I’m sorry about yesterday – I was upset but shouldn’t have taken it out on you. Meet me in our place before your free period this afternoon, okay?
Yours apologetically, TB
I hide the note at breakfast from Amaris’ curious eyes. Uncertain of whose side to choose and confused about what the actual dispute between Pyxis and I is about, Phin and Taurus have opted to sit with their dormmate, but keep sending guilty looks in my direction. I curse myself for choosing dumb males as friends: why couldn’t there have been more sane girls in my year? I fantasize quickly about the idea of having a close group of female friends, where we all tell each other secrets and go on double-dates and do each others’ nails and become each others’ bridesmaids, instead of participating in turf wars within our dormitory.
Phin throws a small fireball into Pyxis’ cereal, and Rice Kelpies spray across his face.
No such peace. Stuck with the boys, for seven years of Quidditch mania, disgusting eating habits and ogling girls, er, and their assets. Great. Now all I need is for Amaris to start dating one of them and ditch me, except for when she needs to complain about the lucky boy, and I’ll be in my own personal, circle of hell just for Slytherins.
Suddenly, my sausages and eggs don’t look so appealing. Instead, I study Terry’s note. What exactly does he want? Oh well, I’d rather spent free period cuddling than revising Ancient Runes.
Excusing myself from Amaris, I stalk off towards Ancient Runes, absently twirling my favourite quill between my fingers. To my surprise and annoyance, Demetria Avery catches up with me as I head to Ancient Runes.
“I like your hair today, Greengrass,” she says, flashing a few white, vicious teeth in my direction. “Been dressing up for someone special?”
“Er, not in particular,” I reply coldly, trying to ignore the blush spreading across my face. “Can I help you with something, Demetria?”
“Just looking for some dormmate bonding,” she says, but everything Demetria Avery says comes out in a sneer. She’s been taught to be wizard royalty from the cradle, and she carries herself like an entitled empress. “Which class do you have now?”
“Ancient Runes,” I reply suspiciously.
“Listen, I have some news you might want to know,” she says, unable to hold in her prize any longer. My stomach clenches. Demetria’s uncle and aunt are part of the Dark Lord’s inner circle, although I never imagined they’d share much information with her.
“Its about your father,” and she grins wickedly.
“I’m perfectly informed about my father,” I say, but my heart is pounding against my ribs.
“Sure you are,” Demetria smirks evilly. “But maybe you need to get dear Sluggy to brew you a Sweet Dreams potion, because no matter how many Silencing Charms I cast at you, the nightmares just won’t stop, eh?”
I didn’t even know I was having nightmares, and I feel invaded. This is what comes of sharing a living space with someone: of eating and sleeping and bathing in the same vicinity: they learn things about your intimate self, and they hold it over your head.
“I’m not interested in anything you have to say, Demetria,” I tell the other girl icily. “You can run along to your Divination class now. Don’t run too fast when climbing the stairs,” I put a seemingly sympathetic hand on her arm, but dig in my nails a little. “Nobody would want you to get hurt.”
Our families are meant to be allies, but Demetria and I are little better than idle enemies. As I’m about to step into Ancient Runes, I sense that her wand is drawn, pointed at my turned back. I freeze for a moment, right hand gripping my wand in my pocket, mind attuned perfectly to hers to see what curse she’ll send. But Demetria seems to think better of it, and I listen to the tapping of her shoes down the corridor in time with the ragged breaths pumping through my chest.
After Ancient Runes, Potions, lunch and Transfiguration, I reconvene with Terry Boot. To my relief, he’s smiling at me again in his typical playful way, and to his relief, I’m no longer angry or offended. We must simply accept each other and move on from there, and I tell him so.
However, it turns out today is just another one of Boot’s attempts to civilize me into someone he could be proud to be with. And I mean this in a believably good way. We Slytherins don’t hate for nothing, you know. We learn about our enemies and make an educated choice.
“You’re coming to Muggle Studies with me,” he informs me after our make-up snog. Boot is the best kisser: sweet and gentle, but also hard and passionate, and so playful and goofy. He excels at being many things at once.
“Er, no I’m not.” I tell him, nuzzling into his neck.
