It Starts at Square One
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, it belongs to JK Rowling
Part 1: To Go or Not to Go?
It was the first day of Hogwarts, the day young witches and wizards looked forward to most during their childhood. Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy had once been no exception but the events of the previous year had changed him, damaged him and his once childish enthusiasm was replaced by numb indifference.
He had somehow hoped that when he woke up today, he would magically feel excited the way he used to be. But no. He'd awoken from the cruelly frequent nightmares feeling as depressed as ever. He lay there for awhile, trying to muster some sense of happiness. It was hard to even remember what that felt like.
He glanced beside his bed at the picture of him and his dad, taken not too long before… before the event. It was when his father had let him ride on his broom with him, or rather just after. He was beaming and his father just looked proud as the picture put its arm around Scorpius' younger self while the other still held the broom. He tried to remember the feeling but it only saddened him, he wished he could be the picture, forever happy.
He sighed and mechanically got himself dressed, forcing himself not to look at the scar wrapped around his left wrist. When he was done he simply sat back down on the edge of the bed quietly, waiting and staring at the floor. He had already gotten everything packed the previous day so there was nothing left to do.
Solemnly he listened to the silence, realizing he probably wouldn't get that in a busy school crammed with people. He couldn't decide which he preferred - or rather which he hated more - being around people or being around himself. He sighed again before hastily grabbing the picture from his bedside and shoving it into his trunk, he kept failing his promise to stop packing photographs.
Deciding it was better to get going before he could pack any other pictures, he left the solitude of his room. The halls were as dark and empty as he felt, despite the sunshine that streamed through the large window in his room. He quickly made his way downstairs but paused at the bottom when he heard raised voices arguing, as he got closer to the kitchen he realized they were arguing about him.
"Draco, how can you even be considering not sending him to Hogwarts?! Every Malfoy goes to Hogwarts! Every Malfoy gets sorted into Slytherin! It's tradition!" his grandfather's voice yelled angrily and Scorpius poked his head in enough to see his family sitting around the kitchen table. Except his grandfather, who was standing and slamming his fist onto the table, "Not to mention what the wizarding world would think, they'd think my grandson a squib!"
"Merlin's beard, Father! For once try to think about someone other than yourself!" his father's voice retorted equally furiously as he leaped up, "Scorpius has been through a lot and… and he's still not himself, it's hard enough without the added pressure of schoolwork and the drama of Hogwarts. We're not saying to never send him to Hogwarts, just to give him some more time!"
"What, so he can be behind everyone else and in the wrong year?! That's so much better, Draco! Stop smothering the boy, if you really want him to be normal again then send him to Hogwarts. Being around normal people will be good for him. Despite the filthy mudbloods they still let in."
"I'm with Draco. It's only been three months, Lucius. It seems cruel to just send him away so soon," his grandmother joined the conversation, "He's so young, he's my little precious grandson and he shouldn't be all alone in the big scary wizarding world. Think of all the prejudice we get, kids can be such bullies!"
"For the love of…" his grandfather began rolling his eyes at his wife's emotion but seemed to give up, shaking it off as his eyes glinted with anger once more, "Scorpius will never be normal if you don't send him to Hogwarts! It's the best place for him! I had a great time at Hogwarts and so will he! Besides, it'll teach him to defend himself so this will never happen to him again. I can't believe all of you and I can't believe you waited until the day he leaves to have doubts! He's a Malfoy! He's not as weak as you seem to believe."
"Have you even seen him lately? Besides, he's our son Lucius!" his father yelled, "It's up to us to decide what's best for him, not you!"
"Isn't it also your job to protect him? Great job you did there, Draco!"
"You didn't do that much better."
"I didn't let you get ruined for life by filthy muggles," his grandfather spat coldly and Scorpius was surprised by the hurt in his father's eyes as he stared at the table with an expression that looked guiltier than Scorpius had thought possible, "It makes me sick. And you just let it happen. It's your fault he's broken. Being too overprotective is just as bad as not being protective enough, don't fail Scorpius again by stealing his last chance at normality!"
"Silence!" his mother yelled finally, she'd had her head in her hands since Scorpius had come down but she looked up as she spoke and he saw her face stained with tears, "Did any of you think to actually ask Scorpius what he wants?"
