Chapter image by moi. Meet Aaron Williams, our protagonist.
I completely loathe the first month of school, every year. Unabashedly despise it. Unmitigatedly abhor. However you want to say it, I hate it.
But why do you hate such a random and innocent time, Aaron? What did it ever do to you? Why thank you for asking, self.
First off, all anybody talks about is summer. Yes, summer’s a laugh. I get it. But it doesn’t need to be rehashed repeatedly to the same people. Who are you trying to impress, exactly? It’s not like anything that exciting even happens. I’m almost positive that at least half of what people say from their summer is completely hyperbolic.
For example, Zach Davis is currently explaining how he went out with this “totally fit” Muggle girl to the entire cluster of us. I was innocently eating my breakfast when he descended upon the table and started obnoxiously describing her “rockin’ bod” for what I suspect may be the eightieth effing time. Yes, Zach, we get it. You’re awesome. Now stop repeating how awesome you are for all to hear. And please, for the love of Merlin, stop flicking your fucking hair out of your fucking eyes. I don’t know why you have such long bangs if you’re going to just spend all your time flicking it away, but I will personally cut your hair for you if you want to continue doing that.
Secondly, the teachers decide that they need to truly drill into our brains how difficult the coming year would be. As such, they assign us a ridiculous amount of homework in the first few weeks so that we understand how serious they’re going to be this year. Thanks, Profs. I hadn’t gotten that the past five years. Yes, go ahead and repeat it over and over to us.
Thirdly, there’re always those asshats who decide not to do any work. “Hehe, Aaron, guess what I’m going to do this year? No homework, and all the birds that I can!” Thanks for that. No, I’m not going to smack your hand in congratulations. Please inform me how you like serving food to me in five years.
Conversely, there’re always those asshats who decide to do all their work the day it’s assigned because “THIS IS OUR FUTURE, AARON, HOW CAN YOU BE SO RELAXED ABOUT IT?” Okay then. Tell me how that works out for you when you pass out from stress before winter break. I’ll visit you in the mental wards at Mungo’s.
And that is basically why I hate returning to school. I love learning and doing the actual work (shut up, Hufflepuffs can be studious too!) but I cannot stand the other people. I’m a pretty terrible Puff. I have no idea why the Hat thought I should be here; it did seriously consider Slytherin for a bit. But keep that quiet, I don’t want the other Puffs judging me. Just kidding, most Puffs don’t know how to judge any better than they know how to be mean.
I guess you can tell that I’m a fairly sarcastic guy. Such is life. I’m not really your typical Puff, I suppose. I mean I have the hardworking bit down but nobody has ever, nor will they ever, described me as cheerful or bright or happy. More like, “Oh, Aaron Williams? He’s hilarious!” or “Williams? Oh, he’s the quiet genius kid, right?”
I have a lot to live up to, evidently. I wouldn’t describe myself as hilarious; I tend to have very amusing things happen around me, though. I mean, there was that time when I fell over during OWLs- let’s leave that for another time. I guess I have a knack for doing really embarrassing things that people remember. I will forever be dubbed “that kid who fell over during the Sorting” or “that kid who fell during the Halloween Feast.” I’m not particularly clumsy, just so you know. I usually just get distracted and then find my face meeting the floor.
I wouldn’t call myself a genius, either. I get pretty good marks, true. But it’s mostly so unexpected of Puffs that it sticks with people, to be honest. I got like eight Os on my OWLs and two Es, so that’s about seven Os more than most Puffs get. But for some reason, people treat me like the resident genius around the Common Room. I’ve tutored more underclassmen than I care to remember (which is awkward when they greet me in the corridors and I fail to remember who they are).
But I would say that I’m a very quiet person. I have explosive thoughts, sure, but they stay in my head most of the time. I HATE conflict, so I’m a nod-and-go-along-with-it kind of guy. So as judgemental and obnoxious as I may seem on the inside, most people pretty much forget who I am because of my quiet demeanor, which is just the way I like it.
