Chapter 25 : Bill Weasley
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By: PureBlood Muggle:
Chapter Graphic: nephele de tourmalin
Beta Read By: Jessi_Rose and rainbow92
Title: The Final Task
Rating/Warnings: 15+ (Mild Language, Mild Violence, Substance Use/Abuse, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature)
For the Staff: A big THANK YOU to all staff here at HPFF. This site is truly inspiring. The updates are all fabulous and the site is better than ever before! Thank you!!
A/N: Special thanks to BlondeHufflepuff22 who wrote the Sorting Hat Song and to rainbow92 and Jessi_Rose who both are wonderful Betas!! And another special Thank You to Nephele De Tourmalin for the fabulous drawing of Bill Weasley - you are a fantastic artist and I am honoured that you drew that for me!!
I nod politely, bid good-night, step through the heavy oak door and descend the, currently downward moving, spiral staircase, entering the deserted hallway. As I step out of the passage that leads to Professor Dumbledore, the stone gargoyle behind me leaps back into its place, guarding the entrance to the headmaster’s office.
Slowly, I make my way back to Gryffindor tower while his words play over in my mind.
“Make it a good one, Bill. I know you can do it. Make it memorable and above all, enjoy the experience.”
My last official assignment as Head Boy – writing the Graduation Speech. The Head Girl, a very pretty Ravenclaw by the name of Gwyneth Lloyd, has to organise the farewell party. At least she has the prefects to help her, I think dryly.
The walk back to Gryffindor Tower seems to be strangely short as it sinks in that I just had my last official Head Boy meeting with Professor Dumbledore. My years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are coming to an end. I find myself making excuses to slow down, take a detour, and even stop at a window to take in the castle grounds. It is still bright outside; summer has finally started to move in, pushing what has been an unusually bleak, cold and rainy spring aside.
Looking out onto the grounds, I begin to wonder what to write for my speech. Should I write about our future? Maybe not; Divination was never my best subject. I could write about ‘my Hogwarts’; yes, that feels right. If in doubt, write about something you know. But maybe I’d bore everyone to death with that? Sighing, I start to walk again and can find no further excuses to delay going back to the Gryffindor Common room.
The Fat Lady looks at me with a knowing smile. “Password, my dear?” she inquires importantly. I give it to her, also smiling, thinking of the many times I had been asked that question over the years. I can’t help but wonder how many students she has seen come and go in her time, here at the entrance to our house.
I look around the common room and find an empty seat at the far end, near the windows. Sitting down, I grin as I conjure up some fresh parchment and then pull a quill and an ink bottle out of my bag. All these years of Transfiguration do seem worth it, now. Conjuring items is definitely a neat thing to be able to do; I must remember to thank Professor McGonagall.
Poised with my freshly inked quill, I sit waiting for inspiration to hit me.
“Make it memorable,” he said; but no fancy words that would have impact of fitting magnitude spring to mind. How to start…
Nah, too plain… Fellow Graduates,… nope, definitely not! I think I’ll worry about that later. Maybe if I just get the actual speech started… I put my quill down and close my eyes, rubbing my palms over my forehead, willing witty words of wisdom to come to me. Instead, I remember the first of September, 1982…
The scarlet steam engine of the Hogwarts Express screeched to a halt at Hogsmeade Station. I followed the other students off the train and was met by loud calls of “Firs’ years this way!”
Turning my head to see who it was, I saw the biggest man I’d ever seen. He introduced himself as Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of the Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts. As he ushered us into four-person boats, the giant lake that was surrounded by cascading mountains came into view. It was late and darkness was already falling as the boats made their way across the water.
I was both nervous and happy at the same time, talking animatedly with Frank Moran, who turned out to be from a wizard family in Ireland, and twin girls by the names of Valerie and Melanie Smith; both coming from an English family, their mother a Muggle, their father a wizard. Valerie and Melanie were in the middle of quizzing me about my own twin brothers, Fred and George, when a sudden hush fell across the lake and everyone around me stopped talking. The vast castle had come into view.
Never before had I seen such a beautiful, magical place. Long shadows encased the castle and its grounds, while at the same time it seemed to glow from the inside as candlelight and torches illuminated the rooms within. Words eluded me; I couldn’t describe the feeling that was brewing inside of me when I first laid eyes on this enchanted place. ‘WOW’ didn’t even start to cover it. I knew then that this picture would forever be engraved in my memory.
All too soon we arrived at the other side and disembarked the small boats. Following Hagrid into the castle, whispers erupted; speculations of what to expect. I knew I was going to be sorted into one of four houses; Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin. My parents had told me that much. They did not, however, tell me exactly ‘how’ this was going to happen.
The game keeper left us with a stern looking middle-aged witch who introduced herself as Professor Minerva McGonagall, head of Gryffindor House. She explained how we were to line up and follow her into the Great Hall, where the sorting was to take place in front of the entire school. I was glad to see everyone else was just as nervous as I.
Five minutes later, we stood assembled in front of the staff table, facing the four long house tables, each of which was decorated in its own colours; red and gold for Gryffindor, green and silver for Slytherin, blue and bronze for Ravenclaw and yellow and black for Hufflepuff. Professor McGonagall placed a small, three-legged stool in front of us and put an old, worn hat, with a rip in the brim, on top of it. I wondered how an old, worn hat and a chair could possibly have a part in our sorting. I didn’t have to wonder long, though, as the hat suddenly burst into song.
