“I’m awake, Alyssa!” I yell, swatting clothing and pillow away from my face. “You were saying?”
“It’s a really bad look for the Head Girl to be late to the first class on the first day of term,” Alyssa says calmly. Through my sleepy haze I now realise she’s fully dressed with her schoolbag slung over her shoulder.
“What time is it?” I ask, alarmed.
“Half past eight…you dick.”
“And classes start at quarter to nine…shit!”
“There we go, the moment of realisation. You taking Transfiguration this year?”
“’Course,” I grunt, heaving myself out of bed and scrabbling for my robes.
“We have it first,” Alyssa informs me.
“Good,” I call from behind the curtain I’ve just pulled. “Excellent. Teddy won’t care that I’m late—I mean, Professor Lupin.”
“Being a Weasley has its perks, I suppose.”
“I missed breakfast, didn’t I?”
“I brought you toast.”
I hurriedly pull on my socks, leaving them horribly scrunched in the foot, make a halfassed attempt to tie my tie, throw on my robes and yank back the curtain. “You’re the best friend in the world, did you know that?” I ask, descending from the bed and shoving the proffered toast into my mouth. “An’ I wuff you.”
“You know, with you in a position of authority, the school is screwed,” Alyssa informs me as I finally gather my books and depart the dungeons. “I think you and Riordan were meant to have a meeting with McGonagall at some point today, by the way.”
“News to me.”
“Yeah, she announced it at breakfast.”
I make a guttural noise in my throat. “Let’s hope it’s not first period, then.”
Alyssa and I make it into Transfiguration seconds before the bell rings and Teddy/Professor Lupin enters the room.
“Holy Hippogriffs, Rose Weasley, did you get dragged backwards through a bush this morning?” he asks by way of greeting.
“She woke up fifteen minutes ago,” Alyssa explains.
He nods, turning to the class. “Good morning and welcome to hell—I mean, the business end of NEWT Transfiguration. As you may have gathered by me calling it hell, this year’s class is going to be tough. Very tough. So tough you’re going to be sitting in class thinking your parents had it easy when they were fighting Voldemort. Take a look at the person at either side of you.”
I glance at Alyssa, and across the aisle at Niall Prewett from Gryffindor.
“Now, chances are one of the people sitting beside you will not survive this year’s course.”
Many of the students exchange glances.
“I’m kidding,” Teddy says. “But one of those people will be turned into a mouse. Or a duckling, or a weta.”
“What’s a weta?” someone asks.
“A surprisingly hideous insect from New Zealand that is, in fact, the size of a mouse. Don’t ask me how one could turn one’s classmate into a weta if one has never seen them before, but I tell you now, stranger things have happened in NEWT Transfiguration. It’s going to be crazy, folks. But it’s also going to be fun, and you will enjoy it. Even if the only thing you enjoy is passing your exam at the end of the year, at least you’ll enjoy something. Now, without further ado, get out your Transfiguration textbooks. As a nice warm up and a tribute to our friend Rose here, we’re going to do some simple Transfiguring of your quills into hairbrushes.”
“Oh, I hate you, Teddy Lupin,” I mutter under my breath as I rummage through my bag, withdrawing my book and quill.
“I forgot how fun Transfiguration is,” Alyssa says enthusiastically, already waving her wand above her quill and muttering incantations.
“I hope he realises half the girls in the room are just going to sit here doing their hair for the rest of the lesson,” I comment, Transfiguring my quill and dragging the result through my unruly orange mane.
“Yeah, like you,” Alyssa says, watching me.
“Nope. I’m done.” I pull my hair into a ponytail and take the opportunity to glance around the room. Sure enough, a selection of girls are now brushing their hair, including Dom.
“Now, ladies, if you’re going to do this properly,” Teddy continues, “You’ll be wanting to Transfigure your textbook into a mirror. Let’s see it, then.”
“What do the guys do?” Al asks.
“I’ll show you,” Teddy says, and with a few very quick waves of his wand he’s Transfigured his copy of the textbook into a dartboard, his quill into a dart, and sent the board across the room to hang on the opposite wall.
“No fair!” Dom yells. “The boys get to play darts? Sexism!”
“All right, all right,” Teddy calls, holding up his hands in surrender. “The girls can do the dartboard thing as well. Merlin’s beard, I hope you can turn your textbooks back, guys, I don’t want your parents’ Howlers asking me why they’ve had to buy you a new copy of Advanced Transfiguration.”
“You’ll turn mine back if I can’t, right?” Alyssa asks anxiously.
“No problem,” I say confidently.
We spend the next twenty minutes playing darts, at the conclusion of which I remember my mission and pull Riordan aside.
“Alyssa told me we have a meeting with McGonagall today.”
“Interval, in her office.”
“Do we have the password?”
“She’ll meet us outside.”
At interval, I make my excuses to my friends and hurry to the entrance of McGonagall’s office, where Riordan is also waiting.
“She should be here soon,” he comments, and sure enough, McGonagall arrives, mutters the password under her breath, and ushers us through into her office.
“I’ve called an assembly for all the seventh-years,” she begins. “It is, mainly, to sort out the logistics of election day, because all our seventh-year students, being seventeen or over, will be eligible to vote for the next Minister of Magic.”
“Oh yeah,” I say.
“One would think, Miss Weasley, you of all people would remember election day.”
“I did, I mean, I do, it just didn’t register that we would be voting at school.”
