Chapter 5 : Explosions and expulsions
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September had come to an end the day before and for Hugo Weasley, those had been four very long weeks. As the month advanced though, there had been a slight amelioration to his situation. Things were still off magically speaking and it had been days already since anyone but his teachers and relatives had called him by his name and not “The Squib”, but at least, Hugo could count on two new friends to support him through all that. During classes and in the common room, Eliana spent more and more time in Hugo’s company. As for their free time, Hugo joined Connor to work with Hagrid and, of course, Lily was still around as often as she could. The time spent with these three friends usually helped Hugo survive the taunting and snickering coming his way. Today however, he was on edge and didn’t have the patience to endure his everyday doom. Hugo was very much aware that one whole month had already gone by and his wand still hadn’t produce anything else than the few sparks from the day it was bought. He would be meeting Professor Flitwick the next day for the third time and the expulsion seemed to become more than a possibility and that thought alone did nothing to help Hugo relax.
The day had been filled with the usual remarks and joking at his expenses. In Transfiguration class, Mal kept blanking Hugo’s page (which was the assignment), claiming he “wanted The Squib to feel like he was doing magic too”. Later, in Charms’ class, Hugo received praises for his essay. Jade usually being the one on the receiving end of Professor Flitwick’s words, no doubt acting on jealousy, made an impressive number of comments on how “sad it was to see The Squib learning some theory he couldn’t apply”. She also kept blanking Hugo’s notes just to see him humiliate himself by asking Eliana to change them back. By the time the last class of the day arrived, Hugo already boiled inside. When he realised he had Potions next, Hugo considered skipping class to avoid facing the Slytherins. Eliana made him change his mind, arguing that Potions was his best subject and a practical class where he excelled would be a good way to cheer him up a bit.
The Ravenclaws were first to arrive and Hugo went to his usual table and started setting his cauldron next to Liam. They didn’t hear the Slytherins come in but Titus Goyle and his little gang made themselves known loudly.
“Well, well, well,” Titus smirked. “Still here Squib? I’m surprised the teachers’ pity actually lasted an entire month.”
“They’re probably waiting for the week to end,” Malachite Flint offered with an evil grin.
“Giving him the weekend to pack and say his goodbyes.”
“Goodbye to whom?” Titus questioned in fake confusion. “It’s not like anybody would miss him, he a friendless, useless, shameful Squib.”
“Shut up Goyle!” Hugo growled. He took a calming breath, holding himself from jumping on the Slytherin and beat him up the muggle way.
“Good day boys and girls!” Professor Slughorn’s cheerfull voice resonated, breaking the tension between the two boys. “Mister Goyle, miss Flint, why are your cauldrons not set yet?”
“Sorry Professor,” Goyle explained as he quickly made his way to his table with Malachite. “We came in a tad late. Won’t happen again.”
“I should hope so because today we have a potion to make and only an hour to do it. I asked you earlier this week to research the Hair Growing potion and I expect you to get started on it immediately. Go on!” The Professor added seeing as the students hadn’t moved.
15 minutes later, the potions were boiling and the students concentrated on following the instructions. Eliana had been right, cutting roots and crushing pods calmed Hugo. He could still hear the occasional comments Titus and Malachite threw his way but he could concentrate on his task and let it go. By the end of the class, Slughorn started his slow march around the class to take a look at the potions. Hugo received praises for his perfect potion and, as Professor Slughorn passed him by, he heard Malachite ask her partner if she had heard right.
“Yeah well, this did not require magic so any Squib can do it,” Titus answered lazily.
“Wonder why he actually got in here though, seeing as he obviously has nothing to do around magical people.” Orion Higgs, a tall and porky looking boy asked his housemates while looking at Hugo curiously.
“His parents have power and, more importantly, absolutely no shame,” Malachite answered.
“It’s not about shame, I mean it’s what happen when blood traitors mix with mudbloods,” Titus said, flashing an evil grin at Hugo. The boy was frozen in anger but managed to keep his voice calm and low, although still sounding dangerous.
“Don’t you dare talk about my parents.”
