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Disclaimer: Everything you recognise belongs to the wonderful J.K. Rowling. I thank her for being allowed to play with her characters and create my own little world with them. The name ‘Alucard’ was inspired by the Castlevania game series, but the character is in no way connected to them.

Author's Notes: Thank you for betaing, CornishPixie!

~*~

Chapter One – How's Life?

Beautiful day,
Sky falls, you feel like
It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
U2 – Beautiful Day


~*~

It was dark outside. Along the journey, there had been drizzle, rain, heavy rain, slanting rain, and again heavy rain. Though the lights on the Hogwarts Express flickered a bit, they withstood the horrible weather that was crashing down. About thirty minutes were left until the arrival at the Hogsmeade railway station. Students were walking through the train, some already dressed in robes while others were still in Muggle clothing. The compartment door muted their chatter, but they could still be seen walking back and forth or laughing at something their friend said. Some were even looking anxious, peeking into every carriage – probably looking for somebody.

I caught my reflection in the window. Having changed as soon as I got on the train, I was already in my robes. Really, how Muggles could stand walking around everyday wearing those itchy trousers I would never understand. Robes were so much more comfortable in comparison, especially the thin material ones I wore during the summer holidays.

My face was pale. I couldn't do anything about it, apart from times where I turned as red as a lobster of embarrassment. I seemed to be the only one in the family that had that curse. My father and brother only turned a faint pink. My mother was never embarrassed – well, either that or she never showed it.

My hair was blond, also a rather pale colour, but it had a silvery shimmer to it which set me apart from the other males in my family. It was something my mother had too, despite her impossibly dark hair that had somehow avoided the laws of genetics. I liked all of the traits my mother had passed down to me. It was tradition, almost law, that every male in my family tree had grey eyes. Mine were a dark blue. But I was always seen as an exception.

Maybe I should introduce myself first, before you get too caught up in my physical aspects. I'm Alucard Malfoy. Yes, just like the vampire. I don’t know what my mother was thinking when she named me, but I’ve had it my whole life and it’s a bit too late to protest now. My friends call me Alan, however, because I don't like my real name. Not just Alucard, it's Malfoy too. Everyone says I should be proud to be a Malfoy, but really, who cares? It's just a name. And I'm not the heir anyway. I'm the second son. I'm the younger brother.

My older brother's name is Aiden. He's about a year older than me and we don't get along very well. It wasn't always like that, though. I think it started around the time he came back from his first year at Hogwarts. He suddenly started acting very important and never really had time for me, with the exception of telling horrible stories about the teachers. Now that I think of it, I wasn't allowed to play with Aiden anymore after that summer. That was my father's doing. You see; my father has raised Aiden while my mother has raised me. I don't know the details: whenever I ask Mother, tears jump into her eyes and she says that she doesn't want to talk about it. Although she does say that she will tell me someday, after which she will whisper the phrase ‘I love you’. Yeah, I know: weird stuff.

Anyway, Aiden got lessons in Quidditch and the Dark Arts. I got lessons in dancing and Latin. He was taught to be tough. I was taught to be a proper gentleman. Though, according to Mother we were both 'lovely' when we were younger and very much alike in appearance. Well, that hasn't changed. We are both blond, as thin as a stick (though Mother prefers the term ‘slender’), and have sharp features. Though admittedly mine are a bit softer than Aiden's. We have a few personality traits in common as well: sarcastic, ambitious, cunning. Needless to say, we are both in Slytherin House. The only difference might be our outlook on life and the people in it. Like he has been taught, Aiden hates Muggles and Muggleborns. He despises everything non-magic. I don't really care all that much. Then again, I might be a bit biased.

Last year, I fell for a Muggleborn girl. And I don't mean the little-flutters-in-your-stomach stuff. I fell hard. I fell harder than I would ever have thought possible. The fact she was Muggleborn would be enough to drive my mother mad. Though she insisted I always must keep my mind open, she loves the tight purebloods relations and really wanted me to marry a pure-blooded witch 'when I'm ready'. She actually had already found me one. You'll hear about her soon enough: she was my best and only childhood friend.

