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Seeing Double by Aphoride
Chapter 3 : II
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 11


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II

The next day passes in a bit of a blur. It starts off perfectly normally and continues on perfectly normally, but you can’t quite shake the feeling that something’s different. That morning, you awoke twenty minutes early and got up ten minutes before your alarm went off. You then spent the borrowed time carefully brushing your hair, rather than just dragging a hairbrush through it, and your shower – you’re sure – was longer than usual. In classes you found yourself drifting away, even in Muggle Studies where you know you need to pay attention. Nevertheless, the intricacies of a muggle toaster don’t seem quite as fascinating as they did the other day.

At lunch, you don’t sit at the Ravenclaw table. Instead, giving a quick wave to Louis when you see him sitting there, you turn to your left and make a detour. It’s odd, you muse, how three of the houses are perfectly comfortable with their members going and sitting at a different table – although Merlin alone can help you if you dare mention ‘Quidditch’ in front of the Gryffindors because they'll interrogate you until kingdom come – but one house objects to their members going and sitting with any of the others. You suppose it makes sense: the Slytherins are, after all, cheerfully considered ‘the enemy’ and thus band together far more closely than any group of people you’ve ever seen in your life. Their slogan, if they had one, would be ‘all for one and one for all’, you muse to yourself as you make your way along the table.

You find her sitting half-way up the table, chewing on a stick of celery and listening to the conversation two of her classmates are having. Quietly, you slip into the empty space beside her, wincing internally when your bag hits the floor with a thunk. Perhaps you have too many textbooks in it, you wonder.

“Molly? What are you doing here?” Dominique frowns slightly at you, her friends pausing in their conversation to hear the answer, looking expectant.

“I wanted to talk to you,” you shrug, reaching out to take a piece of bread from the basket in front of you. “Is this a bad time?”

“No,” she replies; her friends have already gone back to their conversation – something to do with nail varnish and Potions, you gather from a snippet you catch in a pause. “What did you want to talk about?”

For a moment, you hesitate, unsure whether or not you should be making such a big deal out of this – it’s probably nothing, after all – but in the end you cave in and tell her everything. You make sure you repeat what you both said, word for word, and describe exactly what happened. The fluttery feeling in your stomach and your hideous blush at the end are slipped in, hopefully under her radar. As you tell her, you begin to feel much more relaxed, much more sure of yourself; if there’s one person who you know will help you work this out without making you feel like a complete idiot, it’s Dominique.

“So,” you finish, picking at the piece of bread on your plate nervously. “What do you think?”

Dominique considers everything you’ve told her, taking it in. You can almost see her turning it over in her mind, processing each individual action and word, each phrase and movement separately, before mixing it all back up together and coming up with a simple answer.

“I think,” she begins, a slow smirk spreading across her face. “That you’ve got a crush.”

“Really?” you blush again, sneaking a glance at the Ravenclaw table. “I don’t think so - I mean, what makes you think that?”

“Several things,” Dominique replies matter-of-factly. “Firstly, there’s the fact that you had butterflies when you spoke to him, plus you blushed when he knew your name – which is odd even for you – and then there’s the fact that that’s the fifth time so far you’ve glanced over at the Ravenclaw table this lunchtime and you’ve only been here for just over five minutes.”

“I’m… checking up on Louis,” you claim hastily, tearing your eyes away from scanning your house table. “And I always blush when an attractive boy talks to me, you know that.”

She just raises a single blonde eyebrow at you – an ability you’re extremely jealous of.

“So you admit that you think he’s attractive?”

“Well, yes,” you frown, rubbing a piece of bread between your fingers. You see Dominique give you a triumphant look out of the corner of your eye and add, “But that doesn’t mean I’ve got a crush on him.”

Picking up a strawberry, she points it at you to emphasize her argument.

“No, the fact that you think he’s attractive doesn’t mean you have a crush on him, but everything else does. For Merlin’s sake, Molls, what’s so – Molly? Molly?”

