Chapter 6 : Temper
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As he passed haughtily every day with his group surrounding him, he never tried to catch her eye like he used to. It was complete avoidance and for some reason she mourned the loss of that little bit of attention. She supposed she wanted to tell him about Rose and Malfoy so as to receive some notice from him again, which was absolutely mental because that would be betraying Rose’s trust entirely.
When she allowed herself to ponder why Potter did not acknowledge her as much as he used to, she was forced to admit that perhaps that last rejection when he had kissed her might have been the last straw. Why that was even a problem, she did not know.
She should have been rejoicing that Potter had finally ceased his incessant badgering, but she wasn’t. Was it because for a single moment he had left himself vulnerable to her following their kiss? Was it because, at that moment, she had seen side of James Potter that was wholly sweet and genuine? Every time this thought occurred to her she shook her head vigorously and threw herself into whatever she was doing. There was no way that she was going to allow all her thoughts to be dictated by Potter.
Despite all her musings, it felt like two weeks, although it had barely been two days, since she had discovered Rose and Malfoy. She arose that morning with a sense of inexplicable happiness forming in her stomach. There wasn’t a definite thing that she could trace this contentment to, but it was there nonetheless.
Perhaps it was that Karen Ambs hadn’t acknowledged her existence since that Potions class. Or it could be that Potter finally seemed to be over her. Whatever the reason, Calla felt that her time at Hogwarts would perhaps start to be a more peaceful and less dramatic one than how it had promised to be since she arrived.
How very wrong she was.
The dampening of her mood began when the post arrived. Calla hadn’t been expecting anything, especially since David was in America and Maggie, good-hearted as she was, never remembered that she had people to write to. Thus it came as a shock when Caleb landed clumsily in front of her, stepping in the bacon that was on her plate.
After glancing at the sender and feeling a wide grin spread across her face, Calla untied the envelope from Caleb’s leg, fed him some bacon, and watched him fly away before she hastily unfolded the letter.
Greetings from the States! Just kidding that sounds like a postcard; I was actually debating on sending you one, but I figured it wouldn’t be cool unless the picture moved. Alas, though, I am just your humble Muggle brother and cannot hope to compete with the advanced nature of wizarding photographs!
Anyway, university is great- I met this absolutely gorgeous girl in my biology class yesterday; we’re going on a date later tonight. Again, I am a simple Muggle and my simple Muggle school could not hope to be a contender when it is challenged by such extraordinary schools as Hogwarts, or so I’m told, especially if all the girls in the school are nearly as good-looking as you. (I’m winking slyly at you right now, you just can’t see it.)
Wish you were here, though, but I know you’re having a spectacular time at Hogwarts without me. I’ll probably end up buying you a Harvard t-shirt; I don’t know why I haven’t already…
I’d also like to remind you that it was I who wrote first! HA! I believe that I win the argument about who forgot to write last time, as I have succeeded in corresponding first this time! You have been bested by a Muggle! Take that magic!
So I know you’re going to think I’m a horrible brother, but I can’t come home for Christmas holiday this year. Don’t hate me! It’s just they’re having this HUGE ice-creaming-eating contest this year and I cannot miss that! I’ll totally dominate! So sorry again, but I’ll make it up to you by buying you a Harvard t-shirt AND sweatpants for Christmas.
Hope you’re enjoying yourself. Have fun this year, especially because it’s your last. Go party, play a prank, or snog someone in a broom cupboard (I’m serious about this one, though, you haven’t a boyfriend in a while), but make this year stand out!
At the beginning of the letter, Calla heart had swelled like a balloon while she read the surprisingly light-hearted and cheerful words David had put down. But that was David, she supposed. He dealt with pain by laughing it off and pretending nothing was wrong. If only she could be so lucky.
It was only at the end of the letter that she started to feel the voice of unhappiness begin to creep back into her brain. David wouldn’t be coming home for Christmas. As result, Calla would probably be spending Christmas alone at Hogwarts… again.
