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Chapter 2: traveling up the creek
Disclaimer: I am not rich nor am I famous. None of this is mine. Quote at the top is from a song by Doves.
There goes the fear again...
I had a brilliant plan. It involved sitting on my favorite beanbag chair and never moving again.
Brilliant. Really and truly brilliant. It would solve all my problems.
Unfortunately, Heather thwarted it once again.
“Get up, you lazy lump,” she said, nevertheless plopping down next to me with a sigh. I could feel her coming to sit next to me as the beanbag sunk down closer to the floor, enveloping the both of us.
“Umph,” I moaned from underneath the cozy yellow and black blanket that was currently covering my face.
I couldn’t see her face, but I could picture her rolling her eyes just fine, anyways. “Budge over and share the blanket,” she said, pulling my covering away from my eyes.
I shot her my most pathetic puppy dog eyes, but she seemed unmoved. A heart of stone, that girl. “What is it this time?” she said with a shake of her head.
“Everything,” I moaned again.
For my pain, I received a quick bop from one of the oversized pillows resting on a nearby armchair. Heather had perfected this move in the years spent in the common room. We had a nice routine, Heather and I. I would complain, Heather would reprimand me for being lazy, prod me in some way, and then fix it.
“I hate being a fifth year.” Heather grimaced. Less than a week back at school, and the homework was already piling up. Three feet on Switching Spells for Transfiguration, two feet on the properties of knotgrass for Potions, two and a half feet on nonverbal spells for Charms.
And, of course, my damn dragon project.
Which was causing most of the stress right now.
Lysander had asked me to meet him in the library today after dinner so that we could get a head start on our project.
Our project. I couldn’t think it without shuddering.
It wasn’t the Lysander aspect of it - he was perfectly nice, if a bit confusing - but the dragon part. Dragons. Merlin.
“What’s this I hear?”
A tall girl ambled over and perched on the side of the armchair above us, her Prefect’s badge glinting. “Not enjoying fifth year so far, girls?”
“Not at all,” we moaned.
“Chin up,” she said cheerily.
Easy enough for her to say. Shelly happened to be a sixth year, and her OWLs were behind her, with a year to go until NEWTs. She was golden.
And she also happened to be one of my favorite older students, and perfectly sweet, so I resisted the urge to stick out my tongue at her.
“No bloody way I can keep my chin up!” Heather exclaimed. “What’s there to like about being a fifth year?”
Shelly took that into consideration, pausing for several seconds. “Well... yeah, no, okay, not much. But sixth year’s better.”
When a chipper, cheery, the-sun-is-always-shining Hufflepuff can’t find anything good to say, then you know you’re up the creek with no paddle.
“Thanks for the comforting words,” I grumbled.
“Just breathe. Sure, there’s a lot of work, but you’ll be fine, I promise. Beginning of the year can’t be so bad though, right? Just a lot of papers.”
“And a semester long project,” Heather added. “Yeah, we’re just fine.”
Shelly raised her eyebrows. “In what?”
“Magical Creatures. New professor. She’s nuts.” In three short sentences, Heather summed up my dilemma.
“All teachers are nuts, to some degree,” Shelly said fairly, “if they were interested in teaching.”
“Point,” I grumbled. “Doesn’t make me feel much better.”
Shelly patted my head. I felt a bit like an overgrown dog. Charming. Make that a pathetic, soggy, smelly, old dog who nobody likes and-
I interrupted my internal pity party to focus on Shelly’s question.
“What’s it on, anyways?” Then she continued to speak, despite Heather’s sudden flailing, throat-cutting motions, and repeated mouthing of the phrase Don’t say it, don’t say it! Shelly was oblivious to Heather’s theatrics, perhaps because she had seen them one too many times, and instead said those words: “How bad can it be?”
“How bad can it be? Oh, let me tell you how bad it can be,” I said, sitting up straighter, cracking my knuckles and preparing to inform Shelly of every single detail of my poor, miserable life.
Next to me, Heather flopped backwards and wilted, her hands already around her ears.
I launched into a minute-by-minute description of my pain, suffering, and future pain and suffering that was to be at hand thanks to none other than Professor Wallace and her evil, torturous scheme that would surely be the death of me.
