Chapter 4 : Little lies corrected
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The very bright sun that welcomes the four travellers tells them that the action of the next letter would take place outside. A low buzzing of excited little voices reaches the teenagers’ ears and directs their attention to the quidditch pitch, where about twenty small figures are standing next to broomsticks.
“Flying lesson, you reckon?” Lily asks as they make their way toward the pitch.
“Looks like it,” Rose answers when they get closer. “Oh and look, the classic Gryffindor and Slytherin mix, what a surprise!”
“By the looks of it, I think it’s their first lesson. The kids haven’t even touched the broomsticks; they don’t seem to know what to do,” Al points out.
“October 13th,” the narrating voice of the young Ron loudly states. “Hey Ginny, how are you, little sis? I asked you to keep these letters a secret early enough, because, guess what? The best adventure happened to us last night! Okay so, there is this git, Malfoy, who’s a Slytherin, and he keeps on picking on me and Harry (me for not having money (get ready, it sucks) and Harry for not having a ‘proper’ family).”
“Scorp’s father you reckon?” Rose asks the others.
“You know any other Malfoys?” Lily asks her sarcastically. Rose, in a very mature way, pulls a face at her younger cousin.
“Well that’s good; we might actually get to know why they hate him so much,” Al says with a hopeful smile.
“So the other day, he pushed us to the limit. He stole Neville’s (a Gryffindor in our year who forgets everything) rememberall and flew away with it.”
“Uncle Nev!” Lily shouts, pointing at the small, chubby boy that looks positively terrified as his broom flies higher and higher towards the clouds.
“He doesn’t look very confident,” declares Hugo. Neville begins to slide down the handle and squeals in fear. “Or solid on a broom.”
“Better fall down now Uncle Nev; it’ll be less painful,” Rose says, and just as if the boy was listening, he lets go of the handle and falls down hard on his behind, trying to catch himself with his hands. One hand turns, forming a strange angle and the four travellers, along with the twenty or so students, wince in pain for him.
“Ouch, that ought to have been painful.” They watch the professor, unaware of the teenagers; menace the kids of expulsion before taking a sobbing Neville away.
“Aside from the pure malevolence that the blond boy exudes, he looks so much like Scorp, it’s scary,” Al says, watching the confrontation between the Slytherin and his father. “Dad’s pretty brave to stand up to him like that.”
“Yeah but it’s not like he can do much, dad can’t fly yet and the other just...” Lily trails, looking at her father take off after the Slytherin, “took off,” she slowly whispers.
“The teacher had gone with Neville to the hospital wing because he broke his wrist, falling from his broom. So the git flew away and Harry went after him to get the rememberall back!”
“Harry’s not an idiot! Malfoy’s the idiot for stealing stuff,” Ron shouts at Hermione, taking the teenagers’ attention back to the children on the ground.
“Watch your mouth Weasel,” a big Slytherin boy growls.
“Go Harry!” Ron yells ignoring the Slytherin.
“Don’t encourage him!” Hermione says, clearly annoyed.
“What should I do then? Wish for him to fall down?” Ron angrily answers, making the Slytherins laugh.
“Yeah you should,” a Slytherin girl adds.
“That’s not what I meant.” Hermione replies.
“So you would prefer we all get up there to take him back down” another Gryffindor boy asks a slightly blushing Hermione.
“No Dean, I wouldn’t wish for you all to get caught.”
“Then its best we encourage him; Go Harry!” Dean shouts, sharing a bright smile with Ron.
“Look at Uncle Harry, are you sure it’s his first time on a broom? I know my first time wasn’t that steady looking,” Rose says and her brother burst out laughing at the memory.
“Git, he didn’t know what to do next so...Whoa!” Lily jumps up excitedly, watching her father flying off to catch the ball the Slytherin just threw away before flying back down.
“Did you see that?”
“That was brilliant!” Al enthusiastically calls, his voice getting lost in the chaos the first-years make, some cheering for Harry, others (Slytherins...) booing his performance.
“Wasn’t he raised by muggles?” an Indian girl asks Ron.
“Yeah! Can you believe that he’s never flown before now?” Ron answers, looking in awe at his new friend. “He’s gonna be a bloody great quidditch player.”
“If he gets to stay here,” Malfoy whispers, an evil glee clearly audible in his voice.
