Chapter 5 : Good News for People Who Love Bad News
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Disclaimer: Title came from the album of the same name by Modest Mouse. Tweedledee and Tweedledum belong to Lewis Caroll. Everything else that isn't an OC or attempt at a plot line belongs to Jo.
The thing with trying to change seven years of habit in the course of a weekend, is that it doesn’t really work. It didn’t matter that I had made a promise to Longbottom or that I had foolishly told myself that this year was going to better. Once a slacker, always a slacker – and there was no way I could change that.
“I can’t believe that you forgot to do the essay,” Brain lectured, shaking her head as she watched me hurriedly try to finish writing.
We were sitting at a table in the back corner of the library, using our lunch time to work on our assignments. Usually, I’d never place school before my own stomach, much less willingly step into the Fields of Punishment. However, considering how the assignment was for Remedial Charms, which was in twenty minutes, I figured that I needed to rearrange my priorities a bit. Brain always spent her lunch hour in the library, preferring to get a head start on her homework over food.
“What were the exceptions to the Aguamenti charm, again?” I asked, deciding to ignore her comment on my lack of organisation.
“Fiendfyre is the only one that Flitwick cares about you mentioning.”
I muttered a quick thank you, and continued scribbling away at my parchment. The directions were to pick any charm of our choice and write a foot and a half essay on its properties and uses. I chose the Aguamenti charm simply because it was the only one that I didn’t completely fail at last term. Sure, my first attempt may have caused for the entire third floor to be flooded, but after that I managed to get the hang of it.
“Don’t forget that it’s spelled with a ‘y'," she pointed out, and I hastily scratched out the misspelled word and replaced it.
I was nearly done, which I mainly owed to my slightly larger than average handwriting. The summer before I started school, Teddy had given James and me some advice that would help us out in our classes. One thing he mentioned was that the only way to get away with using big handwriting as a means for taking up space was if we did it from the start. He tried to make the switch in the middle of his second year, but his professor had caught him and gave him two nights of detention. I spent the last few weeks of my summer practising enlarging my letters, until it finally became a habit. That little tip of his was probably the main reason why I managed to get such decent grades on my homework.
“Can you read over my paper to see if it makes sense?” I asked her, once I had finished. She nodded, grabbing the paper and began to read. Every now and then she’d take her quill and jot something down, and I waited patiently for her to be done.
“For the most part it was pretty coherent, with just a few spelling and grammatical errors,” she explained, casting a quick-drying spell on my parchment so that the ink wouldn’t smudge. “You kept it pretty simple though, but not to the point where it’s obvious that you had done this right before it was due.”
“What do you think I’d get on this?”
“Depending on whether or not Flitwick’s feeling merciful, you’ll probably get an E,” Brain told me, as she handed me back my homework.
“Good enough for me,” I told her, letting out a sigh of relief.
Low expectations - they’ve been proven to decrease stress levels by nearly eighty-five percent.
“I suggest that next time you’ve got an essay, you start it at least a day before you’ve got to turn it in. You can only get away with that level of simplicity for so long, Min. Especially now that you’re a seventh year,” she warned, as we began to pack up our things.
“I was busy last night!” I protested.
Instead of having dinner in the Great Hall with the rest of the school, I sat in the kitchens for nearly two hours listening to Freddy go over the rules of the bet. James and Eli had managed to get twenty other seventh years in on it, making the pool a grand total of one hundred galleons. Because there was such a large amount of money at stake, Freddy felt that a meeting with all of the participants was necessary.
The rules were simple: who ever placed a bet was not allowed to do anything that could interfere with mine and Dare’s “relationship”. I remember hearing Nat argue about how unfair it was that she couldn’t give me any makeovers. According to Freddy, that was considered an interference since it could affect how certain people would react towards me. How and who it would affect, I’d never know. All I knew was that I was grateful that Nat wouldn’t have the chance to play dress up with me.
As for what I had to do, well that was also pretty straight forward. In theory at least. Until the day we left for Christmas holiday, I was to be Dare's friend. That meant no insulting, hitting, death threatening, shoving, name calling, malicious pranking, hexing, punching, yelling, or instigating. Unfortunately, ignoring him was also out of the question. If I wanted the money, I would actually have to engage in conversations with him and acknowledge his existence.
