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Chapter 5 : Loose spells and loose ends
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Anyway, now, I'm getting back a semblance of control on my timetable, so here is the next bit. hope you like it!
Soon, the Quidditch tryouts were over for all the teams that had needed to hold one. Ian was delighted to learn that both Gina and Joel had made the team, to be respectively Seeker and Chaser. He had witness with undisguised amusement Gina pull Joel into a frantic hug when the results were announced, only to withdraw immediately when she had realised what she was doing. Since then, the both of them were sending strange looks at each other over the Common room, and they were very cautious not to seat beside each other in classrooms, lest they began to blush furiously.
Ian saw this as being fated, in a way. Gina and Joel were eyeing each other since second year. It was obvious that they liked each other.
“Why don’t you talk to her?” he asked Joel, one evening, back in the Nest after Defence Class.
Joel threw him an uncertain look.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said finally, blushing madly.
“Come on, Joel, she likes you, it’s obvious,” insisted Ian. “What do you have to lose? Invite her to the first Hogsmeade week-end.”
“And what if she turns me down?” said Joel, looking positively terrified at the thought.
All that conversation was held on a very hushed tone. Kieran walked down the Peak, where she had finished her homework. She let herself fall in one armchair, beside Ian’s. She looked at them suspiciously, as they were straightening each other, trying to look inconspicuous, and failing miserably.
“What?” she asked. “What were you talking about?”
“Well,” said Ian. “You know, I’m not sure you can understand…”
“Ian…” she said, on a threatening tone.
“Okay,” said Ian, unable to resist longer. “Joel fancies Gina,” he whispered.
Joel hit him in the arm. Kieran only smiled.
“Of course he does,” said Kieran, on the tone of stating the obvious. “What else is new?”
Ian smiled. Joel made a strangled sound, which made Kieran turn to him casually.
“A problem, Joel?” she asked with a toothy grin. “Aren’t you due to a lesson?” she suddenly asked Ian.
“Gosh! I’m late!” said Ian, jumping off his armchair and rushing to the entrance of the Common Room.
He ran through the corridors, crossing path with Filch, who tried to yell after him. But Ian was too quick to hear what he said. He had forgotten the time, while speaking with Joel, and it was time for his lesson with Alexander!
When he reached the third floor of the central wing, Ian made a right turn and stopped right on the door of his Teacher’s office. The door opened right before him, without needing him to knock on it.
“You’re late,” said Alexander from inside.
Ian entered the Office and was surprised to find professor Flitwick sitting on a high stool, facing Alexander’s desk.
“And I’ve chosen the wrong day to be so,” said Ian, grinning.
“There’s no Problem, Mr. Malcolm,” said Flitwick, with his usual joyful tone.
“Alright, Ian,” said Alexander. “Today, I wanted Professor Flitwick to witness your progress in Entropic Charms. So we will first begin to review what you have mastered until now.”
Ian nodded and began to perform every single spell they had worked on since he was back in Hogwarts. It wasn’t as difficult as Alexander have said it to be, two years before. He had told him that Charms were more complicated than Transfiguration. But Ian had the exact opposite feeling. He was performing the spell one after the other, calmly, without any mistake.
Once he was through all the Spells he was mastering (he still had trouble with the banishing spell), he turned to Alexander and Flitwick to see that the short professor was looking at him with round eyes.
“I can barely believe it,” he said.
“I’ve told you so,” said Alexander.
“Yes,” said Flitwick, still watching in awe. “But I didn’t suspect that this was at such a level.”
Ian was looking from one to the other with some concern. What was going on? Had he done something wrong?
“Did you train for anything more than what I gave you as Homework this summer, Ian?” asked Alexander.
Ian shook his head.
“No, I thought that would be enough. Of course, I’ve read the Books of “ Blow-it-All” the Sorcerer, but…”
“Have you felt something lately in your powers?” asked Flitwick. “Some strange reaction, or an impression?”
“Well, last summer, there has been a night when I made all the candles in the house levitate, while I was asleep. The kind of stuff I was doing, when I was a kid, but I didn’t pay much attention to it.”
Flitwick turned to Alexander, who nodded. Ian, of course had told Alexander immediately in one of his letters.
“Ian already told me about it, and I took it into account,” said the Entropist. “There is something more, I’m sure.”
“But what can it be?” asked Flitwick, more to himself than to anyone in particular.
