disclaimer: no copyright infringement intended. J.K. Rowling owns the HP universe, the lucky woman.


SEPTEMBER 2023.

"And?"

Louis Weasley jumps off the windowsill he was nervously sitting on, looking at me expectantly. His sandy-blond hair is messy, or messier than usual at least, his robe wrinkled, his cheeks uncharacteristically flushed, his eyes a tad too bright, and his voice a few decibels too loud. I would smirk at the state he is obviously in – he couldn't deny it even if he tried – if it weren't for the small detail that the situation I am currently facing causes laughter to be the last thing on my mind.

In fact, I don't think I will ever smirk again.

"She took away my fucking title."

"She did not," my cousin and favourite partner-in-crime gapes at me like a fish, indignation marring his Veela features.

"Yes," I spit bitterly. "And may I remind you that I'm not drunk and therefore do realise the full extent of this terror?"

Louis, being the Mother Hen that he secretly is, takes a step forward and rubs my shoulder in sympathy. "Let's talk about that issue for a second, love. Why are you not drunk?"

Legitimate question.

After all, getting drunk and doing positively regrettable things was the main purpose of this night. It's the first Saturday of the school year – organising a party to kick off our last ten months in this place was the only option, really. Too bad McGonagall and her army of purple-looking professors had to barge in before my eager fingertips could even brush my first Butterbeer.

Oh, the inner misery – the utter malcontent torturing my intestines at the thought itself!

"Well, that idiot from Slytherin, you know, Tim Something? He was so busy chatting me up for an hour I couldn't do anything else." I shudder at the memory. "God, I can't believe this."

"I can't believe you're sober either," Louis says casually. "Or that you even invited that sod."

Rewarding him with a death glare, I groan, "This is not funny!"

"No, seriously. Why did you?"

"Because somehow he found out about the party and threatened to expose us if I didn't invite him," I explain, reminiscing briefly about that dear moment in which I was so torn between granting him his wish and a simple Avada Kedavra.

I should've chosen the latter.

"He probably ratted us out anyway, because you wouldn't give him any time of the day," Louis shrugs, and starts to walk.

"Ugh! Never mind him!" I cry out in despair, following him through the dimly-lit corridor. "I've got worse matters to worry about! What about Mum, Louis? She'll disown me!"

"True," he confirms.

"I am warmed by your comforting words," I say drily.

Getting the hint – albeit a little bit slower than he would with his brain actually functioning - he puts an arm around me and pulls me against him. A whiff of liquor meets my nose when he opens his mouth and says, "It'll be okay, Rosie. You'll just have to find other ways to do fun stuff."

"But being Head Girl was so..." I sigh dramatically. "Perfect. I mean – yes, the responsibilities were a con. But think of all the pros! I had my own common room!"

"I know, I know," he replies soothingly – almost capriciously. "It is a sad day for everyone, Rose."

We turn around the corner and the Ravenclaw Tower lies in front of us. When Louis nearly trips over his own feet, I extend my hand to support him and mumble, "Easy there."

"You have to help me with the password," he says in a whiney voice.

"Really?" I feign bafflement. "I was just going to leave you here."

Louis, able to catch the sarcasm in spite of his fuzzy head, utters a barely comprehensible "Ha-ha" and smacks my shoulder. With a yelping me in his wake, he then proceeds to stand in front of the entrance and opens his arms – like the bronze knocker on the door is going to let him slip by.

As if.

"The man who invented it doesn't want it. The man who bought it doesn't need it. The man who needs it doesn't know it. What is it?"

Louis gives me a helpless look.

"A coffin," I say pointedly.

As expected, the door opens, leading the way to the spiral staircase. Seeing as I am not a Ravenclaw – something about being too brash? I don't quite remember, since the Sorting Hat hardly pronounces its words and I was too upset to listen anyway – I cannot enter, and with a tinge of worry I watch Louis clumsily climbing upwards.

"Goodnight, Rosie," he yells, "we'll talk about this tomorrow!"

I cringe at the volume of his voice – we're roaming around the castle way after curfew, after all – and give him a quick wave. The door slides closed immediately after he's gone, leaving me alone in all of my misfortune.

Jesus.

I'm not Head Girl anymore.

And, worse even, I only managed to be Head Girl for six days.

I bet even McGonagall thought I would last longer – though she was clearly itching to strip off my title. I could see it in her sparkling eyes while she was reprimanding me ("I knew it! I knew you would disappoint!") and hear it in the gloating tone hidden beneath layers of shrill roaring.

Truth is, she did know I was going to disappoint.

She never wanted to make me Head Girl in the first place.

