1st September 2023
I waited patiently as the First Years stumbled up the aisle separating the Ravenclaw table from ours. Siblings were shooting smiles at their older brothers and sisters, all trying to appear calm and composed but their constant fidgeting betrayed their nerves. The sorting passed uneventfully, much like mine had seven years ago.
As usual, Albus was staring into space beside me. He was growing his hair long and it now fell to just below his shoulders, often hanging forward in front of his murky green eyes. I remember when those eyes had been the same vibrant emerald as Uncle Harry’s. Since First Year, Albus had become shyer and shyer, withdrawing into himself. Now he only spoke to other family members and a couple of other Gryffindor boys in his dorm, but even then, only rarely and only when needed. His reserved demeanour made him unapproachable and people were wary of him. No one messed with him. No one would risk letting loose his temper, which, when release, was more terrifying than both his mother’s and father’s combined.
Turning my attention away from my favourite cousin, I looked up to Professor Osman, the Headmaster. He was a small man with a wispy beard and a head somewhat out of proportion to the rest of his body. He had been deemed by the student body (and several of the other Professors) as somewhat eccentric. His welcoming speech however, was nothing out of the ordinary and around me students were becoming irritable with hunger.
“Lastly,” Professor Osman smiled and was received with a groan from the rest of the school. “I would like to introduce our new Head Boy and Head Girl, Mr Scorpius Malfoy,” he gestured wildly over to the Slytherin table where Malfoy gave a curt nod to his peers. “And Miss Rose Weasley,” he pointed at me, a happy grin plastered on his aging face. His words were, as I predicted, followed by a frenzy of whispers as both staff and pupils turned to look at us.
“I don’t understand what’s so fascinating,” muttered Ida Finnigan from my right.
“Well Malfoy was an obvious choice, he practically rules over the Slytherins already. I, on the other hand, was not so obvious they were probably expecting someone like Clarissa McLaggen,” I explained, gesturing to the blonde on the Hufflepuff table who was shooting daggers at me with her baby blue eyes. “That and our parents hated each other I suppose,” I shrugged and turned back to Osman.
“May we wish them luck in the upcoming year,” he rambled. “Now, without further ado, may the feast begin!” A sigh rose from the four tables as they turned their attention away from Malfoy and me to towards the delicious aromas emanating from the various dishes that had appeared at Osman’s final words.
My attention, too, was drawn towards the food. One of the few things I had inherited from my father, other than the red hair and blue eyes, was a rather large appetite combined with a blissfully high metabolism. Therefore, much to Ida’s annoyance, I could eat a vast amount and yet not put on an ounce of fat. Albus was the same and so were most of my cousins. Across from me, on the Hufflepuff table, a little way down from McLaggen, I could see my brother with some other Fifth Years and my cousin Louis with some Third Years both cramming food into their mouths like they would never eat again. If I turned my head to where Malfoy was also eating a rather large portion, I could just make out the dark auburn hair of Albus’ younger sister Lily who was in the same year as my brother Hugo.
I still remember Lily’s sorting as if it were todays, better even. The hat took five whole minutes to decide in which Lily’s face had grown steadily paler. When at last the hat called out ‘Slytherin’ any remnant of colour had fled from her face and Professor Vector had had to actually drag her from the stool and shove her gently in the direction of the silent Slytherin table. The whole school had gone into shock and the poor boy after her had hardly received an applause as he was sorted into Gryffindor.
But it was Albus’ face that I remembered the most. He looked as if someone had died. That is when the emerald began to fade from his eyes and his family became strained.
“Why are you and Malfoy staring at each other?” Ida asked, interrupting my thoughts. Blinking, I realised with a jolt that I was still staring over my shoulder at the Slytherin table… And Malfoy was indeed staring back.
“We weren’t… Or at least, I wasn’t,” I replied, my voice monotonous. Ida snorted quietly and continued to pick at her food. As she reached for her goblet of pumpkin juice, I muttered quietly: “Try not to blow it up this time.”
