Chapter 15: Scream
The next morning, Mulciber, Avery
and I invited Frank Longbottom to come with us down to the Great Hall for
On the way down, we met Regina on the staircase from the dormitories to the Common Room and she tagged along.
We made our way to the Great Hall and sat together. Infirmos and Longbottom sat on one side and Archemus, Regina and I sat opposite them. Frank went away to sit with his other friends and he stayed with them. We passed the time by trying to guess which subjects the teachers already sitting up at the staff table taught.
Breakfast came and went and I stuffed myself full of 5 different types of cooked eggs, toast, croissants and jams.
After searching up and down the table, I finally found my favourite drink – pumpkin juice. I carried the jug back to our spot and everyone exclaimed gratefully.
There was a moment of silence while we slurped down some juice and I tried to think of a harmless topic of conversation. It stretched on and on until Regina leant forward and said in a low, harsh voice: ‘Alright, let’s cut the dragon dung! We all want to know what’s behind that door in the dungeon corridor and I think we all know it’s not a sick puppy!’
‘It could be a screaming banshee,’ I shrugged.
‘Mmm!’ Infirmos agreed, gesturing towards me with a mouthful of juice.
‘Yes!’ There was a sparkle in her eye as she continued, ‘Or it could be something much more…’ She paused for effect. ‘Sinister.’
Then she had my attention. ‘Like what?’ I asked – perhaps a little quickly.
‘I don’t know,’ she said innocently. Then she leant down even lower and said to her goblet of juice while she fingered it. ‘It could be anything.’
We were all keen now. I could see it on the faces of the others.
‘What could we do about it, Regina? We’re not allowed to go in there.’
‘Allowed? Allowed? I’m not allowed to be friends with Half-Bloods. And look, here I am!’ She raised her voice a little and gestured to herself grandly. I made a mental note to never tell her what to do. Ever.
‘Are you suggesting we go and see what’s behind the door?’ I said leaning over to get closer to the conversation.
‘Yes, Mr Slow,’ she raised her eyebrow at me again, eyeing me with a look that clearly said; you’re a special kind of stupid, aren’t you? ‘That’s exactly what I’m suggesting. You can bring your little mudblood friend if you want to.’
‘Don’t you DARE call her that!’ I bristled.
I glared at her fiercely and she held my gaze indifferently for a few seconds before putting her hands up beside her shoulders in an expression of surrender. ‘Alright, alright! Hold your Hippogriffs, Mr… AlwaysMadAtTheWorld! You don’t have to go biting my head off to get your way. You can bring… Evans… if you want to.’
‘Thank you,’ I said coldly.
She rolled her eyes at my tone but she changed the subject as the Great Hall was brought to life by the screeching of hundreds of owls flying in. ‘Post’s here!’
I started as an owl came out of nowhere and collided with the pumpkin juice jug. It lay motionless in the wet for a second before jumping up and hooting happily.
‘Whose owl is this?’ I asked.
‘Not mine!’ Everyone around me said together.
Infirmos leaned over. ‘It has a tag on its leg.’ He took the tag in his fingers. ‘To Severus Snape,’ he read.
‘What?’ We couldn’t afford an owl when we were at Diagon Alley so I had gone without.
Infirmos turned over the tag and read, ‘From Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.’
‘WOAH! Professor Dumbledore sent me an owl?’
‘Pro-fess-or- Dum-ble-dore- sent- you- an- owl!’ said Regina slowly and then rolled her eyes.
‘There’s a fund for families who can’t afford everything on the list,’ Archemus told me and nodded towards the owl. ‘That must be what this is.’
‘Or I’M actually Professor Dumbledore’s favourite student,’ I joked, smirking at Regina. She glared at me and stood up as if to leave before Mulciber grabbed her wrist and pulled her back onto the seat with a plonk.
“What are you going to call it?” Infirmos asked.
The owl was predominantly black with triangle, coffee brown markings around her neck like a necklace.
‘Fidus!’ I said off the top of my head.
