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Halfway To Infinity by Eponine
Chapter 10 : Chapter Nine: Colm's Tale
 
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Chapter Nine: Colm’s Tale


Exams were fast approaching. By mid May, professors stopped teaching new material and devoted all class time to reviewing. Their exams were scheduled for the last ten days in June. The days without exams were free days for the students to study and opportunities for the teachers to grade. The students would then have the first two weeks of July to relax and visit their families for a day before picking up a specialized tutoring schedule until the next school year officially began.


Professor Dyer had already approached Lottie about individual tutoring over the summer to get ahead for second year. Lottie proudly boasted the list of potions he had scheduled for her to learn whenever she was sure Ally, who did not have any advanced classes scheduled for the summer, was in earshot. Unfortunately, Professor Stainthorpe had also scheduled remedial Charms tutoring for Lottie; she didn’t tell anybody but Andrea about those classes. Andrea was thrilled to find that she was chosen for advanced Transfiguration and Charms classes, but unlike Lottie, kept her accomplishments to herself.


The end of June found Lottie and Andrea camping out in the library. Andrea flipped frantically through the pages of her Potions book. “So to make a Swelling Solution, first you add the puffer-fish eyes to the--”


“I don’t care!” Lottie dropped her head onto her Charms book. “This entire thing is so stupid! We don’t need to know how to name everything? What does it matter when you’re fighting?!”


“Not every part of the war has to do with fighting, Lottie,” Andrea said seriously. “That’s why we have three Houses.”


“At least Dueling and Occlumency have some reason behind learning. What’s the point of History and Herbology? HONESTLY!”


“Oh, don’t be so over dramatic.” Andrea rolled her eyes. “They’re just exams. And all you have to do is study and then we’ve got a relaxing summer.”


“Easy for you to say! You do well in all of your classes! You don’t have a hard time in anything!”


“Oh don’t lie, Lottie. You know how hard I work just to get an A in some classes. You’re just bitter because you left all of your studying off until last minute and you know you’ve got to pass this or else spend the rest of your time here in remedial classes.” Andrea smiled shrewdly before flippantly adding, “And somebody in remedial classes isn’t any use to anybody.


Lottie glared at her and picked up her Charms book. Only Andrea was clever enough to turn her own biggest insult back around at her. “The class is so unhelpful,” she muttered under her breath. Andrea grimaced but didn’t respond. “I mean, Stainthorpe could at least try to teach us something. I can’t learn everything from books you know.” She dropped her book back on the table. “Ugh! ‘I’m Professor Stainthorpe,’” she said in an old croaky voice. “’I don’t allow anybody to have snacks in my class, even if I made them miss lunch for special tutoring. I give tests every week and a half and I—‘”


“Lottie, shut up and study.”



 


With the help of the other Palmyitors, Lottie felt fairly confident during the Charms written exam. She was lucky to have the hardest test first, unlike Andrea who had to take her Potions exam last.  The practical exam was a slight disaster when Lottie was supposed to grow a rose bush to twice its size, but instead caused thorns to shoot out of the bush and not cease until Stainthorpe magically destroyed the bush.


The Flying exam was probably the biggest waste of time Lottie could have imagined. The first years raced around the grounds and the five people that finished last had to write an essay on the importance of flying in a war. Even the worst flyers in the class passed.


Transfiguration was fairly frustrating overall, but Lottie was sure that she at least got an A. Defense Against the Dark Arts was no more challenging than Transfiguration and Lottie was confidant that her shielding charm gave her a passing mark. Besides Potions, Dueling was Lottie’s favorite exam. She got paired up with Colm Scrivener from Maelioric for a “friendly” duel and received an immediate O for disarming him and locking his legs together before he even cast on jinx.


After their last exam, Lottie and Andrea relaxed in the common room with the other first years. Over the period of studying, the seven Palmyitor first years had gotten much closer. “That Charms exam wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” said Devin Hackett.


“Speak for yourself,” Lottie piped up. “Did I tell you about the rose bush?”


“Yes, Lottie,” Sophie said, laughing. “You told us all at least seven times.


Julianne shrugged. “I quite like that story,” she said brightly. “It’s pretty--” She stopped, spotting Stanley walking by and stared at the floor, now a shade pinker than she had been before.


“How’d exams go, firsties?” he asked, falling onto an armchair with them.


“Th-they were okay,” Julianne whispered.


“Some of them were challenging,” Andrea said seriously. “But I think we all did fairly well.”


“History was the worst!” Edgar Payne said, throwing a text book onto the floor.