“He’s right though,” Orion said in un understanding tone. “Mudbloods destroy magic and spawn useless squibs like you.”
“Shut up!” Hugo shouted angrily, his face red and blood pounding in his ears. At the same moment, the potions in the Slytherin students’ cauldrons exploded and covered their maker from head to toes. Instantly, Orion, Malachite, Aidan Greengrass-Doyle, Elsie Novell and Avery Tulissan saw the hair on their head, on their cheeks, in their noses, as well as their lashes and eyebrows, grow at an alarming rate and soon, they couldn’t even see in front of them. Strangely, Hugo found that the others weren’t as lucky; seeing as they had messed up their potions, the results differed from one to the other, making for an interesting sight. Titus Goyle’s robes burned on his back and he had to hide under a desk to cover his naked body; Damien Conrad found himself covered in brown goo that turned his skin a strange shade of red; Esteban Sanchez grew an incalculable number of disgusting boils; Rachel Barns’ hair, instead of growing, all fell off her body and she found herself completely hairless; finally Daria Pucey screamed in fear when the black potion touched her and made her temporarily blind.
Hugo stared in shock, aware that he had made this happen. Professor Slughorn signalled the end of the class and sent the Slytherins to the hospital wing. The Ravenclaws picked up their potion-making kits as quick as possible, trying to hold their laughter at the Slytherins’ predicament. Before he walked out the door, Professor Slughorn stopped Hugo and told him to come by his office tonight at seven to discuss his punishment.
“I’m telling you, there’s no need to worry,” Connor was saying as he sprinkled a bit more woodlice on the forest ground. “My sisters have been in all sorts of problems through the years and the four of them are still alive AND none of them have been expelled.”
“I know I won’t be expelled and that my punishment won’t be so bad. The question is whether my parents are going to let me live through this.” Hugo stopped Connor’s movement and pointed at the ground. There was no need for more woodlice; dozens of bowtruckles were coming forward. Slowly, the boys opened their mesh bags and began to grab the small twig like creatures. They had to act quickly with a firm but gentle grasp as not to hurt the little things. Hugo managed to get 3 and Connor 5 bowtruckles before the rest of the group got back into the forest.
“And that is without even considering the many murderous Slytherins probably prowling the castle right now looking for me,” Hugo said, resuming their conversation. Carefully, they emptied their bags in the special cages Hagrid had prepared and sat down, waiting a couple minutes before going hunting again.
“I give you that, Titus will want you dead,” Connor conceded before an evil grin crept on his face. “On the plus side, no one’s going to think you’re a Squib anymore!”
“Make sure you write that on my grave ‘Here lies Hugo Weasley, He was not a Squib’.” Connor burst out laughing before spotting Lily and Eliana coming their way. He waved happily at them and nudge Hugo. “See, more people coming for your funeral!”
“Hey guys,” Lily called when they arrived near the forest. “What are you doing?”
“Hagrid asked us to catch some Bowtruckles for his fifth years,” Connor explained proudly. “Trusts us to do it alone, you see?”
“Or he finds it’s a boring job,” Lily shrugged.
“Sorry to break it to you guys but I don’t think you guys are doing such a good job,” Eliana said, looking at the cages closely, “you’ve only picked up a bunch of twigs.”
“That’s what they look like,” Hugo explained, “see, it’s a clever disguise to fool their predators.”
“Creepy,” she blushed shlightly at her mistake.
“So, seems like I missed quite the show today Hugo; I heard it was brilliant!” Lily smiled widly at her cousin.
“It wasn’t brilliant,” Hugo muttered, looking at Eliana.
“Hey don’t look at me, I didn’t say anything apart that you are my new hero!”
“She didn’t have to tell me, the whole year is talking about it,” Lily laughed. “Just before we came here, we saw a very bald Rachel Barnes coming out of the Hospital wing. She was crying to Flint that, apparently, the potion burned the root of her hair or something so there is no way to grow it back yet. She will have to say like this for a couple days until the nurse can do anything for her!”
“I will definitly get killed,” Hugo shook his head, discouraged as his three friends burst out laughing at Rachel Barnes’ situationt. After a couple minutes of laughing, Eliana finally found back her breath and questioned Hugo.
