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Chapter 2 : Second.
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Meg opened her eyes a little, feeling hot and stuffy and sat up to pull open the curtains on her four poster bed. She frowned when she felt air pass through her fingers and her eyes opened fully. She groaned falling back on her bed and all the events from last night came back to her. After a few moments of devising plans to run away and somehow get out of doing this bloody test, she thought differently and wondered what it would be on. What she have to study? They’d obviously take off time from her every day school schedule so that she could perform at her best.
Groggily, she got out of bed and freshened up in the toilet. She messed with her hair a bit. Plait? Or pigtails? She didn’t do either of them and but her hair into it’s usual bun. She laid out her uniform on the bed, but wasn’t sure if they were meant to wear it or not. She shrugged, thinking that she wouldn’t get in trouble for putting her uniform on, and slipped her shoes on, making her way out of the girls’ rooms and into the main area.
It seemed as if everyone had become friends over night apart from her. Sylvia and John were eating at a table and Gavin, Peter and Albus were talking together by the fountain. What surprised her most was Mary talking to Hannah. She realised they were all in their uniform’s too and thanked Merlin she put them on.
She headed right over to the door which said ‘Kitchens’ and hoped that there was peanut butter somewhere. She looked in every cupboard, and once she found it she got out some toast and spread some on. She made up her mind that she’d eat the piece of toast in the kitchen’s to avoid having to talk to the others. She was awful at making friends and didn’t mind not having much. It was all because she was too shy for her own good, and just socially awkward. It was one of her many issues.
After taking a bite, she thought about making tea for herself. Getting a cup out, she put a teabag in the cup and warmed up the kettle with her wand.
“Why don’t you come and sit with us?”
Meg jumped at the voice and cursed under her breath when the hot water burned her hand. Still muttering under her breath, she got out a pot of yoghurt, dropping some other food cans in the process, and put her stinging fingers into it.
“What’re doing?” That was a different voice.
She turned around and blushed, seeing Gavin and John standing there with puzzled yet amused looks on their faces. She stared at them, but then realised John had asked her a question.
“W-well...I uh- My hand was hurting.”
She blushed even darker when they laughed again.
“So that means you have to stick it into some...yoghurt?” Gavin said, smiling.
“Well, when you came in and asked me a question it startled me so I jumped and the kettle I was holding poured the boiling hot water onto my hand instead of the cup and then I put my fingers inside a yoghurt cup because that helps?”
Gavin laughed at the pot and John just frowned in utter confusion.
Pure-bloods. Thought Meg. She rolled her eyes, smiling a little anyway.
“So you’re telling me you haven’t done the yoghurt technique before?” She asked them.
“No!” They both replied.
“Well, next time you burn yourselves just pray that I’m around to fetch a yoghurt pot for you,” she point a finger at the both of them and stuck out her tongue.
They chuckled at her and Meg couldn’t believe she hadn’t paid much attention to Gavin before. He was tall, had skin as light as hers and brown hair, but what made her insides fizzle were the two dimples that popped out of his cheeks when he laughed at her.
“So, after you’re done will you come out and eat with us? We don’t bite you know,” John crossed his arms. “Unless that’s what you’re in to.”
Meg laughed and blushed, looking back down at the pot. Should I? Will it hurt to make some friends? I mean, I did just have a rather decent conversation with John Clarke and Gavin Cooper. She looked up and nodded. “Sure thing.”
“Great, see in a bit then!” John waved and walked out the door.
Meg turned back to her hand and took it out, it felt better now, and it wasn’t a very bad burn, she didn’t think she’d need to go to the Hospital Wing.
Meg turned around to the voice and saw Gavin still standing there.
“Sorry, about your hand, you need any help with it?”
She raised her eyebrows a fraction of an inch and bit back a smile. He said sorry! She thought. And he asked if I need help!
Now, Meg didn’t really believe in fairytales and love stories are her least favourite genre of book to read, but right now she felt as if she was flying. No boys had ever really spoken to her, let alone apologise and offer help. Apart from Michael. But he didn’t really count, did he?
“It’s fine, really.” She told him. “No, thankfully it’s not a very serious burn, it’s hardly anything at all actually, and I’ll be okay. T-thanks for, you know...”
He nodded with a grin. “It’s okay, but I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”
“You don’t have to, it didn’t even hur-
“I want to, and I will.”
She was caught of guard by his answer, and could only reply with a nod. It’s only something small, thought Meg; he doesn’t have to make it up to me, why is he even getting so worked up about it?
Still in her train of thought, she put the lid back onto the pot of yoghurt, washed her hands and followed Gavin out the kitchens, her peanut butter toast in hand and forgetting completely about the tea.
Once she was out of the kitchens, she looked around and took in everyone again. Albus and Peter were still talking and now Sylvia had joined Mary and Hannah’s conversation. She followed Gavin, who was making his way straight to Peter and Albus.
“Hey guys, John and I persuaded Meg to come out and sit with us,” Gavin said, smiling at the boys. He hopped onto the table that they were standing at.
Meg looked to the ground and said ‘hello’ in a small voice.
