I threw my pillow at the mirror I was staring into, having made absolutely no headway in my plan to talk to James. So far, all I’d done was talk to a mirror (and it was one that couldn’t even talk back).
“Not going well?” Tanya said, emerging from the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her head. She was a firm believer in drying her hair the Muggle way, apparently it looked more natural and authentic.
“I suck.” I said firmly, flopping down on my on my stomach, groaning.
Dom and Kris were god knows where, we had careers counselling throughout the day today and Tanya and I were spending our free period trying to figure out how I was going to phrase my speech to James. As for Kris and Dom, I was leaving that to another day. I was getting really good at putting things off.
“Just speak from your heart.” Tanya said, and I glared at her. That was quite possibly the cheesiest line ever.
“If I do that, I’ll end up analysing his wand again.” I said, which was followed by an awkward pause.
I could predict exactly where Tanya’s mind had gone with that. I simply waited for her to burst into laughter.
Eventually she did, cackling away in the centre of the dormitory.
“Oh, shut up. You know I didn’t mean it like that.” I said, smiling despite my predicament.
Unfortunately it was almost time for Potions, so we headed down through the common room and through the corridors, heading down to the dungeons. It was that awkward crossover time between classes, with the stampede of students heading from one place to another.
We fought our way through the crowd, my bag clutched tightly to my chest – I couldn’t risk having my book stolen once more. I had no idea how Scarlett had managed that, but then, she was Rita Skeeter incarnate, so anything was possible.
Honestly, we were about three minutes late, usually he didn’t care if someone showed up twenty minutes late.
“Sorry.” I said meekly, sliding into my seat.
I wasn’t particularly good at Potions. I didn’t understand it, it hardly involved any wand work, and that was my strength.
The lesson began, and within fifteen minutes, I was already bored. I couldn’t actually figure out why I’d taken this subject. I’d only just barely scraped through my O.W.Ls, and had continued on simply because it seemed like the thing to do.
That being said, I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career, so keeping my options open was a wise decision.
My careers consultation time was scheduled for straight after lunch, with Barrow, the Arithmancy teacher who had taken over the position of Hufflepuff Head of House once Sprout became Headmaster.
This was something I’d been dreading all year, and I’d been doing a marvellous job at distracting myself with thoughts of James Potter. Lunch seemed to drag on forever, with no sign of James, so thankfully I had no opportunity to speak to him. Kris and Dom joined Tanya and I, and we ate for the hour, talking about nothing particularly interesting.
Slowly, the time for my interview approached, and I headed to my almost certain doom. I’d never learned from Barrow, so I’d had very limited interaction with her, and wasn’t particularly looking forward to trying to explain my future plans, and why they were basically non-existent, to a stranger.
I knocked on the wooden door, my bag hanging off my shoulder, banging against my leg.
I entered, entering the office of my Head of House for the first time. I’d never gotten a detention, so I had no reason to visit the place.
“Hello.” I said formally, taking the seat she gestured to, placed in front of her desk. Like the session we’d been to back in fifth year with the Deputy Head, when we were encouraged to think about our N.E.W.T subjects, there was a stack of pamphlets scattered on the desk, many displaying things like ‘Ever thought of a career in Spell Creation’, or ‘The Real Guide to making it as a Healer’.
I couldn’t see anything in the immediate vicinity that struck a chord in my mind, but I wasn’t expecting to. As James had so keenly pointed out to me, the only thing that really interested me in the future was an apprenticeship at Ollivanders. Of course it was a childish dream, it wasn’t a serious career option. If only.
Ollivander would never offer me an apprenticeship. He’d mentioned it, saw, but it had never been brought up again.
“So, Miss Song, I see you’re taking Herbology, Charms, Transfiguration, Potions and Astronomy this year, is that correct?” She said, and I nodded.
“Yes.’ I said, nodding.
“Do you have any ideas for what you’d like to do next year?” She said, surveying me over her rose-tinted, horn-rimmed glasses.
This was the part that I’d been dreading. The look of disappointment when I admitted that I had absolutely no plans for the future, except for a vague interest in wand making, which wasn’t really considered a good thing to aspire to.
“I have an interest in wand lore.” I said quietly, looking down. I might as well say it, it was the only thing I could think of. I know my mother had had hopes of me joining the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, but she had never really spoken of that desire strongly, and I didn’t have temperament to survive in law or politics.
“Wand lore?” Barrow said, taking of her glasses and placing them carefully on her desk.
“That’s a rather interesting choice.”
She rifled through the pamphlets whilst continuing to speak.
“What are your other choices? Surely you must have a favourite subject.” She said, extracting several pieces of paper from the pile on her desk.