“What are Hogwarts’ detentions like?”
“Depends on the offense and the teacher giving the detention.”
“It can go from lines to muggle cleaning,” Connor shruged. “Considering what you did and the class it was in, I would say it will either be cleaning the potion’s classroom the muggle way or disembowel horned toads.”
“Eww,” the girls both pinched their nose and Hugo was tempted to do the same.
“And do they give a lot of detentions here?”
“Depends,” Lily answered, “Hugo’s sister had about 15 just last year and my brother James had 19; he was actually disapointed not to have reached a round number.”
“Bollocks,” Hugo snorted, “I heard him tell Teddy this summer that he was happy he avoided that last detention and the Howler that would have come with.”
“Oh right, the Howlers, I forgot about that. Only four more detentions Hugh and you will claim your first one!”
“What’s that about?” Connor asked the two cousins curiously, sparing Hugo from having to answer. Even if his bout of accidental magic had proven that he indeed had a bit of magic, Hugo was still very worried that he would be getting expelled tomorow. Afterall, why would the school keep a barely magical, problem student? When he got back to the conversation, Connor was once again laughing madly and Eliana was looking at Lily with wide eyes, apparently not believing what she was hearing.
“You’re telling me that there is a way for your parents to actually yell at you through a letter? I need to make sure that my parents never hear about that.”
“You definitly do,” Connor told her before looking at Hugo. “It’s starting to get dark and we haven’t caught quite as many Bowtruckles as Hagrid wanted.”
“You’re right, we should get back to it,” Hugo answered, glad for the change of subject.
Within the next half hour, they caught the remaining 30 Bowtruckles that Hagrid needed and knocked at his door with their full cages in hands. The girls had gotten bored and gotten back inside the castle, tagging along with some of Lily’s Gryffindor friends and Hugo had to admit that they were progressing much faster in their task now that they were alone. What surprised Hugo the most though, was how focused Connor could be when working with creatures as opposed to, well, the rest of the time. The boy had a very short attention span which was unsettling at times but when he found himself working for Hagrid, he didn’t seem to have the same need to talk all the time.
Hugo himself still very much enjoyed the quietness of the place. There was no doubt in his mind anymore that it was indeed the forest that happened to block the noises that followed him all the time. The boys spent two nights a week helping out Hagrid with simple tasks at the edge of the forest and Hugo found himself sometimes craving these moments where he could be in that place and clear his head. Everynight, except for those two particular ones, Hugo went to bed with a headache caused by the constant noises playing in his head. He still hadn’t found the source of the music but he had a hunch about what it might be. Since he had not yet found any proof or confirmation that he might be right, Hugo kept it all to himself. The memory of his parents’ reaction when he had told them, although it was years ago, was still very fresh in his mind. If his own parents had thought he was mad, then what would teachers or fellow students think?
It was almost seven o’clock when Hugo and Connor got back to the castle. Hugo said a quick goodbye before running down to the dungeons to meet professor Slughorn in order to learn what his detention would be. At seven past 5, he knocked at the door, a bit out of breath and tried to pull himself together before entering his teacher’s office.
“Well well Mr. Weasley,” professor Slughorn welcolmed him in, “seems like you did inherit the Weasley genes afterall. I was hoping you would have taken from your mother a bit more; a brilliant and composed young witch she was. Not that you aren’t brilliant obviously, but that impulsive streak most definitly comes from your father.”
Hugo kept quiet, listening to the very old man recalling how he remembered Hermione Granger and Ronald Wealsey from back when they were students. Apparently, Hermione had been the smartest, most polite and sweetest young girl whereas Ronald was average student, hotheaded and cocky kind of boy. According to Slughorn, they had all become fast friends after the war and he loved Ronald like a son now but he could not deny that he had been a struggling teenager. Hugo very much doubted any of this was true considering that the first and only time he ever heard about Slughorn had been when his father had warned him against the old teacher.
“And then your sister,” the old, fat man sighed through his massive white mustache, “she could be top of her class if only she put her energy in the right place. That brings us back to you young man; I do hope that this display of anger was a one time thing and that I won’t be seeing this ever again.”
