Chapter 1 : Prologue
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“My brain is fried, positively fried, Shan.”
With a loud plop, Di sits in the chair in front of me, uncaring of the glares she receives from the other students occupying the library. Her short platinum blonde hair is ruffled, her jade eyes weary. I smile wryly. “Didn’t I tell you not to take so many classes this year?”
She bangs her head against the table. “Bite me.”
I bite my lip, holding in laughter. “Was that your last exam for today?”
Propping her head against the table, she groans. “Yes.” Raising her head, she smiles brightly. “Actually, I think that was the last exam for this sodding year.”
“Now you only have to worry about next year’s N.E.W.T’s.”
Her gaze darkens. “Way to be positive, Shan.”
I open my mouth to retort, but Headmistress McGonagall’s voice echoes through the castle. “All current sixth years please assemble in the Great Hall right away.” To make herself clear, she repeats the message two times before everything is quiet again.
Di and I look at each other quizzically across the table before grabbing our things and standing. We make our way to the Great Hall, Di swearing that if this is a surprise exam, she plans on quitting school when she turns seventeen in June. I listen quietly, grinning at her words because I know that she would never quit school; she’s far too studious and ambitious to quit. As much as she detests exams, she loves learning, which is why she’s a Ravenclaw.
Sixth years are slowly filling into the Great Hall, all whispering and asking each other what’s going on. Headmistress McGonagall is ushering us in, ordering that we sit with our Houses and keep quiet. I stifle a groan. As much as I love my House, I don’t want to separate from Di and resume my place as the shy Gryffindor. Shooting an apologetic look my way, Di stalks off to the Ravenclaw table and I turn to find an empty seat near the front of the Gryffindor table.
“There’s no need to sit bunched up,” McGonagall calls, strolling into the room. “You will need to spread out anyway.”
“Not another exam!” someone groans from the Hufflepuff table as I sit down.
“No, not another exam.” Coming to a stand beside a small woman in the front of the room, McGonagall stands quietly until the room is silent. “This is Samantha Higgins. Next year, she will be known to the castle as Professor Higgins.” The woman, who appears to be in her mid-thirties, smiles. She has blonde hair that is pulled tightly into a bun. A few of my fellow Housemates whisper about how hot she is while others comment about how strict she looks.
McGonagall continues. “I’m sure all of you are wondering what she will be teaching. Professor Higgins is your new Life Studies teacher. If you are taking more than three N.E.W.T classes next year, you will not be required to take this class. Otherwise, this class will be a requirement.” Looking closely, I notice the Headmistress doesn’t seem pleased about this; her mouth is a tight line as she speaks to us. “Each of you will receive a booklet that will tell you all you need to know about the class.”
She quiets as the younger prefects begin passing out our booklets. They’re lavender and each has our name on the front with our House. On the side, they’re locked. “You will notice that they are locked,” McGonagall explains. “They will unlock when you are all seventh years and back here. Now, the prefects are handing out a two-hundred questionnaire you each must complete.”
“Oh, piss,” comes the voice beside me, belonging to James Potter. “She’s bloody insane.”
“Insane,” echoes his cousin on the other side of me, Fred Weasley.
“I assure you, Mister Weasley and Potter, I am not insane.” Voice hard, she continues. “You will get two hours to complete the questionnaire. And, please, refrain from simply marking answers at random. This questionnaire will impact your position in Life Studies next year – “
“- drastically,” Professor Higgins pipes in, her eyes suddenly severe.
McGonagall doesn’t look happy about being interrupted. “Yes, drastically. Now, start your questionnaire. You have two hours.”
Two hours later.
My brain is fried. I’ll be honest, I thought a two-hundred questionnaire about yourself would be fairly easy. I was wrong, dreadfully so. I finished three minutes early. Now I stand outside the Great Hall, waiting for Di to come out (they gave the students who weren’t yet finished extra time). From the looks of it, the other sixth years are just as exhausted. Some of the questions were easy while some required a lot of thought.
“That,” Di comes walking out, her face lined with tension, “was the most exhausting thing I have ever taken in my entire bloody sixteen years of existence.”
“I doubt it was worse than O.W.Ls,” I comment dryly as we make our way up the stairs leading to the first floor.
“Wrong. We had the option of studying for the O.W.Ls, Shan – and we were given a book to study. The questionnaire required us to know ourselves and we were not given the chance to study ourselves weeks prior.”
Of course, she’s right. I hadn’t given the subject much thought. Di has always been the one to think deeper about things from a logical, more sensible view; I’m the one who thinks deeply from an emotional view. “You’re right,” I admit, sighing. I peer down at her. “Are you taking three N.E.W.T classes next year to get out of Life Studies?” I’m not about to – I hope she isn’t. I don’t want to take most of my classes by myself next year.
“I dunno yet.” She frowns thoughtfully. “I’m not keen on taking a class like Life Studies, but I don’t want to pull my hair out next year studying for exams either.”
“How d’you know what the class will be about? They didn’t let us read our booklet.”
She snorts. “C’mon, Shan. Put two and two together. The class is called Life Studies. We were just forced to take a questionnaire about ourselves.”
I frown, coming to a stop. “Are you saying the class is going to be about…ourselves?”
Di groans. “Do you remember question five?”
I stare at her.
“The one about our sexual preferences?”
Immediately, I catch on to her theory. My eyes widen. “Er, yes. You don’t think…?”
Her face darkens and we continue walking. “Yes, I think. I’m fairly certain Professor Higgins is Hogwarts new, personal cupid.”