“Well you’ve got another year before you’re doing them again, so that’s nice, right?” Stanley kicked his feet onto the table and Andrea’s pile of Charms books. She glared at him and snatched the books off the table. “Oh lay off it, Woolbright,” he said cheerily. “You’ve got two weeks off, and then the rest of the summer to have a light schedule. Besides, you’re going to have to trade those books in soon enough.”


Andrea gently dusted the cover of her book. “Yes, well it would be horrible for a first year to have a giant foot print on their book wouldn’t it be?”


“Well, if that poor first year asks you who put a footprint on their book, I give you full permission to tell them the story.” Stanley laughed out loud and Julianne chuckled under her breath, staring determinately at the floor. “Well, with these two weeks, do you all plan on playing some Quidditch? It’s nearly a tradition by now… Of course, you need to talk a professor into supervising, but--”


“I don’t even know the rules to Quidditch,” Lottie interrupted. The other first years agreed bitterly.


“You’d think they could at least teach us Quidditch in Flying,” Devin said.


“Don’t worry, firsties,” Stanley said, patting Sophie on the head. “The Maelioric prefect has agreed to teach a little class so you all won’t be left out.”


“Well that’s good,” Andrea said curtly.



 



 


The Quidditch class turned out to be a complete disaster. The first years hadn’t even finished their first scrimmage before Lottie fell off her broom, bringing Colm down with her.


“What was that about, Rowe?” Colm shouted indignantly.


“What? Oh I’m sorry!” Lottie pushed herself up and wiped the mud off of her robes. “It’s your own fault for getting in the way!”


“I wasn’t in the way! I was playing my position in the game! What the hell were you doing?”


“I was trying to get past all of you! It’s not my fault if that’s nearly impossible!” Lottie pushed Colm, sending him to the ground.


“Whoa, first years!” the Maelioric prefect ran up to Lottie who was still glowering at Colm on the ground. “Take it easy.”


Ignoring the prefect, Colm whipped out his wand and shouted, “Phelantio!”


Lottie stuck her tongue out. “Good try, Scrivener. But nothing--” She completely lost her voice, when she felt something fall onto her shoulders. Horrified, she realized that they were her earlobes and they was growing so fast that it was now nearly at her elbow.


“Oh that’s just it!” Lottie shouted. Just as Colm was picking himself up, Lottie pulled back her fist and punched him hard in the face, enjoying the satisfying crunching noise that followed.


“Oh Merlin!” Colm shouted, falling back to the ground, clutching a hand over his nose, which had started bleeding profusely.


“That’s it!” The prefect stepped between the two. “This is just Quidditch and you two just made it into such a huge deal that--ROWE!” The prefect had to hold both of Lottie’s shoulders to keep her from tackling Colm. “Come on, both of you!” He grabbed one of Lottie’s overly-large ears and Colm’s shoulder and dragged them both off the pitch.


“Just go back to the common room, everybody,” the prefect shouted behind him. “Sorry these two ruined it for everyone.”


The prefect marched Lottie and Colm up the lawn, through the front doors and into the Entrance Hall. “Just you wait until Palmyitor has her say with you.”


“Wait--why can’t we go to Maelioric?” Colm whimpered through the streams of blood flowing from his nose.


“Do you think I’m that stupid, Scrivener?” The prefect opened a door on the left side of the Entrance Hall and dragged the pair down a narrow staircase behind him. “He’d just take the whole thing in good fun.” The prefect stopped in front of a large, sturdy door. “And Quidditch is no joke,” he added seriously before knocking on the door.


“Yes?” came a voice from inside.


“Professor?” The prefect pushed Lottie and Colm through the door. “Thought you might want to see these two.”


Palmyitor arched an eyebrow. “What happened to them?”


“She hit me!” Colm shouted, wildly reaching for his wand.


“And I would assume that Rowe’s ears are a product of your wand?”


“Well--er--”


“Don’t even try to lie to me, Scrivener. Roydan, thank you for bringing them to me.”


“Anytime, ma’am.” The prefect called Roydan smirked and left the office.


“So.” Palmyitor sat down behind her desk and laced her fingers. “Who’s responsible for this?”


“He is!” Lottie piped up. “I was just flying and he got in my way. He started fighting with me, and the next thing I know, he was hexing me. This was the only thing I could do so he wouldn’t do anything worse!” Lottie averted her eyes, suddenly realizing that Palmyitor could perform Legilmency. She busied herself by trying to push her earlobes -- now well passed her knees-- out of the way.


“No, she lied! She hit me first, and I had to hex her just to--”


Palmyitor put up a hand. “I’ve heard enough out of the two of you. Go to the hospital wing, and come back at eight for detention.”


“What?” Colm dropped his blood stained hand.


“No!” Lottie barked. “That’s not fair!”


