Chapter 3 : I Need Help
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One thing I would like to bring up is the ages of the characters in the Next Generation. A few people (thanks) have let me know that the ages I’ve assigned to Hugo and co. are not exactly Canon. I suppose I should have done my research better before I got to writing, I just gave them ages depending upon what I wanted the story to be like. Even though I made a mistake, I would like to continue with the story with the ages I’ve selected. Too much planning and excitement have already gone into this tale! I know its not quite right, but just for future reference: James is in his seventh year, sixth year includes Rose, Scorpius, and Albus, and fifth year includes both Hugo and Lily. Other members of the Weasley clan may show up throughout the story but we’ll cross that bridge when it comes! That wraps up my little intro, enjoy the chapter and I’ll see you when you reach the bottom.
I Need Help
Just as I could have predicted, my fifth year at Hogwarts got off on the wrong foot right away the following morning. And the worst part was that it wasn’t even my fault. Sometimes I really wonder why I am friends with Glen Saunders. I was snuggled happily under my blankets, actually having quite a pleasant dream, when I felt myself being nudged awake. And that is simply not right. The whole nudging thing.
I suppose I understand how this might seem normal for most people, but it’s really not normal for me. It was even odder considering I was in the fifth year dormitory of the Hufflepuff common room, and I always wake up before my three fellow roommates; at least I have for the past four years. The nudging increased to intense shaking, and my eyes shot open.
As my eyes focused, I instantly recognized the brilliant yellow color of Glen’s hair. There was sunlight streaming in through the windows of the dormitory, so it was indeed morning. Now the situation seemed even more wrong. Glen was waking me up? It’s usually the other way round. I’ve made a career of trying to get Glen Saunders out of bed in the morning, and he rarely makes it to his first class. Which is why he’s failed many subjects and been forced to drop or re-take them. I rubbed my fist over my eyes and sat up. The dormitory was completely empty apart from me and Glen, who was grinning like he had just won the Quidditch World Cup.
“Morning!” he declared, cheerfully as I tried to understand what was happening.
“What’s going on?” I asked, starting to feel nervous about the fact that the rest of my dorm mates were gone. This felt as though it was one of the many jokes Glen liked to play.
“I turned off your alarm,” Glen admitted, shrugging carelessly and gesturing to my watch sitting on the bedside table.
“What time is it?” I asked. I grabbed for the watch, knowing that Glen wasn’t going to tell me and spoil his fun. I already knew it was going to be bad.
“Oh no,” I moaned, realizing that my first class started in less than ten minutes. I blinked at my best friend in disbelief. “You turned off my alarm?”
“Can we say something more dramatic?” Glen responded, thinking hard. “Like dismantled your alarm? Or tampered with your alarm?”
It really is times like this when I wished to have a temperament more like my sister’s. If Glen had done something like this to Rose, she would throttle him and make sure he ended up in detention for at least a week. And this would all happen after she yelled at him for fifteen minutes straight about how he was an idiot and the worst excuse for a friend. But I didn’t. Instead, I jumped out of my bed and started to make it as quickly as I could.
“Still going to make your bed?” Glen asked, folding his long arms and smirking as I flew wildly from one side of the bed to the other. I told him to shut up. (And by that, I mean I thought the words “shut up” really, really hard in my head.)
Once the bed was made, I dashed into the bathroom to get dressed. I tore off the Chudley Cannon pajamas Dad had given me last Christmas (I can’t name a single member of their team) before putting on my school uniform and robes. Once I made sure that my shirt was buttoned all the way up to the top and that my tie was straight and even, I went back to the dormitory for my bag, thankful that I had packed it the night before. I let out a sigh of frustration when I noticed that Glen was now sitting on my bed, not worrying about the fact that he was messing up the bedspread. I know I should tell him off, I know I should tell him to get off, but I didn’t.
“I’m going to Potions,” I told him quietly as I shouldered by bag and put my watch on. I didn’t wait for him to answer, but headed immediately for the door. I had about thirty seconds to reach the dungeons and Professor Ramsey’s class. There was really no denying the fact that I was going to be late, but I really didn’t want to admit that to myself. I also really didn’t want to admit to myself that Professor Ramsey was going to be angry.