Anyway, my crush: not only is she a Muggleborn, she's a Gryffindor. I mean, a Gryffindor. Gryffindors and Slytherins aren't supposed to be friends, let alone be a couple and kiss in the castle corridors.

Did I tell you her name yet? It's Louisa Rosario. She's one year my junior, and the perfect example of why opposites attract. I am pale and blond, where she is tanned and black-haired. Her eyes are the darkest brown you could imagine, though it doesn't even come close to black. I would love to talk to her sometime, if I wasn't petrified of the idea that I might stutter and turn scarlet. Damn genes.

And so, we get around to where I'm sitting in the compartment.

I tried to look past my reflection, to the space beyond the window. I cupped my hands against the glass and pressed my head to them, cutting off the light source. Too bad: the window was covered with fog and rain. My breath was forming condensation on it. I pulled back, immediately facing myself again. My new prefect badge flashed on my chest, which reminded me of the fact that I should patrol the train every so often. I mustered the strength to stand up and shuffled to the door. I went through and shut it behind me. I wasn't sure why I had stayed isolated from my friends on the train after the prefect meeting. Maybe it was because I wanted to think. Maybe it was because I wanted to avoid Sally. Oh, I was going to tell you about her, wasn't I? Don't worry, she'll appear soon enough...

I patrolled the entirety of the train corridors twice, not encountering anything except a little quarrel between three second years. Most students were changing into their school robes. I absently rubbed my prefect badge. I had received it this summer along with the usual Hogwarts letter. My father hadn't been impressed: Aiden had been a prefect as well. And more importantly he had gotten his OWL results. He got eight, and was therefore being pampered like a little prince. Though my mother could barely maintain her excitement over Aiden's success, she had pulled me close and whispered: 'Well done, my Alucard," and given me a soft kiss on my cheek.

Well, at least I was going to my true home now. No more pretending I cared about pure blood. No more silent dinners, only interjected by the clatter of cutlery and the occasional argument between my parents. Instead, I would talk about nonsense like Quidditch, homework and unfair teachers. I would eat at my House table with my housemates, secretly observing the Gryffindor table and a certain inhabitant of that House.

I was fifteen now, turning sixteen in November. I was starting my fifth year, the year Aiden had just left. He had tormented me with casual remarks about how hard fifth year was and how he was lucky to have survived it with so many passing grades. Though I had met every single one of his torments with a glare, I had squirmed inwardly.

"We will be reaching Hogwarts in five minutes time. Please leave your luggage on the train; it will be taken to the school separately."

My heart made a little jump. Finally.

Doors opened and people begun streaming into the corridor. Their talking filled my ears, and though it made me feel even more at home I didn't fancy leading a group of nervous first years. Not only did I look like a mother goose (they really were small), but also their high-pitched voices were bound to give me a headache sooner or later. I slipped through the crowd of people that was steadily increasing in number and managed to get to the doors.

The train started slowing down gradually. I felt the brakes resisting the train's speed, and when it came to a halt I had to steady myself with the help of the wall. With a hiss, the doors opened.

I stepped outside, the cold engulfing me. I breathed in the scent of rain, damp grass, mud, and the Hogwarts Express' smoke. The rain clashed onto me, getting me soaked within seconds. I enjoyed the sensation of raindrops running down my face for a while. I had always loved the sensations of rain: its scent, its feeling, and its sound. Even now I could hear as it clattered on the many horseless carriages waiting for us.

"No time to sniff the air, Al – oh, Merlin."

Derek Nott, my best friend who always seemed to get a laugh out of me, had just stepped into an enormous puddle. It swallowed his whole ankle, and when he pulled it out water seeped from the hems of his robes and dripped from his dragon skin boots.

"These are supposed to be waterproof!" he said annoyed, grabbing hold of my shoulder and taking one of them off. "I've been ripped off!" He showed me the offending boot. The sole had partly fallen off at the back, an easy place for water to get in. I shook my head, not bothering to suppress my smirk.

"You should've checked that before you bought them, Derek."

"Well, the dragon skin is real! It's just lousy quality!" He put it on again and walked towards a carriage, being careful not to step into anything wet or muddy. I followed him, taking care to splash into every puddle I saw with my black leather boots. My feet stayed warm. Triumphantly I stepped into the carriage, ignoring Derek's irritated expression.