Regina scoffed. ‘Um. Why?’
‘Fidus means loyal.’
‘That’s actually kind of cool…’ Archemus said with an expression of deep thought. We laughed.
Just then, Lily came running over to our table holding a ginger cat in her arms.
‘Sev! Look! Professor Dumbledore sent me this cat! Isn’t he the cutest?’ She said, nuzzling her face into its long fur.
‘Awwww!’ I said, patting him behind the ears. ‘Professor Dumbledore sent me this owl! I’m going to call it Fidus! What are you going to call this little one?’ I asked her, scratching the cat behind the ears.
‘I’m going to call him Tiger,’ she said, smiling.
The others resumed a conversation behind me.
‘That’s a lovely name,’ I said. Our hands brushed as we patted Tiger and I blushed. There was a moment of awkward silence before I cleared my throat loudly. ‘Don’t you think it’s a little strange that Professor Dumbledore – the Headmaster, no less – sent us animals? I don’t see anyone else receiving gifts.’
‘I don’t think so… I mean… Dumbledore must have known I ran out of money when we were at Diagon Alley.’
‘I suppose it’s not that strange. I think I’m just seeing ghosts where there aren’t any. I’m a bit shaken up after last night. Come sit down; I want to tell you something.’
I repeated the story about the scream in the dungeon corridor in a whisper and told her our plan to go and see what’s behind the door.
She was looking over my shoulder at something and she seemed distracted so I turned to see what was stealing her attention. Holly Jade, Demitri Fortescue and Jasmine Kilter all sat at the Gryffindor Table (even though they were from different houses) and they had all turned around and were glaring at Lily and I and whispering behind their hands.
‘I- I’ve got to go!’ Lily said suddenly, standing up and hoisting Tiger into her arms.
‘Wait! Lily! What do you think?’ I called after her as she went.
‘Alright! Sounds great!’ she yelled over her shoulder as she made her way over to her table.
‘Promise?’ I yelled, knowing she had no idea what I had suggested.
I doubted she even heard what it was I was proposing. But it didn’t matter because she had said she would come and she never went back on her word.
Even though the girls had stolen Lily from me, I wanted to go over and give them a big hug for making it so easy to convince her.
I did feel bad for tricking her into promising me, but it was necessary. She would thank me after we knew what was down there. It would kill her not knowing.
A round, balding man who I assumed was the Head of Slytherin House came around with our timetables which were printed on pink paper. There was silence as we examined our timetables. We had double Potions with the Gryffindors… and then Transfiguration with the Ravenclaws.
The hall erupted with chatter about the timetables and the scraping of chairs and loud footsteps announced that we were dismissed. I leaned in. ‘We’ll leave it a couple of nights!’ I hissed to the others. ‘Get used to the Hogwarts routine and then we’ll go and find out what’s behind that door!’
Regina rolled her eyes but seemed to realise that it was a good idea and stayed silent.
As we walked out of the Great Hall, Double Potions started to flash blue on my timetable.
As a group, we made our way to our first lesson at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I had passed excited hours ago.
We waited outside with the Gryffindors and Lily came to stand with us. A short while after we arrived, a very round, balding man, who I recognised as the man who had given us our timetables, opened the door.
‘Come in, come in!’ he exclaimed happily.
We bundled in, took a seat and got out our cauldrons.
Lily took a seat beside me and Infirmos sat on my other side.
‘Good morning, First Years! Good morning!’ He said when we were all seated. ‘I am Professor Slughorn and I will be your Potions teacher. Or, as I like to be called, a Potions Master!’ He laughed heartily at his own joke. The class stayed silent. He cleared his throat loudly. ‘Today we will be learning about basic ingredients such as aconite and a bezoar! Yes now… I think we’ll start by seeing what you know. You there! Avery is it? Do you happen to know what aconite is used in?’
‘Yes sir! I think it’s used in the Wolfsbane potion.’
‘Yes! You are correct! Great job! Aconite is a root that some of you may know as monkshood or wolfsbane.’ There were a few murmurs of recognition.
