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Chapter 3: Silence and acquaintances
The week that followed the family meeting felt like a never ending nightmare for Hugo. He kept hearing these two older boys’ conversation over and over again and as much as he tried, he couldn’t find any argument to say that they were wrong. The days dragged on without much of a change. He talked to one single person during the first three days of the week and it was Lily, because they had classes together. On Thursday though, since they did not share a class, Hugo went through another completely silent day. As for his magic well, it stayed the same. Absent. The more time passed and the least Hugo felt like he could even do anything. His house mates looked at him either in disguss or in pity but none of them offered to help or talk to him. They left him be and most likely hoped he would give up on his own and drop out of school.
On Friday morning, after another disastrous Charms class, Hugo was packing away his things when professor Flitwick called him up to his desk. Hugo could hear the others chuckle as they left the classroom and the professor waited until they were all gone before adressing Hugo.
“Mr. Weasley, I wondered if you could come and see me in my office tonight, say, around 8 o’clock? I feel like there are a couple little things you and I need to discuss,” the tiny professor said.
“Alright professor,” Hugo said with a shaky voice after clearing his troat a little.
“Excellent, I’ll see you tonight then, have a good afternoon.”
Hugo didn’t answer and simply left the classroom. His legs were shaking and he felt like he was about to throw up. That was it, he was getting kicked out of school tonight. Feeling like he would burst into tears right on the spot, Hugo ran as fast as he could to the nearest bathroom in order to at least get some privacy to let his tears flow. He spent the entire lunch hour in there and then went straight down to the dungeons to wait for his next class. He thought about skipping the double potion but it was one of his favorite class; one of the rare ones where he performed. Plus, he felt that this would at least distract him from his worries rather than sitting alone in his dorm with nothing to do but think. Just has he thought, the class had the effect he hoped and Hugo was able to make it to dinnertime without too much worry.
It was quarter to eight when he put down his quill. His transfiguration essay was finished and he smiled a little; he was proud of his work. Looking at his watch, his face fell; he had to go to his meeting with his Head of House. Dreading what was to come, he closed his books and went on his way to what he expected to be his last walk through Hogwarts. When he arrived in front of professor Flitwick’s office, Hugo took a deep breath and knocked.
“Please come in Mr. Weasley,” professor Flitwick’s flutty voice came through the door. Hugo walked in quietly and the small old man smiled, “right on time. Please take a seat.”
Hugo nodded and sat down, facing his Head of house with his own head held up high to fake a confidence he did not feel.
“Well, Mr. Weasley –“
“It’s Hugo, professor,” the boy interrupted. His face became almost as red as his hair, not believing his guts.
“Very well Hugo,” the teacher smiled. “You know, I think today is the first day I’ve heard you say anything since you arrived at school, and that was two weeks ago already. I know you are a quiet boy Hugo but I feel there is something else bothering you.”
“I speak when I feel it’s necessary sir, otherwise I prefer to listen and observe others.”
“Can’t blame you; most people do tend to say stupid things when they talk only to fill the silence!” The teacher laughed. Hugo nodded knowingly, thinking of his father’s talent for putting his feet in his mouth.
“Now, there is one thing I wish to hear about and I want this to come from you, for once,” the professor said in a more serious tone. “Don’t get me wrong Hugo, I was very gald to see you Sorted into Ravenclaw but I feel it is not necessarily the same for you. And I completly understand considering your family history.”
“It was my choice professor,” Hugo began after a short reflection time. He looked at Flitwick’s raised eyebrows and smiled. “Well, I thought I would be a Hufflepuff, really, but when the Sorting hat let me choose between being ‘just another Weasley’ or discovering who ‘Hugo’ is, I chose to go on a different path; forge my own way through Hogwarts.”
“A brave thing to do, accepting to be in another house, away from you relatives in order to find yourself; very mature indeed. It must be hard on you none the less, right? Seing as you are not a very extrovert boy; not one to be going forward to others.”
“It’s not easy,” Hugo nodded, “but I manage. When I chose to find out who I am, I figured it meant I had to stay true to myself, not go and act out to make myself more interesting to others. I believe the friends I will make – if I stay true to myself – will be the best ones for me. I’m ok with being on my own for now, observing my classmates.”
“Well, I can’t argue with that; tell me, are you sure you’re eleven? I have never heard any student your age, and even from much older ones, with that much insight.” Hugo simply blushed and shruged the professor’s compliment off. He had been told before, that he didn’t sound like an eleven years old and that was one of the reasons he didn’t speak much. If people didn’t hear him, they wouldn’t comment on it.