“Is that what we have first?” Glen asked, getting off my bed and following me as I headed out of the dorm and into the common room. The large room was mostly deserted except for a few sixth and seventh year Hufflepuffs who had managed to score free periods first thing in the day. Glen winked and waved at a pretty girl sitting at one of the tables, while I walked slightly hunched from all the books in my bag. I really am not taking more subjects than anyone else, but I like to have all my books on me just in case. Glen, on the other hand, had neither books nor a bag.
“You should really thank me,” Glen said, as he jogged slightly to keep up with my determined pace. What for?! I should have shouted this response at him, but I didn’t. I kept the words silent in thought. Though I am quiet most of the time, Glen could tell that I wasn’t tickled by his little joke.
“Jeez Hugo,” he said, rolling his eyes. “I thought a little spontaneity might loosen you up a little bit. “There is more to Hogwarts than following your schedule.”
Some mean thoughts flashed across my mind in response to Glen’s thoughtlessness. Like what? Like failing classes, getting detention, and being insufferably rude to the one person who puts up with you?
Glen clearly decided that his logic spared him from all responsibility and continued to jabber about the girl he had waved to in the common room all the way down to the dungeons. We paused outside the entrance of Professor Ramsey’s classroom and when I checked my watch I saw that we were just about five minutes late. I put a hand on the door and paused again. Everyone was going to look when we came in. Fifth year Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws were going to look up and see who was late and instinctively be grateful that it wasn’t them.
“We could skip instead,” Glen suggested, when he saw that I wasn’t planning on bursting into the room. I shook my head, tried to mentally prepare myself for the worst, and pushed the door open. I tried not to look at any of the other students as I entered the room and practically collapsed into my seat near the back. Glen strolled into the classroom with his hands in his pockets, whistling as he moved to join me at our table. Professor Ramsey, a fairly young man with sharp facial features, was at the head of the class explaining the day’s potion. I dropped my gaze to the table in front of me and busied myself with taking out my Potions textbook, and opening it to the correct page. Glen turned his chair around and sat down so he could prop his head up on the on the chair’s back. Professor Ramsey gave continuing instructions to the rest of the class before coming over to us.
“Weasley, Saunders,” he greeted us, his lips pinched together in frustration. “Let’s just make this simple. You’re both five minutes late, so let’s make it five points from Hufflepuff each. Also, I’ve just explained a rather complicated task to the class. Good luck completing it without my instructions.” Oh no I started to fidget nervously in my seat. The five points seemed fair enough, but I needed instructions. I needed some kind of order to begin my work. To have any kind of chance.
“Sir,” I called timidly, stopping Professor Ramsey as he made his way back to the front of the class. He turned, and waited for me to speak. I desperately tried to get my thoughts in order as his eyes seemed to lock themselves on my face.
“Well?” he demanded, after twenty silent seconds had gone by.
“I…just…don’t…I mean I really don’t…I think it would be fair if.” These words tumbled out of my mouth and I knew I wasn’t making sense or speaking nearly loud enough. All I wanted were the instructions. Why was it so hard to ask?
“You know Mr. Weasley,” Professor Ramsey responded, sounding thoroughly confused by my answer, “If you want people to hear you, you need to speak UP.” There were a few students throughout the class who were whispering and laughing silently with each other. I know I must have looked pathetic.
Most people wonder why I am friends with Glen, most of the time I wonder why I’m friends with Glen. But it’s because of moments like this. When he takes all the attention off me and puts the spotlight on himself.
“Sir,” Glen said, the word dripping with sarcasm, “I think my friend is trying to say that your punishment isn’t really fair.”
“Don’t start with me, Saunders,” Professor Ramsey said tiredly, and I could hardly blame him. He has outbursts from Glen at least once a week. But Glen barreled on anyways, distracting the rest of the class with his loud demeanor.
