I told you that I would not abandon this fic. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!
During the middle of the night, Valkyrie sat up in her four-poster bed with a sigh. Even when she was a little girl, she'd always wanted one. But something was nagging at her mind and keeping her awake.
Pulling back the Slytherin green curtains, she swung her legs over the edge of the bed and stole away down to the common room. The common room was empty and quiet, the only sound being the soothing hiss and crackle of the fire that blazed welcomingly in the fireplace.
Turning her back to the fireplace, she walked towards the portrait at the end of the room. She paused once to gaze out of the stained-glass window into the Black Lake, the green-ish water eerily drifting past the window. Shaking herself back into reality, Valkyrie climbed the remainder of the stone steps leading up to the portrait and slipped outside. Once in the corridor outside the common room, Valkyrie began padding her way down the winding school corridors.
"I'd have thought there'd be more teachers prowling 'round here at night," Valkyrie muttered to herself, "then again, I suppose they're not vampires."
Having met more than enough vampires during her time with Skulduggery on numerous occasions, Valkyrie had come to a conclusion. They were ugly, not very intelligent, creepy, selfish and all-round bastards.
Suddenly, a noise from up ahead made her freeze in her tracks instinctively. Her breath caught in her throat for a moment as she dived down the corridor on her left and pressed her back up against the wall.
"Who's there?" A sharp, irritable voice demanded.
After a brief moment, Valkyrie slowly poked her head around the corner. A little further down the corridor she had just exited was a ragged-looking old man, who was holding up a lantern close to his angular, angry face, illuminating it in the dark corridor. By his feet, a fluffy brown and black tortoiseshell cat twitched her ears back and forth, her tail occasionally swaying to and fro as her gleaming eyes seemed to scan the corridor.
Running through a list of teachers' descriptions in her mind, which Malfoy had thought to give her earlier, Valkyrie swiftly came to the conclusion that this must be the school's 'squib caretaker', Argus Filch.
"Is someone there my sweet?" Argus asked, his voice almost a croon as he bent at the waist to gently pet the cat, who pushed her head into his hand at the touch.
Breathing shallowly, Valkyrie backed down the corridor until she could not hear the low tones of the caretaker, which led her down many unfamiliar corridors. A spark of excitement flared up within her as she clicked her fingers in the darkness, illuminating the world around her to reveal sleeping figures in the moving paintings. She stared at them awhile before moving on.
After quite a while, which seemed to Valkyrie like hours, she finally admitted it to herself. She was lost. To make matters worse, she was lost in a giant castle and had no map. Cursing herself under her breath, she headed down the nearest spiral staircase and hoped that she had circled back on herself. She could only pray that she was heading for the Slytherin common room.
Reaching the bottom of the long, dark and winding staircase, she stepped onto the stone cold floor and padded forwards quietly. A wooden door was positioned ahead of her, and she carefully pushed down the handle, being careful not to make too much noise. The door creaked inwards, making her wince and hold her breath, being as silent as possible to see if there was any sound that would give away her detection.
A few moments of silence signalled that she was alone. Padding inside the large, creepy room, she noticed the large square wooden tables with high stools. Many shelves lined the walls, with a multi-coloured abundance of potion-filled glass and crystal bottles. They gleamed almost sinisterly in the light from the candles that were lit on the empty teacher's desk.
The door behind Valkyrie closed with a unexpected wooden thump, making Valkyrie jump and her heart begin to pound so loudly that she could hear the blood beating out the heart's rhythm in her ears.
As she jumped, her elbow connected with one of the shelves she had been curiously examining. A light crystal bottle tottered forwards at the impact and teetered dangerously on the edge of the shelf, the light baby blue liquid sloshing around inside. Gravity finally won out. Valkyrie was too shocked to even move, and the only thing she could do was wince as the bottled potion tumbled through the air and smashed upon the stone floor, the ring of the crystal lasting for a moment before returning to a deadly, foreboding silence.
"Crap." Valkyrie whispered venomously, watching as the potion bubbled and discoloured into a black so dark that it looked as though it could have been a portal into a void.
"What do you think you're doing?" A silky voice hissed vehemently.
Valkyrie looked up to see a black-caped figure standing over her, his pointed face full of fury as he flicked his wand at the potions remains, dissolving the potion into nothingness as the crystal reformed into a new, clean and empty potion bottle. Just by looking at him, Valkyrie knew that Snape was clearly not a professor to be messed with, and something about him instilled seeds of fear inside her stomach.
