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Chapter 3 : The Complexity of Atterbies
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Author’s Notes: The first two chapters have been edited, meaning that I’ve spell-checked them and changed the wording of a few things. Nothing major, except that the name of Elaina’s cat has been changed. This chapter is short, and is meant as a sort of filler.
Author’s Warning: If anyone outside of the nine is reading this story, you will probably be confused, as this is a gift to my friends. In fact, it will probably seem a bit stupid to you.
The Complexity of Atterbies
Haley stared pensively out of the window of the Hogwarts Express. Droplets of rain had begun to collect upon the pane, and she watched as they slid along it in narrow rivulets. Her breath formed small clouds and obscured her view of the outside. The group had returned to their compartment shortly after Amber had choked out an explanation to a befuddled and rather upset Harry, who had then roughly ushered them into the corridor. For a while, they had chatted loudly, discussing the unfortunate Sarah–whom they had nearly opted to leave with Harry–though soon, with the rain had come a dull, bored silence. Elaina and Fiona had giggled amongst themselves for a bit, yet even the talkative sisters had succumbed to the somber mood. Only Lizzy appeared to be unfazed, as she was happily talking into the strange electronic box.
Haley traced several designs upon the foggy glass and sighed, erasing them once more with her breath. Her minute grey owl, Chika, had made a perch of her shoulder, and was preening her Amber-colored patches with exceptional delicacy. Haley stroked the bird’s head absently.
Across the compartment, Sarah was clutching a relatively large stone. Its surface was smooth, and the compartment light reflected upon it pleasantly. Oddly, it seemed to have a pair of eyes etched into its front. Being not terribly fond of animals, yet still feeling that she needed a faithful companion, she had taken up the habit of carrying about a rock which, after pressing inquiries from her friends, was discovered to be named Dana.
“Are we even close to being there yet?” Jennifer asked with a sigh, breaking the silence. At once, this created a rippling sort of effect, and the entirety of the compartment’s occupants seemed to come alive.
“Who knows?” Cassandra snorted, drawing her feet up to her chest. She didn’t seem to notice the multiple patches of mud this action had left upon the seat cushion; Elaina, however, wary of her feet, had observed this in a repulsed sort of manner.
Instead of voicing her objections, she glanced at Lizzy and bluntly inquired, “What is that thing?”
The seven remaining friends perked up at this, all eager to know the answer. Even Cassandra, who enjoyed believing herself above curiosity, had to work especially hard to feign disinterest.
Looking up, Lizzy found herself met with several pairs of eyes, which was quite disconcerting. “What?”
“That thing,” Fiona prompted, nodding toward the offending object.
The brunette made a face. “My fellycone?”
“Yeah,” Elaina continued. “Isn’t it, you know, muggle? I mean, how is it working on the train when stuff like that... isn’t... supposed to?”
Lizzy paused, considering. “Er, I dunno, actually.”
Six faces fell in dismay, and even Cassandra sighed a bit too loudly for it to be convincing. Undeterred, Lizzy became once more immersed into the conversation she had been having with Hannah–who was but several compartments away.
“It’s her dad,” Amber suddenly said, and everyone turned to look at her quizzically. “I’ve only just remembered. He meddled with it for a bit; took out the atterbies, and all that.” Atterbies, she explained confidently, were what made muggle things function.
“Like food?” Elaina piped eagerly.
The blonde nodded vigorously, feeling a jolt of importance. “Exactly. But the atterbies don’t work when there’s magic around, because they aren’t complex enough–well, no... It’s more like they’re stubborn, really. They can’t handle anything more than what they’re used to, so magic frightens them. At least, I think so; I dunno if they’re alive or not.” Her nose wrinkled as her face was contorted at the thought, for she was instantly reminded of a parasite or fungus. In truth, Lizzy had explained very little to her, for the explanation had just come from Hannah, and thus had been slightly distorted along the way. Hannah, she had learned, was muggleborn, and while a far superior speech could have been contrived from her, Amber couldn’t help but enjoy the ardent manner in which her friends hung onto her words.
“Her dad is really brilliant, though, and figured out how to make magical atterbies. Well, the spell resembles the function of the atterbies well enough, but sometimes–”
She was abruptly cut off by a loud shriek, followed by a clattering as the fellycone buzzed angrily and leapt from Lizzy’s hands. In its place had been left several scorch marks, which were smoking faintly.
“It’s still a bit temperamental,” she finished lamely, for the attention of her once enraptured audience had been diverted elsewhere.
The remainder of their time spent aboard the Hogwarts Express continued very much as such, though at once point, Lizzy became the recipient of a jet of water in the face from Jennifer, because the fellycone seemed to have taken a liking to exploding frequently. After that, “Sarah Gilnor” seemed to be the words upon the tip of everyone’s tongue; the gaggle seemed to be terribly fond of Harry’s expression each time the accursed Gryffindor neared his compartment door. But he was the Boy-Who-Lived, after all, and Fiona had heard rumors that he was, in fact, immortal.
All thoughts of the missing member of their party had long ago been completely forgotten.
At Platform 9 3/4, Erin was feeling quite neglected indeed, though could not help but be amused at Wood’s proposition.
“Are you thick, Wood?” she nearly sneered, snorting. “You can’t Apparate to Hogwarts.” After a short pause, she added, more to herself, “I’ve already tried.”
