~Anything you recognise belongs to JK Rowling. Please review!~
My insides instantly began to squirm uncomfortably, and I could feel my face beginning to burn. I never was able to hide embarrassment. Roxy merely stood there, her hazel eyes flicking between the two of us, who were frozen awkwardly, moments away from a head on collision. Then she coughed once, seeming to break an Impedement jinx. I quickly averted my eyes and took a small, stumbling step backwards. Then in my haste to avoid prolonging what was already an excruciating encounter, I made to march swiftly into the dungeon. But of course, in following with what was clearly my lucky day, Albus moved to his right as I moved to my left, causing us to jerk strangely from one side to another, before Albus let out a loud “Honestly!” and roughly grabbed me by each shoulder, forcing me to stand still. He then threw me an exasperated look, and angrily rushed off towards the entrance hall.
I shook my head, trying to remove thoughts of what had just happened. “Well, shall we?” I said, gesturing towards the dungeon. Roxy nodded, looking concerned. She could look as concerned as she liked, but really, I was fine. As I hurriedly set up my cauldron and the rest of my equipment on a bench beside Roxy, somewhere in the distance I heard Professor Turravitch scold us for dawdling in the hallway, and Roxy reply “Sorry sir, but some big-headed Slytherin was in the way. It won’t happen again.”
Ok, so maybe I wasn’t fine. I had been a fool to think I could avoid the Slytherin forever. It had been a miracle that the inevitable had occurred over twenty four hours since school had restarted...although, special effort had been required on my part.
I hadn’t greeted Roxy until her other family members had already boarded the train. This had the negative consequence of Roxy’s grandmother leaving the platform before I could receive my traditional piece of fudge; a delicious parting gift usually reserved for Molly Weasley’s grandchildren, but which had become an annual insistence ever since she had met me at the beginning of mine and Roxy’s second year. However my stomach could survive the absence of fudge, if it went alongside the absence of the horrible squirming I had felt just moments ago.
Having boarded the train, I took careful precautions to not end up anywhere near a compartment containing a certain Slytherin. This even went as far as me crawling along certain sections of the Hogwarts Express on all fours, to be below window height and safe from a certain pair of green eyes. This confused practically the entire school body, except Roxy, who expected me to act as I did and quite enjoyed crawling alongside beside me, and the Slytherin, who probably had some idea of the commotion outside but was probably glad he didn't have to make effort to avoid me
Seeing him....well it had just reminded me of how I had royally screwed up. Even now my mind was rerunning the conversation over and over, thinking of how I could have said things differently, to make him understand... Roxy had said that I couldn’t run from my problems forever, that I should just stand firm and explain. And in a sense, she was right. For once maybe she was being the rational, reasonable one. But then I remembered that Roxy did somewhat enjoy confrontations, and had the Gryffindor nerve to pull them off every time. Only this morning had I been supplied with further evidence to support this fact. She had just powered up to Brixton, and told her what was what (accompanied by an unnecessary, albeit amusing, farting schoolbag). I, on the other hand, just couldn’t see how I could even face the Slytherin again. Every time I even saw him I felt as if I was beginning to be suffocated by a Devil’s Snare...
Suddenly, my thoughts were interrupted my Roxy sharply jabbing one her fingers into my side. My eyes flicked from a bottle containing a pickled rat which lay on a shelf lining the classroom wall, the unconscious focus of my daydreaming gaze, and moved to Roxy’s face, which looked momentarily stricken. “Hattie!” she hissed, gesturing with her head towards Professor Turravitch.
Turravitch stood at the front of the silent classroom, a few rows in front of us. His tall figure was doused in the shadowy gloom of the dungeon and obscured by the heads of the Gryffindors sitting before us, but his pointed features were clearly not happy. His arms were folded across his chest, wrapping his dark green robes around his sharp elbows. His eerie yellow eyes glared at me over his rectangular glasses, which were perched on the very tip of his short, triangular nose.
“Miss Calvert, would you care to answer the question in the next century?” sneered Turravitch, every syllable carrying the threat of a detention, undoubtedly involving one hundred more billywigs than the fifty than had tortured my hands last March. His left hand moved over his head to smooth his dirty blonde comb-over, characteristically confirming that he was contemplating punishment.
“Um, yes, step nine of the Draught of Living Death is to add the juice of one Sophophorus bean, which is reserved from collection in step one.” I reeled off, looking straight into his amber eyes, willing him to hear my inner tirade: “That’s right I’m a Ravenclaw, I may be distracted but I can still show more than enough intelligence to beat that little trick, you angular bastard!” He obviously considered my answer acceptable, and obviously didn’t hear my attack on his bodily geometry, for he simply turned his back on me, and began scrawling the important points of the lesson on the blackboard.