Humbled slightly with shock at the potions master's appearance, she gestured to the shelf and the floor rapidly as she spoke. "I-I'm sorry! I didn't mean to! I'm just lost...I couldn't sleep so I left the Slytherin dorms and went for a walk to clear my head an-"
"Don't you know that there's a curfew?" Snape snapped icily, "No students are allowed out of their dormitories after ten o'clock. Or do you think that just because your father is a professor, you are exempt from this rule?"
Valkyrie blinked a few times before remembering that Skulduggery was her 'father' in this universe. Her anger inwardly boiled and she felt her hand curl into a fist, her necromancer ring digging into her flesh a little. What right do you have to criticise Skulduggery? She fumed.
"I forgot, I'm sorry," Valkyrie answered, trying to let her outward appearance remain deceptively frightened, "I know I'm not special or anything because of Skul-Professor Pleasant, but I just needed to clear my head because I couldn't sleep. I'm just scared, Professor. So, so scared. My magic is a little different to the others, and I'm worried that people are going to discriminate me because of it, or that they'll call me a freak. I'm not a freak...am I?"
Snape stilled until he resembled a statue, and for a moment Valkyrie wondered if she'd said the wrong thing. "I will not pity you just because you are in the house of Slytherin." Snape stated, holding up a hand to silence her as she took a breath to presumably begin arguing, "Yet neither am I going to ignore this. You're not the only who has worries and fears in this world, Pleasant."
"Then surely, you can understand where I'm coming from?" Valkyrie pleaded.
"I didn't say I was referring to myself." Snape barked sharply. His facial features seemed to soften slightly, and his eyes glazed over as if he was being pulled back in time by a memory. Refocusing on Valkyrie moments later as he resurfaced from the memory, his words came out as short grumbles. "However...I do understand."
Valkyrie resisted the urge to let her mouth drop open a little in slight surprise.
"I will see you back to your dormitory, and you will stay there. Are we clear?" Snape asked, his voice firm in a tone that should have brooked no argument.
"How do you know I can't find my own way back to the Slytherin dormitory?" Valkyrie retorted, folding her arms over her chest.
At first, Snape's only response was to mockingly raise an eyebrow at her. But when he spoke, his voice was dry and derisive. "Because had you known, you would not have been lost in the first place...obviously."
A bright red blush spread along her cheekbones, and she was taken by surprise as she found herself suppressing a yawn, showing how sleepy she had become. She muttered something unintelligible and huffed, glaring at the floor and missing the tiny smirk that played about Snape's lips. Ignoring her mutterings, he took her by the scruff of the pyjama neckline and swept out of the potions rooms, all but dragging her back up the stairs in the darkness.
Lighting the tip of his wand with a hushed 'lumos', Snape snuck a glance down at his charge. His eyes widened as he saw the shadowy black tendrils that had escaped from the necromancer ring that adorned Valkyrie's finger. But he said nothing, noticing how tired she was.
He couldn't help wondering what other kinds of magic were out there, or if it was just that these 'odd people' were simply stronger wizards, who were known worldwide for their abilities in wandless magic. But even that didn't fit, as even without the wand, they still used the same spells. As he gazed down at the shadows, he observed them as they slowly receded back into Valkyrie's ring.
Arriving back at the Slytherin common room, Snape half-heartedly cuffed the teenager around the ear. "Back to your bed, and don't come down until breakfast. I believe you have potion with me first period. Don't be late." Snape commanded, forcing a smile satisfaction off his face as Valkyrie complained tiredly, barely able to make a comprehensible sentence in her tired state.
"You don't be late…" Valkyrie yawned cheekily, prodding a finger into his chest defiantly.
Unamused, Snape coughed pointedly. "I said go to bed, Pleasant." He snapped coldly.
"My name's Valkyrie." She reminded him, her voice a little forceful as she turned away and headed further into the common room.
Snape watched until she had faded from view into the girls' dormitory before turning on his heel and striding out of the Slytherin common room, his coal-black cape sweeping out behind him.
As he strode out of the common room, he noticed a silhouette up ahead that disappeared around the corner. Narrowing his eyes, he silently followed.
Rounding the corner, he came face-to-face with a furious Draco Malfoy, whose face was pinched taught in a mixture of anger and worry. "Are you still following me?" He hissed angrily, "I've said it before, I don't need your help! This is my task, and I won't have you trying to take over!"
