“Now,” Professor Wood said. He limped across the classroom, like he always did. Sighing, I leaned on my elbows and stared outside of the windows, watching the trees swaying in the wind. The warm March air whisked through the grounds, making stray leaves on the ground pick up and whirl them around like a tornado.
What I would give to be playing Quidditch right now…
Thankfully no one in Slytherin was ignoring me. In fact, now that I was on the Quidditch team they basically worshiped me, along with the rest of the team. We were so close to beating Gryffindor for the cup last year, and now we were going to win. Hopefully.
Everyone else in the school was growling at me, though. They moved away from me in the hallways, like I had some weird disease. The Muggle-borns just plain ran from me. Apparently, the death of twelve non-magical Muggles could really shake things up.
Lucias and Narcissa got their sentences yesterday. Life in Azkaban. And judging from how Lucias had still not entirely recovered from his brief spell in the prison, many years ago, they weren’t going to last that long.
“We were going to begin our unit on vampires,” Wood continued,” but I’ve decided, that in light of recent events, I may as well just give you a little lecture on the Unforgivable curses.”
A breath went through the classroom, and I folded my arms. Current events? I knew what he was talking about, and judging by how both the Slytherins and Ravenclaws were looking at me, they did too.
“The Unforgivable Curses,” began Wood,” and the use of them on a fellow human being will get you a one way ticket to Azkaban.” Hairs on my arms raised as I though of the prison, dark and imposing in the middle of the sea. I wondered how Lucias and Narcissa were faring.
Drifting off, I peered at Albus, who was trying to get my attention for across the aisle. Professor Wood had banned us from sitting next to each other, mainly because we both had a tendency to hex anyone who said something bad about the Malfoys or Potters. We would still do it of course, but I suspected that he was just looking for a way to get me in trouble.
Albus mouthed words at me. Why is he talking about this?
I bit my lip and listened closer to what Professor Wood was saying.
“Some famous incidents of Death Eaters using this curse, the torture curse, include the Longbottoms, the parents of Professor Longbottom. A more recent one, was the torture of Hermione Granger, at the Malfoy Manor.”
I froze, aware that everyone’s eyes were on me. Malfoy Manor, torture, Hermione Granger. Why now? I wailed in my head. I already had enough of my classmates continually pointing out that my family used to be Dark Wizards, and now my teachers were doing the same?
Professor Wood curled his lip at me. “Bellatrix Lestrange, who is thankfully dead now, tortured Mrs. Granger using this curse. It was a cowardly attack, for she wasn’t armed with a wand and all of the people who could’ve helped where locked in the magical cellar.”
“Hey Malfoy,” hissed a bushy-haired Ravenclaw. She grinned at me. “Did your grandparents teach you all about this stuff?”
I thought about my wand, laying on the desk, just asking me to pick it up and show them the real meaning of pain. I could do so many jinxes and hexes now… Scorpius and I poured over the books at night, making sure that we could deal with all of the teasing and duels in the hallways. But I didn’t. I would have, but I knew that it would only make things worse.
Straight-backed and stiff, I stared at Professor Wood, daring him to continue. I couldn’t feel fear, and I couldn’t blush or hide or anything. I didn’t feel proud of my great-aunt for doing that, who could?
Don’t feel anything, I told myself furiously. They may be insulting you and your family, but hexing them will make things worse.
Soon I could only see Professor Wood’s mouth moving. His words had been replaced by a low, angry humming noise that filled my ears. Fighting to not get red and explode, I focused as hard as I could on the foe-glass that stood a little behind the professor.
As I watched, a tiny crack sliced down the middle, then widened, sending other stray trickles outwards. It brought me back to when I had first shown signs of magic, when I was around six or five years old…
I was in the gardens of Malfoy Manor, all alone. The sun was shining brightly and I had borrowed my Mum’s old Hogwarts clothes. The robes trailed on the dusty ground, and I held an old branch like it was a wand. Running on the trail, kicking up plumes of dust, I broke out of the rows of bushes and flowers to step underneath a towering oak.
Three or four boys that I had never seen before were laying around it, quietly talking amongst themselves. One of them was standing up, standing guard for the rest. But with me being so small, I was able to come within meters of them without them noticing.
“Are you sure that we should be here?” said the smallest. The older one, which now I think may have been his brother shook his head.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You know the stories. That family who lives here are scared of everything. Why else would they always were those long coats and look like everything is about to attack them?”
Another boy snorted. “They’re so pale, maybe their vampires!”
“Don’t be silly,” said the largest boy. “Vampires aren’t real. That’s only in the movies.”
It may have been now when I realized that those boys were not nice, and were Muggles. I didn’t know what a “movie” was, and frankly, still don’t. But the lookout person saw me.
“Look!” he said. All four boys turned their eyes to me. I was in the shadows, the stick that had pretended to be my wand on the ground. They approached me, talking about things that I don’t remember.
That was all to that part of the memory, aside from looking down at the oak tree and seeing that branches had fallen and hit the boys of the head.
They never came back again, thankfully, but the villagers still spoke of the incident as if it were yesterday. The pale girl, and how she made the sky fall.
“Any questions?” Wood asked. I glanced up from my desk, his voice piecing the intentness of my memory. The same bushy-haired Ravenclaw raised her hand. Wood nodded, and she took a breath.
“Because we’re talking about current events, I was wondering if you would consider the Malfoys to be almost as cruel and heartless as Voldemort himself.” There was a beat in the classroom, and my hands started shaking. If I were a dragon, maybe a Chinese Firebolt, steam would’ve been billowing around me.
That’s it! I thought, and, good intentions flying out the window, grabbed my long wand and prepared to shove it in that girl’s face.
But someone got their first. In a blur of blue robes and red hair, Rose Weasley of all people pointed her dark wand at the other girl’s. She advanced, face set in an expression of loathing.
“You obviously don’t know your wizarding history, Nina,” hissed Rose. “Voldemort is a creature that cannot be compared to any other wizard in history. Not even Salazar Slytherin. And the Malfoys?” Her brown eyes flickered to me. “Well, Nina. Let’s put it this way. Would you like it if everyone called you a Mudblood and Wizard-killer? Just because your ancestors were?”
I stared at Rose, shocked. Of all the people in the school, she was the last whom I thought would stand up for me. Maybe I judged her, just the same as everyone else judged me.
And that, I knew, wasn’t a good feeling.
It was after class and I ran after Rose Weasley. Trying to stuff my Defense Against the Dark Arts textbook into my bag, I yelled her name. After a couple of tries, she turned around.
“What?” she said, her voice impatient and harsh.
I skidded to a stop and stood, three inches taller than her. “I just wanted to say thanks for defending me back there.”
Rose let out a cold, harsh laugh. “Help? Malfoy, the only reason I did what I did was because I hate Nina even more than you.” She began walking down the hall and called back to me. “If you ever want to succeed in life, you shouldn’t be as gullible as that.”
I stared at her retreating back, fingering my wand. It took a lot of my remaining energy not to curse her.
I would be expelled for that, and being expelled wouldn’t be a very good thing. After all, who else would take care of Scorpius?