Though a moment ago, he had been sure no one in Potions class was giving the two of them any mind, Liam now felt like every eye in the class was on him and Sadie. He imagined Lara's glare, Calliope's rolling eyes, Michael's dumbfounded look. Liam looked down, away from Sadie's imploring gaze, and said, "All right. We'll talk after class."
So, though they had been packed and ready to go for several minutes, they waited at their desks as their classmates cleaned up their cauldrons, books and notes, and headed out the door for lunch.
Liam told Michael and Philip, "Go on ahead. I'll be along in a minute."
Michael looked puzzled, but Philip was pleased. "See you later, then," said Philip cheerfully.
Finally, it was just Liam, Sadie, and Professor DeVere in the room. Sadie stood up abruptly. Liam rose and followed her out into the hallway.
"What do you want to talk to me about?" he asked, with more impatience in his voice than he meant to have.
She bit down on her lip, and her face became flushed once more.
"Don't run off on me again, all right?" he said lightly, and touched her shoulder with his hand.
Sadie drew in a breath and finally found her voice. "Will you study with me?"
I should have known it'd be something like this, thought Liam.
She continued in a shrill, high-pitched voice. "There's exams next week, before we go home for Christmas. And, I'm utterly panicked about them!"
"The Potions exam?" asked Liam.
"I'm fine in Potions," said Sadie, her voice slowly returning to normal. "It's History of Magic that's got me worried. I'm completely lost, in fact. I can't follow one word of what that old ghost says, and the book is completely impenetrable to me!
"I don't dare ask the girls for help. They're awful to me, all of them are. Ronald knows the Goblin Wars like the back of his hand, but I can't honestly expect him to help me."
"Not after you blew up at him in Potions last week," said Liam with a wry grin.
"Then, I see you sitting there the whole period with your book open, taking notes. I just thought you could help me."
"You want to copy my notes?"
"I think it would help me more if you taught it to me."
"I can't fill you in on the whole term between here and the Great Hall. There's too much."
"I know. We'll have to meet."
"I was thinking Saturday. I could reserve one of those study rooms in the library. We could go over your notes and show me what you know."
"What time Saturday?"
"How 'bout right after breakfast?"
That should give me the afternoon with the boys, he thought to himself. He was hungry, and he was starting to worry about what the others might be thinking about his delay. "Fine. Now, let's get some lunch."
When Liam reached the Hufflepuff table, Michael exclaimed irritably, "Finally, you decide to show up."
"I was talking to Sadie," he said as he ladled some hot tomato soup into a bowl.
"What did she want?" asked Philip pleasantly.
The girls on the other side of the table abruptly ceased their conversations in order to hear the answer. "She just had some questions about History of Magic. That's all," he added forcefully in Lara's direction.
That evening, as the boys headed for the stairs after dinner, a paper aeroplane flew and hit Liam in the back of the head. Liam looked around quickly for the culprit, but Philip said, "Don't crinkle it! It might be a note."
Liam looked down and noticed the little smiley faces on the wings. He unfolded it and saw Sadie's big, loopy handwriting. He held it up so that Philip couldn't read the note over his shoulder. (Michael wasn't as interested.)
"L, The room is reserved. I'll meet you Saturday morning right outside the Great Hall after breakfast." Under this were hearts, flowers and swirls, followed by an elaborate cursive "S."
Liam folded the note and shoved it into the pocket of his cloak.
"What does she want?" asked Philip eagerly.
"Nothing," said Liam, sternly.
That night, he read through his history notes. It was just as well she didn't want to try and copy them, as his spidery, left-handed scrawl was difficult even for Liam himself to read sometimes. He gazed down at the sea of words and tried to think of a way to explain all of it to Sadie.
His eyes settled on the name Feanor. Where had he seen this name before? Not in his history book. In some other place . . .
He straightened up his notes and set them on his rickety side table. Nearby, Philip was poking through his Transfiguration book. "Oi, Philip," said Liam softly. "Can I see your Wizard Cards for a bit?"
"Sure," said Philip, a little surprised. "Let me go get them."
Philip came back with a stack of cards bound together with a spell, and a large book like a photo album. He set the stack of cards on the side table and opened the album. "All my important cards are in here. The rare cards, and the ones that are most collectible. The Gothmog card is in here, and all my Harry Potter cards."
"How 'bout that Feanor card I gave you the other day?"
"It's in that stack. I have a pair of them, now. It's helpful if I want to make a trade."
"Can I see it?"
"Go ahead." Philip tapped the deck, and the binding spell released the cards.
Liam pulled the deck to his lap and began flipping quickly through the cards. Every so often, he would pull out from the deck a card with the name of a wizard that he recognized.