“Where else would you vote?” McGonagall doesn’t seem to want an answer because she continues immediately. “I would like you two to run the assembly. There will be polling stations set up in the Entrance Hall, surrounded by an Age Line. You would be too young to remember the Triwizard Tournament—”
“By a generation.”
“The same measure was in place then that will be in place now. In addition, you will be given Truth Quills to fill out your voting form, so there can be no forgery. Voting will be open from midnight on election day, which is the sixteenth, until eleven fifty-nine p.m that evening. Though I would wish to impress upon you that I do not want to see students out of bed to vote that early or that late.”
“What about the sixth-years who will be seventeen?”
“There are very few of them,” McGonagall says, “And I’m sure they will be filled in on procedure by seventh-year friends and housemates. Voting forms will be sent by OWL to each student eligible to vote by the fourteenth of September.”
“Why can’t you run the assembly?” Riordan asks. “I mean, you have all the information.”
“Head Boy is not just a title, Carter,” McGonagall says sternly. “Surely you’re up to standing in front of your classmates and relaying the information I’ve just given you?”
“We are,” I cut in before Riordan can say anything. “Have you scheduled the assembly?”
“Tomorrow morning, instead of first period in the Entrance Hall. Now, unless I’m mistaken, that was the bell. Off to classes, please.”
“Seventh-years are getting information about voting tomorrow in assembly,” Al informs me as he passes me in the corridor. “I’m gonna spend the next two weeks convincing everyone in the castle to vote for Aunty Hermione.”
“Do you even agree with her policies?” I ask. “And I’m pretty sure you’re not allowed to campaign at Hogwarts.”
“Never said anything about campaigning,” Al says. “Just conversation, that’s all. Lighten up, Lily. This is going to be quite exciting, I think.”
“For you. I don’t even get the chance to vote. I’m not old enough.”
“Oh, yeah,” Al says. “Sucks to be you. Well, I’m off.”
“Bye,” I mutter after him. What if I could vote? I don’t think I would go for Aunt Hermione. The more I think about it, the more I realise I’m sick of following my family, sick of being everything they want and expect me to be. Lily Potter—even my name isn’t my own. It first belonged to Dad’s mum, and I’ve had to try and live up to her legacy my whole life. Smart, powerful, talented, funny, sweet, kind…the list is neverending, but I’ve always strived to fulfill everything. Lily Luna Potter, the darling of Gryffindor. Seeker, consistent Es in my classes, friendly to everyone, Prefect. Sometimes I wonder if there’s a cliché of ‘perfect student’ that I haven’t fulfilled. And where has it got me? A false identity, a shell of a person, nothing but a carefully moulded, sculpted outline.
I envy Rose. She’s her own person. Completely, totally. The moment she looks like she takes after her parents in something, bam! She deviates from the path again. She’s in Slytherin, for Merlin’s sake. I don’t even know what house I’m meant to be in; I just went under the Sorting Hat chanting ‘Gryffindor, Gryffindor, Gryffindor’ over and over in my head. Gryffindor like my parents and brothers and namesake.
“Lily!” Lorcan calls. “You okay? You look lost.”
“Fine. What do we have now?”
“Defence Against the Dark Arts. What did Al want before?”
“Bragging about how he gets to vote,” I say dismissively.
“It would be interesting to vote,” Lorcan agrees. “Though I don’t think I would vote for your aunt. No offence,” he adds hastily, “But I don’t agree with her policies. My family does, of course.”
“What don’t you agree about them?”
“I don’t know. I just think the wizarding world could be heading in some strange directions the way she’s going. Equality between wizards, house elves, goblins, what’s next? Do we open the Hogwarts doors to them?”
“I think it’s more just giving them a better deal, but yeah, someone more conventional would be good. The wizarding world’s gone from strength to strength since the defeat of Voldemort, we don’t need any radical changes. No point fixing something that isn’t broken.”
“Exactly!” Lorcan says, his eyes lighting up at the prospect of political discussion. “Now, Percy Weasley’s dry and dull as they get, but his policies are sound. It’s a shame that he’s the only real competition, though, I get the feeling people will vote for Hermione just to avoid Percy. He’s not an inspiring leader, and say what you will about Hermione’s policies, her speeches are more stirring than Percy’s.”
“To be honest, I don’t really care who we get, so long as we don’t share DADA with house elves.”
DADA has always been one of my favourite subjects. Even now, it doesn’t bother me that Dad is perhaps the best practitioner of DADA in the world; it’s always been my domain, maybe because James never cared about anything but Quidditch and Al’s proven himself talented at Potions. Professor Bones never compares me to my father or my namesake. She compares me to the other kids in the class, or the other kids she’s taught, and I always come out top of the list. I’m powerful, and DADA is where I get to use it. There’s something thrilling about casting a spell so powerful it can throw someone backwards; something captivating about magic used in combat, streaks of light flying, firing, whirling in a kaleidoscope of colour, fizzling and crackling with sheer energy and power.
Of course, I keep that passion hidden away. I joined the duelling club in my third year, but after it was disbanded, no matter how many people told me I should take over the leadership of it, I declined. I can’t teach Defence. I’m not my father. I can’t teach anything. I’m selfish, like I want to hold the magic as close to me as possible and never let it go. Like if I teach others, it will dilute my own power. It’s something I never talk about; to value power is too often seen as heading towards Dark magic, thanks to Voldemort’s proclamation to my dad about how there’s no good and evil, only power and those too weak to seek it. No, you can’t value power. You can’t be proud of power. You can’t want to use it. It’s one of the only things that is wholly mine, but it means nothing.