‘What about you, Mr –’
‘Snape, sir,’ I interrupted.
‘Right, yes. Uh… oh yes… what do you get when you combine powdered root of asphodel with an Infusion of Wormwood?’
‘The Draught of Living Death!’ Mother had taught me all about potions and as far as I was concerned, I was already a Potions Master. I quoted our textbook, ‘It’s a sleeping potion so powerful it brings upon its drinker a very powerful sleep that can last indefinitely. This is an extremely dangerous potion. Execute with maximum caution.’
‘Quoted from your textbook, Magical Drafts and Potions! Well done, Mr Snape you seem to be an expert!’ Professor Slughorn sang.
I grinned smugly and Lily shook her head and smiled slightly.
‘Now to save some time I won’t quiz you on Bezoars just yet! We might save that for another time… or perhaps homework!’ There were several groans but Lily smiled politely and just nodded.
Professor Slughorn winked at her.
‘Now, for the rest of the double lesson, I would like you to be brewing a Boil Curing potion! Recipe for which can be found on page fifty-seven of your textbooks. Get started!’
I took out my textbook and turned to page fifty-seven.Add 6 snake fangs to the mortar. Crush into a fine powder using the pestle. Add 4 measures of the crushed fangs to your cauldron. Heat the mixture to 250 for 10 seconds. Wave your wand. Leave to brew and return in 45 minutes. Add 4 horned slugs to your cauldron. Take the cauldron off the fire before adding the next ingredient. Add 2 porcupine quills to your cauldron. Stir 5 times, clockwise. Wave your wand to complete the potion.
I followed the instructions with Lily beside me.
As we worked, I told her about our plan to find out what was behind the door in the dungeon corridor… again.
‘I don’t know, Sev. It seems kind of dangerous… I mean… Dumbledore didn’t declare it out of bounds for no reason.’
‘Come on, Evans! Aren’t you even a little bit curious?’ Mulciber leaned across me to whisper to Lily.
‘Yes! I am curious. I’m just not sure… If it’s the right thing to do.’
Mulciber shook his head and returned to his potion, muttering something under his breath.
I glared at him. ‘What?’ I asked rudely.
Pursing my lips, I turned back to Lily and smiled. ‘You did promise me, Lil.’
‘Yes, I know I did!’ she said impatiently. ‘So, I’m coming…’ I fist pumped the air. ‘but that doesn’t mean I think it’s a great idea.’
I hugged her joyfully and Mulciber gave me a look. I returned it indifferently with my eyebrows raised and he shrugged and looked away.
‘A little less talking and a little more working over there!’ Professor Slughorn chimed without looking up from the parchment on his desk. Black and Potter sniggered and whispered at his comment.
I turned around and gave them my best glare but it just made them laugh out loud.
‘Potter! That is your second warning!’
I completed my potion 5 minutes before everyone else so I busied myself reading through the instructions of my favourite brews.
‘Alright! Tools down! I’ll walk around and assess your potions!’
Slughorn went around the right side of the room first, occasionally exclaiming at reasonably good or horribly bad potions. He walked around the outside of the room and then finally came up through the middle.
It seemed he wanted to leave our table for last so he walked past our table without glancing at it and walked to the back. Potter and Black were sitting behind us and we felt Slughorn stop beside them.
‘Detention, Mr Potter! Black your potion is acceptable, no more. Potter, I don’t even need to comment on yours. Saturday night. My office.’ Slughorn sounded angry for the first time.
I turned around and saw that Potter’s cauldron was empty and Black’s potion was a pale, bluer version of mine.
He came to our table and gagged at the stinking, purple fumes wafting from Mulciber’s cauldron. He looked over Lily and my, turquoise potions.
‘They are perfect! Well done you two! Perhaps talking amongst yourselves helped you!’ he laughed incredulously. ‘Excellent job!’
