October 16 1990
"We made the team I can't believe it!" said Angelina giving Alicia Spinnet a high-five.
Fred and George too were pleased being now the official Gryffindor beaters. They walked towards their common room where Lee was probably waiting for the results of their try-outs. The four of them were deep in conversation as they walked past the transfiguration classroom.
Behind them George heard a door slam, curious the boys turned around. They saw two girls facing each other, George recognized them.
"Give it back, I mean it, Selwyn!" yelled a petite black haired girl, in front of her stood a Slytherin girl holding what looked like a crystal ball. “It’s not mine!”
"Oh, Rowle, why don't you come here and get it?" teased Selwyn as she pulled out her wand. “Now Rowle I don't understand why you want this stupid muggle contraption!” she called twisting a lock of her brown hair between her fingers.
“It’s a snow globe” yelled Katherine her voice broke slightly. Selwyn only laughed louder than before mocking Katherine as she threw the small crystal ball into the air. “Stop it!” she took an unsure step forward.
“Or what?” smirked Selwyn her dark eyes sparkling with glee. Katherine looked desperate; her bottom lip began to quiver. The girls had attracted a small group of students already.
“If you want to embarrass me fine!” said Katherine she looked around for a moment her eyes lingered on Angelina and Alicia. She then broke visual contact and took a deep breath.
“What do think she’s about to do?” asked Fred as they watched her put her hands into her pocket.
Selwyn sneered as she watched Katherine drop herself onto her knees. The crowd began to whisper, some pointed while others shook their heads.
“What are you doing?” yelled Angelina balling her fist “get up you don’t have-“
“Shut up Johnson!” Selwyn began to walk in a circle around Katherine. George half-expected her to pull out her wand or trip Selwyn, instead Katherine was still her eyes focused on the stone floor. “Now Rowle if you ask nicely this time I might hand you back this stupid thing.”
“OI! Just hex her already!” called Fred,. George simply watched as Katherine looked up at Selwyn.
“Please” she said her voice broke slightly as she went on. “It’s all I have left of him..”
“It’s all I have left of him” repeated Selwyn mockingly. Katherine cheeks burned.
“Now why would a pureblood like you want this?” asked Selwyn, holding out the crystal ball.
“That's none of your business!” yelled Katherine, keeping her eyes on her feet.
“My father says it's probably your uncle's, since he is obsessed with Muggles,” Selwyn went on, her smile growing wider by the second.
At the word ‘uncle’ George noticed Katherine’s eyes had widened. Her lip trembled slightly. “Please... please, don't...”
Selwyn turned to her fellow Slytherins. “Rowle's begging!” she said.
“I'm not begging!” snapped Katherine, her face now red. “Give it back!” she yelled, gritting her teeth, “or I'll - ”
Before Katherine went on, Selwyn threw the crystal ball into the air. “Fine – have your stupid Muggle toy!”
"Katherine, no!" cried the girls.
The Slytherins laughed as Katherine jumped up trying to catch the crystal ball.
CRASH! The globe smashed into the floor into a thousand little pieces. Katherine started her eyes empty; she kneeled to pick up the pieces.
"Rowle!" he called as she sat up, her blue eyes slowly began to water up. The Slytherins walked up to them – a girl and two boys, all of them in their year.
"Poor Kitty Kat," sneered Selwyn as Katherine stood up. George felt his ears turn red as Fred walked up to the group along with the girls.
"Look, it's the Weasels," yelled a tall boy. "Look, Selwyn, we've got ourselves a Kitty Kat and a pair of Weasels."
Fred tore himself away from Alicia. "Shut it Montague."
George balled his fists quicker than anyone could say 'Quidditch'.
Katherine had her wand out and was pointing it at Selwyn. The tears already streaming down her face as her hand shook. "Shut them up," she snarled, "or I'll hex you!"
"Oh, please, he's just telling these two dimwits - "
"Watch it!" called Angelina, now stepping forward with Alicia. "She’s not the only one with a wand, you know."
Montague smirked at the boys, who glared back at him. They already had three weeks of detention under their belt, but one more week wouldn't hurt. George took a glance at Fred, who nodded – it would be just a week.
"What is the meaning of all this?" called a squeaky voice.
Without their noticing, those who had gotten to Charms walked out to watch the fight.
