Chapter 2 : Chapter II.
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I was sitting with James and his friends at lunch the next day. It was nice sitting with them, they were all really kind and accepted me straight away.
“So, Clara, what subjects do you take?” Dom asked. She told me to call her Dom but it felt weird because I’d only properly known her for a few minutes. It felt too informal.
“I take Herbology, Transfig, Potions, Charms and Muggle Studies,” I replied, “what about you?”
“Defence, Transfig, Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Charms and Care of Magical Creatures. Why don’t you take Defence?” she asked, grabbing a chicken wing and tearing it with her teeth.
Oh how I wished I had her metabolism.
I shrugged. “I wasn’t very good at it, so it didn’t seem necessary. My hardest subject is Transfig; I just scraped an E to get into the course.”
She jerked her head towards James. “James is really good with Transfig. He can tutor you.”
James nodded. “Sure, you’re good at Muggle Studies right?” I nodded and he decided, “Cool. I’ll tutor you in Transfig and you can tutor me in Muggle Studies.”
I frowned. “Er… I’m not so good that I could tutor someone… I’m sorry,” I said truthfully.
“Didn’t you get an ‘O’ on your last test?” he asked, raising his eyebrows at me.
“Yes but –”
“Did you study for it?”
“No but –”
“See, then you’re good at Muggle Studies!” James concluded, giving me a grin.
I bit my lip and said, “I guess… but I’m not the best at it.”
James shrugged. “You don’t have to be, just know most of the stuff.” I nodded and started to eat.
“Oh thank goodness, I thought you were never going to eat!” Fred (another one of James’ cousins) exclaimed, waving his fork around.
I furrowed my brow. “Why do you want me to eat?”
“Because it’s unhealthy if you don’t!” he insisted.
I stared at him and he stared back at me until I took a tentative bite of my sandwich. “Good,” he sighed, relaxing.
“Ignore him, he’s really weird,” Dom said with an expression of distaste evident on her face.
“Naw, Dommie you hurt the Fredster’s feelings,” Tina (Dom’s best friend) said.
She rolled her eyes and ruffled Fred’s hair. “Nah he’s okay, aren’t you, Freddie?” she cooed.
“No, I’m not okay, Dominique. I think I’ll go become emotionally unstable and dye my hair black and wear black eyeliner. Do you want that?” he demanded.
I glanced towards James who just shrugged and gave me a lopsided grin before taking a humongous bite of his own sandwich.
It was nice having friends.
Imogen’s alarm went off and I was jolted awake. “Imogen, what time is it?” Jen grumbled.
“Sorry,” she moaned, “bloody practice. Go back to sleep.” I groaned and wrapped my quilt tighter around me. After a few minutes, I decided it was pointless and got up, shivering from the cold.
I gathered my gear and shuffled into the shower. I looked at myself in the mirror and winced at what I saw. My hair was a mess, I had massive bags under my eyes and my skin was pale and cracked. My puffy eyes gave me away that I’d been crying myself to sleep and my lips were chapped because I had bitten on it.
Even though I had some friends now, the people in Hufflepuff still treated me like dirt. I tried to be nice to them, but they just kept at it. I tried staying to myself and then they gave me even more crap for being a loner. I couldn’t win with them, and I was so tired of it.
Would it ever stop?
I shook my head and jumped into the shower, eager for the warm water to wake me up. I closed my eyes and reached for my shampoo, only to be greeted by something crawling on me. My eyes sprung open and there were a few hundred cockroaches appearing out of nowhere. I shrieked the loudest scream humanly possible and flung myself out of the shower. Still screaming, I quickly wrapped a towel around me and ran out of the bathroom.
Some fifth years were waiting for me outside the bathroom and they pulled out a camera. “Smile,” the blonde one said viciously.
Before I could react, they took the picture and flounced off. I looked around and saw the whole dorm laughing at me. Immediately, my face crumpled and I wanted to burst into tears. My lip shook and I tightened the towel around me. My hair was half-wet still and my legs hadn’t been shaved yet.
