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Chapter 9 : The H.E.
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Freya was pacing nervously outside the Great Hall, waiting for Eliot to finish his dinner and meet her as agreed. Letting her thoughts wander, Freya became aware of the fact that she still hadn’t seen Harry. She had tried to visit him in the Hospital Wing on Sunday, when she saw professor Dumbledore and the others. It was now Wednesday, and it was bothering her that he was apparently still injured. ‘He has got his own friends, they can worry about him,’ Freya thought. Getting tired of her own ongoing pacing, she sat down at the bottom of the staircase.
Freya had been looking forward to, and fretting, her meeting with Eliot’s study-group. Her worst fear wasn’t even that they would dismiss her right away. The worst thing imaginable was that they accepted her, only to find out in a month or so that they didn’t like her anyway. If they just rejected her at once, she could blame them. Whereas it would only be her fault if they changed their minds... It sadly seemed that blame had its way of finding her, no matter how well she was hidden. Someone always pointed their finger at her in the most unfavorable situations. When praise was on her doorstep though, it always passed right by.
“Hey gorgeous!” Eliot greeted her. He placed his right hand in her left and pulled her up. “Are you ready?” He smiled warmly at her and winked slightly on his right eye.
“As ready as I’ll ever be...” Freya answered, not letting go of his hand. They went up the stairs and headed to the fourth flour on the north side of the castle.
“So...” Freya started, trying to ignore the knot forming in her stomach, by picking up conversation. “Does this study-group of yours have a name?” In truth Freya wasn’t even that interested and she couldn’t help a slight giggle when she heard the answer.
“The H.E” Eliot glanced at her with a wicked smirk and added; “The Hogwarts Elite!” noticing her amusement, he explained a bit further. “It is not like we think we are the elite...yet. It’s more like a goal. But hey, I’ll bet you anything it will be true at the end of our seventh year!” He had a smug look about him, and Freya knew there was no point in arguing.
As they stepped on to the fourth floor Freya felt the forgotten knot sneaking into her awareness. ‘It can’t be far now’ Freya mused making her grip Eliot’s hand just a little tighter. No more than a moment had past before Eliot stopped.
There was nothing to see besides some old moldy looking paintings and a tedious statue of a Goblin of some sort. Scanning the area, Eliot made sure no one was nearby. After that little check, he let go of her hand and did a strange dance. Just as Freya was ready to burst with laughter; four of the bricks that made out the floor, lowered themselves making a staircase.
“You have to step on the four bricks in a specific order, I can’t tell you how yet...” He grabbed her hand again, squeezed it once and led her down the stairs. Freya’s heart was beating fast and at that moment she couldn’t tell if it was from the excitement of going down there, or because of the boy walking in front of her.
At the bottom they entered a medium sized room with soft chairs and coffee tables, settled in groups of five. In the middle of the room a bigger table was placed, with room for seating seats for thirty people more or less. Hanging over the large working table was a beautiful chandelier. It was floating magically and gave a soothing bluish light. Above the smaller seating arrangements similar lighting was placed, only smaller and standing in the middle of the round wooden coffee tables.
Freya and Eliot were the first ones to arrive, which gave Freya plenty of time to study the room further.
“What is this place?” Freya whispered, not really directing the question at anyone.
Eliot had seated himself at one of the coffee tables in a comfortable looking navy-blue chair. He had his hands folded across his chest as he answered Freya question: “A meeting place of sorts. No one really knows what the purpose of the room was when it was built. For generations groups of students have met down here to study. Seventh years choose new people every year. When they have made their choices the sixth years and then the fifth years get their chance. The group never consists of more than thirty. At the moment we are twenty-seven.” He looked at her showing his only signs of nerves thus far, “I just hope I was one of the only ones to bring a pledge...”
Freya took a seat beside him. The knot was turning in to a happy bundle of butterflies. Again she questioned if it was the fact that she could be a part of a long proud tradition, or the prospect of spending time with Eliot.
They sat in comfortable silence for a while as the room slowly filled up. Freya recognized about a third; almost everyone was dressed in Slytherin robes and those who weren’t were from Ravenclaw. Freya didn’t spot a single Hufflepuff, or Gryffindor for that matter, and that didn’t seem to calm her nerves. Everyone seated at the bigger table and chatted comfortably. Eliot rose and as did Freya, he laid a hand on her back, silently guiding her.
At the head of the table sat a boy with brown hair and eyes with a striking resemblance to the boy seated next to her. Blaise Zabini seemed to be quite important in this crowd. Next to him, also at the head of the table, sat a smug looking blond seventh year boy. Freya didn’t know his name, but on pure instinct she didn’t like him. He raised his hand demanding - and getting - silence.
“As usual we will start this meeting with pledges. Anyone who is immediately rejected must leave the room at once. If anyone is being considered they will be allowed to stay for the rest of the evening. However, they will not be invited back until a proper decision has been made.” He said this as if it was said at the beginning of every meeting. Freya found it a bit cold; what if someone, like herself, was bad at making first impressions? She would apparently only get one chance and she didn’t even know what they were looking for.
The strawberry blond haired boy sat in silence as if waiting for pledges. Freya looked at Eliot, trying to get a clue in what to do. He shook his head slightly; telling her to wait. Not taking any chances Freya kept silent, shifting her gaze ever so often to Eliot just to be sure.
“Ok,” the foreman, or whatever they called him, started, “It seems none of the seventh year students have new pledges. Sixth years?”