“When Hugo and I arrived here a mere five minutes late we imagined being punished with the stripping away of points or the confinement of detention. However, we never could have predicted that we would be denied our own education. We may have come late, but we still decided to come. We made the conscious decision to attend your class and learn. And now you’re telling us we won’t be allowed to learn today? As a student and a human being…”
“Give it a rest, Saunders!” Professor Ramsey snapped, cutting him off. “Unless you’d like to spend the next month in detention!” A hush fell over the classroom and the whispers of the other students ceased completely. They knew Professor Ramsey’s threats were never empty. I knew that Glen was going to get that month of detention, because the one thing he can’t do is keep his mouth shut.
“I’d like that very much, Sir,” Glen answered, causing the entire class to gasp collectively. “Perhaps if we spend a lot of time together I can teach you the true value of education.” Well the rest of the class went exactly as one would expect. Professor Ramsey blew up at Glen and sent him off to see Headmaster Nolan. Professor Ramsey spent the rest of the class in a foul mood and gave me a zero because the potion I created, without his instructions, failed miserably.
I headed to History of Magic, now minus Glen, with a slight amount of optimism. I had already been embarrassed and gained a failing grade, perhaps I had gotten the worst part of my first day out of the way. History of Magic went fine, but it is often an awkward class for me. There are a lot of times where the lessons include my parents, Uncle Harry, or another of my famous relatives. Professor Binns drones on and on, but it’s still pretty strange when you have to memorize the birthday of your uncle for an upcoming quiz. It also is awkward because I feel the rest of the class’ eyes on me thinking, Your family is so clearly awesome. Is there a reason you aren’t awesome?”
After History of Magic I made my way to the Great Hall for lunch. Considering I always skip breakfast, I am really hungry come lunchtime. I instantly regretted Glen getting himself in trouble because now I had no one to sit with. I know that sounds really sad and pathetic, but no one else wants to put up with Glen so no one really wants to put up with me. I try to catch up on the potion I messed up so badly by studying my potions textbook, while eating a sandwich, and occasionally stealing glances at Connie who was sitting with her friends at the Ravenclaw table. Lunch was going to be completely uneventful when an owl arrived near my plate. It started to peck at my arm irritably so I would put down my book and relieve it of its burden.
As I took the letter from the owl’s leg I recognized Mum’s writing on the envelope. I wasn’t surprised, Mum always sends Rose and I letters on the first day of school. The owl jumped back into the air, upsetting my juice, as I began to read the letter.
I hope you are settling into your fifth year at Hogwarts happily, and that your classes are going well so far. I checked out your bedroom and, as usual, I found nothing that you’ve forgotten to send on. Sometimes I wonder if Rose actually reads the letter I send her, so could you please tell her I’ve sent along the brass scales and the dragon hide gloves that were under her bed.
I know this is the time of the year when student organizations at Hogwarts desire to recruit new members. I just think it would be excellent for you to get involved with the Gobstones club or perhaps even the school paper. I mean this only as a suggestion, but I just think these sorts of clubs would benefit greatly from the things you have to offer. Your gracious manner and conscientious social skills would be appreciated by any student organization.
I know you can be shy, but don’t hesitate to show people the person you really are. Your father and I love you very much.
Have a great year,
This letter did not improve my spirits. Parents must take a course on lying to their children. Now I really believe Mum wanted to boost my confidence with this letter, but I thought it was a bit of a stretch for her to comment on my “gracious” manner or my social skills. My social skills are non-existent and I don’t think I’ve ever been gracious in my entire life. But the part that really made my heart twinge was the part that told me to show people who I really was. I thought I was already doing that. It just happens to be that the person I am is quiet and has trouble forming sentences. I folded up the letter and put it in my pocket.
Mum wanted me to join Gobstones? The school newspaper? Didn’t she know me at all? I’ve never played or shown any interest in Gobstones and my writing, at least for school, just barely gets by. But then again, maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea. Even if I joined one of those clubs and was really terrible at it, at least I could tell Mum and Dad that I tried. At least I would be able to tell them something they didn’t expect. I finished off the rest of the sandwich and decided to head for the library to finish off the rest of my potions catch-up. Professor Ramsey had assigned an essay on the very potion I had done so poorly on, so I was feeling desperate enough to spend my free period studying instead of playing my guitar.
