It took him several moments to remember where he was as he looked around wildly. When he did, he sat up and rested his head against his knees. Breathing deeply, he dragged his fingers through his hair and gave a slight pull.
If he had known where the common room was located, he would have asked the hat to put him in a different house. He didn’t know how much say he would have had, but he’d have tried at any rate. Could he really get through an entire year of sleeping in the dungeons? His dreams had been filled with grindylows with apple red hair, and merpeople dragging him from bed as he slept.
He just didn’t know if he had the ability to deal.
Pulling the drapes back, he noted that the curtains on the others’ beds were still tightly shut. Referring to the glowing hands on his watch, he found that it was just after six. There was no way that he was going back to sleep, and so he gathered clothes from his trunk and headed to the showers.
The bath sorted him out some, and with his hair still damp, he left the dormitory just as the others were beginning to stir. He knew that Niq was an early riser, so he hoped that she was in the Great Hall when he got there.
What he didn’t expect was for her to be standing at the top of the stairs that led to the dungeons. When she spotted him, she smiled, and slung an arm around his shoulders once he was near.
“Only you would land yourself in Slytherin,” she joked.
“You’re not upset?”
“Why would I be?” she asked, a frown on her face. “I was a little shocked, sure. But I’d like to think that I know my little brother enough to know that he’s not evil. So you happen to be in Slytherin. Big deal. You’re not going to suddenly start picking people off just because those who were in there before you thought it was great fun. Don’t worry about it.”
Since there were only a handful of people in the Great Hall, she guided him to the Ravenclaw table. He sat down, and for the first time since the hat had made its decision, he found that he was rather famished. Loading his plate with eggs, sausages and toast, he ate enthusiastically.
“Hey, Niq,” he said as he refilled his goblet. “Why didn’t you tell me about the boats?”
“Would you have come if I had?” she asked, brow arched. She had a point. “Besides, it’s tradition in the family for no one to tell. That way, it’s a pleasant surprise.” She paused. “Well, I suppose it wouldn’t exactly be pleasant for you, but it’s good to face your fears, right?”
He shrugged one shoulder and nibbled on a bit of toast. “I suppose. Did you know that the common room is beneath the lake?”
She frowned. “Actually, no one really knows where the common rooms are aside from those within the house. I knew it was somewhere in the dungeons, just not exactly where. Are you going to be okay down there?”
His expression was sour, and his words bitter. “Don’t exactly have a choice, now do I?”
They chatted a bit more as the Hall began to fill up. Several of Dominique’s friends joined her, and a Gryffindor boy whispered in her ear before moving off. She blushed to the roots of hair not equally as red when Louis lifted a brow.
“Don’t tell Mum,” she told him. “I started seeing him at the end of last year. He’s a Beater.”
Not that Louis cared about all of that information, but he did wonder why she was being so secretive about it. “I wouldn’t tell her. Not that she’d care one way or the other.”
They shared a significant look
“Is this your little brother, Dom?”
A girl from Dominique’s year sat next to him. She pulled her rather long braid over one shoulder, the colour much like a blackbird’s.
“Yeah,” Niq answered. “This is Louis. Lou, meet Serena White.”
“Oh, he’s too cute,” she said, and grinned when he faintly reddened. “Gosh, Dom. You never told me your brother was so adorable.”
“He’s too young for you.”
“I think I’ll head to my own table now,” he told his sister. Standing, he turned to Serena and stuck out his hand. “It was nice to meet you.”
She accepted his hand and brown eyes brightened. “And a gentleman too. See you around, Louis.”
Upon crossing the Hall, he sat next to Irving, who was close to diving face first into his porridge. “You’d think you hadn’t gotten enough sleep.”
“Hate mornings,” he said glumly, and didn’t bother stifling a yawn. Almost immediately, he yawned again. “Darn it. Why can’t classes be in the afternoon?”
“Because then they would end at midnight?” Louis hazarded to guess.
Irving grunted in reply. Louis chuckled as they were joined by a smiling Rowena.
Irving straightened almost immediately, and Louis smothered a laugh. “Hello.”
They exchanged names just as Professor Jacknife appeared with the timetables. She didn’t even smile as she distributed them, but Louis didn’t care. He was far more interested in what his day would look like.
Classes started with History of Magic, and ended with Herbology, which was a class shared with the Ravenclaws.
“Unlucky.” Rowena had come around the table and was peering over his shoulder at the schedule. “Hope you’re not bored to death after the first lesson.”