“I don’t care what you think is fair, Miss Rowe. You are going to suffer the consequences for your actions.” Palmyitor surveyed the outraged first years with crossed arms. “Now go to the hospital wing!”


“But--but my nose hurts too much to--”


Pushing Colm out the door, Lottie glared at Palmyitor and sneered, “Let’s go, you wuss.”



 



 


“Honestly, Lottie, you couldn’t have thought about it for more than two seconds?” Andrea slapped her forehead overdramatically.


“Well what would you have done if somebody had made your ears grow to the floor?” Lottie asked, hugging her knees.


“I would have behaved like a normal human and told somebody.”


“Easy for you to say,” Lottie growled, “all you ever do is rat people out.”


“Well maybe I do, but at least I haven’t had two fistfights in the last year. And at least I can fly.” Andrea paused, chewing the corner of her lips to hide her grin. “Did I tell you that that Maelioric prefect told me I was really good? He recruited me for his informal team! I’m playing Seeker!”


“Well that’s good,” Lottie said distantly, rubbing her earlobe. “Where did he learn that spell anyways? It has nothing to do with fighting at all.”


Sighing, Andrea muttered, “Probably just picked it up somewhere.”


“Rowe!” Stanley’s voice echoed from the other side of the grandfather clock. “What’ve you been up to? I heard you got in a fight with a Maelioric!”


“Yeah? So?” Lottie stared glumly at the fire.


“So what is it with you and Palmyitor?”


“I don’t know!” Lottie threw her hands up in the air. “She hates me, or something. I get in trouble for the smallest things! I’m glad she’s not a professor; I’d be failing that class.”


Smiling wryly, Andrea muttered, “Don’t need her to be a professor to fail…”


“Oh, shut up!” Lottie shouted playfully and tossed a pillow at Andrea, knocking her glasses off and sending them scattering to the floor.


“Well, however you managed to do it,” Stanley intruded seriously, “you’ve got detention. And Palmyitor’s detentions are the worst.”


Lottie tore her eyes from Andrea’s futile search for her glasses. “What am I going to have to do?!”


Stanley shrugged. “Well how bad was it? What did you do, make a mess?”


“Er--” Lottie blushed “--I hit someone… but he hexed me first!”


“Oh Merlin.” Stanley patted Lottie’s shoulders in a dramatic way. “Good luck.” He turned around to leave for his dormitory.


Eyes wide, Lottie half grinned and half let her jaw drop. “What?! You can’t just tell me something like that and walk away!” she shouted, jumping over the back of her chair and grabbing onto his arm.


Stanley spun around, laughing. “Don’t you worry, little Lottie,” he cooed sarcastically. “I’m sure the big scary Professor Palmyitor won’t hurt you.”



 



 


Pamyitor, apparently, was not in the best of moods when Colm and Lottie arrived at her door at eight o’clock that night.


“Yes? Who is it?” She peered down her nose at the two nervous first years. “Oh it’s you. Well go on.”


Lottie shuffled into the center of the room, keeping her gaze determinedly at the floor. She didn’t like being forced in a room for so long with a skilled Legilimens.


“You will be cleaning and labeling the potion ingredient jars for Professor Dyer today,” Palmyitor said stiffly, not looking up from a parchment she was reading. She pointed to a shelf filled with stained and broken jars. “No magic.”


Lottie glared at Colm and motioned to pick up one of the jars, one that had a dark red substance that looked suspiciously like blood covering the inside. “It’s all your fault we’re doing this,” she hissed, picking up a wet rag and trying to fit her hand through the jar’s neck.


“You’re the one who broke my nose!” Colm shouted back. Lottie rolled her eyes. “And it still hurts too!”


“No talking.” Palmyitor still didn’t look up from her paperwork.


The first years cleaned the bottles quietly for some times, only intruding the stiff silence with grunts of frustration every now and then. Lottie nearly dropped her jar when a loud bang echoed from above them.


Palmyitor hit her desk, causing Lottie to actually drop the jar this time. “If that is Stanley and Langley--I swear! Why I ever made Stanley a prefect, I’ll never know…” She glared at Lottie and Colm. “Just finish this up and go back to your common rooms,” she shouted as she ran through the door.


Lottie shrugged as the door slammed and pulled out her wand. “What are you doing?!” Colm shouted, staring at her wand. “Do you want to get us into more trouble?”


“Shut up!” Lottie hissed, pointing her wand at the broken glass. “It’s better than just leaving it here. Reparo!” She watched as the pieces formed back together again. “See? She’ll never know if we used magic or not.”


Through laughter, Colm said, “I think she’ll know that you tried to charm that one.”


“What? Oh.” The jar was oddly misshapen and haphazardly balancing on a point. Blushing, Lottie picked up another jar and busied herself with it. “Well you couldn’t do any better.”


