Chapter 7 : Back to School
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It's funny how normal everything seemed at that moment. To put it into perspective for you, a lot of shit had gone down in the past six months. The Ministry had announced the return of the Dark Lord, Harry Potter and the Order had experienced a huge battle in the Department of Mysteries and now, for some reason unknown, Dumbledore was standing in front of us with a grotesquely shriveled and blackened hand. Yet we were all here, back at school during a time of immense danger, listening to Dumbledore ask for new Quidditch commentators and announce the new Head Boy and Girl.
Hogwarts was welcoming yet another new teacher to its staff. Horace Slughorn would be taking the position of potions master and Snape had finally been given the job of teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts. Everyone around me at the Slytherin table cheered when he was acknowledged, so I followed the crowd and did the same.
What a contrast to Beauxbatons. Every teacher at that school was fully qualified for their position and had been teaching at the school since they were out of the womb. Not literally, but you get the point. This was going to be my first full year at Hogwarts as my family and I had moved to England halfway through last year.
The Hall had broken out in chatter after the news of Snape's new position so Dumbledore brought us all back to attention by clearing his throat.
"Now, as everybody in this Hall knows, Lord Voldemort and his followers are once more at large and gaining in strength."
The silence seemed to solidify as he spoke. I could feel those around me who had been slouched and not paying attention straightening to fix their eyes on the Headmaster.
"I cannot emphasize strongly enough how dangerous the present situation is..."
Something I saw out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. I turned my head and saw Draco Malfoy sitting several seats down from me on the opposite side of the table. He was probably the only one in the whole room not paying attention to Dumbledore's speech. Well, now one of two. He was making his fork levitate with his wand, seeming completely uninterested. Suddenly, feeling the weight of my gaze, I suppose, his eyes turned up to meet mine.
Caught. I felt my cheeks instantly warm with a blush as I looked away.
"...I urge you, therefore, to abide by any security restrictions..."
Don't get me wrong, I didn't fancy Draco or anything. In fact, my feelings for him were slightly on the side of dislike. He was attractive, of course, but a total jerk. I'd transferred into his potions class last year and it was practically unbearable. I didn't know how he and his ego could fit in a room together.
I snuck a glance over my shoulder and almost instantly turned back around. He was smirking at me.
Dumbledore's speech was suddenly the most interesting thing I'd heard as I focused all of my attention on him and stoutly ignored the other end of the table. I could feel the redness in my face intensifying as I received a suspicious smirk from one of my roommates.
"What?" She mouthed.
I just shook my head and cupped a hand around my neck.
"But now, your beds await, as warm and comfortable as you could possibly wish, and I know that your top priority is to be well-rested for your lessons tomorrow."
Oh yeah, suuure...
"Let us therefore say good night. Pip pip!"
And with that, the entire hall was filled with the scraping of benches and hundreds of talking voices as students headed off to their respective houses. My friends and I remained seated, deciding to wait until the initial congestion had cleared out.
"So what's up Lace? Why were you blushing so hard?" Kathryn asked me from across the table, her eyes twinkling and a grin on her face.
"It was nothing, my face was just hot." I crossed my arms and leaned forward on the table, tracing the wood pattern with my eyes. I could feel my face reddening again.
"Ha ha look! She's blushing again! C'mon Lacey, was it a boy! What happened?" One of my roommates, and good friends, Amelia squealed.
"It's nothing, really. I just got caught looking at someone."
I risked a glance down the table again, but he'd already left.
"Who was it?" they persisted.
I let out a sigh and pinched the bridge of my nose and I closed my eyes.
They erupted in shrieks and giggles.
"What? Draco? Do you like him?"
"No! Of course not! We just made unexpected eye contact and it was really awkward for two seconds."
"Why were you staring at him?"
"I wasn't staring! He was doing something stupid with his fork and I happened to look over at him and he saw me."
I was on the extreme defensive and my friends could tell. Ari, who had hadn't said anything until now, spoke up.
"Draco's cute, but he's such a pompous arse."
"Agreed," said Kat. "He thinks way too highly of himself."