“Potter!” a sharp shout breaks through the Gryffindors’ celebration. The four travellers turn and watch Professor McGonagall make her way quickly toward the group.
“Oh yes, she is much more terrifying as a teacher,” Rose declares. The younger version of her Uncle Harry seems to agree with her and a green tinge appears on his cheeks.
“It wasn’t his fault!” another Gryffindor girl tells professor McGonagall when she stops shouting at Harry.
“Yeah, Malfoy started it,” Dean points at the Slytherin who takes on a fake incredulous look.
“Enough. Potter, come with me. The rest of you wait with both feet on the ground for Madam Hooch to come back.” Harry follows the tall woman, looking at the ground in fear and deception.
“That’s not fair!” Ron says, turning to the laughing Slytherins. “I can’t believe this git won’t get any punishment!”
“Who are you calling a git, Weasel?” Malfoy asks, taking a step forward. “It’s not my fault if the little hero didn’t get down in time to avoid the professor like I did.”
“Yes, that was actually a very nicely calculated move Draco did,” a Slytherin boy pipes up with a crooked smile. “Too bad Potter didn’t show the same quick thinking.”
“Guess it shows Hogwarts isn’t for everybody,” Malfoy says, looking at Ron. "Don’t get too attached Weasley, with your brains and attitude, you won’t last the week either; might even be on the train going back home with your little friend.”
“Shut up, you stupid arse!” Ron shouts. He steps forward, looking as if he’s about to punch the Slytherin boy, but the Indian girl pipes up.
“Ron, Madam Hooch is coming!”
“Well class, I’m disappointed,” the teacher says when she reaches the group. The Slytherins all wear nasty grins, looking over at the fuming Gryffindors. “I just met with professor McGonagall and she told me what happened. Mister Potter won’t be joining us for the rest of the class, so we shall go on without him. Everyone step up next to your broomsticks!”
“Malfoy threw the ball and Harry went for it, caught it before it touched the ground and landed easily. It was amazing! McGonagall (the really strict head of Gryffindor house) saw it and offered him a place as seeker for the quidditch team! Youngest seeker in a century! See, he’s even cooler than in your dreams, eh?" Ron’s voice calls out with an excited laugh.
“Very smooth dad,” Al scoffs, shaking his head.
“I can’t believe he never told us that story,” Lily says looking at her brother. “He always made it sound like the teacher had seen him during the class not in class break!”
“So Malfoy was mad because Harry didn’t get punished and he challenged us to a wizard duel at midnight in the trophy room. It was fine by us and I was Harry’s second.” The voice booms and the wind starts up again, sweeping the bright, warm afternoon away and bringing a dark corridor into view and a mouldy smell to their nostrils.
“A wizard duel? At midnight? It’s obviously a set up, Slytherins wouldn’t put their arses in danger like that,” Hugo points out.
“So when we got out, the nerd Hermione, followed us to tell us we were prats to get out at night and everything, but we didn’t care. Outside the common room, we found Neville with his freshly repaired wrist and together went to the trophy room, where Malfoy had set us up and told the evil caretaker we were coming.”
“Told you dad.” The travellers shake their heads at their fathers’ lack of judgment.
“Just to be sure, dad really called mum a nerd, right? I’m not the only one who heard that,” Rose asks with an evil smile. Her cousins nod to confirm that they all heard the same thing and Rose makes a mental note to bring this up to her parents one day.
“I don’t get it though,” Al questions. “We’re nowhere near the trophy room.”
“But it’s got to be night time still because the castle is very quiet. It’s actually eerie; I’ve roamed around the castle at night quite often but I’ve rarely heard it like this,” Hugo says, looking at Lily for confirmation. Her cousin and co-night time wanderer silently agrees. At the same moment, the sounds of hurried footsteps reach their ears and the four travellers understand that Ron, Harry, Hermione and Neville are coming their way.
“When we figured it all out,” Ron’s childish and slightly hyper voice continued, “we ran for our lives and ended up in a deserted, locked corridor, finishing our run face to face with a gigantic three-headed dog!”
“A what now?” Lily asks, her voice slightly higher than usual.
“I heard ‘three-headed dog’, but I could be wrong,” Al answers. “Look, they are almost next to us now, we should follow them if we want to find out.”