"I'm not your butler, you know," he said while climbing in on his own, quickly slamming the small entrance door in a group of third year Slytherins’ faces and sitting down. I slouched in my seat, still holding my smirk in place.

"Then don't keep opening the door for me."

He grunted in return. I heard the loud calling of Professor Hagrid, directing the first years toward him to cross the lake. Like he could read my mind, Derek muttered: "Wouldn't it be lovely to cross the lake in this weather? Hell, they'll be drier if they just swim instead." He drew his wand and pointed it at his chocolate brown hair, patting it flat while muttering some kind of spell. It seemed like it didn't really work because he put his wand back in his pocket, his hair now a bit frizzier than before, but still wet none the less.

"Er... was your hair supposed to be getting worse?" I asked, raising my eyebrow.

Derek covered it with his hands. "No! Just, I hate wet hair. It makes your head so bloody cold. But my father put a lock on my wand, so I can't use it until this evening. He doesn't really trust me anymore since last year."

I remembered all too well. When I was staying at Derek's the summer after third year he had tried to give his little sister, who had been about five at the time, a set of whiskers to pay her back (she had used accidental magic to give Derek elephant ears because he had ruined her doll house, or something like that). It went kind of wrong, because she didn’t only get whiskers; she got a long, bald mouse-tail as well. Crying hysterically, she had run to her father and jumped into his lap. He had become furious and after hearing Derek's reasoning, had given him an elephant trunk to match the ears. Though I had been terrified then, the memory of Derek resembling an elephant brought a smile to my face each time I thought about it.

"If you are grinning about what I think you are grinning about, Alan Malfoy, I will curse you into oblivion," Derek said, not really concealing his own amusement.

“Good luck with that,” I retorted, pointedly looking at Derek’s locked wand.

The carriage started moving and there we went, bouncing along with the many pits and bumps along the road. We passed the school entrance gates, entering into the school boundaries. I could see the castle and its many towers in the distance, and felt my heart hop along with every jump the vehicle made.

~*~

Ah, the sorting. Like every year, a group of ickle little firsties lined up to find out in which House they belonged. And like every year, only a chosen few didn't look terrified. These were the ones who had either been informed by their family, or were future Gryffindors. Whatever task they would have to do, they'd do it.

I glanced over at the Gryffindor table. After a quick search, my eyes found Louisa. Ignoring the usual churn in my stomach, I noticed that she was looking very interested at the first years. Maybe a little too interested, because I really didn't see what was so enjoyable about seeing the first years sorted. My House already had three new students and I had put my hands together maybe twice for all three of them. It wasn't like I didn't care about the first years, but after seeing the ceremony for the second time it had gotten boring, never mind the fourth time – ignoring my own Sorting. But about halfway through I finally knew what had snatched Louisa's attention – or who.
"Rosario, Alexander!"

Okay, her brother was getting sorted. One of the tallest boys stepped out of line and cautiously walked to the hat. Well, go on, I thought. It's not going to bite you.

He put it on. The silence didn't last for long.

"Ravenclaw!"

I saw Louisa's beaming face through the celebrating Ravenclaws. I slightly recalled a sister of hers being sorted into Ravenclaw last year. How many siblings did she have, anyway? She already had an older brother who was in Aiden’s year, and to say he and Aiden didn’t like each other would be an understatement.

Well, those moron friends of his might’ve influenced him. Ryan Rosario, James Potter, Michael Longbottom, and Andrew Weasley probably were the most arrogant clique in the entire school.

Anyway, as you probably understand, I'd never be able to date Louisa without him throwing an absolute fit over it. I mean, no! Imagine that! His sister going out with Aiden Malfoy's brother! How outrageous! I could hear him saying those things already.

After the last student was sorted and seated at their House table, Headmistress McGonagall got up.

"Welcome, first years!" Her stern tone was clipped, but she had an air of authority that simply couldn't be ignored. "Welcome to Hogwarts' school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I am Professor McGonagall, your Headmistress.