“Rejoice, be glad, and cast away
All your worries and fears
For the Dark Lord is now gone from us
It is an end to the dark years.
The light has come, yet at a price
This warring between former friends
Has cost us all many lives
But here, the battle may not end.
Though I am old and beaten down,
I am as wise as I am patched
For I've been here since the beginning
My knowledge cannot be matched.
See can I, and see quite far
Past the eyes of men.
Into the souls of those brought before me
This year I shall do so again.
For now be glad, for you are safe
From torment, fear, and pain
But in coming years it will be you
Who shall have to bear the strain.
But onward now to happy times
To the sorting we now shall start
come have a seat here on my stool,
Let me perform my art!
I exist simply to sort
And place you into your rightful place
Let me look inside your mind
Let's see what lies in that eager space.
If you are kind, true, and faithful
And vow to always be true
Into the House of Hufflepuff
That is where I shall place you.
Bravery, nerves, and lots of guts
Are the qualities I seek
For those of the House of Gryffindor
Is not the place for the meek.
Those who read and love to learn
Shall always earn their keep
For in the house of Ravenclaw I shall place those
Who long for knowledge which they can reap.
Finally I leave the last House
For those of cunning and of daring
In Slytherin you'll make true friends
No matter how you're faring
So come my friends,
And have a seat here, on my stool
And allow me to have a look
I'll tell you where you ought to be in this fine, established school.”
As soon as the song finished, Professor McGonagall explained how we each were to be called, sit on the stool, put the hat on our head and that the hat would then decide on which House we would be in for our 7 years here at Hogwarts. With a curt smile, she reminded us that our Houses would be like our family. She then proceeded to call out our names, one by one, in alphabetical order.
My parents told me they would not mind which house I was sorted into and that they’d love and support me in any case. However, I knew they both were in Gryffindor themselves and that I wanted to follow in their footsteps.
Finally, it was my turn; everyone else had been sorted. Anxiously, I walked over and sat on the little three-legged stool and put the Sorting Hat on, wondering how on earth a hat could tell one house from the other.
“Ah yes, many a first year wondered the same thing…,” a voice spoke in my head. “You have a very curious mind, logical thought is evident in you and Ravenclaw would be just the house… if it were not for the bravery I sense in you, along with a strong sense of loyalty.” The hat went quiet for a few seconds while I simply held my breath. Then, making up its mind, it shouted loudly for everyone to hear: “GRYFFINDOR!”
I grinned from ear to ear as I placed the hat back on the stool and walked off to the Gryffindor table, only barely aware of the applause I was receiving for being sorted into their House. This was it… I walked over to the Gryffindor table, towards a new part of my life that would make this red and gold House, this castle my home away from home for the next seven years.
I smile at that particular memory. Opening my eyes, I notice that I am almost alone in the common room by now and that my parchment for the speech is still blank. Sighing, I run a hand through my long hair, triggering another fond memory.
It was a Monday morning in May, 1983. Second year was drawing to a close ad our minds were with the hot sunshine outside, rather than with the Potions lesson we were currently in.
The class was merged with Ravenclaw and we were divided into pairs to work on the Hair Raising Potion. I worked with Valerie Smith; she and her twin sister both also were sorted into Gryffindor and we had become good friends during our first year.
While working on our potion, we quietly discussed the last Quidditch match of the season which had taken place on Saturday. Ravenclaw had beaten, no, slaughtered Hufflepuff with 920 points to 190 - the most spectacular game this year; however, the point difference meant that Slytherin had just barely won the cup by a 10 point margin with Ravenclaw. Of course, there was disappointment throughout that House and nowhere else was it felt more than during this Potions lesson with Professor Snape, who was Head of Slytherin House. He let the Ravenclaws hear and feel the loss at every possible opportunity.
Unfortunately for my mother, and much to the amusement of my classmates, Valerie and I paid more attention to our match discussion than our potion. Somehow we managed to mix up some ingredients and added them in the wrong order. Our potion did not turn red as it was supposed to, but instead took on a bright lilac colour.
Professor Snape, being the intolerable bully that he was, took great pleasure in punishing us for it after inspecting our potion and taking 5 points each from Gryffindor for our carelessness. As if that wasn’t enough, he declared that I would have to try out the potion at the end of the lesson so I would learn to pay attention next time. I prayed to Merlin that he’d either forget by then (which I knew was unlikely) or that he’d at least not make me do it if there was a chance of me actually dying.
As the end of the lesson approached, Professor Snape made me stand up in front of the entire class and handed me a small vial which he had filled with our abysmal potion. He sneered at me, obviously looking forward to what was going to happen. With his large nose protruding through his long curtain of greasy black hair and his sneer, he reminded me somehow of a vulture who had just found a juicy, fat, dying animal for a Sunday feast. I was his prey and he was going to enjoy the show.
While holding the vial in my hand, I didn’t feel very brave at all, but I refused to let anyone, especially that vulture Snape, see through my façade. I forced what was hopefully a cocky grin on my face and uncorked the little glass bottle.
Just as I was about to drink it, Professor Snape called out to stop me. Grinning broadly, thinking he had changed his mind, I turned to look at him. I wanted to be able to fully appreciate having won this war of wills. Unfortunately, this was not going to happen, as he merely declared that not everyone was paying proper attention and that he wouldn’t want to deprive anyone from such a spectacle.