"Nothing," said Katherine, flicking her wand in Selwyn’s direction. Suddenly the girl was covered in large boils.
"Miss Rowle!" yelled Professor Flitwick, running over to the girl, who began to scream as Katherine pushed George aside and ran off in tears. Though others might call him crazy, he swore that she took a glance at him, and at that moment he felt his heart drop to his stomach.
"Rowle!" he called, though the crowd got tighter, and Fred pulled him in, saying words that got lost in the yelling and arguing. Still, even if he barely ever spoke to her – well, no one did– he couldn't bear the guilt.
That night, the second years walked up to the common room. In a corner sat Katherine, poring over her books as usual whilst the others talked and played chess while the hours passed. George sat with his brother and Lee as usual, talking about what their next adventure would be, though he barely paid any attention.
"Well," said Fred, stretching, "I'm going to bed."
Lee had already gone to bed an hour ago. George shook his head.
"I still have to, er – do Snape's homework," he said warily.
Great. Fred would never believe it.
His brother eyed him suspiciously.
"Oh, dear brother, ask me no questions, and I shall tell you no lies," said George with a smile as he pulled out his quills and parchment.
Fred walked away, taking glances at his brother as he walked up to the dorms. George sighed and took a glance at Katherine, whose quill kept its quick pace across the paper. He stood up and walked over to her. He wouldn't think it over any longer. The redhead cleared his throat only to have her turn to him with a glare.
"Everything's going to be okay," he said lamely, pulling up a seat next to her. Her eyes softened as she gave him a curt nod and turned away.
"I need help on the Potions essay," he said, in an effort to have her speak to him.
"You're asking me?" Katherine spun about to face him, raising an eyebrow as he nodded.
"You're the best in our year." He shrugged nonchalantly.
Katherine brought her eyebrows together. She tapped her quill impatiently. "What's your angle?" she whispered.
"If you don't want to help me –" began George, looking down at his nails.
"No," she said shaking her head and letting go of her quill, "it's just... well... you're – " He saw her blush as she fumbled with her papers. “I mean… er…”
George laid his parchment on top of hers. He smiled. "So you'll help me then?"
The girl nodded giving him a feeble smile. Katherine began to explain things George didn't hear, though she'd never know that. All he did was nod; at least there was a genuine look of relief on her face. At the end of the night she shut her thick book, yawning, whilst George picked up his things.
As he did so he noticed a small cutout from the Evening Prophet: “Shocked to Death”.
George caught a small glimpse of the article.
“Egil Rowle, 40, of Number Five, Laburnum Gardens, Clapham, was found today dead. Authorities say it appears that the Auror committed suicide after a failed rescue mission a week ago. He was found in his bathtub holding a Muggle 'toaster'.
‘I don't believe a word of it,’ declared a family friend. ‘He wouldn't leave her alone.’
The deceased leaves behind his young niece, who is currently a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
"Sorry about today.” His head snapped towards her as she spoke. “I – it's just, my uncle died, you understand," whispered Katherine as she stood up. She pulled the cutout from the Prophet out of George's view. "I'm a bit on edge."
The redhead stared; what could he say to that?
What could he say to someone who had lost it all?
Sorry? He shuffled his feet nervously; he couldn't just let her leave!
"Night," she added, picking up her book. Katherine kept her eyes away from his. George watched as she busied herself with her school bag.
"Sorry..." George said awkwardly, standing up and taking her hand, "but things will turn out okay."
He watched her blue eyes water up once more. Great, thought the redhead, hugging her as she began to sob.
I just made her cry again! I thought that would work.
He thought groaning inwardly. George once again reminded himself to have one of his brothers (excluding Percy, of course) explain women...
They walked towards the spiral staircase, George holding her as she sobbed uncontrollably. Without saying a word, she turned to him.
Katherine ran up the stairs, leaving George at the bottom, confused. Yes, in utter bewilderment.
"Fred!" called a voice; he turned, only to see Percy walk into the common room.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, firmly putting his arms across his chest.
"Now really, Perce, I was here, unlike you," said George, smirking. "Now where was my rule-loving brother?"
Percy's ears turned red, just as they usually did under pressure.
"None of your business. Now – bed!" he yelled as George ran up the stairs to avoid any further yelling from Percy, hoping that Rowle – no, Katherine – was all right.
