Chapter 2 : Is It Any Wonder?
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“Remind me what summer felt like?”
Dom was slumped in an armchair, draped over it like a blanket.
“Easier.” Was what I said, “it felt easier.”
Well, everything felt easy compared to one of Binns’ essays. This particular one was on something do so with the Secrecy Act. I couldn’t remember the question. In fact, even though it was only a week into term, our teachers were already giving us homework to do. They no longer eased us back into it; they picked us up and threw us in headfirst. It was Sunday night, and the four of us were anxiously wishing we’d started our essays earlier.
“Who calls their son Barnabus the Barmy?” Dom asked, her expression incredulous. I couldn’t see her face for the table but I could see the book she was reading. Goblin History “poor Goblin never had a chance.”
“Isn’t he the one who killed all those people?” Siobhan asked.
“May well be.” I said. Dom snorted.
“Well you’d go crazy and kill everyone if you were called Barnabus, Sobby.” She replied, a grin on her face at the use of the hated nickname. Siobhan rolled her eyes.
“Dom, I thought we agreed on this. No more ‘Sobby’!”
“What? It’s a cool nickname!” Dom said defensively, sitting up properly.
“Just because you didn’t know how to pronounce it.” I said, smirking at her. Dom gave me a dirty look. I laughed.
“So you shortened it to ‘Sobby’?” Siobhan asked, laughing. There was a whack as a hard wooden stick smacked down on the desk, making all of us jump about a foot in the air.
“This is a library, not your common room!” came the hissed warning of Madame Pince, who was hunched over, leaning on the cane she’d just smacked off the table.
“I hate it when she does that!” Mona said, having been disturbed from her essay by the old woman “I always feel like she’s about to smack me.”
“I wouldn’t put it past her.” Dom said.
I snapped the book I was reading shut and leant back in my chair. “Christ, we’ve been back a week and I already want the holidays.” I complained. Dom snorted.
“Tell me about it.” She glanced at her watch “say, d’you think it’s time for dinner?”
“Yeah, let’s go before the crazy lady with the stick gets back.” Mona said, shoving her half-finished essay into her bag roughly.
Dinner was well underway by the time the four of us forced a gap in amongst the little first years at the top and sat down. I spotted Rose not to far away from us, sitting with a sixth year whose name I couldn’t remember. It was probably something ridiculous like Francine.
That sounded pretty much right.
I could see Albus at his Slytherin table, chatting away to Scorpius Malfoy, the scandal of a best friend he’d picked up in first year. They were oblivious to all around them, including Jill Nott who was twirling her hair around a bony finger, desperately trying to attract the boys’ attention. I nudged Dom and she followed my gaze. She laughed out loud.
“I bet she’s loving that.” She said harshly “being ignored.”
“Oh of course.” I said. And then, as if she’d heard us, Jill Nott turned her head and saw us watching her. Her smile became a smirk and her eyes narrowed. Dom just stared right back at her, a little smile on her face. I just followed her lead.
Dom loved doing this. Antagonising Jill Nott was one of her favourite hobbies. Luckily she was always ready to be irritated and never hesitated to lash out at her, and by extension me, since I was always with Dom. Albus had noticed, and caught my eye across the Great Hall. He raised his eyebrow in silent question. I rolled my eyes. He seemed to understand.
Dom had turned back to me, having, I presumed, stared at Jill until she’d turned back around. She was grinning triumphantly.
“Dom 1, Jill 0.”
It was really only a matter of time before Jill found us. It took her longer than usual, mostly because I’d been expecting it and had picked somewhere we didn’t usually go. Although I made sure it wasn’t too quiet. If Jill tried to start anything, then she wouldn’t get away with it.
She tracked us down eventually.
“Is there a problem, Jill?” Dom asked lazily. Jill’s face hardened.
“You got something to say to me Weasley?” she asked nastily. Dom stood up with a sigh.
“Oh no. Nothing at all.” Dom said, squaring up to her, her smile still fixed on her face. Jill bristled and brought herself up to her full height. It was slightly ridiculous. The height difference trounced any possibility of intimidation on Jill’s part. She must have been barely scraping 5’2’’ while Dom and I both graced 5’9’’.
“Girls!” the shout came from the end of the corridor, where one of the Professors stood, hands on hips. Dom stepped back a fraction. Jill’s narrowed eyes remained on Dom, and before she flounced away, she hissed, “this isn’t over.”
“Is it ever?” I asked, mostly to myself although I saw Dom’s mouth twitch.
“Well that was fun.” Dom said brightly “come on. I’m bored, let’s go upstairs.”
The thing about Dom is that she gets bored very easily. If something ceases to interest her, we simply must move on or else. Maybe it’s the reason we get on so well. We both have no attention span.
So we left our seats and went wandering. It was getting late, and the younger years were all absent from the corridors. The upside, I suppose, to having to put up with them the rest of the time. Shocking, that we could have been as annoying as they are.
Not counting Louis, of course.
