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Chapter 3: 3 - The Arithmancy Professor
moriarty. @ TDA
The friday morning post of the first week back arrived in a flurry of owls carrying first letters from parents, packages containing things left behind at home in the haste to catch the train in time, and, in Carla's case, a reply letter from her brother.
She fed the owl some oats and let it peck her finger affectionately before flying off, then spooned some porridge into her mouth and tore open the letter.
To my darling sister Carla,
The neighbours are really starting to notice the odd behaviour of the owls around the area; they think it's because of the rats in their shed. I really wish we could communicate by email, but you wizards just love to make things difficult, don't you?
I'm glad you settled in well at Hogwarts, apart from this Snape guy. If he gives you any more trouble just say the word and I'll be right there to give that abomination of a man what he deserves.
Carla snorted. She doubted Jeremy could do much to Snape when all Jeremy had were a pair of fists and Snape had a wand.
Nothing much is happening here at the moment. It's dreadfully empty around the house without you home; I'm looking forward to Christmas already.
Now for some bad news, I'm afraid. Uncle Matthew called today - Auntie Kathy has had another heart attack. They don't know if she's going to make it through this time. I'm sorry, I know she was like a best friend to you.
Please write back soon,
Carla folded the letter up with shaking hands, standing up from the staff table. She'd only eaten a few mouthfuls of porridge but she no longer had any appetite.
Poor, poor Aunt Kathy.
She made her way out of the hall as quickly as she could without attracting attention, stepping blindly up steps and steps of different stairs. She could have gone on forever, had she not reached the uppermost part of the castle where the stairs ran out. Breathing heavily from her journey upwards, she continued down a deserted corridor for a bit before finding a little alcove with a painted glass window and sitting down there.
She could feel the lump grow heavier and heavier in her throat, but willed herself not to cry, taking deep, calming breaths.
"Are you alright?" A deep and distinctively masculine voice said. Carla looked up into the startling blue eyes of the Arithmancy professor. But oh Merlin, how she hated that question. It was enough to set anyone off. And, on cue, tears sprang up in her eyes.
"Don't cry," he said, stooping down to her level and putting a comforting arm around her shoulders.
"I-I'm s-sorry," she managed to say through racking sobs. "M-My... My aunt's unwell."
"Oh." He looked genuinely upset for her. "Is there anything I can do?"
She shook her head mutely, sniffing a little and wiping the tears from her face with her sleeves. "It's probably too late," she muttered thickly.
Hesitantly, he reached forwards and wiped a stray tear from her cheek. "I have been admiring you from afar all through this week," he admitted. "I watched you leave the hall today and thought you looked quite ill, so I followed you. Forgive me for prying."
Carla managed to smile. "You weren't prying. Just looking out for me, which I am incredibly thankful for. If it weren't for you, I would probably have stayed up here wallowing for the whole day."
He laughed. "That would have been most unfortunate." He paused. "I'm Peter by the way."
"I'm Carla," she said.
"I know," he said.
They smiled at each other in canon, and he straightened up, pulling her with him. She had to steady herself once upright, holding onto his arms for support. She noticed that they were incredibly muscular arms - what did this guy do in his spare time?
"Carla..." he began. She enjoyed the sound of her name on his lips. "I hope you don't find me too forward in asking, but... I would like to take you to dinner tonight. In Hogsmeade. If you're free. Or if you're not free we could go another night, or maybe you don't even want to go - "
"Of course I want to go," she shyly interrupted.
"Oh." He smiled. "Well, that's good. Shall we meet at around seven in the Entrance Hall?"
"Sounds good," she said.
Though Professor Hemmingway taught the same way she had the first four days of the week, students that day noticed she had a vacant look about her and frequently caught her stop in the middle of whatever marking she was doing at her desk and stare dreamily into space. They all suspected that she had a special someone in mind, though none of them would have suspected that it was a certain blue eyed, dark haired Arithmancy professor.
She walked out of her last lesson in a daze, not even noticing as Professor Snape strode past her, giving her an unfathomable glare as he did so.
After entering her private chambers she put down her satchel bag and opened the doors to her wardrobe, biting her lip. Carla wasn't what you would call fashionable, and she definitely wasn't rich, so her small selection of clothes had little to offer. At length she decided to put on the only dress she owned - a pretty blue floral affair with a high collar and ruffled skirts that reached just above her knee. Then she drew her hair into a plait and dabbed a little concealer onto the shadows beneath her eyes.
She slipped on her shoes and robes, and, glancing at the clock to see that she was running late, hurried out of the door without a glance backwards.
"I had the most perfect night tonight, Carla. I hope that we can go out again - soon," Peter said.
Carla smiled warmly, her insides a little fuzzy. But maybe that was just the two expensive glasses of elf-made wine that Peter had insisted on her having. He was standing a little too close now than a normal person would be comfortable with, and she could smell the intoxicating scent of his cologne, which reminded her of beaches and the ocean and Hawaii and those little women with coconut bras. Actually, she was finding it a little hard to breathe.
"I'd like that," she said breathlessly.
He stroked her cheek. His hand was warm, the fingers a little rough from years of playing the guitar. It felt good against the skin of her cheek, and she sighed involuntarily, leaning into him.
Peter laughed. "You're like a little kitten." Then he brought his other hand up to her face and cradled her head in his hands, bringing his lips down to press a gentle kiss once on her forehead, once on her nose, and once, very lightly, on her lips. "I'll see you tomorrow."
The shadows of the dark corridor swallowed up his retreating figure within seconds, and without his presence Carla suddenly felt a lot colder. She shivered, wrapping her robe more tightly around herself and hurrying in the general direction of her chambers.
When she finally reached the corridor holding her chambers, having gotten lost and having resorted to asking a number of portraits how to get back, she found the door of her room slightly ajar. The lights were on.
Wand at the ready, heart beating like an anxious bird trying to escape a cage, Carla tiptoed towards the doorway and opened it with her foot. Light flooded into the corridor.
A/N: Muahaha cliff hanger! Anyway, please review. I've only had one review so far (as I write this) and I would love to have some more and hear what you think!