Chapter 3 : Hogwarts' new staff
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But all schools, magical or not, had their bullies, and those who suffered from their harassment. Norm Walters, Slytherin fifth year was such a bully. For him, “to begin the year properly” meant to take on a few second years, if only to remind them who was the boss, around here, and make sure that younger students remembered the respect owed to the older students, more precisely the Slytherin sixth year, and even more specifically, him.
So Walters was going for some of his threatening routines, such as the famous 'you stepped on my foot', which was a classic. And it was, of course, effective.
The poor victim was a young second year, out of Hufflepuff, named Jeremy Willowleaf. He was cornered against the walls of the Entrance Hall, sending helpless looks to his classmates for help, but it was no use. He was surrounded good and proper by more than four snickering Slytherins, from fifth and sixth year.
That was enough for Kenneth Lionheart. He had caught sight of the scene at the second he had passed the threshold of the Castle. Kenneth gave Rob Drakefang a light tap on the shoulder, before to stride across the hall, and then roughly push his way among the Slytherins to step between Walters and Willowleaf.
“Back off,” he said, decidedly.
“Would you look at that!” laughed Walters, stupidly. “If it sin't “Heart-of-a-lion”? Love what you did with the hair, Lionheart. It's very... girly.”
That elicited more snickering from the Slytherins. Kenneth held his eyes without flinching.
“I notice you didn't do anything with the head over the summer, Walters,” he said. “Still pretty windy up there, isn't it?”
Walters' laugh died out.
“You're calling me stupid?” he barked.
“Honestly, if you have to ask...” Kenneth let his sentence die out, with half a smile.
“You must feel pretty lucky to come and face us on your own, Gryffindor scum,” said one of Walters' goons.
“Who says he's alone, nitwit?” said the voice of Rob over the bully's shoulder.
The Slytherin gang turned to find themselves facing all the boys from Gryffindor's fifth year. Rob Drakefang was a massive fellow, and the sight of him rubbing his knucles was impressive in itself. But when one added to this Teddy Cage, just standing there, his Keeper built doing all the talking. And Anthony Field and Will Tyler had their wands out.
“Why don't you go on and drag your hides into the great hall before you get into serious trouble, here?” said Will, dead serious.
Walters seemed about to object, when one of his pals nudged him in the ribs and nodded toward Will's Prefect badge. Walters hada grunt before to turn back at Kenneth.
“Newt time, you won't be so lucky, Loinheart,” he growled. “You won't always have your precious prefect pal around to back you up.”
“Oooh, I'm shaking, Walters,” said Kenneth. “By the way, 'precious prefect pal” is quite a mouthful for you. You've taken english lessons, this summer? We kinda lost hop for you, you know. We thought you would be stuck with Troll Speak forever.”
Walters' eyes shone in anger, but he stomped away. Rob maintained a straight face until they were out of sight. Then he couldn't help it and burst into laughing.
“Troll Speak?” he exclaimed. “How do you come up with those, seriously?”
“It's a gift,” shrugged Kenneth, before to turn to the Hufflepuff second year. “You're okay, kid?”
“Yeah,” said Willowleaf. “Thanks for stepping in.”
“Our pleasure, kiddo,” said Rob, with a toothy smile. “A year hasn't really started if we haven't messed with the Slytherin bullies. I kinda hoped Walters had been expelled, though. That would have raised the school intelectual average... dramatically.”
“Well, I heard his exam results are abysmal,” said Will. “But his dad is connected with the Board of Governors, so he didn't get kicked out. A pity.”
“Thanks, anyway,” said the Hufflepuff boy.
He joined his friends and hurried to the Greal Hall. Rob turned to Kenneth.
“I assumed the tap on the shoulder was a request for back up,” he said. “Why didn't you get your wand out?”
“I don't need my wand to deal with Walters and his bullies,” said Kenneth, with another shrug. “But, stil, thanks for the back up.”
“Don't mention it,” said Rob. “Come on, I'm starving.”
