Chapter 9 : Wandering the World
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Halloween was crawling its way towards us, along with the return of Sirius's plush pumpkin hat that girls still seemed to sigh at. My eyes rolled instinctively upon watching a pair of girls' squeal at a hazardous volume upon watching Sirius smugly saunter down the corridor, the hat tipped on the side of his black locks.
The amount of self confidence he had amazed me, almost triggering the horrible feeling of envy within me which quickly turned into admiration. If I had worn an orange pumpkin hat with embellished eyes, I would be teased relentlessly. Then again, it was Sirius Black that was wearing the hat. Whether he had donned a potato sack or a brilliant pink suit, he would nevertheless look handsome for even I will admit (although there I hadn't an ounce of romantic feelings towards him), he is.
But his ridiculous pumpkin hat only meant one thing.
Halloween was nearing.
"Happy almost Halloween," Remus said with a tone of cheer as he set his books onto the table we shared.
"Happy almost-Halloween to you, too," I replied with a grin, looking up from resting my chin on my folded hands.
"May I inquire about your costume?"
Although I knew that Halloween was creeping onto us, with all the Jack-O-Lanterns placed in random locations in the castle and the ghosts drifting in every so often whispering "Boo!", I had not thought of donning a costume. I saw the holiday as a time to either mask or reveal one's true self for no one would know the truth.
"Oh, well, I haven't worn a costume in quite a while," I said shyly, averting my eyes upon watching his disbelief.
"You don't celebrate Halloween? That's preposterous!" he exclaimed, taking a seat.
"I love the holiday but I don't find reason in wearing a costume if well...," the remainder of the sentence died in my throat.
"If it's spent alone," Remus finished with realisation. The normally cold blood beneath my skin immediately coloured as I hid my face to avoid his honest eyes.
A comfortable silence fell upon us, enveloping my body, until I heart a rustle of papers. A piece of parchment had been slid in front of me without a word. I glanced at Remus who was listening intently to the words of Professor Binns, until I looked back to the parchment lying in front of me. The creaminess of it seemed inviting as I discreetly brought it closer and read the script now imprinted on the parchment.
On the front was my name, Alice Liddell, written in fine script.
I glanced back at Remus who now had a smile tugging at the corners of his lips as he said, "It doesn't bite."
"Considering the fact that the Marauders had written this, I wouldn't be surprised if it does," I said with a grin as my hands gently turned it over.
The monotonous words of Professor Binns filled the silence as I pulled the parchment out of the secure envelope, eyes burning with curiosity. I could feel Remus's eyes watching me as I opened the parchment, reading the script.
It was an invitation.
The welcoming words were absorbed into my mind as I felt a spark of excitement light within my soul. My eyes looked back at Remus, watching him scribble a few notes onto his parchment set in front of him, and I said, "Thank you."
"Will I see you there?"
"Unless if something horrible occurs, then yes," I said smiling. Before I had even thought carefully about the invitation, analysing each and every word, and pondered whether it would be a disaster to attend, I had accepted it. Regret tugged at my stomach.
I should have thought about it.
But I wanted to go.
Everything within my mind was twisted and tangled, thoughts were misplaced and opinions were changed. Only a few days ago, I had control over the words I uttered and decisions that I set in my head. Now, doubt replaced control, shadowing the thoughts in my mind.
And yet, there was a feeling of bliss that seemed to settle in my bones.
The faded voice of Professor Horn, of Defence Against the Dark Arts, eagerly introduced the topic of the day: the Imperius Curse. A shiver crawled up my spine upon hearing those ominous words. To be placed under the possession of another, to have no control over your own thoughts. The thought sparked a certain fear within me.
After several minutes of students listening intently, he said, "The important part of this lesson is not to learn how to perform the Imperius Curse but to instead learn how to resist it."
My head snapped up at the word resist. I hung onto the word as if it were a saving me from surrendering, becoming helpless and ultimately, powerless.
"Of course, none of you will be performing the Imperius Curse outside of this classroom for it is illegal. But there is a special permission granted to professors who perform it to teach a lesson," he said, twirling his wand in his hands.
This lecture was followed by a demonstration of which he used an insect. This led to awe-struck faces and eventually he taught us the basic guidelines we must imprint into our minds in order to resist from this Unforgiveable Curse.
"Miss Liddell?" his voice called, pulling me out of my rampage of thoughts.
"Yes?" I asked politely as confusion blurred my mind.
"Would you be kind enough to come to the front of the class while I demonstrate these guidelines?" he said smiling as if he were asking me to spit out a chewing gum into the rubbish bin.
The usual reply to those sorts of questions had disappeared somewhere in my throat as I struggled to find those same words. "Y-yes," I mumbled while pushing my chair in. Eyes were watching me as I walked towards the front of the class, heat arising within my body. Wand in hand, I fiddled with it as my eyes stared at the floor. "Now, repeat after me without your wand," he said with a grin.
"Imperio," Professor Horn said slowly with clarity, his hand on my shoulder.
"Imperio," I repeated as if I were under the curse at that moment.
"Good now if you could just repeat that once more with your wand in hand, tell me to do something ridiculous and I will try to resist. And remember, you have to mean it." he said, eyes beaming down at me.
I nodded slowly as he situated himself in front of me, feet planted firmly in the ground as silence fell upon the room. Steadily, I brought my wand up to his face. A deep breath filled my lungs as I closed my eyes, searching for a door within my soul that I kept locked at all times. Unlocking all the anger that had been tightly packed inside my heart, I spoke clearly, "Imperio."