In theory, Side-Along Apparation seemed ideal, though it was certainly impossible. Even if there wasn’t a protective barrier around Hogwarts, she wouldn’t have been able to transport both Hobbes and her trunk as well, due to the fact that her spellwork was a bit shabby. Not to mention that she didn’t know what effects such a mode of travel would have upon said belongings. Quite frankly, she wasn’t sure of the effects it would have upon herself; the last time she had attempted Apparation was when she had greatly failed the examination, having never been able to move a single centimeter.
Wood looked perplexed, and Erin took this time to demand suspiciously, “And what are you doing here, anyway? Shouldn’t you be off playing Quidditch somewhere?”
Instantly, he grinned. “I’ve been asked to referee the first match at old Hogwarts this year. Thought I’d get there a bit early to have a look at the pitch.” His face suddenly darkened. “You’re not on the Slytherin team, are you?”
“Not yet,” she admitted grudgingly, and the former Gryffindor keeper looked at her with an awkward combination of disgust and pride. After all, she reasoned, Quidditch was Quidditch; even Wood couldn’t deny that sort of logic.
“You know,” he said at length, his face brightening, “We could Apparate to Hogsmeade Station. We should get there before the train does, that way.”
It was as simple as that, she agreed. She had little reason to believe that it wouldn’t be.
“Look, there’s the station!” Jennifer cried excitedly, causing everyone to jump. She glanced out the window once more. The train was beginning to slow, but she could hardly discern anything else through the thick grey fog and drizzling rain. One by one, her friends began to crowd about the window, which resulted in several small collisions. Jennifer winced as someone managed to trod upon her foot.
When the Hogwarts Express came to a complete stop, the girls were bustled from their compartment and into the steady stream of students making their way to the horseless carriages just outside. Amber tilted her head upward toward the sky, apparently content with the current weather, though most of the others ducked beneath hats, coats, or hands to avoid becoming wet.
Fiona, Elaina, Sarah, and Jennifer bid the remaining four a temporary farewell as the group separated and trickled into their respective carriages.
“Which one do you guys want?” Fiona asked, surveying their options.
“This one, Fi,” Elaina responded, pointing to the nearest.
Sarah grasped the door handle and pulled. Much to their astonishment, there was already someone inside. “Paula?” she queried incredulously.
At the sound of her name, Paula Erstby looked up in surprise. A black and yellow scarf adorned her neck, and overgrown strands of blonde slightly obscured her eyes. “Sarah!” she exclaimed, peering at the two Ravenclaws and Gryffindor beside her through her glasses. “How’s life?”
“It’s intense,” Sarah joked, climbing inside the carriage. “Life on the edge, you know?”
Paula laughed, and Fiona chuckled uncertainly. Elaina and Jennifer exchanged bemused glances, then the latter shrugged and decided it best to follow Sarah.
A hearty trail of mud wove through the entrance of the castle and into the Great Hall, making the floor quite difficult to walk upon. Students and teachers alike slipped and slid, and many nearly fell.
“Filth! FILTH!” cried the caretaker Argus Filch as he watched the display in dismay. Jennifer bit her lip and cast him a pitying glance as she walked by, though the man was far too upset to notice. Overhead, Peeves the Poltergeist delighted himself in flinging handfuls of mud at the unfortunate passers.
The Great Hall itself was a welcoming sight, just as it always had been in the past. Floating candles were poised above the four elongated tables, casting a flickering glow upon the golden plates and goblets below. The translucent forms of the Hogwarts ghosts could be spotted about the room, creating ripples in the panorama. Above, the enchanted ceiling was every so often illuminated by a flash of lightening; it appeared that the storm had quickly increased since the few minutes they had spent outside.
Elaina bounced upon the balls of her feet in excitement for the new year for a moment, then caught up with Jennifer and Amber as they progressed to the Ravenclaw table. She felt almost reluctant at this, because her fellow house-mates were, in usual circumstances, quite untalkative, while she was immensely social herself. With one last wistful glance at the Gryffindor table–where all were chatting amiably–she sighed and seated herself beside Amber. Unfortunately, the latter had decided upon following this Ravenclaw stereotype, and was silently picking at a scratch in the table as she awaited the arrival of the feast; she was paying no heed to those around her, and Elaina felt a knot of sadness in her stomach.
Utterly bored and desperate, the slight girl began to examine her favorite teacher, Professor Snape, with a fixed stare.
At length, Headmaster Professor Dumbledore rose to his feet and a hush befell the Great Hall. Jennifer nudged Elaina gently and released her from her transfixed state; Amber had already begun to listen intently.
“Welcome,” he said, his voice magnified to resonate loudly, “to yet another year. Let the Sorting commence before we are lost in our feast!”
Elaina groaned in impatience, looking forlorn. She was actually hungry tonight.
“We should have owled someone,” Erin growled to herself as she laboriously traipsed along in the pouring rain. Wood had abandoned her for the Quidditch pitch, and so she had been left alone to struggle with her belongings. What a gentleman, she sneered as the castle came into view. Her cat was hissing angrily as the heavy droplets soaked into her fur, and her constant recoiling from this made it more difficult for her to be carried. On several occasions, she was nearly dropped.
Apparating had not been exceptionally difficult with Wood’s help; she certainly couldn’t have managed on her own. It had left her with a dizzying sort of sensation, however, and she felt particularly queasy. Her head was still spinning, and her legs wobbled unsteadily with every other step she took.
“Bloody stupid Wood,” she snarled, cursing the boy. Sure, he had got her to Hogwarts, but now she would have to miss the start of term feast. After all, she couldn’t simply barge in, spattered with mud and carrying her trunk and angry feline companion.
At least, she reflected, she wasn’t in Gryffindor. Their common room was up several flights of stairs.
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