The corridors looked bleak in the moonlight, draining all colors from the tapestries and washing out the stone floors. Silence charms were their best friends as they made their ways back to their dorms after curfew, which for the sixth years was ten o’clock, unless with a note from a Professor or Madame Pince.
Since Scorpius was in first year, he had been able to cast a Disillusionment Charm on himself. He had kindly taught his three friends how to do so that very same year, making it easier to go on nighttime wanderings and not need to find a hiding place for the Cloak all of the time. Albus took it to school every year just for show so that his father didn’t become suspicious; he knew his son too well, because if he didn’t take it, how would he commit mischief? Those were questions Albus didn’t want to waste time answering.
“It’s the weekend!” said Albus, stretching mightily as he walked, making his voice sound a little off for a second.
“And you’ll sleep through most of it, just like any other one,” said Rose, poking her cousin in the ribs before he could put his arms down, causing him to jump. They all snickered as Albus twitched.
Scorpius added, “It’s not like we all won’t. It happens every weekend we have a Quidditch match: both of the teams are so knackered that they don’t show their ugly mugs until dinner on Saturday.” He smirked to rival his father. “However, some of us have better things to do than to lie in bed all day and screw up their sleeping patterns.”
“Just because you’re an insomniac…” started Azalea.
“Not all of us can survive on five hours of sleep a week and be as wide-eyed and bushy tailed as you, Hamlet,” grumbled Albus. “Some of us need eight to ten hours…a night. That’s just not healthy.”
“You all disgust me, anyways,” chided Rose, strutting through them. She turned and grinned wickedly. “Beat you to the common room!”
With a simultaneous roar of glee, thankfully covered up by the Silence Charm, Scorpius and Albus took off after her. They knew that they couldn’t beat Rose, who was called Mercury sometimes during Quidditch practice when they ran because of her nimble strides. The two boys merely wanted to shove and beat each other to the finish line to see who could get there first.
Azalea laughed aloud at the sight of all three of them, sprinting down the corridor. Rose turned the corner before Scorpius and Albus even had a chance to get a few feet from where they were.
Taking her sweet time, Azalea lapped up the mystery and aura of the quiet halls of Hogwarts just after midnight. She expected a lot of the parties would be dispersing, or people would be too drunk to move at least, within the next couple hours. No matter how tired she was she didn’t relish in the idea of going into the common room until most of the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs had gone. The Slytherins had most likely come for a few minutes and left after having their fill of Gryffindor’s sweets and drink.
The moonlight shone softly through the window panes, illuminating a small nook between a suit of armor and the wall. It looked promising to take a small nap in.
As she sat down, settling herself in, she worried over Rose. She was being quite clammy about her supposed misadventure a few nights before, and it irked Azalea that she didn’t feel comfortable talking about it with her, her best friend and confidant. How many secrets had she shared with her over the years?
All these thoughts spun through her head, slowly weaving into a net of thoughts and feelings that cradled her as she fell asleep.
“Too bad about that girl, mate,” guffawed a voice at the end of the corridor, “She’s a surefire catch.”
A mere grunt responded, a bit higher in pitch than the first voice. A loud clap rent the still air.
“Don’t worry, there are a lot of other fiery Gryffindors to shag in Hogwarts, much better than Rose Weasley,” said the first, his hand patting the back of the second consolingly. Unfortunately, their voice wasn’t very convincing, since they sighed a little when they said the name “Rose”.
Azalea woke up a little more as she heard the second push the first…or was it the other way around? She couldn’t tell, since she was still frozen in her hiding place and they hadn’t passed where she could see them. But as they did, she couldn’t help but take in a sharp breath.
It was two Slytherin seventh years, both on the Quidditch team that year. Horace Avery was a Chaser and Quinton Yaxley was both Keeper and the Captain of this year’s team. She shivered as she saw the two walls of muscle tread drunkenly down the hall. Now she knew that the taller and wider Quinton had spoken first, answered by the shorter, but better-built Horace. Azalea noted that Quinton’s shoulders shook a bit from amusement, it seemed, and Horace’s shoulders were brought up in shame.
Sadly, they had heard her intake of breath.
Muffled and empty, the sound of his name being called only just woke him up, as if it had been in his dream. Groggily, he rubbed his eyes, looking around for who had called him. It had sounded like someone was down in the common room, and was yelling up the staircase to the boy’s dorms. Getting up and out of bed, slipping in his stocking feet on the wood floor as he did, he went over to Scorpius’ bed and shook him, waking him up immediately.
“What? What is it?” yawned Scorpius, sitting up on his elbows.