We’d not seen him very much recently. He’d been too busy establishing himself as a Weasley, and I’d already overheard a little gaggle of first years talking about how cute he is. It was slightly sickening. He’s my baby cousin and they’re eleven, for the love of Merlin!
When I’d relayed this information to Dom, she’d laughed her head off, and said “That’s my little brother.” In a very proud way.
Eventually, when Dom had decided that the castle had nowhere good to go, we went back to the tower where we saw Siobhan and Mona in a corner, sitting with some of the boys in our year.
Henry Davies, sitting all laid back by the window. He looked like he was nearly asleep, with is feet up on the arm of Lewis Spencer’s armchair. He was reading something, ignoring Siobhan and Mona as they tried to explain something to Andy Price. There were five seventh year Gryffindor boys and the other two, Peter Henderson and Jamie Bagshawe weren’t there.
“Can someone just knock me out so I can spend a couple of days in the Hospital wing sleeping it off?” Henry asked in a whiny voice, contemplating actually having to go to classes the next day.
“I hate Sundays,” Lewis added.
“I hate school,” was Andy’s contribution.
“Oi!” Siobhan elbowed Andy in the ribs “Andy, do you want to understand Arithmancy or not?”
“No!” he said, throwing up his hands in annoyed frustration, “I have no idea why you’re trying to teach me! I don’t do the bloody subject anymore.”
“Lucy,” The voice was quiet, probing “Luce, wake up time!”
I was awake, but barely. Dom obviously didn’t know I’d been awake for twenty minutes, not moving and not really aware of anything. Like when your alarm clock wakes you up but you think it’s a Saturday when it’s actually a Wednesday or something.
“LUCY!” it wasn’t Dom that time, but Siobhan who had shouted “Get out of bed before Dom wakes everyone up.”
I swung my legs out of bed with a grunt. From the depths of Mona’s bed, surrounded by her hangings I could have sworn I heard ‘hypocrite’
It was Monday morning, obviously, since no one seemed very eager to get out of bed. We’d been up pretty late the night before just because, and were all feeling the effects.
“Why did I let you talk me into staying up past my bed time?” Mona asked, looking directly at Siobhan.
“Why do you still have a bedtime?” Dom asked, with a jovial laugh.
Mona threw a shoe at her.
Breakfast was boring, as usual. Most people were half-asleep or talking quietly so as not to irritate anyone who wasn’t a morning person. This rule, as with all the others, didn’t apply to Dom, who just chattered away to us. The boys were nowhere to be seen, probably still asleep. If sleeping was a sport they could play for Britain, I swear.
“Oh Luce.” Dom said, “What’ve you got first again?”
“Are you not like, totally alone in Arithmancy these days?” Mona asked in between gulps of orange juice. Not pumpkin juice. That stuff is vile. I nodded.
“Well, sort of. It’s bloody hard though, so it’s probably for the best that no one’s there to distract me.” I said, thinking of the charts Professor Vector had shown us the week before.
“Why do people take it?” she asked me. Out of the four of us, only Dom and I had done Arithmancy and only I had taken it to N.E.W.T.
“It’s like…” I paused “interesting and stuff. Once you understand it, you’re sailing.” I said.
“Well it must be if it can get you to concentrate. Who’s in the class with you?” Siobhan asked. I paused, ignoring her comment on my lack of concentration, trying to think of them all.
“Well, Al’s friend Scorpius Malfoy,” I said, “there’s a couple of Ravenclaws too.”
“There are four of you?”
“Well, it sounds fabulous.” Siobhan said sarcastically. I rolled my eyes good-naturedly.
“Better than Divination.”
I’m not even lying. Arithmancy might be the hardest subject they do at Hogwarts, but Divination is possibly the most idiotic. I did O.W.L. Divination just because Dom wanted to, and I got an E by making up rubbish in the exam. Turned out it was the right kind of rubbish. Anyway, Arithmancy required actual thought. And as I stood outside the classroom waiting for Vector to arrive, it sort of hit me that maybe no one likes to do any actual thinking.
Professor Vector is my favourite Professor, with the exception of Professor Neville of course. She seems to love us, her largest N.E.W.T. class in five years.
“It’s good to see you all survived your first week at school.” She said, standing at the front of the room. In the seat next to me, Rose was sitting. I like Rose even if Dom finds her rather intolerable. I suppose I had more in common with her, even if it was just a shared love of Arithmancing.
Professor Vector set us to work in pairs, trying to deconstruct a very complicated numerical code. It wasn’t really anything of any importance, but she wanted to see if we could do it and how much help we required.
Rose was in a good mood, I was happy to see and we managed to chat a little bit while we worked.
Behind us, Scorpius Malfoy was sitting with a dark haired Ravenclaw whose name I couldn’t remember. Across the classroom, a lone Hufflepuff sat with a frustrated Ravenclaw who seemed to have grasped it instantly and was having trouble helping their partner.
“Are you going to try out for Quidditch this year?” Rose asked me, as she scribbled down the half-word we’d translated.
