I swear, kids ask the oddest questions. It was around two o’clock in the afternoon now, and I was struggling to make it through one day with these children.
Penelope was a saint to put up with this every day, voluntarily, I swear.
“A penguin is an animal.” I said slowly. “They live where it snows.”
Yes, I clearly knew a lot about penguins.
“Ok. But why is it black and white?”
This particular child, Alexander, was assigned a reader about penguins, and he’d had almost non-stop questions since reading hour had started. I could see the girl sitting next to him, the same girl who’d been staring at me earlier, smile slightly.
Her name was Sophia, and she seemed to be quite intelligent to me. She was certainly reading at a fast pace, and had been the first to finish her sums this morning. She was naturally curious, from the looks of it because she was definitely listening in on my conversation with Alexander. She didn’t talk much, at least not yet.
Nevertheless, she intrigued me much more than the others did. I’d seen far too many sticky fingers at lunchtime today to harbour positive feelings to for most of the children.
“I hope you’ve all read at least five pages!” Penelope called out from the front of the classroom, and, at least for the time being, all the heads bowed down and returned to reading.
I preferred it when it was like that. It was easier.
So far today, I had suffered through a maths lesson, which mostly just involved me patrolling around the classroom making sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing, as it was such a large class that having one teacher in charge who was just standing in front of the blackboard was ridiculous and improbable.
Then there’d been a history lesson, in which I’d just nodded and pretended to know what was going on. When science came up, I knew I’d be in trouble, but that thankfully had not been on the list for today.
All in all I’d survived so far, but I was exhausted. Tonight we were meeting at the Leaky Cauldron briefly so that the others could hear about my progress, but I didn’t know if I had the energy to go. It had been quite a while since I had been busy all day long, and on my feet all day long, and suddenly being thrown into it like I had today was taking its toll.
Thankfully Alexander seemed to have forgotten that he’d asked me a question, and I moved onto the next table.
I think it was slightly easier to deal with the older kids than the younger ones. These were all around ten years old, and had better attention spans and didn’t mindlessly hit things and try to eat glue, like I’d seem a younger kid do in the playground at lunchtime.
Apparently, another part of my duties was supervising that. The school had a roster, and every person on staff was assigned a break time and a lunchtime to watch over the children. I’d drawn the short straw, apparently, or maybe it was just because I was new, as I’d been assigned to Monday lunchtimes.
It kept me out of the staff room, I suppose, which was turning out to be a good thing. That place was awkward to be in. None of them apart from Phillip and Penelope had really warmed to me, though they did occasionally say good morning or good night, but that was it.
In some ways, it was preferable to be out in the playground, away from the prying questions and the very real possibility of exposing myself. Albus, Miranda and Scorpius had been right when they said this would be a hard job for me. I would take that further, however, and say it would be a hard job for anyone who had gone to Hogwarts.
Magical educations were just entirely different to Muggle ones. I had gone to a Muggle primary school, like this, as a child, but I hardly remembered it. It had been bigger than this anyway, and I had been with Albus, and James had been the year above us. We had all gone to the same school, which had been convenient.
I think there were schools that specifically catered to magical children around too, but I'd never seen them, and I had the feeling they would be expensive. My parents, and the rest of my family, had chosen the Muggle way. I was glad they had, I could only imagine how lost I would be if I didn’t have some prior knowledge of the Muggle education system.
The hour dragged on, but eventually the day finished. The kids trampled out the door, in an odd sort of competition to get to their bags first. Sophia, the curious girl trailed after them, not trying to be the first.
“Goodbye, Miss Weasley.” She said quietly as she walked past me, a shy smile on her face.
“Goodbye, Sophia.” I said after her, as it seemed to be the polite thing to say.
“She seems to like you.” Penelope remarked as the door closed behind Sophia.
“I don’t know why.” I said, and it was the truth. I’d hardly done anything remarkable.
“You did a good job today, Rose. Be proud of yourself, most of them seem to like you, and you don’t have trouble controlling them, at least not that I saw.” She smiled warmly at me, as she packed up some of the things from her desk.
“You can go, I don’t need you to stay around. I’ll see you the same time tomorrow morning.” She said, waving me off with a smile.
I headed out the door, feeling rather accomplished, though the prospect of yet another early start was slightly terrifying. I would have to get used to it, I suppose.
