This is something I’ve been working on in my free time for very selfish reasons.
I think I already wrote about sentimental attachment to finished works, how, as soon as I call an illustration finished, that becomes its own thing. It’s done and the painting process doesn’t seem to matter anymore. That doesn’t mean I stop caring about the artwork, but I just don’t give much importance to the creation process, no matter how many hours I spent on it.
This might sound utterly stupid and cheesy, but for the first time in my life I can’t get over one of my works. I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that I can’t give emotional closure to a story I wrote or that, if I had time, I’d draw every single scene of it. Maybe I should give it a few days and I’ll be back to normal *sighs*
But in the meanwhile I have to channel this fixation somehow, so this what I’m doing, a sort of illustration/ book cover for the fanfiction story in question, The Experiment.
For those who have read the story, those trees and thorns may look familiar (:
(A/N: Are you excited to have Matt as your Professor because I SURE AM OKAY.)
Your morning was going surprisingly well despite the events the night prior. Not once did you hear a single peep from any of your Slytherin housemates or anyone else for that matter, for the most part, people ignored you as best they could while you sat at the end of the house table.
But still, you dreaded it more and more as the hours ticked away, classes passed and you had two left for the day. Charms, which you had no problem with, and Care of Magical Creatures. You hoped you wouldn’t see Sterling there, but considering he’d apparently visited you in the hospital wing, you probably would.
The thought made you anxious and soon you could feel moisture forming on your face, limbs feeling heavy and light all at once. You were careful not to make eye contact with anyone, eyes forward, back straight, face hard - you wanted to appear stronger than you were currently feeling and from the looks or lack of looks you were receiving it was working just fine. That, or you’d gone back to being irrelevant to the rest of the school.
Charms was something you didn’t really struggle with but conjuring like the rest of your students was. You struggled tremendously to conjure objects and failed every practical test you’d been given, only passing the class because it was the only thing you lacked. Slipping into a seat unnoticed in the back of the classroom, you waited as other students came in and out of the room until your whole class was present and organized.
Arms folded in on your desk, you rested your head between them and closed your eyes for about a fraction of a second before a thundering crack landed right next to your ear and you nearly jumped through the ceiling, eyes wild and frantic, blood rushing to your ears and muscles stiff as a board.
“No sleeping in my class, Y/N.” Tutted Professor Brook, his hand wrapped around an old pointer. You looked up at the man and took a long breath before nodding, “Sorry, sir.”
The man hummed as he passed, twirling that old stick between his fingers mindlessly as he began to speak. You tried to zone out for the majority of the quirky professor’s class but each time you did, he’d bring you right back in with the call of your name. “Y/N, would you like to demonstrate?”
Blinking rapidly and clutching the sides of your chair, you slowly nodded. “Sir?” The brunette smiled at you, “We’re revisiting some spells from last year’s class, if you remember,” his voice was playful and light which helped calm your nerves. You never did like being picked out of a crowd.
“Levitation being one of them.” Professor Brook winked at you as you rose from your seat, retrieving your want from your robe pocket and clearing your throat, “Yes, sir.”
Squinting your eyes and scanning the room, you raised your wand and with a gentle swish and flick, recited your incantation. “Wingardium leviosa.”
A pile of books rattled before rising from one of the front desks in the class, loose pages gliding about carelessly as you continued to hold your spell. For a moment, Professor Brook just stared at you before a broad smile crept across his thin lips .“Very well done, Y/N. I didn’t think you payed much attention.”
Snorting, you spoke up, “Didn’t we learn this in our first year, sir? Why are we revisiting the easy spells?” A few students joined in on your laughter, jokingly demanding harder charms from behind their desks.
“You’d like a harder one, then? Alright,” the brunette pursed his lips in thought before clapping his hands together and he kicked a small foot stool from beneath his desk into sight, crossing his arms and watching you carefully. “Bit small for me.”