The incident behind them, Kenneth followed his friends across the Entrance Hall.
As always, Kenneth was returning to Hogwarts with something like jubilation, but that was tinted with a sense of foreboding he couldn’t explain. It was as if something huge was going to happen to him this year. He pushed that away and focused on the most important. He was back in the school that he loved so much.
He looked around while walking to the Great Hall with the other students. He had to dodge, to avoid Peeves when the Poltergeist tried to dive on the group, his usual way of greeting students. Peeves floated away, cursing like mad, after he had hit a wall. Kenneth smiled. He had even missed Peeves and his antics.
The students entered the Great Hall and quickly took back their places at their House tables. Kenneth was soon joined by the others fifth years. Among them, Kalindra Jonhson, his best friend made some compliments on his new hair cut, which seemed to amuse Will and Rob very much.
Kenneth didn’t mind the teasing coming from her. And he wasn’t about to give up this hair style, anyway. After what had happened this summer, he was now allowed to wear it. It was a tradition. Thinking of this summer made Kenneth think again of his father’s warning. It rang in his head endlessly.
Remember, Son. You’re not like all of them. You must stay out of these duels that always take place in a school, you hear me? This is very important. What’s in your blood mustn’t be used lightly. Remember that…
Kenneth sighed. He wasn’t about to forget this. His father had seemed so serious while telling him this, that Kenneth knew he had to be careful. That would mean another year with a low profile. And of course, that would mean that he had to be careful not to get into trouble. With anyone. He hated that thought. It was like hiding. And some people were keen on using this against him. Always easy to strike an opponent who wouldn’t strike back. Quickly all the tables filled up, except for the first years.
Kenneth was looking at the Teacher table, when Dumbledore joined it. As usual, Dumbledore didn’t carry any trace of his age on his face or in his walking. It was a strange feeling to think that this man was at least one hundred and fifty years old, and didn’t seem to be caught up by age. Every familiar faces were here beside him. From Snape to Flitwick, and at one table’s end, Ronald Weasley was sitting, waiting for his wife, the Arithmancy teacher to join them. When Kenneth saw two new faces, he recognized one at once. It was the new Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher. The famous Harry Potter. The woman sitting beside him, Kenneth didn’t know. She was gorgeous and had flaming red hair. As all the others teachers were here, she had to be just with Professor Potter. His girlfriend, maybe.
Dumbledore stood up from the table. Kenneth was surprised, as it was usually when the first years were about to face the Sorting Hat that the headmaster was beginning his speech. Professor Flitwick called for silence, by tapping his wand on his glass, which made it rang strangely. The echo flew to the magic ceiling, spreading in the hall, until everyone heard it. Silence fell on the Great Hall. Flitwick then nodded graciously to Dumbledore, who smiled.
“Thank you Professor, very interesting spell. I’ll have to remember it.”
There were some laughs, but silence soon resumed.
“Welcome back to all our students. Another year is now about to begin. I hope it will be a rewarding year for you all. Every year, we welcome new students,” said Dumbledore. “They are young, at the beginning of their journey in the world of Magic. Every year, the students hope that our new friends will be as good as they have hoped to be. And the teachers… have hopes of their own, and they’ll never stop having them. But this year is slightly different. This year is the first year where a foreign student will join us, at the request of our friends of Beaubâtons Academy. So before the first years enter this Hall for their sorting, let me introduce to you Miss Julie Carteret, from Paris, who will finish her studies with us. And we must now learn in which House she will reside.”
Kenneth saw Julie step up to the stool, walked by professor Weasley. She took her seat, there, looking a little uncertain, and Professor Weasley put the Hat on her head. Kenneth surprised himself crossing his fingers. The hat seemed to ponder his decision. Then he rose up a little and shouted.
The table exploded in welcomes. Kenneth smiled widely. She was going to study with him! He suddenly wondered why he was thinking this. He barely knew her, why was he so excited? Well, if he considered it honestly, she was a beautiful girl. And there was something mesmerizing in her blue eyes.
