The Joker and Her
The Quidditch team had trained every other day, which included Angelina, whose friendship Brienne had begun to appreciate greatly along with that of the Twins. As the training sessions shifted from morning to evening -- When it was warmer in the October breeze -- Brienne found herself out of luck for companionship for a lot of the time.
It was mid-October, and it was time for Divination.
Divination was one of the classes that Brienne found herself dreading. The deep, dark abyss of the future was one that Brienne felt that she shouldn't know. The eccentric teacher and the choking perfumes of the classroom high in one of the towers also helped in making this subject one which Brienne hated, and she deeply regretted that it was one of the only non-compulsory classes that she could have chosen for her OWLS.
It was late morning, and Divination was the last class before lunch. Brienne yawned as she stumbled into the thickly scented classroom, hitching her bag onto her shoulder. The large room was nearly full, and the mere slivers of light streaming through the dark, curtained windows made it quite difficult to see.
The Twins -- late, as they nearly always were -- had disappeared as soon as they had left Transfiguration ten minutes before, and Brienne, who was used to this, had proceeded to the next lesson.
She set her bag down on their usual table when someone sitting alone caught her eye. The girl was somewhat short, had long dark brown hair and bright green eyes. Her large forehead and thin lips made her look anxious, but to the perceptive she seemed merely bored. She had a yellow and black crest on her robes. The girl looked up curiously, and Brienne snapped her gaze away.
Brienne paused before sitting down. Although she was in somewhat higher spirits recently, she wasn't about to bare her soul to a complete stranger. The girl, however, had another idea. She stood and approached Brienne, gracefully moving her skinny body over to her desk.
"Um, hullo?" said the girl in a Scottish accent.
Brienne's eyes shot back up at her. "Hello." she replied, "Can I, um...help you?"
"Oh. I was wondering because you're sitting alone, if you would want some company? My friend’s ill, so I’m sitting alone too."
Brienne let her eyes drift to the floor. "Sure."
The girl set her own bag down and took the place next to her. There was some short silence before Brienne spoke.
“Um, I'm Brienne Christie. I'm new."
Paisley shone a large smile before her eyes focused on Professor Trelawney, whom had suddenly appeared from the shadows. The Professor was tall and thin but hunched over, wearing a long brown cloak and her light brown and grey hair was sticking out in all directions; the glasses that magnified her eyes completed her whimsical look. At her entrance, the hum of the student’s conversations quieted.
"Ah...good morning, pupils," the Professor began with her slightly soft voice. "Today, we shall-"
But she was interrupted as Fred and George finally stumbled up the trapdoor steps into the room, their lips pursed in restrained laughter. Trelawney slowly turned to them as they hitched their bags onto their shoulders and looked at each other mischievously.
"Sorry we're late, Professor," George said, breathing deeply with the effort of keeping quiet. Fred had his hand on one of George's shoulders and the other on his mouth, keeping the laughter in.
Brienne glared at them, narrowing her eyes. What were they up to now?
Knowing full well what she was thinking, they returned the look, before smiling and settling at Paisley's now empty desk.
- - -
The class duration seemed longer than was necessary. Trelawney had given several long-winded lectures on tarot card reading -- in between having visions of the dangerous futures and violent deaths of the students in the room -- and Brienne was nearly comfortable enough to sleep; she was pretty sure that Paisley felt the same way, from the way that she was slumped over the table, staring at Trelawney with glazed eyes.
"The Major Arcana is a powerful and effective way of predicting the future. However, stringy and fragile as it is, the future can never be set in stone, so it is mandatory that you select your cards correctly, or you may find yourself disillusioned."
She handed out a deck of cards to each desk, and gave instructions on how to use them. Brienne leant back in her chair and offered the cards to Paisley as the chatter of the students lazily started up again.
"Do you want to go first?" she asked.
Paisley smiled at her and took the cards, shuffling through them in the way that Trelawney had shown, "Let’s see what the future has in store for me, eh?" she said, laying the cards out into three piles. "So, why did you move here, Brienne? I thought it was all glitz and glamour in Beauxbatons."
“Uhh...” Brienne hated the giveaway of her accent. “Well, it just wasn't as nice as people think. I wanted to stay with my father, so I moved here."
"First card." Paisley handed her the card at the top of one of the three piles. "This one is supposed to represent the past."
Brienne took the card and read the inscription at the bottom. "The Magician."
“This lesson constantly surprises me,” Paisley said, smirking.
Brienne grinned as she opened the textbook to read what it meant. "Well, for the past, it says that the Magician means 'releasing your full potential rather than holding back,’ and that ‘guidance is present in the form of either your own mind or someone else’s.'” She looked up at Paisley, who was nodding along. "Is that true?"
"Yeah. I had a tough time here for my first couple of years. I was a bit freaked out at the idea of being a witch."
"Second card." She handed Brienne the top card from the second pile.
"The Fool," she replied. "It means you have 'childlike ability to understand what is going on around you'. But it can mean wisdom, too. Does that mean anything to you?"
"Not really. My parents say I'm quite immature for my age, but that's it. I hate Divination."
"Me too," Brienne empathised. "It's strange. I only like the lessons that other people seem to hate, and they like lessons that I hate."
"Why, what lessons do you like?" Paisley asked boredly, resting her head on her hand, her eyes drooping.
