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Chapter 1: First Day Back
A/N: Hi all. So this is a complete rewrite of this story. I wasn't really happy with the way it turned out before, so I had to give this story a facelift. I'm sorry if you liked the old version, but I really hope you like this new one. I had a really really really hard decision to make when I deleted the old chapters because of the wonderful reviews on them. I decided to save them all, and it was a tough decision, but I said before, this story needed a fresh start.
It’s my first NEWT class of the year. Actually, it’s my first NEWT class ever. A yawn escaped me as my greenish-grey eyes traveled over the small flock of students waiting in the corridor. I squinted slightly as I observed and attempted to mentally sort them into their respective houses.
‘Let’s see,’ I thought as I took in each of the people surrounding me in the dreary corridor, ‘Two Gryffindors, one Hufflepuff, tw—no—three Slytherins, and four Ravenclaws including moi.’ The class was so small this year. Usually there were more people in Slughorn’s NEWT classes since the material was ridiculously easy. Why so few this year?
As I again lazily looked around for the hundredth time, something different all but severed my earth-shattering train of thought. I looked over and it wasn’t just any ‘something’, no no, it was the only other Ravenclaw girl in the class, her freakishly sharp talons of nails nearly breaking the flesh of my arm and drawing blood. This, ladies and gents, was my best friend Aerona Lusk.
“Merlin,” She whispered breathlessly, shiny brown bangs falling into her face, “look at that Seren! I didn’t know he was going to be in our class!”
I looked down at the nails in my arm and felt pity for whatever poor soul she imagined digging those claws into. I followed her brown-eyed gaze to the group of three Slytherin boys lounging in their little corner. I was about to ask which one she was talking about when I saw him. A groan left me and all pity I might have possibly held for her next victim evaporated instantly. Regulus Black. I looked blankly at her and in my most ecstatic monotone asked, “Really Aerona?” Her dark eyes met my light ones, ready to defend him and conveying a desperation for me to understand. “Why do you like him so much?”
Her eyes drifted back to settle on Regulus and took up a dreamy expression as they attempted to soak up his very essence. “He’s just so…” she trailed off with a sigh.
I rolled my eyes, pushing away the golden locks which seemed bent on blinding me by always finding its way into my eyes. “Sneaky? Sleazy? A high and mighty, holier-than-thou, spoiled, pampered little rich brat like the rest of the Slytherins? Face it Aerona, he is every bloody stereotypical Slytherin quality incarnate.”
Aerona eyed me indignantly, her full mouth opening and closing before she finally got out, “He is not sleazy!”
I snorted and shook my head. Typical Aerona. Incredibly brilliant, but whenever the object of her affections is questioned she mysteriously loses the ability to argue properly. “He doesn’t even look that good,” I commented off handedly.
“Are you kidding me?” Her monstrous claw left my arm—thank Merlin too—and it instantly moved straight to my chin, grabbing it in a pincer-like grip and forcing me to look at Regulus. “There, take a good long look and then tell me that he doesn’t look super sexy.”
I sighed heavily and did as I was told. Complying with her demands was usually the best way to get rid of Aerona. I quickly looked him over from head to foot. He was lounging against the stone wall with his arms crossed. A bored expression was etched on his face as he scanned the surrounding students and listened half-heartedly to his companions. He looked exactly the same as ever. Hair, eyes, height, physique—nothing new at all. Turning my head as best as I could in Aerona’s freakishly strong grip, I looked at her seriously, “He does not look ‘super sexy’” Aerona sighed in frustration and released my face, pouting as she did so. “But,” I continued, “his brother certainly does.”