Last year she took me apart, one evening, and informed me of her dilemma. The fact that I am the student with the highest grades and the highest spot on many professors' Favourite List kind of forced her to consider me. Then again, she commented, I was too much of a party girl to be responsible. There were people far more deserving of the spot, because in the end I wasn't exactly known for applying myself to the school's activities. I didn't respect rules. I didn't respect the traditional order. Blah, blah, blah. She concluded her tirade with the very wise and profound words "You are nothing like your mother!" which almost had me clapping in sarcastic response. When she was finished, however, she asked me if I deemed myself worthy of the title, and I bluntly said yes. I gave her a run for her money by engaging myself in a tremendously convincing speech – something I'm good at by the way, I'm nothing if not eloquent. She went with it too – two months later I received the Head Girl badge by owl.

Naturally, I managed to ruin it with record speed.

Well done, Rose.

Brilliant.

More dejected than I ever thought I would be about something as trivial as a title, I walk on, braving the creepy corridors leading to the library – a place that has always been somewhat of a refuge. When I was fifteen I stole Madam Pince's key for a day and duplicated it. I had to take these extreme measures because suddenly a simple Alohomora wasn't enough to open the door anymore. The library has been my to-go place whenever I sneak out of bed at night ever since.

Going there now seems to only logical choice.

Unfortunately, this plan gets sabotaged too. Because, after five minutes of inconspicuous strolling, hushed but clearly agitated voices interrupt me.

"You can't be serious – that's outrageous!"

Shit.

I don't recognise that voice at all.

Hurriedly I cast a non-verbal Concealment Charm, hoping that I prevailed without any glitches. A flood of cold runs through me immediately, freezing me for a moment. When the sensation's over, I quickly slip into the closest classroom – and just my luck, the sound of footsteps and loud whispers only draw nearer.

"Priscilla, this was a secret, okay?"

Priscilla Ackerley and Charles Baddock.

Just my luck indeed.

The two Slytherins apparently had the same ingenious idea of finding shelter here. Why they need shelter – that's another question. Baddock, dark-skinned, dark-haired, dark-souled probably, closes the door, and luckily misses my body by a few inches while doing so.

I hold my breath cautiously.

A lovers spat.

Just the entertainment I needed to brighten my joyless, dark night!

These two have been together since, well, fifth year. Basically forever. One morning they appeared in the Great Hall, holding hands and actually smiling. This wouldn't have had an impact on me whatsoever if it hadn't been for the fact that they looked so out of place while doing so. Nonetheless, they kept holding hands, and smiling (if only to each other), and it's quite the surprise to find them shooting death glares at each other like this.

"Yes, as it has been for years," Ackerley hisses, clearly fuming. "And I want in, Charles!"

Interest definitely peaked. We were all wondering what the creepy couple has been fighting about so much lately anyway. I don't know much about either of them – just that they're not particularly nice, and that no one really does. Then again, Slytherins will be Slytherins. They're not exactly known for their warm-hearted and genuine way of being.

"You can't," Baddock says firmly. He's not very tall – not taller than his girlfriend at least – but he breathes authority, just by looking at her in that strange, brutal way of his. "It's an all-males club."

All-males club?

What are we – the 1950's?

Ackerley follows my thinking and rolls her eyes, "If that's your defence, Charles, then I must say I'm not exactly impressed."

"The Equinox Society is part of my life without you, Priscilla. Why can't you accept that?"

The Equinox Society.

Right.

Taking Charles Baddock into account, this could mean the following things:

a) An illegal, flourishing business in trading Felix Felicis

b) The Russian Wizarding Mafia

c) A strip club where he's Head Pimp and girls specialise in pole dancing

Oh, how to dampen my curiosity!

"Because you've been keeping it from me the whole time, and I want to try it out!" Ackerley exclaims, unable to be quiet. "It sounds exciting and I want to be a part of it!"

"It's not that simple," he says curtly. "It's dangerous."

So that rules out girls dancing 'round a pole.

"How is it dangerous, Charles?"

Baddock groans impatiently. "The assignments... they require a lot of effort. You probably won't be able to go home on your Christmas breaks, or go the Hogsmeade, or – "

"I don't care!" she cuts him off harshly. "It's meaningful, and I want to do whatever you're doing too!"

This is more or less the point where my inquisitiveness reaches unknown heights – with all the strength I can muster I force myself not to give in and reveal myself, just to straight-out ask what the hell they're on about. Unfortunately (because there seems to be a lot of that tonight) this is also the point where the following happens, in chronologic order:

Charles baddock opens his mouth to reply.

However – no words have the chance of escaping.

Why, you ask?

Because that exact moment, the door flies open with a speed to be reckoned with.

Of course, since luck is not on my side (as has been confirmed multiple times), it hits me square in the face.

And I, because I am reduced to human reflexes (read: because I am a retard), shriek, "Ow!"

Which everyone hears.

Bloody hell.

Now, this night already accounted for one of the least pleasurable nights I have had so far. However, when I see it's Scorpius Malfoy who so aggressively pushed a wooden object towards me, I decide it might just be the Worst Night Ever.

"Scorpius?" Baddock and Ackerley react simultaneously. "Was that you?"