“What’s wrong with me?” asked Ian, clearly under panic, now.
Alexander smiled reassuringly.
“There is nothing wrong with you, Ian,” said Alexander. “It’s just that your powers seem to have increased rather quickly over the summer.”
“Yes,” s aid Alexander. “You see, I can sense the amount of energy you use when you cast a Chaotic spell. Since we began to work on charms, you have shown a tendency to generate more energy than for the transfiguration spells. And you didn’t put more effort in it. So we have two explanations for this.”
Ian raised his eyebrows, waiting for what was next.
“Either your powers are increasing with age,” said Alexander. “Or you’ve found your path.”
“My path?” asked Ian, not sure of what it meant.
“Your powers may be increasing because you started to use them on Charms,” explained Flitwick. “It is possible that your gift is, shall we say, “designed” to be used on Charms, and thus, now you’re using it properly, it can give its full measure.”
“Is it dangerous?” asked Ian. “I mean, Can I lose control over this?”
“I don’t think so,” said Alexander, with a casual shake of head. “Still, we must keep an eye on your regular progress in regular Magic. Such power inside you could affect your performances in class.”
Ian widened his eyes.
“You have nothing to worry about,” said Flitwick. “We will follow you closely, to prevent any problem. So if you encounter any trouble at all, you must warn us immediately.”
“I… I understand, Sir,” said Ian.
Beside her, Kenneth was settled in his usual half-sleeping pose. Julie had a little smile. Kenneth was usually very attentive to any kind of lesson, but in History of Magic, he didn’t even bother to pretend. He was settling comfortably at the beginning of the hour, ready to doze off almost immediately after the beginning of Binns’ speech.
But it seemed that Kenneth’s afternoon nap wasn’t meant to be, this time, for everyone felt that something odd was going on when Binns glided through the blackboard. He looked… excited! That alone was suspicious.
“Today,” said the ghostly Professor. “We will add a new chapter to this class’ curriculum.”
Everybody seemed to jump at that and many stupefied looks were thrown across the room. That was the first time, as far as they knew it, that Binns would announce something new! And for the first time in the recent History of Hogwarts, an excited chill ran through the class. Binns seemed as enthusiastic as a ghost could seem.
“Recently, new historical proven facts have been brought up to light on the fascinating subject of the Lost City of Atlantis. Work that has been confirmed by Truth Seekers for the Ministry has finally established facts behind Legend, and so I will dedicate the next lessons to the subject. Today, I will remind to those who may not know the details of Atlantean History, a short summary of the greatest events of the History of this City, from its founding to its Fall. After that, we will study the different dynasties of Wizards that ruled the City. And we will go on until Winter break.”
Julie was very glad to learn something new, in History. Having studied the school’s program, she had been distraught to find that most of the subjects covered in fifth year History of Magic had been viewed in her third year at Beaubâtons. Not only Binns was boring himself, but Julie had already learned everything he was bound to teach them this year.
She had been resigned to share Kenneth’s habit of sleeping through History of Magic, but a new subject seemed to have drawn the pony-tailed boy out of his apathy as well. As Julie looked at him, she saw that he looked fascinated.
She had gotten used to sit beside him. She did that in many classes. Kalindra, Mandy and Kenneth were her favoured seating companions. Well, that was if the lesson wasn’t shared with Slytherins, in that case Robert would simply come and sit beside her. And to be honest, she liked that… a lot.
She wasn’t the kind of girl who kidded herself. Robert was a fine young man and he was attractive. She enjoyed his attention. But it didn’t mean that he had to be her only focus. Julie liked Kenneth’s company. He was kind and smart. She suspected him to be far smarter than he let on, actually. There was something in the young man that felt… mysterious. He seemed to be holding something back for some reason. But, with Kalindra, he was the first to offer his help and support in class or in the common room.
So she spent many classes beside him. He had a very clever sense of humour and that was a big help to go through some lessons. Especially Arithmancy, which was way more complicated than what she expected. They didn’t have that subject, back in France. But Kenneth seemed always confident in her abilities, which was a great help.
There was only one subject Kenneth couldn’t help her with, and that was History. But that was because he spent most his lessons sleeping. He claimed he was working on the subject in books, in the library. And now even he looked interested by what the Ghost was about to say.
Binns cleared his throat, which sounded like some strange flute in the air. For once, not even one of his words was lost to the students.