He welcomed her cheerfully, as the fifth years were moving to make room for her. Julie sat in front of him. She smiled.
“I guess I’ll have to show you around, finally,” said Kenneth, grinning a little shyly.
“Hey,” protested Will. “I’m the prefect, if you don’t mind, Lionheart. Will, tyler,” he added, introducing himself to Julie. “This is my job to show people around,” he added, smiling.
“Thank you, Will, but Since Kenneth offered to help… I’m sure you’ll be busy enough with the first years, anyway.”
Will made a face, then sighed.
“Yeah, I guess,” he said.
He turned to Kenneth, and threw him a dark look.
“Lucky bastard,” he said, on a feint grim tone.
Julie chuckled lightly, blushing again. Kenneth rolled his eyes. Will always tried to play the charmer, but this time he had been kindly shot down. The girls surrounding Julie then coughed to draw attention.
“Hello, Julie,” said Kalindra, a tall, good looking girl with a dark skin. “My name’s Kalindra Johnson.”
“Nice to meet you,” said Julie. “Johnson… are you related to Angelina Johnson?” she asked.
“You know my cousin?”
“Well, not on personal basis,” said Julie. “But I saw every single match of the World Cup, in France, last year. She’s amazing!”
“That’s for sure,” said Kalindra. “Do you play Quidditch?”
“Yes, I usually play Chaser,” said Julie. “But I guess the team is full here.”
“There are tryouts for the team, this year,” said Will. “We need two new Chasers. You should try.”
“Great,” said Julie.
“Name’s Mandy Williams,” said a short girl with untidy black hair.
She was wearing three rings in one ear, and two in the other. She had a huge amount of make-up under her eyes. Kenneth had always liked her. Mandy was very funny, and you could stay with her for hours, just listening to her speaking endlessly. Kalindra and Mandy were his closest female friends and Kalindra was often on the receiving end of his rants.
Kenneth saw Jennifer Windhill bend over the table to greet Julie. She did it with her usual poise and dignity. She fancied herself to have a ladylike attitude. Kenneth knew she was nice, but sometimes, he thought that Jennifer was just trying too hard. Slowly, most of the people that were surrounding them, ending with Marion Sweeney, introduced themselves to Julie, who was feeling more and more comfortable, apparently, as she smiled more frankly at everyone.
Kenneth saw the first years enter the Great Hall, forming a line behind Professor McGonagall. They looked pretty intimidated. As he followed their walk from his seat, Kenneth’s eyes met with Robert Donahue’s. The tall boy, with dark black hair noticed him and threw him a contemptuous look over the Hall, from the Slytherin table.
To say that Donahue wasn’t the person Kenneth liked the most in the school was quite the euphemism. He and Donahue had had issues since the beginning of their second year. Kenneth was still fuming about the various insults and provocations the Slytherin sent his way. The problem wasn’t that he was insulting. That was the usual between Gryffindors and Slytherin, after all. The problem was that Kenneth couldn’t fight back, really. His father’s warnings prevented him to strike back at Donahue and shut his mouth once and for all. Besides, Donahue was popular, and not only among the Slytherin students. He was a Prefect, which meant he was respected, and he was said to be a handsome young man, even for Gryffindor girls. That was the only point of disagreement he had ever had with Kalindra. So Donahue, strong of the support of many students, was doing everything he wanted, under the protection of his House Head, Professor Snape. And Kenneth hated that pride of his, since he already had to suffer from it. The spite between Donahue and him wasn’t going away anytime soon.
The Sorting began, under the surveillance of Professor McGonagall. Kenneth tore his thoughts away from Donahue and looked at the young first years being sorted in the Houses. But at some point, he caught himself looking neither at the Stool nor at the Sorting Hat, but at Julie and her beautiful face. He forced his eyes back to the Sorting. It was then that he noticed something about the Headmaster’s eyes. Dumbledore was looking straight at Julie, who was unaware of that attention. Kenneth knew that as a new student, Julie was bound to be the subjects of many interests. But Dumbledore’s look was mysterious. He was looking as if he knew something that even Julie didn’t.