"He's just a baby!"
"He doesn't know what he wants!"
"He wouldn't understand anything!"
At the same moment Scorpius realized it was probably the first time he had ever heard the three of them agree on anything, his mother realized he was there. Her eyes widened and the trio looked in his direction, following her gaze. Why they seemed stunned he had no idea, he did live there after all. Had they forgotten he existed? Scorpius didn't care though, he was angry. He may be the first to admit that he wasn't the same but he knew he was by no means as stupid as they seemed to think he was. He wasn't entirely sure why he was so angry but he was. He could feel his fury literally flooding through him, so badly he wanted to lash out, to scream, to hit something. His fists were clenched before he realized it and shaking with barely contained rage, he felt sure if he moved it would erupt out of him.
"Good morning, sweetie!"
"Ah Scorpius, did you sleep well, my boy?"
"Isn't it a beautiful day?" his father asked as the trio put on the sickeningly fake smiles they wore every day before Draco seemed to give up as he sighed heavily, his smile gone, "How much of that did you hear?"
"I want to go to Hogwarts," Scorpius said, putting every effort into keeping his voice steady and calm as he became determined to go. He may not truly want to leave but he wanted to stay even less, "In case anyone cares. I'll be in my room waiting on your decision because I'm sick of listening to you."
Once he would have been chastised for speaking to his elders with such disrespect but as he turned on his heel and walked away, his mother calling his name was all he heard. No one came after him.
He made it back to his room and sat on the edge of the bed once more, he just stared at the floor. Not really seeing. Not really thinking. He felt the anger draining away until he was empty again, a part of him wanted to cry but no tears came, too empty to cry because there was nothing left inside. Ruined for life his grandfather had said, did that mean he'd be like that forever? Except for fleeting moments of anger and fear when he woke up?
"Is everything all packed, Master Scorpius?" a voice questioned and he blinked, noticing one of the house-elves had materialized in front of him. It was his favourite, Yip, who was motioning to the trunk.
"Yes, yes it is. Does that mean I'm still going?"
"Were you ever not going, Master Scorpius?" Yip wondered as an expression of puzzlement crossed his odd lopsided face before he smiled, "If you do not wish to leave, Master Scorpius, I could always take your place for you."
At this the house-elf grabbed the wand from his bedside desk and jumped onto the trunk. Yip grinned madly, hopping around as he brandished the wand – backwards – saying 'yah!' and motioning as if casting a spell.
"I think I would make a good wizard, don't you think, Master Scorpius?" Yip said excitedly, continuing his odd display of what Scorpius assumed was his impression of someone using a spell, "I could smite our foes and make potions for purposes that… that are important! Charms and transfigurations and - ooh I could be an animagi! I would love to turn into a bird and I could fly - ooh as a wizard I could fly on broomsticks and win many a great Quidditch match for Slytherin! I could be a Seeker and catch the Snitch to win the game; everyone would carry me on their shoulders yelling 'Yip, Yip hooray!'"
Scorpius did manage a faint smile at the house-elf's odd whimsy, he had known Yip his whole life and when he was younger the house-elf had been his frequent source of play and amusement. He considered Yip his one and only friend. His family usually weren't too keen on more out-spoken house-elves - his grandfather especially - but he hadn't socialized much with other magical children, partly because his family were looked down on and partly because his family looked down on others. Yip had been all he had. Upon his return Yip and Yip alone still treated him like himself, while also recognizing he wasn't quite the same but neither pushed too hard or ignored it completely. Yip was the only person he'd really felt comfortable around since, he would miss his friend greatly. Assuming he did go.
"You'd make a great wizard, Yip," Scorpius admitted to which the house-elf's lopsided smile managed to get even wider.
"Yes I would," Yip said firmly as he got off of the trunk and pushed the wand into his master's hand, "But you'll be the greatest."
"I don't think so, I don't even want to be great really because then I'd be in the spotlight with people knowing everything about me and criticizing everything I do. I'd settle for just being a normal wizard like my family want, I want them to be proud of me again… I want to be happy again."
"Your family are proud of you, they love you."