He had heard of Binns. Victoire had complained about him, and couldn’t understand why they didn’t evict him. She had even suggested to the Headmistress that they utilize one of the many unused classrooms that Hogwarts had to offer, and hire a new teacher. Binns wouldn’t even notice if the class was empty, she’d said. He never got a student’s name right, so she could never understand how he knew what grades to add up at the end of the year. Did he randomly jot down grades next to a name in the book that was similar to the one in his head? And if he did, how did he know he was giving the right students their actual grade? He remembered her debating this very topic with Aunt Hermione many years before.
“Well, I have DADA first. Get to see what the new Professor is like. The last one was dreadful, so she can only be an improvement. See you guys later.”
She snatched up her bag, waved to the pair of them, and disappeared into the sea of students leaving the Hall.
“Guess we may as well get a headstart too,” Louis told Irving as he examined the timetable once more. “In case we get lost on the way, we’ll have time to find the right classroom.”
Irving nodded in agreement, and the two of them headed towards the first class of the day.
When he exited History of Magic, he felt as if someone had sprinkled sand in his eyes. He’d tried very hard to stay awake, but either Binns was that boring, or his fitful night was catching up to him. He did manage to jot down what he hoped was sufficient notes, but he was certain he nodded off a few times and possibly missed a few dates. Irving was no help at all, seeing as he only managed to date his parchment. That was it. There was nothing following the second of September. Louis could only shake his head.
“At least we get to do proper wand-work next,” he said, and pulled his wand out. “Eight inches, mahogany, and dragon heartstring. It was Dad’s.”
Louis could tell it was used due to the nicks. No one could have managed to muck up their wand so quickly, so it had to have been a hand-down.
“Ten inches, hawthorn, veela hair.” Irving appeared surprised. “My great-grandmother’s a veela. She insisted on providing the wand core for all of her descendants.”
“That’s cool,” Irving said, before a light bulb went off in his head. “Hey! That means you’re part-veela. Weird.”
Louis chuckled at how slow he had been on the uptake. “I guess it is to someone outside of the family.”
“It sort of explains why so many girls keep glancing your way though,” he said slowly.
Louis rolled his eyes. He wasn’t even that concerned with his looks (well, he did like his hair a certain way, and he didn’t like when it was dirty), and he could honestly care less about girls unless they were into the same things that he was. Or if they were cool. In which case, he was more than willing to have a friendship.
“I’m only one-eighth veela. I highly doubt the gene even has an effect.”
He rubbed at his eyes to clear away some of the sleepiness as they filed into the Charms classroom. Professor Clearwater was standing near her desk, a welcoming smile present on her face.
“Settle down,” she told them. “Today will be spent going over what I expect from you during the course of the year, as well as how you’re to behave when inside of this classroom.”
A disappointed Irving stashed away his wand. “So much for that.”
After Herbology, which was merely a lecture on plants and their uses, he realised they hadn’t used their wand at all that day. All the Professors seemed content with discussion, and he honestly hoped the next day would be an improvement. They had double Transfiguration after lunch, so maybe they’d get to attempt to change a button into a beetle or something equally as interesting.
He was walking towards the library so as to read ahead on Charms, when he lost his balance and crashed to the floor. A round of sniggering reached his ears as he pushed up onto his hands, more embarrassed than hurt.
“You should watch where you’re going, Weasley.”
Flint and friend were standing near the suit of armor he had passed when he tripped, and Louis noticed that Flint had his leg stuck out. They had been hidden behind it, he deduced, and used the moment when he had been viewing a piece of parchment and wasn’t looking where he was going to trip him up.
A shadow fell over him, and he looked up into the face of Professor Steele. Her stance was erect, her face unsmiling, and her expression hard. Flint grinned at her, his small, uneven teeth bared, before he nudged his friend and they headed off in the opposite direction.
“Planning to become carpet, Weasley?”
If he wasn’t certain that Professor Steele was a woman, he would have mistaken her for a man. Her greying hair was shorn short, her figure reminded him of Uncle Harry’s, and her voice was really gruff.
“Not really.” He hoisted himself up and adjusted his school robes.
“Good, because only carpet should allow itself to be walked all over.” With that, she left, and he found himself staring after her.
Odd woman, he thought. She came off as very strict and harsh in the classroom, and so a statement such as that seemed strange out of her mouth.
With a shrug, his thoughts shifted to Flint as he retrieved his bag and continued towards the library. He really wanted as stress-free a year as was possible, but with him about, it would be too much to wish for.