Before Snape could say another word, Draco had sprinted off down the corridor to be swallowed by the darkness. Snape was left alone in the corridor, the fire from the nearby stone podium which shed a warm glow that flickered over his face.
Tanith woke the next morning in her pyjamas and whooped with excitement as she ran down the stairs, into the common room and out to the corridor. Reaching the corridor, she stretched and yawned, her blonde hair sticking up everywhere like a mane. "Good morning world!" She laughed, the taste of adventure on the tip of her tongue, making her nearly beg to see what else lay beyond in this strange universe.
Laughing as a chorus of surprised yells sounded out, she leaped onto the stone banister of the moving staircase, her fluffy bed socks seeming to offend everyone around her. Turning to face her shocked onlookers, she winked.
"Get off the bannister this instant!" A Gryffindor prefect shouted, his face almost purple with rage. "I mean it! Do as I say or I'll come and get you down from there myself!"
"Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough." Tanith laughed cheekily, calmly falling backwards off of the bannister.
The rest of the Gryffindor house had run out to see the commotion, and as she spoke, Fred and George shook their heads in awe. "We've got competition Freddie." George remarked.
As Tanith fell, screams of horror sounded out, drawing people from other houses to look. "She's committed suicide!" Someone shouted.
A peal of hysterical laughter echoed from below, and everyone craned their necks to see who it was. Their mouths dropped in disbelief as they saw Tanith sitting crosslegged on the underside of the moving staircase. "You guys are all so cute!" Tanith sniggered. Waving to them, she jumped once more until she had reached the ground floor. "Now then, I'm up for one hell of a breakfast, so if you guys want any, then you better hurry up because at this rate it looks like I'm gonna eat the lot. From every table."
At that, people yelled out angrily. But no-one moved as quickly as Ron Weasley, who shot past all of them at rocket speed with an infuriated yell.
"NO ONE TAKES MY BREAKFAST."
Fletcher was already dressed in his new robes, sat to the Hufflepuff table with Andy beside him, the both of them eating and discussing the classes they had with each other a bit later. He liked Andy, he was nice, funny and a little shy, which was totally different from what Fletcher was used to.
Thinking of this, Fletcher sneaked a glance at Valkyrie who was sat next to a tired-looking Draco on the other side of the hall. He watched every detail of Valkyrie's face, the way she frowned when trying to explain something, and the way her face lit up with a smile when she learnt something new from the Slytherins around her. He was glad of that, at least. He'd noticed that the Slytherin house looked out for their own, but it didn't help fill the empty space he felt when he saw Val talking to that Draco kid.
Fletcher realised with a jolt that as he'd been thinking, Andy had asked him a question. "Huh?" He asked dumbly, mentally shaking himself awake.
Andy rolled his eyes from behind his glasses. "I asked what you're gonna do this afternoon? We haven't any lessons then."
"Well...I heard that Professor Pleasant is going to take Tanitch, Val and I to get our new wands." He told his friend, helping himself to more scrambled egg.
"Oh." Andy replied, looking a little deflated.
"You can come with us if you want?" Fletcher offered, suddenly realising that Andy had wanted to spend a little time with him.
"You sure?" Andy questioned, grinning.
"Yeah, 'course! They won't mind. Besides, you probably know the best places to go around here." Fletcher replied with a shrug, his mouth half-filled with food.
Fletcher had barely finished his sentence when Tanith barrelled into the Great Hall, clad in her pyjamas and fluffy socks. Everyone's jaw dropped, and Valkyrie face-palmed from across the hall with a quiet mutter.
"Is she normally like that?" Andy questioned, pointing to Tanith, who had seated herself in between the two adoring Weasley twins, stuffing her face with food whilst maintaining an air of good grace.
Fletcher nodded helplessly. "Yeah…" He admitted.
After a morning of double potions with Professor Snape, Valkyrie had been more than happy to escape from the dungeons with a hysterical Tanith in tow.
"Val, you should have seen your face!" Tanith cried, laughing loudly.
"What?" Valkyrie snapped, grinding her teeth.
"What about it?"
"It was so angry!"
"I know! I was angry, Tanith! Snape criticised me for everything I did! Ok, so I don't know the difference between wormroot and...and...whatever it was! And I don't care! Snape was an absolute bloody son of a b-"
"Valkyrie! Tanith! There you are!" Skulduggery's voice rang out across the courtyard, drawing their attention to where he was stood with Fletcher and Andy. "We were beginning to think that you'd lost your way."