My heart sank but still I kept up my mask of bravery. Staring into his black eyes, I held up the open vial for everyone to see, shouted “Bottoms up!” and drank its contents in one go. I scrunched my eyes closed, clutching the vial. I could hear gasps coming from my classmates. A horrific taste spread itself through my mouth. It was as if something furry had crawled in, curled up and died – there simply was no other way to describe that awful assault on my taste buds. Slowly the concoction made its way down into my stomach, leaving a trail of icy burning in its way. I drew a breath and forced my eyes open.
I expected something to happen. What exactly I had expected, I do not know, but something – anything at all. But there I stood, William Arthur Weasley, same as ever, except for the rotten taste in my mouth and probably even worse smelling breath.
I was just about to say to Professor Snape that the potion obviously was useless and that I was sorry there was no big show for everyone, when my hair started growing uncontrollably. My usually short hair soon had grown past my waist, my eyebrows had grown so long they obscured my face, and I suddenly had a beard that easily put Professor Dumbledore’s to shame.
I parted the hair so I could see and found the whole class staring at me, most of them unable to contain grins, others giggling and a few individuals laughed right out loud. I locked eyes with Valerie and she, too, didn’t manage to stifle a laugh. She winked at me and clapped her hands enthusiastically, which caused a round of applause to erupt.
“Silence!” Professor Snape hissed loudly, looking absolutely livid. If he had a malicious sneer before – now he looked very capable of murder. He obviously didn’t expect anyone, least of all me, to enjoy this punishment. I could tell he was beyond angry and about to punish me even more when the bell signalled the end of the lesson, saving us all.
Valerie, Melanie and I went up to the Hospital Wing, hoping that Madame Pomfrey would have an antidote. Valerie had asked Professor Snape for one, but he had refused to give it to her, instead claiming there was none and striding off briskly, black robes billowing behind him.
By the time we arrived at the Hospital Wing, my hair dragged over the ground, still growing at alarming speed. Madame Pomfrey nearly had a fit upon hearing that Professor Snape had made me drink an unsafe potion. Much to my dismay, however, she confirmed that there was nothing to be done except wait it out. She allowed me to stay so I didn’t have to attend classes in the state I was in.
Bored, I actually used the time to do homework and it was not until half past ten at night that the hair stopped growing. Madame Pomfrey was going to cut it off with some well placed charms; however, I convinced her to keep my locks long enough so I could wear them in a pony tail. Somehow I liked it, and it gave me the opportunity to have the last laugh by presenting myself with long hair in the next Potions lesson.
Needless to say my mother had several litters of kittens over my appearance upon picking me up at the end of term. After a long argument which lasted all the way home, she reluctantly agreed, for the time being, to let me keep my long hair. When she was out of earshot I quietly thanked Dad, knowing that he had played a big role in her decision; although he never said a word throughout the argument. The magic between my parents was and still is the ability to communicate without words.
Oh yes, my long hair. My mother hoped it was just a phase, but even now, five years later, I still have my pony tail. Her view about my appearance has not changed and, at every opportunity, she tries to get near me with a few hair cutting charms. As much as I love my mother, she really annoys the heck out of me doing it. Still, I know she only means well.
Now I am the only one left in the common room. Reminiscing in these old memories doesn’t help writing the speech, but I just cannot concentrate on it. I never wrote a speech before and, for just a second, I contemplate copying last year’s speech; editing a few minor details. Then I see Professor Dumbledore’s disappointed face and scrap the idea instantly. I get up and walk over to the window, looking out onto the grounds once more. It is dark now and I can just about make out a few tiny specks of light across on the other side of the lake – Hogsmeade. I smile as memories flood me. Oh yes, Hogsmeade weekends were some of the best I had over the last few years. I remember how excited I was on the very first one, back in third year…
It was the fifth of November 1983, the Saturday after Halloween and the first Hogsmeade visit of the school year. For my friends and I, it was our first ever visit, not having been allowed to go before third year.
Valerie, Melanie, Frank and I met up very early in the Gryffindor Common room. We wanted to beat the rush at breakfast and be off to Hogsmeade. Just as we were about to leave through the portrait hole, however, my younger brother Charlie called out to me to wait up for him.
Charlie had started his first year in September and was, much to his and my delight, sorted into Gryffindor. He had quickly made friends; however, I felt responsible for him, being his older brother, and whenever I could I would try and spend time with him. Truth be told, I missed him; before I started Hogwarts we were practically glued together, spending all our time with one another. Now, even though I had made new friends, I still treasured the closeness we shared.
Charlie ran over to us and declared that he would come down to breakfast with us. We didn’t mind him joining us, so together we made our way down the long staircases, carefully avoiding the one trick step that would get us stuck. The whole castle seemed to buzz with excitement; a few portraits called out greetings to us and wished us a good day as we passed.
At breakfast, Charlie requested all sorts of sweets to be brought back for him and he told me he wouldn’t mind something interesting from Zonko’s Joke Shop. Zonko’s and Honeydukes Sweet Shoppe, we had been told, were the most popular shops among the Hogwarts students. I promised Charlie to bring him a few things and then made my way out of the castle, together with Frank, Valerie and Melanie.
It was a slow moving queue to get past the caretaker, Argus Filch. Filch was doing checks on permission forms before allowing us to leave the castle grounds. Every now and then he would make up excuses as to why we shouldn’t be allowed out and how he missed the good old days with proper education, which included proper punishments for pranksters and promoted strict discipline which, in his eyes, we were all lacking. More than once, Professor McGonagall had to step in and remind him to simply check the permission forms.