She waves it in your face, the faint smell of the fruit trailing behind it, to get your attention as, once again, your eyes have slid away. When you look back at her, she just sighs, giving a single shake of her head, her hair rippling down her back.

“What are we going to do with you, Molls?” she asks.

Even though you’re sure she doesn’t really want an answer, you reply anyway,

“Lock me in a room full of books and pass me meals through a cat flap?”

She laughs, “I think Uncle Harry would have something to say about that.”

You sense an opening to change the conversation and leap forwards, seizing it with both hands. Dominique’s right, and you both know it, but all the same it’s not something you feel particularly comfortable discussing. Some of her friends give you the creeps.

“Anyway, enough of me, how have you been?” you ask lamely, and you know it is a pathetic attempt to change the conversation but you don’t care. Feeling much more at ease now the topic has been – very firmly, you think – changed, you pull a jar of honey towards yourself and begin spreading it liberally on your bread.

“I’ve been fine,” she responds, picking up a piece of lettuce with her fingers. “Pulchra got the new issue of Witch Weekly, so we were looking at that the other night.”

“Did Nana Molly’s recipe get in it?” you enquire curiously. Nana Molly is obsessed with the magazine – she subscribes to it and reads it avidly, often quoting the choicest bits to the female cousins, but she’s never before had the courage to send in one of her recipes, despite her family’s raucous support.

“It did - mango and raspberry cheesecake, it’s on page eight,” Dominique nods and you’re mildly impressed that she can quote the exact page number and remember what it is, before you recall that it’s her favourite pudding. Of course she would remember – the pictures Nana Molly sent in are probably seared into the back of her skull, making her mouth water when she’s sitting, bored, in Potions and History of Magic.

You stay there a little longer than normal – longer even than you joked with Louis yesterday , talking to Dominique, swapping stories of lessons, hallways and things your housemates have said or done. Dominique regales you for a while with the story of an unfortunate Slytherin boy who received a letter from each of his mother, five aunts and six cousins remarking on how glad they were he was sorted into Slytherin and advising him on the best way to act at school and the best lessons to pay attention in. You’re both laughing so hard when she tells you how he looked completely baffled by the information and promptly referred to the sixth-year Prefect who asked him if he was alright as ‘sir’. In the back of your mind you know it’s not really as funny as you’re making it out to be, but you laugh anyway because, somehow, it is.

Soon enough, lunchtime’s over and you both have to go your separate ways. Dominique’s friends tap her on the shoulder, reminding her that they need to go to Potions. She makes a face at you – it’s not her strongest subject, despite her perfect memory – and then leaves, telling you she’ll talk to you later. The bell rings, clanging faintly, reduced to background noise by the sound of everyone fighting to get out of the hall, and you stand up, prepared to head off to Charms.

Although Charms is only on the second floor, and thus not particularly far away at all, it takes you far longer than you expected to get there. You’re not late, though, which makes you breathe a quiet sigh of relief. Spotting your classmates already inside the room, sitting at the wooden desks and nattering on to each other about who did what, who said what and who’s going out with whom, you quickly join them, sliding into an empty seat by the window.

Charms is your favourite subject, but also your least favourite. You love it because you find it intriguing, far more enjoyable than Transfiguration and you always do well in it, but you hate it because it’s the only class you share with the Gryffindors, and sharing a class with the Gryffindors means sharing a class with Lucy.

Glancing over to the other side of the classroom, you can see her sitting there. You’re mirror images of each other, only her hair bounces around her face, carefully-applied make-up enhancing her Weasley-brown eyes, her skirt just a little shorter than the rulebook says, and her shirt pulled a little lower. Despite all the similarities, they end at the physical resemblance. Lucy is loud, out-going, an avid Quidditch fan and a bubbly, social person. Everyone knows who she is, most people speak kindly of her. You, on the other hand, are none of that. The fact that you’re both – as numerous relatives and teachers have remarked on this – more intelligent and more hard-working than she is doesn’t seem to matter, doesn’t mean that things are any better for you than for her.

