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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 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, 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.
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 had potions with him last year and it was practically unbearable. I don't know how he and his ego could fit in this room together.
I snuck a glance over my shoulder and almost instantly turned back around. He was staring at me.
I pretended like I was exceedingly interested in what the headmaster was saying as the redness of my face intensified. One of my roommates saw my ferocious blushing and gave me a mischievous smirk.
"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 cleared out.
"So what's up Lace? Who was making you blush?" Kathryn asked me from across the table, her eyes twinkling and a grin on her face.
"Oh, no one you know." 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, tell us who it is! What happened?" One of my roommates, and good friends, Mina 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! I was only embarrassed because we made unexpected eye contact."
"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. Malin, 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."
"Mina, what a feisty one you are tonight!" I said. She 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. Mina straightened in her seat and started stacking her things to leave.
"For your information, it's 'faeries, cotton-candy and 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 just slightly 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 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 was sometimes referred to as a slut, the way she went around flirting and showing off just a little too much skin, but she was also totally down-to-earth and the best friend I could ask for.
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 all agreed so we headed towards the stairs to the girl's dorms.
Just to clarify, Mina and I share a room while Kat and Malin are both rooming with other girls. Poor Malin got stuck with the worst of the worst in Slytherin: Pansy Parkington. I had been attending Hogwarts for less than an hour when Pansy had decided to add me to her long list of people she didn't like. I had just been sorted 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.
We all decided to hang out in mine and Mina's room since our other two roomies were still down in the common room.
"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 Mina 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. "I need a real man."
"Okay, sure Kat. 'Cause you're so responsible and grown-up yourself."
"Malin, what is with you tonight? Who died and took your virginity with them?"
I couldn't put my finger on it, but something in Malin's face threw me off.
"Oh my god! That's it! You hooked up with somebody over summer!!" Kat was beside herself in shock and smugness for the fact that she was right. A true Slytherin for 'ya there. When Malin didn't respond right away we all crowded onto the bed she was sitting on.
"Tell us! What happened? Who?!"
For us, this was like the sky had suddenly turned hot pink and started raining dragons. As I said before, Malin was the most innocent girl out of the four of us and, as far as we'd known, had never done anything remotely scandalous.
"His name's Timmothy Krendle. Remember how I said I had a job this summer, interning at the Ministry?"
We all nodded. Malin'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 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! How old was this guy, 18? God and you don't turn 16 until next week! I always knew there was a dirty side to you Malin, just waiting to come out. There was no way you could go that long without some sort of release. And God, was your 'I'm a good-girl' reputation starting to get annoying."
"Well excuse me, Kat. 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-"
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 like any normal human being with a little sense of apathy would! You're a cold, heartless bitch."
"Oh yeah? Let me tell you something about you-"
Mina and I looked at each other. 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. Without a voice to yell with anymore, Kat was far from done being angry and shoved Malin into a bed post. As she righted herself to return her attack, Mina 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! Now stop this fighting! You two are friends and I don't know what the hell has gotten into the two of you but let it go. Kat you need to apologize. What you said was completely rude, even for you."
She just huffed and looked away.
"And Malin, 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."
Sensing that both parties had lost their drive to fight, Mina 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. Malin 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 Malin, don't let what she said get to you. You know her, she just doesn't express her feelings well and you shocked her, well all of us, with your news."
"Whatever; I don't care." She shrugged off the arm I had around her shoulders and walked off to her dorm, I presume.
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, Ariana and Francine, my two other roommates besides Mina, were already up and moving about the room.
"Can someone tell me why I'm not asleep right now?" I heard Mina grumble from under her pillow two beds over.
"Come on, rise and shine! We've got class in an hour."
"Ana, 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 bring it up next to me and sat up, swinging my legs out from under the covers and setting 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 hair during the night. As I watched myself in the mirror, I thought about my schedule.
Let's see...first 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. Mina walked in then and scoffed at me.
"What happened, did you get stuck?"
She turned the faucet on and ran her toothbrush under it.
I finally untangled the last knot then copied Mina and brushed my teeth. When I came out of the bathroom Ariana 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!" Ariana 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 as we'd all stayed up to late talking and catching up.
"Hurry up guys, we only have forty minutes to eat," Mina said, standing by the door ready to go.
The rest of us threw on our last few garments and headed out together.
In the Great Hall, we split to go our separate ways and mina and I found Malin and Kat sitting together at the Slytherin table, looking like they'd made up sometime before we'd arrived.
"Hey guys, sorry about last night." Malin said giving us a half-smile.
"Yeah, sorry. But we cleared everything up and now we're besties again. Right, Malin?" Kat slung her arm around her neck and pulled her in.
"Yeah, sure," she said sarcastically, trying to loosen Kat's hold.
I smiled and shook my head, grabbing a plate and filling it with food.
"You ready for potions today Lace?"
"Yeah, that's gonna be interesting. I still can't believe none of you got into N.E.W.T potions," I replied to Kat's question.
"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 what, less than a year? But we were such good friends you could swear we'd known each other our whole lives.
Half an hour 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" Malin 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."
When we got to the potion's dungeon, I said goodbye to my friends as they headed off to Arithmacy.
And commence awkward moment. Without my friends, I felt uncomfortable. There weren't very many students present 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 were walking this way. Wow, I lucked out. Of all the people in Slytherin who I thought would have been smart enough to progress, 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.
"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 in the hall for Professor Slughorn to show up; me, the Golden Trio from 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. God and the mudblood is with them," said Draco
I turned my head to look at the three of them simply because I had nothing better to do. They were talking to the one Hufflepuff boy.
"I wish I could have seen you take down Potter, 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. 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 we all filed in. He greeted us all as we passed him, paying particular enthusiasm to Harry and Blaise. We took our seats, the four of us at a table, the Ravenclaws occupying their own and Potter's crew shared with the Hufflepuff. 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 round of giggles from our table.
"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 slap that know-it-all look of superiority off her face." Blaise whispered to Malfoy.
Just then, Slughorn asked her 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 priceless.
"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."
Slughorn went on about the potions around the room, explaining their names and functions. I couldn't help but notice the growing interest on Draco's face 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. Draco was flipping through the pages of his Advanced Potion-Making book as I got up to go retrieve some ingredients. It was odd, seeing him like this. I'd never witnessed him actually treating class-work seriously. All he'd had to do last year was buddy-up to Snape and he passed whatever test he gave out.
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 was obviously enthralled by Harry. Sure, Blaise was his friend, but to Draco, even friends were subordinates.
I couldn't help a chuckle as Slughorn barely answered him and then walked away.
"What are you laughing at Badeau?"
I looked up from my potion to meet his steely gaze. Even angry, I couldn't help but notice what an amazing shade of blue his eyes were. He dropped his gaze after a few seconds and I immediately dropped mine back to my cauldron. I could feel my cheeks heating up again. What was wrong with me lately? He just glared at me and I'm blushing?
The rest of the class passed quickly. My Draught had proved a difficult potion to brew and, as a result of slightly too many toadstools, 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 of the boys' faces.
"I should have won that potion" Draco said as we stood up to leave. It was almost dinner time and my stomach was growling.
"Geeze, did you eat a baby tiger before you came to class?" Blaise joked. I smiled at him, welcoming his friendliness.
As I turned my head back around, I caught Draco's eye. There was something there in his eyes again, though this time it wasn't malice.
Was it jealousy?
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