‘Your homework for the week is to write an essay on what you could have done better in your potion making. Be sure to include any mistakes you made with ingredients and stirring and things like that. I will expect it to be at least five paragraphs long. Mr Avery, Miss Evans and Mr Snape!’ I jumped at my name. ‘You are excused from homework for tonight as your potions were perfect.’
I sighed in relief and felt very good about myself. It seemed I was a whiz at potions.
‘I expect the essay on my desk by Friday!’ he called as we filed out of the room, headed for Transfiguration with the Ravenclaws.
In Transfiguration, I took a seat with Archemus and Demitri. Holly Jade managed to answer every single question Professor McGonagall fired at us without hesitation.
Professor McGonagall seemed quite impressed with her and this pleased Holly. If she smiled any wider her face would collapse.
There was a lot of reading at the beginning of the lesson and we spent what felt like hours poring over our textbooks before Professor McGonagall gave a demonstration of Transfiguration. She turned her lamp into a meerkat and back again. There was a gasp and then applause broke out around the room. I smiled. This was great.
‘Transfiguration is one of the more challenging and dangerous subjects you will be taught here at Hogwarts,’ Professor McGonagall said to the class. ‘For the rest of this lesson, you will attempt to turn a match into a needle, remembering the Transfiguration formula, which is, of course, that the intended transformation is directly influenced by bodyweight, viciousness, wand power, concentration, and the fifth unknown variable. Like so,’ she tapped the match that was lying in her palm and said, ‘Exaequet Adacus!’
The match became pointed and silver just like a needle.
‘Go on then, get started!’
I was very eager to get transfiguring as Professor McGonagall waved her wand and a pile of matches flew into the air, one match landing on each desk.
Shouts of ‘Exaequet Adacus!’ rang around the room as my classmates attempted to transfigure their match into a needle.
I tried as hard as I could but I was disappointed by the outcome. I think I managed to turn the match a greyer colour but Demitri and Holly were the only ones who managed to change the entire match into a needle.
The day was finished before I knew it and we had a pile of homework:
Practise for Transfiguration, an essay for Herbology and a boring questionnaire for History of Magic.
Parkinson, Mulciber, Avery and I sat in the Common Room at a table in the far corner away from the dormitories and did our homework.
Avery and I were finished before anyone else because we hadn’t received any Potions homework from Slughorn.
Regina complained, ‘It’s due on Friday! Why do I have to do it tonight?’
I told her, ‘If you get it done tonight you can relax for the rest of the week and you won’t be behind on homework.’
‘Why are you so bossy?’
I chose not to answer.
I sat with them until they were finished and then, glancing around to check for anybody standing near us, I lowered my voice to a whisper, ‘I think we should go tomorrow night! I’m desperate to find out what’s behind the door!’ There were nods of agreement from around the table. ‘We’ll meet at nine. Lily can meet us in the corridor. We’ll tell her when we have Defence Against the Dark Arts tomorrow with the Gryffindors… Is everyone in?’
‘Yes!’ Everyone except Regina exclaimed.
‘What now?’ I snapped impatiently.
She stared at me, aggravatingly indifferent to my anger. Then she raised her eyebrow and smirked. ‘You thought this all out didn’t you?’
I glared at her fiercely and she stared, impassive, back. I didn’t want her to judge me or call me a geek so I didn’t say ‘it was simple really’ I said, ‘No.’
She shrugged again and I glared at her, but this time she just laughed, put her quill back into her ink bottle and said, ‘Fine, nine o’clock, Dungeon Corridor. Night.’
She scraped all of her books off the table in one fluid motion and stalked off towards the dormitories.
I sighed and then said, ‘Me too!’ and Mulciber and Avery decided to go with me.
The next morning I was up early having not slept well the night before. I had been up very late thinking about our soon-to-be-adventure through the door at the end of the corridor. I dressed and woke the others and we made our way down to breakfast.
I ate as much as I could hold and we headed off to Charms with the Hufflepuffs.
Professor Flitwick was our Charms teacher and he was incredibly nice… and small. He lectured us for approximately twenty minutes as he gave his introduction to charms and ran us through some wand motions to practise. Our first task was to levitate a feather with the spell ‘Wingardium Leviosa!’