I smiled meekly at Roxy, who grinned widely in return. “How do you do
that?” she mouthed. I shrugged, smile fading as I remembered why I had not been paying attention in the first place. Feeling more than a little sorry for myself, I returned to staring aimlessly at the pickled rat. It looked peaceful, even though it was hairless. Luckily it was to be a theoretical, note-taking lesson; even though Turravitch had annoyingly allowed us all to set up our equipment before mockingly telling us to put it all away again.
For the second time that lesson, I felt Roxy’s fingers prod into my side, however this time it was a gentle, probing poke which said “No Hattie, reality is not as bad as it seems.” Nevertheless, I neglected to look away from the rat. My mistake. Seconds later, I received my third jab for the lesson, which was most definitely an annoyed jab, and quite possibly left a small, circular bruise just below my seventh rib.
“Look at the note!” Roxy whispered grumpily. There, peeking out under the base of my pewter cauldron, was a scrap of parchment, which, due to my inattention, had gone completely unnoticed. It was folded so that it was, from the looks of things, a small three-paged book. I carefully snuck the parchment into my lap, giving Roxy an apologetic look as I did so.
The first fold was taken up almost entirely by a large, rather scruffily drawn smiley face, which magically flashed a cheesy grin every five seconds. It was much like the moving emoticons I sent to my Muggle friends whenever I rarely got to instant message them. I raised an eyebrow at Roxy, questioning her somewhat ridiculous efforts to cheer me up. She shrugged, and motioned for me to open the next fold of the parchment.
The second page had a rather more intricate diagram, which Roxy had obviously relished in drawing. It was a moving picture that depicted Professor Turravitch being gradually lowered into a large cauldron containing a violently bubbling potion, only to emerge with his come-over aflame, and arms flaying comically. I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from laughing out loud; something which would have inevitably landed me detention in Turravitch’s oppressive dungeon. Roxy observed my reaction with glee, reminding me of a pet dog whose owner has finally given into its begging, and has picked up the ball and started to play. Then she tapped the table, indicating that I should open the last fold.
The last page of parchment was peppered with a few ink spatters, from hasty under-desk scribbling. The messiness of the handwriting was exacerbated by the fact that it had been written someone who enjoys trouble-making infinitely more than schoolwork, and by someone who routinely enlarges her font to make said schoolwork take less time to complete. A single sentence filled the parchment; Roxy had written “I know Albus is annoying, but he sure looks hilarious with red hair.” I was momentarily confused. But then I saw Roxy’s smug expression and my confusion turned to incredulity. “You did what
?” I mouthed, struggling more than ever to remain silent. Roxy became, if possible, more smug, nodded and mouthed back “You’ll see later.”
And see I did. Or rather, I heard first. The news of Albus Potter’s new look had spread like wildfire, which was fitting really, given the fiery new shade of his normally black hair. As soon as Roxy and I emerged from Potions and made our way towards the Great Hall for dinner we were greeted with snippets of conversations such as “Red I tell you!”, and “Maybe he’s trying to be a Mummy’s boy?”. Brixton’s “fabulous farting fanfare” was receiving relatively little mention, it already seemed to be old news. And yet, Roxy was still the key perpetrator behind both pieces of gossip, and from her glowing grin I could tell she was enjoying herself. And yet, as much as I knew she was pleased, I turned on her as soon as we were a reasonable distance from other students, and didn’t run the risk of being overheard.
“Though perhaps it was slightly loyal to attack your cousin on my behalf Roxy, how? How did you do it? And secondly, why? Why really
? It can’t just be because you think he was a little rude to me earlier. Maybe he was, but it’s my fault he felt so awkward in the first place.”
“Ok, first, though this is not really important and I’m only telling you so you don’t spend pointless hours in the library searching out of curiosity, the spell I used was my own invention actually. Dad gave me a few tips on how to make spells have effects that occur a while after the spell has been cast. Got him as he marched off after being such a jerk before Potions. Poor Albus was probably half way through transfiguration when he got a nasty shock.” Roxy couldn’t help but giggle mid-explanation.
“Please continue.” I said flatly, unwilling to congratulate her until I fully understood her motives or her reasoning. I was beginning to suspect that congratulation was not on the horizon. Her spell-work had been pretty darn funny, but I wasn’t about to let her know that. Not when it was likely that the Slytherin would find out it was her, and then proceed to blame me, the “ignorant fan-girl”.