Weird, thought Kenneth.
“RAVENCLAW!” shouted the Hat, sorting the last student, Wayne Yanko. Professor McGonagall rolled her parchment, and took away the stool and the Hat.
Ian welcomed Wayne in Ravenclaw like the others, and then turned to Dumbledore as the Headmaster was standing up again. The old wizard raised his hands to call for silence.
“Alright,” he said. “Now that we are all here, there are a few things that I wish to announce. First years, you should note that wandering around the Castle is allowed only during your free time, and as long as you remain far from the Forbidden Forest. Most of you would believe such a ban is in itself a reason to go explore the Forest, but I must insist that this Forest is very dangerous. Our Caretaker, Mr. Filch, has also told me that a new list of forbidden objects is readable near his office door, for those who would be interested. And before we begin the Feast, I’d like to announce other news to you. First thing, we decided to re-establish the tradition of the Yule Ball, but for each year in Hogwarts. Thus the last evening before the holidays, students over fourth year and their dates will be invited to this Celebration of the Christmas Holiday.”
There was a huge cheer from all the tables. Ian saw most of the girls of his year exchange a desperate look. They were disgusted not to be allowed to go, for just one year. Kieran didn’t seem to worry about this. Instead, she shared Ian and Joel’s bemused look on the exact interest of such a thing in the school. Ian shrugged.
“Well, there will be a lot of giggling in here around Christmas,” he commented.
Kieran smiled at him.
“You got to understand these girls,” she said. “They’ll have to find a date to get into the ball. They’ll have to speed up their search for a boyfriend.”
“What’s the point?” said Ian.
Kieran made a doubtful face, clearly unsure of the reason that was pushing her friends to seek the access to the Ball. Dumbledore called again for silence.
“Some students here will be unaware of it,” he went on, “but the House of Ravenclaw has a yearly tradition as well.”
Ian's attention was suddenly entirely on the Headmaster.
“It is called the Silver Quill Challenge,” said the old wizard. “A contest of wits and knowledge that students choose to enter. They enter it as teams, and they try to solve a magic puzzle set up by the teachers. The team that wins the Challenge earns the right to bear the Silver Quill, a sign of distinction that proves to all their intelligence.”
“Not something a few guys here would know anything of,” said Mark Jevons, under his breath, pointing at Norm Walters, which made Joel chuckle.
But Ian was still listening intently to Dumbledore.
“I have discussed a little project with Professor Flitwick,” he said. “And, since the expansion of knowledge is a goal of the House of Ravenclaw, he has agreed with me that the Challenge should be opened to the entire school. Any student may enter the challenge, as long as they do it by teams of three wizards. I will place an urn in the Great Hall, where the applications must be dropped before Hallowe'en. We will then reveal the teams and the nature of this year's challenge to the whole school. The reason why we open this contest to all is to entice the students to challenge themselves. We know that fame among our students is often linked to the way they play Quidditch. I think it is time to give a chance to other students to shine, with their wits alone.”
Ian looked around at his Housemates and everyone at the Ravenclaw table suddenly stood up and started clapping, as it was customary when the Silver Quill challenge was opened each year. This little ceremony would usually take place in the Ravenclaw Common room, but Ian kinda liked the idea of a challeng open to the whole school. It would be a little more exciting.
The rest of the students joined in applause, but they were more hesitant, as if they weren't sure what to make of this. After a whole minute of solemn, clapping, the Ravenclaw sat back and Dumbledore called again for attention.
“Now, I would like to go back on the subject of studies, if you don’t mind. We do, indeed, live in a school, so the subject needs to be mentioned at some point,” he said, making a few people laugh at his tone. “As you may have noticed if you’re not blind as a bat, we have new faces at the Teacher table. In fact, Professor Armstrong has decided to retire. I’m sure you already know our new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher, since he has been visiting us all along last year, and thus will join me to welcome him in Hogwarts on a permanent basis: Professor Harry Potter.”