Professor Patil enters the room just then and you look away from your sister, looking up at the board. Colour-Changing Charms. You read about these over the summer, while Lucy went out shopping with her friends.

“Now, we’re going to be looking at Colour-Changing Charms today,” Professor Patil begins. “Who can tell me anything about them?”

Near the front of the room, a Ravenclaw boy’s hand is the first in the air and thus he’s called on to provide an answer. Naturally, his answer is paraphrasing the textbook and you smile slightly. It seems you and your housemates never change.

“Yes, that’s exactly right,” Professor Patil nods, giving him a small smile. “Five points to Ravenclaw, Mr Cole. Colour-Changing Charms do not change the actual colour of the object, they merely change it’s appearance. For example, if I use a Colour-Changing Charm to turn my robes pink, the robes themselves would not actually be permanently pink, but would merely look pink until the spell wore off or the robes were hit with the counter-charm.”

As the professor prattles on about the theory behind the spell and answers questions from a Gryffindor girl about why it doesn’t change the actual colour and the difference between the actual colour and the illusion of the colour – really, you think, quite self-explanatory – you turn your head to stare out of the window and begin to daydream.

In your daydream, Mr Darcy, handsome and suave in a high-necked long black jacket kneels down in front of you, his low, tremulous voice proclaiming his most ardent love for you. Dream-you blushes prettily, your cheeks stained a light pink, and you giggle as he brushes a kiss over the back of your hand.

You’re so caught up in your daydream that you only come to when someone pokes your arm gently.

Startled, your head whips round to look at the Gryffindor boy next to you. You recognise him from previous classes down the years, but you can’t put a name to his face – you were never partners together, so it wasn’t really necessary.

“Do you want to go first or shall I?” he asks you, and you freeze, having no idea what he’s talking about. Thankfully, he sees you stalling, shooting covert glances at the board to try and work out what the task is, and, his lips twitching into an amused smile, he tells you, “We’re supposed to be practising Colour-Changing Charms on each other. Our eyebrows, I think. Professor Patil said she’ll counter everyone’s charms – or attempted charms – at the end of the lesson.”

“Oh, right,” you nod, blushing a lovely scarlet red. “Thanks.”

“So,” he tilts his head slightly. “Do you want to go first or shall I?”

“I’ll go first,” you reply decisively, taking your wand out of your pocket. You know you can do this – you practised on tissues in your bedroom at the end of the summer, having run out of books to read.

Pointing your wand at his eyebrow, you say the spell clearly, enunciating each syllable. There’s a brief flash of yellow light and, when it clears and you stop squinting, you can see that whilst one of his eyebrows is still a pale blonde, the other one is now a deep, sapphire blue. Smiling proudly, you motion to him that it’s his turn.

He aims his wand at you, his hand perfectly steady, and you wait patiently for him to say the spell so that you can get on with experimenting with other colours. Blue is easy, as is yellow, but when you tried green over the summer you couldn’t quite manage it – you only got some kind of odd, sickly yellow-ish colour that wasn’t quite one but wasn’t quite the other either. Perhaps secondary colours are more difficult than primary? It certainly bears consideration, you muse.

Opposite you, the boy mutters the spell and jabs his wand, but nothing happens. No flash of light, no faint popping sound, just nothing. You blink as he looks down at his notes, obviously confused.

“I don’t get it,” you hear him muttering to himself. “What did I do wrong?”

Biting your lip, you wonder whether or not you should help him. Charms is one of your strongest subjects, after all, and he seems to be having trouble with the spell. After a moment in which you sit there, fiddling nervously with the edge of your skirt, you eventually speak up.

“You used the wrong wand movement,” you tell him, and his head shoots up to look at you, comprehension dawning on his features.

