Child of the Forest

This was originally done for the Week in Hogwarts competition, but I couldn't post it on time, so here it is.

Set in Hogwarts in 2017 - the year that Rose, Albus, Scorpius and Malek Zabini, nephew of Blaise Zabini, join Hogwarts. I also join as part of a Ministry program to train muggles in the art of wizardry.

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3. Into Darkness

When I reached the Great Hall for breakfast several minutes later, I spotted Scorpius sitting at the Slytherin table next to Malek Zabini. Sitting down opposite him I asked him about the portrait in my room.

“Why?”

“Because he spoke to me.” Scorpius spat pineapple juice onto his bacon.

“He spoke to you? Old guy, white beard, yellow eyes?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“Because,” replied Malek, ever dignified, “That portrait is of Salazar Slytherin, one of the four founders of Hogwarts. He barely ever speaks to anyone. In fact, the last person he spoke to was Tom Riddle.” I shot Malek a quizzical look, and both he and Scorpius stared disbelievingly at me.

 

“Well,” said Scorpius, “I guess that identifies one enormous hole in your education. Tom Marvolo Riddle was the childhood name of the Dark Lord. Slytherin seriously spoke to you?”

“Yes. Why is that weird?”

“Because Slytherin was a renowned wizard from an ancient wizarding family who believed strongly in the purity of blood. He hated Muggles, half-bloods and muggle-borns with a passion. You had better hope that he doesn’t know who you are.”

 

We finished our breakfasts and made our way back to the common room in silence. “What do you have now?” asked Scorpius.

“Nothing,” I replied, “I’m meant to be studying till lunch.”

“Same. Come with me.”

 

Scorpius led me through the dungeons to a large statue of a hooded man brandishing a wand in one hand whilst a five foot long three-headed snake coiled around the other. “This statue was erected by a previous headmaster, Phineas Nigellus Black. It depicts Salazar Slytherin speaking to his companion, a runespoor, in Parseltongue.”

 

I looked more closely at the wand that Slytherin was holding. It was identical to the one I had found in the drawer. In front of the statue, a shield of Slytherin was engraved on the floor, upon which Scorpius was now standing. He gestured to the statue, and Malek’s voice echoed around the empty room;

“In Mortis, nos Vivere.”

“In death,” I whispered, “we live.” The Slytherin crest which Scorpius was standing on slid away to reveal a set of worn steps from which the shadows crept.

“Now,” Scorpius said, turning to face me, “Follow me.” With that he strode down into the darkness.

 

After several minutes of silent walking, the corridor widened out, then widened again into a small cavern carved out of the rock itself. In the centre of the room was a large cage, which held a extremely angry thing. Child sized, with filthy matted hair that hung down to its waist, it was human from the waist up, but from the waist down it was covered in shaggy brown fur and cloven footed. A pair of thick, tightly curled ram’s horns protruded from just above its temples. As Scorpius approached, it hissed furiously and leapt at the side of the cage.

 

“What is it?” I asked warily.

“It is an extremely rare creature, called a skanak. It is an immortal living embodiment of nature and the wilderness. Its name means child of the forest.”

Enraged by Scorpius’ voice, the creature howled.

“And you keep it because?”

“Its blood it used in the potion Felix Felicis, which is extremely difficult to brew and requires many rare ingredients.”

Drawing close to the cage, Malek threw a handful of black dust at it and stepped back. The skanak took one sniff of the powder and collapsed. Its eyes turned towards me. I looked away.

“Why have you shown this to me?”

 “Because none of us have managed to cut it. Its skin is apparently impregnable. However, Slytherin chose to speak to you, so perhaps you will succeed where we have failed.” I felt Malek press a knife into my hand, and Scorpius’ hand gripping my shoulder. Feeling sick, I knelt at the side of the cage.

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