September first I woke up at six. Everything was already packed and ready to go. I kept glancing at the clock every ten minutes wondering why the past two weeks had seemed so slow. Thankfully I hadn’t received a warning from the Ministry for using magic and Lucius never became aware of my eventful night. Bored and impatient, I went down to the kitchen to get some breakfast.
A quarter past seven and nothing to do. No one but the elves was even awake yet. I started tapping my fingers on a small table in the kitchen while wondering what being back at Hogwarts would be like. I’d never actually returned to a school after summer vacation. There would be no awkward ‘hey, who’s the new kid?’ or having to adjust to new classes. There would however, be Snape. Bugger it, I thought standing up, I’m going for a run. I didn’t want to think about Snape.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
We arrived at Platform 9 ¾ at half past ten. I left Draco with Lucius and Narcissa and boarded the train to find an empty compartment. After storing my trunk I sat down and leaned my head back, resting it against the wall.
Death Eaters marching, someone sending up the Dark Mark, Snape, Dumbledore, and a certain Weasley twin I couldn’t stop thinking about. Let’s not forget about the cryptic message the Bulgarian officials had given me. This was bound to be another hectic year at Hogwarts. At least there wasn’t an Azkaban escapee wandering about.
A soft knock outside my compartment window startled me. I looked out to find Narcissa standing there. I opened the window, confused.
“Hmm?” She handed me a small box. “What’s this?” I asked curiously.
“A gift, I thought you could use them this year.” I opened the box to find a pair of earrings. Diamond studs with a single tear shaped sapphire dangling from each one.
“Er…this is a bit much, don’t you think?” It was odd to receive gifts from Narcissa, especially ones this expensive.
“You can wear them for the Ball. I imagine you can find a dress in Hogsmeade.”
“Wait, what? What Ball? Why do I need a dress?”
Narcissa stared at me curiously. “Did you read your school list at all?” she asked.
“No, I just gave it to Milly.”
Narcissa frowned at me. “Something’s wrong, isn’t it?”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m just spiffy,” I said sarcastically.
“Jade, just,” she paused, “just please don’t do anything rash this year. You’re doing well at Hogwarts, don’t ruin that for something done in the heat of the moment.”
“What exactly do you think I’m going to do?” I asked annoyed and confused.
She pursed her lips together. “Just think before you act,” she pleaded.
“I’ll be fine, promise not to get expelled. Uncle Lucy would probably have a heart attack if I did. On the other hand, that might not be a bad idea,” I said thoughtfully.
“Jade,” she warned.
“Yeah, yeah,” I said offhand. “No blowing anything up, no matter how tempted I get.”
She didn’t look completely convinced but it was nearly eleven and time for the train to leave. “Buy a nice dress.”
“I’m not going to any ball,” I said glaring at her.
“Go with someone your Uncle would hate.”
“Merlin, you must be desperate if that’s how you’re trying to convince me.”
“I want a photo of you –”
“I don’t even want a photo of me,” I said, disgusted by the thought.
“You’d look beautiful in a blue gown,” she said ignoring my interruption.
“Go have a daughter, you can play dress up all you want,” I responded while resisting the urge to bash my head against the wall.
“I already have one,” she said sincerely.
I gave her a dubious look. “Just because you start acting sentimental doesn’t mean I’m going to give in.” A whistle sounded and the train started up.
“Go to the Ball,” Narcissa told me again while stepping back. “There must be someone you’d like to go with.” I opened my mouth to disagree but the image of Fred Weasley flashed through my mind. “See,” Narcissa said smugly. “Go with him.” I gave her a disgusted look as the train started to pull away. “And behave,” she warned me one last time. I rolled my eyes and closed the window.
Annoyed, I stood up to open my trunk. I quickly stored the earrings and pulled out my Hogwarts letter. At the bottom of the book list was an unwelcome addition.
‘Dress robes or a formal dress for students fourth year and above. Please note there are several clothing shops in Hogsmeade that supply formal outfits.’
I growled as I wondered why Dumbledore would be throwing a ball.
“I hope I’m not interrupting,” came a dreamy voice from the compartment door. I turned and saw the girl I’d shared a compartment with last year. Luna, that was her name, Luna Lovegood. She had a reputation for being a bit…whimsical, would be the polite term.