I honestly have no idea how I'm going to be able to pull this one off.
By the end of the evening, the contract had been signed by all twenty-four of us, with Freddy acting as a neutral supervisor. He didn’t tell us what the consequences would be for breaking it (besides losing the money, of course). All he mentioned was that it would be highly unpleasant and that we would regret it for the rest of our lives. And knowing Freddy, no one wanted to risk the chance of finding out.
It was going to be a rough three and a half months, but the prize was so going to be worth it. One hundred galleons were enough for a lifetime supply of Chocolate Frogs! There was no way I was going to lose such an opportunity, just because I couldn’t hold my tongue.
“That bet you guys are doing is absolutely ridiculous,” Brain scoffed, shaking her head with disapproval.
“You’re just jealous because you can’t be in on it,” I retorted, sticking out my tongue like the mature seventeen year old that I was.
“Right, because my life really needs some extra drama right now,” she rolled her eyes, grabbing her bag as we got up to leave.
“I keep forgetting that you have no other friends,” I said sweetly, before getting elbowed in the ribs.
“And whose fault is that?”
Lurking in the dark aisles of ancient books and eavesdropping like the snitch that she was, was no one other than my dear cousin Rose. Her auburn curls were tied back in their usual neat bun and her uniform was impeccable as ever. A silver Prefects badge was pinned to the front of her robes, its freshly polished coat gleaming in the light.
“What do you want, Rosie?” I sneered, knowing how much she hated being called by that.
Her eyes narrowed. “Did hell freeze over? Because that’s the only explanation I can come up with as to why my indolent cousin is actually studying in the library.”
“Not so loud, Rose! I can't have everyone here knowing that I'm related to you. Do you have any idea how bad that is for my reputation?”
“What reputation?” she asked incredulously. “The one where everyone thinks you're a total failure that's only good at landing herself into detention?”
“Just because Minnie doesn’t go around kissing McGonagall’s bum all the time, doesn’t make her a failure,” Brain retorted, crossing her tiny arms across her chest. “There’s more to success than being a Prefect, Weasley.”
“Aw, is that what you tell yourself to help you feel better, White? It must be so embarrassing to be the only non-Prefect in the family.”
“At least my family likes me. How does it feel knowing that your cousins find you so annoying?”
“I wouldn’t be so annoying if they weren’t such trouble makers.”
“No, I’m pretty sure that you’ll still be obnoxious,” I added.
“Whatever, Minnie,” she scoffed. “Don’t you have a Remedial Charms class to get to?”
Bloody hell, I did.
“That’s what I thought.” And with that, she turned on her heels and stalked off like a bat flying back to its cave, getting lost amongst the numerous rows of bookshelves.
“God, what is her problem?” Brain exclaimed, her porcelain face red with frustration.
I’ve been asking myself that same question for the past fifteen years.
Being two years apart, me and Rose never really paid much attention to each other growing up. Whenever we Weasley’s got together for whatever family activity our Nana Molly had schemed up, she would usually be found reading quietly with Albus, while James, Freddy and I ran amuck across the yard wreaking havoc on whatever our freckly little hands could get a hold of. The only time the three of us would directly interact with Rose was when we were teasing or pulling a prank on her. But being the daughter of my Aunt Hermione, she usually ended up snitching and getting us into trouble. Which of course, caused us to mess with her even more.
Needless to say that she didn’t grow too fond of us.
It didn’t help that she practically idolized my sister. I’ve always felt that if Victoire got the chance, she’d exchange me for Rose as her younger sister in a heartbeat. Rose was her little lap dog, always going on about how pretty Vic looked and how she wanted to be just like her when she grew up. It nearly broke Rose’s heart when she found out that I was Vic’s Maid of Honour. How she could have expected anything different was beyond me. Everyone knew that that role went to the bride’s sister, although I would much rather go skinny dipping with the Giant Squid than participate in that dumb wedding. For being a certified genius, Rose was kind of thick.
“Just be glad that you’re not related to her,” I told Brain, rolling my eyes.
“I can’t even imagine how much of a nightmare that must be,” she shuddered, and I felt a rush of sympathy for my friend.