"Not to mention he's a total man-whore who uses girls for sex and tosses them away like trash."
"Mel, what a feisty one you are tonight!" I said. Amelia was usually the sweet "everyone-has-a-good-side" one of the bunch.
"Yeah, I thought everything was faeries and cotton-candy in your world." Kat said with a smirk. Mel straightened in her seat and started stacking her things to leave.
"For your information, it's all 'faeries, cotton-candy and a big helping of screw you.'" We all busted up laughing and stood to walk out of the Hall.
We shared stories of what we did over summer all the way back to the Slytherin common room. As usual, it was a balmy 50 degrees under the lake and the room was lightly crowded with students.
"Hey Kat, think fast!"
Peter Landcaster chucked something across the room at Kat. I wasn't surprised. In fact, her incessant flirting with ANY available boy had seemed to have had a delayed start this year. Usually she had a small herd following her around before we even got on the Hogwarts Express.
Kat was beautiful, without a doubt, and had a great sense of humor to boot. She was a total "guy's girl" and was always willing to involve herself in whatever annoying new game the male species came up with. She got a lot of backlash from other girls because of her goof looks and flirtatious nature that ended her up in the bed of any guy she wanted. But she had sought me out and befriended me on my first day at Hogwarts last year and had been my quick-witted, sharp-tongued best friend ever since.
She spun around just in time to catch the Quaffle Peter had thrown to her.
"Tsk tsk, you guys broke into Madame Hooch's office already? It's not even 11 o'clock on our first night back to school!" She chuckled as she tossed the Quidditch ball back to him.
"Do you guys want to go upstairs? It's a bit crowded down here" I said to my girls. They agreed and we headed upstairs to my room.
Mel and I share a room with two other girls, Francine Bogglewart and Daevia Brown. Our room usually ends up as home base for our group because out of the four of us we're the only two who live together. Poor Ari got stuck with the worst of the worst in Slytherin as a roommate: Pansy Parkington. I had been attending Hogwarts for less than an hour when Pansy decided to add me to her long list of people she didn't like. I had just been sorted as a fifth year transfer student among the incoming first years and when I went to sit down at the table I caught the tail end of someone's conversation.
"...and she's such a slag!" I looked up and saw Pansy glowering at me from a small distance away. I wasn't familiar with the term at that point, but some later clarification had me wondering what I did to make her hate me so quickly.
When we arrived at my room it was empty, perfect for a little harrassment.
"When are you and Peter going to hook up?" I asked Kat.
"Don't make me gag. Peter is sooo not my type."
"What is your type? Fly already unzipped?" I elbowed Mel in the side. She was only kidding, but still.
"No, thank you very much. Peter's just...too immature." She turned sideways in my mirror, looking herself over as she dragged a palm down her torso. "I need a real man."
"Okay, sure Kat. 'Cuz you're so responsible and grown-up yourself."
"Mel, what is with you tonight? Who died and took your virginity with them?" Kat said.
Mel immediately went red and stared at the duvet she was fiddling with.
"Oh my god! That's it! You hooked up with somebody over summer!" Kat was beside herself in shock and disbelief. When Mel didn't respond right away we all crowded onto the bed she was sitting on.
"Tell us! What happened? Who?!"
The sky must have suddenly turned hot pink and started raining dragons. As long as I'd known her, and long before that I was assured by Kat and Ari, Amelia had been the most reserved out of all of us when it came to boys. She would comment here and there about someone we were gossiping about but she had never had a boyfriend. I wasn't sure she'd had her first kiss.
"His name's Timmothy Krendle. Remember how I said I had a job this summer, interning at the Ministry?"
We nodded. Mel's father was some person of mid-importance in the British Ministry of Magic and had set his daughter up with an internship in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.
"He had just started working there as a new full-time employee and we had orientation together. We started hanging out since we were the new kids on the block and, I don't know, we-"
"-banged like animals!" Kat interrupted. "How old was this guy, 18? God and you don't turn 16 until next week! I always knew there was a bad girl inside of you Mel, just waiting to come out. There was no way you could go that long without some sort of release. And boy was your 'I'm a good-girl' reputation starting to get annoying."