"At Hogwarts, we will teach you how to use magic whether your family has that power or not." She paused. The silence was deafening. "There have been lots of troubles in the past about the issue concerning the taking in of Muggleborn students to teach them how to use magic. We always have, and always will. I do not tolerate superior behaviour towards Muggleborns. If I find out anyone in this school has been treating his or her fellow students unfairly, they will be having a word with me very soon after.

"Now, if that is clear to everyone: Have a nice dinner." Her hand swept through the air, and abruptly the House tables were filled with food. I took some lasagna and blew on it to cool it off.

I remembered my own sorting very well. I had also been dead nervous at the time. Sure, I had known what there was to come, but if I had gotten into any other House than Slytherin, I wasn't sure whether I'd still be alive by now or not.

Hmmm, what do we have here... A Malfoy. Hello boy. ... Yes, I remember your father. Only took me a split second to Sort him. Had Slytherin written all over his brain, that one. Your brother wasn't any different. You, however, seem worlds apart from them.

... You are a Slytherin as well, you say? Well, let me see... You certainly have the ambition, oh yes... a powerful desire to prove yourself to the world. But I'm afraid Slytherin would be the wrong House for you. What about Hufflepuff?

... Duffers? Dear me, no. Hufflepuffs are hard workers and loyal people like you.

... Still unsure? Well, if you don't like Hufflepuff, you'd still do well in Ravenclaw. I almost put your mother in Ravenclaw, yes I did... But I decided against it in the end... she wasn’t the brightest of the bunch. But you are. You have an intelligent mind, young one.

... Don't be scared lad; you're not a Gryffindor at all. Defiant you might be – you lack the reckless courage.

... Just a hat, am I? That's quite the Slytherin attitude you showed there. I might want to revise my statement. I'm afraid you won't fit in with the Hufflepuffs.

... Yes, your family has been in Slytherin for ages. I know, as I sorted every one of them. Hmmm. Maybe I have to watch out for your safety as well... Well, you will get what you desire, young one, even if it is for your own sake; you'll do well enough in SLYTHERIN!


I knew the Hat's words by heart. Sometimes I mulled them over in restless nights, trying to think about how my life would've been if the Hat had sorted me into Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff. And though I had been glad at the time the Hat had said I'd never be a good Gryffindor, I sometimes wished I had convinced it to put me there. Infatuation can do strange things to people, let me tell you that.

After some time the desserts appeared. Derek knocked over my pumpkin juice when he dove for the pancakes with hot chocolate sauce. The tablecloth got soaked and pumpkin juice drops began dripping over the side. Several people (mostly girls) squeaked and nearly jumped onto their neighbour’s lap. Derek, unperturbed, took a bite from his meal, the chocolate dripping from his fingers. I made a noise of disgust as he licked the brown substance off, my own pale hands ever so clean as I was eating normal vanilla ice cream with a spoon instead of my hands.

"Hey Alan."

A girl filled the space between Derek and I – a girl with tangled, dirty blond hair reaching her shoulder blades. Her frame was thin and bony and her eyes were a pale green, her blond eyelashes giving her a mystified look. She had a pointy chin and rather small ears which prevented her from tucking her hair behind them, so it was usually left hanging there.

"Oi, Sally."

Now this was Sally Goyle. I had waited with telling you about her since I knew she'd come along anyway. I had spent pretty much my whole childhood with her.

After Sally's birth, which happened about four months after mine, our mothers had constantly arranged meetings with each other around teatime. By the time I was four months old I still hadn’t grown a lot and could barely sit up, while Sally was a rather large baby. I wasn't much bigger than she was.

Anyway, our mothers quickly began fantasizing about how lovely it would be if we ended up married. Arranged marriages were not uncommon, especially in pureblood families, but my mother didn't want to force me into anything. But that didn't keep her from dreaming with Sally's mother. Sally was the splitting image of her (thank Merlin, because her father was a total troll). The meetings between our mothers started to repeat and soon we saw each other every day from dawn till dusk. Sally and I learned to crawl together, we stole each other's toys, we did our first steps together, and we pushed each other to the ground all the time.

