Character: Theodore Nott
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 680 words
Summary: Theodore Nott never wanted to have anything to do with any of these clowns.
Note: Originally written for a contest at hogsmeade_elite.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
"Theodore?" Pansy's voice was hesitant and strained, like she'd been pushed past breaking point but still attempting to maintain an illusion of normalcy.
Theodore turned around and glanced at her, and at the common room around them. Most of the upper-year Slytherins were gathered on the sofas and armchairs; most were still in their pyjamas and swathed in blankets, looking dishevelled and tired. Silence weighed heavily in the room.
Theodore turned his back to the entrance and leant against the stone wall, welcoming the shock of the cold biting through his robes.
"I can't hear anything," he said. "Someone went running past here ten minutes ago, but there's nothing happening now." He didn't mention that he'd heard someone who sounded like Professor Flitwick cry, "Death Eaters!"
He glanced at the fixed-frame window opposite. The lake beyond the window should have been dark as night, but he could see faint flickers of green in the water. What was going on? Theodore opened his mouth to speak but before he could say a word, the curtain separating the common room from the passageway to the dormitories was flung aside and Zabini sauntered out, looking put-upon.
"What is going on?" asked Zabini crossly. He cast a glance around the room and frowned. "Where's Malfoy?"
Pansy made a muffled choking sound and ran off towards the girls' dormitories. The curtain billowed for a few moments then stay still. No one else moved or said a word, though Daphne and Tracey were staring in the direction Pansy had gone, their faces identically grim.
Theodore bit his lip and glanced at Zabini. "Something's going on," he said. "Something big."
Zabini cocked an eyebrow at him. "'Something big?'" he mimicked. "Articulate as ever, Nott."
Theodore searched for a cutting rejoinder, but he was interrupted by the common room door sliding open. Slughorn walked in, looking as dishevelled as most of the people in the room. A dark green dressing grown collar peeked out from under his robes.
"What are you all doing?" demanded Slughorn. "No one's left the common room, I hope?"
Theodore stepped forward. "Sir, Draco Malfoy isn't here."
Slughorn frowned. "I thought so," he muttered, seemingly half to himself. "Stupid boy." He looked around at the Slytherins and mopped his shining forehead with the back of his sleeve. "You will not leave this room, and--"
"Where's Professor Snape?" demanded Zabini. "Why are you--"
Slughorn turned on him with an agility that belied his size. "Don't interrupt me when I'm talking," he said, glowering. His hands were shaking, but Theodore couldn't tell if it was from anger or fear. Whatever it was, it must have been really serious -- what else could have made Slughorn act that way towards one of his Slug Club students?
Zabini's eyebrows shot up, but he folded his arms across his chest and took a tiny step back. Slughorn turned to Theodore. "Nott. You will take over for Malfoy for now. Get the other prefects and see that the others go back to bed. The Bloody Baron will be outside the common room if you need anything."
Before Theodore could respond, Slughorn disappeared through the sliding door.
Theodore glanced at Zabini, who was leaning against the wall next to the dormitory corridor, an expression of cold disdain on his face. Theodore knew that Zabini had always wanted Malfoy's spot. Buggering hell, he could have it, for all Theodore cared. He'd never wanted to have anything to do with any of these clowns who took the intra-house hierarchy so seriously, as though it would matter when they left the school.
Theodore suddenly remembered the smelly old gypsy woman who had accosted him in Knockturn Alley when he had been eight, waiting for his father outside Borgin and Burkes.
"There will come a time when you will have to choose between leading and being led. Choose wisely, child."
Theodore nodded firmly, half to himself and half to the gypsy woman in his mind's eye. He understood now -- he didn't have to become one of them in order to lead them.