She was glad, of course, that David had written. And she had laughed to herself several times in the letter at what he had said, but now it made her yearn to hear his voice again, and laugh off all her pain. There were some things that she just couldn’t do with anyone but family. Not to mention, his letter had felt like another stab in the heart, a reminder of the parents that she had loved and lost.
She knew the real reason he wasn’t visiting was because coming home would remind him of their parents. She probably would have done the exact same thing.
Beside her, Beth picked up her schedule and scanned it. “Double D.A.D.A. today, girls. Then we’ve got Charms, Potions, and Divination. Well, I’ve got Divination. Calla, I’m guessing you have Arithmancy.” Calla nodded.
Andie looked up. “If we’ve got D.A.D.A. we’d better hurry. I’d hate to see what McKlean did to us if we were late.”
The other two nodded in agreement. Although many times it could be useful and extremely interesting having an ex-Auror as a teacher, it could also be downright scary. McKlean was strict and fierce, a lethal combination in an educator.
Spurred by the prospect of being punished by their professor, it was only a matter of moments before the three girls were climbing the marble staircase and heading towards their Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson.
McKlean greeted the class with her usual brisk nod and roll call. She then launched into a tirade against Dark wizards, which is how she began almost every class, finally ending on describing again how it felt to be an Auror during Lord Voldemort’s time and that they should all consider the dangerous and lonely path of an Auror.
The last sentence of her speech included quoting the famous Auror, Alastor “Mad-eye” Moody, by screaming at the class “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” before slamming a yard stick down onto the nearest desk, which unfortunately was Calla’s. She jumped in her seat.
This had taken fifteen minutes of the class already, and yet, despite the repetition of the stories, the entire class was paying attention. Well, the entire class apart from Potter and Weasley, who apparently believed themselves above listening, and were talking in the back. Calla narrowed her eyes at them.
But at the sound of the yard stick snapping in half from the force of impact, even Potter and Weasley turned their attention to their teacher.
“Now children,” McKlean began sweetly, as if she had not just scared half the class out of their skins. “You will all know from my little introductory speech, that one of the most dangerous creatures, apart from wizards of course, that roamed during the Dark Lord’s time were the dementors- horribly nasty things that sucked all the happiness out of you and made everything cold. They used to guard Azkaban prison, but after joining Lord Voldemort during both his attempts at take-over, they were fired. There aren’t very many left, they breed on despair, see, but it’s still dead useful to know how to repel them. If you ever meet a dementor and you don’t how to get rid of it, well, I pity you. The dementors perform this thing called the Dementor’s Kiss. It used to be a punishment for people that had committed nasty crimes, but, like I said, there aren’t any more dementors in Azkaban. Now-”
“Excuse me, professor, but what exactly is the ‘Dementor’s Kiss’. I mean, why is it so bad? It doesn’t sound so bad to me. I mean, unless it kills you, it’s not like it would be the worst punishment.” Lauren Martin, of course, had interrupted the class.
Calla snorted. You had to be a real airhead not to know what the Dementor’s Kiss was. Even Calla knew, and she came from a Muggle family.
McKlean gave Martin a piercing stare before answering. “You’d think so, wouldn’t you Martin? But there are things worse than death, oh yes, much worse things… No, the Kiss doesn’t kill you. It sucks out your soul. You can still live without your soul, Martin, as long as your heart and brain are working, but you become nothing more than a shell. Everything that makes a person, everything that makes you, you, disappears. Trust me, if you were given the Kiss, you’d be begging for death.”
For once, Martin was speechless. The entire class held their breaths to hear what more horrors the dementors could do, all except Potter and Weasley, who were, again, talking in the back. Apparently they had already heard about all this before or were simply too rude to bother listening.