With no expectation, I watched as Professor Horn's face became smoothed of all wrinkles as an expression of pure bliss replaced the serious expression he had a few moments ago. Students offered suggestions of orders I could give him, some were cruel and others were childish.
Possibilities raced through my mind. Some related to violence as if I wanted to risk seeing if he really could resist such an order and others related to some sort of gymnastics. And then I found myself whispering, "Walk on the walls."
Our innocent eyes watched as he was about to put a foot on the wall until a few minutes of hesitation eventually brought him out of the curse. That's all it takes, several seconds to stop to think and ask, "Why?" Because your memories and emotions are still there, they aren't all of a sudden wiped clean unless if you were obliviated. He knew that he couldn't walk on a wall.
So why would he?
Applause drained the silence from the room as I was shaken out of my reverie, blinking several times. "That was very good, Alice," Professor Horn said with a grin, a crinkle forming at the end of his murky green eyes. I forced a smile, a certain sense of power rushing through my veins. A power that felt misplaced.
"Thank you, Professor," I said politely and turned on my heel to return to my seat. Students patted my shoulder with a smile, saying, "Good job," during the short distance. I mumbled my appreciation as I shyly hid my face in the blonde locks of my hair.
The sunshine yellow twinkled in the light, swirling as the wooden spoon spun around the boiling cauldron. Wiping a hand across my forehead, smearing the sweat that had gathered under my hairline, I crushed the wrinkled skin of a Sopophorous bean and squeezed the liquid into the potion. Watching the potion turn into a lighter shade of the warm yellow, Olivia said, "I heard that you performed the Imperius Curse on Professor Horn."
I sighed and said, "Well, he asked me to perform it on him."
Olivia laughed, throwing her head back and said, "Of course, it's just that there are rumours."
"I hope they aren't too bad," I said with a smile, sprinkling a bit of crushed Wormwood into the concoction.
"Smells wonderful," Olivia said, breathing in the aroma of the unfinished Elixir to Induce Euphoria potion.
"Well, that's good because it's supposed to," I said until I noticed that the yellow colour of the potion turned dull upon adding the wormwood. Anxiety rose within me as I quickly flipped through the Potions book. Ah, that was it.
Calmly, I sprinkled some more wormwood into the mixture and continued, leaning over the cauldron as I breathed in the scent of the potion while a smile lit my face.
"Oh, wonderful," Professor Slughorn said as he waddled his way towards Olivia and I. Leaning over the desk to examine the potion that was now cooling, he pushed his glasses further up his nose and said, "It's quite perfect." Exhaling through my lips, I grinned at Olivia who cheerfully stirred the cauldron a few times counter clockwise.
"Now its perfect," I said, scooping the liquid into a vial before placing it onto a rack that was packed with all sorts of shades of yellow potions.
My eyes watched a few students glance around the room slyly before dipping their fingers into the cauldron. Their faces lit with bliss as their tongues touched their potion coated fingers.
Exhaustion breathed through my lungs, my eyelids fighting to resist the urge to close and fall into a slumber that seemed so very welcoming at the moment. The feather of the quill tickled my nose, jolting me awake once again, as I scribbled several more sentences on a piece of parchment. "You look exhausted," Lily said, packing up the last of her scrolls.
"I am," I admitted as she gave me a stern look.
"Then go to sleep."
"I must finish this," I said, my fingers slipping as they wrote the last sentence of the dreadful Herbology essay.
Lily stood with her arms crossed over her chest, her auburn hair spilling over her shoulders as her emerald eyes gleamed with concern. "I'm finished," I announced and then realised how stupid those words sounded. I shoved my papers and books into my bag and pulled the chair out.
"Come on, let's go to sleep," Lily said with a motherly tone as we left the Library which was now silent.
"I heard you performed the Imperius Curse," she said while we walked through the dimly lit corridor, not a creature in sight.
"I did," I said, tired of hearing those words.
Lily glanced down at the floor and said, "How?"
Surprise shot through me, waking me as if I were on a sugar rush. Throughout the day, people had stopped me occasionally and stated that I had performed the Imperius Curse, as if they had wanted to confirm with me. But not a single one of them had asked just exactly what that meant for me.
"I," I began, struggling to find the right words to describe the emotion, "I suppose I just took out all of the anger I felt about wanting to resist against this unknown force that has been taking up the pages of the Daily Prophet. I..."
"...didn't want to feel powerless," Lily finished, nodding as she turned her gaze towards the grounds.
Comfortable seconds of silence filled the space between us until I said, "But sometimes I wish it were someone else who had been called up."
Lily turned with a surprised expression on her face, a lock of auburn hair tucked behind her ear as she said, "Why?"
I shook my head as if I wanted to get rid of all those thoughts I had over the lesson. "It felt... saying those words made me feel...," I trailed off and finally said, "I had too much control."
The rest of our walk was occupied with silence but it wasn't the sort of silence that caused you to cringe and it wasn't the sort that made you feel a sudden rise of temperature in your body. It was an understanding sort of silence, as if we knew exactly what the other was feeling... thinking, without even needing to speak a single word.
It felt nice.
This story has changed quite a bit but I felt the sudden need to throw away the childish material I had thought of a few years ago and replace it with something refreshing. I also try to stick as much as to the facts as I could (Resisting the Imperius Curse and the Elixir to Induce Euphoria are both lessons taught in Sixth Year).
Please leave a review, they are really very helpful.
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