“The origin of the Cities were lost in the depths of time, to a time where the only established civilizations in the world were the Builders and the Elves. Most of it was legendary gibberish, until some recent discoveries about the Seal of Chaos shed a new light on that period. When the Flying Cities of the Builders were destroyed by the Seal of Chaos, only a few servants of the Archimagi remained, as they were either living on the ground or gone for a mission, away from the Cities. They found themselves lost, handfuls of mages among intolerant, primitive, wild Muggles. One of the Archimagi, called, Askadis, had foreseen the War somehow and had ordered his servants to take shelter. These servants were led by a wizard called Daresian. He, along with his companions, sought out the other surviving followers of the Builders, and they left Muggle behind to seek refuge near the Elves. They took refuge on the Continent that lay in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the great Elvish Kingdom of Atlan’te’Heen(*). The Elves, impressed by the power flowing in the veins of the lesser wizards, and by the wisdom of Daresian, welcomed the survivors and gave them a land, a small Island near the shores of their Great Continent. The Wizards named this place Atlantis, and gave themselves the name of Atlanteans, by gratitude to the Elves. The City began to develop on the Island and became soon a great and powerful place. Daresian, the mightiest and wisest wizard of Atlantis, was proclaimed King of the City. During the following Eon, the Atlantean civilisation lived in relative peace, and had friendly links with the Elves. But one day, The Elves decided to go on to the Next World, and disappeared slowly. Only a few remain now in the world, as they live among us, without being seen.
After the Elves were gone, The Atlantis Wizards have maintained their power during centuries. There have been numerous dynasties. Now, on the scale of History, the most important ones are by far the Anthéni and the Venius dynasties. It is said that the Venius was the last Dynasty of Kings of Atlantis, as it is under the last Venius King that the City sank in the ocean, dragging the whole Continent with her.”
Will’s hand shot in the air.
“Yes, Mr Turner?” asked Binns, distractedly, oblivious to the fact that Will’s name was Tyler.
“How exactly did the City disappear? We heard a lot of legends, but…”
“There are many theories about this,” Binns said. “Most are ludicrous accounts of impossible things. Some of these legends even reached the Muggle world. Example of such nonsense is the idea that Atlantis was voluntarily sunk and that its inhabitants have turned themselves into water breathers. Some even claimed that Atlanteans have taken their Island and the Continent into space to found an Empire among the Stars. In fact, no one exactly knows what happened in Atlantis, but recent research has narrowed it down to a more believable frame. This frame is called the War of the Sinking. It was a Civil War. During that war, a power was unleashed, so terrible that it destroyed both the Island and the Main Land as well, sinking the two.”
Everyone was stunned by that.
“The points of uncertainty, as of today, lie with the people involved in the War,” Binns went on. “Most theories admit that the main conflict was between the House of King Venius and the Antheni Princes, whose line had been kings at some point in History. There were other factions, such as the Netu and the Taliesin Houses, but the main fight was there. Opinions diverge on the fact that Venius was the rightful King or a Tyrant. And also, the question remains unanswered: Who triggered the destruction of Atlantis? Most accounts would lay the blame on King Venius, but this has been a subject of debates for years in the Wizarding History Society. The trouble is that in case of Civil War, the History is often written by the victors, so if we had trace of what was the official truth, we could figure what part of reality it involved. But in the case of Atlantis, the greatest problem of all is that, as the City sank in the Ocean, there hasn’t been any victor. It is clear that all of this was an awful tragedy.”
Nobody said anything. This was the very first time that Binns was so fascinating in his lessons. Kenneth and Julie exchanged looks. Still Julie was feeling a little uneasy with this story, as if it rang a curious bell in her. She had never studied Atlantis in her French school, though. The recent discoveries hadn’t been made public at the time.
This was curious.
As the class ended, everybody began to discuss the subject, while gathering their stuff.
“You know, I’m quite sure that there have been survivors of Atlantis,” said Will, at some point, while they were walking to the Great Hall, for the lunch.
“Why do you say that?” asked Julie.
“Well, the Builders have been destroyed millennia before, and still there was a line of survivors. You remember that witch that tried to use the Seal of Chaos? She was carrying the blood of the Builders. I’m pretty sure that the same goes for the Atlanteans.”
“There’s even a legend that the four founders of this school were descendant of Atlantean Wizards,” said Jennifer.
“Yes, and they were dancing naked under the stars, each night of full-moon,” said Mandy, clearly sceptical.