“So it’s my job to teach you about all these Dark things, but also how to defend yourself against them. There’s only one thing that can repel a dementor, and it’s called a Patronus. It’s a shield between yourself and the dementor, a projection of happiness, but it can’t feel pain or sadness, so the dementor can’t hurt it. An advanced Patronus will take the shape of something, usually an animal, instead of just being a shield. Each person’s shape will be specific to them; this is called a corporeal Patronus.
“You have to think of a really happy memory to make a Patronus. I’ll be going into that more next class. The incantation is Expecto Patronum.”
McKlean promptly pulled out her wand then and produced a Patronus in the shape of fluffy rabbit. At this, most of the class broke into silent peals of laughter, as most had expected her Patronus to be a lion, or a tiger, or a bear, or something ferocious like that, but never a bunny.
Calla was perhaps the only student who was not snickering, whether it was out of respect for McKlean or because recently she hadn’t felt like laughing much, she did not know.
McKlean, however, seemed unaffected and they spent the rest of the class taking complicated notes on dementors and Patronuses, including the magical healing powers of chocolate as a subtopic .
As the bell rung, McKlean assigned two rolls of parchment about dementors and the use of the Patronus against them, causing the entire class to groan, so maybe she had noticed the laughs.
Andie and Beth joined Calla as she hurried from the classroom, wanting to drop off her books before heading to Charms. The corridor was packed with students, as it always was in this part of the castle, and it was hard to manoeuvre it without getting jostled around. Thankfully, Calla remembered a concealed, smaller corridor, down the farther end of this hallway that not many people seemed to know about. She led her friends in that direction.
Defence Against the Dark Arts had not been as enjoyable as it usually was for Calla. If a Patronus was supposed to be composed of a happy memory, and Calla was guessing the caster had to be generally happy at the time, then she did not know how she was going to cast one. It would be nearly impossible for her to focus on a recollection that made her cheerful if she was not cheerful herself.
So consumed was Calla by her thoughts that she did not notice where she was going. She had walked straight past the concealed corridor and quickly backtracked.
Suddenly, Calla felt something slam into her shoulder. She looked up to see Karen Ambs leering down at her, surrounded by her smirking friends.
“Oops, sorry Matthews, I didn’t see you there. I suppose the mud in your blood made you blend in with the dirt on the floor.” Ambs sneered at her. Andie had to be held back by Calla and Beth, although Calla had half a mind to let Andie go or curse Ambs herself.
Instead, Calla and Liz pulled a still seething Andie away, back down the corridor. Calla had to continue chanting to herself, do not lose control; do not sink to her level. Just walk away. Don’t give her the satisfaction of knowing how much she gets to you. Do not lose control…
Before they were more than a meter away though, Ambs started telling her friends in a carrying whisper, “I’m surprised they even let a Mudblood like that into this school.” Her friends snickered. “She’s like the queen of all Mudbloods too, especially because her parents are the biggest Muggles I’ve ever seen. Oh wait…” Ambs trailed off with a nasty glance into Calla’s direction. “They’re dead…”
Something inside Calla snapped. She suddenly didn’t care about controlling her temper. She didn’t care about sinking to Ambs’s level. She didn’t give a damn about how many people were surrounding her, in fact, the more the better. And she certainly was not bothered by the possibility of getting in trouble. She just wanted to make Ambs pay, to make her suffer for what her father had done, and what she was still doing to Calla now.
Ambs’s friends guffawed. Calla wheeled around, Andie and Beth not even bothering to try to hold her back. Not knowing what she was going to do, only knowing that her head was calling Ambs dozens of horrible names and that her vision, and probably her hair too, were bright red. Calla stepped forward.
“Ambs!” she yelled and watched as Ambs turned around.
She pulled back her fist and WHAM! Calla slammed Ambs right in the middle of her face and knocked her backwards onto the floor.
It happened so quickly that Calla didn’t realise what she had done until she saw Ambs was sprawled on the floor, clutching her nose, which had a steady flow of blood pouring from it. A look of shock was on Ambs’s face, although it was slowly turning into pure venom.