I have one really good friend, Sharon Heed. She’s pretty much like a female version of me, mostly because she’s my best friend and we’ve been inseparable since we were just wee lads and lasses. Well, she’s a lot more talkative than me, but otherwise we’re similar. Sometimes people think we’re dating, which is honestly quite disgusting and makes both of us avoid each other for a bit. It’s also creepy because we look like we could be siblings. We have the same brown hair and brown eye combo, and similar noses, as weird as that may sound. In fact, some other people always assume that we’re siblings. We just go along with that assumption.
Otherwise, I hang out with my fellow ‘Puffs, which unfortunately includes Zach Davis. I don’t dislike the guy; it’s just that he’s a type one and type three of problems I have with the first month back. So as he rambles about this Muggle girl, he has his arm slung around some random fifth year Puff who looks a bit unsettled.
Hugo Weasley, one of my other friends, is just as annoyed with his antics as I am, I’m pretty sure. Given my whole quiet guy role, I generally observe everybody else rather than join in with them. It helps me pick up on some otherwise unknown things; for example, I can tell that Sharon has a huge crush on Hugo, but is too chicken to do anything about it. Silly ‘Claw. I can also tell that Hugo fancies her back, but is also too chicken. Silly ‘Puff. Their children would be hilarious. I would be a fantastic uncle figure.
Merlin, how long can Zach even talk about this inane shite for so long? I’ve been unfocussed for at least five minutes and he’s just going on...and on...and on...Okay, I’m going to leave them to it. I’m just going to pick up this apple and casually play catch with it as I walk away from the table.
Now I shall surreptitiously back away. Success! I giddily walk away from the buzzing Great Hall, heading towards my first class of the day. It’s the third week back, so I’ve gotten my schedule down by now. We have this class with the Ravenclaws, which is wicked. I can sit with Sharon and avoid the wrath of Hugo.
I’m quite early, given my escape from the table and all, so I choose a nice, innocuous table in the dead centre of the room. My logic behind this is that the ambitious know-it-all Ravenclaw type (they’re not all like that, I know) will sit at the front and get attention there, and trouble makers will sit in the back. So the middle is the way to avoid getting seen. Slughorn also has a weird habit of watching the sides of the class more intently than the centre, so it’s a safe bet to stay there and play it safe.
Anyway, Sharon soon sits beside me with a cheerful, “Gooooood morning, brosef!” She should be the Hufflepuff, not me, really. I incline my head in response as she sets up a notebook and pen (we now have the option at Hogwarts of using the old fashioned methods, but pens are so much simpler). “I trust you had a pleasant rest, did you not?” I nod again, used to her odd ways. “Today, I believe ol’ Sluggykins is going to have us take some notes.”
Sure enough, the door closes briskly as Slughorn stands up from his slumber at his desk. He taps the board once, and writing covers the surface, detailing the different uses and ingredients that go into memory potions. I dutifully record the lesson, as does Sharon, and the hour passes by quickly. When the bell rings, most people hastily exit the drafty room, but I slowly repack my belongings and stand again, ready to start the homework during my next free. Maybe I’ll go out to the lake, and enjoy-
“Mr. Williams, can you please stay a moment?” Slughorn inquires, sitting back at his desk, causing the chair to creak loudly. I smile politely, bid farewell to Sharon, and walk slowly up to the front of the room. I hope I didn’t do something wrong. “Now, Mr. Williams, I’m sure you’re confused about why you’re here.” I don’t particularly care, but I am curious. “Well, it has come to my attention that Ms. Potter here,” he gestures to the redhead who’s standing a bit behind me with a brilliant blush, “is not doing very well in this class. I know it’s only three weeks into school, but she’s in here upon special request so that she can become an Auror...” Um, Sluggsters, I really have very little interest in why Lily Potter is here, and I think it’s embarrassing her. “...so I was hoping that you would be able to...tutor Ms. Potter, and continue studying with her for the rest of the semester. I’m sure there’s a brilliant Potion Mistress inside of her, struggling to shine.” What the ever living fuck? “It will count as extra credit, of course, and I will require shorter essays from you, granted that Ms. Potter also turns in an essay that meets the requirement.” That sounds like a pretty nice deal. “Does this sound acceptable to you, Mr. Williams?”
