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I won. The prize of course. The opportunity to create the vial of Amortentia next lesson was mine. Oddly, I didn't feel like a winner. If anything, I felt disappointed. I blamed this on Malfoy – he had tainted my victory with his stupid threat.
Scorpius Malfoy didn't scare me, but he did worry me. He had the determination that I had. And if he decided to put that determination into ruining me, he could indeed make my life very unpleasant. With this nagging at the back of my mind, I almost didn't feel like doing another lesson. But knowing that he would already be winning if I were to bunk, I said my goodbyes to Harrison and shut myself into the broom cupboard on the fifth floor.
Not bothering to switch on the light, I pulled the time-turner from my blouse, held it up and spun the disk. An invisible force pulled me back sharply. I could feel the air rushing past, lifting my hair and the abruptly, as if someone had let go, I stumbled to a halt.
Heart racing, I pulled out my wand. “Lumos”.
Light filled all corners of the room, causing me to blink rapidly. Still a little unsteady, I fumbled for the door knob.
A shrill shriek sounded as I opened the door.
“What da you think you’re doing!” Screeched a hunched man with a pale pouchy face and dark bloodshot eyes. “Whatcha doing in my cupboard!”
Completely dumbfounded by the man’s anger, I found myself speechless.
“Insolent girl”, he spat, hauling me out by sweater. “If I find you planted Dungbombs in there, I’ll-I’ll-”, he seemed unable to think and took hold of my clothes again, dragging me down the dimly lit corridor.
While this had all been happening, my brain had come to two conclusions.
The first being that I should never ever, try and use a time-turner in the dark.
And the second was that this was definitely not the stern but plump and good-natured Mrs M. Ringwald, who was the current caretaker at Hogwarts and whose broom cupboards I had been using to time-turn in.
“Get in there!” The man growled, pulling a door open and shoving me through.
A nasty stench wafted under my nostrils. The whole room smelt of burnt wood, like the morning after a bonfire. I wheeled round, taking in the setup of what I presumed was an office. Rows of cabinets flanked the room, paperwork pouring out the shelves. The desk in front of me was littered with numerous coloured slips and the quills that lay scattered were all frayed and poor quality.
There was a very unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had screwed up. Big time. My time-turner was only for my academics and there was a good reason for that. Time Travel was highly dangerous and very unpredictable. Purely by being in this room, I had already disrupted the continuum and now events were shaping around my presence.
Not wasting a moment, I pulled out the little hourglass and was ready to flick it, when something caught my eye. Along the row of filing cabinets was a draw that was far too engaging to ignore.
Confiscated and Highly Dangerous
Surely just taking a peek in the draw wouldn’t lead me to inadvertently killing myself? Going purely on interest, I let the time-turner fall to my chest and walked over to the cabinet. Heart hammering, I had scarcely hooked my fingers inside when the door opened.
“Bloody twins”, he griped, turning to slam the door behind and giving me enough time to scoot away from the cabinet. He shuffled forward, wheezing like a decrepit animal.
“I’d like to string them up by their ankles, wipe the smiles off ere faces then”. He limped over to the chair in front of the desk and began rummaging through stacks of paperwork. He finally pulled out a blue slip of paper and began scrawling on it.
“Name?” He barked.
“Jean”, I stammered out. “Jean…Thorn”.
“Hufflepuff”. My eyes darted back to the cabinet. The Confiscated and Highly Dangerous draw was slightly ajar
“Crime…”, he mumbled to himself. “Breaking and entering. Planting Dungbombs and-”
There was an almighty bang. The glass jars bobbed as the caretaker’s eyes bulged and he propelled himself out the door, issuing the foulest of language.
Knowing I only had a limited amount of time, I grabbed the blue slip. “Incendio!”
The paper was suddenly effulged by cobalt flames, lapping up the scrawled writing. Stuffing my wand back into my skirt pocket, I then took the time-turner, flicked it three times then spun it back.
Everything went black and the sensation of being dragged backwards hit me again. Breathless by the time light reappeared, I circled round, taking in the new scene before me. A clean room, with housekeeping books lining a long shelf that extended round the walls and brooms which were leant against a stilted cupboard, with the tilted initials: M. Ringwald.