The minute the words left my mouth, there was an all out war ready to be waged behind her eyes. In one corner, standing at five foot something I assume, the Slytherin ‘bad boy’ Regulus Black, and in the other, standing a good few inches taller was the undeniably hot Gryffindor ‘good guy’ Sirius Black. Both sides racked up a good amount of pros in her mind, but in mine, there was no competition whatsoever. Sirius won hands down. Not only was he better looking, but there was that sense of humor that sent tingles though me and the camaraderie and loyalty he displayed with his friends and he was hot. He was fun to be around and loved by so many people and hot. Sure he's a year above me and has no idea I exist, but that could be remedied easily enough. Did I mention he was hot? Okay, I guess that point has been thoroughly established, but the best part about him? He was the polar opposite of his brother. Sirius is kind, funny, good-natured, and passionate, and what was Regulus?—conceited, egotistical, spiteful, and surly. I’d rather not get into that gravitational pull of despair. To put it simply, he doesn’t bother me and I don’t bother him. Simple, right?
Suddenly, the door to the potions room banged open, bouncing off the wall and causing one of the Gryffindors, a small mousy looking girl, to squeak in surprise. Filling the entire door frame with his robust build stood Professor Slughorn. He smiled widely, looking as jolly and chipper as he always did. Motioning us all in, he took time out to personally greet and shake hands with his favorite students, myself being one of them. Honestly, if there’s one thing about Slughorn, it’s that he’s predictable and there are two things anyone should know about him: he showers his favorites with praises and he’s a horrible liar. Seriously, Slughorn couldn’t lie to save his life, which really isn’t good due to the amount of shady dealings he gets involved in. I’m pretty sure half the school is just waiting to see what’ll happen when he gets caught. Once one knows the simple facts about Slughorn, he is ridiculously easy to manipulate, especially for one of his favorites.
As I made my way to the front of the class to find a seat, I was viciously and torturously grabbed from behind and dragged kicking and screaming to the abysmal back of the room. Okay, maybe that was an exaggeration. Maybe. It was more like Aerona’s nails from hell zoned in on my arm again, right to those wonderful groove marks she made before mind you, and pulled me over to sit by her right behind, guess who, Regulus and his weird little friend whose name I don’t think I ever bothered remembering. Why yes, I do only tend to remember names of people I either like or want to avoid. I gave Aerona one of my infamous ‘Really’ stares before shaking my head and settling in. Slughorn had already begun talking about the usual first day type stuff—what potions we’d do, any projects he had in mind, what was expected of us, blah blah blah, blah, blah, blah.
As I tried to very hard to listen to every single word that left Slughorn’s mouth, a wave of exhaustion rolled over me and in an instant my arms were crossed on the table with my head nestled within them. I waited for it. Wouldn’t be long now. Three, two, one.
“Something wrong?” Aerona’s not so quiet voice whispered right by my ear, muffled slightly by my arms. I shook my head, face still hidden. “Then what’s with this?” I can only assume she meant my current state of head burial. “I thought you liked Slughorn’s classes.” I tilted slightly to look at her, my hair falling like a wavy curtain and cutting her off from my gaze.
“I do like his classes. I just didn’t get much sleep last night. Still on SST.”
Confusion wrinkled Aerona’s pretty features, “SST?”
“Summer Sleep Time.”
Aerona shook her head, “Honestly Seren, we’re Ravenclaws. We’re supposed to be the studious academics of the Houses. How are you supposed to uphold that title when all you do is sleep and eat?”
I nearly snorted. Nearly. Aerona didn’t believe one word of that ‘studious academic’ bull. She’s not the type that listens or pays attention to stereotypes, but I’m always more than willing to play along. I dragged up my best offended look and tone. “I do not only eat and sleep. And I am a studious academic. You know, when the time calls for it.”
“Uh huh,” she said smugly, “So I’m guessing the time isn’t calling for it now considering the drool all over the desk.”
“I am not drooling! And even if I was I know it wouldn’t matter because you love me so much whether I’m a studious academic or a drooling troll!” A cheeky grin graced my face as I looked up at her, pushing my hair out of the way as I did so.
Aerona snorted, “Ha! Right, you keep believing that. You should know by now that the only one I love is…” Her eyes shot to Regulus and a sigh escaped her as my eyes rolled. I swear to Merlin, if I hear one more sigh out of her today, I’m going on a rampage to rid the world of…sighs. Somehow. I was ready to comment on her little obsession. I really was. But Slughorn somehow boomed louder than usual and caught my attention.