"She'll be okay... everything will be okay..." he reassured himself as he pulled up the sheets up to his chin.
"And this is?" asked Professor Snape, his dark eyes rapidly moving from one twin to another.
"Well, the Hair-Removal Potion you asked for," said Fred, slightly annoyed. Like all of the students in the room, he had probably sweated half of his weight off, giving the dungeon a dung-like smell.
"This disgusting concoction was not what I asked for, Weasley," said Snape, while George snorted, catching the professor's attention.
"That will be five points from Gryffindor." With that, he walked away, leaving the two boys frustrated, looking down at their potion, which looked more like Flobberworm jelly than the thick white substance that it was supposed to be.
"I hate this class," said Fred, wiping the sweat off his forehead as George began to cut up some ginger roots.
"Snape's a git," whispered the redhead as a sweat drop ran down his nose.
The boys spun around to face a pale, fizzy-haired girl.
Fred looked confused, while George raised an eyebrow. It had been a month since they had last spoken to each other. Her blue eyes had black bags around them, giving her a raccoon-like appearance, especially now with her hair surrounding it. "Add honey water before adding the ginger roots," she said, looking around to make sure Snape didn't hear them. Fortunately, he was on the other side of the room, taunting a small Gryffindor boy who was working with Kenneth. George nodded and quickly spun around, taking her advice.
"Why would she help us?” asked Fred as George dumped in the honey water; seeing he was being ignored, Fred plowed on. "She's never even talked to us."
"Well, she's the top of this class, Fred," hissed George, adding the ginger roots. "It'd be stupid not to follow her instructions!"
Fred put his index finger on his chin in faux thought. "Wow... I never thought of that!" These were the few times George ever fought with his brother; still, he couldn't stand it when Fred acted like he knew better. Really, George wasn't stupid, and he definitely knew Katherine Rowle wouldn't betray him like that. She just didn't seem that kind of person.
"Time is up!" called Snape after fifteen minutes. They bottled their now-white potion and left it on his desk before it began to get crowded.
"Fresh air!" yelled Fred, stretching out his arms as soon as they set foot outside the classroom. George too took in a deep breath, until he saw two Slytherin boys picking on Diggory as he picked up a few papers that had fallen out of his hands.
"Actually, I think it smells like snake," said George menacingly as he walked up to the boys.
Fred was right behind him "Why, of course it does, George – I mean, just look at that."
The two boys turned around, both of them taller than the twins and definitely wider. "What do you want?" asked Pucey, a Slytherin chaser, and his friend sniggered.
"It's all right," said Cedric, standing at full height – which, compared to the other four boys, wasn't much. "Besides, these boys don't deserve our attention," he added, only to have Warrington shake his head.
"Sorry, lad, but you’re a stupid Hufflepuff – "
"It's better than being a rotten Slytherin," snapped Cedric, and Fred and George nodded in agreement.
"Besides being mindless idiots, mind you," added Fred as his brother turned to him.
"And, of course, awful Quidditch players!"
"You're asking for it, Weasel," said Warrington, pulling out his wand, though the twins and Cedric were quicker than he was.
"At least our team’s complete – let's see how Gryffindor's going to play with only two Chasers," mocked Pucey, holding his own wand. The twins felt their ears turn red; their game with Slytherin had been canceled last time due to Wood's illness (he had almost poisoned himself in Potions), but this time there was no escape. The game was two weeks away and they still had no Chaser.
"We'll still play better than you," said Fred his ears turning red. George felt his heart at the pit of his stomach – it'd be his first game at Hogwarts.
"Pucey, Warrington!" yelled a girl's voice – it was Selwyn. She looked angry as she walked out of the Potions classroom, covered in a green muck. "Professor Snape said to take me to the hospital wing!” she shrieked as the people around her covered their noses.
"What in Merlin's name is that?" yelled Cedric careful not to breathe. George felt his eyes begin to water; from a distance he heard footsteps. He turned and watched as Angelina and Alicia walked towards the group.
"I hope you're happy, you stupid, whining hag!" yelled Alicia her face a shade of deep red.
"I am!" snapped Selwyn, pulling Pucey and Warrington away with her and leaving Alicia making rude hand gestures behind her back.