“Well, I like Charms, I guess.” I said slowly, realising that it was true. I certainly preferred it to all of my other subjects.
“I wouldn’t mind something in the area of spell creation, either.” I said, and she raised her eyebrows.
“You certainly have unique interests.” She said, handing me the pile of pamphlets.
“In there you’ll find one about wand lore apprenticeships, though please be aware that they won’t guarantee you a job, and are rather difficult to get. We haven’t had a student express an interest in such a thing in over fifty years.”
I stared down at a neutral brown and tan coloured pamphlet, which seemed to contain an awful lot of writing and very few pictures.
“The second, as you will see, is for spell creation. Again, this isn’t usually something we find many students are interested in, but it’s a good skill for anyone to have, and is often required in many jobs. There are several courses available after graduating Hogwarts if you’d like to go into that area, or careers in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, the Department of Mysteries or St Mungo’s are available, as research positions. Of course, you’ll need to receive almost perfect N.E.W.T results to be considered for any of them, as they are usually given to older witches and wizards transferring in from other departments and facilities who have decided that research is more their calling.”
I flipped through that pamphlet, which, in contrast to the wand lore one, seemed to have a lot of pictures and very little writing, with many lists and summarised things to make it easier to read. It was flashy and smart looking, attractive to look at and read.
“And finally, I’ve popped in a few others since you mentioned an interest in Charms. Read them through, and I’d like to see you back here in a month for another session.”
I looked up, slightly alarmed by this.
“Don’t worry, anyone who doesn’t seem to have a set career plan is being asked to return. We want to give you all the best chance for your plans after Hogwarts.” She said with a smile.
“Ok.” I said, not really sure what else to say.
With that, she dismissed me, and called in the next student. I picked up my bag, my shoulder instantly tensing up to bear the weight of all my books, and, clutching the pamphlets to my chest, I exited the office.
I had twenty minutes until my next class, so I decided to head to the common room and read through what she’d given me. I might as well, I mused, perhaps it would give me some idea to what I wanted to do with my life.
I couldn’t help but wonder how many people were having a similar experience to me. I was so used to Hogwarts, to having a timetable, to having a schedule and exams to work towards; I wasn’t sure what I’d do without it. There was always the next year, the next assignment, the next exam. Even in the holiday periods, I’d always known there was another term starting soon. Now, however, this was my final year. I didn’t have anything after this, this was it.
I’d be sent out into the world, and I could see Dad forcing me to find my own apartment, now that I was a ‘mature adult’. I’d need a job, a way to pay for things. I’d need to be motivated. I wasn’t going to be a student for much longer, and that was a scary thought.
I hadn’t really talked about such things with anyone. We all tended to discuss our futures in very vague terms, nothing specific. I’d certainly never heard anyone talk about the fear of leaving, yet I’m sure other people would feel the way I did.
Sitting down in one of the more comfortable armchairs, I started flicking through the pamphlets. There was nothing particularly interesting or out of the ordinary, but it passed the time. The information on wand making apprenticeships was the only bit that really jumped out at me. Apparently, there was a school in France that offered a wand making course, and boasted some impressive graduates, such as Gregorovitch.
Slowly, the common room emptied as everyone headed off to their next class, and I forced myself up, having read the pamphlets through. It certainly gave me something to think about. A career creating spells wouldn’t be too bad…but I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it. Though, that begs the question, would I enjoy anything? Most people don’t enjoy their careers, right? It is just a way of paying the bills.
Grumbling to myself, I grabbed my bag once more and headed to my next class. A part of me couldn’t wait for the weekend, just so I’d have a chance to get all my work done without having more immediately piled on top, even if it did mean I had intensive Quidditch practice sessions.
It was Friday night, I’d just left the library after completing most of my work in advance since I had Quidditch on the weekend, and I was walking through the Entrance Hall.
At that moment, the Gryffindor team, fresh from one of their own practices, entered in through the double doors, startling me. I still hadn’t spoken to James, and had almost been avoiding him all week.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to work for much longer, because he broke away from the rest of his team, leaving them to continue on and up the stairs without him, and came over to stand with my by the corridor leading to the Hufflepuff common room.
“Hey.” He said rather lamely, dressed in his Quidditch gear, and, I’d imagine, rather sweaty.
“Hi.” I said back, knowing full well that I should say what I had to now, before I got busy and things got complicated.
“James, I need to talk to you.” I said in a rush, grabbing his sleeve and pulling him into the corridor, and therefore into a slightly more private place than the middle of the Entrance Hall at nine o’clock on a Friday night.
“What’s up?” He said casually, clearly not taking in my frazzled mood.
“I…I heard something from Tanya, who apparently heard it from Dom.”
Here we go.