I nod, deciding that me saying anything is pretty much unnecessary at this juncture. Lily Potter is still blushing brightly and biting her lip, looking quite embarrassed. I suppose it may be a first for a Hufflepuff to tutor a Ravenclaw. I don’t know why she’s embarrassed though. It’s admirable that she wants to be an Auror. Being subpar at one subject is understandable.
“I’ll just leave you two to sort out the details, then,” Slughorn decides, exiting the room with his slow footsteps echoing around the room.
“I’m sorry to trouble you,” Lily finally apologises, her face finally calming down. I want to reassure her, but simply shrug instead. I get to do less homework, so it all levels out, really. “Um...so I have plans tonight, but if we could meet tomorrow, that’d be pretty mega.” I nod, knowing that pretty much any night works for me. Usually I’m just in the Library anyway, reading about Wizard history. “How about...seven in the library, by the Potions section?” I nod again. Maybe I should actually say something? Nah, she’s leaving now. Oh, the bell’s about to ring, she probably has a class.
I spend the next hour absently writing a lengthy explanation of memory potions, forgetting that I don’t actually need to write all of it. C’est la vie. I muddle through the rest of the day, sitting with Hugo during Herbology and Lydia Gales (fellow Hufflepuff, not the brightest nor prettiest but incredibly nice) during Transfiguration.
I have rounds tonight, since I’m the Prefect. I honestly wish I wasn’t, because Hugo really wanted it and I was pretty ambivalent, so I felt really bad when I got it.
I’m paired with Nadia Terner, the Slytherin Prefect for this rotation. She has slightly tanned skin, wide brown eyes, and black curly hair. She’s pretty nice, and quiet like me. We patrol these hallowed halls in an easy silence, breaking up couples and such. I finally go to bed later than I’d like (though earlier than everybody in my dorm).
The next day is a haze as I breeze through my classes (including my favourite, Ancient Runes). Finally, it’s 18:55 and I’m heading to the library to get this over with. It’s not that I dislike tutoring; I end up doing it frequently because I’m a smart enough Puff so people ask me and I don’t care enough to say no. I just don’t want to get caught up in Lily Potter’s drama.
Honestly, I suppose I don’t know that much about her. Her dad saved the world, which was wicked. Her mum played Quidditch, which means little to me. She...wants to be an Auror, apparently. But generally, the “Wotters” are a pretty high strung clan. I remember James Potter used to be a crazy bloke; now he plays Quidditch professionally. If you’re so inclined, you can know everything about the Potters because of the intrusive press and history books. Given that I’m not, I don’t know that much. But as soon as you’re friends with them, everybody knows who you are. I’d prefer to avoid that, which is why I keep my distance from Lily. I hang around with Hugo every now and then, but Hugo has enough other stuff going on to detract attention from one bloke.
I suppose that’s a bit rude, isn’t it? Intentionally not friending somebody because of their family? I bet that’s the opposite of what usually happens. Well, I’ll find out what’s Lily’s deal soon enough.
Once I enter the Library- my third favourite place in Hogwarts after the kitchens and lake- I meander over to the Potions section, where I find Lily already sat with a textbook neatly in front of her. Her head is propped up on her hand as she stares absently out the window.
I quietly pull out the chair in front of her, jolting her out of her reverie. She smiles at me before saying, “So, I suppose you should help me with the homework, then? I’ve never been tutored before, so I don’t know what’s supposed to happen.”
“Erm, well, I’ve tutored some underclassmen before,” I quietly explain. I’m a soft spoken guy. I don’t know why. My mum used to worry about me, but now she’s just given up. “Usually, I try and figure out what they’re not understanding inherently and try to help explain how it applies to this assignment, and then backtrack to catch up on missed assignments.” Lily is staring at me now, slightly confused. Hmm...did I say something weird? Do I have something on my face? Dammit, I bet Hugo put some food on my face before I came up here to get me over breakfast! Curse those Weasleys.
“I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard you speak,” she comments after a moment of quiet reflection. Welp. I don’t really know how to respond to that. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to make you embarrassed or something!”