"What happened?" asked George, grateful that those two had gone.
"She spilled our potion! She's lucky I didn't curse her!" yelled Alicia.
Angelina pulled her hand down. "Yes, well, you saw it! All you did was land yourself a nice detention.”
Fred shook his head. "There's nothing wrong with detention."
Cedric looked worried "But you’re okay, right?" he asked; the girls nodded as they heard footsteps come towards.
"Alicia!" they heard the voice call. It was Katherine, carrying her bag. "You left this," she said, pushing the bag into Alicia’s arms.
"Thanks," said Angelina, as Alicia nodded. They watched Katherine walk out of the dungeons, and without saying a word they followed, hoping to get some lunch before their next class.
George took a seat next to Lee, who had skipped Potions to do Charms homework. "I take it things didn't go too well?" he said as he saw his friends’ dirty appearances.
"Next time you skive, invite us," mumbled George, filling up his plate with potatoes. Fred nodded at his side, pulling the potatoes out of George's hand.
"Skiving class isn't going to get you anywhere," said Angelina with a look of disapproval.
"Yeah, but we won't have to see Snape that - " Before Fred could finish, they heard someone whistle. It was a tall boy with shaggy brown hair and chocolate-like eyes. He wore an exhausted smile as he spoke to Angelina.
"You and Alicia have a partner," he said in his thick Scottish accent; the girls looked at each other.
"Who is it, Oliver?" asked Fred, and his captain smiled. "Since Williams decided to quit – " Williams had been their sixth year chaser, last week after failing a Charms exam he quit deciding to dedicated himself to his studies.
"We know that, and that Kirk is injured, and that's why Alicia gets to play!" said George impatiently, though Oliver gave him a glare.
"You'll know soon enough. Practice tomorrow at five o'clock sharp!"
The five second-years looked at each other until Lee broke the silence. "Well, mates, I'm off to Charms." He stood up. Within minutes Fred and George followed suit, and on their way they tried to guess who Oliver could have chosen as the extra Chaser.
"Well, all I know is that it sure isn't Percy," said Fred with a smirk as he watched his brother yell at a cheeky first year.
George snorted. "He probably doesn't even know what a broom looks like."
The boys walked up to Lee, who stood with the Slytherins outside the classroom; apparently Flitwick hadn't gotten there. Lee had a deep scowl on his face as he watched the Slytherins talk about something.
"What's wrong?" asked George, looking over at the Slytherins. The small group took a glance at them before chatting on.
Lee snorted. "Those idiots keep talking about how Selwyn injured herself."
Fred rolled his eyes and muttered, "Honestly, what drama."
"She didn't injure herself," George told Lee. "She spilled Alicia's potion and she dropped hers all over, that lying prat!"
That caught the Slytherins’ attention; they spun around, glaring at the Gryffindors. "Right, since Gryffindors can do no wrong – " began one of the girls, until another female voice cut her off.
"Shut up, Roberts!" They all turned to see Katherine walk towards them. "No one said that." She now stood next to Fred, who was having a staring contest with Pucey.
"Shut it, raccoon," the girl named Roberts snapped back, and Katherine flushed, dropping all her books. George could feel himself ball his fists as he quickly examined Roberts, trying to pinpoint a weakness... there!
"Well, Roberts, at least Rowle doesn't have a pig's nose," said George, pulling at his own nose, causing students around them to laugh as he began to imitate a pig oinking. Even though some students laughed, George could see this didn't make Katherine feel any better – her breathing became slower as her eyes watered up. Could it be? It had only been a month since her uncle's death...
George knew she didn't sleep; every time he and Fred had gone out to explore the castle, upon their return there she was, poring over one book or the other. "At least I can – "
Again, before Roberts could end the conversation, Katherine yelled, "Shut up, you idiot! You know nothing!"
She left and didn't come back for Charms. George couldn't help but feel the guilt as his heart sank... Fred and Lee tried to cheer him up, thinking that Flitwick's note to McGonagall was what had him worried...
"Besides, what's a couple more detentions?"
"We lost more points than ever," sighed George on their way towards their next class Defense Against the Dark Arts.
"So? We're used to that!" said Fred, with Lee nodding at their side.