“Alright, don’t get your wand in a twist. Secondly, I did it because he deserved it. He deserved a little humiliation. God knows he’s given you enough. No,” Roxy glared at me as I began to interject. “He did humiliate you. Don’t deny it, you know he did and you know he knows he did. He rejected you in front of practically my whole family, when he had no good reason to, and now you’re tiptoeing around him like he’s about to explode or something. It makes no sense. And let’s get this straight, it’s not your fault that he decided to let his fame go to his head, and pass you
off as just another one of the Albus Admirers. You could never be part of that obsessed cult that invades Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom every Saturday and snogs posters of him, and he should never have believed that of you.” Roxy paused for a second, possibly intending to leave a little time for her words to sink in.
“So there. He can enjoy red hair for a while. Maybe he won’t be humiliated anyway, maybe he’ll enjoy blending into the family more.” At this last point, she flicked her long dark red hair comically, laughed, and continued to stroll casually towards the Great Hall.
I pondered her anti-Albus rant silently all the way to the bottom of the marble staircase. By now, the Entrance Hall was virtually empty. Only Peeves remained. He was busily turning the stones in the house hourglasses multicoloured, and finishing painting an equally multicoloured banner behind, which said “The stones are stoned”.
My thoughts were so deep that not even this amusing vandalism broke through. The somewhat intense topic of conversation had seemingly slowed our walking pace right down; hence when I looked at my watch, it had been a whole fifteen minutes since Potions. I hesitated before the door to the Great Hall, knowing that an angry, red-headed Albus Potter was seated somewhere inside. I came to a stop and soon both of us were just standing there, gazing at the door. Roxy warm brown eyes looked me over, subtly assessing the situation. She gave me a gentle smile, attempting to coax me out of my sullen silence. She was so petite and innocent in appearance that it managed to work.
“Roxy, I do appreciate what you did, really. You’re my brave Gryffindor. You take action when I would much rather run away and forget what happened. And I know you were trying to help but...” I tailed off, scrambling for and inoffensive way of saying “You’ve made it so much worse, you should’ve stayed out of it!”
“Now Albus will be madder at you?” Roxy finished for me. I nodded apologetically in reply. Roxy rolled her eyes and waved her hand through the air, dismissing me. “Look, if he gets mad at anyone, it will be me. Anyway he might not even know it was me.”
And with that, we walked in the Great Hall. I said goodbye to Roxy, and watched her amble away to take a seat besides her Gryffindor friends. I saw her take her usual spot beside her Weasley relatives, Rose’s mass of bushy red hair especially obvious from my position across the hall. Beside her, I noticed the blonde head of Scorpius Malfoy, though this didn’t particularly faze me, Rose and Scorpius’s on-again-off-again relationship had quickly become uninteresting gossip across the whole of Hogwarts.
Slipping down beside Lorcan at the Ravenclaw table, I began to eat some of the left over Shepherd’s Pie, and, finally distracted from my musings, happily listened to him bicker with his brother Lysander about whether or not Nargles or Crumpled-Horned Snorkacks were more fascinating creatures to study. Secretly, I was hoping Lorcan would win the debate; I personally couldn’t stand the idea of studying a creature whose name was constantly difficult to spell, no matter how many times you wrote it down.
These two were social rejects, there was no avoiding that fact, but nevertheless they had become two of my good friends, ever since we had first met in Care of Magical Creatures class in third year, and they had both effectively saved me from a rather aggressive salamander. Due to their quirky clothing (which included some pieces made from reclaimed house-elf pillowcases intended to “make a political statement”), their matching scraggly blonde dreadlocks, and their outlandish conversational topics, many decided to distance themselves from the Scamanders. But I found their individuality endearing and refreshing. Not to mention, both boys were exceedingly kind, had an uncanny ability to say the right thing at the right time, and always gifted me dreamy smiles whenever I entered their presence. Oh, and they absolutely devoured desserts, which they began to show me yet again as the dinner’s puddings appeared on the table, replacing the dirty dishes that had been there before.
As I began to eat my apple pie, I decided to gaze around the hall, taking in the dusky pink colours of the twilight sky, then the long staff table, where Professor Turravitch was creepily dissecting offal on his dinner plate. Wrinkling my nose in disgust at Turravitch, I looked elsewhere. Maybe my brain had become infested with the Nargles Lorcan was still fervently advocating, because then, upon hearing loud jeering accompanied by peels of laughter, stupidly, my gaze fell upon the Slytherin table, and a newly red-headed Potter. He was sitting in the centre of a group of fellow seventh years, pushing his own piece of apple pie around his plate with a spoon. His hair was fire-engine red. He was not laughing.
Before I could look away, our eyes locked.
And he blamed me.
A/N: I know Hattie and Albus's 'problem' hasn't been fully explained, but it will be. Eventually. Haha. Maybe the next chapter. In the meantime I hope you enjoyed the introduction of a few new characters and more of Roxanne's antics. Please review if you can :)