I walked to my bed and pulled the curtains shut. A few tears escaped but I brushed them away impatiently. Searching through my trunk, I found a new pair of underwear and my other school uniform. I sighed and pulled them on, muttering a quick drying spell on my hair. I tugged a brush through my ragged hair and then I heard Wendy ask, “Wood? Have you finished using the bathroom? Because I kinda need to use it and all your shit is still in there.”
“N-no, I’m not using it. You can use it,” I said, pulling my curtains back. I quickly summoned my stuff and shoved it back in my trunk, performing a few spells on it in case there were still cockroaches roaming around.
I performed the same spell on my bed and bag, before pulling the curtains closed again. I quickly put a spell on all my belongings so they couldn’t do anything to it.
Grabbing my bag, I rushed out ignoring all the laughs behind me. When I reached the common room, I walked up to the blonde girl that took the photo of me.
“Excuse me?” I asked, tapping her shoulder.
She turned around and her ratty hair nearly whipped me in the face. “Yes?” she asked haughtily.
“Would you please delete that photo you took of me?” I asked nervously, fiddling with the ends of my hair. I felt my face blooming red and I could hear my heart loud and clear. I hoped no one else could hear it, it was embarrassing.
She laughed a cruel, cold sound. “No.”
I frowned. “Why not?” People started to watch and I could feel my cheeks heating up.
“Because you stole my boyfriend,” she said simply.
My jaw dropped. “W-what are you talking about?”
She narrowed her eyes at me. “James,” she spat.
My head jerked back. “You’re going out with James?!” She smirked and I realised what she said. “Hold up! James is not my boyfriend! We are just friends.”
“Really?” she asked incredulously, “You held his hand.” Some people returned to their own conversations, realising that this was a ridiculous conversation. The others gasped and started muttering.
I stared at her and shook my head. “I’ve never held his hand before. I’m only friends with him!”
“It was about two weeks back. You were crying, probably over something stupid.” She looked at her nails and then at me.
I started to shake. “No, you stupid bimbo, I was crying because I was being made fun of and James dragged me to the kitchens to make me feel better,” I snapped. My face went an even deeper shade of red as I realised I had just insulted her.
Her thin mouth twisted into a scowl. “Excuse me? How dare you call me a bimbo?!”
My breath was coming in quick pants and it felt like I had been running a marathon. “I’m sorry… Just delete the photo, please,” I said pathetically, looking at the ground. The people around me sniggered.
She laughed that evil laugh again. I shivered. It sounded like nails being dragged on a blackboard, a shrill, piercing sound.
“Go run off and play, you fat, pathetic bitch. I don’t want to waste any more time. My oxygen is valuable you know.” She gestured with her hands and turned back to the rest of her friends. I put my head down and walked out of the common room, leaving the cruel laughter behind me.
I could feel tears coming and I wanted to smack myself for being so stupid. It was a stupid prank; I shouldn’t have let it get to me.
I repeated the mantra and walked into the Great Hall. Immediately everyone swivelled around to look at me. My face went red and everyone burst into loud laughter. I glanced around and everyone was pointing and jeering at me.
I pinched myself, in case this was a nightmare. This couldn’t be real. No, what had I done?
The teachers were trying to quieten everyone but it wasn’t working. I saw a few heads walking towards me and I started to backtrack.
But then I saw their faces and let out a smile. They were my friends. They wouldn’t hurt me.
(At least I hoped not).
Fred and Dom ushered me out, and as soon as we were outside Dom gave me a hug. It was much easier to familiarise with her, now that I’d known her for a couple of weeks. “Are you okay?!”
“What happened?” I asked confusedly.
“You mean you don’t know?” Fred asked incredulously.
I shook my head and they gave each other significant looks.
Dom opened her mouth but before she said anything, I heard a loud, “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!”
“Mister Potter! Do not –”
“Look at what they did, Professor! Look!” I looked at Dom and Fred, who both paled. I pushed past them and opened the doors again. James turned around and I saw that he looked absolutely furious. Professor McGonagall was holding the schools paper, Writing Wands, with a very shocked expression.
She looked at me and said briskly, “Miss Wood, please come with me immediately.”