Julie chuckled. This was ridiculous indeed.
“Magic has always found a way to appear out of nowhere,” said Kalindra, shrugging. “There is no need to find a legendary origin to all. Soon, the Slytherin would make their blood line go back to Atlantis, and they would become unbearable.”
They all laughed at the thought and headed to the doors of the Great Hall.
What Alexander meant by “trouble”, Ian wasn’t sure. But he was bound to find out, the next morning. The Ravenclaw and Slytherin third years were in Professor McGonagall’s classroom, and they were about to try a new step in transfiguration, which was quite a dangerous step forward.
“You’d be kind to remember that this spell is very delicate,” said Professor McGonagall, with her usual stern tone. “So you want to be careful with this. The effect if the spell misses its target could be very dangerous.”
“What could happen?” asked Kieran, concerned.
“Well, if the spell misses, the effect can rebound on stone and any inanimate material. Then if a human being is hit by the spell, it can change into something between human and Rabbit, which takes enough time to cure in the Hospital Wing for you to miss a few weeks. I would advise against using it as a way to skip lessons, however, as the recovery is quite painful, and you’d be forced to eat only carrots for the whole treatment.”
Ian wasn’t sure if the last part of the threat was serious or not, but the whole class threw each other very impressed looks. Except for the Slytherins, of course, who were acting as if they would do anything to see something like that happen. Ian rolled his eyes. Since they had begun to share their Transfiguration lessons with the Slytherins, he could never feel really at ease, especially with Macke passing him notes with just Freak written across it, which was the usual with him.
They began to work on the spell who was aiming at changing a paperweight into a rabbit.
Kieran succeeded within ten minutes, even if her rabbit seemed to be a little slow, as if it was too fat. Professor McGonagall congratulated her, and awarded ten points to Ravenclaw, to Ian’s delight. Kieran began to blush. Ian succeeded in changing his own weight into a strange looking stone rabbit, which began to jump on the table, punching holes through it at each leap. He looked up to McGonagall with a wince. But McGonagall had just a slight smile, and with a slight wave of her wand, turned back the rabbit into the stone.
“Well, that’s still a progress, Mr Malcolm,” she said. “But you’ll need to be more accurate with the wave.”
Kieran smiled at Ian. She wasn’t mocking him, he knew it, but the thought of a stone rabbit digging the ground shot in his mind and he joined her chuckle.
Ian heard a snort, and turned to see Macke looking at him, from behind his motionless paperweight, which had sprouted rabbit ears, making it slightly ridiculous. Then, Macke had a nasty smile, and aimed his wand at Joel, who was about to cast his spell for the third time. Macke whispered an incantation, and a slight flash came hitting Joel in the elbow, before Ian could warn him.
Joel’s spell shot in the air, and hit the Ceiling.
“Hit the ground!” shouted Kieran to Joel who rolled on the ground.
The spell rebounded at the exact place where Joel had stood a second before. It began to bounce back wildly, hitting walls and tables. Students were diving to avoid it. Ian threw himself on the ground with Kieran, and lost his wand. Professor McGonagall was trying to stop the spell with her own wand. Ian suddenly saw it rebound to a spot where Kieran couldn’t see it coming right at her.
He stood up, and shot his hand in the air before him.
“Protego!” he shouted.
His incantation seemed to echo in the whole Castle. A barrier of light appeared around him and extended itself to reach Kieran. The Bubble it seemed to create enveloped the rest of the Classroom. The spell hit it, right in front of Kieran, who let out a little shriek. It dissolved suddenly, with an explosive sound. The barrier seemed to spread even wider. All the windows of the classroom suddenly shattered. Ian lowered his hands, looking at them completely confused.
“Did I do that?” he said.
“Of course you did, you freak,” said Macke from the back of the class.
“Mr. Macke! Detention for you! Without your own attack on Mr. Andrews, the trouble would have been avoided,” said McGonagall rising from behind her desk, where the shockwave had thrown her.
She walked to Kieran, who was still recoiling in a corner, looking terrified.
“Are you alright, Miss McDougall?” she asked.
“Y… yes, I think,” said Kieran, with a very shaky voice.
“Mr Malcolm, Mr Andrews, you will take her to the Hospital wing,” said Professor McGonagall. “She’ll need some tonic after a shock like this.”
Ian and Joel rushed to help Kieran on her feet. She was still shaking.