You blinked at your professor and he blinked back at you tauntingly before your lips formed a small ‘o’ and you smiled, “Engorgio.” Your wand pointed, the wooden stool began to grow in side until it was about the same size as a regular desk chair and Professor Brook smiled at you, “Very good.”
Ego swelling, you smirked and straightened your back, feeling much more confident than you had at the beginning of the class. “Give me another?”
“I think you should think of this one. Come on, something fancier, Y/N.” Brows furrowed in thought, you flipped through the pages in your mind until you found something that you found particularly difficult in your third year and took you multiple practical lessons to actually get mastered.
Arm outstretched and wand pointed carefully, you called clearly at that irritating pointer that your teacher tormented you with, “Carpe retractum.”
With the motion of a whip, the pointer came flying towards you until it was pointed menacingly at your face, inches away. You blushed as the class laughed at you, “Do be careful.”
“You’ve proven me wrong so far, but I have something much more difficult for you, Y/N. Last one if you can pull it off,” Brook joked, leaning back in his chair, “I’m sure it’s difficult dozing off in my classes while I’m speaking. Wouldn’t it be much easier to sleep if I were being quiet?”
You blinked, “You want me to - ”
“Silence me, yes.” He flashed you that same playful smile and you shook your head, “Sir, I couldn’t.”
Professor Brook leaned forward and placed his hands on his desk, “Couldn’t as in you’re incapable, Y/N? You can’t cast this spell?” He taunted and you frowned, “Of course I can.”
“Then do it.”
You bit your quivering lip and raised your wand to your teacher, your professor. This felt so wrong and you felt as if you were somehow disrespecting the man by even considering this. Your arm felt weighed down as you clumsily waved your wand and as you parted your lips to speak, you thought of Abraxas. You thought of being cornered by him in the library, being silenced and being attacked - it scared you, which effected your magic.
“Silencio.” You muttered, barely even moving your wand at all. Nothing happened, of course, not even a pathetic little fzzz. Just nothing.
Professor Brook frowned lightly at you, “Again. With feeling, this time.”
The brunette stood and with the wave of his hand, his pointer returned to his side, tapping random things on his desk as he spoke. “Blah blah blah,” he droned sarcastically, “boring boring boring.”
“Silencio.” You flicked your wand harder this time, but still nothing happened and the man continued to speak, though he motioned for you to go on.
“Silencio,” you felt heat rise in your chest as you motioned again and again at the man, about to speak again when you were interrupted by the old bell at the top of the castle.
Students filtered out of the room without the permission of Brook but he barely noticed as his eyes were on you - you, the usually unfazed Slytherin that sat alone at the end of your House table at meals and announcements and at the back of class, tucked away from prying eyes.
He knew something was wrong, even if he didn’t know you as well as he knew others. Brook did tend to favor the more popular students, the more gifted and as you were neither, the only time he took the time to notice you at all was when you slept during his class. Which was always.
Slumping into your seat and sighing in defeat, you began gathering your things when Professor Brook approached, sitting in the empty seat next to you. “Y/N,” he started, voice now void of any playful hint at all, “I’ve seen you cast that charm many times.”
You sighed, “I’m just tired today, Professor. I’ll try harder.” The man shook his head and let out a soft chuckle. “You’re always tired, but even I can tell something is bothering you.”
Chewing the inside of your cheek, you gathered the rest of your belongings and stood up, “I’m fine, sir.” You quietly muttered a 'thank you’ before turning to leave, not noticing the sad smile that followed you. “If there’s anything I can do, don’t be afraid to come and visit me.”
The air outside the classroom was much colder and you shuddered softly, stiff legs carrying you outside of the castle where you stood beneath an archway that overlooked the court yard. Eyes taking in the Quidditch stalls off in the distance where several students flew about practicing the sport and then overlooking the Old Forest which despite the season, was always shrouded in a thick layer of fog, eerie as ever.