"They think I'm stupid and weak, Yip, you should have heard them talking about me downstairs."
"Well I'm proud of you."
"For what?" Scorpius snorted doubtfully.
"You have a good heart, Master Scorpius," Yip answered looking slightly surprised as his expression became serious, "A good soul is worth more than gold and that's something to be proud of."
"Yip Yip hooray," Scorpius whispered in an attempt at humour that seemed to work as Yip beamed before he hugged his friend tightly, "Thank you. I don't know how I would've gotten through these past few months without you."
"Oh for Merlin's sake," his grandfather snapped from the doorway and Scorpius instantly let go, "Have you not gotten that stupid trunk downstairs already?! Be gone! Before Draco changes his mind! You are the most worthless disobedient piece of-"
"Hey!" Scorpius snapped back and his grandfather looked at him oddly, "Treat Yip with some respect, he's my friend."
"Okay child, we have to have a discussion about what classifies as friends," his grandfather began in his best lecture voice as Yip vanished with the trunk, "That was a house-elf, a slave, it's not our friend. I don't want to hear you've befriended anymore of those beings at Hogwarts, they are beneath you Scorpius."
"Yip is my friend and my equal, I don't care what he is and what you say. However I will remember to stay away from mudbloods and half-bloods if I can help it, once I get sorted into Slytherin I should be okay. I can stick with them as they will be pure-bloods for the most part, the right sort of people I should be around. I know grandfather, you don't need to tell me again. Oh and avoid that oaf Hagrid, that disgrace Longbottom, any red-haired Weasley spawn and of course the Potters. Never ever go anywhere near the Potters."
"Very good but no one likes a smart-mouth, boy," his grandfather quipped with a scowl as Scorpius recounted his previous lectures word for word.
"I think I get that from you."
"Seriously, Scorpius, don't test me."
"What are you going to do?" Scorpius questioned standing and became very aware he was still holding his wand, he tightened his grip and could feel the power within. From the way his grandfather's eyes darted to it, Scorpius had a feeling he noticed it too, "I'm not afraid of you."
"Well maybe you should be… More respectful. Now run along to breakfast, wouldn't want you to starve on your way to school."
Scorpius said nothing as he fiercely met the older man's eyes and slowly moved towards the door, slipping past him and back downstairs where the others were all seated cheerfully as if the events of earlier had never happened. That was the Malfoy way, sweep everything under the rug and never speak of it again. It seemed a stupid system to Scorpius but that was the way it worked. A few minutes later his grandfather rejoined them and enthusiastically launched into an account of his first day at Hogwarts, Scorpius just ate his food in silence and wished he could speed up time.
Part 2: Incidental Meetings
Scorpius was relieved his grandparents weren't also coming to see him off on the train to Hogwarts, his grandmother was alright but he disliked his grandfather. No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't seem to connect with the cold-hearted man. He wasn't exactly cruel to him but Scorpius saw how he was with the house-elves and he'd never forgiven a vicious beating he'd given Yip simply because his toddler grandson had declared him his friend, he was glad the laws on house-elf treatment had changed.
He wasn't exactly having a good time at the platform though, there were so many people his eyes didn't stop moving scanning them for any sign of threat. He wasn't quite sure why his eyes still searched the crowd, no matter how much he thought logically that it was stupid. He also found quite a lot of people looking at him and his parents, their faces didn't hide their disdain. His father didn't look back.
All too soon his mother was wrapping her arms around him for the final time as the final whistle for the train to be boarded pierced the air, she looked almost ready to cry again. His father never had been one much on physical affection in public, he didn't expect a hug and he didn't get one instead he got a strange sorrowful look.
"Are you really sure about this? You can still change your mind if you want and there's no shame in it," his father said but Scorpius nodded firmly, his father sighed, "Knock them dead then, son."
At this his father smiled weakly but it didn't touch the tears pricking his eyes, Scorpius forced himself to return the smile but it barely lasted a second. He'd only seen his father cry twice before, once when his baby sister had died a few hours after she was born and once three months ago.
"Are you alright, Father?"
"Of course, Scorpius," his father whispered hastily wiping his eyes and looking around as if to make sure no one else had seen, "Now hurry along my… my boy, don't wouldn't want you to miss your train."