Harry stood up, a little uneasy with the huge storm of cheers and applause from the Hall. He shot Dumbledore a sarcastic look. Dumbledore winked at him. That man had a sadistic streak in him that Harry would never had suspected until now. He sat back down after a while.
“The young lady on his right is Miss Weasley, who is guest of our Castle,” Dumbledore went on. “You’ll have to behave with her as nicely and respectfully as you do with the other teachers or staff members.”
Harry winked at Ginny, who smiled timidly around to the students.
“I’m sure she his girlfriend,” moaned Mandy, at Julie’s side.
Julie chuckled a little. Mandy looked positively disgusted by this.
“Honestly, Mandy,” said Kalindra. “What did you expect? He’s twenty-four, he’s a teacher, and of course he has a girlfriend.”
“Well, it costs nothing to dream, right?” said Mandy with a sly grin.
“Well, if I'm to dream about the teaching staff, I’d rather dream about this one,” said Kalindra to Julie, pointing discreetly to the Teacher table. “But yet again, his wife is sitting at his right side.” She added with a sigh.
A tall wizard with light brown hair and brown eyes was sitting next to a beautiful redhead witch with long curly hair. He looked older than Professor Potter but not by much. And he was handsome, alright! Julie turned to Kalindra.
“He’s gorgeous!” she said. “What does he teach?”
“Unfortunately for us, normal wizards, he doesn’t teach us anything. He’s in this school for only one student. He’s Professor Lockenburn, and he’s the Personal Teacher of this boy over there.”
Kalindra pointed to a boy on the Ravenclaw table. Julie recognized him at once.
“Ian?” she said.
“You know him?” asked Kalindra, surprised.
“I met him on the train. He made my trunk float into my compartment,” said Julie.
“He’s a nice kid,” said Kalindra smiling. “He’s special. Very clever. Very funny, too. Strange he’s not in Gryffindor. You want gossip, you go to Ian. You want something snuck inside or outside the school, you go to Ian.You want to place a bet on any event, you go to Ian. And he’s a Chaotician.”
“Chaotician? You mean that this guy is the Entropist?” said Julie, her mouth agape in disbelief. “Wow! I read so much about him! And Ian is his pupil?”
“The exact term is apprentice,” said Mandy, joining the conversation. “But Malcolm doesn’t show off too much about this. Good thing he doesn’t, considering.”
“Why do you say that?” asked Julie.
“Because some people don’t like Ian,” explained Mandy. “They say he’s a freak, an abomination for wizards. The last straw for our kind, honestly, but as it comes from Slytherin, that is not surprising.”
Julie followed her look to the Slytherin table. There she saw the young git that had insulted Joel on the train. He had left his seat among the third years to speak to an older boy, who was looking at Julie, a clear look of interest on his face. Julie felt her pulse begin to speed up, when she saw this boy. He was handsome, with black hair and blue eyes. He had delicate features, but a strong masculinity emanated from him. He sat with poise and class, like some English lord, like those Julie had read about in these Muggle novels she had read as a kid. He was strangely attractive. He smiled to her, then turned again to the young boy. Julie felt her heart skip a beat and her ears started to feel warmer.
“Oh, no!” sighed Kalindra. “This little worm has managed to be on speaking terms with Robert. Alright, Julie, you have two kinds of Slytherins. The first kind, you can respect a little, and it’s symbolized here by Robert Donahue, over there. He’s in our year. The other kind is the one of this little git. Timothy Macke. He’s arrogant, insulting, and basically, he’s a jackass.”
“Come off it, Kallie,” said Mandy and Will at the same time. “Donahue’s no better than Macke,” added Mandy.
Julie turned to them, her eyebrows raised.
“I don’t like the guy, that’s all,” said Mandy, while Will was nodding furiously.
“You’re unfair with Robert,” said Jennifer, severely. “You didn’t have to suffer anything from him, did you? He’s a decent young man.”