“Very well, there is one more subject I need to discuss with you,” the professor said. Hugo swallowed hard; he knew what was coming. “As your Head of House, your teachers report to me when they have worries about a student. Some of your teachers have reported some observations that concure with my own. Everyone of us can say that we are very satisfied with your written work. All of your essays are of great quality. Moreover, professors Slughorn and Longbottom report that your work is as good as can be, better even than most of your classmates. The problem lies in your spellwork. So far, none of your teachers can report seing you perform magic. In those classes, the teachers, including myself, find you look distracted. Do you agree Hugo?”
“Yes sir,” the boy whispered, looking at his hands so professor Flitwick wouldn’t see his face.
“Hugo, is there anything I can do to help you?” the professor asked, his voice full of concern. Hugo bit back his tears and shook his head. “Very well. But when you are ready to talk about it, I will be here and I do hope you will come to me in case you need something.” Hugo still hadn’t moved so the teacher went on. “Until then, I propose to meet once a week, just for a quick check up on how you are doing, what do you say to that, Hugo?”
“Are you saying I can stay?” the boy asked in a disbelieving tone, his shoulder droping.
“Well I certaintly do hope you will stay Hugo; is that what had you so worried?” the small man asked. When Hugo nodded, the man shook his head at his own blindness. “Listen to me Hugo, you are a bright boy. The fact that you got in this school is a proof in itself that you have magical habileties. As for why you haven’t come into your power yet, well, there can be many possibileties, the first one being a result of your particular Sorting. I’m not at all worried that everything will settle itself in time; there is no need to put anymore pressure on yourself. Now, you should go back to your comon room, get some sleep and try to have fun and relax this weekend, it might do you some good.”
“Very well, professor and thank you for being so kind,” Hugo said as he stood up, wiping the tears that had escaped his during his teacher’s speech.
“Not at all Hugo and do not hesitate to come again if you need some help, or just to talk, my door is always open. Have a good weekend,” professor Flitwick finished with a kind smile as Hugo left his office.
That night, Hugo had his best sleep ever since he had come to Hogwarts and he woke up late and rested. Liam and Malcolm were already up and gone so Hugo went to the Great Hall on his own. The day was warm and sunny. Apparently, most people had decided to spend it outside and so, when Hugo went to get his breakfast, he found the Great Hall practically empty. He recognized no one from the Ravenclaw table but his cousin Louis sat at the Gryffindor’s so Hugo decided to join him.
“Good morning Louis, mind if I join you?”
“Hey Hugh! You better join me, I’m lonely and I haven’t seen you in a while. How’s life as a Ravenclaw?”
“It’s ok. Lacks humour though,” answered before bitting into a piece of toast. “What’s up with you Gryffies?”
“Lacks peace,” Louis answered with a happy grin. “Last night, Fred and Roxanne gave us a sneak peak of the new ‘anti-gravity’ wheeze Uncle George is working on. We had to get professor Longbottom and the Headmistress after a while because they were stuck with their feet on the ceiling and had lost consciousness; too much blood to the head. It was pretty entertaining.”
“Still needs some work I see,” Hugo managed to say, laughing at his cousins’ adventures.
“Indeed! Well, it isn’t authorized yet as you might have guessed. They both spent the night in the Hospital wing and received an angy and very sarcastic Howler from their parents this morning. Something like ‘I always knew your father was stupid for creating things like this but I believed you were not stupid enough to try them before they’re approved’.”
“Like it’s the first time they do that,” Hugo giggled at his aunt’s answer.
“I know! Then Uncle George joined in the Holwer, declaring that it’s Fred and Roxy’s problem if it didn’t work properly; apparently, it would have worked fine for his twin brother and him.”
“Ah yes, that makes more sense; the ‘twin-gene’ makes the wheezes work correctly,” Hugo said with a smile, admiring his godfather’s logic. He finished his last bit of toast and looked back at his cousin, still smiling.
“It’s good to see you like this Hugh, you haven’t looked your best these last few days.”
“I worked some things out yesterday night and I do feel better; no need to worry Lou,” Hugo felt himself blush. He really hadn’t thought his cousins had noticed, or cared about how he was doing.
“Of course I need to worry, we’re family and it’s our job to look out for each other or didn’t you listen during the last meeting? We still count you as a Weasley even if you are much smarter than the rest of us all put together!” Louis looked at his watch and sighed. “Sorry kiddo but I have to go; crazy captain Weasley wants us on the field for team tryouts. I’ll see you later!”
“Bye Lou,” Hugo answered back as his cousin left.
With his new found goals, Hugo went back to the Ravenclaw tower to get his bag and made his way to the library. An idea had grown during the night and, although it didn’t qualify as fun, it could certaintly bring him to relax, eventually. There were only a handful of students in the library and as he made his way to chose a table, Hugo was surprised to recognise two of his classmates. Connor McMillan and Eliana Rowan-Pritchard looked very concentrated on their work and they did not notice him coming in. Although he really wanted to, Hugo couldn’t bring himself to go and talk to them. He had no idea what to say to start a conversation with them. He settled for walking slowly close to their table, in the hope that one of them would notice him.