“Yes sir,” Hugo finally said, his voice hoarse from not talking for so long.
“Excellent, that’s what I like to hear. Now, considering this was a first offense and that you were provoked into this, I will let you go easy this time, but only this time, alright? You will come here Saturday after diner and sort through the inventory of miseltoe berries. I’m afraid some of them have gone bad and need to be thrown away.”
“Yes sir, I’ll be there.”
“That’ll be all for tonight, have a good sleep Mr. Weasley.”
“You too sir,” Hugo said as he left the office quickly. An hour had almost gone by and the eight o’clock curfew was looming. He knew that he was as far away as possible from the Ravenclaw tower and that there was absolutly no way he could reach it in time so Hugo decided to go slowly; trying to avoid the Prefects and teachers that might already be patrolling the corridors.
Hugo liked to walk through the school at night when there were very few students out. That was when the castle’s noises made the most sense to him. At night, it sounded like a melody; an unbroken series of notes that worked together and filled the air. There were some places in the castle where the notes changed slightly but it sill fitted with the general melody. If he’d had more guts, Hugo would have checked out those places in more details because he was pretty sure those would be the places where he would find secret passageways or hidden secrets. But the Sorting hat had been right in putting him into Ravenclaw, Hugo thought bitterly, he wasn’t bold enough to do this after curfew and risk getting another detention in the same day.
Slightly disapointed of prooving the hat right, Hugo shook his head but kept going through the the fourth floor corridor that would lead him closer to the entry of the Ravenclaw tower when he noticed another change in the melody that surrounded him. Looking at his watch, he realized that it was only 5 minutes after curfew. With a surge of trepidation, Hugo thought that he could check out the place quickly and, should he get caught, it would still be believable to say that it was Slughorn’s fault for keeping him so late in his office. Smiling at his brilliant idea, Hugo quickly looked around to make sure that there were no Prefects around before following the strange notes.
Before long, he found himself at the end of the corridor, the very same corridor he had been caught staring at the week before, facing a dead end listening to the strange melody that seemed to come out of the walls themselves. There was a small window and as far as Hugo could tell, there couldn’t possibly be anything behind these walls since he could see the outside grounds, and yet, he was convinced that there had to be something. Slowly, with his ear pressed to the wall, Hugo walked and crossed the three sides. The melody seemed louder on the left wall but before he could investigate it more, Hugo heard footsteps coming his way and turned around to see a Gryffindor Prefect coming his way.
“Hey, what are you doing here? Do you know it’s past curfew?” The tall boy said.
“Yeah,” Hugo nodded, trying not to sound too nervous at the idea of lying. “I just came out of Slughorn’s office; he let me go a bit late.”
“What were you doing there at that hour?”
“I erm, I was getting a detention,” Hugo felt his face getting warmer.
“Really? What for?” The prefect asked, clearly entertained.
“Well, I made a bunch of potions explode today in class. See some Slytherins were making fun of me and I –”
“Wait,” the boy interupted, “you made potions explode in the face of a bunch of Slytherins? Well done!”
“Er, thanks I guess,” Hugo blushed an even deeper red.
“Just for that, I’ll let you go without a warning; great job!” The prefect said before turning around and walking away. Puzzled but relieved, Hugo decided not to tempt faith a second time. Afterall, what would have happened if it had been a Slytherin prefect instead of a Gryffindor one?
When he arived in the Ravenclaw common room, Hugo found Eliana sitting on her own, reading a library book. He sat down next to her although he was feeling exhausted from his day.
“Hey,” Eliana closed her book and smiled at him, “did you end up doing the detention tonight?”
“Felt like it,” Hugo answered, “he lectured me about keeping controle of my emotions and how I took after the Weasley side whereas he wished I was more like my mother.”
“He was their teacher back in the days,” Hugo explained, “anyway, I’ll have my detention on Saturday night; I’ll be sorting through good and ripe misletoe berries.”
“That’s not too bad.”
“Oh I know, it’s a favour he’s doing me because he’s such good friend with my parents and it’s a first offense,” Hugo nodded in an exagerated way, repeating his teacher’s words.