Scorpius nodded and started over towards to the train, he paused and glanced back once more at his parents. They seemed to be standing apart from everyone else making them look even more alone, he noticed them his mother slip her hand into his father's as he put his arm around her, for comfort. Guiltily he tried to feel something more for the parents he was leaving, he did love them but numbness was all he felt when he tried to be sad they were parting. Sighing he slipped onto the train, it was moving before he could find himself a compartment. Commotion immediately caught his attention.
Four teenage boys seemed to be surrounding a fifth person he couldn't see because they towered over whoever was in between them. A younger boy was getting up off the ground and he saw another was already wearing Slytherin colors, his soon to be housemates.
"Think you're so smart now that you're a third year?" the Slytherin boy sneered in a way that reminded him of how his grandfather spoke to people, the derogatory way Scorpius despised.
"I was always smart, unlike you," a girl's voice said defensively, "If you think it's smart to be picking on people before we've even arrived at the school then you really should get your brain looked at."
"Shut your hole, bitch, or I'll shut it for you!"
"Hey!" Scorpius snapped stepping forwards, he didn't care they'd be his housemates. He'd been taught better than this, "You don't talk to women like that, you don't talk to anyone like that! Leave her alone."
The boys all turned to look at him with surprised expressions, it was as they did the one directly in front of him stepped aside and Scorpius saw the girl he was trying to defend. She was wearing a white dress with a red shawl was draped over her shoulders, some may call it old-fashioned but it suited the girl although her furry brown boots were definitely not old-fashioned. In one hand she held her wand protectively while the other was laden with books, textbooks slightly more advanced than the ones he'd gotten recently. Her curled crimson hair was fiery and flowing, her face was pale and flawless, untouched by freckles. Her eyes were a shade of blue that matched the sky perfectly. She was beautiful.
"Aren't you Draco Malfoy's kid?" the Slytherin boy asked and Scorpius nodded without moving his eyes from her, her eyes found his and blazed with a hatred he didn't understand until the boy spoke again, "Oh well this is just a Weasley, bitch hexed my brother when we tried to see what books she was holding. We're going to teach her a lesson in manners, want to help?"
Scorpius swallowed still unable to stop staring at her. She was a Weasley and they were bad. Blood-traitors. Enemies. Yet he found he was feeling strange things he hadn't felt before. Logically he knew he should have said yes as the question left the Slytherin's lips but his heart didn't say that, it was wrong to treat people that way regardless of who they were. She was just a girl who - in all likelihood - had just been defending herself from them, she was outnumbered five to one.
"Leave her alone," Scorpius repeated and all pairs of eyes on him widened in shock.
"Did you not hear me?"
"I don't care who she is, it's not right and I won't let you lay a single spell on her."
"Hey, we're trying to be your friend," the Slytherin's brother complained in a whiney voice, "You're supposed to be on our side!"
"So be it," the Slytherin said with a shrug, he definitely seemed to be their leader, "We're not afraid of a talentless first year."
"Well maybe you should be," Scorpius stated darkly.
He draw his wand even as it dawned on him how foolish the whole endeavor was, he'd been told he had better control over his magic than most kids his age but he'd never used it to fight someone and he certainly hadn't used his wand. The Slytherin merely laughed and stepped forwards with his own wand drawn, the others moved out of his way and one of the older ones grabbed the girl's arm and dragged her to the side with him. What have I just gotten myself into? Scorpius wondered to himself.
"Focus," a voice whispered nearby and he flicked his gaze to his right, a man was lazily leaning in the doorway of the compartment beside him, "Wands only channel the power that is already inside you. Summon that power, let it flow through you and the wand. Then, just unleash it."
Scorpius closed his eyes and tried to block himself off from the world, he had had plenty of time to practice and had discovered if he concentrated he could make things move without touching them. He just needed to move the wand in the Slytherin's hand while he was trying to use a spell on him, the thought seemed slightly ludicrous. He ignored it, he wasn't backing down and focused instead. Allowing the power to flow through him and tried to make it go through the wand – No, you couldn't force it. Let it flow, the stranger had said. He heard the Slytherin snickering.