“Did you hear someone calling my name just now?” whispered Albus, wrapping his robe around himself to block the chill of the room as he stood in nothing but a Quidditch hoodie and practice shorts.
“No, why?” Scorpius answered, a little irritated that Albus had woken him up from a deep sleep, and for no apparent reason. He rolled back over before Albus could give an answer, pulling the covers up to his chin against the cool air.
“Hear it now?” stage whispered Albus.
But Scorpius was already in his robe and almost out the door, followed closely by Albus. He thought about getting his wand for a second, but he thought he heard the voice call his name again and the thought flew from his mind. They bounded down the stairs and out the portrait hole, much to the exasperation of the Fat Lady.
Rounding on the portrait, Albus said, “Did you hear someone calling our names just now?”
She rubbed her eyes indignantly and pointed with one pudgy finger (which was also posing as a rude gesture) in the direction which the voice had called from. Sprinting, robes flapping behind them like bat wings, they .
“It sounded like Azalea to me,” huffed Albus as he made up for Scorpius’ long strides with his slightly shorter legs.
“I’m sure it was,” said Scorpius. “She sounded…I don’t know.”
“Scared,” finished Albus solemnly, running even faster down the corridor. It was the same one that they had started racing Rose from earlier that evening. It was almost as if it had gained a spooky feel, even though the moonlight was brighter in the windows, considering it had been three hours since they had been there last.
“ALBUS! SCORPIUS! HELP M-!”
Scorpius and Albus slid to a stop in front of a nearly dismantled suit of armor. Two dark figures were struggling with a smaller, red-robed one. The smaller was kicking and would have been screaming bloody murder if their mouth wasn’t covered by the heavily muscled, and quite grimy, hand of one of the bigger ones.
“Bloody hell, you’re a little fiery…”
“Do you really want to finish that sentence?”
Scorpius was shaking in anger as he stalked up to Quinton and took him by his shirt, throwing the Quidditch captain against the wall of the nook before he even knew what had hit him. Scorpius chanced a glance over to the other attacker, and saw that Quinton’s goony, Horace, still had his pudgy hand over Azalea’s mouth. Her eyes were as wide as they could be; bright with fear and tears she hadn’t shed.
With a roar, Albus yanked Quinton down by his hair since the Slytherin had a significant height advantage over Albus and leaped over him, landing a hard right hook and a quick left uppercut to Horace’s cheek and stomach, respectively. This broke the hold he had on Azalea, giving the dazed and shaking girl a chance to dodge away to the common room, letting all hell break loose behind her.
Scorpius chided himself for forgetting his wand as he landed blow after blow into the stomach and upper torso of Quinton, by far the larger of the two and his better match, getting his face every so often. He wanted to leave bruises on his handsome face, and scars that he wouldn’t forget. Albus was wasting Horace, even though his wand was tucked away into the pocket of his robe.
“Don’t-you-ever-bloody-touch-her-AGAIN!” bellowed Albus, landing a blow for each word he said.
By now, both boys were crying with pain, even though they had gotten in a few good hits of their own. They didn’t have rage and pure vengeful thoughts on their side, having been ambushed in their dirty act.
For a minute, it looked like Horace would gain the upper hand when he pushed Albus off of himself and scooted backwards a few feet while stars burst in Albus’ vision after hitting his head against the shin of the suit of armor. Finally, Albus’ scrabbled into his pocket and he rushed over and pinned Horace to the ground, and to make sure he couldn’t get away like that again, he straddled his torso. Jabbing his wand into the soft space under the Slytherin’s jaw, he hissed, “Don’t make me use the Cutting Curse, Whore-ass.”
At this, the big, bad Slytherin whimpered and let his lower lip tremble pitifully. “Please,” he begged in a whisper, “please, no…”
By now, Scorpius had Quinton pinned to the wall by the collar of his shirt, Scorpius’ deft fingers digging into his own victim’s jaw line, forcing his head to face what Albus was doing. A large, purpling bruise outlined the left side of Quinton’s face, where Scorpius’ dominant right hand had made the most connections, shining a bit in the moonlight. He’d be hard-pressed to explain that away.
“I swear to Merlin,” said Albus, his voice shaking with rage as his wand started bruising the Slytherin’s neck, “if you come anywhere near Azalea, or Rose for that matter, I will use the Cutting Curse on you, so help me God! And that goes for you, too, Quinton, and all of your bloody Quidditch cronies!”
With a swift kick to the side, he leaped off of Horace and gave a swift uppercut to Quinton for good measure, knocking the wind out of him as he jogged away, ignoring his own bruised and scarred knuckles. Scorpius threw Quinton to the ground next to his sobbing housemate, gasping for air like a beached fish.