Going to seventh year at all seemed a bit pointless to me. In the previous six years I had been Sorted into the ‘wrong’ house, befriended a group of lovable misfits, fallen in love with the son of my father’s enemy and been involved in all manner of frivolity and wanton rule-breaking due to my status as a Weasley. As I explained to Mum in August, I wasn’t sure Hogwarts had anything left to offer me after that.
Of course, as she duly reminded me, I still needed NEWTs to get anywhere in the world and to prove to said world that the Sorting Hat hadn’t made a grave mistake in putting me in Ravenclaw, like various friends and family members had been suggesting for the last six years. So, rather reluctantly, I found myself once again on the Hogwarts Express on September first, surrounded by the aforementioned group of lovable misfits.
“Rose, what are you taking this year?” Scorpius Malfoy asked.
I glared at him. I hadn’t changed any of my subjects from last year, and considering we’d taken almost all the same subjects (except I took Divination to piss my mother off and he took Muggle Studies to piss his father off) I would have thought he’d remember them. Especially when you consider our first kiss took place during Astronomy class. (What? It was midnight, it was starry, and he was way too shy to try and get me alone so you take what you can get with Scorpius.)
“Same as last year,” I replied pointedly. “You?”
“I’m dropping Charms. Decided I wanted a free period more than I wanted to learn Patronuses.”
“You’re a disgrace to the name Ravenclaw,” Dexter Brawstorn commented, only half joking.
Dexter was widely held to be the ultimate caricature of Ravenclaw. He had neatly trimmed brown hair, thick-rimmed square glasses and an overfull timetable that, due to his being Muggleborn and wanting to keep his options open, also included a first-year engineering paper from a local university. We also assumed his parents hated him because they’d called him Dexter.
Lorcan Scamander was the face of eccentricity for our group. He had white-blonde hair, huge blue eyes and a certain endearing absentmindedness. It never failed to amuse us how different he was from his twin Lysander, who was in Gryffindor and friends with the likes of my cousin Albus, the undisputed king of the school.
Completing our group was my cousin Lucy, the small, redheaded byproduct of an overly restrictive childhood and a four-year-long addiction to Honeydukes products. She was great in small doses and insufferable in large ones. I’d shared a dormitory with her for six years and wondered how I was still alive.
Scorpius and Dexter were now arguing about what constituted a disgrace to Ravenclaw – Scorpius cited Harriet MacIntyre in the year above who had gotten two Ts in her OWLs, which Dexter countered with the fact she had been Dux last year and therefore seventh year was the one that mattered and Scorpius was surely destined to be a disgrace to Ravenclaw because he would have two lots of free periods and was on a slippery slope to doing absolutely nothing.
“I’ll study in my spare time,” Scorpius protested.
“That’s what university students say,” Dexter replied ominously. “Then they spend that time sleeping, and then the sleep takes over and they start skipping lectures and tutorials, and before you know it they’ve completely failed and are living at home with their mums, tormenting their younger brothers because they’re just jealous that said younger brother has academic success and a wand.”
“I’m sensing some deeper issues here,” Scorpius commented mildly.
“Not at all,” Dexter replied. “On a completely unrelated note, the balance of power has been restored in the Brawstorn household now that I’m of age and can actually fight back when Simon assaults me.”
“Your level of maturity astounds me,” Scorpius said with a roll of his eyes.
“Sibling rivalry does not take age into account,” Dexter responded loftily. “Lucy, Rose, Lorcan, back me up on this.”
I shrugged. “Me and Hugo just don’t pay attention to each other, to be honest. He stays out of my way, I stay out of his.”
Lorcan nodded. “Same with me and ’Sander.”
“Molly’s left home, so…” Lucy shrugged. “We hang out occasionally. Go get coffee in Diagon Alley or something. It’s fun, pretending I’m a functioning adult.”
“You will never be a functioning adult, Lucy Weasley.”
“Pretending being the operative word. What did everyone get up to in the holidays? I spent a few days at St Mungo’s, thinking about becoming a Welcome Witch there when I finish school. I think it’d be fun. Like, I don’t like blood and I think I’d freak out, but I’m friendly and that’s what you need. Friendliness. The Welcome Witches when I went as a kid were always really scary and they never smiled. I’d be contributing to less childhood trauma.”
“Or more,” Scorpius muttered. “Hey Rose, have you heard about the new teachers this year?”
“We have new teachers?”
“Well, think about it. Sinistra’s taking over as Headmistress, so they need a new Astronomy teacher. And I think I heard something about History of Magic and Divination as well.”
“History of Magic and Divination?” I repeated. “But how could you replace Binns and Trelawney? They’re like parts of the furniture.”
“Because Sinistra has authority and no sense of sentiment,” Scorpius replied. “Binns has always been a crap teacher, I’m not surprised they’re getting rid of him.”
“Who’s our Head of House now?” Lorcan asked.
“Oh, okay,” Lorcan responded, and returned to staring out the window.
By the time the sun was beginning to set, we had progressed to our favourite Hogwarts Express activity: pretending we were prefects and making up rules to tell first years off for.
“First years aren’t allowed liquorice wands,” Dexter snapped at some random kid. “Sows the seeds for bad magical practice and lack of respect for wandlore. Ten points will be taken from your House as soon as you’re Sorted.”
“I didn’t know,” protested the poor boy.
“Well now you do,” Scorpius said severely. “Don’t let us catch you doing it again. I’m afraid I’ll have to confiscate that, thank you.”
“That was impressive,” I told Dexter as we wandered back to our carriage, Scorpius dividing the liquorice wand into five pieces. ‘Bad magical practice and lack of respect for wandlore?’ Good work.”
“I do try,” Dexter responded. He looked up, seeing Albus and his mates approaching, and ducked quickly into our carriage without another word.
“Sup cuz,” Albus greeted me. “Keen for our last year at Hogwarts?”
I eyed the Head Boy badge on his chest pointedly. “Not with you in any position of high authority, I’m afraid.”
“I don’t actually have much authority. Just the badge. Chicks love it.”
“I can tell by the massive throng of nonexistent lovesick girls behind you.”
“I’m popular with the wallflowers,” he responded with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Too shy to actually approach me, bless them.”
“Keep telling yourself that.” I returned to my carriage, where Dexter was complaining about how it was always those popular up-themselves douchebags from Gryffindor who got Head Prefect and how it would be really nice to see someone else in the position for once.
“The Head Girl’s from Slytherin,” Scorpius pointed out. “Eleanor Busby, the academic one with a small group of friends, a not-overwhelming drive to succeed and a great rack—”
He trailed off as he noticed my wand pointing in his face, but Lucy carried on the conversation enthusiastically.
“She does, right? Glad I’m not the only one who’s noticed it.”
“Could you be any more gay, Lucy?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied matter-of-factly. “I could actually have a girlfriend, but that’s pretty unlikely given the size of Hogwarts’ queer community. Hey, d’you think Eleanor’s in the closet?”
“I dunno, I have a pretty good gaydar—”
“You thought I was gay,” Scorpius said flatly. “For three years.”
“That’s fair enough,” Dexter said matter-of-factly.
“Yeah, I kinda thought you were too,” I agreed.
“Likewise,” Lorcan added. “Are we getting into our uniforms at all? Because we’ve just arrived at Hogsmeade.”
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