“Draco Malfoy. I am making a pledge on behalf of my dear friend; Pansy Parkinson.” Malfoy had risen from his seat, pulling the girl Pansy Parkinson up with him. She looked pleased and sure of herself. Freya had seen her prance around the school with a superior look on her face. Ginny had told her a bunch of stories about her and Malfoy. They made life miserable for people of lower standards than themselves.
As the questioning started, Freya tuned out. It didn’t occur to her that it could be useful for her to listen.
She was literally pulled back in reality when Eliot began to introduce her, stating that ‘He was making a pledge on behalf of his special friend; Freya Keen.’
Freya was shaking, her knees suddenly felt weak and her heart was pounding in her chest. She grabbed a hold of the back of her chair to make sure not to fall down.
“Freya Keen, welcome. I am Peter Cornwell the chairman.” He lifted his chin up when he said this, looking pleased. “Please state your full name, year and house.” He neither smiled nor gave any comforting sign as he said this. Eliot placed his hand on her shoulder. Freya took a deep breath calming her worst nerves.
“Freya Keen, fifth year, Hufflepuff.” She tried to sound as confident as possible, thinking this was awfully formal for a study group.
“How far back can you date the magic legacy of your family, on both sides?”
Once again she took a deep breath before answering. She found this a bit odd; why did they want information about purity of blood? “On my fathers side magic can be dated back further than the founders of Hogwarts. I am not sure about my mother though. My grandparents were both magical they were English called White.”
Most of the people around her started muttering and Freya heard the girl next to her say something that sounded like: “How can you not know your magical linage? It’s absurd!” Even though a lot of people seemed to agree with that the majority looked kind of impressed. Even the usually smug looking Cornwell managed to twitch his lips upwards, in what Freya assumed to be, the beginning of a smile.
“We will have to check that information,” Cornwell said turning back to his serious self. “On with the questions; why do you want to join this group?” He looked her directly in the eyes, as if trying to read the truth in them.
“I want to improve...” Freya answered, putting a lock of hair behind her right ear. “Not only academically but in every aspect of my life. Eliot,” she made a small gesture towards him, “speaks highly of you and I have been looking for a place to... fit in.” For the first time since Freya had arrived she felt comfortable. Eliot’s hand glided from her shoulder, where it had rested, to her hand.
“Maybe,” Cornwell started,” you have found that place here. Are there any more pledges this evening?” He glanced around the table. When no one spoke up, he continued. “That was it for the formalities then, both pledges will be considered. Let’s get to work.” Everybody started splitting up in groups of four or five and sat down at the coffee tables.
Freya who was still standing, looked at Eliot; “How did I do?”
“Brilliant!” He said, “Just brilliant!”
During the rest of the evening Freya’s uneasiness about the H.E. was washed away. Everybody was nice and helpful. After two hours she was on her way back to her dormitories and found herself wishing, more than anything, that they would accept her. Who would have thought that she, Freya Keen, Hogwarts outcast, would be considered for something like this?
At the beginning of the year she would be seen hanging out with the Weasleys and Harry Potter. When that didn’t work out, she had been lucky to meet Eliot and now... Maybe her last two and a half years at Hogwarts wouldn’t be that bad after all.
On a perfectly ordinary Saturday morning Freya was walking Thor. Caught in her own thoughts she spotted a raven approaching the school. About three weeks ago she had sent Mia home with an update on everything, and with her birthday coming up in less than a week, it could be her coming back.
Freya hurried up to the Owlery. Just as she was about to enter she heard hushed voices coming from inside. Hesitating a bit she recognized one as Harry Potters.
“I’m fine, nothing happened.” He sounded somewhat annoyed.
“Come off it Harry, you are not fine. You have been in the hospital for the biggest part of a month.” A voice which Freya knew as Hermione’s replied.
“Three weeks!” Harry countered. “I am fine, I’m great. Madam Pomfrey would never let me leave if she thought I wasn’t completely ready.” Both of them went quite for a minute, and just as Freya was about to enter Hermione picked up conversation again.
“What happened Harry, what did he do to you?” She sounded worried.
“It’s a spell I have never heard before. Dumbledore knew about it, he had learned of it only a couple of weeks before the attack. Apparently it’s new.”
“But, what did it do to you?”
“It knocked me out for one, but the rest comes gradually. It’s supposed to change you. Bend your will.”
“Like the Imperious curse?”
“No, this one changes you for good.” This was said only above a whisper.
“What? That’s horrible... Harry we’ve got to do something!” Hermione sounded on the verge of tears.
“Dumbledore has already done what was necessary. Apparently it is crucial to the curse that you influence your victim on a regular basis. That’s why you couldn’t see me. I had to be alone to fight off the curse.”
“That makes sense. Even though we wouldn’t want to change you, we could do it by accident. Oh, this is a very dangerous curse.” Footsteps could be heard, and even though she was almost sure it was just Hermione’s pacing, she didn’t want to take any chances.
As she descended the stairs and headed towards the Hufflepuff common room she was deep in thoughts. Forgetting all about Mia she finally laid down on her four poster bed trying to figure everything out. One thing she knew; she was glad that Harry was back. Even though she had no intentions of speaking to him anymore, she didn’t want to see him hurt or have to worry about him anymore. With her birthday fast approaching and the H.E. making their decision, she had enough on her mind.
She rolled over and fell into a restless sleep, with dreams about a blond man attacking a young black haired boy while a beautiful raven soared in sky above them.
a/n: thank you for being patient with me, I hope you guys liked it!
***thank you Drommen for betaing this chapter!***
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