When the four kids pass them by, Lily, Hugo, Rose and Al join their run to an unknown destination. Harry is in the lead but it becomes apparent very quickly to the four travellers that he has no idea where he is going. At one point, Harry decides to take a left turn and gets his group deeper into the castle. However, if he had turned right, they would have found themselves almost directly facing the Fat Lady’s portrait. After a couple of minutes of running aimlessly, they hear a noise behind them, indicating that Filch is getting closer. Harry directs the group to a door but finds it to be locked. Hermione pushes him over in a very bossy way, making the travellers chuckle, and she unlocks the door. The four kids quickly walk in and the travellers follow.
“How come Aunt Hermione already knows this spell, we only learned it after the Christmas holiday didn’t we?”
“Yeah, so did we,” Al says, designating him and Rose. Just as Rose went to answer, Hugo interrupts her.
“Guys? He DID say ‘three-headed dog’!” The three other travellers turn around and look in Hugo’s direction, seeing for themselves three huge, sleepy and drooling furry heads. Evidently, the four children have also spotted the beast. Screaming their lungs out, Hermione and Ron dash back to the door while Harry pulls poor Neville, petrified by fear, out of the dog’s reach.
“It was so scary Gin, you can’t imagine! So again, we ran for our lives to the common room and got back to bed! I can’t wait to have other adventures, but remember, you’ve got to keep this quiet from mum or she’ll loose her hair and take me away from the greatest place on earth! Hope your life is as great as mine. Love, Ron.” The voice echoes in the empty corridors of the castle. A great whiff of the smell of parchment reaches the travellers’ nostrils, and they are swept back to the Gryffindor common room where they find Ron, Harry, Hermione and Neville, slumped on the couches in front of the fire.
“Is it just me or was Hogwarts much cooler back then?” Rose asks the others.
“I think it has more to do with the fact that we don’t break as much rules as our parents did,” Al supplies.
Hugo laughs, shaking his head, “Three-headed dog, how much do you want to bet its Hagrid’s?”
“Now that’s a given Hugh,” Lily answers. “Is it bad of me to say that I think Uncle Neville is a bit... sad?”
“I wouldn’t say it to his face,” Rose shrugs, “but he always did tell us that he was kind of a coward in his younger years. Remember last Christmas when he told us about the Yule Ball, and how he had been so shy to ask anyone because he had zero self-esteem and he thought everyone also saw him that way? He said he started gaining confidence after that; after Aunt Ginny accepted to go with him.”
“Still, this boy couldn’t be more different than the man we know.”
“Look at dad Lil, do you really recognise the brave and happy man we see every day in the little shy and sad looking boy sitting over there?”
“I know something happened to his parents when he was a baby, just like Uncle Harry’s,” Hugo points out, ‘Goes to show how important it is to have parents when you’re growing up, huh?’
“Teddy doesn’t seem that bad,” Lily argues.
“Teddy created a spell in order to see tiny bits of his parent’s lives so he could feel a bit closer to them; doesn’t that tell you how much he must be aching and empty inside?”
“Yeah, maybe you’re right Hugh.”
The four cousins go quiet after Al’s acknowledgment; comparing once again the adults they know to the children they see in these memories. They watch Hermione get up to go to her dormitory, telling the boys of some trapdoor she saw but showing no interest in it what so ever. The three boys follow her lead and make their way to bed. The scene becomes blurry, and when the wind calms down, the four travellers find themselves in a very silent dungeon classroom.
“October 20th,” Ron says in a loud but calm voice, quite unlike his natural energetic tone. “Dear mum and dad, I’m doing great and yes, I am doing my best in all of my classes even if they aren’t very interesting. History of magic is so boring!”
“Hear! Hear!” the four teenagers shout.
“I can’t keep my eyes open when the teacher talks! Also, the potions teacher is horrible. Really. He’s always on mine and Harry’s back, taking points off for nothing (like : the guy next to us messed up his potion so he took points from us, saying we didn’t tell him what to do because we wanted him to mess up!). The guy who messed up is Neville Longbottom, he’s really clumsy and not so good at magic.”
“Wasn’t the potion teacher Snape?” Al cautiously asks, afraid to have this confirmed. “You know, the one I’m named after?”
“Yes,” Lily slowly answers, frowning. “But it doesn’t fit, dad always said he was the bravest man he ever knew, not the meanest.”