Finally, we were on our way. We were wrapped up in warm clothes, with our red and gold Gryffindor scarves tied around our necks, keeping our hands in our pockets. It was a lovely and bright, but crisp and cold day; the sun shone merrily, only betrayed by the icy wind that froze our faces as we walked. Little clouds formed in front of our mouths as we breathed and talked. It took us a good half an hour of walking before we finally reached Hogsmeade.
Our first stop was Honeydukes Sweet Shoppe, which indeed proved to be extremely popular. Every display stand had an array of fantastic sweets, surrounded by large crowds of Hogwarts students who enjoyed examining, trying and buying the different delicacies. We fought our way around, and forty-five minutes and one Galleon, nine Sickles and five Knuts later, we left the shop, smiling happily as we congratulated each other for such great purchases. Between us, we bought sugar quills, liquorice wands, the ever so popular Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, everlasting lollipops and – Melanie’s personal favourite – Mint Monsters (they bite back if you’re not careful!).
Next, we made our way to Zonko’s Joke Shop. It was so crowded that the queue came out the front door and every single space inside seemed to be occupied by students. We decided to come back later and go straight for the Butterbeer instead. Well, almost straight, as the girls got us to take a small detour to Scrivenshaft’s to buy new quills.
We noticed that there was a pub just a few doors down, on a road just off the main street. Feeling rather cold, we quickly walked towards it. The closer we got, however, the more we slowed down. This side street was less crowded and the pub did not look as inviting as we had pictured it. There hung a sign over the entrance with a severed wild boar’s head and we could not see in; the windows were too grimy to allow it. We hesitated for a few moments, looking at each other. Finally, Frank made a move to enter. I went after him, closely followed by the twins.
The door creaked open and a musky smell that reminded me of a rather dirty stable greeted us. There was a small bar at the opposite side of this small room and behind it was an old wizard with a long beard, polishing a rather grimy looking glass.
We quickly went to the first table we found and sat down. Looking around more closely now, we noticed that this pub only consisted of this one, small, dingy room and that it didn’t have many patrons. Only two other customers were present; one of which sat at the bar, the other at the table next to us. The latter shot nervous glances at the door every two seconds and in between had sips of his drink.
Frank and Melanie went to get Butterbeers at the bar while Valerie and I waited at the table. In order to carry four bottles and glasses, two were needed and for some reason both Frank and I did not want to leave the girls alone in here. Not that anything would have happened, it was just an eerie feeling we had. Maybe it was our ‘Inner Eye’, as Professor Trelawney would say.
They had just come back with our Butterbeer bottles, minus the glasses, explaining in a whisper that they looked dirtier than even the windows, when two little creatures entered the pub. It was hard not to stare at them. I had only seen them the odd time when I went shopping in Diagon Alley with my parents and we needed to get money from our vault at the wizarding bank Gringotts. Goblins - little, highly intelligent creatures with pointy ears and beady eyes who run the bank and are definitely not to be messed with.
The man at the table next to ours dropped his glass and we held our breath, anxiously. A small part of me wanted to leave the pub; however, the bigger part started eavesdropping, together with my friends. Really, we couldn’t help it. I mean, they did sit at the table next to us…
“Well, well, well,” snarled the first goblin. “Who have we here?”
“If it isn’t Norman,” the second goblin added in a would-be cheerful tone, had it not been for his glaring eyes.
The man spoke up. “Now, now, gentlemen,” he slurred his words a little, “why don’t we sit down and have a quiet drink?”
The goblins did not make an effort to sit down, but kept standing, glaring at their sitting associate. The first goblin was the one to break the short, uncomfortable silence, speaking, once again, in a would-be cheerful tone, “But of course, we will sit and drink with you, right after you have given us the money owed to us. So, just hand it over and we shall have a good time.”
We saw the man pale a little.
“Well, you see, here’s the thing…” he fidgeted with his now empty glass, “I don’t exactly have the money on me right this minute, you see.”
The second goblin cracked his long fingers, which made us cringe slightly. Both goblins looked over to the bar tender, who had stopped polishing the glasses, and stared at them in a manner that suggested he would not appreciate a fight to start in his establishment. Cracking his fingers once more, the goblin turned to leave, his acquaintance following closely behind. Just before they exited the pub, however, one of the goblins turned back.
“Just remember, this coming Friday is payday. Let’s call it your deadline,” he paused slightly. “You know, the guard-dragons at the bank really do prefer fresh meat.”
With that both goblins left and we dared to breathe again. We finished our Butterbeers as fast as we could, without any conversation, and then exited the pub swiftly. Once outside, we walked back up to the main street before starting to talk about what had happened in the Hog’s Head. Frank was quick to point out that goblins were not to be messed with and we all agreed. That was the day I promised myself never to have to deal with goblins, other than getting money out of my vault at Gringott’s should I ever open an account with them.
A small, quiet laugh escapes my lips… if anyone would have told me back then that at 17 I would apply for a job at Gringott’s… at least I applied to be a Curse Breaker’s apprentice and not for a desk job. Still, my friends mock me about it.
I rub my hands over my face tiredly and then rub my neck. It is now well past midnight and still I cannot find any words to put down on paper, nor do I feel like I could fall asleep right now. I walk over to one of the squishy red armchairs in front of the slowly dying fire and sit down, staring into the orange glowing embers.
Embers… Amber… I doubt I will ever forget her…
Amber Nolan. She was, in my opinion, a very pretty Hufflepuff. We both were in fourth year when I first noticed her in Defence Against the Dark Arts. For some reason I just couldn’t take my eyes off her wonderful honey coloured hair. No matter how bad the light was, her hair seemed to have this beautiful glow to it.