“I am who I am, and I’m...erm, somebody who doesn’t have a lot to say,” I tell her, reaching into my own bag and pulling out the textbook and my own essay for reference. She continues to gawk at me. Erm...
“I think that you probably have a lot to say,” Lily tells me, twirling a strand of her hair around her fingers. “I think that the quiet ones are usually the smartest and most interesting, even if they keep it to themselves.”
“I prefer to observe, that’s it,” I reply carefully, not wanting to sound creepy. That still came off a bit creepy, I think. “Anyway, we should probably get started. Erm, so, just to start off, what do you think you don’t understand about potions?” She stares angrily down at her textbook, as though her glare will somehow make it disappear.
“I just don’t get why you have to do everything in the order it says!” she exclaims. “I mean, why should it matter if I put in the feathers before the tongue or after? And who came up with the order, anyway? And why does it even work?!”
“Well, the reason that you have to put them in in the correct order is that the magical properties of each ingredient reacts differently depending on how the concoction is already assembled,” I explain carefully. “It’s just like cooking. Do you like cooking, or ever help?” She stares at me, looking puzzled as she nods slowly. “Well, think about a potion like a recipe. If you put the flour in too late, it doesn’t get in mixed in correctly, right? I mean, sometimes it can work out, in simple recipes. But in general, experimenting has a gross result. In potions, the magical properties of each ingredient have to mix correctly with the other ingredients. Otherwise they won’t have the correct result. Like imagine putting the yeast into your dough too late, or forgetting it all together, and then the bread doesn’t rise. Does that make sense?”
“Yes,” she affirms, gazing at me with an unidentifiable expression. That’s odd. Usually I’m pretty good at reading people. “But I still don’t get why potions can do anything. It’s not like bread clears up your acne or something.” I chuckle at her example.
“In every potion, the effect it can have is directly related to the amount of magic that went into each ingredient. So if I cast a spell on a feather before putting it into a potion, the potion may have different results than expected, or it may be stronger than usual, because the magic that went into it is more than usual. If you’ve ever studied any muggle science-” She shakes her head, still looking at her potions book, before looking back up at me with a bright grin.
“What you just said makes more sense than anything in the past five whole years of Potions class,” she says, reaching across the table to hug me tightly. And awkwardly. This is very awkward. I hate hugging. “Okay. So let me try this essay...”
About an hour later, Lily has her essay completed, and has pretty much caught up on what she hadn’t understood in the past few weeks. She’s a bright enough witch- she is a Ravenclaw, after all- but she was just missing a few connecting links in her understanding. Or something.
“So, Aaron,” she says, packing up her books again, and leaning across the table intently, staring at me again with her wide green eyes. She has interesting colouring, now that I think about it. Red hair, green eyes, really pale skin. Is that an odd combination? I have no idea, actually. “Tell me about yourself.” I stare blankly at her. What? “There’s got to be something exciting going on in that giant brain of yours.” I don’t really think so, to be honest. “Though I suppose maybe you’re just very shy.” I think if I were one to blush, my cheeks would be bright red at this point. I don’t like getting psychoanalyzed.
“I’m just-just a boring old Hufflepuff,” I reply, probably looking like a gnome caught in wand light. “Nothing exciting, um, here.”
“I don’t believe you, Aaron Williams,” she declares, standing up and inspecting me carefully. “I think you’re a lot more interesting than you let on. Just you wait, I’m going to find out what you’re hiding.” She taps the side of her nose once before striding confidently out of the Library. Erm. What?
AN: Welcome readers! I hope you have enjoyed the first installment of my bizarre story and aren't terrified of the inner workings of my brain. If not, you soon shall be. :) I have a few more chapters of this written but I've had some Writer's Block and thus am hoping that any reception on here would help me continue this tale of teenage woe, angst, and such. Erm yeah sorry, I'm procrastinating doing my homework and thus am odder than usual. Anyway, I hope you review if you've made it this far!
DISCLAIMER: The title of this fic comes from the Jukebox the Ghost song of the same name. Everybody should listen to it, though it is not my creation. And unfortunately, I also did not create Harry Potter- no, I left the heavy lifting to JK and my words are mere shadows of her creative genius. Or something.