When we were four, our parents began switching baby care. I'd be at my house one day and at the Goyle's the other day. In that period, which lasted for a good two years, I rarely saw my own family. When we were at Malfoy Manor we were on the grounds all the time in summer, and in the winter we were inside, in our children's room. At the Goyle's home a very strict old woman who would threaten to call Sally’s parents when we misbehaved privately tutored us, but she never dared. Sally was their little princess and I was her knight in shining armour, to put it the Gryffindor way. Out of school, we were spoiled to the maximum degree.

In the summer when we were seven, we learned to swim in the lake behind Malfoy Manor. When we finally mastered it, we swam every day until we got tired and slept in the sun (well, I was in the shadows. My skin has never agreed with sunlight). In winter I learned to play the piano. Sally learned to play the violin. By now, we said we were going to marry each other all the time. Later, I found out my mother had already made the wedding invitations.

Two years later we were nine and our basic education was done. We finished shedding our baby teeth at exactly the same time. I had grown a bit and was tall for my age. I had several inches on Sally at the time. The next year Aiden left for Hogwarts, which got both Sally and I very excited for our own arrival at the castle. We tried reading 'Hogwarts, A History'  together but never finished it.

The summer we were eleven we both got our Hogwarts letters. Our mothers were utterly delighted and took us both to Diagon Alley for our school stuff. On September first, they brought us to Platform nine and three quarters to set us on the train. When we left my mother started crying and I would have jumped off the train immediately if not for Sally, who had held my hand and told me it would turn out all right.

Contrary to my fifth year trip, it had been beautiful late summer weather; a warm breeze stroking my face and the sun reflecting off my hair, making it flash that silver colour everybody was so fond of. In the boats I was paired with Sally, Derek, and a girl that later had been sorted into Ravenclaw. I liked Derek at first glance. He was short, outgoing, and cheeky – I was tall, quiet and shy. We were different, but we got along right off the bat all the same.

Well, Sally and I both got into Slytherin, as did Derek. It quickly came to be that Derek was my new best friend; we shared a dorm, I walked to breakfast with him, sat next to him in several classes, and we generally just shared more interests and similarities than Sally and I. Of course, Sally got new friends too – but it seemed she always wanted to be with me rather than the girls. At first I didn't mind. We had been friends all our lives.

We became teenagers, of course. Our hormones started raging and sure enough Sally and I became more physical. When talking, she often touched my arm or played with my fingers. When I teased her she would slap my shoulder in a playful way, instead of the eye-roll or retort I normally received. When doing homework she never asked for my stuff again; she would reach for it herself, 'accidentally' stroking my skin in the process. And if I ever handed something over our hands would briefly touch. She never gave me full-grinned smiles anymore; instead they were secure, self-conscious, and flirtatious.

Looking back on it, my behaviour must've changed too. There was that strange feeling I got when I saw her. The indescribable desire when I was in her presence. The jolt in my stomach I felt whenever we made contact. Where at first I would've said there was something on her nose, later I would softly wipe it off on my own accord. Every playful slap I received was a victory. Every time I knew she was there I was always smiling, feeling strange but happy.

In one of the last weeks of third year, we shared our first kiss. It was outside on the grounds, when most people were inside studying for exams but we took a walk around the castle. I had never, ever been nervous in Sally's presence, not even when I actually realized I liked her more than a friend. But this time when we were alone, very alone, I was nervous. Her hand had found its way into mine. I don’t remember how the kiss really began, or who had initiated it.

The kiss had been nervous, like I had been, and hesitant. We had both known that with that kiss, we would throw our purely platonic friendship out of the window.

It hadn’t been a deep kiss. My lips had been touching hers, but the pressure had been light and unsure. We could’ve still backed out of it. It could’ve counted as a friendship-like kiss, though we both would have known it could not have been.

It was Sally who had made it real. I could still feel her hands sliding up to my neck, folding them around it. I had awkwardly put my hands on her waistline, being terribly insecure. Again, it had been Sally who had leaned against the castle wall and pulled me with her. It had turned into a rather sloppy snogfest, for neither of us had ever kissed before. It belonged to my most cherished and most hated memories. You'll discover why later.

