Keeping Watch

He sat near the entrance to the room, half-turned towards the hundreds of students, all in their sleeping bags on the cold stone floor. Most of them were awake, whispering, and soon the prefects would start wandering through the room, telling them to hush.

Percy couldn't blame them, really, for whispering. It was one big slumber party, despite the seriousness of the situation and the stern lectures they'd get from the professors in the morning. None of the younger students really believed they were in danger, and the novelty of sleeping all together like this was too exciting to resist staying awake and whispering about it.

All the Seventh Year students were keeping guard. Barring each door, walking quietly among the younger students, changing shifts so that they could each get a few hours' sleep. Making sure the children were kept safe.

None of the Seventh Years had said a word when they'd been told. Each had fallen silent, stared back at each professor as they'd heard what was happening, what was being done.

Percy had thought the reflexes must have been long atrophied, that at least some of his age-mates would have argued or questioned or shrugged off the apparent seriousness of the attacks. None had. Percy had caught Oliver's eyes, as they'd gone to find their assigned charges. He'd seen nothing in them, the same nothing he felt sure was on his own face. The same nothing he remembered feeling as early as his first memory, sitting in a room, leaning against a wall with his arms around his knees and a stuffed rag doll in one hand, watching someone - he didn't know who - listening at the door, waiting to be told it was clear. He'd grown old enough to be that sentry by the time he'd been four, watching over his younger brothers while his mother was elsewhere.

Standing here in the dark, sharing the duty with his fellow Prefects and age-mates and ghosts who might not be entirely trust-worthy, he watched over the children who were kept safe enough that they didn't really understand the danger. They'd never understood.

And once again, as he had those many years ago, he hated them.

Notes: As I work on larger fics, I find it useful to fill out details not given in the books even if they don't explicitly go into the larger fic. Some of these details work as short scenes, and I'll be sharing them!