Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Mandrakes and Mudbloods
By Silver Sailor Ganymede
Scorpius Malfoy hated Herbology. He had hated Herbology ever since Professor Longbottom had announced that they would be tending to the mandrakes for the rest of term, even though this was something traditionally done by the second years, not the first years. And he hated it even more than ever that day because he had somehow ended up working with Rose I-know-everything-Weasley and Albus I'm-too-good-for-Slytherin Potter. On top of that, it had to be the one day where they were tending other plants which could be used to improve the mandrakes' growth, so they had no need of earmuffs and thus he had to listen to Potter and Weasley senselessly natter about nothing. Life just couldn't get worse.
Scorpius was of the opinion that the standard of the Slytherins had really gone downhill since his father had been in school. There were nine of them this year, and no muggleborns, which was good. But they weren't exactly the most pleasant bunch of people Scoprius had ever met. Demeter Coldwater had established her place as the leader of the girls, and Celestine Drayton and Luciana Fenn seemed enthralled by her every word. Julius Coldwater and Augustine Lovell mostly stuck to themselves, but Tiberius Selwyn and Cassius Yaxley stuck so close to Albus-bloody-look-at-me-I'm-in-Slytherin Potter that Scorpius wondered whether he had them under the imperius curse or something.
This arrangement, of course, left Scorpius rather on his own. No matter how ancient and noble the House of Malfoy was no one seemed to want to be even remotely associated with it now: not even the Malfoys themselves if his father's attitude was anything to go by.
It was ridiculous in Scorpius' mind though; as soon as he'd been sorted into Slytherin it was as though everyone assumed that Malfoys could never be good and Slytherins were still evil. And then, not even five minutes later, Albus Potter had somehow become a Slytherin and people started viewing Slytherin completely differently. Slytherin, yes, but not the Malfoys, and Scorpius hated it.
Yes, the sorting that year had been both unsurprising (his own sorting into Slytherin, for example) and shocking (it had produced a Slytherin Potter and a Ravenclaw Weasley, both of which seemed completely incongruous to Scorpius), but it had been the most interesting thing to that had happened so far that year. Scorpius had found himself shunned by his housemates, and so had taken to spending extortionate amounts of time in the library; more time than even the Ravenclaws, who were astonishingly stupid bunch this year so far as Ravenclaws went, he thought with distaste as he looked around the greenhouse. Perhaps that was how Weasley had been sorted there?
On the topic of Weasley, she had started on another one of her rants, he noticed with dismay.
"Honestly, Malfoy, you're supposed to hold your shears like this, not like that," Weasley was babbling. "Have you not been listening to a single word Professor Longbottom's said all term? Either that or you really are completely useless at Herbology."
"No one asked you, did they, you irritating little mudblood," Scorpius snapped, not wishing to put up with being insulted by Weasley of all people.
At first it had the desired effect; Rose Weasley shut up and moved away from him. After that, however, things began to go wrong. Matthais Belby's hand crept towards his wand, and only failed to curse Scorpius when Thomas Elkin and Rodney Vines grabbed him and literally held him back.
While that in itself was disturbing, his fellow Slytherins' reactions disturbed him more. Albus Potter was looking at him in shock, Tiberius Selwyn and Cassius Yaxley's faces had totally drained of colour, and Luciana Fenn's lip curled up in absolute disgust.
"You're Death Eater scum, Malfoy; just like the rest of your family!" she hissed.
Scorpius raised an eyebrow. "What are you on about, Fenn? That insult's completely over the top – and I'll have you know that my family were not Death Eaters, thank you very much!"
"What's a Death Eater?" Potter-the-ever-clueless asked, but Professor Longbottom shushed him.
"Class dismissed. I think we've all had enough for today," the professor sighed. "We'll finish this off next lesson." Scorpius hurried to get away from the class as quickly as possible, but he was stopped in his tracks. "Mr. Malfoy, stay behind; I'd like a word with you." Professor Longbottom's expression was graver than Scorpius had ever seen it, and immediately he began to worry. All he'd done was call Weasley a mudblood; that wasn't a bad thing, was it?
He soon found out that he had done a much worse thing than he had thought when he found himself sitting in Professor Longbottom's office. He was drinking a steaming cup of tea, but he hadn't offered one to Scorpius, who was sitting there in awkward silence.
"Mr. Malfoy, what do you think that word means?" Professor Longbottom asked icily, and something in his voice made Scorpius wish his teacher had started screaming at him.
"Well it means an ignorant, generally unpleasant person," Scorpius replied. "Which, with all due respect, is what I've found Rose Weasley to be so far this year. What else did you think it meant, professor?"
"Do you honestly think that's what it actually means?" Professor Longbottom sighed.
"Yes," Scorpius replied. "Sir," he hastily added afterwards.
"Scorpius, a 'mudblood' is an old insult for someone who had muggle parents or grandparents," Professor Longbottom said. "It's a very powerful word, one that was widely used by Voldemort and his followers during the war."
Scorpius flinched at the mention of the Dark Lord's name (a name that his father had forbidden him to speak, a name that his mother wept and his grandfather looked ill at the sound of), and then looked up at Professor Longbottom in horror.
"You honestly didn't know, did you?" Professor Longbottom whispered eventually. Scorpius shook his head.
"If I'd have had any idea that that's what it meant, sir, I would never have said it," Scorpius replied, trying his best to stop his voice shaking as he realised that with one simple word he had further tarnished his family's already ruined reputation.
"Ten points from Slytherin," Professor Longbottom said, "And think before you speak in future, Mr. Malfoy. You may go now."
Scorpius left, still trying to fathom the reality of what had happened.
Later that evening Scorpius was sitting at the Slytherin table during dinner, stabbing his mashed potatoes with a fork but not actually eating them. He still felt rather ill; his family couldn't actually have been so involved with the Dark Lord as Professor Longbottom had implied earlier. Still, he mused, that would explain why everyone had been so awful to him so far this year; no one wanted to associate with 'Death Eater spawn', did they?
He was so immersed in his own thoughts that he didn't realise that anyone had sat down next to him until someone said "You're supposed to eat mashed potatoes, not stab at them."
Scorpius looked up and was shocked to see none other than Albus Potter sitting next to him. He hadn't been expecting this, especially not after what had happened earlier today.
"What do you want, Potter?" he hissed, fully expecting to receive a lecture from the self-righteous Gryffindor in green and silver.
"What you said to Rose was mean," Potter said quietly. "But I guess she can be really annoying sometimes. Even I think that and I'm her cousin, so I guess it's not surprising that she'd annoy other people sometimes too."
Scorpius glared at Potter. "If you'd come over here with the sole intention of insulting me, Potter, then kindly bugger off."
Potter glared at him. "That wasn't all I was going to say, actually. Look, Uncle Nev… I mean Professor Longbottom told me about earlier. He said that you honestly
didn't know what the 'M' word meant."
"Of course I didn't," Scorpius snapped, but Potter seemed to have chosen not to hear him.
"And, well, he said that you were probably a lot nicer than you seemed. And I think he's right. So, umm, well, would you like to play chess with me this evening? Everyone else is rubbish – except for Lovell, but he's just too lazy to bother playing."
Scorpius thought for a moment. He had somehow failed to make any friends this year, something he was neither surprised nor pleased about, and no matter how irritating the boy had been thus far, there was no more valuable an ally in Slytherin at that time than Albus Potter. And then there was the fact that he hadn't had the chance to play a decent game of chess with anyone since the summer…
He looked at Potter again, considered how much he had to gain from this arrangement, then shook the other boy's hand.
Perhaps this year wasn't going to turn out to be quite so insufferable as he'd previously thought.