"Too scared to even look me in the eyes? Well this will be even easier than I thought," the Slytherin mocked just as Scorpius felt the surge of power surge into his wand, his eyes shot open to see the Slytherin flourishing the wand in mid-spell.
Scorpius had no words to say but he willed the wand to be thrown backwards from the elder boy's hands and unleashed the power, he felt it surge out the wand. To his surprise, he saw not only the wand but the Slytherin himself was thrown backwards and cried out in pain as he collided painfully with the ground. Scorpius wasn't the only one to gasp in shock as the other children's jaws dropped. The man however, started applauding and laughed. A strangely exceedingly shrill laugh but a laugh nonetheless.
"Very good!" the man announced, stepping into the corridor with a twirl as he stopped clapping, "I didn't think you would do it - could do it - even, was about to intervene but that is so much more fun and awesome!"
"What is going on out there, Calderon?" another voice questioned grumpily and the man – presumably named Calderon – gestured, the door to the compartment closing sharply.
"Okay will deal with him momentarily, firstly kiddies," Calderon announced but was still grinning as he moved over to the other children and helped the Slytherin boy to his feet, "You alive, Kyle?"
"I think so," the Slytherin boy – Kyle – answered slowly before angrily pulling his arm away, "That boy attacked me, Calderon!"
"Hmm…" Calderon mused before shaking his head, "I'm pretty sure it was self-defense, Kyle. You were trying to duel a First Year who hasn't even arrived at Hogwarts yet, as well as 'teach a lesson' to poor Molly over there. I'd appreciate it if you left the teaching to the actual teachers in the future."
"But nothing! You started it and just because it didn't end the way you wanted, it doesn't mean you get to be the innocent victim in all of this. None of you are the innocent victim in all of this and all of you are a bit too wand-happy if you ask me, so I am deducting ten points from each of your houses and you better be bloody grateful it's not more."
"I don't have a house yet," Kyle's brother piped up, "I can't lose any points."
"Well when you are sorted, be sure to tell your new housemates that you lost them twenty points."
"Twenty? It was ten a minute ago!" Kyle complained glaring at the tall man who Scorpius was beginning to think was a teacher, despite the fact he wore muggle jeans and a black muggle sweater.
"Ten for picking on people, ten for thinking he could get away with it."
"Are you even allowed to take away points?"
"Okay that's thirty from you then," Calderon said, crossing his arms moodily.
"Calderon, don't you think you're being slightly unfair?" Kyle pleaded, starting to look worried rather than angry.
"Stop making it higher!"
"Then shut up, get into a compartment and stay there until I tell you otherwise."
The boys practically tripped over each other in their desperation to get into an empty compartment and away Calderon, who once again laughed a high-pitched laugh as they darted away. Scorpius scowled vaguely, wondering how the odd teacher could laugh several octaves higher than his speaking voice.
"Thank you," Molly said suddenly.
She was so intently staring at the ground, Scorpius wasn't sure whether this gratitude was directed at him or Calderon before to his disappointment she too slipped away. Disappointment? He shook his head, she was a Weasley and he was glad she was gone. And that she was okay, even Weasleys didn't deserve to be ganged up on like that. His gaze shifted back to Calderon watching him, Scorpius wondered if he was supposed to be heading to a compartment too. He started to move only for Calderon to hold out an arm to block his path.
"Wait, not done with you."
"Deduct as many points as you want," Scorpius offered, not really caring how much he lost for Slytherin. It seemed stupid anyway and he didn't regret what he'd done, it had been the right thing to do. And Calderon was a hypocrite to punish him anyway, considering he'd told him what to do.
"Actually, I'm giving you some," Calderon said as his mad grin returned, "Fifty points for whatever house you're in. What you did was impressive. You impressed me. You're impressing."
"It wasn't really… you don't need to give me points."
"Oh the modesty, bad Scorpius, have some pride! Not many First Years would try to defend a random stranger from a group of elder children, especially considering… shall we say your families' history? It would have been easier to accept their offer or just stay out of it but you didn't."
"I did the right thing, you should always do the right thing," Scorpius said quietly and uncomfortably with a shrug, he really didn't want anyone to make a big deal out of it.