The corridor had gone deadly silent. Everyone had turned to watch as Calla stood, breathing heavily with her hands still shaking with anger, over Ambs, who slowly began to get up.
Calla knew what was scrolling through all of their heads: excitement and anticipation to see the perfect Calla Matthews, Head Girl who had never received a detention in her life, fight with Karen Ambs, the daughter of her parents’ murderer. Calla Matthews had punched someone. Calla Matthews had lost her temper with someone other than James Potter.
Calla Matthews had finally snapped.
There was no room in Calla’s head for thought about anything other than her hate for Ambs. She did not care that people would gossip about her. It did not matter whether they spread rumours that she was finally going crazy due to the grief of her parents’ deaths and that fact that she never went to any of the Hogwarts parties. She did not give a damn, too, that Potter was staring at her with a peculiar expression on his face. The only thing that mattered at that moment was Ambs.
“That was for my parents, bitch,” Calla snarled.
Ambs rose swiftly and her hand plunged into her robes, but Calla was quicker. She drew her wand and shouted “Expelliarmus!”
Ambs’s want flew out of her hands, but she was also thrown backward several meters by the force of the spell.
Not planning on staying around to chat with Ambs or endure people gazing at her with a mixture of shock, fear, and admiration, Calla gave the girl one last glare and quickly turned on her heel. She pulled back the tapestry that concealed the smaller corridor and didn’t stop walking until she was several floors away from the scene.
Calla had only been dimly aware of Andie and Beth following her, but she now turned to face her friends.
“Look, I know I lost my temper there, and I’m sorry about that, but I don’t-”
“Sorry? Sorry?” Andie sputtered with a disbelieving look on her face. “Calla, that was bloody brilliant!”
“Although I’m usually opposed to such methods of violence instead of peaceful cooperation, I must say, Calla, that b- that bitch deserved everything she got. Well done!” Beth, who looked horrified with herself for agreeing with Andie, told Calla.
“Merlin’s pants! Beth, you just used foul language! Wow, first Calla punches Ambs and then you do this! Yes, I’m finally having an effect on you guys!”
Calla and Beth both laughed at Andie’s absurdness. In between giggles, Calla muttered, “Thanks guys.”
And she really did feel much better than before. It was as if taking all of her excess anger out on Ambs and then laughing all her stress away with her friends stripped away the much of the burden that had been placed upon since her parents’ deaths.
She would always feel sadness, she knew that now, but perhaps now, now that she had gotten her revenge on Ambs at least, she could begin to recover. Of course, she had been telling herself that for a while now, but now she figured it at least had a chance of coming true.
Unfortunately, the fiasco in the corridor forced them to sprint to Charms. They wouldn’t put it past Bullens to give them detention.
The day passed quickly for Calla, perhaps because she was happier than she had been in a while; not happy, just happier. It certainly brightened her mood to see Ambs slink sulkily ten minutes late into Potions that afternoon. It appeared that Madam Pomfrey had fixed her broken nose and stopped the bleeding, but Ambs still sported a spectacular black eye. As she found her seat in the back, she threw Calla a withering look.
The day ended just as it had begun, with Calla having a feeling of inexplicable happiness in her gut. As she pulled the books out of her bag so that she could begin her homework, a piece of paper fluttered to the floor. She picked it up and realized it was David’s letter from that morning. In the excitement of the day, she’d completely forgotten about it.
After rereading it, the feelings of happiness began to ebb away. David was still not coming home for Christmas, and anger started to boil up inside her. How dare he abandon her during this hard time for both of them? And for an ice-cream-eating contest, no less! Of course it was alright for him! He could escape from the death of their parents away across the sea! Most people didn’t even realize he was the son of the former-prime minister over there! He didn’t have to deal with stares and whispers and rude comments from the very daughter of their murderer! She supposed he just wanted an easy life over there, and decided to leave his little sister feeling like she was drowning!