Mine and Rose’s mutual annoyance of each other was nothing compared to the harsh enmity that went down between her and Brain. Whereas I just couldn’t stand my cousin, those two had an intense rivalry that was fuelled with hate, gossip, and bitter jealousy. It all started in their first year, when Brain got back an essay with a higher grade than Rose. This of course scared the hell out of my cousin, who had grown up believing that she was going to become the “Brightest Witch of her Year”, just like her mum had been. In an act of extreme maturity and retaliation, Rose went around telling all of the girls in their dorm that Brain had switched their essays and that she was a cheating little manipulator that was never to be trusted.
This same insult came back during their third year, when Rose caught Brain helping a certain Scorpius Malfoy out with his Astronomy homework one particular evening. Except she adapted it so that now, Brain was a boyfriend stealing slag that flirted with all of the boys by offering to tutor them. Brain had already been running low on the whole friend department, but once that rumour spread and every single girl in her year shunned her like the village pariah, she was left completely alone. She had us of course, but it wasn’t the same as having friends her own age.
“Just do what I do and forget about her,” I told her, gently nudging her shoulder. “She isn’t worth it.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” she admitted, letting out a sigh. “It’s a good thing she isn’t taking Arithmacy anymore. Merlin knows that the less classes I take with her, the better.”
I shuddered at the thought of being in the same class with Rose. Then again, I had to put up with Matilda Ramsey, who was practically the seventh year equivalent of my pretentious cousin, if not worse. At least I would never have to deal with them together. Now that would be a real nightmare.
“Oh, before I forget!” Brain exclaimed, reaching into her bag. “Happy belated birthday!”
She handed me a thick, leather bound book with a giant red bow on its cover. Every year for my birthday, Brain would give me one of her favourite Muggle books. Since she was so bloody rich, they were usually limited editions and sometimes even signed by the author. That is, if they were still alive (they typically weren’t). I glanced at the title, Pride & Prejudice, and wondered if she was trying to say something about me.
“This isn’t like that last book you gave me, is it?” I asked carefully, flashbacks of feral children running amuck on a deserted island flooding my head. As interesting as that story was, it took me weeks to get rid of all those creepy images.
Brain laughed, “Don’t worry, it’s nothing like Lord of the Flies. This one’s a romance.”
“Great,” I muttered, sliding the book into my bag.
“Trust me, you’ll love it!” she assured, although I knew she said that about every book. “Elizabeth is completely relatable and not at all the typical prissy romantic heroine. And don’t even get me started on Mr Darcy! He’s such a darling!”
It always amused me how much my friend’s mood changed every time she’d go off about her favourite stories. That girl spent way too much time with her nose stuck in a book.
“Ah, I could go on for days about this!” she sighed, before shaking herself out of whatever daydream she was about to start. “Anyway, we should probably get to class. See you in the common room, and good luck with your essay!”
I waved goodbye to Brain, and made my way down the corridor towards the Charms classroom. It was only three doors down from the library, so I managed to make it right on time. Essay in hand, I entered the classroom cautiously and began to look around for a decent spot to sit.
The room was mainly filled with sixth years. I spotted Freddy with a group of friends, laughing at something his buddy Oscar Jordan had told him. There were a few slackers from my year scattered about too, but no one I ever talked to. Taking a remedial class pretty much meant having to repeat the same class you failed at last year. Usually when someone had a remedial class though, it was the only time they took the subject. But since I was a special case and all, I also had to take the regular one with the rest of the seventh years.
This was why I preferred to keep people’s expectations of me low. Once a professor starts believing in you, it just means a hell of a lot more work for you to do.
“Well, look at what the kneazle dragged in!” a sultry voice remarked, just as I took my seat in the back row. I let out a sigh, knowing exactly who the voice belonged to, and looked up to find two pairs of giant blue eyes staring at me.
“Why doesn’t it surprise me to find you two in this class?” I asked sarcastically, as the bimbos each took a seat next to me.
“It’s not my fault that Flitwick scheduled the exam on the same day as Witch Weekly’s Spring Fashion Show,” Slaggy explained, as she pulled out her compact mirror that was encrusted with pink crystals.