"I like Charms, Potions...and Herbology is good, too."
"You like Potions, why
Brienne shrugged. "I don't know, I just do. I'm good at it. What do you like?"
"Charms, Transfiguration, a bit of DADA."
Brienne stared at her in disagreement before pointing at the last pile. "Right. Last card." Paisley handed it to her. "The Hierophant. It just says 'tradition, maturity, knowledge, power, respect'. It just lists them."
"Wow, that's a good one. Looks like my future is bright."
"Yeah. Right, my turn."
Brienne took her turn shuffling and laying out the cards, concentrating hard on an ideal future as Professor Trelawney stopped at their desk, stared at them both silently for a moment, and walked on. Brienne saw the Twins out of the corner of her eye, who were just picking out cards at random and looking them up. "OK. First card."
"The Empress." Paisley flicked through the pages of the book until she found it. "Hmmm. It means 'a nurturing person, a mother, or a caregiver. It could mean comfort, desire or health'."
Frozen, Brienne stared at the card in Paisley's hand in shock. A mother
? "No, I need a recount."
"Why?" Paisley asked, looking at Brienne with concern. "Is it not right?"
"I..." Brienne thought of a wild excuse; she couldn't tell her yet. "It's not right at all. I just want a different card."
"OK, OK, OK. Shuffle them again."
Brienne furiously shuffled the 'past' pile and slammed them down on the table, Paisley slowly picking the top one up again. She was looking at her, concern in her eyes.
"Hermit," Paisley read quietly. "Means either to 'isolate one's self to be solitary or to release yourself from that isolation.' "
"Really? I thought that other one was better." Paisley set the card down and picked up the next, the one to represent the present. "Oooo, and The Lovers!"
Brienne looked up, Angelina's words from the week before running through her head. She was very aware of the person sitting at Paisley's former desk.
"There’ve been sparks flying all night...it’s so obvious.
What were these cards doing?
"It says, 'The Lovers symbolises doubt, or giving up a bachelor lifestyle for a relationship, or vice versa. It means love, connection, passion and heart.’"
Brienne gulped. "And that's good, then?"
"Well, if you're in a relationship now then probably not. But otherwise, yeah. Why?"
Brienne took a deep breath and ran her hands through her hair. "Nothing. Last card."
"Justice. It really doesn't say much, but what it does say is 'Balance of justice, justice will be served, a clear vision of responsibility, decisions and intellect'. Mostly things like that."
"Any idea what those cards might be about?"
Brienne paused. Suddenly she felt very sick. "No idea."
- - -
The bell finally rang, and thinking that the pungent fumes of the classroom had finally gone to her head, Brienne said a shaky goodbye to Paisley. She stumbled down the trapdoor steps, and leaned out of the tower balcony, getting as much fresh air as she could.
What did those cards mean? The Empress...that was just scary. The Hermit, fair enough.
The Lovers. Brienne refused to think about that.
And Justice -- Brienne could only think of one person that deserved ultimate justice, and she knew now with every fibre of her being what it meant. The person that had killed her mother. An angry monster stirred in her stomach at the thought. Brienne gripped the stone that kept her from flying.
The giggling that approached was the only indication that the Twins had joined her. Brienne took one more deep breath before spinning to them, remembering her now stifled curiosity.
"What have you two done?" Brienne growled, looking between the two of them. They exchanged a gleeful look.
Fred leaned in to whisper. "We put loads of Bertie Botts and Blood Sweets in the Slytherins’ lunch."
"We-we sneaked into the kitchen and put loads of them into their soup." Fred couldn't hold it in any longer and burst out laughing, holding his sides.
George smiled. "They're going to get a nasty surprise."
Brienne looked between the Twins, before huffing exasperatedly and moving towards the stairs.
"Come on, you two. Do you want to miss their reactions?"
The renewed laughter told her they were following.
- - -
There was fluttering, a sensation of falling, before Brienne found herself sitting back in Trelawney's classroom. It was empty of people, besides her. Looking around, the moonlight being the only thing that lit up the room, Brienne's eyes found the four cards that were lined up in order on the purple velvet tablecloth: - The Empress, The Hermit, The Lovers, and Justice.
Brienne ran her fingers over the smooth cards, looking at the pictures that coloured them. However, at her touch, the pictures began to change.
Upon touching The Empress, the woman in a ballroom gown shifted to depict a realistic painting of another woman. Her heart wrenched painfully and tears filled her eyes as she peered down at the beautiful and smiling face that was frozen on the card.
"Mum." Brienne reached out to touch the card again, but as quickly as before, the card changed again, back to the woman in the gown.
The Hermit swirled, revealing Brienne sitting by herself. She was dressed in a long silvery robe and her hair was styled beautifully. Brienne had a book in her hands and was looking sadly around her. Brienne pursed her lips at the memory, and moved onto the next card.
The Lovers were no longer Adam and Eve. They swirled to show Brienne, smiling and looking into the eyes of a red-head, who was looking at her with as much admiration as he was receiving. Brienne looked at this card for a long time, trying very hard to feel a reaction from the image.
Justice remained black. No matter how much Brienne ran her fingers over the shiny card, Justice never changed. She supposed she was still in the dark about that card.
She never knew when the dream ended, but soon she found herself snug in the silk covers, warm and still.