Or maybe it was because he had somehow read that Daily Prophet article and had begun to blame her for the deaths. Of course, it was her fault. And what if Maggie, despite her promise, had told him what she had Calla at the funeral!
The resentment that she felt faded as fast as it had come. Calla knew David would never abandon her if he thought she couldn’t handle it and if he knew what Maggie had said, she really had no right to be angry with him. In fact, he was the one who had the right to be angry with her!
She also knew that she had to be able to trust Maggie, and Maggie would never break her promise. She would have to tell her brother eventually, but today was not the day, especially since it was something that needed to be said in person. She wondered what he would say… but now was not the time to be thinking about that.
She sighed and pulled a fresh piece of parchment to her. Calla wrote a lengthy letter to David, including the fact that she had punched Ambs, which she knew would make him laugh. She would go visit Caleb the next morning to mail it.
Brushing her hair out of her eyes she set to work on her D.A.D.A. essay.
James kept glancing over at Calla as she tiredly scribbled on a piece of parchment by the fire. He guessed she was doing their D.A.D.A. essay; being the studious scholar that she was, she always started her homework the day that it was assigned. James on the other hand was prone to procrastination and usually ended up working on it until two in the morning the day that it was due.
She had surprised him, and probably everybody else in the school, today. When it came to Calla, it was very difficult to surprise James, too. After watching her for years, James had thought he knew everything about her, but apparently he hadn’t known her as well as he believed. He wondered what other surprises she was hiding.
It had shocked him to see her turn around and punch Ambs in the face, though he agreed, like most of the school, that Ambs had deserved it. Throughout the day, he had heard people talking about it in shock and awe. Every time he had, though, he had felt a little jolt of pride. At times, he hadn’t been able to help thinking, That’s my girl…
It was the side of her that didn’t give a damn about the rules; a side that you only got to see on rare occasions. He remembered convincing himself that when he finally got her, he would unlock that side.
It was these things and more that James knew were the reasons he had been infatuated with her all those years. This was enough to make him know he would look back at the times he had loved Calla Matthews with a feeling of happiness instead of resentment.
Perhaps it was because of this previous connection he had had with Calla, that James was still worried about her. After giving Ambs what she deserved, Calla had seemed so much happier than usual, but as the day wore on, she had appeared to sink slowly back into the depression that she had shown before. Again James wondered how her friends could not see that.
He shook his head to clear it. He had been doing so well with ignoring Calla over the last few days and he wasn’t going to mess it up now. Somehow, though, he knew that deep down he was still attracted to her, he just wouldn’t admit it.
The rest if the school week passed uneventfully for Calla. The only things that were slightly out of the ordinary were that Potter was still ignoring her (she wasn’t complaining) and that the only type of revenge she had received from Karen Ambs was a bunch of murderous glares in Potions class.
Despite the fact that she knew Ambs never mentioned what happened, the professors seemed to know about it in great detail. Calla smiled at the prospect that they hadn’t minded what she had done.
With Calla’s luck, though, the excellent things were all too good to last.
Friday night found Calla sitting on her bed in the girl’s dorm reading a Muggle book about a boy wizard, chatting aimlessly to Beth while Andie took a shower.
Soon enough, Andie stepped out of the shower and began to rummage through her trunk for something to wear. Rolling her eyes, she interrupted Calla and Beth’s conversation.
“As much as I’d love to listen to your guys’ stimulating chat about whether Divination is useful or useless, I’ve got something more important to discuss: what am I going to wear James and Fred’s back-to-school party tomorrow?”
Calla blew her hair out of her eyes and returned to her book. Of course Andie would want to talk about the party. Potter and Weasley had hosted it, along with many other parties, every year since fourth year. Personally, Calla had been trying to avoid thinking about it. Like usual, she would be spending that Saturday night reading a book in the common room.