That wasn’t her real name, of course, but I found that it suited her much better than Candice Meadows ever would. The rest of the school called her Candi, which since it sounded like something a stripper would go by, was also appropriate and made her the only Andi whose real name I actually remembered. The Andies were a trio that bonded over their rhyming names and mutual love of all things pink, and unfortunately, made up the rest of my dorm. I could never remember which of the other two, Sandra “Sandi” Fields and Amanda “Mandi” Brown, was which, so in my head they were dubbed as Posh and Clue (short for Clueless).
Affectionate, I know.
“Did you skive on your exams too, Minnie?” Clue asked me, a cheerfully ditzy smile on her face.
“Unfortunately, the owl with my invitation to the show got lost somewhere in Czechoslovakia, so I got stuck here,” I told her, and she nodded understandingly. Although, I highly doubted that she ever understood anything that didn’t have to do with makeup or unicorns.
“So, how’s the bet coming along?” Slaggy asked, an impish smirk playing at her lips.
“I haven’t cracked yet, if that’s what you’re wondering,” I answered, subtly knocking on the wooden desk once the words left my mouth. “Are you two in on it?”
They shook their heads, strands of glossy hair whipping back and forth. “Oh dear god, no! You know how Freddy gets when it comes to his little contracts. The rules said no interference, but where’s the fun in that?”
I internally groaned at that statement. One of the Andies’ favourite past times was meddling with my life, and since they weren’t tied to any contract, that meant they had free reign. And with the bet in play, I had a feeling that they were going to take complete advantage of that.
“Good morning class!” Professor Flitwick exclaimed, his squeaky voice cheerful. “Let’s settle down now, please!”
Slaggy rolled her eyes, and began to file her nails as Flitwick tried to get the class under control. Clue was colouring a picture of a unicorn on the inside cover of her Charms textbook, humming quietly to herself and I just sat there wishing for the day to be over already.
“If you would all pass your essays down the rows so I could collect them, that would be wonderful,” he announced, and I quickly handed my paper to Slaggy who was at the end. I noticed that I was one out of three of the eight kids in my row to turn in their homework, and I felt a feeling of great pride swell in me.
For once, I could actually be considered as one of the responsible students. Granted, I did the assignment only thirty minutes before it was due, but at least I got it done.
“Are there any more assignments?” Flitwick asked, his tone mildly desperate once he saw how short the stack was. “I expected that there would be much more than just-”
He paused to count the papers. “-eleven.”
The class of about twenty three merely glanced back at him, eyes dead and expressionless. Our professor’s face dropped at the lack of enthusiasm he was receiving, and I could just tell that he was thinking about how this was going to be one long term.
You and me both, Flitwick. You and me both.
“Why isn’t this day over yet?” I whined, dropping my bag down as I took my designated seat next to Dare.
“I take it your last minute Charms essay didn’t go well,” he commented, while we waited for Professor Cobble to arrive.
Flitwick had let the class out before the bell, having gone through the lesson rather quickly since no students were willing to participate in a discussion. At first I was okay with that, until I realized I had Transfiguration next, which meant that now I was stuck dealing with Dare for even longer (he somehow always managed to get to class ridiculously early).
“Actually, I was one of the few kids who turned one in,” I told him, biting back the defensive tone that wanted to come out. “I just hate how everything’s been going by so damn slow.”
“Look on the bright side,” he started. “It’s the last class for the day, and you get to spend it sitting next to me.”
Merlin, kill me now.
“Joy,” I muttered, before throwing in a quick smile so that he wouldn’t think I was being mean. It probably came out as more of a grimace, but I doubt that he would notice.
“I’ve got a couple of Chocolate Frogs in my bag, if you want one. I figure you’re pretty hungry since you skipped lunch,” Dare offered, and I looked at him as if he had gone and admitted his undying love for me, or something equally as crazy.
That would never happen, of course. The whole admitting his undying love thing, that is. Or at least, I hoped not. No, no, no it would definitely not happen. I mean, it can’t. But he was offering me chocolate! Out of the blue! Maybe that was some weird Australian custom thing. But he’s never done that before and besides, he was much more British than Australian. I mean, Australian men were rugged and manly and wrestled with crocodiles during their spare time after they had eaten their body weight in steak. Not some skinny little nancy boy who wore thick-framed glasses and offered his sworn enemy chocolate so that she wouldn’t starve. Maybe it was a quarter-Brazilian thing. Those Brazilians were a rather crazy bunch. Yeah, that had to be it.