He pulls me back, grinning that silly, crooked-toothed grin. “Yes, you promised, and a good Slytherin should hold to her word. Don’t worry – I’ve cleared it with Professor Burbage, said you’re considering picking up an elective. She’s always thrilled to have more students. Plus, there won’t be any Slytherins there.”
“But what if people see us together and it gets back to Malfoy… and his lot?”
By his lot I really mean Malfoy’s new cronies, the Death Eaters, but of course Boot just thinks I’m talking about Crabbe and Goyle. I can’t see any reason for him to know about Malfoy’s Dark Mark.
He shrugs. “Tell them you need extra credit for something and decided to pick up a bird course. Or something, let your feisty, crafty instincts get to work.”
“Alright,” I tell him reluctantly. “But if you screw this up, its your head on the chopping block.”
Neither of us acknowledge the terrible truth of that statement.
Professor Burbage is a cheerful, light-hearted witch with a thickening waist and a kindly smile.
“Welcome, Miss Greengrass!” She chirps at me. “Terry told me you were interested in exploring the course material- how thrilling! I haven’t had a Slytherin pupil in years!”
“Thanks, Professor,” I say with an awkward smile and settle in next to Terry. There are only a handful of N.E.W.T students taking Muggle Studies: among the sixth years I recognize Hermione Granger, Ernie Macmillian from Hufflepuff, Terry’s tanned, dark-haired friend Michael Corner and a simpering girl wearing a blue tie.
“Hello, children,” Burbage beams out at her attendant group. Apparently only the keenest students take Muggle Studies, which would account for the large Ravenclaw presence. Undeniably inquisitive, those Ravenclaws.
“Now today, as promised, I will begin the lecture answering Mr. Macmillian’s question about the Muggle transportation device known as the tricycle.”
She waves her wand and the projector springs into life, shining up with a curious wheeled-device and pink strands dangling off the ends.
“The tricycle, descended from the bicycle and the unicycle, which we learned about last week, is used for the transportation of Muggle toddlers. Now, as we have all hopefully figured out by now-” she glares meaningfully at a puzzled looking Hufflepuff boy- Muggles cannot transport themselves by magical means such as Floo powder, Apparation or Portkeys. Instead, for short distances, the tricycle may be used to get from Point A to Point B.”
The slide changes to one of a gleeful little child bent over the bars of one of the mysterious tricycles.
“Now, I believe they are quite passive forms of transportation, as the bicycle et cetera will simply glide along, taking its passenger for a pleasant ride. Much like a broom with wheels, I’ve heard.”
Hermione Granger’s hand shoots into the air.
“Actually, Professor, the bicycle is used by putting one’s feet on the pedals, it can be quite hard work especially if there’s a hill, in which the Muggle must shift gears-”
“Yes, yes, thank you, Ms. Granger,” Burbage smiles. “Anyway, as I was saying…”
Terry squeezes my hand under the desk.
“I know its not too exciting now,” he whispers, “but just wait, she’s lecturing about the Second World War today.”
“Whatever that was,” I return.
After a few more minutes of Burbage’s babbling and Granger’s anxious corrections, I find myself actually fairly interested. I’ve drawn a crude diagram of a passenger riding a tricycle and Terry’s tapped it with his wand to make it spin across the page.
“What is the fastest speed recorded on a tricycle?” Ernie Macmillian asks intently. Terry rolls his eyes drolly at me.
“All the geeks flock to this class,” he whispers, "Hermione isn't even supposed to be in it, she just likes the class." I snort into my sleeve. In another life, I could have been born two years earlier, and Terry into a wizarding family. We could have spent every class like this, leaning against each other slightly in the back row and doodling on each others’ parchment.
“Moving on to the actual lesson,” Burbage clears her throat, but good-naturedly. “Mr. Macmillian, I suggest when you are home for the holidays you try out a bicycle yourself and that will help you decide how difficult it is to ride one. Now, I’d like to return to our discussion about the Holocaust during the Second Muggle World War.”
And so begins a horrible tale of mass genocide, of men, women and children sent to be tortured, dissected and slaughtered by the masses. My heart thumps and mouth feels warm as Burbage sends slide after slide of gaunt people staring without expression at the camera, of squalid, packed in conditions, of rows and rows of naked, bony bodies piled upon each other. Terry grips my hand, but neither of us look away. Burbage becomes a town crier of tragedy.