I left the Great Hall and was heading for the grand staircase in the entrance hall when my day got a whole lot worse. Just as I was about to move onto the first step I heard a voice, a voice that I have come to dread, call out to me.
“Hey everybody, it’s Wee-wee.” I spun around and saw Evan Lee, a particularly large fifth-year Slytherin, walking towards me with a broomstick over his shoulder. The Slytherin boys who were with him snickered at his insult. I really kind of hate Evan Lee. I don’t understand what it is I’ve done to him that could possibly spur his continued rudeness and anger towards me. A few other reasons I dislike him are because he scares the absolute crap out of me, and he persists in calling me “Wee-wee” because he gets some kind of sick pleasure out of it. When I was in my first year I spilt juice on my robes and you can imagine, I’m sure, what wet robes near the pants area must have looked like. Glen tried to do a drying spell on them, but that just made the stain darker. That was the first day Evan called me “Wee-wee” and it’s never stopped. It used to be “Wee-wee Weasley,” so at least he had the good graces to shorten it a little.
I really thought it was possible that there was more to Evan Lee than being a mere bully, but four long years have passed and my opinions of him have not changed. He is just the classic kind of cliché bully you hope you’ll only read about or see on the telly. He likes inflicting pain (both mentally and physically) on other people and seems to feel no remorse for doing so. So, as you might expect, when Evan Lee started lumbering towards me with a broomstick over his shoulder, I thought it was quite possible he was going to use it to pound me painfully into the stone floor.
I considered my options. I could run, but then again I’m not very fast. I could finally grow a spine and throw a punch at the bridge of his nose. But then again I’ve never hit anyone in my entire life and I would probably break my hand doing it wrong. Or I could do what I usually do: stand petrified and hope whatever he does doesn’t hurt too much. Evan came up next to me and threw his left arm along my shoulders, and it wasn’t long before his arm started to tighten his hold to a headlock.
“How’s your first day going Wee-wee?” I didn’t answer him; I had to concentrate on trying to stay at least semi-calm. But then I heard a voice that nearly made my heart sing.
“Can I help you, Lee?” Glen was trotting down the stairs, apparently having survived his Headmaster Nolan reprimand. Yes! There is probably one person that isn’t a sixth or seventh year that Evan Lee fears and that is Glen Saunders. And why would someone as big and burly as Evan Lee fear a gangly smart-ass like Glen Saunders? Well, because Glen is a bully’s worst fear. He’s the sort of person who always stands up for himself and is honestly not scared of pain. Oh, and even though Glen is a goof-off in school, he is really a talented wizard. And Evan just seems to be able to sense these qualities because he simply doesn’t mess with Glen.
“If I didn’t know any better, I would think you were insulting and bothering my best friend.” I decided right then and there that Glen was forgiven for the watch fiasco. I love being Glen Saunders’ best friend.
“Coming to your boyfriend’s rescue, Saunders?” Evan sneered, but he had already moved away from me.
“Wow, a gay joke! Don’t they teach you to use more creative insults in bully school?”
Glen smiled his crooked little smile, but his blue eyes were cold as they stared Evan down. Evan looked stumped for a few seconds as though he was really wondering if he was enrolled in bully school.
“Come on, Hugo,” Glen said, gesturing to me. We started to walk away, but as we did Glen took out his wand, pointed it skillfully, and muttered a spell under his breath. The result was immediate; the end of Evan’s broomstick burst into flames. He howled and dropped it on the ground, trying to stomp the flames out. Glen laughed loudly and a few other students joined in when they noticed Evan’s struggle.
“You’re a dead man, Saunders!” Evan yelled as we walked up the stairs, leaving him to curse at his burning broom. Glen didn’t answer, but simply shrugged as though nothing major had actually happened.
“You know Hugo, the next time Lee gets in your face curse his nose off.”
“I’m not really good with the whole curse thing,” I admitted, readjusting my bag on my shoulder.
“Then give him a good punch.”
“That takes coordination and strength.”
“A kick in the groin, then.”
“I’ll think about it.” I’m such a liar.
That night I lay awake, going over the events of my first day. I woke up late, was late for class, failed an assignment, had a lot of homework, had to listen about how awesome my parents are for an hour, received a disheartening letter, and had to be rescued from getting strangled.
