On this lovely Monday afternoon, a short, slim girl with strikingly blonde hair and pale brown eyes rushed up the stairs to the Potions room. She was late for class. Again. Caille never really liked school to begin with and ever since she had gotten Snape as her Potions teacher, she'd detested it even more. He hated her. He will always hate her.
To be completely honest, Caille wasn't too fond of him either. He was always deducting House Points from her, even for the smallest things. Two weeks ago, Caille had brewed a near-perfect batch of Living Death and still Snape found something to deduct points from her for - she hadn't cleaned up her workspace all the way. It had peeved Caille terribly.
Finally Caille got to the Potions room. She pushed open the large wooden door and instantly Snape paused his lecture and shifted his gaze to Caille, who was slinking to her seat. "Miss Francoise, so glad to have you finally join us. Ten points from Gryffindor." Then he turned his attention back to the rest of the class. "As I was saying, monkswood and wolfsbane are, in fact, the same plant. It can be used in a potion for werewolves to help them from losing their human thoughts while in wolf-form."
While Snape prattled on about other plants used in potions to help people with illnesses, a small piece of parchment fluttered onto Caille's desk. She looked up to make sure that Snape was not watching her and proceeded to unfold the note. It was from her friend Ash Cortez. Where's Gewn? he wrote. Caille looked over to her friend, whose fluffy black hair was sticking out lopsidedly. His electric-blue eyes were on her, a worried look on his pale face. Caille wrote back, I'm not sure. She wasn't in the dorm this morning. She sent the piece of paper whizzing back to Ash while Snape's back was turned, writing their homework on the board. Ash quickly opened it and looked up at Caille again. He really did look worried.
Caille was worried, too. Gwen was a very late sleeper. There was no way that she would be out of the dorm room before Caille woke up. The two always went to breakfast together, even on the weekends. Not today though. This morning Caille woke up to Hermione Granger whispering with Ginny Weasley about the next Quidditch match. She'd sat up in bed, rubbed the sleep from her eyes, and looked over to Gwen's bed, where she expected to see her pixie-sized friend sleeping soundly under the pale bedsheets. But Gwen wasn't there. Her bed was neatly made, the same as it had been the day before.
Narrowing her eyes and yawning, Caille stood up and quickly pulled on a sweater, though it wasn't very cold. She tied her hair up in a messy bun and went up to Hermione and Ginny. "Have you seen Gwen today?" she asked.
Hermione and Ginny both shook their heads. "I haven't seen her since yesterday morning in Muggle Studies," Ginny said, shrugging. "Sorry."
Caille broke out of her reverie to Ash tapping her on the shoulder. "Come on, Caille. Snape already dismissed the class. We'd better head out."
Slowly, Caille arose and piled her books together. She grabbed her quill and ink and looked over to Ash. "I hope Gwen's alright," she said softly.
Ash nodded. "So do I," he replied as they headed out into the busy corridor. Caille heard Ash's name being called and then suddenly there was an arm slung over her and Ash's shoulders. It was their fellow Gryffindor and very good friend, Ian Walsh. Ian smiled at the two.
"How're my best mates today?" he asked, looking from one to the other with bright green eyes. Ash and Caille didn't have enough time to respond before Ian began talking again. "I'm great. Ron and I flew about in the Quidditch pitch today during our free period. Tossed around the quaffle and such. Then I had Herbology. Seamus exploded a few plants. Dunno how it's possibe to explode a plant but oh well. That's Seamus for you-"
Ash cut in before Ian could continue. "Woah woah woah. Slow down, Ian. Jeez. I'm glad you had a good time so far today, but we've got a problem. Caille and I can't find Gwen anywhere. Caille said she wasn't in their dorm room this morning."
Ian narrowed his eyes and bit his cheek. "She wasn't in Herbology, either." Then, as the three friends stepped out into the bright mid-day sunlight, Ian laughed. "Caille, what are you doing in a sweater? It's a lovely day out. You're going to boil!"
Instantly Caille replied, "Oh, I'm... uh... coming down with something. Not feeling a hundred percent today, Ian. Nothing to worry about though, mate." Ash looked at Caille quizzically, but after she flashed him a "don't-bring-this-up-please" look, he shrugged it off and turned his gaze back to the path ahead of them. The three were headed out to the forest (even though they knew they weren't allowed to). They always went there whenever they wanted to hang out. That was, in fact, the way that they'd met in first year.
Caille had run down to the Stone Circle, crying after Draco, a Slytherin boy in the same year as she, had made fun of her nose. "It's the size of Jupiter," he'd called it. Everyone around them had laughed. She sat down, leaning against a large, grey rock, rubbing the tears from her eyes when a lanky boy with ruffled black hair that didn't sit straight came up to her.
"Are you okay?" he'd asked.
"Go away. You're just going to call me Jupiter too, aren't you?" Caille mumbled, looking at the ground.
The boy didn't leave though. Instead her offered her his hand to help her up. "No I'm not. I'm Ash Cortez. I didn't like the way Malfoy treated you," he replied. "Can I help you up?"
Caille took his hand and stood up. "I'm Caille Francoise."
"Hey Jupiter!" called a harsh voice from down the hill. It was Malfoy and his friends, Crabbe and Goyle. They were coming towards her.
Ash saw them and looked over to Caille. "Come on, Francoise. I know where we can go." He grabbed her hand and started down the hill the other way, towards the forest.
"But the forest is forbidden!" Caille exlaimed. Ash laughed and led her into the forest anyway. Once they were under the cover of the trees, they stopped.
"It's only forbidden if we're found," Ash replied, smiling a silly half-grin.
"Wh-who's out there?" a stammering voice from in front of the trees spoke. "I-I'm warning you. I-I'll f-fight you. C-come out."
Then there was a cry, a thud, and the crunching of leaves. On the ground next to Ash and Caille was a small, freckle-faced boy with dirty-blonde hair and green eyes. He sat up and looked over at the two young Gryffindors with eyes the size of saucers. "You're not supposed to be in the forest!" he blurted, scurrying to his feet.
Ash and Caille grabbed onto the boy's arms and pulled him to the ground. "Well, you're out here in the forest too, you know. So don't make a fit about it or you'll get in trouble to for being out here. Anyway, I'm Ash. And you are?"
The boy glaced nervously from Caille to Ash and said quietly, "I'm Ian Walsh. Muggleborn. Don't hurt me."
Caille laughed. "We won't hurt you. I'm Caille Francoise. Good to meet you, Ian."