"Yes, yes you should. Although what 'the right thing to do' is debatable, depends on your own personal morals. And then the fact you actually beat Kyle, he's a fourth year and you don't have a house yet."
"I couldn't have done it if you hadn't helped me."
"Pfft," Calderon snorted rolling his eyes, "I could have said that to all the First Years, they could've tried to do it but most would still have failed miserably. In fact I could've said that to most students and they would have got their butts kicked, in fact I shouldn't have said that to you. It's easier, better and incredibly more logically to walk before you run but I was never good at that, why walk when you can run?"
"Has anyone told you that you talk really fast?" Scorpius pointed out as Calderon seemed to veer off into a tangent and stare off to the left thoughtfully.
In response the teacher only laughed shrilly again before the train lurched and they both had to reach out to the sides to steady themselves, Scorpius hadn't been on a train before but he hoped that was normal. He looked to Calderon, who didn't seem fazed which put his thoughts of the train somehow crashing to rest. Although ifit did then at least he wouldn't have to awkwardly start searching for empty compartments.
"We should probably get inside," Calderon muttered gesturing with his hand and the door to the compartment he'd came from flew open, "Care to join us, Scorpius?"
Scorpius paused for a moment before nodding, it was safer to stick with the teacher than to risk getting into another incident searching for a compartment to himself. Calderon grinned again and motioned for him to go first which Scorpius quickly did, blinking in surprise to see someone already in there before recalling having heard him speak earlier. He inclined his head politely and took a seat opposite the man, keeping as close as he could to the window. A second later Calderon followed him in and slammed the door magically behind him. Without a wand.
Part 3: The Staff Compartment
Scorpius studied the stranger in the compartment, unlike Calderon he was dressed in rather fine wizard robes. His extremely dark auburn hair was combed and he had a neatly trimmed beard, his eyes were a chestnut brown and he looked to be in his thirties or forties. The wizard watched him with a frown and raised an eyebrow at Calderon, who continued to stand. He was still grinning as he glanced between then, leaning lazily back against the closed door.
"Scorpius, this is Atticus. Atticus, this is Scorpius," Calderon introduced them casually and the wizard gave him an indignant look, "Oh, I'm sorry. I mean, Scorpius, this is Professor Atticus Ashain, your new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Atticus, this is Scorpius Malfoy, one of your new students. One of the best and brightest I might add! Better?"
"Slightly," Professor Ashain – as Scorpius decided it was more appropriate to think of him – commented, glancing briefly at Scorpius before attempting to whisper to Calderon, "Is he being punished or something?"
"Oh, good," the professor sighed with relief, "Got worried I'd have to do something there."
"Heavens no!" Calderon gasped sarcastically and the professor scowled again, "The effort of doing something! Eugh, it's too much."
"Keep mocking me like that and I might make your firing a condition of my working at Hogwarts," Professor Ashain grumbled.
"Nah, they wouldn't fire me then old Pippy and the others would have to do stuff. Eugh, doing stuff, it's all too much for their fragile little minds."
"Aren't you a teacher?" Scorpius asked in puzzlement and the professor laughed as he shook his head.
"If they let a lunatic like him teach then believe me, I wouldn't be here," Professor Ashain answered before Calderon could open his mouth, "He's the Headmaster's assistant or some kind of general lackey, I believe."
"Gee Atty… Atty? Attic… Cus, Cussy? Tic? Ticcy, I like Ticcy," Calderon started to answer before seeming to veer off into another tangent, "Gee Ticcy, you make it sound so derogatory."
"And Ticcy isn't?!" the professor burst out, glaring at the assistant who only smiled.
"It suits you, Ticcy."
"Ugh! What was that commotion outside anyway? Did you do something, Mr Malfoy?"
"You should have seen it, he was awesome! Used a non-verbal uncontrolled burst of magic to throw back this bully. Boom!"
At this Calderon abruptly raised his hand and a pulse of magic shot out, Scorpius and Professor Ashain both jumped in shock. The pulse shot against the window and it ejected it from the train, his jaw dropped as he stared out at the missing window that twirled in the air before speeding back to them and back into place.