“They’re not poisoned, Minnie,” he added, once he realized my suspicion.
“I never said they were,” I replied, shaking myself out of my intense inner monologue. “I was just wondering why the hell you were being nice, all of a sudden.”
“Don’t tell me that you forgot about the bet, already.”
Right, the bet.
“Of course not!” I protested, “Trust me, you would know if I ever forgot about it.”
If it wasn’t for my miraculous self-control and desperate wish for a lifetime supply of chocolate, he would probably be limping his way towards the hospital wing by now. Especially considering how I hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast.
Sweet Salazar, how the hell was I even functioning?
“Good point,” he replied. “So, are you going to take me up on my offer or what?”
Dare stared at me blankly for a moment, before reaching into his bag and pulling out three beautifully wrapped Chocolate Frogs.
Oh, right. That offer.
I let out a weak laugh, and grabbed one of the frogs. As I took the chocolate out of its wrapping, making sure to keep a firm grip so that it wouldn’t hop away, I checked to see what card I had gotten. I was pretty sure that by now, I have collected every single card on the planet but some habits just never went away. It turned out being one of my Aunt Hermione, and I chucked it into the bin that stood next to the wall.
One of her was plenty.
Dare also took one for himself, putting the other back in his bag for later. A moment of awkward silence passed between us, as we sat there eating our chocolate. It was a little weird for us to be so close and not be arguing with each other. My hand was itching to reach over and pinch him or something, but I restrained myself. I wasn’t sure how long I could go like that before I started suffering from withdrawal symptoms.
Glancing around the room, I tried to find something to distract me from wanting to pick a fight with Dare. There were still a few minutes left till the bell rang, but I was pretty sure that my patience wouldn’t last that long. Unfortunately for me, James’s seat was all the way on the other side of the room, which I’m certain was Cobble’s way of preventing me from talking to him the entire class. It was that same reason why Nat was sitting all the way up front, except she always managed to find a way to talk during lessons.
The only students who surrounded our table were some dull Ravenclaws that actually paid attention to the professor. There was also Vincent Goyle and Klinton Pucey, two Slytherins that either slept through the entire lecture or threw tiny paper balls at the back of unsuspecting students’ heads, but I wasn’t about to go and strike up a conversation with them. Just when I was about to give up and poke Dare in the ribs, Professor Cobble walked into the classroom and I felt a rush of relief.
It was torture not being able to argue with Dare, and I was confident that had Cobble not walk in when she did, I probably would have done something to lose the bet. I took out my quill and parchment, grateful that I now had an incredibly dreary lesson to try to pay attention to that would keep me from falling to temptation.
“Continuing with last week’s lesson, can anyone tell me one of the Five Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law?” she asked, silencing the class.
Dare’s hand shot straight in the air, beating the other know-it-all’s who were trying to kiss up to Cobble. She nodded at him, signalling for him to go ahead.
“Of the five exceptions, food is the first.”
“Very good, Mr White,” she praised, and Dare’s face broke out into a satisfied grin.
Geez, what a nerd.
“I’m sure that exception is one we are all familiar with. It’s rather frustrating to know that we can do so many extraordinary things with our magic, yet something as simple as creating food out of thin air is impossible.” She continued, “Thankfully though, we have the ability to conjure it if we know where it already is.”
She took out her wand and waved it in the air, causing a delicious triple chocolate fudge cake to appear on her desk. I immediately recognized it as the same one from the display case at Enchanted Bakery, a new pastry shop in Diagon Alley. When Mum had taken Lou and I shopping for school supplies, this culinary masterpiece was the first thing to catch my eye amongst the bustling shops. It had a beautiful piped icing that covered the cake in a butter cream lace, with dainty dollops of whipped cream adorning the rim. Our little shopping excursion had been before the whole forgetting my birthday fiasco, and so throughout our entire trip I had been dropping hints to my mother that this was the cake I wanted for my birthday. I never got it of course, which I think was more soul crushing than the fact that my parents had completely forgotten about the day I was born.