“Oh, yeah – it’s a swirl, not a jab,” he nods, picking his wand up from where he laid it on the table. “Thanks.” He tries the spell again and this time, there’s a flash of light, a faint pop and you can’t help but smile even though you have no idea if he’s managed it or not. Gingerly you reach up to feel your forehead, to check that your eyebrows are still there. You singed yours off in the holidays and you don’t want a repeat incident, even though you’re absolutely sure either Professor Patil or Madam Dagnell could fix it right away.

The boy just grins. “Don’t panic, they’re both still there. One’s yellow, though.”

You nod awkwardly, blushing again, your hand dropping from your face.

“Right, sorry.”

“Do you want to go again?” he asks you, sounding far more enthusiastic now he’s managed to do it once. “I’m thinking about trying to do purple.” Hiding a wince – purple, if your theory about colours is correct, would be one of the more difficult colours to achieve, and part of you laments the fact that he couldn’t have chosen something easier to do, like blue, but you find yourself nodding anyway. You can’t really refuse – it is the aim of the lesson, after all.

“Sure,” you agree, aiming your wand at him for a second time. You say the spell quieter this time, taking your time to make sure your pronunciation is just as exact, and watch as, with a pop and a flash, his second eyebrow turns turquoise. It’s not quite what you were going for, but you’re pleased nevertheless – you’ve never even got that far before and progress is progress, no matter how small.

“Do I still have both my eyebrows?” he teases you and you roll your eyes even through your half-hearted blush. Truthfully, the comment bounces off you internally like water on a stone, but you can’t help the heat now rising from your face.

“Hold still,” he tells you, concentrating hard. You close your eyes briefly, hoping he won’t notice, and, when the light has faded away, you open them again. He’s looking at you, slightly crestfallen but not embarrassed or apologetic, which is, you think, a good sign. Hopefully you still have your eyebrows, and all your hair.

“Did you manage it?” you ask him, to be polite. You’re not surprised when he shakes his head, though.

“Nah,” he replies, running his fingers along the wood of his wand. “I got a kind of navy blue instead.”

As the lesson continues – you turn his blue eyebrow red, then the other one pink, then a deep orange-y yellow before finally achieving a nice forest green – you find that you’re enjoying yourself and, by the jokes he comes up with and the grins he gives you, he’s having fun too. Then again, it’s a fun lesson – everyone always comes out of Charms after having done Colour-Changing Charms raving about the hilarity of it all.

Professor Patil stops by your table towards the end of the lesson, just in time to see the boy’s orange eyebrow and congratulates you before awarding you five points for Ravenclaw, making you glow happily. She spends longer speaking to your partner – who’s surname, you learn, is O’Leary – and tells him she’s very happy with his progress and that if he keeps it up he’ll be well on track to do well in the OWLs.

He looks slightly sheepish after she’s swept away to deal with a girl who’s turned her partner’s skin yellow, as though he hadn’t wanted you to find out that he’s not particularly good at Charms, but he’s joking again less than ten minutes later.

By the end of the lesson, you’re in a brilliantly good mood (although you can’t help but feel slightly sorry for O’Leary, as he didn’t manage to turn one of your eyebrows purple) and, once Professor Patil has restored your eyebrows to their natural dark ginger, you leave the classroom having completely forgotten about your mysterious seventh-year from the night before and your earlier conversation with Dominique.

You spend History of Magic taking notes diligently, occasionally allowing the Hufflepuff who sits next to you to copy down the odd sentence which she’s missed. Each time you do, she whispers ‘thank you’, giving you a sweet smile, her hands gradually becoming more and more ink-stained as the lecture drones on.

Towards the end of the lesson, you realise that Binns has gone completely off topic. Putting your quill down, you push your notes over so the Hufflepuff – you think her name is Emily something – can finish copying them, and pull your diary out of your bag. Flicking through the small pages, you reach today’s page and glance over what you have to do, adding in the essay Binns has assigned you. You won’t be able to get it all done that evening, something which makes you frown, as you have rounds after dinner.

