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Chapter 4 : The Unmentionable Third Period
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The Unmentionable Third Period
The next morning at breakfast, the young witches and wizards of Hogwarts received their timetables. As each schedule was handed to its respective student, a variety of reactions were brought forth. On the faces of some, there were knowing smirks of satisfaction; on others, there was murderous disbelief or befuddlement at the fact that said students could not recall signing up for any of the particular classes assigned to them. Among the nine friends and their close companions, the reactions ranged from both extremes to a smattering in between.
At the Slytherin table, a fork was being driven through a particular timetable and into the wooden surface which lay behind it. Understandably, its owner was one who tended to have rather violent reactions to surprising or unpleasant things, as the third class listed on the now battered parchment certainly was.
"Muggle Studies?" Cassandra seethed, ripping the fork's tines out of the table and jabbing them at the aforementioned timetable repeatedly. "Have they put Binns on scheduling duty, or something just as stupid? Slytherins don't give a damn about those worthless carcasses!"
At the mention of carcasses, Erin raised her eyebrows for a moment, and then let them fall. She held her hands beneath the table, as they were shaking; she, too, was angry, and was likely to explode at any moment. No one else seemed to notice this, however, and so everyone sitting within the vicinity jumped or flinched when she suddenly stood and pounded her fist onto the surface beside her pumpkin juice.
"This is stupid!" she cried, causing Haley to look up with interest. "I thought missing the train was enough, but no! Of course not, because everyone hates Erin! That's why bloody stupid Oliver Wood had to pop out of the ground and leave me to die! But that's not enough, is it?" She shook her fist at the ceiling. "I get lopped in with the idiots that take MUGGLE STUDIES!"
Just as suddenly as her outburst had come, she fell silent and collapsed with her head in her hands, giving a slight sob. Her fellow sixth years then began to awkwardly console her, for no one doubted that even the Dark Lord himself would have done the very same if placed in such an embarrassing class.
Haley swapped mutilated timetables with Cassandra, who was muttering under her breath, and sighed. At least they would all three suffer together, for Haley too had been placed in the unmentionable third period. "What the hell," she grumbled, wrinkling her nose.
At the Gryffindor table, the atmosphere was much quieter, though this was in part due to the fact that many of the noble lions had been shocked into silence by the frightening Slytherin display.
"Ookay, then," Fiona said, laughing awkwardly in the absence of chatter. Fortunately, the sound of their housemate's voice seemed to startle them from their frozen state, and they continued on as if nothing had happened.
Lizzy glanced at the mass of green disapprovingly. "Muggle Studies can't be that bad," she reasoned aloud. "Actually, I heard it was rather fun."
"Oh, yeah, so did I," Sarah said, coming to life as she began waving her hands excitedly. Then she lowered her voice. "But man, Erin is crazy."
Lizzy frowned, and Fiona giggled. Despite their different actions, the trio was wondering just how six of their nine friends, including themselves, had landed in a class for which none of them had signed up.
Another table to the right lay Ravenclaw, whose members seemed unaffected by the outburst which had, by then, passed several minutes before. Only the remaining three of the nine still had looks of concern plastered across their faces. Amber's gaze lingered upon the Slytherin table the longest, for while it had admittedly been rather funny, she was concerned for her stepsister. She would have to talk with her later to be assured that she was alright. After all, she had been through quite an ordeal.
Jennifer looked down at her timetable for the first time since receiving it, as she had been too distracted to do so before. "Um, guys?" she asked, grasping both Amber and Elaina's attention.
"What's up?" Elaina inquired, looking at Jennifer with a slightly vacant yet nonetheless attentive expression.
"When do you think they ended up with Muggle Studies. I've got it third."
"Really?" Elaina peered at the parchment curiously. "Woah…"
"Did you sign up for it?" asked a tanned Asian girl named Arting, who was regarding them with interest.
Jen shook her head. "No. But look, you've got it too!"
"Me too!" Elaina squeaked excitedly after a moment, pointing to the class that followed a large number three on her schedule.
Beside her, Amber furrowed her brow and studied her own schedule. "So have I," she murmured softly. "This is really strange. I don't know of anyone who would willingly choose to take it."
"Except to get an easy O, of course," Arting pointed out, frowning.
But certainly none of them had done such a thing—except, perhaps, one of the Gryffindors, though ordinarily it was something to be expected from the Slytherins. And not everyone had been put into it, as a few glances around the Ravenclaw table revealed. Amber twisted her hair around her finger, thinking.
"You okay?" Elaina asked her, noticing that she had fallen silent again.
Amber forced a smile. "Yeah."