“Hey, Hugo, right?” Connor said, loudly when Hugo walked next to him.
“Yeah,” Hugo answered with a small smile. He waved to Eliana who smiled back. “Are you working on the Defense essay?” It was the natural assumption since they were of different houses and partnered for this class.
“No,” Eliana softly answered, “Connor mentionned he had a problem with the transfiguration homework. Since I had already done it, I offered to help him.”
“Yeah, she also chose what will probably be the last nice Saturday of the semester to do it,” Connor said in a joking manner. “So, what are you doing inside today?”
“Some stuff I wanted to research,” Hugo answered, evasively.
“Well, if you want, you can sit here with us,” Eliana offered. Hugo’s smile widened and he dropped his bag on the empty seat on the other side of the table.
“I’ll go get some books first though.”
Hugo left them to work and went to look through the library. What he was looking for wasn’t very precise since he didn’t understand it but, he supposed he should start with the most obvious sign : the music he heard. After a couple minutes, Hugo found a section dedicated to music. Most books spoke of famous wizard musicians but he found one very small book, almost hidden between two bigger ones, that spoke of the magic of music.
“Found what you were looking for?” Connor asked when he came back.
“Dunno, I’ll have to read it to be sure.”
“’Music’s Magik’,” Eliana read out loud , “I didn’t know there was real magic behind music.”
“What do you mean ‘real magic’?” Connor asked.
“Well, I always found that the way music influences a person, his emotions, his thoughts, that that was kind of magical. Just not in the strict sense of the word.”
“I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been into music much. My sisters are crazy for this Johnny Charmcaster singer but he makes me want to vomit; does that count?” Connor asked, making the others giggle.
“Maybe, I don’t know. We’ll let you read some while we try and finish this. Hugo might be able to tell you after,” Eliana said as Connor groaned, taking back his quill none the less.
For about two minutes, the three of them worked silently but it didn’t last long. Behind Hugo’s back, a voice rose loudly.
“Finally, I found you!” Lily Potter came up to the table and sat down next to Hugo. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you; what are you doing here?”
“Trying to read,” Hugo answered, showing her the book he was holding, “and hello to you too by the way.”
“Right, hello,” Lily looked at the two others and smiled brightly, evidently only just noticing them, “I’m Lily, this git’s best cousin.”
“Connor and this is Eliana,” Connor answered with a smile, looking entertained by Lily while Eliana only looked shocked by the small girl’s energy.
“Nice to meet you although it would have been nicer somewhere else, say outside for example,” Lily was saying, sounding like she couldn’t believe that they would spend their day inside. “Hugh, I can’t believe you did not come over to watch the try-outs.”
“Uh well, it’s not my house-team Lils, I didn’t know it was today,” Hugo lied; afterall, Louis had told him that same morning but Hugo didn’t feel like going; it was still painful to watch all of his cousins happy together when he wasn’t really part of it.
“Still, choosing homework over the sun, you are weird. All of you,” she added, looking pointedly at Connor and Eliana.
“Is it really nice outside?” Connor asked in longing.
“Yeah; it’s so warm, there are people swimming in the lake.”
“I hear there’s some kind of beast in that lake; isn’t it dangerous?” Eliana asked the others, wide eyed.
“A giant squid,” Connor nodded. “It’s actually a mollusk and isn’t really dangerous. This one is quite sociable.”
“You talk like Hagrid,” Lily chuckled at Connor’s passionate account for the squid.
“I love animals, that’s all,” Connor shrugged, “and how do you know how Hagrid talks?”
“Well, we know him, Hugo and I,” Lily explained to a disbelieving Connor, “he’s a friend of our parents.”
“Who are you talking about?” Eliana asked, confused.
“Hagrid, the grounds’ keeper,” Hugo answered but under his fellow Ravenclaw’s frown, he added, “the giant that brought us to the castle on our first day.”
“Oh right, and he cares for the animals too?”
“Yeah, he’s the Care of magical Creatures’ teacher as well,” Lily nodded.
“It’s a shame we can’t take that class before third year,” Connor shook his head, “it will definitly be my first choice. Probably my only choice actually.”
“We could introduce you both,” Lily said, smiling at Connor, “maybe you could go see him and his creatures while you wait for his class.”
“You’d do that?” Connor exclaimed loudly, before looking sheepish under the librarian’s glare.
“Yeah, we can go now if you want,” Lily shrugged and before she was done with her sentence, Connor had already closed his books.
“Sorry Eliana, I’ll finish this on my own, thanks for your help but I really want to go,” Connor apologized to his coworker.
“That’s alright,” Eliana smiled at him, “can I come too?”
“Of course! And you’re coming too Hugo,” Lily pointedly told her cousin.