“Ah, that got your attention, didn’t it?” she mused, noticing the eager faces of her students. “Today and tomorrow we are going to be practicing conjuring and transfiguring food of all levels of difficulty. You will work in groups of four, and I will allow for you to pick your own partners. At the beginning of our Thursday lesson, there will be a practical quiz on all that we have learned. The group with the highest score will win the cake, and may leave class early to enjoy it.”
The class broke out into excited whispers, already plotting out who would be in their groups. I knew right away that if I wanted to win that cake (which I sure as hell did) I was going to have to join forces with the dark side. I turned to ask Dare if he wanted to work together, and saw that he was already looking at me expectantly.
“I take it you’re going to want my help with this,” he said confidently, more of a statement than a question.
“You are the top of the class.”
Merlin, it was killing me having to admit that.
“Mind if Nat and I join in?” James asked, the two having got up from their seats and occupied the table behind us.
The rest of our classmates were also accommodating themselves as they gathered in their new groups, although why they bothered trying was beyond me. There was no chance in hell that I was going to let someone else win my cake. I may not have got it for my birthday, but the fact that Fate was giving me a second chance was evidence enough that this cake and I were meant to be.
“Looks like we’ve got ourselves a group, then,” Dare stated, and the four of us quickly began to plan how we were going to go about winning us that cake.
Nat wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic as the rest of us, going off about how chocolate did horrible things to her thighs and such. However, she was still a competitive psycho, so any chance she got to beat another team was enough incentive for her to make an honest effort.
Cobble came around handing each group a sheet of paper that stated the directions and grading criteria for the assignment. There were page references on there as well, for more detailed instructions on how to do the spells. My heart dropped a little when I saw how complex a few of them could be, knowing that I was going to have to do a lot of practising if I wanted to ensure our group’s winning.
“Don’t worry about the tricky stuff, Min,” Dare assured, when he saw the worried look on my face. “Nat and I will handle those ones, so you and James can be in charge of the more simple spells.”
“What makes you think that I…” I started to go off, my mind automatically thinking that he was insulting my intelligence. I paused, mentally reminding myself that I couldn’t yell at him every time I thought he was offending me anymore, before continuing. “…wouldn’t agree to such an excellent strategy?”
“Smooth save,” James muttered, and I kicked him in the shin. There weren’t any rules about me having to be nice to him. Dare just shook his head, a small smile playing at the corner of his lips.
We went on like that for the rest of class. Dare would give instructions and I would have to bite my tongue to keep from snapping at him. He would point out what was wrong with my form and I would have to remind myself about the prizes at stake so I wouldn’t tell him off. My body was just not used to taking orders from him.
It didn’t help that I had to deal with Tweedledee and Tweedledum giggling every time they heard me politely ask Dare a question. Nat and James were definitely enjoying themselves as they watched me struggle to be nice to him. I lost count of how many times a “knowing look” passed between them whenever I (grudgingly) thanked Dare for helping me out. Dear Voldemort, those two were more obnoxious than the Head Prick himself.
By the time the bell rang, my head was pounding with all of the bottled up frustration and annoyance I was feeling. Oh, and there was also the tiny fact that I was bloody starving. Never again was I going to skip a meal to do homework.
Merlin, what had I been thinking?
My stomach was probably eating itself just to keep me going. It was a miracle I hadn’t murdered anyone during this time, much less lose the bet. Lucky for me (and probably mankind), dinner was right after class. I nearly cried with joy when I finally reached the Great Hall, where I was able to help myself to some food.
Needless to say, I loaded my plate with triple the amount of servings that could be considered healthy for a lazy adolescent girl.
“Holy hell, leave some for the rest of us!” James exclaimed, as he hurriedly piled food onto his plate before I would eat it all.
I tore through my meal like a ravenous Hungarian Horntail, my taste buds barely getting a chance to appreciate the flavour. James was quickly catching up with me, being an equally fast eater. At every family gathering where food was involved (which was all of them), the two of us have always been the first to finish our meals. We did this mainly because we wanted to get up from the table so we could continue with whatever game or prank we had been playing. Although, sometimes it was so that we could get first pick on desserts before the rest of our family got to them.