“Hey, well, I’m sure you know who we both are,” Albus said to her with a smile.
Meg frowned slightly.
“Not really, I only know your names, I don’t know you are really are.”
Her logic and realistic mind was something that bothered her friends very much to the point where it got annoying. She didn’t mean to point things like that out; to her it was just correcting people.
Albus chuckled and Peter smiled.
“She’s right, actually,” Gavin said. Meg could see him smirking from the corner of her eye.
“Well, why don’t you get to know us,” Peter spoke in a quite voice.
Meg looked at all three of them closely. Gavin was still smirking and looking at her, Peter’s face had a forever innocent look on it, and his eyes were a bright blue. Albus had crossed his arms and was looking intently at Meg. She blushed under his gaze.
“Alright. Where do we start?” She answered Peter, smiling just a bit.
“How about general information first?” Gavin suggested.
“Such as...?” Albus moved his hand out to exclaim his point.
“Full name, birthdays and the like. I’ll start then. My full name is Gavin Lucas Cooper and I’m turning 16 on the 23rd of October. Albus?”
He cleared his throat and Meg raised an eyebrow.
“Albus Severus Potter and I turn 17 in May.”
She bit the inside of her gum to stop the giggle that was threatening to burst out of her. Albus Severus?
“My name is Peter Daniel Gregory, and I turn 17 in December.”
He still spoke in that hushed tone, and the three of them all leaned forward an inch to hear what he was saying.
She blinked and at the sound of her name. They stared at her and then she realised it was her turn.
“Oh, right. My full name is Meg Crow. I turned 16 on the 3rd of September.” She said in shyly, and pulled at her sleeves.
Meg wasn’t good at speaking groups of people that she didn’t know, even if there were only three people.
“So Meg isn’t short for anything?”
“You haven’t got a middle-name?”
“Hey! You’re older than me!”
She laughed at Gavin’s last comment and his facial expression. He genuinely looked upset.
“Um, yeah, I haven’t got a middle-name, and it’s just Meg.” Still smiling, she tucked a curl of her hair that had escaped from her bun behind her ear.
“Okay, that’s out of the way, how about...Siblings? Family members?”
Meg’s eyes widened a fraction of an inch. She hated talking about her family. She quickly racked her brain for an idea to get out of speaking but couldn’t think of anything.
“My mum is Angelina Cooper, my dad Alex Cooper and I have two little sisters, Alice and Anna, they’re twins and just turned 5.”
“Oh come on! You all now my family, right? I’ll be surprised if you don’t.” He raised his eyebrows and looked at Meg.
“It won’t hurt anyone to say it, Albus.” Gavin replied.
Albus frowned and sighed. “Fine, my dad is Harry, mum Ginerva, my older brother is James and little sister is Lily.”
“My mum is Connie, my step-dad is Paul and my two older brothers are Jack and Connor.”
“How about your real dad?” Albus asked bluntly.
“He left when I was a kid...” Peter said. “I don’t like talking about it.”
“Alright, we won’t talk about it. Your turn Meg.”
She looked at her shoes.
“I have a dad. His name is Adam.”
After a small pause, she looked up at the boys and their expressions. They looked like they were expecting more.
“Is that it?”
Meg nodded. “Yes.”
They seemed to frown right at the same time and Meg bit her tongue to stop herself from laughing. She had a habit of laughing at the wrong times.
“You haven’t got a mum?” Gavin asked.
She shook her head.
“You have to have a mum, otherwise you wouldn’t be here today,” Peter said, he looked confused.
Meg fiddled with her fingers.
“I used to have a mum. She isn’t here anymore.”
Gavin’s eyebrows seemed to disappear in his fringe, Peter looked sympathetic and Albus frowned.
“So she’s dead?”
Meg’s head snapped up to Albus and frowned. “Yes, you...you didn’t have to say it like that. My way made sense.”
He shrugged. “They mean the same thing.”
Meg’s breathing suddenly became slightly rough. She hated saying that her mother was dead. To her she wasn’t dead, just ‘wasn’t here anymore.’ It was less painful then the thought of death.
She folded her arms around her torso tightly and closed her eyes.
Talking about it was worse. When her mother had died, everyone suddenly ‘understood’, and they were sorry. Meg and her father had received sympathetic looks from everyone their neighbourhood ever since. She hated it.
Meg’s jaw clenched. “Why is it any of your business?” She snapped at Albus, surprising even herself. She rarely got angry at anyone.
Albus put up his hands in defence. “Just curious.”
She looked at the three of them again and answered. “She...she fell really ill. It was really bad.” That was all she said whenever someone asked her how her mother had died. Truthfully, that’s all she really knew.
Gavin coughed and scratched his neck awkwardly. “Okay. Moving on...”
They seemed to forget about it and talking amongst themselves, but Meg wasn’t listening and didn’t want to get herself involved. She wasn’t in the mood for talking to people. After staring into space for a little bit, she decided to go back to her room, thinking that they didn’t have to go to lessons as they had started for the students of Hogwarts 10 minutes ago.
What she didn’t know was Albus’ eyes were on her the whole time.
