Chapter 3 : A New Beginning
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“Where do we need to go first?”
“I think I need to get some new robes at Madam Malkin’s, but we can leave that till last, because she hates me.” Magda looked at us all hesitantly. We certainly knew that she did. Here’s a tip for any future first-years: comment on the fact that Madam Malkin’s gained some weight after you’ve left the shop. Or better yet, don’t do it at all.
“I understand. We could go to Flourish and Blotts, but I honestly want to leave the heavy lifting until the end.” I looked down at me arms, still as skinny as ever, and heaved a deep sigh.
“So it looks like Madam Malkin’s has to be the first stop. I got my new cauldron ages ago, and I highly doubt that I’ve got enough gold on me to even look at a broom.”
“Why do you even need a new broom?” I felt that I was representing all children whose parents are too stingy to buy them a broom. Sure, I’ll believe that it’s all about the health hazard - stupid parents.
Amy blushed slightly. “I thought I’d try out for the team.”
“You’ve never played Quidditch before in your life! You broke my wrist during flying lessons!”
“You hold grudges for far too long,” I joked, to which Amy smiled slightly to. It’ll only be a matter of time before I’ve completely rubbed off on her.
“Don’t forget that you blew up mine,” exclaimed Magda. Like it would matter anyway, Miss I-only-joined-the-team-to-get-closer-to-Oliver-Wood. Like I care.
Amy decided on not answered and we ventured on. We almost went into the shop but then I froze. How can this be even possible? Someone out there must hate me.
“Sweet mother of Merlin, is that Pucey?”
Magda beamed. “Guess it’s Flourish and Blotts after all?”
There wasn’t even any discussion about it, we just hurried off. We practically ran away to Flourish and Blotts, not saying a word while doing so. By the time we arrived there, we were in such a mess. My cheeks were now red and puffy. Though it was really Amy would was a picture. Her hair had completely gone wild, making her look like one of the Weird Sisters during on their ‘Goth’ phases. Not that the phase ever really ended.
I couldn’t believe it. Why did Pucey have to come to Diagon Alley today of all days? Probably got his Slytherin pals to stalk me. Yeah, that’ll be it. He’s probably one of those rich, Pureblood families that could get away with it. Well let me tell you, he wasn’t going to get away with it next time. If he pops up like that again –
OK, I’ve got nothing.
Maybe I’d hand him over some of these books. It’s as if they’re actually getting heavier and heavier each year. I know that our education is important and all, but part of this must have been designed to discipline us, or something. It’s quite ridiculous.
“Defense Against the Dark Arts better be bloody amazing,” commented Magda, gesturing towards the books in her arms.
“I would say the same for potions,” began Bella, “but we all know how that’s going to turn out. Unless they replace Snape with a dreamier Lockhart, it just won’t work.”
And that quick day out soon lead to a quick week of doing nothing but preparing for the time ahead. And that week soon lead to the beginning of a new school year at Hogwarts – lucky me. And this time … I’m waiting for gasps, here… I’m not being sarcastic. I know, shocking, isn’t it?
Because today, I was going to see my boyfriend – my boyfriend, George Weasley.
The first thing we noticed when we arrived was the cutest black dog on the platform. Seriously, it was black and fluffy. I could just snuggle it, it really could. Sure, it was a bit big, but I don’t mind those kind of big, strong creatures – as long as they still have a cute side. And, it had to been a sign, as that dog directed my eyes to George Weasley.
I heard Fred talking to a group of people about some business that they needed to attend to. Business? Unless that business is me, I am not going to be very happy at all. However, to my delight, George came and grabbed hold of my hand. “Come on.”
“Hi to you too,” I replied, grinning like a madman.
“Sorry, hello... Come on.” George tugged my hand and I was being dragged away from the others. I looked at them apologetically, but they laughed and began to walk away.
Fred and Lee appeared to be talking about business plans. I had no doubt that a few people would have a problem with their plan of testing it out on first-years, but who was I to judge? Well, I suppose as George Weasley’s girlfriend, I have some input.
To be honest, I didn’t care about their plans for the first-years, anyway. I was having too much fun with George to notice. I had never actually laughed so hard… ever – OK, there might have been other moments, but it was a very funny day nevertheless.
“Oh, and I forgot to tell you, Ron’s a prefect.”
“Ron?” OK, that was an odd choice. No offence, Ron seemed like a decent enough bloke, but he didn’t seem like an outstanding student.
“I know, right? I had never been more disappointed in my life. Next it’ll be Ginny. What has my family come to?”
Laughing gleefully (it’s my newer, better way of saying ‘giggling’ when I’m talking about me), I leaned into George and replied, “I don’t know, I would have killed to have been a prefect or something. The power.”
George pretended to glare at me and said, “Get the hell out of my compartment.” OK, so maybe I was going to have to refine my seduction technique.
“I think we’re here,” said Fred in a dull tone. Already? And I didn’t take offence in Fred’s disapproval. I think he was more upset that he couldn’t share this moment with Amy. I hate how confusing things can be at times.
“First-years line up over here, please! All first-years to me!”
Either Hagrid had started taking elocution lessons and was doing a fine impersonation of a woman, or it wasn’t Hagrid. Even though I really wanted it to be the first option, it was in fact Professor Grubby-Plank, who taught us for a bit last year. I don’t generally like talking about her – it made it harder to get through Hagrid’s lessons knowing that she was out there... somewhere.
I love you, Grubby.
I looked for Bella, Amy and Magda, who were busily chatting to Seamus and Dean. Seeing me, Seamus smiled. “Anne!”