“What happened?” I asked, trying to look at the paper. James scowled and someone threw the paper at my head. “Ouch!” I rubbed my head and picked up the paper off the floor.
On the front cover was me in a towel from this morning.
My heart dropped and my eyes welled up as everyone burst into more laughter. I couldn’t handle it, I ran out of the Great Hall, sobbing. “Clara!” someone shouted after me. I ignored them and kept running.
“Clara!” the voice repeated and was a lot closer this time. I turned around and saw James, Dom and Fred all running after me. I stopped and they quickly caught up with me.
“I – I don’t kn-know how she did i-it! She only g-got the ph-photo half an hour a-ago!” I sobbed. Dom wrapped an arm around me and rubbed my arms consolingly.
“Who was she?” she asked softly.
I shook my head. “I d-don’t know. I think sh-she’s a fifth year… she’s i-in Hufflepuff,” I said, trying to calm down.
“What does she look like then?” James asked. That reminded me.
“She said s-she went out with y-you.” His expression of curiosity turned into one of shock.
“I’ve never been out with a fifth year. Maybe she was a sixth year. What did she look like? I might know her then.” Fred nodded along, looking concerned.
“B-blonde hair, kinda tall. Pointy features, and she l-looked quite orange,” I described. Dom snorted.
James frowned and then asked, “Tenielle Smith?” I bit my lip and shrugged.
“I don’t know her name,” I said, wiping my eyes. Fred produced a tissue from his wand and handed it to me. I smiled weakly and said, “Thanks.” He grinned at me and patted my back.
“Miss Wood, would you please accompany me to my office,” McGonagall said, “Mister Potter, Mister Weasley, Miss Weasley, you may come too.” I nodded and Dom tightened her grip on me.
We followed McGonagall and when we reached the gargoyles, she said, “Ginger newts.” The gargoyles sprang apart and revealed a staircase. She waited for us to hop on before they started spiralling upwards.
When we finally reached her office, she conjured up two more chairs and gestured for us to sit down. “Have a biscuit, Miss Wood,” she said kindly.
I blinked and she pushed the tin towards me. I grabbed one and tentatively chewed on it. James and Fred reached for one without asking.
They’d probably been here a lot.
“Miss Weasley, would you care for a biscuit?” she asked, pushing the tin towards Dom.
She shrugged and reached out to grab one. “Thanks, Professor.”
She smiled and sat back down. “Miss Wood, do you know who did this?”
I shook my head. “We think it might have been Tenielle Smith, Professor,” James interjected.
She pursed her lips and turned back to me. “Is this correct?”
“I don’t know her name, but when I described her to James he said that it might be her,” I said honestly.
She nodded and said, “Have another biscuit.” I grabbed one and my stomach let out a rumble.
“Did you have breakfast?” I shook my head, as did James and Fred. Dom then slapped them. McGonagall smiled again and conjured up some pancakes. “Very well, you may stay here I will be getting Miss Smith.”
“Professor, wait. Um it may have not been her. I know she was a blonde fifth or sixth year, though. In Hufflepuff,” I said, just in case it wasn’t her and she decided to bully me even more.
“You don’t know the members of your own house?” McGonagall stared at me.
I blushed and mumbled, “I avoided being in there as much as possible.” The look in her eyes seemed to soften before she walked out.
“I reckon Minnie likes you, Clara,” James said through a mouthful of pancake.
Dom agreed, “Yeah! She hardly ever smiles!” She then stuffed a pancake in her mouth and smiled at me.
I smiled abashedly and grabbed a pancake. Fred said, “So do you know why she took the photo?”
I felt my face warm up and I ripped a bit of the pancake off. “She thought I was stealing James.” I started to eat and was pleasantly surprised that they were very good.
James rolled his eyes. “I think we went on two dates. We snogged once. I was never her boyfriend.”
Dom crinkled her nose. “You’re a pig, y’know that?”
James snorted like a pig and said, “Yes I do. It’s actually my animagus form.”