“Alright,” he said smiling mischievously, “I wanted to try something different with this class this year. Purely experimental.” He paused to let this sink in like some type of dramatic type person.
‘Purely experimental? What the hell does that mean?’ A feeling of dread slowly laced its way through me. Nothing good can come from this Slughorn experimentation. I followed Slughorn’s movement around the room as he continued speaking.
“I’ve decided to do things more randomly than previously and as a result of this decision, you will be picking your partners this year, but, it will be random.”
Instantly, murmurs and a few groans spread through the class. Aerona instinctively made to grasp my arm again and I tried to escape her, I really did, but somehow, by some unexplainable quirk of nature, my arm fell into her clutches, her nails digging into the grooves they made earlier. I gave her a look indicating that while I loved her to pieces, this was the only left arm I had and that I would really love to keep it attached to this body for as long as I could, but she merely rolled her eyes and turned her attention away from me. ‘Don’t be such a baby,’ I think was the message that she was trying to send to me. With a huff I looked up to see Professor Slughorn with a quill, a list of students in the class, and a tattered old hat that definitely seen better days. He was making his way around the room, holding the hat out, then jotting down whatever the student pulled out.
Really? Was he really going to do the name out of a hat thing? So that’s what he meant by random. Aerona’s grip tightened on me as Slughorn finally approached us. We each reached in and grabbed the last two objects from the bottom of the hat. I pulled out a wadded up paper and Aerona, an empty vial.
“Excellent,” Slughorn said cheerfully as he made his way back to the front of the room, waddling ever so nicely as he did so. “Now the point of this was for you to pick your partner, which you did!” He said with a wide smile. “You will be partners with whoever else picked the same object you did. I will begin reading off the pairings in just a moment.” Aerona looked at me sadly; her brown eyes seemed to apologize for us not being together. Her claws retracted from my arm, but the minute they did, her gaze sharpened with hope and a feral hunger as she glued her eyes to Regulus’s back. Wow. Isn’t she just the greatest? Ditching her best friend the minute she sees that we’re not going anywhere. Just wonderful that girl, just wonderful.
“I’ll just start reading down the list. Mr. Black, you will be paired with Ms. Crawford. Ms. Haley, you…”
I tuned out from there on, stunned by what had just happened. No idea why I was stunned, but I was. Knowing me, this is exactly the type of thing that would happen. What can I say? When you’re a sixteen year old girl and both the Fates and Karma loathe and despise your very existence, it is only natural that they would try as hard as they can to screw with every facet of your life. So in this case, of course they would grab me and hurl me straight into Regulus’s—what did I call it before? Oh, that’s right, his gravitational pull of despair.
I refused to look at Aerona. I utterly refused to for fear that the intensity of her glare would destroy my very soul. Actually, now that I thought about it, that sounded like a much better situation. Could this be? Where the Fates really giving me a choice this time? Have my soul reduced to ashes by Aerona’s fiery glare or be partners for the rest of the year with Regulus? I looked at Aerona hopefully and met liquid brown eyes filled to the brim and swimming with envy. Nope. Didn’t work. My soul was still intact and I was still his partner. The Fates have a very sick sense of humor. They taunt and they tease me. I thought maybe, just maybe, I would finally get a say in what was going to happen to me, but no. I bet they’re laughing at me. Where ever they may be, I bet the Fates are laughing their heads off at me and what they are putting me through. They probably think they’re so clever, those Fates. One day I’ll get back at them. One day I’ll defy them and turn their silly little game of ‘torture the Seren’ against them and then we’ll see who’s laughing.
The rest of the class bustled about, moving to pair off in the assigned partnerships. I gathered up my bags and moved, dragging my feet as much as I possibly could, to the now vacant seat in front of me next to Regulus. I tossed a glance at him out of the corner of my eye. He was lounging easily in his chair, fingers laced behind his head, lids half closed as he stared blankly toward the front of the room, not even bothering to look over and acknowledge me when I sat down. I didn’t really care what he did, but I mean it’s common courtesy, right? He really knows how to treat a girl, doesn’t he? I crossed my arms and rested my head on them on the table. Merlin, this was going to be a long year.