"Those are all from the Ancient Days series," said Philip.
"These names are in the History of Magic Textbook."
"I know. Our book has the whole history of the Ancient Days. It's really very interesting."
"Can I borrow these for a few days?"
"Do you want the Gothmog card, too?"
Liam considered this for a moment before shaking his head. "Better keep that one in there. I'll be fine without it."
Philip looked slyly at Liam. "I think I know why you want these cards." Softly, he added, "You've got a way with girls."
"Keep it to yourself," said Liam, sternly.
Friday night, there was a flurry of snow, and Saturday morning, the campus was covered in a thin white blanket. Liam rose early, and was showered and dressed before the others were out of bed.
He went alone up to the Great Hall, his bag hanging on his shoulder. In it, he had his History of Magic textbook, his notes, and the stack of Philip's Ancient Days Wizard Cards.
There was no one else at the Hufflepuff table when he arrived, but as he began to fill his plate, more students came and sat around him.
The other First Year boys joined Liam as he was finishing the last of his marmalade toast. Michael, as he filled his plate with scrambled eggs, remarked, "We ought to challenge the Gryffs to a snowball fight this morning."
"Can't this morning," said Liam. "Maybe this afternoon."
"It might be gone by this afternoon," said Michael. "What have you got going this morning?"
"Sadie . . . ."
"Don't tell me you're going to waste a fine morning like this cooped up inside with your Ravenclaw girlfriend!" shouted Michael.
"She's not my . . . !" But, it was too late.
Archie turned from his conversation and said, "Wren's got a girlfriend in Ravenclaw?"
Across the table from him, Archie's friend Eric remarked, "What a brilliant idea! Why didn't we think of that when we were First Years?"
"Back then, all the Ravenclaws in our year thought we were a bunch of obnoxious gits," continued Archie, sagely.
"Of course, we were a bunch of obnoxious gits back then," said Eric.
"But they should have been able to see passed all that! It was very rude of them not to."
"Yeah, Wren," said Eric, "how did you manage it?"
"Never mind that," said Archie. "We've got to give our little brother Wise and Useful Advice!"
The Seventh Year boys got up and crowded around Liam. Archie put his hand on Liam's shoulder and said, "The trick with a girl, see, is to give her just enough."
"Give her too much, and she'll want you to marry her," added Eric.
"Not enough, and she'll know you're really not interested in her," said another of the boys.
"Right," said Archie. "So, it's got to be just enough - just enough so she keeps feeding you answers."
Liam smirked at this. If they only knew . . . he thought.
Just then, Cheryl barged into the group. "All right, you guys. Stop filling his head with all your sexist nonsense!"
"Sexist?" cried Archie, aghast. "Au Contraire, my brave and loyal Prefect. The Wisdom of the Ages we're giving him!"
"Yeah," urged Eric. "Our hard-earned experience, and we're handing it over for free!"
"Out of the goodness of our hearts!" added Archie.
"Go! Leave my First Year be!"
The older boys went back to their benches. Liam stayed seated for a moment, then rose. "See you guys later," he said to Michael and Philip.
Cheryl said to him, "Do you really have a girlfriend in Ravenclaw?"
"We're just studying for the tests next week," said Liam sternly. But by the way she smiled at him, he may as well have said "Yes."
Just outside the doors, Sadie stood next to a gleaming suit of armour. She had a bag around her shoulder too, and she was looking shy and flushed. Liam gazed at her without speaking, and tried to figure out how he felt about this girl.
"Did they tease you?" she asked him.
He nodded. "A little."
"I saw those older boys crowd 'round you, and I figured I was the cause of it. If it makes you feel any better, they've been teasing me, too."
It didn't make him feel any better, but he didn't want to say that out loud. People were coming in and out of the Great Hall. Liam nodded his head in the direction of the library. "Come on, let's go," he said.
As they walked, Sadie said, "We're supposed to be natural enemies, you know, almost like Gryffindors and Slytherins."
"What, the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws?" Thinking of Calliopes' condescension, Liam said, "I can see that."
"Calliope and her friends have never been nice to me, but once the girls got wind of what I had planned for today, they were just awful. Calliope called you a Mudblood. I got so angry I started pulling her hair. Lucy had to cast a spell to separate us."
"If Calliope were a bloke, I would've slugged her before now."
The two fell silent as they crossed the threshold of the library. Lucida stopped and greeted them. "Hello there," she said to Liam. "Is there something I can help you find?"
Liam said nothing back. Beside him, Sadie was fuming. Lucida regarded her for a moment and then said, rather nastily, "That's right, you have a room." She beckoned them with her finger. "Follow me."