"Stop doing things!"
"I'm sorry, Ticcy, did I scare you?"
"Yes! I mean no!" the professor snapped while blushing furiously, "You scared Mr Malfoy here, I meant. Demonstration is unnecessary. Use your words, I believed you. You have unusual talent at such an age, Mr Malfoy, it is very impressive but if you want to get anywhere in life you should obey the rules and not get into fights. Bullies will get the appropriate punishments from teachers, you need only to report them. That's how it was when I was in Hogwarts and it's a good system, keeps the bad kids out of trouble and the good kids can excel. Like I did. I don't know about you, Calderon?"
"I didn't get to go to Hogwarts," Calderon said flatly seeming to lose all his mirth in an instant.
This went unnoticed by Professor Ashain, who seemed to compose himself and launched excitedly into a rather detailed account of his own time at Hogwarts. Calderon finally sat down beside Scorpius, lazily slouching in the corner in a very improper way but looked wistful as he listened silently.
In the better light of the compartment, Scorpius got a better look at Calderon. His hair and eyes were both dark in contrast to his pale skin, he had a face he thought girls would consider handsome but was surprisingly older than Scorpius has initially thought, he looked to be around his mother's age. As he turned his attention back to the professor's story, he wondered if there was something to his claim of Calderon being a lunatic. He certainly didn't act like any wizards that Scorpius knew.
For a while they both just listened in silence to the professor, some people may have thought it boring as Professor Ashain had seemed to be about as straight an arrow as they came. Never straying from rules or do much else beyond his studies, aside from his stint as a Seeker in Quidditch. Scorpius actually didn't mind, he'd rather listen to someone else talk then talk about himself and he rather liked the professor's account. That was what he wanted, to be able to tell people that he stayed out of trouble and did well. No risk. No glory. Just fade into the shadows and not have to deal with anything.
Scorpius found himself relaxing as he listened attentively, the journey much more peaceful than he'd thought it would be from his earlier experience. Although he was glad the thing with Kyle and Molly Weasley had got him into the staff-compartment, he would try not to get into such matters in the future. It couldn't be that hard to obey the rules.
"And that pretty much concludes my Hogwarts experience," Professor Ashain finished much to Scorpius' disappointment, "As a student anyway. As of this year, I'll be a teacher."
"Very informative, I look forward to your class," Scorpius told him honestly, not sure what else to say and the man beamed.
"Why thank you, Mr Malfoy. And… you too Calderon, I'm glad you convinced me to be the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher."
"You're welcome," Calderon commented and Scorpius couldn't tell whether it was sincere or not, "So… still plenty of time, anyone want to play Wizard Chess?"
"No thanks, think I'm going to get some sleep before we get there," the professor stated before retrieving a travel pillow and blanket from his case, he stretched out on the seat and got comfortable with them, "Wake me when we get there."
"Sure thing, Ticcy."
"Ticcy…" he sighed but said nothing as he closed his eyes and seemingly fell asleep.
"So… you up for some Wizard Chess, Scorpius?"
"Okay," Scorpius agreed hesitantly turning to face the assistant who had already set up the board while he'd been watching the professor, "I know how to play, you can go first."
"So… Scorpius. Scorp, Scorps. Scorpy, Scor. Scorey? No I like Scor. So Scor, looking forward to Hogwarts after that lecture?" Calderon said without looking up from up the board as he made his first move. Scorpius sighed.
"Can't we just focus on the game in silence?"
"Why don't we make it interesting then? Silence for the games but whoever wins gets to ask the other one question and the loser has to answer completely honestly."
"What do I get out of it?"
"There's really nothing you want to ask me?" Calderon countered raising an eyebrow as Scorpius made his own first move.
Scorpius paused. There were a few things he was curious about and he was a fairly decent player, he thought. He nodded in agreement to Calderon's challenge, the assistant's grin returning as he fell silent once more and they played. Scorpius found Calderon to not be much of an opponent and easily beat him.
"Why didn't you go to Hogwarts?"