I laughed as Dom threw a pancake in his face. One of the portraits chuckled and I turned to look at who it was. Albus Dumbledore had his hands tucked under his chin and was laughing softly, looking at them fondly. However, Severus Snape rolled his eyes and muttered, “Just like his grandfather.”
“Who? Me?” James asked curiously.
He nodded with an expression of intense dislike. James however, beamed. “Cool! What was he like?!”
Snape opened his mouth but then McGonagall walked in, with a bunch of blondes in tow. I recognised the one that took the photo of me immediately.
McGonagall conjured up more chairs. “Miss Wood, would you please kindly tell us who the girl was that took the photo of you.” I pointed to the girl, who was glaring at me furiously, and McGonagall nodded. “Okay, all others can leave now.”
“Hey! That isn’t fair; half of these girls were in on it too! Just because I took the photo doesn’t mean I was the only one involved!” she complained.
Fred whispered, “Thought Hufflepuffs were meant to be loyal?” James shrugged and continued scowling at the girl.
“Miss Smith, would you then care to tell me who else was involved?” McGonagall asked, her lips thinned into a sharp line.
She turned around and picked out another two girls with a smug look on her face. The other two girls looked like they were going to murder her.
McGonagall nodded and dismissed the other students. They scurried out and shot me a look of disgust. I just shrunk back and Dom hissed at them.
Yes, she actually hissed.
“Miss Wood, would you please be able to describe the events which happened this morning, and then we will delegate a suitable punishment for these three girls,” the professor said kindly.
I cleared my throat and said weakly, “Well, Imogen’s alarm went off early because she had Quidditch practice so I decided to have a shower before class. I was in the shower and I was about to start washing my hair when I –” I paused and shivered. “When I felt cockroaches roaming all over me,”
“Eugh!” Dom said, grimacing. I nodded and shuddered again, scratching at my hand, thinking of the scuttling feeling.
“So then I ran out screaming –”
“As you do,” Fred said, reaching for another pancake. McGonagall gave him a glare and he quickly muttered, “Sorry Professor.” She gestured for me to continue.
“Luckily I wrapped a towel around me, because when I came running out she was waiting for me and snapped a photo of me before leaving,” I finished with a flush.
“I believe she said ‘smile’ first,” a brunette one interjected.
James slapped a hand to his forehead and McGonagall glared at them. “Connolly, please refrain from adding unnecessary comments as Miss Wood was still talking.”
“Oh that was it, Professor,” I said quickly.
Dom glared at the three fifth (sixth?) years. “Hufflepuff didn’t even have practice this morning. I know that for a fact because someone,” she said staring pointedly at James, “booked the pitch for us Gryffindor’s this morning.”
My jaw dropped and I whispered, “Imogen was in this too?”
Smith rolled her eyes. “Of course she was. Gosh, you really are slow, aren’t you?” Fred slammed his pancake down and stood up.
“Sit down, Weasley,” McGonagall barked. He obeyed immediately but kept glaring filthily at her. “Smith, don’t insult others. Now was there any reason they decide to pull the prank on you, Miss Wood?” McGonagall asked, looking at me.
I looked nervously towards Smith and James – noticing I wasn’t going to say anything – intervened, “She told us that Smith thought she was ‘stealing her boyfriend’. Which is ridiculous because a: she doesn’t have a boyfriend, and b: she couldn’t get one if she tried.” Dom let out a tinkle of laughter and Smith’s haughty smirk turned into an ugly scowl.
McGonagall didn’t reprimand James but still sent him a look that made put his head down slightly. Her lips thinned into a knife-like line and she turned to Smith and her cronies.
“Smith, is that the correct reason that you took that photo of Miss Wood?” she asked sharply.
She rolled her eyes. “Of course not, what do you think I am? A second year?”
“Well you got tits like one,” Dom retorted. I let out a snort of laughter and McGonagall quickly shut us up.
She blushed a furious red and her friends just smirked. “No, Professor that was the correct reason. Tenielle is just too petty to admit it, aren’t you?” the other blonde one cooed.
Damn, these girls were bitches.
She glared at them but before she could say anything McGonagall asked, “So what were the roles that you two played in this ‘prank’?”