Upon entering the class, George found Katherine sitting up front with the Ravenclaws; her expression gave her a look of utmost attention to Professor Thornwood, who had his back to the class. He felt relieved – good, he hadn't hurt her feelings... he could only guess. The trio took their usual seats at the back and waited for the other students while discussing today's plan.
"We already charmed ink to drop on his head."
"How about paper planes?" suggested Lee, but Fred shook his head.
"It's already been done... How about setting off a Dungbomb?" The three boys smiled – that definitely hadn't been done and they were sure of it. Still, how to do it without being noticed?
"Good afternoon, class." He turned to face them holding his wand. "Take out your wands. Today I will demonstrate – "
Before he could finish his sentence, a foul scent filled the classroom; students began to cough, others curse. After a few minutes, it became unbearable, forcing the class to be canceled and giving the second years a free hour.
"Mission: Free Hour complete!" said Fred, but before they could celebrate, Katherine walked up to them.
"That was rude and utterly disgusting!" she yelled, poking Fred in the chest. "Besides, everyone knows you two were responsible!"
"Oh, dear, Fred... I simply can't believe the words I am hearing," began George innocently, looking aghast.
"Neither can I, George. Why Katherine, we would never!" Fred shook his head, looking insulted, while she rolled her eyes.
"Honestly, as if anyone is going to buy your pathetic act of innocence!" Lee sniggered as the twins each put a hand on her shoulder.
"Now, dear Kitty," began Fred, earning a glare from Katherine.
"We would never hurt anyone," continued George as she shook them off.
"Then what is the – "
"Point," said George with Fred, giving her the answer.
"Simply to entertain our crowd!"
"Idiots," she said, shaking her head. "You are hopeless!" she added, pointing at Fred and George as she walked away.
Even if they were complete morons, Katherine couldn't help but smile – even she didn't know which one of the boys had comforted her a month ago, after Egil's death. Really, it was impossible to tell those two apart: They had the same hair, height, smile, and humor. She walked towards the Transfiguration classroom, thinking she'd just sit outside and wait for the next class to begin, even if it mean having to sit around and do nothing for the next half-hour.
Katherine could still hear their laughter from far away as she sat on the floor like usual. "Katherine!" she heard Angelina's voice call; she looked and gave her a smile.
"Oh, c'mon!" she yelled, pulling at Katherine's arm, "you can't be depressed your whole life. Your uncle wouldn't want that!" Angelina let go of her arm but put her hands on her hips. “Look, you can't keep this up,” she said, and her eyes softened as she spoke. “Just talk to me.”
Katherine shook her head. For the past week, Angelina tried to get Katherine to be more social as she noticed her depression get worse. But seeing people would just remind her of the fact that everyone else had a family except her. That she was, for once, truly alone...
"Angelina, please!" she whispered, shaking her head. "I really appreciate your effort, but I'm fine." Katherine looked down at the stone floor, and she felt a hand on her shoulder.
"C'mon, Kat," Angelina smiled weakly. "I mean, sulking and sobbing isn't going to help you.”
She looked away. "You don't understand. He... he raised me, Angelina..." Katherine looked up at Angelina. "I have no one else... just him and my father..."
"I've already told you, Thorfinn!" yelled the man, his dark eyes flashing furiously. "Come near my daughter - "
"I'll have you know, Egil, she's my daughter, whether you like it or not." He stood against a wall, twirling his wand in his hands, taunting his younger brother.
"Thorfinn Rowle, I honestly don't know how you can be so heartless!" Egil took a step forward. "I told you after you ruined Elizabeth's life - "
"She was - "
"After that, I never saw my father again, though I'm pretty sure he'll come back after finding out that Egil's dead," whispered Katherine. Angelina wrapped her arm around her shoulder and pulled her into a hug.
"You know, you think too much," said Angelina as she pulled Katherine off the floor. "Are you sure you aren't secretly a Ravenclaw?"
Smiling, Katherine shook her head. "No, I'm too smart. That's why I'm in Gryffindor."
The Transfiguration classroom door burst open and the first years poured right on out. It was funny, at least for Katherine – time had gone by so fast, it seemed as if just a couple of seconds [b]ago that[/b] it had been them in the tiny black robes, running around, excited to learn all they could about magic.