I had a lot of fun that summer. I spent two weeks at Derek's, but the remainder of it was devoted to Sally. This wasn't actually any different than the previous years, when I had spent a lot of time with her as well. But the things we did together went from best-friends stuff to more intimate stuff.

We somehow had avoided kissing in places we had spent most of our childhood – like we could've gone back if we no longer had a crush on each other. Places like the children's room, the library, the small classroom, the music room, our favourite tree at the lakeside, the tearooms and the large field behind the Goyle estate were forbidden. Well, when we somehow ended up there, we immediately went back to being 'just friends'. No touching, flirting, kissing, or even feel the desire to do all that. Those places were the places that had made us what we were. We would not ruin them with teen romance.

It was too good to last. We went back to school for our fourth year, which we were both again looking forward to. For the first month especially it had been interesting and exciting to sneak off and find new places to let our hormones flow. Since we were in fourth year we were, of course, allowed to go to Hogsmeade, and naturally we went on a date the first weekend.

But then it all went downwards. Sally started talking about me to her friends when I was in their presence pretending I wasn't there, something she had never done before. When I wanted to make out she said I was being a horny bastard and didn't understand her. When she wanted to make out but I wasn't in the mood, she said I was a hypocrite and didn't understand her either. If I wanted to talk, she always had unfinished business. If she wanted to talk and I had unfinished business, she said I didn't care about her. I learned a lot about woman in that period. I was generally an object to do what they told me to do. I wasn't allowed to have my own opinion.

Then, when I thought I had everything under control a bit and things started clearing up again, came the fatal slap in my face.

Yeah, you probably saw that one coming. I developed a crush on Louisa Rosario. I read in some magazine I stole from my mother that when men don't get along with their girlfriends anymore they start liking the other extreme. That proved to be quite true in my situation. Louisa was everything Sally wasn't. Brave, exotic, Muggleborn, and I didn't know a single thing about he, except the fact she was so incredibly fit I was unable to keep my head from turning whenever she walked by. I started having dreams about her. I started to pretend it was she when I was kissing Sally. I started to destroy my relationship.

But I didn't want to break up with Sally. I had tried to do so many times, but it seemed like Sally had a hunch, for we rarely talked anymore and the moments we were together decreased. I knew Sally still had a crush on me. I didn't want to break her heart, because along with that our friendship would be shattered. As long as she still had feelings for me we would never be able to go back and pretend it never happened.

In March, Sally confessed she was in love with me. It was probably the worst timing possible, but I broke up with her, there and then.

I had been right. Our friendship was not only destroyed, but hatred replaced it. She hated me because I lead her on, and I hated her because she couldn’t seem to accept it and kept arguing to try and change my mind. It bothered the hell out of me and I began acting rather rude with her. I received a few Howlers from her mother, screaming that I should be ashamed of myself to hurt her daughter and that I was never allowed into her house again.

And now, our conversations were very limited, for they often turned into shouting matches. Either the tone was polite and civil, or rude and snappy – usually the latter.

I missed the Sally that had been my friend. She missed me as her boyfriend. It looked like we could turn back time if we wanted, but we just didn't agree on what period.

Whew. Long chain of events, isn't it? Back to where I'm sitting at my House table when Sally comes butting in.

"We have to talk to the first years when we get them to the common room. Shall I do the talking? You can lead them and show them the way."

This was one of the polite and civil conversations. This of course pertaining to our duties that we’d be looking over this year, reminding me that I forgot to tell you that we’d been made Prefects together.. I could hear Fate laughing at me.

"Eh, sure. I'll bring them to the common room."

"You think you can stay back when they've gone to bed? I want to talk to you."

I opened my mouth, wanting to say something vulgar, when Derek interrupted with a sigh.

"Knock it off, Sally. Leave him alone."

Abruptly, she stood up. "Fine," she hissed. "I won't bother him again, then. But I would advise you not to poke around in other people's affairs, Nott." She turned on her heel and stalked off. Derek rolled his eyes towards me.

I grinned. "Thanks mate. I don't really want to –“

"Of course you don't want to be bothered right now. She's maddening, even for me and she never talks to me!" Derek shook his head and took a bowl of honey-flavoured ice cream.