“No,” I said stuffing the letter back in my trunk. “Just wondering about the school list is all.”
“Do you mind if I join you? Most of the compartments are already full.”
“Join the party,” I said dryly as I shut my trunk and stored it again. Luna pulled her trunk into the compartment and the door slid shut. Opting for polite, I stored her trunk next to mine as she sat down in one of the seats.
“You look much different from last year,” Luna commented while gazing at me.
“Er…thanks?” I answered unsure. I didn’t think I looked any different. Well maybe an inch taller.
“It’s not a bad different,” she continued. “Just more muscle and your eyes, they’re sparkling a bit more.” She pulled out a magazine, The Quibbler, and began to read.
That wasn’t weird at all. I felt a bit self conscious now. How do eyes sparkle more? Who even notices someone’s eyes sparkling? Luna was definitely whimsical.
The compartment door slid open and the Weasley twins poked their heads in.
“Mind if we join you?”
Seeing Fred reminded me of the conversation I’d just had with Narcissa. My face felt a bit warm remembering how I’d thought of Fred when she told me to get a date.
“I don’t think she minds,” Luna said, getting my attention. “She seems to zone out when she’s thinking.”
Fred and George looked at me curiously. George walked in and went to wave his hand in front of my face. I swatted it away quickly, making him laugh.
“I guess not that zoned out then,” he commented while sitting next to Luna. Fred sat next to me which caused my face to feel even warmer.
“Your eyes are positively sparkling more now,” Luna pointed out. I chose to frown instead of sending her a hard glare.
“Ah, no you don’t,” Fred said from beside me. I turned to look at him as he grabbed my cheeks. “Smile. That’s your number one rule this year.” I sent him a glare, making him laugh.
“With those sparkly eyes and that smile, imagine how many blokes you could charm this year,” George said, amused. I sent a glare his way now as Fred tried to kick him. George dodged, smirked and casually leaned back.
“Cheeky git,” Fred muttered as he released me.
“I prefer to think of it as motivation.”
“Motivation?” I asked skeptically.
“Oh yes,” George answered still eyeing his brother.
“I think it will take a bit more than that,” Luna said knowingly.
George looked at her curiously. “Baby steps,” he replied after a minute.
“I feel like I’m missing something,” I muttered, a bit confused.
“Well –” George began.
“Not important at the moment,” Fred said, effectively cutting his twin off. “How was your summer?” he asked me.
“Well I didn’t get hauled into the Ministry for using magic. Probably a good sign. Besides that it was actually pretty boring. How was yours?”
“Well, mum wasn’t so happy. We lost all of our stock.”
“Bloody shame that was. Those toffees were brilliant,” George added.
“Toffees?” I asked curiously.
“They make your tongue swell up.”
“Harry’s cousin was our test subject.”
“His got about four feet until dad fixed it.”
“Then mum found out.”
“It wasn’t pretty.”
“She confiscated them all.”
“Along with all our other stuff.”
“And our order forms.”
“Thankfully we kept the book you made us safe.”
“We wrote down most of our recipes there.”
“So we should be able to remake them.”
“Just a shame that we lost the other inventions.”
“We put a lot into those fake wands.”
“Ah well, we’ll be able to spend more time on them this year.”
“Since we have fewer classes.”
Listening to Fred and George talk always felt like a tennis match, my eyes going back and forth between them. I briefly wondered if Narcissa had felt this way when Draco and I had been much younger.
“You made P-Harry’s cousin’s tongue swell till it was four feet long?”
“Wish we could have seen it.”
“Harry said it was brilliant.”
“Isn’t he a muggle?”
“And the Aurors think I’m the dangerous one,” I muttered.
“You could be dangerous,” George said raising an eyebrow.
“Someday,” Fred promised from beside me. I rolled my eyes. Yeah and then I would get expelled, no thanks.
“What classes are you taking?” I asked.
“Changing the subject?”
“Yes. What classes?”
“The ones you told us to go for.”
“Course you probably remember that.”
“McGonagall’s going to miss you,” I teased.
“The feeling’s not mutual,” George responded instantly.
“Plus we’ll still get sent to her when we get in trouble.”
“You could try not getting in trouble,” I suggested.
“That would take all the fun out of school.”
“Exactly how many detentions have you had?” I wondered aloud.