"Well excuse me, Kathryn. At least I have some morality and don't go throwing my cat around at every guy I pass in the hallway."
"I do not 'throw my cat' around!"
"And you want to talk about reputations? How about yours, hmm? The 'Slytherin slut' am I right?"
"Hey now, that was uncalled f-" I tried to interject before Kat cut me off.
"Well hey, at least I get some action! The boys actually like me."
"You're such a bitch, Kat! You can never just be a nice person and say something that any normal human being with a little sense of apathy would! You're such a heartless bitch."
"Oh yeah? Let me tell you something about you-"
Ariadne and I exchanged looks. We had to do something before this fight got way out of hand and the two of them said things they didn't mean. We withdrew our wands and pointed them at the other two.
It was like someone had pressed a mute button. My ears were ringing in the silence with relief from their screaming. Kat was far from done with this fight though, and without a voice to yell with anymore she shoved Mel into a bed post. As she righted herself to return her attack, Ariadne and I hooked our arms around their elbows and pulled them away from each other.
"Had enough?" I said angrily to the two of them.
Kat struggled in my arms, trying to break away but I only tightened my grip.
"Drop it Kat! Stop it! You two are friends.I don't know what the hell has gotten into the two of you but let it go. You need to apologize. What you said was over the line, even for you."
She just huffed and looked away.
"And Mel, you know how Kat is. She's a bitch and doesn't say things the right way. But you still shouldn't have said what you did about her."
Sensing that both parties had lost their drive to fight, Ariadne and I released them. Kat glared at the wall for a few moments, her fists clenched, before spinning on her heel and storming out the door. Mel stood staring at the ground before she sunk down to the bed behind her. Her voice was coming back, the silencing charm wearing off.
"Don't worry Mel, don't let what she said get to you. You know her, she just doesn't express her feelings well and you shocked us with your news."
"Whatever, I don't care." She shrugged off the arm I had around her shoulders and walked off to the bathroom.
Great. It was our first day back to school and two of my best friends were fighting.
I woke up the next morning to a sound that I really didn't miss hearing over summer: my alarm clock. As I rolled over to turn it off, Francine and Daevia were already up and moving about the room.
"Can someone tell me why I'm not asleep right now?" I heard Mel grumble from under her pillow two beds over.
"Come on, rise and shine! We've got class in an hour."
"Daeves, I don't understand how you're this perky in the morning."
"I'm just an early-bird I guess," she smiled and threw her long dark hair over her shoulder as she talked. One of my arms was completely dead from hanging over the edge of my bed all night. I used my right to drag it up next to my face. Once I had some of the feeling back I swung my legs out from under the covers and set my feet on the ground. I let out a huge yawn before I got up and stumbled to the bathroom.
I pulled out my hairbrush and set to work calming the tangles that had made a home of my head during the night. As I watched myself in the mirror, I thought about my schedule.
Potions first, then transfiguration with the Hufflepuffs, after that Double Defense Against the Dark Arts and then...
I paused momentarily, half-way through a stroke, trying to remember what class I had last today. Mel walked in and scoffed at my position.
"What happened, did you get stuck?"
She turned the faucet on and ran her toothbrush under it.
"What class do we have last today?" I asked and she spoke around the toothpaste in her mouth to reply.
"Oh yeah, right."
I finally untangled the last knot then copied Mel and brushed my teeth. When I came out of the bathroom Daevia was frantically trying to find her skirt.
"Fran, are you sure you didn't mix it up with yours?"
"Positive" she replied in her tiny voice. Francine was a petite girl, standing at five-foot-two and skinnier than a bean pole. She had auburn hair that she typically wore in a styled pixie-cut.
"Oh, here it is!" She exclaimed, pulling her pleated skirt out from the bottom of her trunk.
I shook my head and proceeded to pull out my own school uniform. None of us had bothered to unpack last night, we'd stayed up too late talking and catching up.
"Hurry up guys, we only have forty minutes to eat," Mel said, standing by the door ready to go.
I chuckled and shook my head as we threw on our last few garments and headed out together.