You didn’t have much time before your next class and for a brief moment you wondered if you should just skip, but cringed at the idea. You’d gotten into enough trouble this year already and it had barely started, there was no way you’d get away with skipping class.
Turning back into the open entry of the castle and quickening pace, you cursed yourself for taking so long to get there. Care of Magical Creatures was usually held outside regardless of whether classes were practical or theory, outside the other side of the castle. The bell thrummed again and you broke out into a full on sprint, cussing as the last groups of students filtered into their classrooms and leaving you alone in the halls.
“Shit, shit,” you hissed, gripping the thigh of your slacks and raising them as you did the previous class, preparing to trek through mud and muck to get there. You turned a corner and let out a relieved sigh as you neared an exit to the far side of the castle, you’d be a little late but that was better than a lot late.
Legs slowing until you were at a comfortable stride, you slipped past a fellow student, so fixated on the sun shining in through the glass surrounding the archway outside that you didn’t even notice who it was. Only when a voice called to you did you realize - your heart dropped farther than it had in days. “Y/N, wait,” Sterling called and you whipped your head around to look at him, “What are you doing, Mathers? Class is this way.”
The Ravenclaw looked careful, cautious as he spoke to you. “Not today, it isn’t. We’re at E-13 today, Professor Dumbledore is substituting.”
You said nothing as from head to toe, you glared at every exposed inch of Sterling and he shifted uncomfortably under your gaze, “What happened to Kettleburn?” You asked warily, turning and slowly taking his side.
You felt your pride shrivel as the two of you began to walk together, you hated that you were in the company of a boy that had attacked you days prior to Abraxas. As far as you were concerned, the two of them were in the same boat, now.
“Professor Kettleburn is in Greece right now. I’m not sure what for, but until he comes back we have Dumbledore.” He filled you in politely as he had when you first met and you walked in an uncomfortable, intimidating silence. You were too angry at Sterling to be afraid of him, or maybe you weren’t afraid because you’d been toe-to-toe in his glorified broom closet and lived.
You could feel his green eyes on you every so often and it was beginning to get on your nerves - it was obvious he wanted to say something. Apologize, maybe? Let’s start over, Y/N. Let’s be friends, Y/N. You rolled your eyes at the thought and Sterling definitely noticed, taking a deep breath before reaching out and taking your arm.
Quickly pulling yourself from his grip, you glared at the Ravenclaw. “Don’t touch me unless you want to lose your hand, Mathers.” Even you were surprised at just how venomous you sounded and it took effort to keep yourself composed. “Y/N,” Sterling frowned at you, “We need to talk.”
“No, we don’t. We need to go to class.” You spat, patting down your robe like he’d dirtied it with his touch. “What happened in the library - ”
“Is none of your bloody business, Mathers. Stop talking.” Taking steps so large you must have looked ridiculous, you neared the classroom and ignoring the Ravenclaw’s protests, pushed the door open to an empty classroom.
The gentle click of the door’s lock had you turning, hand reaching into your robe without a word. Sterling was standing, back to the door and staring at you with not an ounce of animosity in his eyes and you hesitated.
“What is this?” You felt your fingertips caress your wand’s edge as you watched the boy, who didn’t even make a move under your hard glare. “I said we needed to talk.”
You thought it over briefly before speaking again, “Then talk.” Eyes followed Sterling’s every move and he flashed you an apologetic look. “I hope I didn’t hurt your head too much the other night,” he took a step closer to you, “In the library.”
You weren’t sure whether to feel angry or relieved as he continued, “It was me, Y/N. I wanted to tell you after it was all over but I can’t just waltz into the Slytherin common room and it seems like you’ve been hiding there.”
You gawked at him, completely dumbfounded at his confession. “You were the one who attacked me in the library? Not Malfoy?” Sterling raised a finger to his lips and you hissed, “Don’t shush me! Are you mad?”