The first night back at the castle had a history of being somewhat uncomfortable in our door. As usual, there were five of us: Ida Finnigan, Catherine Thomas, Lavender White, Emily Wood and myself. Ida was the most controversial girl; she was the daughter of my father’s dorm mate, Seamus Finnigan, at thirteen, she had died her hair black, now it was layered with her natural dark chestnut colour on top and black underneath. Her grey eyes were cold and unwelcoming and unlike her older half-brother Emmet, who had grown up in Ireland, she did not have that Irish lilt to her voice that seemed to soften words. Her lack of interest in education had resulted in her skipping most of her classes and sneaking out of the castle at night, sometimes not returning for several days. She had been smoking since she was in Second Year and recently had been exploring a range of things to smoke, including some muggle substance. Of all the girls however, I was closest to Ida.
Then there was Catherine Thomas. Her father was Ida’s father’s best friend, Dean Thomas, who had married Faith Johnson. As children, Ida and Catherine had been almost inseparable. Then at some point in Third Year, they had had a massive row, no one knew what is was about but Ida has never forgiven her for it and still refuses to speak to her. Catherine on the other hand, has repeatedly tried to make amends, even though I suspect it was Ida fault anyway. Like both her parents, Catherine has coffee coloured skin, dark hair and large brown eyes; she is relatively tall and other than her love of Quidditch, quite a girly sort of girl.
Lavender White was by far the most challenging person in the dorm. She was the daughter of Parvati Patil and her husband, Jeff White. Apparently, she had been named after her mother’s childhood best friend, Lavender Brown, who had died shortly after the Battle of Hogwarts from injuries caused by Fenrir Greyback. She had inherited her mother’s olive skin and dark hair but had acquired her father’s bright blue eyes which seemed somehow out of place in her otherwise dark colouring. She was by far the most beautiful but she was also extremely arrogant and conceited. None of us liked her but we all just dealt with her… except Ida. Ida was constantly clashing with her, there rows sometimes kept the entire Gryffindor Tower up until the unreasonable hours of the morning. Oddly enough, the woman she was named after had not only been my father’s first girlfriend, but had been the woman that Ida’s father had fallen in love with, the one from whose death he still hadn’t seemed to have recovered.
Lastly, there was Emily Wood. Emily was the most normal in the dorm. She managed to stay out of all arguments and quarrels, her friends were predominantly Ravenclaws and she was hardly ever actually in the dorm. Her father, Oliver Wood, had played for Puddlemere United and she had inherited his love of the sport. Her down-to-earth attitude contrasted with everyone in the dorm except for me. Emily was also one of the few people Albus ever spoke to.
So the first night we all had to share a room again after several months of not seeing each other was always tense and awkward. Catherine greeted both Ida and I when we came in, only I replied, and asked us how our holidays were, this time, I only shrugged.
“Oi fuckface,” Ida snarled. “Get your shit off my bed,” she demanded. Lavender White tensed and turned around to face Ida. I glanced at Catherine who just sighed, watching her ex-best friend start the first fight of the year.
“Excuse me,” Lavender retaliated. “But this year, I’ve decide this is going to be my bed,” the smirk on her face would make someone want to puke. Ida stares at her in utter disbelief, her mouth opening and shutting like a goldfish – her expression was rather deceiving as it made her look like she was at a loss of what to say when really, she was about to explode. Catherine turned her face into the book she had been reading, trying to hid a giggle.
“Are you fucking me?” Ida screamed, kicking off. “We’ve had they bed since bloody First Year! Why the hell do you think that I would ever just let you have my bed? It has my fucking name on it you arsewipe!” Ida waved at the spot where she had carved her name into the headboard.
“Actually, no it doesn’t, I just removed it,” Lavender smirked again and with only a split second to spare, I had a shield charm up between them, blocking Ida’s fist from her face. Clearly Catherine had had the same idea and the force of the two spells sent both Ida and Lavender flying backwards, away from each other. This was not the first time we had had to interfere and stop them (predominantly Ida) from punching the other. We were not always on time.
“You complete fucking fuckhead!” Ida screeched, trying to get around the barrier. Her language may be colourful but her insults were not particularly imaginative and she often referred to the muggle insults she had learned in her childhood.
It took until half two in the morning for them to finally spot screaming at each other and another half an hour for them to go to bed, the beds they had had since First Year. At last, my head hit the pillow and I slipped into another dreamless sleep.
As usual, despite Ida and Lavender’s argument keeping me up last night, I was the first down to the Great Hall for breakfast the following morning. The only difference was that someone appeared shortly after me, before I had finished. What was even more unusual was that they actually approached me and wished me a ‘good morning’. I turned in surprise to see Malfoy standing behind e with an expectant look on his face.