Taking a shuddering breath, I leaned back against the desk, my eyes closed with relief.
“That was hard”, Chrissy sighed, flumping into the seat beside me. “I had to ask Terrance who asked Scott who asked Phyllis who asked Gemma, who I might add is in Slytherin! For those bloody notes of yours”. She pushed the page of parchment towards me, her face weary.
“Thank you”, I murmured, from behind the cover of Hogwarts a History.
“Thank you! I deserve a flipping medal”.
“If you cannot be quiet then I suggest you take your profanities elsewhere!” Seethed Madam Wicker, her face pinched.
Chrissy merely rolled her eyes as the gaunt Liberian stalked away. “I wish you wouldn’t spend so much time in here.”
The Library was my second home. Though Madam Wicker tolerated my company, she loathed Chrissy and her loud and usually rude comments about everything and everyone. Being amongst the books, in my own sheltered corner, hours passed by me by and on more than one occasion I slept in a bed of paperbacks and parchment.
“Well, if you insist on burrowing yourself in this dreary room, I am going to watch Harrison at trials”.
I peered round the book. “Trials? As in Quidditch Trials?”
“Don’t”, Chrissy snapped. “Otherwise I will change my mind”.
I raised an eyebrow. “You really are taking this girlfriend thing seriously”.
“It is so frustrating”, she groaned. “He won’t….he won’t…bend”.
“Then stop trying to make him. You might just have to accept that Harrison Cuffe isn’t like the others”.
“We’ll see”, she said, standing up. “I’ll see you at Dinner”.
“Thanks for the Transfiguration notes”, I mumbled, delving back into the pages of the book. Turning the page, I finally found what I was looking for.
Argus Filch – Hogwarts Caretaker from 1973 to 2001
A portrait of the man who had lugged me out the broom cupboard yesterday was below the title.
“Not my type”.
James’s head had materialised by my shoulder.
I smashed the book shut, narrowly missing his nose. “Did you want something?”
“Yes. I wanted to know when the hell I'm going to be fired”.
“I gave the petition to McGonagall this morning. She seemed a little miffed but said she’d tell me once she had decided on a new Head Boy”.
“Excellent”, he grinned. “And what’s this I hear about little Al stepping into my shoes?”
“Albus won’t need to step anything. Since you didn't leave any shoes”.
He gave a bark of laughter. There was always something compelling about James Potter. His jovial character, coupled with fervent Gryffindor allegiance made him wickedly good. Girls wanted him and boys wanted to be like him. I was quite thankful to be immune to his charms, though that wasn’t to say he didn't try and use them on me.
“Rosie”, he murmured, sitting on the table. “I was having a chat with Rictor in the changing rooms’ yesterday-”
“I don’t think I want to know the rest of that story”, I said disdainfully.
“-and he expressed an interest in you”.
I hesitated. Rictor Haven was the Gryffindor Captain. Tall, with arms the thickness of trunks and curly caramel hair, he was everyone’s wet dream, but as far as I knew, he had only dated one other girl and the relationship had ended unfavourably.
“Rictor’s a good guy. A perfect first boyfriend for you”.
I glared at him. “If he’s so perfect why don’t you give him a test run?”
“Unfortunately for me, Rictor is far more fascinated by your eyes than mine”, he said, tapping the middle of my brow with his wand. “And besides, I'm not the one who is going to be thirty by the time she has her first kiss”.
“Leave me alone, James”, I growled.
“You’re not ugly Rosie. Just scary. It’s going to take a brave man to look past the scariness and find the pretty. Fred agrees with me”.
“How many other people have you been discussing this with!” I seethed.
“Fred is family”.
I let my head fall into my hands. “Please, just go”.
“Have a sleep on it”, he said, ruffling my hair teasingly.
Once he had gone I began to pack up my books, wishing I could flee my life and my god forsaken family. For the second day in the row, I had Advanced Potions last lesson. And today was the day I had to make the Amortentia in front of the whole of the class. Not particularly savouring the assignment, I headed down to the dungeons, through the heaving corridors and into the classroom supplying the most tantalising of smells.
“Miss Weasley”, Slughorn cried, “Come, come, your audience is waiting”.