I think I have a flair for the dramatic occasionally. It must be Heather’s bad influence rubbing off on me.
Thankfully for me and my need to have plenty of pity poured on me, Shelly was a true Hufflepuff (unlike Heather, that is). She listened sympathetically and nodded and winced in the right places.
Sympathy, thy name art Shelly.
“It’s fifth year,” she said with a shrug by way of explanation. “By definition, it’s terrible. Nothing to be done about it.”
“And look on the bright side. It’ll be interesting, at the very least.”
“Flobberworms are interesting,” I argued. “Fascinating, really.”
“Not much to study for a couple months,” Heather pointed out.
“Creativity,” I sniffed. “Creativity and scientific integrity. You’ve got to take it slow, or else you’ll make mistakes.”
Heather didn’t even bother to respond to that, only rolling her eyes. Shelly, at the very least, laughed.
“I’ll leave you to wallow in peace, now. Don’t worry, you’ll get through fifth year... one way or another. I think I’ll go, oh, I don’t know, volunteer to tutor first years because-” Shelly stood up and stretched luxuriously. “-I have time to now. Ah, well.” She patted me once more on the head, then walked over to the large House bulletin board.
Teasing? I would pretend to be wounded by that, except in a family like mine, it happens with alarming regularity. I shrunk down even further, more than ready to wallow in self-pity for the next century or so.
I did note, however, that it appeared that Shelly really was signing up for tutoring. Apparently Hufflepuffs’ teasing is a touch lacking, because even when we make a joke, we go through with it nonetheless.
“What time were you going to meet Lysander, anyways, Luce?”
“After dinner,” I said.
Heather coughed. “Erm, Lucy, what time is it?”
I squinted at her. “I dunno. Why should I?”
She sighed. “Lucy, we already ate dinner.”
“So? I know th-” Oh. Right. What Heather was trying to point out to me hit me.
“Crap, crap, oh bugger it all, I have to go!” I tried to stand up, but the beanbag had me in its metaphorical jaws and instead my arms just flailed around like a windmill without me going anywhere. Heather helpfully gave me a shove, and I managed to get back on my feet.
“Right. Thanks. Okay. I’m going! Library! Going now!”
“Your bag!” she said, shoving the useless lump towards me.
“Right! Right! Okay. I’m going for real now! Library! Shit, Lysander. Dragons!” I managed to dash off, making it through the portrait hole and stumbling down onto the stone of the hallway outside, still mumbling a bit to myself.
There are a few good things about being a Hufflepuff. For example, our Common Room is near the kitchens. Ergo, we’re also close to the Great Hall. If you are a fan of mealtimes, Hufflepuff is the house for you.
There are a few downsides, however. Like the fact that the library was clear across the building.
With a sigh, I adjusted my bag, and then began to partake in a mad dash to try to get to the library, breathing hard already.
Merlin, I hate my life.
Eleven minutes later, I had sprinted across the entirety of Hogwarts Castle (including a brief, very scary moment in which the staircase I was about to put my foot on chose to start moving; I held on to the banister with all my might and managed to get on it anyways) and, panting like there was no tomorrow, arrived at the library.
Grumpy Madam Pince glared at me. She probably thought I was making too much noise by simply breathing.
(Granted, I was breathing pretty loudly. And granted, we didn’t have the best track record: I was a bit too clumsy and a bit too loud for her to really like me. But still. She’s an awfully judgemental person.)
I ignored Madam Pince and set about searching for Lysander, who, knowing my luck, had probably left dinner early and been waiting for me ever since. I wasn’t wearing a watch (I never made it a point to keep track of the time. As Heather liked to put it, everything will happen when it does, and there was nothing you could do about it) but I was fairly certain I had wasted quite a bit of time whinging in the common room.
Aha! There, sitting at a table with a frightening amount of books around him (although, to be fair, any more than one book looks frightening to me) was Lysander, in all his blonde, scatterbrained glory.
Find your courage, Lucy! I tried chanting.
I gave up on that quickly, thought. Screw it, I figured, if I want courage I’ll go talk to Dom or something.