I had never actually told Derek why I had broken up with Sally. He had just assumed I didn't like her anymore. Derek and Sally had never gotten along very well, and I suspected it was because Sally thought Derek had taken her place in my life when we started at Hogwarts. Anyway, I was a bit afraid of telling Derek the main reason was because I fell for a Muggleborn. Aiden had told me a few very lame Mudblood jokes the year he got back from Hogwarts (How many Mudbloods fit into a shoebox? Depends how good your Reductor curse is) and I wasn't sure whether Derek would despise me for it or laugh his arse off.

The desserts vanished and McGonagall ordered us to go to our common rooms. I saw Sally slipping out of the Great Hall. I knew she was descending the stairs to the dungeons right now, where our common room was located. I avoided the crowd and quickly called out for the new pupils before they would get totally lost and go the wrong way.

"First years! First years, follow me! Excuse me, I'm a prefect! First years!"

A small group of students came towards me, all trying very hard not to be the leader. A quick count told me there were seven. That was all right then. They looked so scared; they reminded me of my own first year. I smiled at them and took them out of the Great Hall, walking down to the depths of the dungeons and pointing out several useful passages in the corridor that might be helpful to them if they were late. The first years relaxed a bit when we were away from the crowd and started whispering with each other, pointing at the paintings on the walls and the statues we passed. They were so caught up in their environment that when I stopped in front of a large, solid, gray wall that was the entrance of our common room the first student promptly walked into me. He turned bright red and scrambled up, hiding behind his classmates. I coughed, determined not to laugh.

"This is the entrance to our common room. It is a space you can use to relax, make homework, hang with your friends, or just use as a passage between meals, lessons, and your dormitory." A few girls started giggling. "However, you will need a password to access it. Without it, you cannot get in until someone else comes along. If you forget, you will be shut out. So remember it." I turned to the wall. "Butterfingers."

The wall seemed to shiver a little before the door to the common room emerged from the stone and creaked open. Sally was already waiting for us, her nose in the air. I led the first years to her and stepped to the side while looking around the chamber and feeling immense satisfaction. A smile fought its way onto my face. I was home again. It was a large, rectangular stone room, with a fireplace in the middle, several dusty couches and chairs surrounding it. In the back a few tables were shoved against the wall for people who wanted peace while studying. On the left, I could see the narrow staircases that led to the dormitories. Flocks of students already filled the room, chattering away as they descended to below.

Sally clicked her tongue to get the first years' attention which had, like mine, been focused on the room. Their heads swirled towards her.

"Welcome to Slytherin, the House of the ambitious, the cunning, and the sly! My name is Sally Goyle, and I'm the female prefect for Slytherin House. You have already met the male one," she nodded in my direction, "his name is Alucard Malfoy." I nodded back, no longer feeling the need to smile.

"When you are having trouble, you are welcome to come to us. If there is something very important you wish to talk about or if you have some private affairs you wish to discuss and we are not available you can go see my cousin Matthew Teagan, the Head Boy. Professor Malyras, the Potion’s Master and our Head of House is also available if you need him. His office is located in the dungeons as well.”

"If you have an insane amount of detentions, we are always here to help you. We will try to have it lessened." I saw two boys grinning mischievously at each other and I softly added:

"That doesn't mean you must go looking for trouble, 'cause we will know and your detention will be doubled." Their smiles vanished. Sally threw me an annoyed look that clearly said, "Do you need to frighten them like that?” I smiled ever so slightly and stayed quiet. I knew it drove her mad.

Her eyes glared daggers before she clapped her hands. The firsties, who had been looking at our exchange, quickly returned their attention to her again. Sally waved to the stairs leading even deeper into the dungeons. "Down here are your dormitories. That’s left for the girls, right for the boys."

They hurried to them and vanished into the darkness. Sally turned towards me, her mouth already forming words I didn't really hear. I faked a yawn.

"I'm tired. I'm going to bed."

"You've faked yawning since you were three, Alan."

"Would you rather I'd say I don't give a damn about what you have to tell me right now?"

She looked hurt. "Alan –“

I turned and walked down to my dorm. As good or bad as it might be, a new year had begun.

~*~

Author's Notes: Reviews much appreciated. :)

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