"I don't lose my way, Skulduggery. Stop insulting my sense of direction." Valkyrie muttered, pushing her way past them so that they could start their journey to Diagon Alley.
"Well, was your sense of direction insulted?" Skulduggery questioned.
"Yes." Valkyrie sulked.
"Good. Maybe that way it'll learn not to lose its way in the future." Skulduggery nodded, pulling his disguise up around his skeletal face.
Valkyrie exhaled loudly in exasperation. "You're unbearable sometimes."
"And I hate you for it."
"I know this too."
"Do you know everything?" Valkyrie snapped sarcastically.
"Well no. Really now Valkyrie, that's just silly. Nobody could know everything. I just know nearly everything." Skulduggery responded, drawing up alongside the others and taking Valkyrie with him.
Valkyrie sighed at the obvious battle loss, but followed them into the town.
Andy grinned around at them as they came onto the main high street. "Welcome to Diagon Alley, guys." He announced. Along the way, he excitedly pointed out lots of other shops and bits and pieces for them.
Finally, they approached a large shop with two protruding circular glass windows either side of the door. The words 'Ollivander's. Makers of fine wands since 382 B.C.' were painted on the wood above the door in gold. Valkyrie, full of curiosity, filed in behind the others and closed the door behind her.
"Mr. Ollivander?" Skulduggery called, "I've brought you some new customers."
"Hello, hello!" Mr. Ollivander shouted down to them from where he was stood atop the ladder, "You did indeed! Here let me look at you all." Scrambling carefully down the ladder, he approached them all individually, except for Andy and Skulduggery.
Humming to himself, he nodded and headed into the back of the shop before coming back with four boxes. He regarded one of the boxes and shook his head with a mutter, pocketing the box and mumbling that the wand wasn't ready for an owner yet. Clearing his throat, Mr Ollivander beckoned Tanith, Fletcher and Valkyrie forwards, placing a box in front of each of them. "These are the wands who seem to cry out for you." He told them, motioning for them to open the boxes. "Please, try them."
Doing as bidden, they opened the boxes and withdrew the wands. Feeling slightly silly, Valkyrie just stood there. "Uhm...should I do anything with it?" She asked, "I mean, do I wave it or something, or...?"
"Yes, yes, my girl!" Ollivander encouraged, gesturing for her to do so and standing back.
Valkyrie screamed as a jet of magic shot across the room in Ollivander's wand shop and burst into little green sprinkles in the middle of the room, like a firework. Her eyes wide with wonder, she stared at the wand in her hands. "Woah…What were the specs on this thing again?" She asked Ollivander, ignoring Skulduggery who was stood a little way behind her with his disguise on and his arms folded.
"That wand there is made of rosewood. It's eleven inches exactly, and the core, I believe, is dragon heartstring." Ollivander told her proudly.
"I think this one speaks to me on a spiritual level." Tanith remarked jokingly from the other side of the room as the wand she held in her hand sent an electric shock through her hair, making it fluff up until it was twice its normal volume.
"Ah yes," Ollivander nodded, "ten inches, hawthorne wood, with the dragon heartstring at its core." The wandmaker turned to Fletcher just as the hair-obsessed teen picked up the white-coloured wooden wand that had been laying in a box beside him. "And that one…"
Fletcher's eyes widened as a cone of silver enveloped him, making him feel warm and protected as whisperings rushed past him so fast and so quietly, that he could barely hear them. As the magical cone of protection diminished into nothingness once more, he spoke before Ollivander could, his voice calm and unusually serious. "Birch wood, eleven and a half inches. Unicorn hair core."
If Skulduggery had had eyebrows, he would have raised them in surprise.
"Indeed it is." Ollivander agreed, the flame of curiosity alight in his eyes. "And once again, the wand...chooses the wizard." He murmured, half in a dream-like state. He barely managed to pull himself together to accept the galleons that were handed to him in payment.
Skulduggery didn't miss the shocked yet curious look in the older man's eyes, but he kept his observations to himself. It was obvious, to him at least, that Ollivander had just passed on a wand of formidable, and possible with a hidden, power. Whether this power would be used for the right or wrong reasons, however, was indeterminable.
As they walked back to the castle together, Tanith and Valkyrie discussed and compared their new wands at length. Fletcher seemed more content to examine his wand, lost deep in thought and not paying any attention to the females on his side.
Privately, Skulduggery thought that Fletcher knew of the wand's secret, and he wondered how much the boy knew.