“I don’t think so.” I said, “I don’t think I can swing a bat properly anymore anyway.” I flexed my hand. In the final match of the season last year, a keenly aimed bludger had hit me right in the back of my right wrist. Madam Pomfrey had fixed me up good and proper in time for the exams but I didn’t have the strength I’d once had to fire bludgers at the opposition. It was a shame, but I’d hardly been a Quidditch nut, and besides, Lily had gained my place and I knew she loved it more than I did.
“Yeah, I don’t know.” Rose said. She was a good keeper herself. “It’s an important year.”
I wondered idly what having Hermione Weasley for a mother was like. Probably not a million miles from having Percy Weasley as a father.
We worked in companionable silence after that, speaking occasionally when we needed to check one of the numbers.
“Smith,” said Professor Sinistra “How nice of you to join us.” I turned my head and saw the boy who had just come in. I recognised him vaguely and his green tie gave me a clue that he was a Slytherin in our year. He couldn’t have been that friendly with Al, though, because Scorpius Malfoy barely acknowledged his presence.
“Sorry I’m late Professor,” he said. She smiled, showing she wasn’t really angry and he took a seat. I turned round again, but not before he glanced up and saw me watching him. I flushed and looked away.
Smith…I couldn’t think what his first name was. Al had only ever mentioned a ‘Smith’ in passing. I would have to interrogate him for information later on, because now I’d acknowledged that I didn’t know who he was, I’d be wondering all day. My brain’s annoying like that.
“Right well, time’s up.” Professor Vector said coming to stand in front of us “let’s hear what you’ve got to give me.”
“I don’t know him very well.” Albus shrugged when I’d attacked him with questions later in the courtyard.
“You’ve shared a room with him for six and a bit years!” I said, finding it ridiculous that he could not know his roommate.
“Well he doesn’t really speak.” Scorpius said “and we’ve just sort of gotten into the habit of ignoring one another.”
“You two are hopeless.” I said.
“And you are a lovely cousin Lucy.” Albus said, grinning.
Throwing my hands up in mock-despair I left them to it and wandered across the courtyard, enjoying the late September sun. I shed my robes, wishing I’d left them in the dormitory. All over the place, people sat in just their shirts and skirts and I wished to join them in it. So I went back inside and up to the tower. It was cool inside, the plus side to living in an ancient castle with no heating, I suppose. Which also has its downsides, given that it’s usually below freezing in the winter.
Never mind that now, though.
Once I’d dumped my cloak, I went to find Dom, whose last class of the day finished half an hour after mine. I guessed I’d find her in the courtyard where I’d last seen Albus and Scorpius, because it got the best sun in the afternoons. Sure enough, she was sitting on the low stone wall beside Albus and was talking animatedly. As I approached, she spotted me and gave me a salute. I returned it with my own, gaining a couple of weird looks in the process.
“…yeah and my god did you see his dive? It was famous!” she was saying, and I clicked it that they were talking about Quidditch “Luce!” she cried as I sat down.
“They’re reliving the summer.” Scorpius explained, his eyes closed in the sun. Ah yes. The Quidditch World Cup had taken place in the summer and we’d gone on massive family outing to see the final. It was one hell of a day, I’ll tell you. Scorpius, like me, was less Quidditch obsessed than our collective best friends were.
“Ah. Should have known.” I said, a grin on my face “enjoy Arithmancy?”
“Oh yes. What a joy.” He said, chuckling.
I grinned. I liked Scorpius. I knew a lot of people, including Al’s brother James and even Rose, weren’t so keen, but he was a good guy. Better than a lot of others, at any rate.
“Oh Allie, I’ve had such a hard day!”
Like a black cloud, Jill Nott sidled up to Albus and slipped between him and Scorpius. I held back a laugh as I saw Scorpius’ disgusted expression.
“Oh my.” Dom said, standing up. “I’d love to stay and chat Allie, but it seems you’re quite preoccupied.”
“Piss off Weasley.” Jill snapped. Dom made a big show of pretending to be offended.
“Oh I wouldn’t want to interrupt you throwing yourself at my cousin.” She said, a beatific smile on her face.
“Like I said, Dominique, piss off.” Jill snarled. Albus looked severely uncomfortable. As quickly as he could, he dislodged her hand from his knee and stood up “just because I’ve actually had a boyfriend, you don’t have to let your jealousy get to you.”
Dom’s expression shifted instantly. The way, one second, a veela is all lovely and the next it’s so terrifying you want to run away. I suppose being a fraction veela is an advantage in more than one way…
Jill stepped back, a scoff escaping her lips. “Jeez. Take a joke.” And flounced off. Almost at once, Dom’s expression returned to normal and she smirked as Jill sat down beside the pair of girls who’d helped her in her attempt to corner us. I saw what she was smirking at too; all three had skirts obviously rolled at the waist they were so short.
“Ooh.” Dom said, her voice positively oozing sarcasm, “that’s classy.”
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