I headed around the corner, as I had about an hour before I had to be at the Leaky Cauldron. I was exhausted, and could have easily returned home and flopped on my bed, but instead I went to look at the place that had been pointed out to me as a possible home.
It turned out to be more of a cottage. It was small, with stone walls and a chimney. It was almost picturesque, with a wooden fence and gate, and an overgrown garden. I snooped around a bit, but decided I need to go speak to this real estate agent about it if I was serious.
Muggle real estate was, thankfully, something I knew about. Most wizards dealt with muggle realtors, so it wasn’t unusual.
I headed into the small town, locating the office quickly. It turned out that the place was actually quite cheap, it hadn’t been inhabited in a long while, and the current owner had inherited it from a great grandparent who had passed away not long ago. They weren’t interested in keeping it as they lived out of town, and just wanted it out of their hands.
I took the agent’s number, deciding to think it through. It was also something I should talk to Mum and Dad about, I supposed. My rough calculations and conversions from Muggle money to wizarding money told me that I could afford it, but I needed to be sure.
With that done, I headed to the first secluded spot I could find, in an alleyway behind the shops, and apparated to the Leaky Cauldron, almost landing directly on top of a wizard coming out of the fireplace, who glared at me.
I sighed gratefully; it felt better to be back in the magical world. It was home, the smells, the clothes, the sheer feeling of magic in the air. I had missed it, and most of all, I had missed being able to do magic. My wand had sat in my bag all day, never very far from me, but I hadn’t used it once. I couldn’t risk it when at the school, and I found that frightening.
For witches and wizards, wands were part of us. I had gotten so used to it over the last few years that it was odd to not be able to use it. I supposed that was something I would have to get used to as well.
I snagged the first empty table I could find, sinking into my seat with an air of exhaustion. Who knew working was so tiring.
I had a good half an hour before Miranda, Albus and Scorpius arrived and I snagged a loose copy of the Daily Prophet of the table beside me, since I hadn’t had a chance to glance through it this morning.
The day’s headlines revolved around the capture of a dark magical object trader, apparently he’d been caught with one such object in his possession, which was now in the custody of the Ministry, was awaiting trial. There was a statement from Uncle Harry there, as he was the Head Auror, so it must have been quite a big case.
The rest of the paper was full of the usual dribble, though James was still getting quite a bit of praise for his performance in their last Quidditch game. According to the sports section, Puddlemere was now the favourite to win the cup.
Good for them.
I ordered a butterbeer and some chips from Hannah, simply because I was exhausted and thought that might pick me up a little bit. I could hear several of the tables around me discussing the capture of that criminal, Hank somebody or other, but I didn’t bother eavesdropping. I was already planning to ask Dad about it later that night, it was a big enough case for me to be interested.
“Hey Rose.” A very tired looking Albus said, sliding into the seat opposite me, slumping back in the seat as he did so.
“You look as bad as I feel.” I said, smirking at him.
He just groaned.
“I’m so tired. I’m not used to working. I like sleeping in better.”
I chuckled at that. At least I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.
“Don’t worry, Al, I feel exactly the same way.”
He smiled wryly at me for that, ordering his own butterbeer.
Scorpius and Miranda came in together from the entrance from Diagon Alley, Scorpius once again carrying a mountain of parchment. Miranda looked relaxed, and not as tired as the rest of us. Then again, she didn’t have full on jobs like we all did, she was working in the same place she had the previous summer, which seemed a little like cheating.
“So, how was your first day?” She said, taking the seat beside me as Scorpius sat beside Albus.
“Fine.” I said blankly, not really having anything else to add. It had been fine, I suppose.
“My boss said I’m doing a good job.” I decided to throw in, which was also true, and it made Scorpius’s face fall, which I enjoyed doing.
It was always about the competition between us, and always had been, I suppose. Being in rival houses tends to do that to a relationship.
"Give that back, you jerk!" I yelled at fourteen year old Scorpius Malfoy.
He was a brat, he'd stolen my quill. I needed that.
Well, not really, truthfully I didn't much care about the Transfiguration essay I'd been writing. It was just the injustice of the situation, that he'd just taken it because he could.
I hit his arm quite hard, growling at him.
"Give it back!" He grinned, moving further out of my grasp.
I stood up and paced after him furiously, grabbing onto his arm with a vice like grip. I forced his fingers open, and took it out. He didn't look disappointed, but had an smug and satisfied smirk in place. This hadn't been about the quill. It had been about annoying me.