“I lost count midway through first year,”
“That’s because you can't count very high,” Fred told his brother.
“Higher than you,” George shot back.
“Pfft, not likely.”
“We are not counting all the way to Hogwarts,” I interrupted.
“Oi, don’t you want to show off your multi-lingual counting skills?”
“This is a no counting zone.”
“I don’t see a sign,” Fred teased.
I took out my wand and conjured a ‘NO COUNTING ZONE’ sign and stuck it to the window. I pointed at it while glaring at each twin.
“Well,” Fred said, “there’s definitely a sign now.”
“It doesn’t mention anything about the alphabet,” George pointed out. Fred shared a look with his brother.
“Don’t you even –” I started.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Thankfully Fred and George only went through the alphabet once. After that their friend, Lee Jordan, had stopped by to chat for a while. Unfortunately Fred had offered Lee a seat on our side meaning I spent most of the journey very aware of just how close I was sitting next to Fred.
At Hogsmeade Luna disappeared so I got to share a carriage with the twins and Lee. I also spent that ride next to Fred. It was beginning to make me uncomfortable. I’m not used to being this physically close to someone. Hopefully the feast would give me more breathing room.
Of course being at the feast meant Snape would be there. I still didn’t know what to do about that. I’d been successfully putting it off all summer and through the train ride, but now I was back in school, I couldn’t avoid him. Part of me was still furious over what he’d done to Lupin. Still though, this was Snape. I knew he wasn’t nice and after all he’d done for me this seemed like a foolish thing to pick a fight over. But it was wrong, Lupin wasn’t some second class citizen just because he was a werewolf. Snape risked going to Azkaban for me, he still risked it if anyone found out. Ugh, this was a bloody mess.
Someone jerking me back startled me. A second later I felt cold water soak my socks. Several people were shrieking and I looked up to see Peeves throwing water balloons down at us.
“Alright?” I heard Fred ask from behind me. I turned around to find myself pulled up against him. I quickly took a step away.
“Er, yeah. Thanks,” I muttered. Pull it together, it’s just Fred Weasley. I took a deep breath as McGonagall was telling Peeves off.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I hate Albus Dumbledore. I hate the Ministry. I effing hate everybody right now. Hadn’t Levski said I could have gone to Bulgaria? I’m already packed and ready to go. This year could not in any way get worse. Bloody Dumbledore, he probably knew this was happening last year when I’d last spoken to him. ‘Hogwarts will be the place to be this year.’ Not bloody likely. I’d even take Malfoy Manor over this right now.
So update on Dumbledore’s amazing treat planned for us. The Triwizard Tournament. It could have been any two other schools. Any other schools. There’s dozens of them, over a hundred for Merlin’s sake, but no. What two absolutely smashing schools does it have to be? Durmstrang and Beauxbatons.
The last time I had spoken to Madame Maxime she’d been livid. No she was beyond livid, she made livid look calm and collected. I spent four hours, yes four hours, being yelled at. That was before Lucius had shown up. Two more hours of getting yelled at and Lucius being handed a very large bill to pay for the damage. Six hours of sitting there while in colossal pain but not able to mention just how truly awful my mind and body were feeling.
Then there was Karkaroff. Igor effing Karkaroff. He loathed me, which was equally matched by how much I detested him. Bloody Death Eater. He should be rotting in Azkaban where he belongs. Every time I thought about how he kept managing to stay out of prison my hate for him doubled. He was a manipulative, greedy, obnoxious, pathetic, Dark Arts loving, despicable, shallow, talentless wizard who used people. I really hate Karkaroff. He and Maxime would be here for eight soul crushing months. It was going to take all of my self control not to punch Karkaroff in the face. At least now I knew why Narcissa had pleaded for me to behave.
That should have been bad enough, right? Two headmasters who despised me, but no, there was more. Who had Dumbledore found to replace Lupin? Alastor Moody. I knew very well who Moody was and he knew who I was. I just can’t wait until my first class with him. All year I’ll be getting these snide little comments comparing me to my parents. That sounds just fantastic.
Moody, Karkaroff, Maxime, not to mention my issues with Snape and the fact that I still had to be on guard every time I was around Dumbledore. This is shaping up to be a great effing year.
I’m going to throw myself off the Astronomy Tower.
Or drown myself in the Black Lake.
I’m not picky.
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