"Well…" Calderon answered carefully and Scorpius waited expectantly, he had thought the assistant would simply say he went to a different school but the hesitation surprised him as much as the answer, "I wasn't allowed. My parents wanted me to have better control over my magic before they even considered sending me to a school. I consistently failed them and so they considered me weak, stupid and too unstable to be sent to Hogwarts. Or any other school so I never got to go to anywhere."
"Did you want to go?"
"You have to win again if you want to ask another question."
Scorpius conceded this was fair as he watched Calderon reset the board before they began to play again. He found himself sympathizing with the assistant, his parents felt a similar way about him. If he hadn't overheard their conversation and stated he wanted to go to Hogwarts, would they have denied him it forever too? He wasn't sure if his sense of sympathy distracted him or Calderon got better but the second game was more of a challenge for Scorpius, he did still win however and thought carefully on his question before asking.
"How did you get to work at Hogwarts? You know, considering you never went to any Wizard school."
"Basically I went there when I was nineteen, thought maybe they would let me study there since I'd missed out. Minerva rejected that idea as I was too old but instead offered me to be her assistant, even though now she's stepped down from Headmistress – well she tried retiring but got bored and came back as Transfiguration teacher again – I continue to assist," Calderon told him as he reset the board again, "I got lucky, without her offer I have no idea where I'd be right now."
Scorpius fell silent and focused on the next game, he didn't have time to digest Calderon's latest answer as the assistant had indeed gotten better. In fact, Scorpius was quite sure he'd deliberately lost the first two games to lull him into a false sense of security. His defeat seemed effortless for Calderon to orchestrate. Scorpius wasn't sure whether to be impressed or humiliated as he waited nervously for the question.
"Which house do you want to be in and why?" Calderon asked, surprising Scorpius but it wasn't the worst thing he could have asked.
"Slytherin of course, every Malfoy is in Slytherin. Although I think Ravenclaw would be acceptable, from Professor Ashain's account it sounds like a good house and my mother was in Ravenclaw too. Just hope there's not too many mudbloods there though."
"No," Calderon said shaking his head and seeming angry, much to Scorpius confusion, "You can't let yourself be defined by your family and their beliefs Scorpius; you're more than the blood you carry."
"I thought you liked Scor."
"I like Scorpius when I'm serious! You can't go around thinking like that and you certainly can't go around calling people mudbloods, all that nonsense about blood purity. It doesn't matter in the slightest."
"Doesn't it? Voldemort was evil and he was a half-blood," Scorpius stated defensively, "His method was flawed certainly, going around killing people is very bad and I'm glad he's dead but that doesn't mean he was wrong about the blood purity and muggles."
"What's your defense of the pureblooded who did evil things in his name then?"
"They were doing the wrong things for the right reasons, a bad thing done for the right reasons is still a bad thing but the reasons are still right."
"You defended Molly Weasley."
"It was the right thing to do, those boys were picking on her! That was wrong, regardless of who she is, they could've been doing it with good intentions but it was still wrong and they should be stopped."
"You're better than blood-purity, Scor, you're also clearly smart enough to make up your own mind."
"I am making up my own mind!" Scorpius snapped louder than he'd meant to, "I don't blindly agree with everything I'm told, I hate how my grandfather treats house-elves because he's wrong about them being worthless and inferior but I've actually met muggles and they're bad! They're evil! It makes sense people with muggle blood can be bad too, we're only better than them because they're so evil!"
"You seem conflicted."
"I am conflicted."
"Look," Calderon said in a gentler tone as Scorpius hung his head, "I know what happened to you and I know it's not easy, believe me I know. But one thing you have to realize is just because some muggles are bad, it doesn't mean all muggles are bad. Just like how some wizards being bad doesn't mean that all wizards are bad. Everyone is different and the… so-called purity of our blood has nothing to do with it. We are who we choose to be, not who we're born to be. Think about that."
Scorpius wasn't sure what he should say to that, what he should say to that. He didn't dare look up, terrified that Calderon knew about him. He nodded mutely, it was the right thing to do and he would think about it when he was done digesting it anyway. Surprisingly, he heard the compartment door slide open and his head shot up. There was a breathless old man dressed like the train driver standing there, a look of horror on his face.
"W-We have a serious problem," the man stuttered shakily trying to catch his breath, "The train is going to crash."