At first, I tried to sneak little glances, whenever I could, unnoticed by my friends and especially her. Then, on a Wednesday afternoon in late October, while I was once again dreamily looking at her hair instead of reading the passage in my text book, she turned around, flashed me a smile and just as quickly turned away again, her cheeks a dark crimson colour. It happened so fast, I didn’t react at all, I just sat there, dumbfounded by what had just happened. Frank pulled me back to earth, whispering in my ear.
“See, she noticed you. You should talk to her.” I looked at him incredulously.
“What are you talking about?” I felt my cheeks burn with embarrassment. Frank winked at me and nodded towards Amber, a knowing smile on his lips.
From then on, Frank, Valerie and Melanie all pushed me to go and talk to her, saying she obviously liked me. I gave up pretending I wasn’t interested in her. This did nothing to ease the constant teasing I had to endure though. My friends kept telling me that I should have been sorted into a different house as I was obviously lacking the famous Gryffindor courage. As Melanie put it so nicely, “What’s the worst that could happen, Bill? Is it that she might say ‘no’ to a date? At least then you can stop wondering.”
Yeah, sounded really easy when she put it that way. Except that I didn’t know if I could have handled a ‘no’ from her. And to ask her out on a date… a lot easier said than done. I only saw her once a week during our DADA class and a couple of times during meal times in the Great Hall. I still kept glancing at her whenever I was sure she didn’t look. A couple of times our eyes met, both of us blushing furiously and quickly turning away. Maybe my friends were right? But how should I ask her out? Whenever I saw her she was surrounded by her friends and I sure as hell was not going to make a fool of myself in front of them. It was bad enough that I had to do so in front of her, if I was ever going to ask her, that is.
The weeks passed and still I did nothing. Frank kept telling me that if I didn’t ask her out soon, someone else might and that really made me uneasy. I didn’t need any added pressure. I still couldn’t comprehend what was so difficult. I mean, it’s not that I never talked to a girl before. Melanie and Valerie were two of my best friends and I never had a problem with them. But then, I never thought of them in any other way than my best friends either. I couldn’t picture myself kissing either of them; although both were attractive, it just felt wrong to even think about it. They were like sisters to me.
Amber, yes, more than once did I think about her that way. And it made me even more nervous. I was afraid that somehow she could tell I thought about kissing her.
Then, in the last week before Christmas break, I accidentally ran into her. Literally. I had been outside at the Quidditch pitch with Frank and Charlie and was on my way back up to Gryffindor Tower. The three of us were laughing and joking around and Frank was trying to grab my broomstick off me. I made a run for it, turned a corner and WHAM – ran right into Amber. We both fell to the ground, her school books flying in every direction. At first I didn’t even notice who I had run into. I began to apologise while I got up and then held my hand out to help the person I had run into. Amber took it and mumbled a quiet, “It’s okay.”
“Really, I… I’m sorry, Amber,” I stuttered and helped her to pick up her books. She took them off me and my stomach made a strange back flip when her hands briefly touched mine. She gave me a small smile and then turned and went on her way. I kicked myself mentally for not saying anything else to her. I turned to go up to the Common Room only to find Frank and Charlie smirking at me. I rolled my eyes and we all went upstairs.
The day we went home for Christmas break came, and I had not talked to Amber since our little run-in a few days earlier. Frank impatiently tapped his foot, watching me finish packing my trunk. He was going to spend Christmas at my house this year, as his parents were away, visiting relations in the US. I finally finished and put on my cloak. We were ready to go and I was looking forward to seeing my family again, especially my little sister Ginny. Call me crazy, but she’s my favourite sibling.
Frank and I waited for the twins in the Entrance Hall. When Val and Mel finally arrived, we were hard pushed to get a carriage to bring us to Hogsmeade station. Most were already full and some had already departed. I was just about to get on one when Melanie, who was already inside, realised she had left her backpack in the Great Hall. I offered to get it for her and went back inside.
For the second time in a week, I ran into someone while in a hurry. And for the second time, this someone was Amber Nolan. This time, we collided in the door of the Great Hall.
“I…I’m so sorry, Amber, I… sorry,” I stuttered, feeling the heat rise in my cheeks.
“It’s okay… really, Bill,” she answered, also blushing.
“Good,” I said and awkward silence crept over us for a few seconds.
“I… eh, I guess I better go,” she started, however she was not moving away.
“Sure…” I, too, turned to go.
We found neither of us could move and much to our embarrassment impatient fellow students were stuck on either side of us, either trying to enter or exit the Great Hall. I didn’t know what to do and by the look on Amber’s face, she didn’t either. Then, one really impatient sixth year called out to us. “Look up.” We both did and we paled, before blushing a wonderfully crimson colour.
Mistletoe. Of course. Charmed mistletoe. We would have to kiss in order to be able to walk away - and in front of all these students. My friends were surely worried by now that I wouldn’t make it back in time to get to the train. At least that is what I told myself as I swallowed hard and leaned forward to give her a kiss on her cheek. She, however, turned her head slightly and caught my lips with hers. It was a brief, chaste kiss accompanied by catcalls and wolf whistling from around us. Embarrassing as it was, it was better than I had imagined, never mind a lot more public, too. Thank you to whoever had put the mistletoe right there where it was. And, thank you, Melanie for forgetting your backpack.
