Chapter 1 : Sacred Fire University for Dragon Studies
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Sacred Fire University for Dragon Studies, I read from the bronze plaque silently. Well, here I am. I took a deep breath, calming my nerve before I stepped through the black ancient-looking gate and into the campus’ ground.
My first impression was the place was incredibly vast. Between the gate and the actual building lay an open ground big enough for a dragon to land on. I shuddered at the thought of it before I could remind myself that facing dragons was going to be a part of my studies. God, why did I ever agree to do this?
Actually, I knew why. My dad, Ignatius Connelly, the world-renowned dragon keeper, that was why. He’s the best in the business. He could tame the wildest dragon within two weeks and have the dragon fully-trained within another two weeks. Nearly everybody who works with dragons knows his name. With this kind of reputation, it’s not surprising that he expects his children to continue his legacy. It’s a shame he only has one child. Me.
I had no idea why he sent me to Romania out of all places. Okay, so maybe there was a dragon reservation here, but there was one in Wales, too. It would’ve been easier to send me there. But Dad insisted that Sacred Fire University, also known as SFU, is the best for studying dragons. These were his precise words: “I’d rather send you to Romania than see you in that healer school.” He said it as if healer was a cursed profession. I figure the reason he hates healers is because of my mother. A potion exploded on her, and the healer couldn’t cure her. He said we were too late, and my mother died. I was seven when it happened.
I flipped my long blonde hair back, pushing the thought of my father out of my mind. Thinking of him would only make my first day here worse. I looked down to my dorm number that I’d been holding in my hand. My sweaty palm had made the parchment rather clammy, but it was still readable. My room was number 219. If only I had any idea where to go. Maybe I should ask someone, I thought, looking at the people around me. But who?
“Excuse me.” I turned around to see the source of the voice and I almost gasped.
The person who called me turned out to be a guy, but not just any guy. I was looking straight at Charlie Weasley’s sky-blue eyes. I would recognize him anywhere. Anyone who went to Hogwarts when he was there would. I mean, he was the best Seeker Hogwarts had ever seen. Not to mention his athletic frame. You know -- handsome, tall, and well-built? He was one guy no girls could resist, yet he wasn’t a player. He had never had a girlfriend as far as I knew. Good thing, too, because I had had an undeniable crush on him since I was thirteen. Of course, I had never spoken to him, but that didn’t stop me from liking him.
I hadn’t expected to see him here, let alone to speak to him. I had heard that he was going to study dragons, but I didn’t think that he was studying them here in Romania. I thought my crush had come to an end when he left Hogwarts, but standing there looking at him again, I realized I was wrong. What else would explain my sudden self-consciousness? Scratch that. I’m self-conscious all the time, but I wasn’t the one to get chills because of a guy. But Charlie was giving me that effect by merely talking to me.
Realizing I probably looked like an idiot for staring at him, I quickly regained my composure and smiled. “Yes?”
“You seem lost. Can I help you?” His voice was deep and gentle as he looked down to me. He had to do that since I was some inches shorter than him. I noticed he had gained a whole lot of freckles and that he appeared tanned.
“Yeah, I need to find my room.” I consulted the parchment again. “It’s room 219. Do you know where it is?”
Charlie nodded. “Sure, I’ll walk you there,” he said, gesturing forward. “Do you need help with those bags? They look kind of heavy.” I turned the offer down. Even though my two bags were indeed heavy, I wouldn’t trust a stranger with them. Charlie Weasley might seem nice, but I had just talked to him for two minutes. “Anyway, I’m Charlie Weasley. What’s your name?”
“Irene. Irene Connelly,” I said, shaking his hand. He looked pretty surprised when he heard my surname.
“Connelly? So your father is Ignatius Connelly?” I nodded. “That would explain it,” he mused. The comment sparked my interest. Not exactly the reaction I was expecting, but probably wasn’t a bad reaction.
“Explain what?” I inquired. He seemed hesitant to answer.
“Don’t be offended, but you don’t look like a Dragon Keeper,” he replied. I looked down to my clothes and I could see why he thought so. I was wearing a red shirt with a pair of black jeans and black flats with flower prints on them. Dragon taming and floral shoes just don’t match.
“That’s true,” I replied, racking my brain for something funny to say. But I found nothing, so I just chuckled awkwardly and shifted my gaze to the building we were passing by. I had always hated how speechless I got around guys I liked. We walked in silence for a while before Charlie spoke again.
“Connelly? Didn’t you go to Hogwarts with Percy?”
I nodded, a bit taken aback by the fact that he remembered my name. Maybe my surprise was apparent on my face, because he continued.
“Percy told us once about his competitor for the top rank every year, who happened to be a Connelly. Besides,” he paused to laugh, “when I was in the seventh year, I heard you flooded the girls’ dorm with soapy water.” I could feel my face turning beat red at the mention of the incident.