X

You’re in the Library, having eaten dinner early and come straight up here afterwards to take out another book. Pride and Prejudice was finished this morning, just before the bell rang for the first lesson of the day, so you need something else to read in your spare time.

Browsing through the literature section doesn’t take you too long – you know exactly where the romance novels are kept, seeing as you have already read most of them, either at home or at school. Despite this inside knowledge, you can’t help but glance along the shelves at the rows of books, the titles and names of the author glaring up at you in demure, muted shades, as though begging you to pick them, to read them.

You’re in an odd mood this evening – one you can’t quite describe. You’re not happy, but you’re not sad; you’re not excited, but you’re not disapproving either. You just… are. It’s a kind of satisfaction, you suppose, since everything today has gone remarkably well. That being said, you somehow know exactly what you want to read. Not something you’ve read before - something new, something exciting, something… untouched. Something other people won’t have read, a bit out of the ordinary.

Running a finger along the dusty wooden shelves, you eventually stop at a book. It’s small, the cover black and leather from the feel of it, a far cry from the muggle books you have at home and at school. You assume, therefore, that it’s a wizarding novel and instantly your mind wonders what on earth would be in a wizarding romance? Naturally the heroine would be a witch and the hero a wizard, but what else would be different? Would anything else be different? The basic framework of any romance is the same, after all: girl meets boy, girl likes boy, eventually boy and girl go out or get married or end up together somehow. It intrigues you.

Before you know it, your fingers are curling around the book, sliding it off the shelf and into your hands. There’s no title on the cover or a name, nothing at all to disturb the blank, inky darkness. You gaze down at it, feeling a sudden urge to open it, to see what’s written inside it – maybe the author and title are inscribed on the first page or on the inside cover? – but you restrain yourself.

Tucking the book under one arm, you return to your table, sliding the book in your bag, between two textbooks. It sits there, squished and cramped, looking entirely out of place beside the bright colours of the others. You swing your bag over your shoulder, it doesn’t feel any heavier, and make your way out of the Library. A glance at your watch tells you it’s quarter to eight. Perfect.

X

Mahendra’s waiting for you in the common room at eight, lounging in one of the chairs by the fireplace, watching two second-years playing chess. They’re abysmal – you’re quite sure Uncle Ron would have a heart attack if he could see them – but they’re having so much fun it’s almost criminal. You smile at him, feeling quite free without your bag to weigh you down and you walk out of the room together.

As you walk down the stairs in an oddly companionable silence, you begin to understand why the fifth-year prefects are always paired according to houses. Despite all of the inter-house mingling that goes on, particularly in the upper years, people tend to stick to their housemates outside of class, as they’re the ones you sleep and eat with and see more often. It makes sense, therefore, to put new prefects - who are known for being jittery and more likely to either be too harsh or too lenient with rule breakers - with people they’re more likely to know. You can’t imagine how awkward it would be if they didn’t have this system. Knowing your luck, you’d probably have been paired with a Hufflepuff (for example) who you should know but who you didn’t, or, worse, someone who you didn’t get on with at all or who idolized your uncles and aunt.

“So, how was your summer?” Mahendra breaks the silence, something you’re grateful for as you’ve always been bad at starting conversations.

“Not too bad,” you answer truthfully. “I spent a lot of it at my cousins’ houses or at my grandparents’ house. They usually played Quidditch while I read, which was a win from my point of view.”

“Yeah, sometimes you can get sick of Quidditch,” he agrees and you find yourself slowly relaxing. Mahendra’s a nice guy – not as friendly or open or funny as the boy you met in Charms, but you get on well enough.

Rounding a corner, you pass Professor Macmillan, who gives you both a nod, his wand held in one hand. You suspect that it’s not to use on rule-breaking students (as James and Fred often joke behind his back) but in preparation for when the torches on the walls go out at ten. Suddenly, the prospect of spending three hours walking around the castle instead of reading the odd black book or doing homework doesn’t seem so bad. Teachers, after all, have to stay up until twelve when they do rounds.