“I wouldn’t try,” Colm said. “It’s not worth getting detention again.”


“I’d rather have detention again,” Lottie growled, “than just breaking somebody else’s things.”


“Oh don’t be such a hero. Who do you think you are?” Colm snarled. “Harry Potter?”


Burning a deep red, Lottie hissed, “What do you mean?”


“What? Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of Harry Potter.”


“I have!” Lottie nearly dropped her other jar. “I--I just--”


“Don’t know much about him?”


Lottie didn’t reply.


“What, they never taught you?” Colm asked incredulously.


“No! What? How much do you know?”


“Everything. I know how he was the Chosen One. He was destined to fight the Dark Lord since birth, when he defeated him the first time.” Colm raised his eyebrows impressively. “He had two friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. They went with him to fight.”


Lottie had stopped cleaning her jar and listened intently. “What happened to them?”


“The Dark Lord and his followers ambushed them. They were on a special mission with the Order of the Phoenix.” Noting Lottie’s confused expression, he added, “A group of wizards dedicated to defeating the Dark Lord. Oh! And there was this school--called Hogwarts--that everybody went to. And the Headmaster’s name was Albus Dumbledore. He led the Order, but then he was murdered by … Erm…”


“I thought you knew everything.” Lottie crossed her arms, trying to hide her curiosity.


“I do! Er--oh! His name was Snape. Severus Snape! And he murdered Dumbledore. But nobody knew what side he was really on, because maybe Dumbledore had ordered him to kill him.”


“But why would he do that? Why would anybody want to die?”


“I don’t know. He must have had a good reason.” Colm picked up Lottie’s misshapen jar. “But they never found Snape. He never went to the battle. He was a spy for both sides and apparently the best Occlumens of modern times.”


“But how did Potter die?”


“He was killed by the Dark Lord,” Colm said simply. “He tried to be a hero and failed. Weasley and Granger died too… I think. Well, they never found their bodies, but they were last seen with Death Eaters.”


Lottie stared at the ground. “He shouldn’t have brought them with him,” she said.


“Who?”


“Granger and Weasley.” She picked up her jar and pretended to be busy again as she heard footsteps approaching down the corridor. “They were no help to him and he just got them killed.”


“Rowe! Scriverer!” Palmyitor’s graying hair was nearly standing on end. “Go… just--just go. And stay away from the fourth floor.”


Lottie bit her lip, trying not to laugh, and left the room before Palmyitor could change her mind.


“Rowe! Wait up!”


“What do you want?” Lottie asked, not even bothering to turn around.


“Do you really think that Potter should have gone to fight alone?” Colm asked, panting to keep up with her brisk pace.


“Yes. I do. He accomplished nothing but killing everybody by getting help.” Lottie glared at Colm. “Goodnight,” she said, turning sharply down an unknown staircase.


Once she was sure he was out of earshot, she hit the wall in frustration. Just to get away from Colm, she had taken a staircase she had never seen before and had to wait until Colm left before heading back to the common room.


“All students,” a serious voice rang through the hall, “must report to the Great Hall immediately.”


Lottie stared at the ceiling. What had happened? Slightly panicked, she ran up the stairs where she came, praying that Colm took another route. Once she had reached the main corridor, she joined a frantic crowd of students pushing forward towards the Great Hall.


The crowd was frustrating, but at least it moved quickly. Once in the Great Hall, Lottie sat quietly at the Palmyitor table, leaving a space next to her for Andrea when she showed up.


“Students, quiet down please!” Clynalmoy said from the front of the hall.


The hysteria in the hall was rather disturbing. Lottie had no idea what was going on, but obviously the older students did.


“Quiet!” Palmyitor waved her arms frantically before the students. That did nothing but to add to the panic.


“SHUT IT!” shouted Maelioric, arms crossed.


Obviously shocked at a teacher using such language, the students were silenced immediately.


“Now,” Maelioric continued, “be assured that you are all completely safe. There is a charm on the building to keep you all hidden. So please don’t panic when--”


“What’s going on?!” shouted a Clynalmoy.


Maelioric took a breath and continued. “We are tracking every student. You are all perfectly safe.”


Lottie’s stomach fell. Where was Andrea?


“Don’t panic if you can’t find a friend immediately,” Maelioric continued as he saw other students searching for their classmates. “Your friends are all here. We have checked every table.”


Lottie relaxed slightly. Andrea was somewhere, even if she couldn’t see her.


“Now,” Maelioric said calmly, “try to remain calm through this and be as helpful as you can.” He paused to make sure that nobody was about to shout in protest. “Death Eaters are approaching the school.”


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