She led them off to the right, passed the study tables, to the private meeting rooms. The one Sadie had reserved was hardly more than a closet. There was a small table and two chairs, but had the children been any older than eleven, they would have been hard pressed to sit down in the space provided. There was a window, keeping the room from being completely claustrophobic, but this also made the room rather cool and draughty.
The door to the room had a wooden frame, but otherwise, it was clear glass. Lucida called their attention to it. "Notice the glass," she said. "It's to discourage couples from coming in here and snogging. Not that this will be a problem for you two," she added with a laugh.
Sadie looked darkly back at her. "Have fun!" said Lucida, and closed the door behind her.
Sadie sighed. "See! Even my prefect hates me."
It was hard to argue with her on that point, so Liam simply moved on. He pulled out his book and notes, then set Philip's wizard cards on the table.
"Why do you have those out?" asked Sadie.
"They're Philip's. I chose the ones I wanted. They're all in the book, see." He tapped the History book with his hand. "The trick to reading this book is, you have to memorize the family trees in the back of the book, and every time the author mentions a place, you have to find it on the map."
He showed Sadie the fold-out map at the back of the book. "Where is this place?" she asked, annoyed.
"It's Beleriand. Wizards believe that thousands of years ago, we all used to live in a country called Beleriand."
"Where is this country now? In France or something?"
"No. It all fell into the ocean. I think France and England are over here." He pointed to the far right edge of the map. "Binns mentioned it in one of his first lectures."
"Fell into the ocean, like Atlantis? Are we talking myth or history, here?"
"I think it's a little of both." Next, he turned to the dog-eared page that had the family trees on them. "Everybody you need to know about is on this list here, and half of them are all related to each other, so they end up on more than one family tree. The other thing is, some of the people start out with one name and then they change their name after a while."
"Well, you get used to it. Melkor becomes Morgoth, Elwe becomes Thingol, and Finrod is sometimes called Felagund."
"I better start writing all this down."
So, Liam read from his notes about the forming of the world, and about the two brothers, Manwe and Melkor, one who was a good guy and the other who was mean and wanted to control everyone and everything. Liam pulled from the deck the Feanor card, and explained how Feanor made three beautiful jewels called the Silmarils.
"Melkor stole them with the help of the first acromantula, a spider named Ungoliant. After that, everybody called him Morgoth, which means Dark Enemy, I think.
"Feanor declared war on Morgoth and tried to take the Silmarils back, but Morgoth had too big of an army. So the wizards broke into groups and formed the first three wizard cities, Menengroth, Nargothrond and Gondolin. Morgoth, with the help of the goblins and the dragons, eventually wrecked all the cities before Manwe came with his army and defeated Morgoth. Then the whole place fell into the ocean, I think. I haven't gotten to the end yet."
The two went over the notes in more detail. They found each of the cities on the map. Liam showed Sadie all of the cards that Philip had loaned him, and he pointed out where each of them were on the family trees at the back of the book. After an hour, Liam felt that he had prepared both of them well for the test. He thought, Maybe I'll get out in the snow after all.
Sadie, however, was not done. "We have practical exams next week, too. Let's practice the Wingardium Leviosa charm on these cards."
Sadie quickly asserted herself as the teacher. Fortunately for Liam, he had thought to bring his wand with him. Sadie drilled Liam on every spell their professors had taught them in each of the Formal Magic classes. By the time they were finished, he was mentally exhausted.
After he had cast his final Defense spell to Sadie's satisfaction, he slumped down in his chair. "I'm bloody starving," he said. "What time is it?"
Sadie peered through the glass door at the clock on the wall. "Eleven-thirty. It's nearly lunchtime." She gathered up her notes. "I suppose you want to go back to your friends." Liam nodded. "Thank you for studying with me. It was nice to be with you when I wasn't having an absolutely miserable day, you know, having a cry or cutting my thumb open."
The way she beamed at him was making him blush. "I guess I needed all that practice," he said, finally. "Bet we ace those tests next week."
She grinned back at him. "I bet we do, too."
And that is exactly what happened. Liam had thoroughly prepared the two of them for the History of Magic exam, and Sadie's practice session was more than enough to get Liam through his practicals.
Sadie was opinionated, bossy, and shrill when angered or upset. But, she was also smart and hardworking. Liam didn't like being teased about having Sadie as his girlfriend, but, he decided, it wasn't too bad having this girl for a friend.
In the coming term, when the Dragon Dreams returned, Sadie would prove to be invaluable.
[Next up: Christmas, Christmas and More Christmas! Christmas in the Badger's Den, Christmas in Biggleswade, and a special Christmas with the Slytherins!]
Write a Review Liam Wren and the Dragon Wand: Sadie's Request