“Tell me about it,” you sigh, continuing the conversation. You know a surprising amount about people getting sick of Quidditch – Aunt Ginny often claims to be when you all meet up at The Burrow, although last you heard she was still writing articles about it quite enthusiastically. “My family’s all Quidditch mad, but if they’re not raving on about how much they love it, they’re going on about how they’re fed up of only ever playing Quidditch and talking about Quidditch and hearing about Quidditch.”

He chuckles softly. “Yeah, I can imagine that with Fred Weasley as your cousin, it can get a bit annoying at times.”

“He’s not the worst – not even close,” you assure him confidently. “That’s my little cousin Hugo’s title. He’s always insisting on playing with the rest of the family because he complains when he’s left out, but half-way through the game he’ll get bored and decide he doesn’t want to play anymore and whine when no one else wants to stop and go see the gnomes with him.”

“Gnomes?” he seems confused, his brow furrowed as he runs your sentence through his mind again. “Why would he need someone to go with him to look at gnomes?”

It takes you a moment or two before you understand his confusion.

“Oh! They’re not garden gnomes, like muggles have in their gardens,” you explain, thanking Merlin for your mother. “They’re real gnomes. They’ve got really big, hard heads and knobbly knees and big, sharp teeth. We have a whole nest of them just behind our back garden but they occasionally wander through and then we have to get them out again. Granddad loves them, though – it’s why they keep coming back.”

“That makes a lot more sense,” Mahendra nods, his face scrunching up slightly and you guess he’s trying to imagine what a gnome actually looks like. You smile, remembering that you used to do the same thing, only you and Lucy used to wonder together, drawing incredibly fantastical pictures of what you thought one looked like. Lucy had a fondness for colouring them purple.

“So,” he slips his hands into his pockets. “What activities are you involved in?”

“I’m in Chess Club,” you shrug, not entirely sure if you should really say that or not. Lucy never seemed to think it was anything to be proud of and neither do most of your cousins, although Uncle Ron encourages you heartily, asking for move-by-move accounts of matches and games when you’re home in the holidays. “What about you?”

He looks furtive for a moment, his eyes darting from side-to-side, as though he expects someone to be standing in the shadows, listening in one your conversation.

“I run Gobstones Club,” he admits after a pause.

“My uncle secretly loves Gobstones,” you tell him honestly, remembering the jokes about it when you were younger and first starting to join clubs at school. Uncles George and Charlie had mocked Uncle Bill for it for almost two hours straight before Nana Molly threatened to whack both of them up the head. “And apparently he was really cool when he was at school. I think he was president of the club, as well.”

“You have a lot of uncles, by the sound of it,” he comments and you just nod with a smile.

“I have six uncles and seven aunts,” you reply, including Aunt Gabrielle. She’s not really your aunt – she’s really only Victoire, Louis and Dominique’s – but she always calls you her niece as well and so, over the years, she’s become an honorary aunt.

“You must have a lot of cousins, then,” Mahendra chuckles.

“Yeah, hordes,” you respond, your tone equal parts fond and exasperated. “It makes family gatherings impossible at Christmas and in the summer.”

“Don’t worry, I know how it is - my dad has eight siblings and my mother has four.”

Now it’s your turn to stare, your mouth falling slightly open. Even with your – by most people’s standards – huge family, you can’t imagine what it would be like having a family with at least twelve aunts and uncles. You doubt that The Burrow would be able to hold that many – it can barely manage to hold your entire family and that’s not including friends or other non-Weasley relatives.

Your watch beeps quietly in the silence and Mahendra jumps slightly. It’s ten o’clock.

“The lights are going to go out,” you say, unnecessarily as it turns out – the torches on the walls flicker and die even before you reach for your wand.