To everyone’s surprise, the ditsy blonde, Jasmine Kilter, was the only person in that lesson to succeed in fully levitating her feather off the desk.
My feather did a couple of flips, but that was all I could accomplish. Our homework was to practise the charm.
Next, we had Defence Against the Dark Arts with the Gryffindors.
Lily and I sat with the small girl I had seen Lily sit with at the feast, Kelly Davidson who was also a muggle born and a Gryffindor. She was quiet and submissive and I felt a little sorry for her.
Lily and I discussed my plan for that night.
‘But that means I have to walk through the school at night! What if I get caught? Our Common Rooms aren’t even close to each other!’
‘I’ll come and get you if you like,’ I smiled gently. ‘It will be an adventure!’
I squeezed her forearm and she smiled weakly.
A young woman who looked to be in her late twenty’s swept into the room. She was wearing pale orange robes with golden lining and her blonde hair was swept around her head in a braid that fell over her shoulder and reached her armpit.
‘Hello everyone!’ She spoke in a lofty voice. ‘I am Professor Gibliry and I am your Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.’
I looked around when Potter and Black sniggered and shot them a glare. Beside me, Mulciber and Regina were sitting next to each other. Infirmos’ jaw had dropped open in surprise and awe of the figure before us. Regina rolled her eyes and put two fingers under his chin and closed it, his teeth clamping together with a soft click.
Professor Gibliry smiled at her pointedly.
Gibliry was tall and thin with hazel eyes and young skin. She was the most attractive teacher at Hogwarts by far.
Unlike in other lessons, we jumped straight into practical work. ‘Now today we will be attempting the Knock Back Jinx! When I say go, you will get yourself a partner and line up opposite each other. Then you will attempt the Knock Back Jinx by speaking the word ‘Flippendo!’ and try to knock your partner off their feet,’ she ordered. ‘The Knockback Jinx is a spell which can be used to physically repel an opponent; the spell is also convenient in the blasting apart of fragile objects and the activation of magically charmed switches. Now if you will all stand, please!’
We stood and she waved her wand. The chairs and desks slid to the sides of the room, stacking themselves where necessary and leaving a large space in the middle of the room.
She waved her wand again, but this time, pillows were set around the room to prevent injury.
‘Pair up. And go!’ she said. For a moment we just stood and stared at her, unsure of what she meant. Then realisation dawned and we started to divide into pairs.
I grabbed Lily’s arm but she grinned apologetically and said she was Kelly’s partner. Kelly smiled sweetly at me and I relented.
I was Mulciber’s partner.
I succeeded at knocking Mulciber off his feet on my first go and he landed with a thud amongst the pillows behind him.
‘Well done!’ Gibliry chimed, walking over and pulling me into a tight hug. When she released me, I saw Infirmos glaring up at me from his position on the pillows, propped up on his elbows. I smiled gaily at him.
He managed to knock me off my feet too but after several more goes at it. Lily, of course, also managed to knock poor little Kelly off her feet and earned herself a hug from Gibliry as well. Kelly was a good spirit about it but I could tell that Lily felt really bad.
Then came another round of Herbology where we handed in our homework and at the end of the lesson, Sprout handed them out to us with an equivalent mark to what we would have received if it were our fifth year and we were doing our O.W.L’s marked in the top right hand corner.
There was a tiny key down the bottom of our papers.
E- Exceeds Expectations
On the top of my paper was a big letter A. I was quite pleased with myself for passing. It was, after all, my first ever magical grade and I didn’t consider myself very good at Herbology.
Of course, the Ravenclaws all managed to receive either an E or an O but I had the second highest score in Slytherin House, second only to Longbottom who received an O.
The day flew past with the anticipation of that night’s adventure driving me along and before I knew it, we were all innocently doing our homework in the Common Room.
I was the first to finish again so I waited until they were nearly done before leaving to collect Lily.