“Another thing we have to ask about then. I think we should make a list.”
“We might find some answers as we go along you know,” Rose argues, trying to calm her cousins.
“Yeah okay, but I still want to write down my questions; I’ll just cross them off if we find the answers,” Al says, rummaging through his pockets to find a quill and some parchment.
“Its summer Al. Why do you keep these things with you?”
“You never know when you might need to take notes, Rose. What would I do if I met the love of my life, but had nothing to write our info on? I will not let that happen.”
“Aren’t you dating Raveena Oot at the moment?” Lily asks cheekily.
“Yes I am. But we all know she isn’t The One, I’m not fooling myself.” Finally, he finds the stuff and sits down at an empty table to write down his question while the three others avoid each other’s eyes, trying not to burst out laughing.
During the teenagers’ little talk, the students have put themselves in action under Professor Snape’s directions. Ron and Harry are beginning to prepare their ingredients. Next to them, Hermione shares her table with Neville. She has already started adding ingredients to her potion while Neville tries to stop himself from shaking in order to not cut himself while he works on preparing his ingredients.
“Longbottom, why did you even bother coming today? Clearly you do not want to do this. Ten points from Gryffindor,” Professor Snape, a greasy, dark-haired man who looks remarkably like a bat, growls when he walks by Neville’s table.
“That wasn’t fair!” Lily exclaims.
“Potter,” the professor whispers in a threatening way, “are those glasses purely for the purpose of decoration? The instructions you are supposed to follow clearly say that you have to cut your roots into squares. Those are rectangles. Tell me, were you unable to read the instructions on the board or do you not make the difference between a square and a rectangle? Throw those atrocities away, start over and ten points from Gryffindor.”
“Okay, this feels really weird,” Al says in a hollow voice. “I am named after that?”
“Come on Al, this is first year, a lot could have happened later on that might have changed their relationship,” Rose squirms, a bit shocked by the event they are witnessing. The teacher walks away from their fathers’ table, his lips curled in a sort of content smile. Ron’s face is red and anger practically emanates from him while next to him, Harry keeps a calm attitude, his eyes showing he doesn’t really understand what he did to deserve this treatment. Only the rigidity in his movement when he throws away the roots betrays his anger but still, he doesn’t say a word and gets back to cutting a new root.
“Still, did you see how he treated dad? There was so much hatred in the way he addressed him. That’s got to leave lasting memories, right?” Lily asks.
“I, myself am not too bad, but it’s quite hard, much harder than I thought. That girl I told you about, Hermione, she’s the only one who gets everything right on the first try and she boasts about it; she’s got this better-than-you tone that drives me crazy, just like Percy. I can’t believe I still have 7 years to go with her in my year…” Ron’s booming voice trails.
“No dad, it’s more like a lifetime with her,” Rose snorts.
“Only one person is worse than her: Draco Malfoy, a Slytherin git. He is the most horrible person on earth! He is nasty and mean and cruel to Harry and me. Keeps torturing us because he’s rich and thinks he’s better because he’s a pureblood. Right! Well that’s it really, Harry says hi and thanks for thinking of him in your last letter. Oh and guess what? Harry made the quidditch team as a seeker! McGonagall saw him in flying class and she had Dumbledore bend the rules so he can play and he accepted! I’m so jealous, I wish I could play too but he really is a good flyer (and it was his first time on a broom too!). Plus McGonagall got him a Nimbus 2000! Can you believe it? He let me take a ride and it was the single greatest flight experience I’ve had in my entire life!”
“Notice how he smoothes things over for his parents? I’ve got to say I’m impressed at dad’s talents for lies.” Hugo and Rose laugh together at their dad’s way of twisting reality, while Al nods knowingly.
“This is priceless,” he says, “I told you we would find more information in mum’s letters!”
“This is probably where the ‘it happened in class’ story began,” Lily snorts; thinking of Ron explaining to his parents how Harry became a seeker.
“Fred and George are being nice to me, don’t worry mum; and anyway, I would find it strange not to have continual jokes played on me by them! Love Ron.”
So, what did you think of this chapter; don't be affraid to let me know (because I am still not Rowling and don't own what you recognise so I need all your constructive comments to get better!).
Edited 27/01/10 : thanks to my great Beta Melissa aka Padfoot28 for the great work!
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