Amber followed me into the Great Hall where I retrieved Melanie’s bag and I – still on a high from that brief kiss – boldly took her hand in mine. She walked me back to the carriage waiting for me and made me promise to write to her during break. I promised and she gave me another small kiss before saying good-bye and waving after us.
My first kiss. Yes, it was brief and innocent and forced by mistletoe, but it was nice. Sadly, that day was the last time I saw Amber. Her parents both worked for the Ministry of Magic and her father had been transferred to America. They moved over there that Christmas break. We wrote to each other regularly and still send the odd owl sometimes.
O.W.L.s – yeah, they were a bunch of laughs, they were! My fifth year certainly was one to be remembered…
Fifth year was very different from any of the ones before. Mum was so excited. I had been made Prefect and by the way Mum talked, this meant I would become the next Minister for Magic. I didn’t have the heart to tell her then that that definitely would not be my choice career; I was proud of my badge, though even though I did not feel any different than I had done the previous year when I didn’t have it.
Of course, there were responsibilities that came with the badge - the meetings, the rounds after curfew, looking after the smaller students… and the power that also came with it – namely being able to take off or award House Points. At first, for a very brief moment, my mind screamed to take points off those pesky Slytherins for having taken the bloody Quidditch Cup yet again the previous year. But even that moment ended and each time I thought of deducting points as a good way to get revenge, I felt so guilty that I simply couldn’t do it and I seriously questioned if I shouldn’t have been sorted into that just and loyal Hufflepuff House instead of Gryffindor.
Charlie tried to play the ‘Family Card’ a few times, but even so I had to take points off him once for hexing the Keeper from the Slytherin Quidditch team. I had to laugh at the hex, but what was I to do? My bloody guilty conscience just couldn’t let me oversee that one, especially not with that many witnesses.
Not only were the prefect duties added to the stress, this year was also the year we took our O.W.L.’s – the Ordinary Wizarding Level Examinations. Every class had become more difficult and the amounts of homework never ceased to amaze me. I mean, we were all wizards and witches but what did they think we could achieve in a week? There was more than plain magic needed to keep up with all that.
Luckily, learning did come easy for me - at least compared to some of my friends. Frank was constantly on edge in the weeks running up to the exams, the same with Melanie. Even Valerie, who was normally the calmest and most collected girl I knew, regularly lost her temper with anyone who only as much as looked at her while she sat hunched over her revision notes.
It was a tense time for everyone, but finally – FINALLY – the last of the exams were over and the whole of the castle seemed to breathe again. We were, at last, able to enjoy ourselves and the warm weather that was tempting us outside.
In the evening after the last of our exams, a party was organised in our common room. Actually, we Prefects had organised it. We reasoned that there would be a party in any case and if there was one, we might as well enjoy it and have all the provisions at hand without having to sneak up any from the kitchens illegally. We had even gotten Professor McGonagall’s consent for our party as long as we made sure that first and second years didn’t get any butterbeer, or worse, and the party finished at midnight.
And what a party that was! We had put some excellent charms in place so that we didn’t have to worry about any noise levels waking up other parts of the castle. The WWN’s (Wizard’s Wireless Network) volume was turned up quite high and a few old hits from the Hobgoblins were playing, amongst other bands.
The house elves happily supplied us with, and made sure we had enough, food and drink at all times. A fun night was had by everyone, including myself. That is, until I had the unpleasant task – together with my prefect colleagues – to break it up and get everyone into bed.
Most went willingly without having to threaten any House Point deductions or warnings to get Professor McGonagall. Only very few resisted and, of course, my little brother Charlie was one of them. I sighed inwardly and tried to appeal to him, but to no avail.
Himself, Frank, Valerie, Melanie, two sixth years called Ethan and Nicola, a couple of seventh years whose names I didn’t know and another third year named Jake, who was Charlie’s best friend, had all just started a game of Truth or Dare and were most unwilling to give it up so soon.
“Oh, come on Bill! Just sit down and play with us. It’ll be fun and no harm done,” Charlie insisted. Yeah right, I thought to myself. ‘No harm done’. I shook my head. If he played like he used to do at home, there’d be more harm done in five minutes than an army of giants could ever cause in a full twenty-four hour period.
“No, Charlie – and everyone else – you’ve gotta stop and take this up tomorrow for all I care. But this party is now officially over.” I looked around for support but my fellow prefects had abandoned me for some reason or another. They probably thought I’d be able to handle this seeing as my friends and my brother made up half of the people sitting there.
“Come on, you spoil sport,” Frank piped up, “play with us and show us some of your Gryffindor courage, or are you too scared to play? Hey, I dare you, Bill, to play with us.” He grinned smugly. He knew he had me, I was too proud to turn that dare down. So I accepted the dare and sat down, feeling utterly defeated and guilty. I added a few conditions (only one truth and one dare per person before the game stops) and the others miraculously agreed; and so we begun.
Nearly half an hour had passed and we now knew that Ethan truly fancied Nicola and that Charlie fancied some Ravenclaw girl in his year who insisted to be called by her surname, because she loathed her first name – how weird. I was kissed by Nicola – which resulted in Ethan giving me death glares- and also by Valerie and Melanie. All good, considering I didn’t like any of the three in that way. Poor Frank was dared into having pink hair for a week and the two seventh years were dared into a dance routine that would have to be performed at breakfast in the Great Hall the next morning.
All in all, it was a pleasant enough game and I wondered why I had resisted so much to play it. That’s what I thought until it was Ethan’s turn to dare me. He obviously had not forgiven me for letting Nicola kiss me. As if that was my fault that Charlie dared her to kiss me! But he was out for revenge and he was going to get it.