Indeed, they were waiting, with eyes full of daggers. Dumping my bag on my desk, I headed over, pulling the wavy flaxen strands into a quick ponytail.
“All your ingredients are prepared”, Slughorn said, clapping me on the back as I approached the cauldron. I looked into the bottom, the blackness filling me with even more despair.
Biting my lower lip hard, I carefully began to crush the snake fangs, knowing before I even begun, that this was not going to turn out well.
And, as predicted, by the time the little hourglass on Slughorn’s desk had run out, the last grains of sand falling to the bottom, a weave of ashen smoke was meandering round the classroom, not the mother of pearl sheen I had been aiming for.
Slughorn was demoralised. “Never mind, never mind”, he said, steering me away from the cauldron and into the nearest seat. I was trying very hard not to let the tears fall.
“We all have bad days”, he said, giving me a lopsided smile.
I nodded weakly, taking shaky gulps of air.
“I will have to show the rest of you”, he said, rolling his sleeves. “Unless….” He paused and looked towards the back of the group, his eyes squinted.
Like the snake he was, he slithered out the darkest corner, his lips coiled into a smirk.
“You seemed very familiar with the Potion yesterday. Would you be able to brew a small vial for the class to see?”
I didn't think it possible for that smirk to grow any smugger. But, for the second time that day, I was wrong – it tripled.
“That was so cool!” Harrison said, as walked towards the Great Hall. “I smelt really weird things, like boot polish, musk and….I think it was rose cordial! What about you?”
“I didn't get close enough”, I replied haughtily.
“Did you see Sean Thomas? He started to hum when he went near it. Pretty freaky”.
“Freaky”, I agreed, with a roll of my eyes.
“It was a shame that yours didn't work out”, Harrison consoled. “I don’t think Slughorn was mad though”.
We turned another corner, only to find Edgar, the Ravenclaw Prefect in our path. “McGonagall’s called an emergency Prefect Meeting”, he said, “something about the Head Boy”.
I frowned. “She said she would inform me of her choice before she announced it to the rest of the Prefects”.
“Go on”, Harrison said, nudging my shoulder, “I’ll get you something to eat”.
“Thanks”, I smiled a little tentatively. I followed Edgar, who seemed to struggling not to break into a run, down the corridor and towards the Room of Requirement. Harrison was proving to be far more than Chrissy’s latest and hottest conquest. He was almost….a friend.
Classing people into that category was one I did with excessive deliberation. Acquaintances were placed into three different classes: the first, fast fame (enthralled by my relatives and expecting me to achieve equally spectacular things), the second, green monsters (people who were resentful of my status) and the third, potentials (those who disregarded the usual niceties when they first met me and understood that I was not just another member of the Weasley/Potter clan: I was Rose).
Once we reached the Room of Requirement I finally understood Edgar’s urgency. The Prefects were in uproar.
“I'm quitting”, announced Toby Finnegan, flinging his badge at my feet just as I entered the room.
“Me too!” Chimed in Ricky, who wrestled with his own badge.
Distraught, my eyes combed the room. I could see McGonagall trying to calm down an enraged Elspeth and an indignant Francis.
“This is all your fault!” Lashed out Toby, squaring up to me.
Pushing past him and the other shouting Prefects, I made my way to the back of the room.
“Do you really think that anyone is going to listen to him?” Francis said, her arms folded over her chest.
“He isn’t suitable for this position! Hell, he isn’t suitable for this school!” Elspeth cut in.
“Girls! I expected b-” McGonagall caught my eye and her gnarled hand seized mine.
“Rose. Would you please inform these young ladies that their quarrels are irrelevant”?
Putting my trust in my Headmistress, I applied a stony expression and gave both the girls a reproving look. “Prefects and Heads are not required to question the Headmistresses judgement”.
“Have you seen your new partner, Head Girl”, Francis replied coolly.
“No. But whatever the Headmistress decision is, I will be-”
My sentence fell short, as the door opened.
Standing in the entrance to the room, his overcast eyes wandered over the faces of everyone. Then, appearing unconcerned by the hatred emanating off his peers, he put one foot forward and brought it down hard. There was a sickening crunch and when he removed his shoe, the remains of Toby’s Prefect badge shimmered in the limited light.