“No,” said Will. “He’s a handsome man, that’s why you’re so tolerant. He speaks well, he’s a charmer, he’s popular. He stays a snake.”
“What do you have against him?” asked Kalindra. “Seriously! He didn’t do anything to you! You’re pushing that House rivalry a little far.”
Someone made a doubtful sound. Julie turned to the origin of the sound. She found herself facing Kenneth, who was looking straight at Donahue’s face, with what looked like clear disgust. She was surprised. Kenneth didn’t seem to be the kind of boy to be so hostile to anyone.
Kalindra saw the look on Kenneth's face, as well.
“Oh, please, Kenneth, this thing is getting old between you two,” she said. “You can’t stay angry that long.”
“Forget it,” said Kenneth, with a dismissive shrug.
“Men and their “honour” thing. It’s ridiculous,” said Jennifer, shaking her head.
“No it’s not,” said Rob, coming to Kenneth’s rescue.
“What happened?” asked Julie.
“Forget it,” repeated Kenneth, darkly.
“Leave it be, Julie,” said Will. “You haven’t been involved so far, so you’d better stay clear from these two guys when they go at each other. You’ll get plenty of chances to hate Slytherins on your own.”
Julie felt that it was a delicate subject and she dropped it. But someday, she would have to find out about this. It didn’t seem right for Kenneth to look so angry at someone. He had given her the impression of a nice guy, with sweet manners and a calm nature.
She then noticed something. Professor Potter was looking at them. And more exactly, he was looking quite intensely at Kenneth. That look gave her a strange impression. It was as if Potter tried to remember where he had seen the young boy, before. But as it was the teacher's first year here, Julie couldn’t think how it would be possible.
Bizarre*, she thought.
“Is there something wrong, Harry?’ asked Hermione, noticing the look Harry was throwing to the Gryffindor table.
Harry gave a little start, and turned to his friend.
“No, I’m fine,” he said. “It’s just that I wonder where I have seen this student before. He looks familiar, somehow.”
“During your practical lessons, maybe,” offered Ron, his nose rising from his plate, which was quite a sign of interest for him.
Harry shook his head.
“No, he’s too young,” he said. “He’s with the fifth years. So he couldn’t attend them last year.”
“What’s the matter, Harry?” asked professor McGonagall, from Hermione’s side.
“Well, I just wondered who this young boy with the ponytail, facing our French guest was. I feel like I should know him,” explained Harry.
Professor McGonagall followed Harry’s eyes, and saw which student he was speaking of. Her look saddened slightly.
“Yes, I guess you would feel that way,” she said. “His name is Kenneth Lionheart.”
Harry was surprised and his eyes hurried back to find the young boy's face in the crowd of students. He detailed him and understood.
“He’s the son of Lancelot, right?” he asked.
McGonagall nodded. Harry could now tell the Lionheart in the young boy’s face. There were traces here and there, and with the ponytail, he was a younger image of his father.
“No wonder he’s familiar,” said Hermione. “He does look like his father quite a bit.”
“Especially with this ponytail,” said Harry. “Do you think it means something?”
Dumbledore entered the conversation.
“Who knows?” he said. “But I’ve learned that everything has a meaning, with Clan Lionheart. We shall see the true meaning of it, I’m sure, during the year.”
“Anyway, it seems that we have fascinating students, in this bunch,” said Harry, with a smile. “With Ian, Julie Carteret and Kenneth Lionheart; we must prepare ourselves for a very special year.”
“Oh, Professor Weasley,” said Professor Flitwick, on his usual, cheerful high-pinched tone. “I’m sure you will like to have Miss McDougall in your class. She has chosen Arithmancy.”
“The top of last term’s second year?” said Hermione. “Well, I’m flattered.”
“Do you remember what I told you about her, Hermione?” said Professor McGonagall, with a smile. “How she reminded me of you? Well, her third year promises the same kind of exploits.”
Harry saw Ron’s grumpy expression.