“Lucky for you he’s a good friend.”
“No he’s not,” Hugo scoffed, “I’ve only once heard his name pronounced in my house and it was my father telling me not to fall for his manners! Apparently he likes to get good and famous students close to him and give them good jobs so he gets priviledges later on or something.”
“I see,” Eliana snorted, “so he’ll want you around him because you’re smart and your parents are famous war heroes, right?”
“More for the second reason I think,” Hugo mumbled, thinking that Slughorn certaintly wouldn’t want a Squib around him. “Sorry, I’m really tired, I think I’ll turn in for tonight.”
“Alright, see you tomorow then,” Eliana bid him goodbye before going back to her book.
On Friday morning, Hugo and Eliana’s first class was Herbology with the Gryffindors. Professor Longbottom’s project was going very well and all the students were enjoying the first 15 minutes of the class where they had to check on their plant’s health and growth. Hugo’s African Sniffling Violet was growing nicely and he had very little to do this morning so he used that free time to talk to his cousin.
“Hey Lil, can I ask you something?” He wispered to her, not wanting to be overheard.
“Sure, what’s up?” Lily practically shouted, making half the class turn around.
“Do you think you could do something for me this weekend? I could really use your brothers’ cloak.”
“What for?” Lily asked in a conspirative manner, her curiosity aroused.
“Just a project I’m working on and it’s easier to do at night, when there is no one around.”
“I can get the cloak but only if I can come with you.”
“It’ll be pretty boring,” Hugo warned her although he had expected she would want to be there.
“Then I’ll make it entertaining! When do you need it, tonight?”
“Tomorow would be best,” Hugo smiled, “I have my detention with Slughorn and I expect I’ll be done by eight o’clock. You could wait for me outside the classroom, under the cloak?”
“Alright, I’ll be there; I can’t wait!”
“Me neither,” Hugo whispered before turning around to face professor Longbottom who had begun his lesson.
That night, Hugo went to his now routinely meeting with his Head of House. If he’d felt nervous during the previous meetings, it was nothing compared to how he felt right now, sitting in silence in front of professor Flitwick, waiting for him to finish the memo he was writting.
The tiny old man put down his quill and jumped down from his stool in a surprising graceful manner for a man his age. He walked to the fireplace and after throwing some floo powder into the flames, he sent his message to the Headmistress. Turning around, he smiled brightly at Hugo before trotting back to his stool.
“Well young man, I do hope the fear of being sent back home has left you for good this time.”
“Err, not really, no,” Hugo whispered, feeling his ears burn.
“Really? And why is that?” Professor Flitwick asked him in a concerned manner.
“Well, I’ve only done some accidental magic, really nothing to be proud of at my age.”
“But it’s magic none the less, I thought that would have reassured you.”
“I just don’t see why,” Hugo swallowed before continuing, terrified of voicing his thought for the first time, “well, why you would keep a student that causes trouble with his uncontrolled magic.”
“That’s a valid question Hugo but then, let me ask you this; should we expel every student that uses their magic in a bad way, causing problems intentionally?”
“At least they can do magic,” Hugo mumbled, although he knew that his teacher was right and that it was definitly worst to use your magic for wrong doing.
“We are not going back there Hugo,” professor Flitwick smilled at him, “you and I both know that you can do magic and you will learn to control it in your own time; do not lose faith.”
“Excellent,” the old man nodded. “Now I’m afraid I have some other matter to take care of tonight and will need to cut this meeting short so, is there anything else you needed to discuss with me?”
“Not really sir,” Hugo shook his head before remembering what they had discussed in the previous meeting. “Actually sir, there is. Last week, we were talking about friendship and I thought about that a lot during the week. I think you were right; I do think that Connor and Eliana are my friends.”
“Well that is a very good news, I’m glad you consider them as such. Real friends are sometimes hard to find and I hope that they will help you through the harder times you are facing right now.”
“They do help a lot sir, already,” Hugo answered before getting up. “And so do you sir. It, it helps a lot to come and talk to you; it’s reassuring.”