“So, Bill, what’s it gonna be - truth or dare?” Ethan asked. Without hesitation, I answered him.
“Right, so… I dare you to get one ear pierced and sport an earring for at least a week.”
Silence greeted that dare. Nicola was the first to react to him, asking him to take it back, telling him that that was not how this game was played. I bristled up at her comments. I didn’t need protection – especially not from a girl, thank you very much – and so I accepted the dare, sealing my fate and that of my right ear.
In the end, it was Nicola who pierced my ear. It turned out she had done it for a bunch of girls during her time here at Hogwarts and she was quick when she did it. I expected it to hurt more than it actually did and so I was surprised when she announced that it was all done. She handed me a mirror and I winced when I saw the little stud in my ear. It looked girly. No, I couldn’t go around looking like this! So, after some debate, one of the seventh years transfigured the stud into a fang and presto, I had an earring that I could let myself be seen with.
Charlie couldn’t believe I actually went through with it, reminding me how our Mum would most likely react when she was going to pick us up at King’s Cross Station. And boy was he right. I think if Dad wouldn’t have been there with her, she’d have hexed my right ear off me the minute she saw the fang earring.
I smile to myself, absentmindedly playing with said earring with my left hand. I will really miss this place, this castle. Somewhere in the distance, a clock chimes two a.m. Is it really this late already? I sigh as I shift into a more comfortable position in this old, tattered, squishy red armchair. The fire is nearly out now and I lazily pull my wand out and point it at the hearth. A grin spreads over my face as I silently set the fire ablaze again…
Oh yes, silently. No words used. I just love doing non-verbal magic. That comes in very handy at times. Like in sixth year…
My second brother, Percy, had started school that year; also in Gryffindor. He is very different from Charlie. Very different from me also. Don’t get me wrong, I really like him, I mean, he’s my brother, right? But he’s also a big spoil sport. Whenever we did something fun, he was the one to run to Mum, ratting us out. Mind you, he didn’t do that too often, he knew what was good for him; ever since the twins, Fred and George, had a say in it, anyway. He may not have respected them much, but he was clever enough to see when to stop, if only to save his own arse.
Still, he’s my brother. And I just about had enough of those pesky Slytherins opening their mouth one too many times.
Frank and I sat in the Great Hall, peacefully enjoying our lunch when a group of them walked past us. Percy sat with two fellow first years, only a couple of seats down from Frank and myself. Not many people were there yet; it was Saturday and many students went to lunch late or took something in passing to eat outside on the grounds or up in their Common Rooms.
Normally, I liked to let my brothers fight their own battles, but Percy – well, he really had to suffer in his first few weeks. And I felt like I had to do something. Being a Prefect, of course I could have deducted Points, which I did, but it didn’t ever have the desired effect and also didn’t make me hugely popular for deducting them whenever my own brother was involved.
So, I decided on a new tactic. Non-verbal magic. We had started this during our DADA classes this year and I found I had a knack for these. Ever since then, I have been, ehm, ‘helping things along’ a little, silently. Like for example, yesterday during Transfiguration when Melissa Martinez, a Ravenclaw with the most beautiful dark, chocolate coloured hair, dropped her quill. I silently picked it up and floated it back onto her desk, complete with a cocky grin that just spread itself across my face. She looked around at me with her heart-stopping smile and mouthed a thank you. I could have sworn she blushed, but she turned to face Professor McGonagall again and our moment, if that was one, was over.
The group of Slytherins had stopped at our table, right behind my brother, and taken their wands out. I eyed them warily, not drawing attention to myself. Quietly, I slipped my wand out of my pocket and held it loosely in my hand, hidden under the table. If the five boys had been more attentive than evil, they would have seen me sitting there. Lucky for me, they weren’t.
“Hey, Weasley,” one of them shouted. “Got your glasses fixed?” He laughed as a second boy pointed his wand at Percy and started saying a hex. I cut him off, silently, with a well placed Jelly-Finger Curse. Priceless; he actually started screaming for his mother while dropping his wand and watching his fingers wobble around like a water filled rubber glove. He stared at Percy, then at his hands and then ran off out of the Great Hall, presumably to see Madam Pomfrey in the Hospital Wing. He didn’t even care about his wand, which still lay discarded on the grey stone floor.
I pretended not to notice and continued to eat my shepherds pie, only barely hiding my smirk. Frank was shaking with silent laughter, trying not to snort out his pumpkin juice all over the table.
“How did you do that?” the first boy asked Percy who just shrugged and glared at him, not dignifying him with an answer. Not getting the response he wanted, he pointed his wand at my younger brother and opened his mouth, no doubt trying to curse him with some spell or another. Before he had time to do so, though, I pointed my own wand at him from under the table and hit him with another well placed, silent incantation: Tarantallegra. Quite a show he made of himself, dancing the lunch away, his Slytherin green robes billowing around him while his legs danced to a beat nobody could hear. His cronies jumped aside as he wildly kicked out his legs. By now not only Frank and I but also other students from various Houses shook with laughter.
“Finite Incantatem,” Professor McGonagall spoke loudly and firmly, pointing her wand at the boy and giving every student in the immediate vicinity one of her tight-lipped, stern looks.
“Professor, he did it!” The Boy-Who-Danced pointed at Percy with an accusing finger. Professor McGonagall observed Percy for a moment. She then looked back at the Slytherin boy.