“Oh, and Mr Malcolm. That will add twenty points to Ravenclaw, for having saved the situation,” she added.
“Because you think that saved the situation?” asked a voice at the door.
Professor Snape was standing at the door. He shot a dark look to Ian.
“I should have known where it came from,” he sneered. “You can be proud of you, Mr Malcolm, for you shattered all the windows of this floor of the Castle.”
Ian looked at him in horror. A whole floor?
“Maybe, Severus,” said Professor McGonagall. “Still his nerve has prevented that any student could end up in the Hospital Wing for a whole month. You may go, Mr Malcolm.”
Ian nodded humbly and he and Joel walked Kieran to the door. When they passed before Snape, he didn’t dare to raise his eyes. No use in provoking him. He was already mean enough. Especially given the fact that it was one of his student that had started the whole mess.
As they were walking to the Hospital Wing, they could see that many faces were appearing at the classrooms doors. At some point, Professor Flitwick ran in the corridor on his little legs.
“Mr Malcolm, what happened?”
“Well…” began Ian, unsure where to start.
“Somebody deflected my transfiguration spell,” Joel interrupted him. “It rebounded in the classroom. It was heading for Kieran, and Ian has cast a protecting shield. And it … shattered all the windows.”
Flitwick shot Ian a surprised look, and so did all the students that were gathering in the corridor.
“You cast it without a wand?” asked Flitwick.
“Yes,” said Ian.
“With such a power? Impressive!” said Flitwick, who seemed pretty excited.
“That’s all you find to say?” asked Professor Sinistra from her class door. “All the lenses of my class are ruined.”
“Oh, but that’s nothing!” said Flitwick, excitedly. “Mr Andrews, can you take care of Miss McDougall alone?”
Joel nodded and resumed his walk to the Hospital wing. Kieran turned to Ian, and mouthed “Thank you”, before she disappeared behind the corner. Ian turned back to Flitwick.
“Ian, you will have to repair all this. After a shielding Charm, that should be easy for you. The incantation is ‘Reparo omnia’, “explained Flitwick.
Ian made a doubtful face, extended his hands, gathered his will, closed his eyes, and enounced the word.
Again it seemed to ring through the hallway. Ian felt the rush of energy run through him. He opened his eyes. To see all the shards of glass leave the floor and fly back to their initial place. Within seconds, he could see all the windows repairing themselves in the entire corridor.
“OUCH! MALCOLM!” he heard someone roar in the Transfiguration classroom.
The last piece of glass took its place in the last window with an audible click. Professor Sinistra rushed in her class, looking hopeful. Flitwick winked at Ian.
“They’re repaired! And they’re even realigned!” they could hear from the inside.
Many students in the corridor, mostly Gryffindors and Ravenclaws cheered. Snape came storming out of the transfiguration classroom, looking furious, his thumb in his mouth.
“What came over you to try something like this!” he began to shout.
“I asked him, Severus,” said Flitwick, very enthusiastically.
Ian thanked him mentally for that statement. Snape’s rictus of hate turned to a frown, as he turned to the short professor.
“That could have been dangerous,” he said. “I was holding one of the pieces of glass, and it flew out of my hand.”
“I thought a professor of your knowledge would have learned not to play with pieces of cutting glass, Professor Snape,” said the voice of Alexander, echoing in the corridor.
The Entropist walked into the scene, with an ironic smile on his face. Ian winced at the thought that Alexander could make things worse because of the mutual animosity that existed between him and Snape. But Snape only shot the Entropist a withering look, and strode away, students moving quickly out of his way.
Alexander looked around to Students. He smiled.
“Don’t you have class right now?” he asked casually.
All the students, who had been watching very intensely the exchange, gave a start and rushed back in their classrooms, that quickly closed again, leaving only Ian, Flitwick, Alexander and McGonagall. Ian looked up to his Mentor.
“You wanted to be warned,” he said. “I encountered some trouble.”
“Come to my office, Ian,” he said. “I’ll handle that, Minerva,” he told McGonagall, who nodded, before to go back into her classroom.
Alexander and Flitwick preceded Ian in the stairs leading to his Office. At some point, they passed before the Defence Class. Professor Potter’s head shot out of the door frame.
“So, what was that exactly?” he asked with a smile.
Behind him, Ian could see Terry, trying to see from his seat in the first rank. His friend shot him an interrogative look. Ian mouthed a “later” the most discretely he could.