I just stared at him.
“You know, when someone says good morning to you, it is polite to reply.”
“Well, because it means you have acknowledged them and –”
“I meant why are you standing there, wishing me good morning in the first place?”
“Because it is polite.”
“In fact,” I continue as if he had not spoken. “Why are you even down here so early at all?”
“Up. Here is ‘up’ for me… I come from the dungeon, which is ‘down’,” he explained as if it were obvious. I just continued to stare at him. “Did no one ever tell you it is rude to stare?”
“Malfoy…” I say at last. “Just because you are Head Boy and I am Head Girl, it doesn’t mean anything has changed. Now, I was enjoying my breakfast alone, so if you would be so kind as to let me return to it alone, I would be much obliged.”
“Ah, so you do know some manners, although it would sound much more sincere if you dropped the sarcastic tone,” he smiled. I turned my back to him and returned to my cereal. After a few moments, I could hear him walk away in the direction of the Slytherin table but I could feel his eyes on me right until I collected my timetable from Professor Longbottom and left the Hall a few minutes later.
The first day of term was always hectic. Students were forever comparing timetables with just about every other student in the year; Sixth Years were getting all excited about their free periods and First Years were getting hopelessly lost. I made my way as quickly as possible to my first lesson: Ancient Runes. No one in my dorm understood why I had kept the subject on past OWLs but Runes was actually my favourite subject. There were only two of us who took it at NEWT level; the other, ironically, was Malfoy. We had never really spoken to each other though as the lessons consisted mainly of doing our own private study and Professor Babbling had just let us get on with it, hardly interfering. This year, however, we had a new Professor.
“Good morning class,” the woman smiled, all too brightly, as Malfoy and I took our usual seats: me in the front row and him in the back. “Good heavens, what are you doing at the way back there? I don’t bite you know and I suspect neither does Miss Weasley,” she laughed, beckoning Malfoy to the front. I heard the reluctant scraping of a chair as Malfoy stood up again and made his way between the desks towards us.
To my surprise – and irritation – he dropped his bag on the other side of the two person desk I normally occupied alone and sat down beside me. I glared at him before returning my gaze to the new Professor who was practically squealing with glee.
“Oh that’s much better! Now, my name is Professor Thompson and I am your new Ancient Runes teacher,” she beamed, clapping her hands. “This is my first ever lesson, so bear with me…” And so began the worst Ancient Runes lesson I had ever had to sit through.
As Malfoy and I packed up our books – which had remained unused as Professor Thompson blabbered on about what fun Runes could be and how we were going to end up the best of friends – and left the classroom, I could not refrain myself from commenting: “She is awful. Pure. Goddamn. Awful.”
“Ah… So you are capable of feeing emotion!” Malfoy grinned as if he had just won an award.
“It is not an emotion Malfoy, it is a fact.”
“You know,” he sighed, his elated look vanishing. “If I wasn’t in such agreement with you, I would have argued it was emotion… As it is, yes, she is pure, goddamn, awful.”
“I’m going to get a Troll with her as our teacher,” I sighed more to myself than to Malfoy.
“Don’t be ridiculous, we both know you’ll get an Outstanding no matter who teaches you,” he laughs.
“Malfoy… Shall I let you in on a big secret about how I study?” I paused and he actually leaned closer to me. “I don’t.”
“I don’t study. I just learn it is in class and it sticks. So with a teacher like her, I’ll never learn it and, therefore, fail,” I explained.
“Seriously?” he breathed. “You don’t study at all?” I shook my head and in response, he let out a low whistle. “You really are going to fail then.”
“Thank you Malfoy,” I sneered.
“Couldn’t you try studying?”
“Nope. Without someone there, making sure I actually do the work, my mind just wanders.”
“Can’t you get Potter or one of your other cousins to watch you work?”
“Like they would ever do that,” I snorted. My family was family; that did not mean we were exceptionally close or that we would help each other out for nothing. Besides… “It’s Runes; they all think it is a load of rubbish.”
“You would what?”
“Watch you study.”
“You are aware that is slightly creepy aren’t you?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“No – If you think about it, it’s perfect. I mean, we are the only two people taking Runes and the new teacher is hopeless… We could, should, help each other. I would make sure you did the work and you could help me out when I don’t get something!”
“Malfoy, you look far too excited about the prospect of having a study partner.”