I’ve seen worse.
I really thought my second day at Hogwarts was going to be better. Classes were definitely an improvement. I had Herbology and Professor Longbottom always cuts me the slack I need. I also got to be partners with Lily which means that our work on the Firesprouts couldn’t have gone better. I had Care of Magical Creatures with Hagrid who I think has a sort of soft-spot for me, which is nice. My class schedule ended that day with Transfiguration which is probably my worst subject. However, I lucked out there too. We spent the whole time talking about methods so we didn’t have any time to test them out with magic. But my evening ended miserably.
Glen and I were walking by the lake when we should have been doing our homework when James and a whole pack of students walked by. I don’t think I’ve ever seen James Potter alone. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen James Potter without the escort of at least four other students. I suppose it makes sense. He’s a handsome seventh year, captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and his dad is the most famous Wizard of all time. But I was focused on one of the students in the pack; Connie. My Connie.
Why do I keep thinking that? Connie has never really had anything to do with me and she’s spoken to me only on two occasions. Connie was walking next to James smiling into the evening sun, and I noticed how the sunlight brought out the reddish tints in her brown hair. Then, ever so casually, James slipped his left arm around her waist and gently pulled her closer to him. Connie seemed a little surprised but didn’t say anything or complain like I wanted her to.
“Guess your cousin has found his first girlfriend for the year,” Glen commented, also watching the action. I know it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, a boy putting his arm around a girl. But it was different since it was the arm of James Potter. Everyone who was watching the group now knew that James liked Connie, and that she was off limits. It was an unspoken rule, but it was one that everyone seemed to follow.
“I should make a move on her,” Glen said next, and I stared at him in alarm. “Just to piss him off.”
“Please don’t,” I said, hating the idea of that confrontation.
I was glum for the rest of the night, thinking about James and Connie together. It was only a matter of time before he asked her out. And it was only a matter of time before she said yes. These thoughts were plaguing my mind as I wandered along the seventh year corridor near the tapestry of Barnabus the Barmy. Usually the tapestry of the ridiculous trolls doing ballet always cheers me up, but instead I was struck with an idea.
Against the wishes of Mum, Dad once told me and Rose about the Room of Requirement, a room designed to always help the user in what he or she needs. The entrance was supposed to be right across from the tapestry. Dad told us that all we needed to do was walk back and forth in front of the wall three times thinking about what we needed, and the room obliged. However, he also warned us that the room might have been permanently damaged by the Fiendfyre released inside during the battle of Hogwarts.
I stood in front of the wall, wondering what I could possibly ask for. What I needed was complicated, it wasn’t something that could appear magically in a room. The approval of my parents? The affection of Connie Bishop? An end to feeling lost and sometimes miserable? Those weren’t tangible things. But as I thought of Connie and James together, I decided it was worth a shot. I started to pace back and forth in front of the wall thinking the only thing I could manage: I need help. I need help. I need help.
Once I had walked past the wall three times a door appeared in the wall, and I could scarcely believe that it had actually worked. With my heart pounding, I put a hand on the door knob and pulled it open. I shut my eyes for dramatic purposes, imagining all my problems being solved, but when I opened them I was staring into nothing but darkness. I couldn’t tell if the space beyond the door was large or small, it was simply dark, and apparently empty. I poked my head in a little further, but still saw nothing. Perhaps Dad had been right about the Fiendfyre.
It had been a silly notion anyway. All the magical rooms in the world probably couldn’t solve my problems. I shut the door, and shook my head; feeling embarrassed and disappointed.
And just when I thought my day could not get worse it did. I like to go to bed early, because I like to get up early. As I headed up to the empty dormitory and pulled down my bedspread I nearly had a heart attack when a mouse jumped off my bed and started to scurry across the floor. I let out a yell and threw my bedspread over it, hopefully trapping it.
I hate that Glen Saunders is my best friend. He put a mouse in my bed! I know that a mouse in the bed seems stupid and immature, but those two words pretty much sum up Glen Saunders in a nutshell. That’s how I knew Glen was responsible. It was exactly his style. He loves to see me rattled, and he loves to throw off my strict sleep schedule. He probably knew the scare of a mouse wouldn’t allow me to sleep for at least an hour.