“Nothing serious,” said Alexander. “A slight spell incident.”
“I heard Snape,” said Harry. “He didn’t seem pleased.”
“Isn’t it tragic?” said Alexander casually.
Potter had a short laugh, and his head rushed back in his classroom. The door shut down, and the two teachers resumed their climb of the stairs. Alexander opened the door and gestured for Ian to enter. Ian walked in quickly.
“Sit down, Ian,” said Alexander kindly.
Ian obeyed immediately. He was feeling more and more embarrassed. Alexander seemed to notice it.
“You have done no wrong,” he said. “Relax.”
“It’s just that I never lost control like that since I’m school,” said Ian. “The last time I shattered things like that, I was seven. I just don’t want to go back there.”
“I understand,” said Alexander. “We’ll try to help you. So, now, what exactly happen?”
By the time he was through his story, Ian felt better. Alexander told him that he had done for the best. Flitwick was nodding vigorously. Ian hadn’t mentioned the fact that the spell had been deviated by Macke. That was McGonagall’s business… and his own. Macke wouldn’t get away with this one. He had tried to hurt someone during this class, and he had almost harmed severely his best friend. He would get a payback, somehow.
“Well,” said Alexander. “I’m impressed, too. A shielding Charm? Where did you learn that?”
“Err… in the paper,” said Ian. “In the special issue that was telling about Professor Potter’s duel with Voldemort.”
“I think for once, Harry would be pleased to know that his press publications had served someone.”
Flitwick giggled lightly.
“So, I guess we will have to do some special training. The mastering of your spells isn’t in question. You must learn how to put the only necessary amount of energy in the spells you cast. So that next time, you wont even make the windows tremble but still you will have cast the same shielding charm. The trouble is that you put too much might in the spell. So the exceeding power can have complete random effect, as it is pure magic which is released from your being.”
Ian nodded in understanding.
“So from now on, we will try some discipline exercises,” said Alexander.
Ian was relieved to know that Alexander understood what was going on. The thought of shattering all around him was really troubling and worrying.
“Alright, I’ll have to do some preparation, first,” said Alexander. “You may return to class.”
“Can I go and check on Kieran?” asked Ian.
“Well, since you missed half the lesson, you could as well miss the rest,” said Flitwick.
“Let us through,” said the little boy. “We have a lesson.”
“Oh, isn’t that cute?” laughed Evan Carney, Slytherin third year. “The little twerps don’t wanna be late for class.”
His cronies, out of second and third year, all snickered behind him.
Kenneth had emerged for the library, after a free period , only to walk in on this despicable scene. Carney was a bully, outshined in this role only by Tim Macke, in his year. And he was seizing every opportunity to pick on smaller preys.
Kenneth decided that it wouldn’t work, this time. He walked decidedly toward the group and roughly stepped in between Carney and his intended victims, Hufflepuff first years.
“So,” he said. “That’s what you do when you’re not licking Macke’s boots? Taking on little kids? Now, that’s impressive.”
“Get lost, Lionheart,” sighed a girl who stood behind Carney. “None of your business.”
“And I don’t think they need the help of a coward, anyway,” mocked Carney.
Kenneth reacted quickly. He grabbed the front of Carney’s robes and pulled him strongly. Carney wasn’t either tall or strong, so his feet were soon leaving the ground as Kenneth held him by the collar.
“You want to test that, Carney?” he said, menacingly.
“What’s going on, here?” a voice interrupted.
Robert Donahue had suddenly showed up at the end of the corridor. As he walked toward them, Kenneth let go of Carney, who nearly fell on his bottom. With a quick nod, he signalled the first years to get out of the corridor. Donahue, after a moment, nodded the same for his Housemates and Carney reluctantly obeyed.
“We’ll meet again, Lionheart,” he spat, as a last bit of bravado, in order not to lose face completely.
“Can’t wait, Carney,” Kenneth retorted, without letting Donahue out of his sight.
The Prefect came to face him. The tension between the two could have been cut through with a knife.
“So, you think you can bully the third years?” he asked. “I can’t say I’m surprised, Lionheart.”
Kenneth had to laugh. It wasn’t even necessary to ponder his reaction. The laugh was dry, however.