Between the Gryffindor and Slytherin tables, Hufflepuffs Paula Erstby and Alex Mooreine happily compared timetables, wondering what all the fuss was about.
As the end of the second class of the day arrived, Fiona began packing her quills and parchment away. She stopped to admire a rather peculiar doodle she had made upon the corner of her Charms notes, before stuffing it away into her book bag.
"Fiona, that's intense," Sarah laughed, as she had been regarding it for several minutes before then, attempting to decipher what it was. She had decided against inquiring about it, as she didn't want to seem insulting.
"You silly cheese," Fiona chuckled, swinging her bag over her shoulder. "Shall we?" She lifted both of her elbows as she said this and linked arms with both Sarah and Lizzy, who had been scribbling what suspiciously had not looked like notes throughout the duration of the class.
"So, are you ready for some super cool Muggle Studies?" Sarah asked, sounding cheerful but not altogether sincere.
"I'm sure it will be exciting," Lizzy told the younger two firmly as they strode from the classroom.
Much to their surprise, Lizzy seemed to have been well-informed. The class did not appear to be half as bad as they expected it to be, and indeed, if they so dared, it could be classified as enjoyable, even fun. Perhaps it did not hurt that small, folded pieces of parchment had been circulating amongst the once reluctant friends who had, for the time being, become twelve, but the bits they paid attention to were promising.
The Muggle Studies teacher was a short and plump witch with flyaway blonde hair and a sharp eye to rival Professor McGonagall's. She seemed not to mind that notes were being passed left and right in front of her, as her gaze followed the patch of each one with precision. She seemed to know exactly who possessed a note, even if her eyes had left the students so that she could write something on the chalkboard.
"Um, Professor Wimblebury?" Lizzy raised her hand, as she had been elected from within the class to do so on that particular occasion. Cassandra nudged her back, and her hand shot higher into the air.
Professor Wimblebury nodded. "Yes, Miss…" Her eyes scanned the role sheet. "Rossman?"
"I've heard that we're supposed to have a… kemping trip at the end of the year?"
The witch smiled. "Ah yes, I was just getting to that. In the years before, we have found that a muggle camping trip is an ideal way for students to immerse themselves in the ways of nonmagical life. We will be pitching tents by hand and cooking meals over fires we have started ourselves."
"Why would we want to start a fire?" Fiona whispered, looking alarmed.
"At the end of May, if there are no failing grades in this class, you will leave your wands behind and set up camp in a clearing just a little ways into the Forbidden Forest," she continued. There were several gasps at this. "Don't worry, Professor Dumbledore has done extensive spellwork to ensure your safety, among other things. And I shall have my wand, even if you don't."
"Will there be anyone else coming with us?" asked Arting, straightening.
"That depends," the professor chuckled. "Perhaps the Potions Master would like to accompany us." She winked.
Elaina clapped her hands gleefully, though everyone else at once shuddered at the mere suggestion. No one was particularly eager to be in the middle of the woods with Professor Snape.
"But let's discuss other topics now. The camping trip is, after all, several months away."
Cassandra put her head onto her desk and began to snore.
Back in the Gryffindor common room that evening, Lizzy, Sarah, and Fiona were gathered around the notice board, as were the rest of the House's members. Fiona, being the least tall of the fifth years, had to stand on tiptoe to see over the heads of her peers, though even then, it was little use.
"Sarah, can you read it to me? I'm blind," she whispered mournfully.
Sarah cleared her throat. "'Try outs for the Gryffindor Quidditch team are to be held this Saturday at eleven-thirty A.M. on the Quidditch pitch. Arrive in clothing appropriate for flying. Positions wanted: Chaser, Beater, and Keeper. For further questions, please contact Captain Harry Potter. Note that only second years and older are applicable.'"
Fiona's eyes grew wide as she heard this and her mouth formed a small 'o' of delight.
"Does it say how many Chasers they're looking for?" Lizzy questioned, rereading the announcement.
"No, but I think they need at least two, unless Katie Bell isn't going to be on the team this year. She's the only one left."
"I'll be trying out just the same as everyone else," said an amused Katie Bell from behind them. She too had joined the throng gathered around the notice board. "Are you thinking of being on the team?"
"Heck yes!" Sarah exclaimed, startling several first years.
Katie smiled. "I hope to see you there, then."
"Are you really going to?" Lizzy asked once Katie had left the group.
"Of course," Sarah replied.
"Plus, Harry'll be there," Fiona added slyly, nudging her as though suggesting something.
"And that," Sarah admitted with a shrug and a grin. "But you can't deny that he's ruddy hot."
They couldn't find the heart not to agree.
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