“But it’s perfect!” he exclaimed again.
“I’ll do it… I’ll be your study partner.” Oh dear Merlin what was I about to let myself in for? Now, not only did I have to put up with Malfoy in our Heads duties, I also had to study my favourite subject with him. And because I was not a particularly social being… This could only go wrong.
The widow seat in the Gryffindor common room was my third favourite place inside the castle, the first being the Owlery and the second being the library. In the evenings, I would curl up with a book and forget about the world around me. They were usually muggle books that my mum had given to me and therefore provided me with an insight into a world I could never really understand but that my mother had grown up in.
I was so lost in this world that it took several attempts from a frightened looking First Year to grab my attention. “I’m sorry for bothering you Miss Weasley,” the little girl murmured. “But Professor Osman told me to come and fetch you… He wants to see you in his office.” I nodded in acknowledgement and the girl scampered off to find her friends, if you could call them that after she had known them for less than a day.
Folding the corner of my page over, I shoved the book in my bag and made my way to the Headmaster’s office. When I reached it, I found Malfoy slumped against the wall, staring at the floor. He looked up when I approached.
“Do you know the password?” he asked hopefully. I shook my head. “Well that’s just sodding great isn’t it,” he sighed, tilting his head back against the wall. “So what do we do now? Just wait until he comes looking for us?”
“I guess so,” I murmured, sliding down the wall opposite him. “Has anyone ever told you it is rude to stare?” I asked after several minutes of silence in which Malfoy had not removed his gaze from me for even a second. He snorted as I echoed his words from breakfast this morning but did not reply… Or stop staring. “It is unnerving,” I murmured again.
“So you do have feelings,” he smirked.
“I never said it was unnerving me, I just said that staring at people was rude and unnerving,” I sneered.
“Why are you so reluctant to admit to feeling anything?” he frowned.
“Because I don’t actually feel anything,” I shrugged, not particularly liking where this conversation was heading. It was true to some extent though, I had attempted to shut out my emotions several years ago and I had, in part, succeeded. I knew they were still there, inside me, but I had learned to ignore them so that it was like I really did feel nothing. But that was not something I wanted to talk about… Especially not to Malfoy.
“Surely… Surely you must feel something,” he frowned, still gazing intently at my face. I shook my head. “Nothing? Nothing at all?” I shook my head again. Before he could ask any more, however, the ugly gargoyle that marked the entrance to the Headmaster’s office jumped aside to reveal a flustered looking Professor Osman.
“Ah Miss Weasley! Mr Malfoy! There you are– Whatever are you doing down there on the floor?” he exclaimed as we, well Malfoy, scrambled to his feet.
“Sorry Professor,” Malfoy muttered as I dusted my robes off. “We didn’t know the password.”
“Of course, of course, silly me… It’s ‘frogs spawn’ – not very creative of me, I know, but I had forgotten to come up with something interesting over the summer – not to worry though, I’ll have something good for next term…” Professor Osman ranted. I caught Malfoy shooting me an amused glance from the corner of my eye but chose to ignore it. “What in Merlin’s nose hair are we still standing in this dreary corridor for? Come in, come in!”
My first glimpse of the Headmaster’s office took me by surprise. I could now understand why the Headmaster had referred to the corridor as ‘dreary’ – in comparison to this, the Great Hall at Christmas was ‘dreary’.
Colours ambushed me from every direction; tapestries and portraits hung haphazardly on all the walls; the book cases were crammed with so many bits and pieces, I doubted you could actually get a book out with moving a least a dozen of them; glass jars filled with unnameable substances, colourfully painted wooden sculptures, ornate picture frames with grinning witches and wizards waving out at us littered every surface; the rugs on the floor overlapped in a blur of colours and patterns that reminded me of the Persian carpets in my parents’ sitting roomand he desk was already overflowing with papers.
However, it was the ceiling that held my attention. Tiny lights in all the colours imaginable hung from a web of silk, larger glass balls floated among them with tiny candles light them up from inside and flitting around the domed ceiling, giggling and waving down at us, were the delicate figures of over a hundred fairies.
“Beautiful creatures aren’t they,” Professor Osman beamed affectionately, looking lovingly up at his collection. “Hagrid helped me find them, taught me how to tempt them back home with me… They’ve made a beautiful home for themselves up there – couldn’t get rid of them even if I wanted to,” he laughed. “Now – to business!”