“This coming from the guy whose job I was doing, just now,” he said. “You’re the prefect, Donahue, at least that pretty badge on your chest says so. Your little pals were messing with first years. Your status in the school rests on the fact you’re supposed to stop that from happening. But I guess it’s too much to hope for a Slytherin Prefect to apply the rules to his Housemates, huh? No, you guys are beyond the usual rules, aren’t you?”
“You’re going to teach me about duty, now, Lionheart?” mocked Donahue. “I seem to recall that you didn’t do your duty to your House, last time we faced each other.”
Of course, Kenneth knew what he was referring to. The root of their current hatred.
Back when Kenneth was in third year, while he had spent most of his time at Hogwarts not giving a damn about Kenneth, Donahue had suddenly started to try and score against him in any way he could. Kalindra had told him, back then, that he was a prominent Gryffindor, and that if Donahue was to be respected as a Slytherin, he needed to score against the traditional enemy.
Kenneth had doubted that on two grounds. First, he didn’t feel like he was that prominent. If one had to be seen as the leader of his year in Gryffindor, it would be Rob, not him. Secondly, Donahue hadn’t, until then, struck him as a guy who would play by the stupid rules of Slytherin.
But he was to be proved wrong on the second account, in fact, since Donahue had used every field he had managed, in order to come up on top against Kenneth. Since neither of them was any good on a broomstick, it had been in classes, and then in simple disputes. Kenneth, despite the constant warnings of his father that he wasn’t supposed to use magic in school fights, was the kind of guy who couldn’t leave a bully unopposed, and Donahue knew that he would usually rely on his fists to do so.
At some point, Donahue had managed to push Kenneth so far that the young boy had been ready to go for his throat, but still, he had refused to pull his wand for that kind of business, the teachings of his father still clear in his head. Donahue, upon realising that, had humiliated Kenneth in front of the whole Slytherin year, and since Snape had shown up at this very moment, Kenneth had been forced to simply withdraw.
From that moment on, Kenneth had laid low and Donahue had gained his status as Slytherin star, leader of the pack, or whatever. Kenneth had thought that it would be the end of that. Kenneth had lost, it happened, life was going on. It wasn’t like Kenneth cared for the opinion of the Slytherins or Snape, for that matter.
But it seemed that Donahue wasn’t going to let it rest. Since that moment, two years ago, he had seized many occasions to remind everyone, from Slytherin to Gryffindor to staff, that Kenneth was a coward who had simply walked out after a slight so grave that it should have called for a real wizard to defend his honour. Again, Kenneth intended not to care about that. But one day, Donahue had called him out about that, and he had questioned his family’s name, calling them cowards. Kenneth had been about to draw his wand, but again, Snape had showed up, which had ended to confrontation. Since that day, Kenneth had been chomping at the bit, nurturing a very serious hatred toward Donahue.
And now, the jerk was bringing it up again.
“My duty to my House?” said Kenneth. “Is that how you call it? I would have made it a personal duty to waste your face, hadn’t your House head shown up at the corner. But you knew he was coming, didn’t you?”
“You can turn it any way you want, Lionheart,” said Donahue. “But the fact remains: you’re not even willing to defend your honour. That’s the definition of a coward.”
“Yeah, right,” sighed Kenneth. “Look, I don’t know what you’re trying to prove, by going at me, like that, alright? And frankly, I don’t care. But I’m starting to lose my patience with that attitude of yours.”
“Ooh, is that a threat, Lionheart?” smirked Donahue.
“A simple fact,” said Kenneth. “I’m not like your usual court that believes that they need to step on people to get on with their life. And honestly, I didn’t believe you were either, until third year. I guess I was wrong. A little word of caution, though. You seem to be getting close to Julie, these days. I don’t think she’ll be all that impressed by that kind of number.”
“You’re giving me advice on my love life? That’s rich!” said Donahue.
“Forget it, I give up,” said Kenneth, rolling his eyes. “Just try not to be such a jerk to Julie.”
“Or what?” said Donahue. “You’re going to take me down? You’re… what, her bodyguard? Or are you falling for her, as well? Well, bad news, Lionheart, I think you’re in for a disappointment.”
Kenneth was astounded. Did he really have to turn anything into a competition between them? What was the point? But something in Donahue’s words had struck at Kenneth. It was true that he liked Julie. A lot… And to think of her dating Donahue wasn’t the cheeriest thought ever. Still, he had tried to remain civil.
“You know what? Actually, I don’t give a damn,” he said. “Go on and be a jerk to your heart’s content, Donahue, that’s more like you, anyway. Just stay the hell away from me.”