“All of you, to my office. Now.” She pointed at Percy and his friends and the group of Slytherin boys. “This nonsense will stop once and for all.” She ushered the boys out of the Great Hall and into the direction of the Marble Staircase.
I heard later, from Percy, that the Slytherin boys got one night’s detention each for framing him for the hexes and jinxes and that Percy and his friends got five Points deducted and a stern talking to about provoking the hostility. He and I still don’t quite know what he did to deserve that as he didn’t provoke anybody, but my guess is that Professor McGonagall had to say something in order not to sound too biased. She would never admit to that though, even if it was the truth.
Yes, non-verbal magic is a blessing. Apart from great fun, it brought me a very confident subject in the N.E.W.T.’s, plus I charmed myself right into Melissa’s heart. It took me a while to make her see that I really am interested in her. I guess I have kissed one too many girls to be taken too seriously. She, however, has a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that I cannot quite place, that makes her so different from any other girl; for one, she did not run after me like all the rest. I wish she was here with me now, but she’s asleep, like I should be. Actually, I should be writing a speech. The Speech.
I sigh again, rubbing my hands over my face in a desperate attempt to keep myself awake. It’s no use, I can feel myself being lulled into sweet sleep.
I am a nervous wreck. Why am I so nervous? It’s not that I have never spoken in front of an audience before. But this is different. It’s our Graduation Day and I have to give The Speech. I run my fingers through my hair once again as I make my way up to the podium and try my best to look at ease in my new robes. Mum and Dad gave them to me as a graduation present. New dress robes in a dark black. I know, I know, black is hardly a light colour, but these robes seem to be darker than just ‘black’, it’s hard to explain, like they swallow any light source. Melissa says I look dead sexy in them and I have to grin despite myself. She doesn’t look so bad herself today, in her turquoise dress robes. They set her dark, chocolate coloured hair off beautifully and I have to deliberately tear my eyes off her in order to walk up here.
I finally reach the podium and turn to face the crowd. A sea of faces greets me and applause erupts. I hold up a hand in order to shush everyone. I don’t think I deserve quite a reception as this - and for good reason. I haven’t got a speech prepared. And I am about to give it now. The Speech. The one that I don’t have.
I take out my wand and point it at my throat, muttering Sonorus.
“Hello,” I say, thinking how lame was that?, but I get another cheer from everybody down there. I smile nervously and let my eyes wander across the faces.
“Well, here we are,” I let out a nervous laugh, hoping I won’t make a complete fool of myself up here and suddenly, I know exactly what to say. “About two weeks ago, Professor Dumbledore called me into his office. And for once, it was not to give me detention.” I get a few laughs for this and I grin at my Mum who sits in the front row with Dad. She shakes her head at my comment, pure joy in her features.
“He asked me to write The Speech. Well, here I am, and for once, I am unprepared.” Gasps all around, but I smile. “I wracked my brains for these last fourteen days, didn’t even sleep the first night after I got the assignment. I wanted to make it good, memorable, witty. Nothing of that sort sprang to mind. So, instead of a few feet of parchment with a well organised speech, I want to tell you how truly happy I am that I had the opportunity to be here, at Hogwarts, being taught by these great people.” I gesture around to my right and left where all the teachers have taken a seat and applause erupts from the students, honouring our mentors. “And for finding the best of friends I could have ever hoped for.” I wave at Frank, Melanie and Valerie who sit together with their families and then smile and wave at Melissa, my girlfriend of now 7 months.
“And while I’m up here,” I begin to grin, “may I just say a special ‘Thank You’ to Professor Snape, who has kindly helped me find my own personal hair style.” Wolf whistling and cat calls come from some students. Professor Snape gives me The Look and a rather small sneer - must be holding back while he’s in front of everyone. I see Professor Dumbledore chuckle, his blue eyes twinkling merrily over his half-moon spectacles.
I clear my throat and silence spreads out once more.
“I would also, and I am sure I speak for everybody here today, like to give a special ‘Thank You’ to Professor Dumbledore, who is a great mentor to me, to us all.” More clapping. I raise a hand to silence the crowd and begin to thank every teacher in turn, even Professor Snape who this time looks genuinely shocked. Now, it feels right to say good-bye. I pause slightly after my short thank you’s and take a moment to let my eyes wander.
“I don’t know about all of you, but I am sad that my days at Hogwarts are now over. I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on this castle; I can honestly say that was one of the best days of my life so far. The good memories outweigh the sad ones a hundredfold and I can’t express enough gratitude towards all the teachers and staff here at Hogwarts. Seven years ago, I, along with every student present here today, started an adventure. The adventure is ending today, only to open up a myriad of possibilities for new adventures in the future. I say, let the future begin!”
I shout the last sentence and throw my pointy black hat with the Gryffindor coloured hem in the air. Everyone follows suit and soon hats of all four house colours float through the air, being magically kept up, mixing, twirling, soaring into all directions. Applause sounds through the Great Hall where we are all seated and shouts and cheers erupt.
I seek out my parents, briefly pausing when I catch Melissa’s eyes. She smiles at me and blows me a kiss, which brings another stupid grin to my face. I think I’m in love. I finally find my parents in the sea of people. They rise from their seats and my mother is reduced to tears in my Dad’s arms and it makes me happy because I know she sheds tears of joy. I briefly wonder if she’ll do the same for my five brothers and my little sister Ginny, too, in the future. Silly thought, of course she will! A grin spreads across my face and I point my wand at my throat again,
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