Quickly, Hugo, Connor and Eliana gathered their stuff under Lily’s disaprooving look. She didn’t allow them to go back to their respective houses to drop their bags but lead them outside. When they crossed the great oak doors, the sunlight blinded them and Hugo had to admit that Lily was right; it was a beautiful day and they had been wasting it inside.
“Merlin it’s good to be out,” Connor yelled as he unfastened his cloak and pushed in into his school bag. “Now this is more like a Saturday!”
“Well, yeah,” Lily snorts at him. “We’re supposed to relax during weekends, not work.”
“Yeah; hey, we should go swimming later, looks like fun!” Connor pointed at the lake where about a dozen students were playing.
“I didn’t bring any swimwear,” Eliana muttered, “you guys will have to go without me.”
“Nonsense, we’ll figure something out,” Lily shook her head. “You must have shorts and a t-shirt, right? You can swim like that.”
“If we were more advanced, we could tranfigure your shorts into a bathingsuit,” Connor said before a large smile illuminates his face. “Merlin, I hope he’s there!”
“Who?” Hugo asked, confused. Connor seemed to have difficulties holding on to only one subject of discussion.
“Hagrid, who else!” The Hufflepuff laughed, pointing at the hut, “you know, the guy we are going to see?”
“Of course he’ll be there, where else could he be?” Lily asked him with a smile.
“Oh I don’t know,” Connor rolled his eyes, “in the forest, taking care of a unicorn? Wrestling a werewolf maybe? Or having tea with centaurs?”
Confidently, Lily knocked three times at the door. A second later, it opened up to reveal the very large and shaggy figure of Hagrid. His face lit up when he spotted Lily and his black eyes glinted hapily.
“Lily,” he said, “what a happy surprise! And Hugo too!”
“Hi Hagrid,” Hugo whispered, waving a hand at Hagrid.
“What brings ye here this lovely afternoon?”
“We brought friends,” Lily answered, pulling Connor next to her, “they wanted to meet you.”
“Really? Ye aren’t scared o’ me?” Hagrid said, walking out of his hut. Eliana moved slightly closer to Hugo but Connor took a step forward, holding his hand out .
“Connor Macmillan, sir, it’s a real pleasure to meet you.”
“Why hello Mr. Macmillan,” Hagrid chuckled, shaking the blonde haired boy’s entire arm.
“You are the single person I really wanted to meet when I came to Hogwarts. My brother and sisters told me all about you.”
“Are ya the last one o’ them, are ye? I remember Rosalind telling me her little brother loved animals.”
“That would be me sir,” Connor nodded.
“Would ye like to have some tea?” Hagrid suggested to the little group. They agreed and quickly installed a table outside. When everyone sat down, Hagrid turned to Eliana. “And who are ye little lady?”
“Eliana, sir; I’m in Ravenclaw with Hugo, sir,” she blushed deeply.
“I found these three in the library earlier today; can you imagine Hagrid?” Lily shook her head in disbelief. Hagrid chuckled lightly.
“Yeah well, that was before I knew you guys know Hagrid,” Connor shrugged, “otherwise, I would have pestered you about it much sooner.”
“I can imagine,” Hugo smiled.
“Ye know, ye don’t have to wait until third year to see the animals. If ye feel like it, ye can come by once in a while and give me a hand with the animals. Ye’re all welcome.”
“Are you serious? It wouldn’t bother you if I came by sometimes and watch you work?”
“It would be my pleasure,” Hagrid chuckled at how wide Connor’s eyes had gotten. “There aren’t all that many student that have a real interest in my creatures and I’d love to discuss them with someone that has a real passion for them.”
“Then I think I’d be the best person for that!” Connor exclaimed loudly, smiling widly at Hugo.
They stayed with Hagrid for another hour, telling him of their first weeks at school. Instead of pretending that everything was alright, Hugo chose to talk as little as possible. Afterall, Hagrid might have believed him but his three classmates had surely noticed that something wasn’t right with his magic and they would have seen through the lie. Plus, Lily being Lily and Connor being pretty much just as blunt as her, Hugo knew that they would have called him out on it instantly. When they left Hagrid’s place though, the sky had darkened and by the time they had reached the castle’s doors, fat raindrops were falling on them and drenched their robes. Connor and Eliana decided to go back to the library to finish their homework and Lily, while dramatically rolling her eyes at them, suggested Hugo and her play a couple games of exploding snaps, which he accepted.
When he went to sleep later that night, Hugo felt happier than he had in days. Spending time with Lily always made him happy, she was his best friend afterall, and meeting Connor and Eliana had not been quite as bad as he had imagined meeting new people would be. Hugo felt proud of himself for talking to them but a little nervous as well because now, they certaintly would expect him to talk to them again and he wasn’t all that certain that he could do that without fainting, no matter how nice they were.