The brunette sighed, “Please keep it down, Y/N. I didn’t mean for it to go that far but I did what you asked, didn’t I?” You shrieked in response, “I did not ask for you to assault me, you idiot! You couldn’t have gotten him to leave me be any other way?”
“It worked though, didn’t it? The Headmaster doesn’t ever take anything that goes on between you and Abraxas seriously. It’s been going on since I came to Hogwarts.” He argued and you seethed in anger, “How would you know?” “Everyone knows, Y/N. For God’s sake you two never stop.”
You were silent for a long time. Regardless of how little Sterling knew you as a person, he was right about this. Nothing ever came of your complaints to the Headmaster, nothing ever stopped Malfoy’s constant harassment and nothing would have happened if he hadn’t attacked you in the library - if Sterling hadn’t framed him for attacking you in the library.
This was all too much for you and you blinked away tears, breath hitching in your throat as you stumbled back into a desk, resting against it. Sterling didn’t say anything, he just watched you sob in the dark classroom until you were finished.
“I did what you asked, Y/N. He won’t bother you again.” He reminded you, much closer than he was a moment ago. You looked up at him through teary eyes and the olive-skinned boy looked apologetic. “I’m sorry I frightened you.”
“You did far more than frighten me, Mathers.” You laughed, “I should have known when you hexed me without a wand that you weren’t Malfoy, he’s about as smart as a bag of snails.”
Sterling’s sad expression weakened as he laughed with you, “You noticed?” Humming in response, you wiped your eyes and smiled at him despite your anger, it was dulling. Sterling had attacked you but you reasoned that it was in your best interest and were already beginning to forgive.
“How did you do that?” You asked, lashes still heavy with tears. “Polyjuice potion.” Mathers fake-gagged, emitting another laugh from you that you quickly tried to shake off. You wanted to be angry at him for what he’d done since it was never your idea in the first place, but it hardly mattered now. You should be thanking him, you haven’t seen that snot-nosed brat since.
“I truly am sorry that I took it so far,” Sterling frowned again, his eyes deep with regret. “I knew that if I’d discussed it with you previously, you might not be able to pull off your part.”
You couldn’t help the smirk that crossed your face, “Are you saying I’m a bad actor?”
The Ravenclaw turned away from you with a chuckle, “I think regardless of how talented you may be, it was definitely a powerful show of emotions - it was impactful.” It stung a little to hear Sterling talk about the encounter as if it weren’t so traumatizing, but you tried to ignore it.
“I wasn’t lying about Kettleburn being in Greece, by the way, but we don’t have a substitute today, free period.” A part of you was glad there would be no class today as you were far too emotionally drained to show your face anywhere, let alone participate in activities. You patted your puffy cheeks and sighed, following Sterling from the classroom and into the halls.
Keeping herself silent, Hermione prayed that he would think that she was gone and leave her be. Instead, he kept pounding on the door, calling her name, getting more and more frantic. “Don’t make me do this through the door.” She was beginning to be afraid that he was going to break down the door as it rattled in its frame. “Hermione, come on, I know you are in there!”
Cringing, Hermione held her breath, wondering how long he was going to stand out there, making a nuisance of himself. She nearly gasped when she heard someone else walking into the hallway. “Oi, just what are you doing?” she heard her neighbor, Neville Longbottom ask.
“I’m looking for Hermione,” Tom responded, his voice muffled by the door. She could practically see his jaw clenching in her mind’s eye as he tried to keep hold of his temper. “I need to speak with her.”
“Well, she obviously doesn’t want to talk to you,” Neville spat back at her, being so stupidly brave. Hermione prayed that Tom wouldn’t do something to the other man, thinking that Neville was severely underestimating what Riddle was capable of.
Warning: Extremely dark! Please read the tags and the warning before you proceed to read this. This is a particularly special story to my heart, so if you could please give me some sort of feedback in the review section of either AO3 or FFN, it would help immensely.