “You don’t understand, do you?”
Professor Winchester suddenly stood up, and looked towards the rest of the class. Behind him, Ismene was breathing normally again, and the blisters had disappeared from her skin, but she was still rather red, like she’d been out in the sun for far too long.
“Who did this to her?” he demanded. No-one answered, just stared at the Professor in fear. Scorpius felt like he was about to throw up. The Professor was going to find out that it was him, he just knew it. And then he’d be expelled from Hogwarts. He’d never get a successful job and his parents would be so disappointed…
“WHO DID THIS TO HER?” Professor Winchester roared. “IF NO-ONE OWNS UP, I WILL BE TAKING TWENTY HOUSE POINTS FROM EVERY STUDENT IN THIS CLASSROOM!”
“He did it,” Malik suddenly said, standing up and pointing at Scorpius. His eyes were furious. “He did it. Malfoy. I saw him point his wand at Ismene’s back.”
Professor Winchester looked like he was about to perform the Killing Curse, right then and there. “Is this true, Scorpius?” he asked quietly. The rest of the class was absolutely silent. You could hear a pin drop. Scorpius knew he could not lie. Anyway, there were ways to make him tell the truth.
“Y-Yes,” he stammered.
The door of the classroom suddenly flew open and William Sloan appeared followed by the hospital matron and then, to Scorpius’ horror, Headmistress McGonagall. He was well and truly done for.
Professor McGonagall looked from Ismene’s rather limp form to Professor Winchester’s stony expression. “What on earth is going on here?” she demanded.
“Minerva. I’m glad you’re here,” Professor Winchester said brusquely. Scorpius watched with growing horror as Professors McGonagall and Winchester had a murmured conversation in the corner, during which time the hospital matron conjured up a stretcher for Ismene. The rest of the class were murmuring amongst themselves, and were backing away from Scorpius, as if he were Lord Voldemort reincarnated.
Finally, Profess McGonagall stepped towards Scorpius. She looked very grim. “Mr Malfoy,” she said sternly. “My office. Now.”
Scorpius closed his eyes slightly, and followed Professor McGonagall out of the classroom. He could feel the eyes of the rest of the class on his back. As he exited the classroom, he saw Ophelia smiling.
Scorpius sat at the stiff-backed chair in the Headmistress’ office, his clammy hands clenched on his lap, waiting for Professor McGonagall to speak. He knew what was going to happen next. She was going to tell him that he had been expelled from Hogwarts, that he had to go into his dormitory, pack up his trunk and go home. Scorpius’ whole body felt like ice, just thinking about it.
Finally, Professor McGonagall looked up from the letter that she had been writing, and looked at Scorpius through her square spectacles. The disappointment evident in her eyes made Scorpius feel even worse about what he had done.
“You did something very foolish today, Mr Malfoy,” she said.
Scorpius nodded his head and looked down at his knees, unable to meet her eyes. “I know,” he whispered.
“I am writing a letter to your parents at this very moment, telling them of your actions,” Professor McGonagall said. “Mr Malfoy, I regret to tell you that…”
“You’re expelling me, aren’t you?” Scorpius said quietly. “You’re going to make me leave Hogwarts.”
There was a long silence. So long that Scorpius couldn’t help but look up at his Headmistress. There was a rather peculiar expression on her face. Not angry. Slightly inquisitive. Maybe even a little…sad. But that didn’t make any sense.
“I’m not expelling you, Mr Malfoy,” Professor McGonagall said and Scorpius stared at her, his eyes wide, suddenly filled with hope. He wasn’t being expelled! “In my opinion, and all of your teachers agree with me, you’re the best student that Hogwarts has seen in many long years. I know that you have a great future ahead of you, Mr Malfoy.”
“Thank you,” whispered Scorpius. He knew he ought to say more, but he couldn’t seem to find the words. But he was filled with gratitude for Professor McGonagall.
“I must ask you a question, Mr Malfoy,” Professor McGonagall said. “What provoked you into cursing Miss Nott? You have never performed a violent act before…”
“It was stupid,” Scorpius said. “I don’t know why I did. I’m really, really sorry, Professor. I hope you can believe me.”
To Scorpius’ surprise, Professor McGonagall’s expression softened, making Scorpius wonder whether she knew about the difficult time he had at Hogwarts, connecting to other students and putting up with the daily bullying. He was sure she did, and instantly felt ashamed. He was a Malfoy. Malfoy’s weren’t supposed to be mocked by others.
“I do believe you, Mr Malfoy,” Professor McGonagall said. “I am not expelling you, but you will still be punished. As I have already said, I am writing to your parents and you will receive detentions for the rest of the year.”
Scorpius nodded. It was nothing more than he’d expected. It wasn’t like he had anything better to do than detentions, anyway.
“There’s one more thing, Mr Malfoy,” said Professor McGonagall. To Scorpius’ surprise, she picked up a rather large, yellowish envelope from her desk. It had the Ministry of Magic emblem stamped onto the front in green ink. “This is a letter from Harry Potter, the Head of the Auror Office. Professor Winchester wrote him a letter of recommendation, stating that you were the most natural student at Defence Against the Dark Arts he’s ever had.”
She handed him the letter, which Scorpius took uncertainly. He’d come here expecting to be expelled, and now he had a letter from Harry Potter, Head of the Auror Office.
Professor McGonagall actually smiled at Scorpius’ confused expression. “I believe Harry would like to arrange a meeting with you, discussing possible future employment,” she said. “You will have to read the letter to find out the details, of course.”
Scorpius nodded. The fact that Professor Winchester had written a letter of recommendation about him made him feel even more guilty that he’d just used that curse on Ismene. “Thank you,” was all he said.
Professor McGonagall nodded. “You may go now, Mr Malfoy,” she said, dismissing him.
Scorpius stood up, still clutching the letter, and made for the exit. Before he left, however, Professor McGonagall said; “Mr Malfoy?”
Scorpius turned around. To his surprise, Professor McGonagall was holding out a large jar of biscuits.
“Take a biscuit,” she said. “I’m sure you need it.”
Scorpius accepted a ginger newt from the jar and exited the Headmistress’ office, somehow feeling a lot better than he had when he’d gone in. Everything was going to be alright…wasn’t it?
I hope you enjoyed this chapter! Reviews would be lovely!
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