When I approached them, it seemed that Bella was trying her best not to look at me. Indeed, I was pretty sure that she took Seamus’ enthusiastic welcome as an offence to her. But, really, if she wanted him to be all happy about her, she shouldn’t have broken up with him over a kiss.
“Let’s get a carriage.” We tried to head for one but Hermione Granger narrowly took it.
“Can’t … can’t you see them?” My ears pricked up. It was Harry, I definitely knew it. Harry Potter – who knew my name! OK, I didn’t care that much at the time, but when things started to look better than I expected, I thought that it was all right to be absolutely over the moon about the fact that Harry knew me. And I had spoken to him! Get in there! I didn’t sound overly excited and desperate, or anything. I must say, it was all very exciting.
I looked up in his direction. Nothing wrong there - just the carriages. Maybe it had disappeared. Either way I left them, eager to get to the feast, because I was starving.
The first thing that caught my eye when I entered the Great Hall was that disgusting woman sitting by Dumbledore. I had never seen so much pink on a grown woman before and I was hoping that I’d never have to again. Her hair was a shade duller than mine, and that was saying something, and her face looks like it had been thrown against a glass window and there was nothing they could do about it. They just turned to her and said, “Miss, you’re ugly.”
Next was the Sorting Hat’s song. First it rambled on about when it was first a hat and how the Founders created the school – that was a bit long. Then it went into how they all fell out because Salzar was a git – no real surprise. Then, and this part kind of weirded me out, it began to tell us about how the houses shouldn’t be separate and we should be united to battle what’s outside of our walls… what on earth?
“What was that about?”
Amy looked slightly frightened as she replied, “You don’t think… you don’t think that he was talking about…”
She didn’t need to finish her sentence, because I knew exactly what she was on about and, remembering the long song again, it made sense. I nodded. “Perhaps.”
The Sorting continued, I swear that they get smaller every year, and afterwards Dumbledore, who immediately grabbed our attention. “To our newcomers, welcome! To our old hands – welcome back! There is a time for speech-making, but this is not it! Tuck in!”
I happily ate my food as I looked around. Some people had begun to notice the ugly woman too. Lavender was sniggering about one thing or another, if her cardigan wasn’t so ugly, I would have felt sorry for the toad woman. It was really a hate for Lavender thing I had going on. She especially hated me, for some odd reason. I mean, what did I ever do to her? Bella took her Yule Ball date after all, why wasn’t she mean to her? OK, she was mean to her, but she was even meaner to me.
After so many helpings of treacle tart, that was really starting to get to me, Dumbledore once again called for our attention. He went into his usually first-day speech, adding that, “First-years ought to know that the Forest in the grounds is out-of-bounds to students – and a few of our older students ought to know by now, too.”
I hate when he keeps hinting this. Who in Merlin’s name are these students? It just gets plain annoying, like there’s something we don’t know…
Anyway, so he was talking about all the usual jargon, including our usual reminders from Filch. Now there’s a man that I hate. Filch. Who on Earth made him the caretaker? And why doesn’t he do anything about it? He could just disarm us if it meant so much to him. All he does is shout.
Shit, I ate a lot of treacle tart.
And then he introduced us to our new Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher – Professor Umbridge, who just had to be the ugly, pink smothered women. She curtly smiled to us, though it definitely wasn’t returned. I suppose it’s better than a murdering bastard, but still. At least that’s what I thought for a moment. My opinion completely changed when, during Dumbledore’s speech, she coughed.
With her chair moving back, this Umbridge woman actually coughed and looked at Dumbledore, looking as if she wanted to speak. How dare she? Nobody interrupts Dumbledore – and I mean nobody. Except - no, nobody. It does not happen. Why not just rename the school, while you’re at it?
Dumbledore nodded to her, much to my surprise and said down. Watching us all with her little eyes and said, “Thank you, Headmaster, for those kind words of welcome.” Does she have something in her throat?
The treacle tart should have stopped after the thirds.
“Well, it is lovely to be back at Hogwarts, I must say! And to see such happy little faces looking up at me!”
I couldn’t see any happy faces. No doubt, they were also pissed off that she was talking to us like we were toddlers or something. This continued as she talked about how we were actually going to become friends and some rubbish about the Ministry, and about the pros and cons of tradition and modernisation but,
I was lost for a bit because of Lavender’s nonsense about a hat she had bought. But I picked up on something about “errors of judgement”. What errors of judgement? Like Dumbledore would ever make an error of judgement… As soon as Dumbledore began to clap, I sighed in relief. It was over. Some people clapped by I couldn’t be bothered, I had used up my energy by paying attention. And I had been vowing never to touch treacle tart again.
“Thank you very much, Professor Umbridge.” I noticed that everyone was silent again as soon as Dumbledore began to speak.
“Anne.” Bella caught my attention, mainly because each poke she gave me was really painful.
Rubbing my shoulder, I turned away from the Quidditch notices and said, “What?”
“I was wondering…maybe you… oh, never mind.”
Rolling my eyes, I said in a very low whisper, “Do you want me to talk to Seamus?”
Flushing slightly, she replied, “If you could.”
If I could… please. Seamus will be jumping up and down as soon as he finds out that Bella’s still interested. There was absolutely nothing to worry about.
Well, there was nothing to worry about concerning Seamus Finnegan. However, I was still planning to keep an eye on Professor Umbridge. Her whole talk about change was slightly worrying me…
That, and the fact that I could taste treacle tart again. Ew.
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