“I’m happy to hear that Hugo. Have a good night then and a good detention tomorow night as well,” professor Flitwick chuckled.
“Right, thanks,” Hugo said as he opened the door of his teacher’s office.
Hugo had to refreign himself from skipping back to his common room so much that he was happy not to have been expelled from Hogwarts. He hardly noticed anything, walking back through the now familiar path; even the walls seemed to have gone silent to let him appreciate the moment even more.
“If it isn’t the Squib,” a high pitched voice brought him back to reality. Looking around, Hugo noticed he was walking straight into a group of Slytherins. He recognized Titus Goyle, Malachite Flint, Aidan Greengrass-Doyle and Orion Higgs but not the two older looking girls that accompanied them.
“Thought you would get away with what you did to us, did you?” Titus sneered, noticing how nervous Hugo had gotten.
“Especially what you did to my sister,” one of the older girl said, evidently refering to Rachel Barns.
“I don’t. I mean, no I,” Hugo stuttered but Orion Higgs interupted him.
“Shut up Squib; get ready to pay,” the boy growled as he took his wand out, immediatly followed by the five other Slytherins. Hugo didn’t wait; there was no way, even if he had been able to do magic, that he could defend himself against six people. So he ran the other way as fast as he could.
“Get him!” He heard Aidan tell the others before the group started running in the same direction Hugo had taken.
Hugo didn’t know where to run; he was too far from the Ravenclaw common room to even consider going there and he really didn’t want to be stuck in the long stairway with those Slytherins behind him, should he get the eagle’s answer wrong. Hugo turned left and right, trying to lose his followers but it was worthless; he could hear the footsteps getting closer to him with every corridor and he was getting tired of running. Hugo had no idea where he was now; he tought he had seen the Transfiguration classroom a couple corridors back but now, he was passing in front of the library and those were not on the same floor at all. He thought about going in for a second; afterall, Hugo couldn’t imagine those Slytherins had ever set foot in the library, but decided against it. If they turned out to be cunning enough, those Slytherins might realise that the library would be the first place a Ravenclaw would hide in.
Hugo could hardly breathe now and his followes had gotten so close, he could hear Malachite’s anoying voice encouraging the others to keep up. Running as fast as his tired legs could carry him, Hugo turned right, finding himself in another long and empty corridor. When he reached the middle part of the corridor, he tought it was over. The Slytherins would turn the corner in about a second and they would find him and hex him and hurt him and shame him even more.
Suddently, Hugo felt himself being pulled to the wall by an invisible hand. “Shush,” a voice murmured next to him and he tried to controle his breathing even though he knew it was worthless; Orion and Aidan had already entered the corridor and would be next to him in about two seconds. One seconde; the rest of the Slytherin groups, except for one of the older girls, turned the corner and entered the corridor. Two. Now, they had reached him.
Orion Higgs and Aidan Greegrass-Doyle went right in front of him, not even stopping. Hugo could see their sweaty faces from up close. Aidan stopped a couple feet further and turned to the rest of the group.
“It doesn’t make sense, he was way too close to us to have made it out without us seeing him.”
“Maybe he didn’t turn here,” Orion suggested, trying to find his breath.
“Or maybe, there’s a secret passageway in here that he knows and we don’t,” Malachite breathed, bent in two and holding her sides. “D’you know any?”
“No,” the others all answered.
“Alright, let’s call it quit for tonight, we’ll get him some other time,” Aidan said. The others all nodded before turning around, slowly walking away from Hugo.
While he waited for them to disapear, Hugo examined his situation. His first tought was that one of his Potter cousin, hidden under the invisibility cloak, had caught him but it didn’t make sense. He didn’t remember anyone putting the fabric over his head and even right now, he couldn’t feel fabric on his body. Someone was definitly still holding his arm though and it felt like a very small hand. Just as he tought that, the hand let go of him and Hugo saw his arm appear out of nowhere. Surprised, he realised that this person had made him invisible, just by touching him; Hugo had only ever heard that some people were able to do that, he’d never seen it with his own eyes before. Looking up, he wasn’t all that surprised to see who was standing next to him because that was the only thing that made sense.