Still, I had a brief victory in which I temporarily squashed my inner coward (well, partially anyways) enough to make my legs move.
“Hullo,” I managed to squeak out.
“Hullo, Lucy!” Lysander exclaimed, looking unperturbed that I was tragically late.
“Sorry... I’m... late,” I said, pausing halfway to have a coughing fit. Once that was over - Lysander waited patiently - I added, “Hope you weren’t waiting long.”
“Oh, I came after I finished eating, because I had an idea for one of my other projects that I just had to look up though. No matter,” he said cheerfully. “You’re here now.” Oh, crap. Now I felt guilty. I’d been whinging and having a mini-breakdown while Lysander was researching.
This is what Professor Wallace gets when she assigns a Hufflepuff-Ravenclaw pair. Totally not my fault.
“Err, right,” I said, carefully sitting down across from him and choosing to fiddle with my braid, which, I assure you, was simply fascinating.
Never mind that it was an ugly color, a cross between my father’s Weasley red and my mother’s light brown. Molly, at least, had received the Weasley trademark hair; I got a mixture of the two. And while my mother’s hair looked pretty on her, mousy reddish-light brown hair does not look particularly glamorous any way you look at it, especially on me. Such is my life.
In fact, I was so fascinated by my hair and the colour of said hair that I might have accidentally forgotten to listen to Lysander. Might have.
I coughed unobtrusively. “Sorry, what?”
This didn’t seem to bother Lysander, thank Merlin. He repeated what he said before, as chipper as can be. “I said that we should discuss what exactly we want to study within the broader topic of dragons.”
There was a bit of a silence before I realized that I was expected to actually, you know, give some feedback. Right. “Erm,” I said, “well... we could... um, study a bit of the background of dragons as a whole?” My voice turned into a squeak at the end, which was a tad embarrassing, though I’ve done worse. People who actually cared about their grades were a touch intimidating for me.
“That’s a good idea,” he said thoughtfully, his quill scratching away on the parchment. “We should build a firm foundation to begin on before we choose to get too specific. Brilliant. Their history is so rich and fascinating, after all.”
“Right,” I said, nodding furiously, trying to look as though that was what I had been talking about the whole time, instead of just making something up off the top of my head.
I mean, if Lysander wanted to make me look smarter than I already was, I wasn’t going to stop him.
“I’ve started to get some books, but I think we’ll need to get a pass from Professor Wallace to go in the Restricted Section later,” he informed me.
The Restricted Section? I wasn’t so sure about that. Lucy Weasley does not really do the Restricted Section.
“Right,” I said again, trying to pretend that this idea didn’t scare me either.
Sweet Merlin. Would there be anything about this project that didn’t frighten me? The prospects were not looking too good.
He pushed a large book towards me, keeping the larger one for himself. When I thought he wasn’t looking, I furtively bent down and sniffed it. Ick. Mildew and old book smell.
Molly adored old book smell. If she could wear a perfume, that’s what it would smell like. Musty and... well, old. It was indescribable, and it always made me think of my sister, which wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
I poked it. It didn’t move. At least it wasn’t alive.
You never knew. Books and knowledge could be dangerous things.
Lysander explained to me what I should be looking for. He had somehow managed to already create a basic outline, which he showed to me. It looked like Gobbledegook, so I nodded and said that was fine.
With some trepidation, I cracked open the book, blew some dust off the pages, and began to read.
An Introduction to the Study of Dragons and the History of These Nobles Beasts;
Dragons have, seemingly since the beginning of time itself, been an icon for the Wizarding community. These creatures are beautiful though dangerous, yet at the same time, are in danger themselves. The threats that dragons pose to keeping a peaceful and harmonious Wizarding-Muggle society and the threats that said Wizarding-Muggle society pose to dragons are...
Circe. I’m up the creek with not only no paddle, but no canoe, either.
I love my life.
A/N: Gah. So this chapter's been written for a while, but I've been too distracted to but it up. -hides- Good news is that chapter 3 is already written! This poor chapter didn't get a lot of editing love so... apologies for that. Any feedback is welcomed!