In the Great Hall, we split to go our separate ways and Mel and I found Ari and Kat sitting together at the Slytherin table. I felt Mel stiffen beside me.
"Mel," Kat said with a humbled look on her face as we approached.
"I know," Mel sighed without making eye contact as she set her book bag down on the bench. "You're sorry."
"You know I didn't mean any of the things I said. I just didn't know how to react to the news that you lost your-"
"Kat!" We screamed at her.
"Sorry. Your story just came as a surprise. A great surprise, but a shocking one none the less. Can we be friends again?"
"Geez," Mel said without looking up from the spot where she'd set her books. "You didn't even make it past breakfast," she said with a sarcastic smile as she looked up at Kat.
"Oh shut up! I hate it when any of us are fighting."
"It's usually your big mouth that starts it in the first place," Ariadne said.
I smiled and shook my head, grabbing a plate and filling it with food.
"You ready for potions today Lace?" She continued.
"Yeah, that'll be interesting. I still can't believe none of you got into N.E.W.T potions," I replied.
"Hopefully there will be some other Slytherins for you to hang out with. Everyone I've talked to didn't get in."
We talked as we ate, happy to be together again, the four of us. I still couldn't believe how quickly time had flown. I'd known these three girls for a year and it felt as though we were sisters who'd grown up together.
Twenty minutes later, with ten minutes to go before we had to be in class, we departed the Great Hall.
"I hope Malfoy's ego has calmed down a bit and he's not such a git this year" Mel said. We didn't particularly care for Malfoy, but being Slytherins we had a higher tolerance for him than most people.
"I know. At first, the sexual jokes were kind of flattering but now they're just annoying" said Kat.
"I just hope I don't have too many classes with him and his croonies this year."
"At least you haven't known him as long as the rest of us have, Lacey. You've only spent half a year with him. We've had to deal with him every year," Ariadne complained.
When we got to the potion's dungeon, I said goodbye to my friends as they headed off to Arithmacy.
Commence the awkward moment. Without my friends, I suddenly felt uncomfortable. There weren't very many students present in the hushed classroom and, so far, I was the only Slytherin. I heard footsteps and male voices approaching so I turned around to see who was coming down the hall.
Draco Malfoy, Blaise Zambini and Theodore (or Teddy, as the Slytherins called him) Nott walked through the door. Wow, I lucked out. Of all the people in Slytherin who I thought would have been smart enough to progress to this class, these were the people I was stuck with. It's not like we hated each other, we just weren't all too great of friends.
"Hey Lacey." Blaise greeted me as the three of them came up to sit at my table.
"Hi guys," I responded lamely.
"A sorry lot this turned out to be," Draco sneered as he looked around at the other students.
There were twelve students waiting at tables for Professor Slughorn to show up: me, the Golden Trio of Gryffindor, four students from Ravenclaw, some scrawny boy from Hufflepuff, Draco, Blaise and Teddy.
"Ugh, how did Potter and the Weasel get in to this class?" Nott scoffed.
"Who knows, Potter probably begged his best friend the headmaster to get him in. Ugh," Draco huffed. "And the mudblood is with them."
I turned my head to look at the three of them, bored with the boys' conversation. Harry, Hermione and Ron were talking to the Hufflepuff boy.
"I wish I could have seen you take down Potter on the train, Draco."
"Yeah, me too. He got what he deserved."
Draco's upper lip curled as his friends praised him. I wasn't sure what to make of him, much less what they were talking about. We had one class together last year and I'd never said more than ten words to him.
At that moment, the Professor opened the door to the Dungeon and strode to the front. He greeted us as he passed, paying particular enthusiasm to Harry and Blaise. The four of us sat at a table, the Ravenclaws occupied their own and that left Potter's crew with the Hufflepuff boy. The atmosphere of the classroom was rather odd; the room was full of vapors and strange, sickly-sweet smells. Next to our table there was a cauldron of some bubbling colorless liquid.
"Now then, now then, now then..." Slughorn launched into directions. Take out this, take out that.
"Sir?" said Harry.