“What’s the matter?” he asked.
“Professor Weasley,” he said, suddenly smiling. “I can’t get used to it. It just doesn’t fit the name, y’know.”
“Well, I’m sure that soon, it will,” said Ginny with a grin. “Someday, the whole Weasley family will remember proudly the day when Professor Hermione Weasley joined the noble line. That is when you and the twins stop to be jerks about it. Of course, I'm not so sure I'm so pleased that the name Weasley is remembered because my sister-in-law has become the most extraordinary teacher in Hogwarts' history...”
“I’m hearing everything, you know,” said Hermione, feigning a frown.
“Sorry, dear, did you say something?” said Ginny, with a wink that made Hermione laugh.
When the feast ended, Professor Dumbledore stood up again and the silence fell once more on the Great Hall. Ian made Joel shut up by an elbow in the ribs.
“Now, we are, I guess, ready to begin this new year,” said Dumbledore. “ I wish you all a good year and good luck for those who will have to face very hard challenge, such as OWLs and NEWTs.”
A collective groan came from the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff table, at various places on the tables. Ian saw that Kalindra Johnson was telling Julie all the details of the capital exams that they would have to face, at the end of the year.
Ian thought of his own year, which was about to begin. He would start Arithmancy lesson, Rune Translation and Care of Magical Creatures. He had completely refused to study Divination, as it seemed completely useless knowledge. Better be prepared for whatever could happen instead of trying to see what may happen, according to him.
“So, Prefects will take the first years to the common rooms,” Dumbledore went on, “and the other students may go. Have a good night. Well, I guess it’s pretty all, then…” he added with a smile.
There were some chuckles in the Hall, and students got off the tables in total disorder. The Prefects tried to open a way through the crowd to leave passage to the first years.
At some point, Ian was pushed over by some Hufflepuff in a hurry, and he came to hit Robert Donahue, the Slytherin prefect. Donahue looked down on him. He had a tense smile.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” said Ian, straightening up.
He then stepped aside to let the first years pass. Some of them threw him some strange look, and even one muttered “freak” as he passed him by. Kieran put her hand on his shoulder.
“Forget it Ian, they’re not worth the effort,” she said, feeling that he was upset.
Ian was amazed of the way she could feel his moods change. He smiled.
“I guess you’re right,” he said. “Nasty little things, anyway,” he added, looking at the first years of Slytherin.
“Remember the old saying: “Don’t be cordial with snakes. They still will bite you.”, said Joel.
Ian nodded. Donahue and his little classmates were now out of sight.
When Ian and his friends walked out of the Hall, they walked by Professor Potter.
“Oh hello, Ian,” he said, smiling friendly. “How was your holiday?”
“Quite good, Sir,” said Ian coolly, in front of his fiends, which mouths were all hanging open. “I went to visit The United States.”
“The States, huh? Never been there myself. I heard there are a lot of interesting wizard communities,” said Professor Potter.
“Well, my parents took me to see some Indian shamans and stuff but we also went to a theme Park in Florida. It’s called…”
“Disneyworld? Yes, I heard about the place,” said Harry. “I’ve been raised by Muggles, that’s quite famous among them,” he said when he saw Ian’s surprised look. “Well, I will see you in my first lesson, on Thursday morning.”
Professor Potter walked away, and Ian turned to his friends.
“You know him well?” asked Edwin.
“Well, he’s a good friend of Alexander, so I’ve met him once or twice,” said Ian, hardly hiding his satisfaction to have impressed his gang so early in the year. “Oh, come on! He’s not a god! He’s cool, alright but he’s a human being too.”
“Well, you talk about human being, Malcolm?” said the voice of Tim Macke from behind them.
Ian, Joel, and Kieran turned to glare at him. Macke sneered.
“Do you even know what’s a human being, freak?” asked the Slytherin boy.
“You’re tiring, Macke,” said Ian, sighing heavily. “Really tiring.”
“What will you do about it, then? Blow me up or something?” asked Macke with a nasty sparkle in the eye.
