I try to play it cool the next day, hanging out in the common room with the Gryffies, but at about 3pm and the seventeenth round of Exploding Snap (it’s raining outside, apparently there’s nothing better to do on rainy Sundays than sit in the common room playing cards) I make my excuses and ask Jessie to walk me to where the Hufflepuffs hang out. They call it the Beehive, and don’t understand why I burst out laughing when I picture it full of Muggle politicians.
Henry’s chilling in the Beehive – hehe, Beehive – when I arrive, playing a game he informs me is Gobstones, though he doesn’t seem too disappointed to leave.
“How’s it going?” I ask.
“So what the hell’s Gobstones?”
Henry shrugs. “I don’t even know, and they’ve been playing it for the last hour. Before that it was Exploding Snap.”
“We were playing that earlier. For three hours. It got old.”
“There’s not a lot to do here on a rainy Sunday, is there?”
“Not really,” I agree, “Except explore, which definitely works when we’ve only been here for a day and a half.”
“We’ll get lost. I hope you know that.”
“Of course.” I shrug. “I’ve already been lost this weekend. You just find a Weasley and get them to direct you.”
“Do they all have red hair?”
“Not all of them. One of them’s blond and good looking.”
Henry raises an eyebrow at this. “I hope this is a guy you’re talking about.”
“I thought we established my heterosexuality yesterday. He’s a douche though.”
“I have no competition, then?”
What? Competition? Play it cool, Adelaide. Pretend you didn’t notice. Shrug it off, overanalyse later. Good plan.
“What do you mean, competition?”
It’s at this point that I realise there is absolutely no connection between my mind and my mouth.
“Um,” Henry says awkwardly. “Oh, hey Scorpius!”
If Scorpius had just walked past us, I would accept that it was just a coincidence that happened to save us from awkwardness, but given the aforementioned Scorpius is actually down the other end of the corridor to us and Henry’s having to wave frantically to get his attention, it seems a bit deliberate.
“Hey guys!” Scorpius calls back, blissfully oblivious to sexual tension – can I even call it that? What is sexual tension? I don’t know. I’ll run with it. “What are you up to?”
“Just orientating ourselves,” Henry explains. “Want to help us find some classrooms?”
“Sure,” Scorpius says agreeably. I can’t decide whether I’m glad or disappointed that he’s coming with us, but I suppose the alleviation of awkward is always a good thing, and at least with Scorpius around I’m less likely to put my foot in my mouth in a really spectacular way.
Conversation in the Gryffindor common room remains centred around me that night, with Jessie asking about the greenstone fish hook pendant around my neck. After a very clumsy attempt at explaining the concept of taonga and the symbolism of the fish hook (“Um, it means, like, safe travels, and it’s an important symbol because this guy Maui fished up the North Island, and I should know more but I don’t,”) Lucy asks me if I’m Maori, and Larissa punches her on the arm and says that was a stupid question because I’m obviously not black.
“Yeah, I am,” I reply, mainly to see Larissa’s face.
“Oh,” is her only response.
“Well, sort of,” I concede, deciding to rescue her a bit. “I’m Maori enough to get scholarships for it if I go to Muggle university and to register as a Maori voter if I want when I turn eighteen, but I’m not Maori enough to look like it. Or speak it. Or involve myself in it much at all, much to my nana’s disappointment.”
“Is your nana Maori?”
“More Maori than me. I dunno. She’s probably about half. So I’m like…one eighth Maori.”
“And you don’t want to learn anything about it?” Jessie asks, looking surprised.
“Well…not really. To be honest, I’ve always been more interested in magic. Nana tried to teach me and my brothers te reo when we were little –”
“What’s te reo?”
“Maori. The Maori language. Anyway, she tried to teach us, but Martin would be busy reciting spells he picked up from Dad and getting us to practice them as well, and eventually Mum made something up about us being more interested in learning Latin, and that was the end of that. My nana’s a Muggle,” I explain, seeing their slightly confused faces. “All Mum’s family is. Including Mum.”
“Do you have a tribe?” Lucy asks.
I’m impressed she’s even aware there are different tribes in NZ, let alone that they actually mean something. “Yeah, Ngai Tahu.”
“Say it again?” Jessie asks, and attempts to repeat it after me. For the next half hour I teach them the Maori words I’ve picked up through sixteen years’ living in New Zealand – mainly greetings and place names. My favourite is Waikikamukau (“No, it’s actually pronounced ‘why kick a moo cow.’ I’m serious. It’s a national joke.”)
“So, tell us about the education system over there,” Megan says, and a number of people groan.
“She doesn’t want to talk about school, Megan,” Ari says.
“Nobody wants to talk about school,” Larissa agrees, then looks slightly horrified that she agreed with Ari on anything.
“It’s fine,” I say quickly. I realise that Megan doesn’t sit with the rest of the group very often – she seems like a bit of an outcast, and I’m not about to do anything to further that. “Well, I won’t bore you with the details, but Rose told me you only sit exams for qualifications in fifth and seventh years, right?”
“OWLs and NEWTs, yeah,” Megan confirms.
“Yeah, we do exams in Year 11, 12 and 13 – that’s fifth, sixth and seventh year for you guys. It’s based on the Muggle system of NCEA. Our fail grades are the same as yours – Poor, Dreadful and Troll, but our pass ones are Achieved, Merit and Excellence. We do WEKA Level 1 in Year 11, Level 2 in Year 12 and Level 3 in Year 13.”
“Wizarding Education and Knowledge Assessment. Also a native flightless bird that most tourists mistake for a kiwi.”
“Do you take any different subjects to us?”
“Um, yeah. Our school has Magical Theory and Ministry Studies instead of Divination and Ancient Runes. And you sort of do completely different subjects in Year 9 and 10. There are four compulsory magical subjects – Potions, Transfiguration, Wandwork and Wizarding Studies – and you have to do Muggle subjects as well. In Year 11 Potions splits into Potion Brewing and Herbology, Wandwork into Charms and Defence Against the Dark Arts, and Wizarding Studies into History of Magic and Ministry Studies.”
“You do Muggle subjects?” Lucy asks, surprised.
“Well, yeah. English and maths are full courses, and science and social studies are combined into general knowledge. You sit NCEA Level 1 English and maths in year 10, which is a year earlier than the Muggles. It’s mainly in case you decide to get into the Muggle world instead of the wizarding once you leave.”
“Do many people do that?”
“Probably more in New Zealand than anywhereelse. Because we’re so small and there are so few wizards around, there’s not a lot to do in the wizarding world unless you go overseas. There are about forty people who graduate Southern Cross each year. Out of them, fifteen would find local work in the wizarding world, ten would find work overseas, five would go to further magical education overseas, and ten would go into the Muggle world. Roughly.”
“And what about you?” Jessie asks.
“Me? No idea. Maybe I’ll figure it out while I’m here.”
A/N: It's been over a month since I updated! I'm so sorry about the long wait, I've been busy with exams and going overseas and being overseas, but I hope you've enjoyed this (short) chapter. Please let me know what you think in a review!
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