“Meg, Meg are you in there? If you can hear me, you’ve got to come out; Fletcher is here to tell us some more stuff.”
Meg closed the book she was reading and put it on her bedside table. She recognised the voice as Sylvia Rolfe and quickly put her robes back on.
She opened the door to find Sylvia there, smiling at her. Meg couldn’t understand how perfect looking someone could be.
She grabbed her hand. “Come on, we’re all waiting for you.”
Meg blushed. “Was I holding everyone up?”
Sylvia laughed. “Sort of. It doesn’t matter though, nobody cares,” she reassured her.
Meg nodded and laughed as well.
They walked into the main area and sat down on chairs, which were in a semi-circle just like the night before. Fletcher was standing there, giving everyone a close look, with a map by his side, facing the group.
Meg spotted Albus looking at her from across the room and she quickly looked away.
“Good morning, students! As you probably know already, you won’t be attending lessons until you have finished the test, and it will last quite a while, so I’m sure you’re all happy about that!” He smiled and Meg noticed a gap in-between his two front teeth.
How would the test last quite a while? Does he mean a whole day? Meg could tell everyone else was confused too.
“Now, this will be a lot to take in, but I know you’ll be able to get all of it.” He used his wand to point at the map.
“This is a drawing of the place you’ll be sent to. I’ve made the setting so that it’s in a hotel. You’ll be in partners, your partner is the person you were called out with last night, if you didn’t know, but you probably did. The two of you will walk around the hotel’s floors, which are infinite, and will find three doors. These are your doors which lead to your rooms. You’ll know that it’s your door because you’ll be pulled towards it with some sort of instinct. There are three rooms for everyone.”
John put up his hand and said: “But Professor, you told us this was a test, not a game.”
Murmurs of agreement were said and the Professor shook his head, slowly.
“This is a test of the mind, Mr Clarke. I told you I worked in that department last night, did I not?” He gave him a look and continued to speak, ignoring the nervous glances that were shared between the students.
“What you will find in those rooms are unique to you-
“But how do we know if we’ve passed the test?” Mary shouted out.
“You’ll know you’ve passed it when you’re alone.”
Meg frowned. He wasn’t making any sense.
“That is all to tell you. You will say farewell to your peers and then be transported to the hotel in which you will be staying in before the test starts in an hour’s time.” He gave them a curt nod and left the room.
After a moment of silence, Hannah spoke up. “What’s inside the rooms?” She asked, everyone noticed the fear in her voice.
“Well, I guess we’ll find out when we walk into them.” John patted her shoulder and smiled.
“And what does he mean when we’re alone?” Mary said to no-one in particular.
No-one replied. Because no-one knew.
Meg didn’t want to do this test; she didn’t want to know what was inside those three rooms. She didn’t want to say farewell to her friends and she really wanted Albus Potter to stop looking at her.
“You will meet your classmates in your common rooms and have 10 minutes to say good-bye to them. Meet me right outside the Great Hall when you’re done.”
Fletcher shooed them off with his hands and everyone rushed to their common rooms. Gavin, John, Albus and Hannah walked down the stairs to the basement and dungeons, whilst Meg, Mary, Peter and Sylvia walked to their towers.
Meg hated good-byes. Good-byes always meant to Meg that they wouldn’t see each other again, so she was known for saying ‘until next time’ or ‘see you soon.’ But never good-bye.
As she walked with Sylvia into the common room they rushed to their dorms, ignoring all the stares. She wanted to see all 3 of them of together, so she quickly pulled down her 2 girl friends and rushed them over to the 5th year boy dormitories, surprising a few of them up there, and earning a wolf-whistle which Amanda cursed to.
They stood in a small circle in the corner of the room. Meg knew that they had a dozen questions in their heads, but wanted to answer them later, as she only had a little while with them.
“Basically, I only have 10 minutes till I have to meet Fletcher down by the Great Hall, but I wanted to say that I’ll see you all soon, and you don’t need to worry about me, I’ll be fine.” She smiled at them and gave them each a hug.
“But what is this test about? What have they told you?” Michael asked.
“It’s more of a game really, or so we think. He’s sending us to a hotel, and we have to find three rooms which belong to us with our partner. He hasn’t told us what’s inside the rooms. And he said that we’ll know we’ve passed when we’re alone,” she said quietly to them. She wasn’t sure whether they were allowed to know, but risked it anyway.
They looked at her with worried looks.
“That doesn’t sound good, Meggie. You never know what could be inside the rooms.” Amanda held her hand.
“And make sure you’re never alone, alright?” Chloe looked at her in the eyes.
She nodded at their words and looked at her watch.
“I...I have to go, see you lot soon.” She smiled and hugged them again, not understanding why Amanda was sniffing.
“What are you crying for?” Michael raised an eyebrow.
“Because...Because...Oh but what is she doesn’t come back!” She yelled.
Meg put a hand on her shoulder. “Why wouldn’t I come back?”
She shrugged. “I just have a really bad feeling about all of this. It seems too dodgy.”
Chloe nodded in agreement. “Well you better get going.”
She smiled at the three of them again, and decided to keep the sight of them smiling at her in her head all the way back to the Great Hall.
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