My heart was beating hard and fast against my ribs and I was filled with nervous excitement. Adrenaline kept me moving as I made my way up through the school to the Gryffindor Common Room.
The Fat Lady in her picture frame looked at me quizzically but I ignored her and waited for Lily.
While I was alone with my thoughts, my mind raced through all the possible things that could go dreadfully wrong. My heart was beating double time now and I was starting to breathe faster than I should.
‘It will be fine!’ I whispered to myself, just as the portrait swung open revealing Lily still fully dressed in her robes and ready to go.
‘Hi!’ I whispered.
I led her back to the Dungeon Corridor in silence. The tension was building inside of me and I thought I would burst. I felt like laughing and crying at the same time and nervous, excited and scared all at once. I started to hyperventilate which made me feel sick.
Finally, we reached the corridor where, Infirmos, Archemus and Regina were already waiting for us.
‘What took you so long?’ Regina whispered angrily.
I shrugged in reply, the lump in my throat restraining my voice.
‘Let’s go!’ Mulciber said.
We edged along the corridor together. I held out my hand and Lily took it without hesitation. She was shaking but then again, so was I.
We neared the door and I was having second thoughts. I gripped Lily’s hand tighter than before. My heart leapt into my mouth and my stomach flipped strangely as Regina reached out to open the door.
She twisted the door knob pulled and then jumped back in line with us. I peered cautiously into the room, my heart beating in my ears.
It appeared to be a classroom. Desks and chairs lined the room and a teachers table stood at the front. Gaining confidence the very second that I absorbed the absence of any weird or wonderful creature; I stepped forwards into the doorway.
As soon as I took that step, white supernatural fog filled the room. Everything was white and I couldn’t think or see anything. I stood stock still waiting for something to happen. Panic ripped through me and I fought the urge to run, screaming like a little girl up the corridor.
Without warning, a terrible scream tore my eardrums and a figure leapt out of the fog. For a moment we stood evaluating each other. It was a tall creature standing on its hind legs. It was so dirty it was hard to tell but it looked almost human. It had blood shot eyes and bared teeth and a tangled mass of black curly hair cascading down its back. It was naked and hideous.
It leapt at me, snarling and screaming like some wild banshee. Lily screamed and pulled me out of the way. Mulciber slammed the door shut and there was a loud thud as the creature hit the other side of the door.
It whimpered slightly and then everything was silent.
Someone cleared their throat behind me. I spun around and to my horror, saw Professor Slughorn standing in his night things looking terrified that he had caught his three Potions favourites breaking the school rules.
‘Parkinson, Mulciber! Detention! Go back to the common room immediately!’
‘But sir –’
‘No “buts”. You cannot even begin to understand the seriousness of what you have done. Go!” Slughorn looked furious.
Regina and Infirmos hurried away down the corridor and entered the Slytherin Common Room.
‘Now, you three!’ he said, turning on us. I felt the same terror engulf me as I had when the creature had appeared. What if I am expelled? ‘As disappointed as I am with your behaviour I am letting you go because of your excellent performance in potions.’
I sighed with relief.
Lily, however, was not happy. ‘You can’t do that, Professor. I mean…’ She looked down, embarrassed. ‘I mean it’s not fair that we don’t get punished but Mulciber and Parkinson do.’
‘As kind as that is Miss Evans, I know how to do my job.’ He winked. ‘Now it won’t do a lot of good if you go around blabbing that I let you go, alright?”
‘No, sir,’ I said, shakily.
‘‘At a boy!’ he said, clapping me on the shoulder painfully. ‘I like to throw myself some dinner parties throughout the year and select some favourite students to come along. Would you be game?’
‘Yes, sir! Absolutely!’ I said, politely. But my mind was elsewhere. What was that creature? But more importantly, what in the name of Merlin’s shiny left earlobe is it doing at Hogwarts?
‘Good! Now return to your dormitories at once! Ms Evans, I will escort you back to your Common Room personally.’
‘Goodnight, Professor!’ Avery called over his shoulder.