“Real mature,” I muttered, telling Glen off in my head. I moved cautiously towards the bedspread, knowing the mouse was probably going to spring out at me. It was probably going to attach itself to my face or bite me, then Glen would get a real kick out of his joke.
“What’s mature?” A small, but distinctively female voice sounded in the dorm. I jumped and whirled around to face the door. There was no one there. In fact, there was no one in the entire dormitory except for myself.
‘Steady on, Hugo,” I told myself, turning back to the bedspread. Summoning what was left of my already shattered courage I lifted the bedspread and threw it unceremoniously across the room. I expected the mouse to dart away, under one of the beds, or do something crazy like go up my pant’s leg. But it didn’t. In fact the mouse was sitting there just the way it was before I threw the bedspread over it. And what was even stranger was the fact that the mouse was looking at me. I know this doesn’t sound that weird, but wait until a mouse looks at you before you judge me.
“You’re not losing your mind.” There it was again, the female voice. And it was, even though I really didn’t want to believe it, coming from the mouse sitting in front of me.
“I disagree,” I answered weakly, realizing that I had just answered a talking mouse.
“Why do you look so surprised?” The mouse spoke again and moved forward a little bit, causing me to jump back.
“Well…” I stammered, not even knowing where to begin. It had finally happened. I had gone off my rocker. Well now Mum and Dad would have an explanation for all my failures. Because I’m insane.
“You asked for help, so here I am.” I didn’t answer this time, picturing myself in one of those padded cells.
“Look,” the mouse continued, actually sounding a bit irritated now. “You were at the Room of Requirement asking for help. I came out before you shut the door. I would prefer our meetings to happen in the Room of Requirement but considering I’m already outside, what’s the point? You still want help, right?”
“I think I need professional help,” I admitted, sitting timidly on the edge of my bed.
“Well, you got me. Don’t worry. I’ve helped loads of people before.”
“Why are you speaking English?” I asked this question, still feeling being insane wasn’t out of the question.
“Well I couldn’t very well help you if I spoke Mermish could I?” So not only was the mouse talking, but it was giving me attitude.
Even if the caramel colored mouse in front of me was a hallucination, I decided it was time to nip this in the bud. I twisted my robes around my hands as I spoke.
“Look, I think it’s really nice that you want to help me. But I’m really fine. I was just having a bad day. I’m sure there are other people here that need your…services more.”
“But I’m here for you. You asked for help. I’m supposed to help you,” the mouse answered eagerly, coming closer to me. This time I stood my ground.
“I don’t really need help,” I tried. “There are people out there with much bigger problems.”
“You’re refusing my help?” The mouse sounded a little crushed, and I started to feel guilty. I’m feeling guilty about upsetting a mouse? What’s wrong with me?
“It would be a waste of time,” I answered confidently, gesturing towards the door and feeling rather foolish for doing so. I was attempting to see a talking mouse out of my room. The mouse was silent for about a minute before speaking again,
“Can I ask you for something then, Hugo?” It knew my name. I wish I knew how to say “no.” I really wish I knew how. But I don’t think I’ve ever said no to anyone before. I stayed silent instead.
“Will you help me?” The mouse edged even closer and was now a few inches away from my foot.
“Because you’re right. There are a lot of people around Hogwarts that need help, and my plate is kind of full right now. Think you could give me a hand?”
No, no thanks. I thought the words furiously, but nothing came out of my mouth.
“I guess I could try,” I replied, hoping that the mouse was a bad dream that I would have forgotten by the following morning.
The mouse darted out of the room, saying something about “further instructions tomorrow.”
I collapsed onto the bed feeling even more shaken than I had after my first day. Perhaps I had been right and the mouse was a clever joke of Glen’s. He probably charmed it so it would talk to me.
Or if I’m wrong, I hope they have available space at St. Mungo’s.
I know this chapter kind of ended on a strange note, but I promise explanations will be given as the story goes on and things will make more and more sense with every chapter. I hope you enjoyed your read and that you don’t have as much homework as I do.
All my love,
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