“It was an accident!” I stated, turning even redder when he laughed again. I noticed that he had a nice laugh; it made me want to smile, even if I was deadly embarrassed. “I can’t believe you heard about it!”
He stopped chuckling and cocked his head to one side, observing me. Being stared at always made me nervous, and this wasn’t an exception. “What? Is there something wrong with my face?” I asked, lifting my hand to touch my cheek. Charlie shook his head.
“No, nothing’s wrong. Anyway, that’s the cafeteria!” he pointed to the red building to our left. He continued showing me places as we passed by. There were many separate buildings on the campus ground. There was a Dragon Research Laboratory, Medicinal Studies Building, Dragon History Department, and a huge Library. I was glad to know that me the library’s collection was far more extensive than Hogwarts’. At least I had books to turn to if I ended up being the worst in class.
The people were even more interesting than the building. There were a lot of people carrying their bags around, but you could tell which ones were the freshmen and which ones were the older students. The older students were quickly greeted by friends and quickly chattered away in various languages as they headed to their dorms. Most of the freshmen stood alone and were doing the same things I was, taking in their surroundings with awe. None of them was accompanied by a senior. I couldn’t help wondering why Charlie had approached me.
I would’ve asked him, but we had already arrived at the girls’ dormitory. The building was three stories high, with light brown walls that were decorated in portraits of the clubs and girls of SFU that had achieved greatness in the past. My room was in the second floor, so Charlie and I walked up the stairs. There were butterflies in my stomach as I walked past the other girls, wondering which one of them would be my classmates tomorrow, and I couldn’t help feeling a bit smug as some of them eyed Charlie with curiosity. I wondered if they thought Charlie was my boyfriend. My cheeks heated up at the thought, and I quickly turned my attention back to Charlie.
“Well, here we are!” he announced as we stopped in front of a door. “My job here is done. See you around, Irene!” He waved and turned around. For a couple of seconds, I only watched his retreating back, not knowing what to say. Then I opened my mouth and called him.
“Thank you!” I shouted. Charlie turned to face me and cast me his winning smile one last time before turning to the right and out of my sight. I sighed dreamily. I wonder if I will see him again soon.
Then I turned my attention towards the wooden door in front of me. The golden plaque on it read “Room 219,” and below it was “Irene Connelly and Melissa Mackenzie.” The nervousness struck again. I hardly knew this girl, and I was going to live with her for four years. I just hoped she would be nice. So, swallowing hard, I knocked on the door. “Come in!” a girl’s voice said from inside. I turned the doorknob and stepped into the room.
The room wasn’t huge, but it was big enough for two. It was painted in fresh white while the floor was made of wood, giving the room a clean and bright look. Two beds stood side by side on one side of the room; the white sheets on them matched the wall. Right in front of them was a white closet, which I could see was half-filled with someone’s clothes. A medium-sized nightstand stood between the beds. There was also a desk there, facing the window that overlooked to some buildings I hadn’t known yet. My roommate was sitting on the floor with her trunk laid open in front of her. When I walked in, she looked up and smiled.
“Hey, you must be Irene.” She shut her trunk and stood up, her long black hair swaying gracefully as she did so. “I’m Melissa, you can call me Lisa,” she said, extending her hand. I shook it, relieved by the fact that she was being friendly. And it didn’t take long for me to realize she was beautiful.
Lisa’s eyes were bright sapphire, which stood out gorgeously against her dark skin and hair. She was slender -- slender enough to be a model. Yet she looked every bit a real dragon keeper. Something in the way she shook my hand and something in her air told me she was tough. She was pleasant, but I didn’t think I wanted to be on her bad side.
“Here, let me help you out.” She reached out and took one of my bags. “Boy, is this heavy.”
I chuckled. I might have brought too many things, but I didn’t want to take the risk of leaving my things in London. “You wouldn’t mind if I take this bed, would you?” Lisa asked, gesturing to the bed on the right.
“No, you can have it,” I answered, putting my other bag on the wooden floor. “So, you’re studying dragon taming, too?” I knew it was a stupid question, since we could only pick different major once we were in our second year, but I needed something to start a conversation. She nodded, sitting down on her bed. She gave me a curious look before speaking.
“Say, are you really the famous Ignatius Connelly’s daughter?”
I nodded, not a bit surprised with the question.
Lisa nodded thoughtfully. “I guess that’s what the buzz all about,” she muttered to herself.
“Huh?” I asked curiously. Have people talked about me before I even arrived? That can’t be good.
Lisa shook her head and her expression changed back to being cheerful. “Anyway, I’m going to take a tour around the place. Do you want to come?” she asked. I looked down to my bags. I still have two days before school start on Monday, surely I can unpack later. Besides, it’ll be good for me to get to know the place and my roommate better. I looked up, my brown eyes meeting Lisa’s blue ones.
“Sure, let’s go.”
A.N: So there you go! This is only the first chapter so it'll improve in the next chapter. Thanks to Resplendence for being a wonderful beta! And thank you for reading. Don't forget to leave a review! =)