"Sir?" Nott mimicked in a higher-pitch, earning a giggle from me and a scoff from Draco and Blaise.
"I haven't got a book or scales or anything -- nor's Ron ---"
"Imbeciles," Draco said, his voice dripping with disdain. "Those two could walk around their own common room and forget where they are."
Slughorn asked a couple questions about the potions he had set up around the room with Hermione Granger answering all of them.
"God, she thinks she's so smart. I'd love to fuck that know-it-all look of superiority off her face." Blaise whispered to Malfoy.
I made a disgusted noise in response to his comment as Slughorn asked Hermione about her lineage. Was she related to Hector Dagworth-Granger or something of the like?
"No, I don't think so, sir. I'm Muggle-born, you see."
Draco leaned across to Nott and whispered something I couldn't hear, both of them sniggering.
"Oho! 'One of my best friends is Muggle-born, and she's the best in our year!' I'm assuming this is the very friend of whom you spoke, Harry?"
"Yes sir," he replied.
"Well, well, take twenty well-earned points for Gryffindor, Miss Granger."
Draco's face was livid.
"Can you believe that!" he hissed. "He gave her points for being Potter's friend! I'll tell my father about this, he's obviously favoring Potter and his precious little Gryffindor brainchild."
Slughorn went on about the potions around the room, explaining their names and functions. I couldn't help but notice the growing interest on everyone's faces, especially Draco's, as Slughorn explained "Felix Felicis". He announced that he would be awarding a vial of Liquid Luck to whoever made the best Draught of the Living Dead potion by the end of the period.
As he turned us loose, everyone in the room turned instantly serious. It was dead quiet as students drew their caldrons towards them or went to the reagents' cabinet, anxiously to create the best draught and win the Felix potion. Draco paused flipping through the pages of his Advanced Potion-Making book as I got up to go retrieve some ingredients, which caught my attention. When I turned towards him I saw his eyes raking me. When he finally caught my glare he smirked at me like he had last night during our awkward moment in the Great Hall.
When I came back to the table, Draco was doing his usual thing: trying to gain special treatment.
"Sir, I think you knew my grandfather, Abraxas Malfoy?"
I could tell he was jealous of the way Slughorn had so enthusiastically greeted Blaise at the door and not him. Sure, Blaise was his friend, but to Draco, even friends were subordinates.
I couldn't help a chuckle and satisfied smirk as Slughorn barely answered him and then walked away.
"What are you laughing at Badeau?"
I didn't look up from my potion as I answered, "Vous. Et votre petite arrogance."
"Did you just call me arrogant?" He asked with a glare.
I just stirred my potion.
The rest of the class passed quickly. The draught had proved a difficult potion to brew and, as a result of slightly too many toadstools, mine turned out too toxic. My table was especially unhappy when Harry Potter was announced the winner of the vial of liquid luck and looks of hatred could be seen on their faces.
"I should have won that potion" Draco grumbled as we stood up to leave. I flicked some blonde strands over my shoulder as Teddy pushed in my chair for me.
"Thank you," I said, surprised.
"Anything for a lady," he said with a dramatic bow and a self-righteous smirk on his face.
I huffed with my own dubious smile as I crossed my arms, turning to leave. I bumped into a male chest that I realized was Draco's as I looked up. Rat bastard. He and Blaise were blocking my path to the door.
"Can I help you?" I said as sarcastically as possible.
"Charming, Badeau," Draco said as he looked down at me with a crooked brow. His hair was so annoyingly pale.
"Are you any good at potions?"
"Excuse me?" I said.
"Are. You. Any. Good. At. Potion. Making."
"You saw my draught, it wasn't all that great."
"But it was better than mine. How about you give me a private tutoring session later tonight?" His hand ran over and down my shoulder with his words.
I slapped his hand away. "Go find yourself some other piece of ass. You don't want to mess with me Draco, especially since we have this lovely class together for the rest of the year."
I side-stepped around him and gave Blaze a look that said "move." He obliged after a few seconds and a cocky grin at Draco. I rolled my eyes again and walked out of the room and on to my next class.
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