He was teasing, of course, always trying to put Ian in trouble.
“Anyway, this Potter isn’t that impressive,” he went on. “He seems scared of us, if you ask me. What a teacher he must be if he’s afraid of students.”
“He’s probably afraid that he won’t be able to get anything worth learning through that thick skull of yours,” said Ian, fiercely. “We’ll see if you’re so cocky when you face him in class. But you won’t be, will you? You’re really brave in words, Macke, but I still wait to see you put your money where you mouth is.”
“Maybe you’ll see it sooner than you think,” said Macke between his teeth.
“I don’t think so,” said a voice coming from one of the staircases.
Tim’s sentence wasn’t really serious, it was more of a boast not to let Ian have the last word. Unfortunately for Macke, it had been caught by Alexander, who came down the stairs to join the small group.
“You want to behave nicely with every teacher, Mr. Macke,” said the Entropist, looking down to Macke who had gone silent as a tomb. “If you don’t, I’ll be forced – no, let’s be honest - I’ll be delighted to report you to the attention of your House Head. I’m sure Professor Snape will be very careful that his own students are abiding by the School rules. You may go to your common room, now.”
Macke shot a venomous look at Ian and Joel, and strode away. Alexander smirked and turned to Ian.
“How was this summer, Miss McDougall?” he asked Kieran, with a grin.
“Well, very good, Sir,” said Kieran. “I’ve been to Paris with my parents.”
“Paris,” repeated Alexander. “Very nice city. The Muggle cars there are driven by madmen, but nice city all the same. Mr Andrews, yours?”
“Boring, Sir,” said Joel. “I’m glad to be back here.”
“That is good to hear,” said Alexander, grinning. “May I have a word with Ian? He’ll join you soon in the common room.”
Kieran, Joel and the others nodded, and walked up to the Ravenclaw Tower. Ian smiled to his teacher.
“How’s Phyllis?” he asked.
“She’s complaining, but you’ll find she’s in good health. I’m glad you’re back. Now we can start fascinating things together.”
“Just can’t wait to see that,” said Ian.
“So, this year, will you at least try and behave a little?” asked Alexander with a doubtful face. “Your attitude didn’t fit the other Ravenclaws at all, you know.”
“There must be some exceptions to all rules,” said Ian. “That would be boring if not.”
“I see that your parents still didn’t succeed in taming you,” he said. “Alright, our first lesson will be on Friday’s evening. Is that alright with you?”
“Absolutely,” said Ian. “When can I come to say hello to Phyllis?” he asked politely.
“Any evening now,” said Alexander. “As long as you don’t use it to avoid homework.”
“Avoiding homework?” said Ian earnestly. “Why would I do that?”
“Have a good night, Ian,” he said. “Your new password is “Sophus”.”
“Thanks. Have a good night, too, Alexander”, replied Ian, heading for the stairs, leading to the “Nest”.
The Nest was the name given to the Ravenclaw Common room by its inhabitants as it was perching the highest of all the students’ quarters of the Castle. It was a tall, thin tower, with a spiral staircase that was climbing up to the floors. There was only one dormitory room by floor, and thus two floors by year. The large and cosy common room was on the base of the tower. Rowena Ravenclaw had added one room at the very top of the tower, called the Peak. It was a working room, where students could go to make their homework in silence, leaving the Common room for relaxing and sharing time with friends. Ian liked this place.
He stood before the Eagle statue of an eagle grabbing some parchment. This was the entry of the common room.
“Sophus,” he said.
The eagle extended its wings, flapped them and the statue rose, revealing a passage under it. Ian walked in and emerged in the common room. He was greeted by some nods from people that were spreading in the common room, sharing some holiday memory, before to go to sleep. Kieran was out of sight, probably already up to her bed. Joel wasn’t here either.
Ian took a deep breath, looking happily around him.
Good to be back, he thought, before to head for his room.
* Bizarre is a french word that can mean strange, weird in english.
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