"Opening the door because you were talking so bloody loud?" Malfoy says drily, in that immensely irritating drawl. "Yes, that was me. That feminine yelp? Obviously not."

God. How I strongly dislike this boy – and dislike is euphemism here.

Scorpius Malfoy is one of those very remarkable creatures that were simply born without a normal range of emotions. After years of observation, I am fairly certain he doesn't have a heart. Like, literally. I mean, there are times when he tries to act human – when he's wooing girls, for example. But even then, his charm has always seemed thinly veiled to me. Sugar coated cheaply, like he doesn't want to put too much effort in it, like it almost pains him to lower himself to normal – in his books 'banal' would probably be a better word – people's behaviour.

Then again, the only thing we ever exchange are insults, so, you know.

Maybe he does cry at night and sleeps with a teddy bear and braids his best friend's hair.

"Then who was it?" Ackerley asks, scanning the room swiftly.

Baddock says, "Hang on." And flicks his wand.

Oh dear –

"Rose Weasley?"

Baddock and Ackerley are completely thrown off guard.

Malfoy... well, he just sounds disgusted. Because clearly he hasn't learned how to speak differently yet.

"Who countered my charm?" is the first thing I can think of, trying not to look sheepish at being caught red-handed. "That's impossible."

"Maybe it is... for you and the imbeciles you call friends," Malfoy responds, almost lightly.

"I did," Baddock intervenes quickly.

"So," I quip up, sparing Malfoy no second glance. "What's this Equinox Society I've been hearing about?"

A rush of pleasure runs through me as I see the shock and unease befalling them all. No immediate response comes – not even from Scorpius 'I Always Have The Last Word' Malfoy.

Good.

Seems like I hit a nerve.

"I mean, not to bother you or anything," I continue sweetly, "but it all sounds pretty illegal to me."

Malfoy is the first to come to his senses. "How the fuck does this twat know about – "

"I want to join," Ackerley says briskly. "We were discussing it."

"Out in the open?" Malfoy all but gasps. "How terribly clever of you."

"Well, that's what a Concealment Charm does, Scorpius. It conceals. We didn't know she was here!" Baddock counters, annoyed.

Malfoy, looking like he wants to punch someone, sneers, "And you couldn't have checked?"

"Oh friends," I interrupt, amused at the display of their failure and their vexed looks directed at me due to my choice of apostrophe, "while this has been cosy, I want to cut the meeting short. I want to join too."

Ackerley sputters.

Baddock frowns very deeply.

And Malfoy... he starts laughing.

"No wonder you have friends. You are the clown of the group who makes mentally deranged comments and everyone pokes fun at without feeling guilty."

"Like you even know what guilt is, Malfoy," I say. "You can stop being smug, because I'm very serious."

Truth is, I don't know what I'm doing. I mean – I'm alone, lost my Head Girl title just minutes ago, I'm bored – and most of all I just want to antagonise Malfoy. I still don't know what the Equinox Society is, who's in it, what they do, if it's something special at all.

But as long as Malfoy is unhappy, I'm happy.

"No," Baddock shakes his head. "No way."

"Well, I'm joining, so she might as well," Ackerley interjects, earning a appreciative look from me.

Malfoy snorts, "Over my dead body."

"Well," I smile brightly, "if that's the only measure we need to take..."

Ackerley grins slightly. Baddock rubs his temples, and suddenly says, "23 September."

Malfoy's jaw drops to the floor, "What?"

If this is his reaction, then it must be good.

"23 September is our first meeting this year," he goes on, holding Malfoy's infuriated gaze intensely. "I'll send you both a message where it is held."

Indeed, what?

"You're actually letting us join?" I can't help but let my surprise shine through.

"23 September," Ackerley repeats apprehensively, beaming. "The Autumn equinox."

"You can't be fucking serious," Malfoy scowls, his eyes popping out.

"You'll understand," Baddock says, with an air of finality. Even though Malfoy towers over him, he is definitely as intimidating – if not more – as the platinum-haired monster. Baddock nods at him, making me wonder what the hell he means by that, and Malfoy strangely goes mute. Ackerley and I swiftly look at each other in question.

"Don't forget to attend," Baddock tells us, placing his arm around his girlfriend's waist in the process.

He doesn't wait for me to respond. He gently pulls Ackerley with him and walks out of the classroom, leaving a confused me in their wake. Ackerley briefly looks over her shoulder to wink at me, to which I react by, once again, giving a small wave. Malfoy, on the other hand, is still standing next to me, his light grey eyes glistening in the light of the moon, falling in rays through the window.

"This is not my choice," he informs me hatefully.

I raise an eyebrow and ask sarcastically, "So I guess that means you're not going to walk me to the Gryffindor Tower?"

"If I can push you off it afterwards, then gladly."

"Good night, club mate," I smirk, loving the fact that I have the upper-hand this time.

I follow Baddock's example and walk out the classroom, not waiting for Malfoy's retort. On the way back to the dorms, I can't help but think this night might have turned out for the better.