“Does it really matter, Andie? You’ll look good no matter what you wear and it’s just a party, and it happens every year,” Calla sighed, glancing up from her book.
Andie rolled her eyes again. “Of course you would think that wouldn’t you Calla? You never go! But it definitely does matter what I wear because this time I actually want to impress someone!”
Cutting off Calla, who was about to make an angry retort that involved something about how the party’s were completely pointless and stupid, Beth asked curiously, “Who do you want to impress?”
Andie glanced at her. “Oh, no one, Beth, but I still need to look smashing,” she said, winking. As Beth moved to glance at the clothes Andie was pulling out on her bed, Calla took the opportunity the momentary silence offered.
“I don’t know why you like those parties, Andie. They’re stupid and overly-excessive and Potter hosts them so they can’t be that entertaining.”
Calla didn’t know why she was picking a fight with her best friend. It was as if lately the only way she could convince herself she wasn’t depressed over her parents’ death was if she was fighting with someone. Punching Ambs had awoken this, and she did not like it.
Stupidly, she continued, “Really, it’s so shallow of you to only care about these parties. Now, if you put that much effort into your classes…”
Andie threw the turquoise top she was holding up back onto the bed and turned to glare at Calla. “You know, Matthews, just because you don’t have a fun bone in your body doesn’t mean everyone else has to be a stick-in-the-mud! These parties are fun, which you would know if you ever went to one!”
“I don’t go to them, because they’re stupid and when people go to them they get drunk and act idiotic!”
Beth was staring anxiously between her friends and backing away to the wall.
“Yes, well, they’re not the only people who are being dense at the moment,” Andie said dangerously, her eyes flashing.
“Oh, is that right?” Calla retorted intelligently, blushing only slightly, but keeping her eyes on Andie.
It was so odd how both she and Andie had so easily flared up at even the slightest insult. Andie had always been like this, but never with Calla, and Calla was usually one to keep her temper. It scared her that she was so ready to blow up these days.
“Yeah! I don’t what’s gotten into you lately Calla, but you need to stop it. Sometimes, you act like a real bitch. You want everyone to feel sorry for you, but you’re doing nothing to get better. You walk around acting like everyone is beneath you and that thing with Ambs, at first I thought it was cool, but now it’s like a desperate bid for attention. Hey! Look at me! I’m Calla Matthews, feel sorry for me!” Andie did a cruel imitation of Calla.
“You’re not fun anymore, you hardly ever laugh, you’re picking fights with anyone and everyone and frankly, you’re annoying the hell out of me!” Andie’s voice was growing higher with every sentence she spoke.
Calla’s eyes flashed dangerously, she opened her both to snap angrily.
Beth, who had been continually glancing frantically back and forth between her two friends, now spoke up. “Andie, you don’t really mean that, Calla’s you’re best friend, and Calla-”
“Oh no, Beth, she does mean it. I bet she’s had it bottled up for a while now,” Calla answered Beth. She turned to Andie, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “So I’m annoying the hell of out you, am I? Well I am so sorry that I haven’t been super cheerful lately, but you know, it’s kind of difficult being happy when you’re parents are murdered!”
“You see? That’s exactly what I mean!” She turned to storm out of the dorm, but spun around to yell one last venomous thing at Calla, “And maybe it’s time you got over them, instead of crying about it.”
As Beth shrieked indignantly, “Andie!”, Andie slammed the door behind her. They could hear her storming down the stairs.
Calla wanted to punch something. She glared furiously at the door, as if it had done her a personal wrong, before stalking quickly out of the dormitory, ignoring Beth’s calls, and slamming the door on her own room. She fell angrily onto her bed.
It didn’t make her livid that Andie had insulted her; it made her heated that most of the things Andie had said were true. She needed to get rid of the sadness she felt because of her parents; she just didn’t know how.
What made it worse was that Calla had lost one of the only people she could truly count on for support. She punched her pillow viciously.
A/N: For all of you who wanted to punch Ambs, there you go.
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