Huffing, I pushed him in the chest just because I could, making him stumble back a few paces, and stalked back off to my seat.
I hated him. I hated Scorpius Malfoy. I could never understand how Albus was friends with him. He was such an irritating little berk.
“How’s your job going, Scorpius?” Albus said, seemingly satisfied with my report of my workday.
“Busy.” Was all that he would say.
We tried to pry information beyond that single word from him, but he refused. I took that to mean it was going badly, and he was just too proud to say so. Things were looking up for me, at least, and I’d only just started. If he failed sooner, rather than later, I could just quit the school and be done with the whole thing.
I excused myself from the group not long after that, as I was exhausted. Albus left as well, and I could see he, like me, was tired.
I headed home, apparating directly into my bedroom and tearing my shoes of my feet. My feet were killing me because of those things. Standing up all day, wearing high heels, admittedly small ones, it was torture.
Rubbing my feet, I hopped into the shower, feeling the need. The sticky fingers from lunchtime were still at the forefront of my mind.
Once I felt slightly more alive, I headed downstairs to ask Dad about the case, and for dinner. I’d just eaten at the Leaky, but I was still fairly hungry as a result of my busy day.
“What’s for dinner?” I said, walking into the kitchen and seeing Dad, not Mum, hunched over the stove.
Dad was definitely the better cook out of the two of them, but he rarely went beyond breakfast foods.
“Lamb chops.” He said, and I grinned.
Dad was brilliant at anything grilled or barbequed.
“So,” I said, leaning my back up against the bench and surveying him carefully.
“I heard about that dark objects trader being captured.” I said, trying to sound as subtle as I could.
Honestly, I was just curious. Catching someone in a ring like that was hard, most of the objects traders weren’t caught, only their low level workers were. Bagging a big guy was an achievement.
“Hank Tusso? Yeah, that was a big score.” Dad said, concentrating on the food and not what I was saying to him.
I’d picked up enough from being around Dad all these years to know how the Aurors worked and how criminals worked. Traders worked in groups, and they had clients. This guy was just one small part of a very big network. Hopefully he’d talk, otherwise they’d have no hope of getting any further.
“Plenty.” Dad said, confirming my suspicions.
I didn’t really have any interest in the matter beyond that, I so I left the kitchen, heading back upstairs to wait for dinner to be cooked. It was odd how tired a day of work had made me; I could only imagine how bad it was going to be by the end of the week.
I sat with my chin resting on my palm, watching Scorpius Malfoy take his place at the Slytherin table on the other side of the Great Hall. He wasn't looking at me, or anywhere near my table. He was talking animatedly to Albus by his side, a smile on his face. He ran his hand through his hair once he was seated, and I had the strong urge to run my hand through his hair.
That wasn't a good urge to have.
Groaning, I made myself focus on the plate in front of me. Miranda was late, so I completely alone at the Gryffindor table, and sad as it may be, I had nothing better to do that stare at the Slytherins.
"You know, you could try to be less obvious." My brother said, walking past my seat, on his way to sit with his fourth year pals down the end.
'Shut up." Was all I said in reply to that.
I wasn't being obvious. Surely not. I was just staring into the distance aimlessly, and he just happened to be in my line of sight.
Just like how I'd happened to sit right behind him in Charms, and just happened to follow him all the way from that class to Potions.
Merlin, I was a lost cause. Next thing I knew, I would probably be sneaking down to the dungeons.
When the meal was over, I conveniently left the hall at the same time he and Albus rose from their seats. We crossed into the Entrance Hall at the same time, Albus greeting me like he usually did. Scorpius's reaction, however, was the one I was interested in.
"Good evening, Rose." He said politely as they crossed the hall to head down to their common room, and I headed to the stairs.
Albus kept walking, but I saw Scorpius turn his head and look back at me. I smiled at him, and I saw his eyes widen slightly in surprise, before he smiled back.
We both turned around quickly after that, breaking the gaze, and headed to our respective common rooms. I wasn't quite sure what was going on. I was Rose Weasley. I didn't smile at boys, especially not Malfoy.
I didn't stare at them in class and across the Great Hall. I didn't let them invade all of my thoughts.
Yet, somehow I had. Merlin, I had a crush on Scorpius Malfoy, and he seemed to hate me slightly less than usual.
I still didn't think he felt anything, no way. That had all been the love potion.