“Lumos!” you hear, and then there’s a bright, white light filling the corridor, illuminating up to ten feet in front of you.

“Thanks,” you tell Mahendra, finally managing to pull your own wand out of your pocket and give it a simple flick, the tip of it glowing instantly.

Wands held high, the two of you keep walking, moving around the fifth floor. You can’t imagine anyone would be out here so early on in the term – this floor’s mostly classrooms and the nearest common room is Ravenclaw's. Then again, you suppose that’s why you’re not a troublemaker. If you asked Fred, he’d probably be able to come up with a reason for hanging around on the fifth floor after curfew. He has an excuse for nearly everything tucked up his sleeve, ready to pull out at a moment’s notice.

It’s strangely eerie, wandering around the school at night. Even though you know that you have permission to walk around, that you’ve got the power to tell people off and take points from other students, you still can’t shake the feeling that you shouldn’t be here, that you’re doing something wrong. The doorways loom up on either side of the corridor – the corridor which feels as wide as the Atlantic, stretching away all around you, the lack of people sending your spatial awareness haywire. In the quiet, your footsteps sound abnormally loud, echoing slightly on the stone, the sound sharp and staccato, like a blow to your ears each time.

You suppose you’ll get used to it, though, seeing as you’ll have to do this at least once a week until you graduate. Once you’ve been doing it for a while, the empty spaces will seem normal for the night time, the sounds will be quieter and you’ll adjust more quickly to the shock of wand-light after using only candles and sunlight for so long. It’s just a matter of time.

The conversation having safely kicked the bucket, your thoughts wander off patrolling and the oddity of walking around the school at night, and turn instead to far more mundane, every day matters. Things like homework, friends, sending letters to your parents to let them know how you are, what to eat tomorrow at breakfast are all examined briefly before being let go, your mind passing on to another thought. You organize everything you possibly can, everything that you can think of, even things that don’t need organizing.

With your mind now freed up, much more at ease in the setting of rounds now that you’re heading back to Ravenclaw Tower, having been undisturbed for the entire time (Professor Macmillan doesn’t count, since he’s a teacher), you slip back to thinking about the black book you found in the Library. In your mind’s eye, you can see it – squeezed between your textbooks, the spine smooth, the cover pristine. That deep curiosity you felt in the Library, the urge to open it and see what it actually is, to delve deep inside another world once more, stirs again.

Out of the blue – or black, you think with a twitch of your lips – you give a soft yawn, raising a hand to cover your mouth.

“Imagine if we had to do the later rounds, as well,” Mahendra comments, and you shake your head, relieved he didn’t mention anything about your yawn. Then again, you glance at him and see that he looks fairly tired as well. “Eleven until one.”

“Sixth year’s going to be horrible,” you sigh, having absolutely no idea how you’d cope with staying up until one in the morning at least once a week.

“Yeah, I don’t know how Mike does it,” he agrees. You have no idea who ‘Mike’ is, but assume that he’s Ravenclaw’s male sixth year prefect.

Sooner than you expected, you reach the steps and trudge up them slowly. Your legs feel heavy, tired and every step is harder than the previous. The temptation, so sweet and tantalizing a whispered thought in the back of your head, to sit down on a step and rest for a while only gains momentum as you climb higher and higher. You refuse, though – you have no intention of looking weak or small in front of Mahendra. Despite being year- and housemates, you’ve never really spoken before outside of classes and, regardless of whether or not you’re actually friends, your pride simply won’t allow it.

So, you continue upwards, noting with envy that Mahendra seems perfectly fine climbing up the stairs. It’s terribly unfair, you think, that he should be so calm, so contained and so perfectly able to walk up these awful, horrible, dreadful stairs. You suppose it could be viewed as a good thing, sleepily analysing this. As soon as you get to your room, you’re going to hit the bed and fall asleep without any time to even contemplate picking up a book.

Then again, you muse as you head straight through the empty common room, that’s not really a good thing in your opinion.
 


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