The brunette one – Connolly – I think her name was, flicked her hair and said simply, “Oh we just wanted it because we’re the editors for Writing Wands and we just wanted it to get noticed.”
James said, “Well you’re doing a pretty shitty job.”
“Language, Potter. Connolly and Windsor that was not the way to get your magazine noticed. We allowed it in hoping it would not humiliate any students. You have failed so I will be removing the magazine and there will be no more editorial clubs.”
“Professor you can’t do that!” Windsor gasped.
“We put so much work into it,” Connolly pleaded.
“You should have thought of that before you did this,” McGonagall said, her lips thinning into an even sharper line.
McGonagall then declared, “The two of you will be serving detention for three months and your Hogsmeade privileges will be removed.” Smith was looking smug but then McGonagall said, “Miss Smith, you will be removed off the Hufflepuff Quidditch team,”
“You can’t do that Professor! Finals are soon!” she yelped. Dom and James shot each other identical grins whereas Fred continued eating his pancake.
McGonagall let out a grim smile. “Well, I just did. You should have thought of that before bullying others. You will also be banned from going to all Quidditch matches and you will be serving detention for the rest of the year. Your Hogsmeade privileges will be removed for the rest of the year and you will take remedial Transfiguration in those times. It is my understanding that you are currently failing and Professor Goldstein will be more than happy to assist you.”
All three of them looked like they were going to chop her head off but McGonagall stared them down. “Is that all?”
Fred wasn’t even trying to hide his grin. He was beaming with pancake smeared all around his face. I tried to hide my smile as they shook their heads morosely.
“Oh and Potter, you’ll be serving detention as well,” McGonagall said sharply.
His mouth dropped open. “Why?” he complained.
“Because you used inappropriate language in the Great Hall,” she said steely.
He slumped down and asked, “When?”
“Eight o’clock on Thursday. You will be serving detention with Hagrid.” James nodded and when McGonagall wasn’t looking he grinned and pumped his fists excitedly.
“Now Connolly, Smith and Windsor, bullying is a serious issue and it will not be tolerated at Hogwarts. So before you leave this office, you must apologise to Miss Wood.”
They all glared at me and I dropped my gaze down to the floor, feeling the familiar blush crawling its way onto my cheeks and the back of my neck.
“Wood, we’re sorry for humiliating you,” one of them said coldly. McGonagall glared at them for a bit and then the other two apologised.
“It’s okay,” I said quietly.
“No it isn’t okay,” Dom said fiercely. “It isn’t okay at all! They were horrible to you, Clara!”
The three of them looked like they wanted to spit on Dom’s face but McGonagall quickly reprimanded her.
After a few seconds, I said, “Apology accepted. B-but I don’t forgive you.” My voice cracked on the last part but Fred, James and Dom all beamed at me proudly.
Even McGonagall was smiling slightly. It was like she wanted me to stand up for myself. “Okay,” she said briskly, “you all must get to class now. I’ll write you a note.”
We nodded and all stood up. As soon as she had written the note, the three sixth (or was it fifth?) years flounced off with their noses in the air. She wrote our notes and I said honestly, “Thank you, Professor.”
She gave me another smile and said, “That’s okay. Now get to class, all of you.”
When we left her office, the three of them hugged me. “We’re so proud of you, Clara! You stood up for yourself!”
“With your help,” I said humbly.
Dom rolled her eyes and said, “No that was all you! Now I really have to go to class, Flitwick will murder me if I’m late again. I’ll see you at lunch?” We nodded and she left me alone with the boys.
“Well, I’ve got a free. Wanna skive James?” Fred asked.
He shook his head. “Nah, we have to go to Herbology. And if Clara turns up and I don’t that will look really fishy. I already got one detention.”
Fred shrugged and simply said, “Alright. See ya!” He walked off and I turned to James.
“Thanks for sticking up for me, before,” I said shyly.
He grinned and ruffled my hair. “It’s okay. But what did I tell you? You tell them to stop, and they’ll stop.”
I smiled and we walked off to Herbology, talking about Gryffindor’s chances of winning the House Cup.
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