With a family as large as ours, you had to be quick, otherwise you were stuck at the table listening to Uncle Ron go on about the time he and Uncle Harry crashed the Ford Angelina into the Whomping Willow (or whatever other story that we’ve heard a million times or could read for ourselves in one of their many biographies, that he felt like boasting about) while eating two-day old Rhubarb Pudding that Aunt Audrey had made for her weekly book club.
Dare merely watched the pair of us with amazement, his eyes wide with wonder and disgust. I noticed that Nat had ditched us to sit with the Andies, her curly head bobbing up and down as she agreed with something Posh, the Andies’ self-proclaimed HBIC, had said. Brain was, as usual, lost in some 800-page novel that probably weighed more than she did.
“I can’t believe that you two eat like this in public,” Dare commented, neatly cutting a piece of grilled fish with utensils like an actual human being.
“Sue me for being hungry,” I replied, before taking a monstrous bite of my Sheppard’s pie. The warm juice trickled down my chin like a greasy river of heavenly goodness.
“Civility’s overrated,” James agreed, tearing apart a drumstick with his bare fingers before licking them clean.
God, we really were barbaric.
Dare shook his head with disbelief, but didn’t say anything else about our horrible table manners. It wasn’t until we were working on our third plate and James had accidentally flung a spoonful of Yorkshire pudding onto Brain’s face that we realized we should probably calm down. My stomach was bulging by then, and I had to unbutton the top of my skirt so that I could breathe. I patted my belly with satisfaction, having been nearly two months since I last indulged myself like that.
There was nothing like a hot, house elf-cooked meal to make even the worst of days look a little brighter.
“You two are out of control,” Brain muttered, wiping the pudding off her nose with a napkin. “Just be glad that that hadn’t landed on my book.”
“Or what?” James asked, opening his mouth in a yawn. “You’ll hit us with it?”
“Don’t underestimate the weight of those things,” A deep voice which I haven’t heard in over five years, said from behind. “They’re like bricks and are known for leaving some pretty nasty marks.”
I turned around, my mouth dropping once I saw the familiar face. He looked the same as when I had last saw him in my second year, except older and with much more stubble. Those hazel eyes were as charming as ever, winking at me with a playful grin.
“Well, look who’s all grown up?” He said, as he enveloped me in a friendly hug. “You’re nearly as tall as I am, now!”
“I barely reach your chin!” I laughed, hugging him tightly back.
“Yes well, that’s quite the improvement from the awkward, little twelve year old I had left behind.”
“Puberty can be a magical thing,” I replied, letting him go so that he could give his sister a hug.
Brain tossed her book aside, her attention focused solely on wrapping her tiny arms around the waist of the older brother who she hasn’t seen since he left for Auror Training. A smile spread throughout her face as he tightened his grip and spun her around, causing for quite a number of eyes to look in our direction.
“God, it’s good to see you again, Annie,” he said warmly, calling her by the childhood nickname that only her family ever used.
“I’ve missed you too, Calvin,” she replied, her voice muffled by the stiff fabric of his Oxford shirt. It was a sweet moment of sibling kindness, which of course, had to be ruined by the Head Prick himself.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Dare blurted out, asking the question we were all wondering (but had the decency to not be so blunt about it). His face had turned to stone when he caught sight of him, eyes darkening with hostility.
“Come on, Dare,” Brain intervened, torn between her brothers. “We haven’t seen Calvin in over two years. You could at least pretend to be happy to see him.”
He didn’t budge, though, and made no sign of moving to greet him. The tension in the air had grown to the size of a Hippogriff, as the two brothers stood awkwardly in the Great Hall, each one waiting for the other to make the first move.
Finally, Calvin cleared his throat. “I’m the new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor.”
And with just one look at Dare’s face, I knew that his world was crashing down.
Brain - AnnaSophia Robb
A/N: And we have ourselves a cliff hanger! If you guys are a little confused about who this Calvin character is, don't worry - his story will be explained in the next chapter. I hope you guys enjoyed this one and don't forget to leave a review or stop by my MTA page! Thanks again for reading!
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