He looked curious, his eyes wide as they stared into mine.
“Did you have…a….crush on me in fifth year?” I said, cringing as I did so.
God, I sounded like a thirteen year old.
We stood in a very tense and awkward silence as I waited for his response, my cheeks slowly growing redder and redder.
“Yes.” He finally said, and my eyes snapped up to meet his.
“Really?” I said breathlessly, mentally slapping myself.
Way to sound like an idiot.
“What? I was fifteen. You were the mysterious girl that hardly ever spoke.”
Oh, that was lovely; I’ve always wanted to be known as the girl that never spoke.
“It was a long time ago. This doesn’t make our friendship awkward, does it?” He said, suddenly worried.
I shook my head, though my stomach was sinking. I tried to ignore it, ignore what that must mean.
“No, it’s fine. I was just…curious.” I said vaguely, twisting my watch around my wrist.
“Well…good luck with practice this weekend. Any word on when Michaels is going to put you in for a match?” He said, as we stood in the darkened corridor.
“I think it will probably be after Christmas, if at all.” I said solemnly. We had a match in a week, but I knew I wouldn’t be playing for that, unless something happened to our current keeper, Callum Ross.
“He’ll put you in, don’t worry.” James said, patting me on the shoulder before saying good night and heading up to his own common room.
I groaned, resting my head back on the stone wall of the corridor
behind me. I’d known this was coming. I’d been ignoring it. The queasiness in my stomach, the smiles, spending all my time with him…it was so bloody obvious. Tanya had noticed, Dom had noticed.
I was just blind.
Feeling rather sick, I walked blindly into the kitchen, expecting it to be empty except for the house elves. Instead, Tanya stood in the middle, surrounded by various pots and pans, flour coating the bench.
“Olivia!” She said brightly, grinning at me.
“You want to try one of my cookies?”
I stepped forward, looking at the tray full of delicious treats. It didn’t take me long to decide, and I grabbed one, mindful that they were still hot from the oven. The chocolate in them was melted to just the right degree, the cookie itself firm, but not crumbly.
Tanya had, once again, achieved perfection.
“God, Tanya, you have to sell these. Start a catering company. Something.”
I finished the cookie, once again becoming painfully aware of my recent revelation. Sighing, I sunk to the bench at the side of the kitchen, resting my chin in my hands.
“I’m an idiot, Tanya.” I said morosely, and she just looked at me.
“No, you’re just falling for James Potter.”
I looked up at her.
“Well, what the hell am I supposed to do about it?” I whined, not really ready to accept what it meant, and how long I’d been lying to myself.
“That,” Tanya said wisely, turning back to the mixing bowl in front of her, “is not something I can help you with.”
I groaned, moving so that my head was now in my palm, the picture of hopelessness.
“I love you!”
I stared in complete horror at the small boy in front of me.
“That’s disgusting!” I screeched, taking off across the playground in the opposite direction as fast as I could.
“Come back, Olivia!” He said, and I could hear him start to run after me.
“Sarah! Help me! He wants to kiss me!” I cried, tears streaming down my cheeks.
I couldn’t let Joe catch up to me. That would be disgusting.
“Why would I help you?” Sarah sneered from her position on top of the slide, glaring down at me.
Even though she was younger, she constantly fought back. Mum always yelled at me for it too, which was unfair.
“I’ll let you borrow my doll set!” I bargained, knowing she wanted to play with them. She’d wanted a set of her own for a while now, but so far, she hadn’t gotten one.
She considered this, and I ran frantically in circles, dodging Joe McLean.
“Ok.” She said finally, pushing off and sliding down the slide, shooting off the piece of metal just as Joe passed her. She crashed directly into him, and the two of them went rolling across the grass.
I stopped, panting, and stared. I hated boys. I don’t understand why anyone would get married. They’re so icky. Why would anyone want to kiss a boy?
I woke up, shivering slightly in the cold night’s air. Tanya, Kris and Dom were sound asleep, and rightly so, as a quick glance at my watch told me it was just past three in the morning.
I’d woken up from the dream, I was sure, but I couldn’t quite figure out why. I remembered that moment, Joe McLean had tormented me for several months when I was younger. For some reason, James’s face was in my mind.
Well, no, that’s not true, I knew the reason. My six year old self had been so hell bent on never kissing a boy and never liking one. Here I was, now seventeen, and I’d fallen into that trap. James was a nice guy, I knew that. Though, I remembered, I could easily be his charity case. I hadn’t worked up the courage to ask him that earlier in the evening.
Groaning, I pulled my blankets around me tighter, and tried to get any and all thoughts of James Potter out of my head. I had Quidditch practice in a few hours, I needed my sleep.