On that, Kenneth angrily strode back to Gryffindor Tower. The conversation hadn’t helped at all. First, Donahue wasn’t anywhere near the notion of leaving Kenneth in peace. Second, he had yet another motive to be competitive, and third, as he had so clearly pointed out, Kenneth loathed the idea of him dating Julie Carteret.
What it meant, in regard to his own feelings for Julie, was too confusing for him to question it, right now.
When Ian entered the Hospital Wing, it was to find Joel and Kieran sitting on a bed, Kieran sipping slowly a glass of a fuming potion. Madam Pomfrey was pacing all around the room, moving stuff and replacing bottles.
“That will calm you down, Miss McDougall,” she said. “Once you feel better, you can… Oh, no, not another accident!” she said, seeing Ian at the door.
“In fact, he’s the accident,” said Joel, grinning.
“I’m fine,” said Ian. “I was just coming to see if Kieran was okay.”
Madam Pomfrey looked at him intensely, to see if there wasn’t any wound. Then she gave up her examination and she strode back to her office. She was mumbling all the way to the door.
“As if we haven’t enough trouble with the Weasleys coming to visit!” she was saying. “One day, they will set this school completely in ruins, I tell you!”
Ian joined Kieran and Joel, wondering what she was meaning.
“How are you?” he asked Kieran.
“Well, I’ve felt a lot better many times,” said Kieran. “That was the scariest thing I ever went through. This spell was going straight at me. I know he was following me. I had to dodge it three times from very close. I’m sure Macke aimed it at me.”
“Why you and not me?” asked Ian. “Macke hates me and Joel, but he has nothing against you.”
“I wouldn’t be sure about that,” said Joel. “First, Kieran is our friend, so that makes her a target for his gang. Second he needed someone to throw the spell at. You could have blocked it easily, as you just showed it. And since Kieran never misses one spell, it was easier to make it look like an accident if the spell came from me. So he chose to get the spell from me and thus, he had to throw it at her.”
“But that was extremely dangerous,” said Kieran. “Macke can’t be that irresponsible.”
“Oh, Please! Kieran! It’s Macke we’re talking about!” said Ian.
“Anyway, he didn’t get away, as McGonagall saw it was him who started it,” said Joel.
“Yeah,” said Ian. “You’re sure you’re okay?” he asked Kieran again.
“Yes,” she said, smiling of his concern. “Thank you. Without you I would be lying here for a whole month.”
“Well, that’s what friends are for,” said Ian. “You know… Best friends… Protecting each others?”
“Well, I heard about that once or twice, but I wasn’t sure it existed, given the kind of people who happen to be my friends,” said Kieran with an ironic smile.
“Well, now you can be a believer, girl,” said Joel.
“Did you understand what Madam Pomfrey was meaning when she said that the Weasleys were coming to visit?” asked Ian, now reassured on Kieran’s state.
“Well, apparently, Dumbledore have invited old friends. But not the whole Professor Weasley’s step family. Just…”
“They’re coming here!??” said Harry, his eyes wide in disbelief. “You invited them here?”
“Well, what’s wrong about that?” asked Ron.
When he saw the look of desperation on Hermione’s face, he suddenly was less secure about this decision.
“It was Dumbledore’s idea,” he said in defence.
“What was he thinking of?” moaned Hermione.
“Well, he won’t have to run after them in the whole Castle,” said Harry. “So he must have found that it was a good idea.”
“But what is the problem?”
“Ron, Honey,” said Hermione. “Your brothers were already the nightmare of Filch in their school years. Now, they’re the number one furnishers of ninety percent of the forbidden objects written on his list. And they’re my brothers in Law. You expect them to behave nicely when they will be here?”
“Harry and me are Teachers, now;” said Hermione, patiently. “That means we must make the rules followed. That means we will have to keep an eye on them during their whole stay in the Castle. And of course, they’ll be too happy to tease us with our new position as teachers.”
Ron was now understanding Hermione’s dilemma. His face went pale.
“But it was Dumbledore’s idea.”
“Of course,” said Harry. “We’re closing on Halloween, so it would be a good idea to pull out some jokes. And to pull out some jokes, who are better than…”
Ron moaned. He was getting to the point.
“Fred and George.”
There it is! Hopefully, the next chapter won't be so long in the making. I can't make any promise, though, because the next chapter has a lot of new parts, so it may take time...
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