Katherine felt something hit her hand, and, looking down, she saw a paper plane trying to wiggle itself into her hand. Curious, she opened the paper, only to see a note written in neat chicken-scratch:
I owe you one.
Meet me in the abandoned history classroom after dinner.
Your fellow snake-hater
"I owe you one," whispered Katherine, turning to Angelina, who was too busy apologizing to a first year after bumping into him. She looked again at the small piece of parchment...
Who? she thought, looking over her shoulder, hoping she find the answer - though all that she found were two red-haired dolts coming her way. "You better not interrupt this class," she hissed before walking away from them.
"What's gotten into her?" asked Fred. George shrugged, catching a glimpse of the parchment in her hand.
For once in his life he felt proud of his magical abilities and waved. "That's just Katherine."
By dinner time, Fred and George felt like they were about to die – Transfiguration homework, Charms, and History of Magic... all of it was enough to drive anyone up a wall.
"How the hell are we supposed to do all this for tomorrow?" asked Fred; he was talking to Alicia, complaining about homework, while Angelina shot them glares. Lee kept a conversation with a pretty first year by the name of Katie Bell. George kept to himself.
He took a glance at his watch; it was ten to six. "Where are you going?" asked Fred as George got up.
"Just... going to find a girl I saw today," he lied, though he knew Fred would buy this one.
"Good luck!” he laughed, not daring to say much more in front of Alicia and Angelina, though he'd probably tease him later.
He ran up the stairs; she was probably already there. After all, Katherine didn't do much nowadays anyway. Still, maybe a little laughter would help her out; she did help him pass Potions last year, along with Charms – and the rest of his classes, now that he thought about it.
George pushed the door open; the room was filled with cobwebs and broken chairs, the board had profanities written on it (some of which George had never heard of), and at what seemed to be the teacher's desk sat Katherine, though she looked like she was asleep. George closed the door softly, hoping not to wake her up, and he walked towards her, taking each step carefully...
"What the hell, Weasley!" she yelled with a start, scaring him senseless in the process. Her eyes widened as she began to look for her wand frantically. Katherine was muttering profanities under her breath.
"I sent you the note!" he blurted out as she pointed her wand at him, now wearing a clueless look on her face as she stood up from her seat.
"You?" she asked skeptically, narrowing her eyes she put down her wand.
He nodded, taking a deep calming breath. George felt embarrassed; maybe this idea was stupid after all. He stuffed his fist into his pocket. "I just wanted to talk..."
"To me?" Katherine asked. To his surprise, her tone wasn't at all defensive; instead, she sounded curious.
Katherine frowned and sat down. "Okay, fellow snake hater, begin." George smiled, pulling up one of the most decent chairs to take a seat facing her.
"I just thought we'd talk... classmate to classmate, about we... us," he began, now regretting his idea. There was no way Katherine would buy this from him.
"Like friends?" she asked slowly, tapping her fingers on the nearby desk.
"Yes, like friends," he said. She blushed.
"If this about pity– " she whispered, darkly biting the inside of her cheek.
George shook his head "No! It's not pity, Katherine!" He stopped her from standing. "I swear on my mum's life! Look, I've seen you upset, that's all and I thought, since you tutored me last year... I'd return the favor!"
She wore a look of disbelief while he wore a sheepish smile. "All right, but... can we keep this a secret? I just don't want people thinking the wrong way," said Katherine, massaging her temples.
"Deal!" blurted out George quickly; he also didn't want people thinking they fancied each other.
"Why do you care?" asked Katherine, giving him a curious look. George shrugged.
"I just don't like seeing my friends upset, I guess."
George nodded. After a long awkward silence, they spoke to each other about classes, their families, dreams, fears. It felt weird for George to talk to someone like that, someone who wasn't Fred. They probably had stayed out past curfew, but that didn't matter – not even when Peeves burst into the classroom to run them out, covered in dirt and chalk.
In the common room, Katherine kept pulling cobwebs from her hair while George tried to clean his robes the best he could. “It looks like we've been in a broom closet,” she said, turning to him with a small smile.
George pulled a cobweb from his hair, disgusted, and dropped it onto the floor. “Yeah, that git - “
“Wait – are you Fred or George?"
George at first felt shocked, until he smiled slyly. This situation had suddenly received fun possibilities. "I'm neither. I'm your friendly neighborhood snake hater."