I realize my hand is raised into the air.
“Professor, sorry, but I don’t understand. How could the Muggles do this? Why was it allowed to happen, this…” My tongue slips across the unfamiliar word. Holocaust.
She smiles sadly at me. “They were brainwashed, dear. The Muggles call it fascism: it’s a political concept on the opposite side of the ideological spectrum from communism and democracy.”
I don’t know what all these –isms mean, but I don’t tell her so.
“Fascism in Nazi Germany, class” –everyone, released from the shell-shocked silence of the lecture, scrambles for their quills – “occurs when the people are mobilized in the masses to promote certain ideals and to embody the will of the charismatic leader. In the case of many German Muggles, the leader was a man called Adolf Hitler.” She flicks her wand and the slide changes to a black and white photograph. Behind the strange man, hordes of people solemnly stare up at him in emotionless obedience. It must have been taken by a wizard: as the picture is moving: in horrible unity, the thousands of Muggles raise their right arms in a rigid salute.
“One of the ways this extreme nationalism, this sense of unyielding belonging, is enforced is by the creation of the enemy.” Burbage continues. “The people then rally around hatred of this enemy, believing them to be truly evil and a threat to their sacred land and national community. For Nazi Germany, one major enemy was the collective group of the Jews.”
Michael Corner raises his hand. “What about the, er, Jews made them deserve that?” He looks confused, slightly nauseated with where the discussion is going.
Burbage shrugs a little helplessly. “Being ‘other.’ They targeted many other groups as well, but the important point I’d like to make is the sheer irrationality of it.” She seems to look particularly hard in my direction, and I unclench my hands from the desk. “If you were told by the Ministry of Magic to hate a certain group without question, as all other wizards hated them, even if it meant the extermination of said group, would you blend into the collective? Even if, say, you had no previous quarrel with that group?”
Nobody speaks. The slide changes to a small girl being inspected by a doctor wearing the black spidery symbol Burbage has explained was the sign of the Nazis. Among Muggles, it is now a feared and hated insignia.
“No,” Terry speaks up beside me. “I wouldn’t give in. I’d stand by my beliefs and stay an individual.” He looks at me, as if daring me to argue.
Burbage smiles tiredly at him. “Perhaps you could, Mr. Boot. I’m sure, by this point, you’ve all made the connection between the Holocaust of the Second Muggle World War, and what is happening within wizarding Britain today.”
A few people nod solemnly. I look questioningly at Terry.
“I beg of you, my dear children, to think carefully before you act, and before you judge. Do not hate blindly.” She nods at us. “I think that’s all for today. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon.”
As we shuffle and grab our things, I turn to Boot.
“Did you learn about these things, before Hogwarts? In the… the Muggle school?”
“Yes, but without the complicated political ideology and the gruesome images and all that. Burbage has been focusing on it a lot this year, instead of the usual classes about Muggle gadgets. I think its really important. I can’t see how anybody, any fool, could approve of such horrible things.” He slings his bookbag over his shoulder in a sharp, angry gesture.
“What did they tell you, then, in your Muggle school?”
He thinks. “A lot about the injustices and the unadulterated evil of Hitler, I suppose.”
“So would you have said it was very black and white? You were told what was evil and and knew to believe it?”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
I grasp his hand. “But, Terry, what do you think they used to teach in the Muggle German schools at the time of Hitler? How were they supposed to know better, when it was all they were told?”
He squeezes my fingers in parting.
“I’m off to Potions. See you tonight.”
But these questions ring within my head for the rest of the day.
Later, bent over some Tranfiguration homework in the Common Room, I let Amaris bombard me with some well-deserved catching up. With all my time spent with Terry, I’ve been neglecting my best friend, and I feel guilty that I can’t even tell her why. Despite all my interactions with people like Terry and Ginny, Amaris is my real home base.
“…and then today I got an owl from Umbridge with my reference letter, and-”
Was she always this talkative? I nod and continue to stare off into space, thinking about the Muggle Studies Class and the lessons on the Muggle war.
Then someone comes to my rescue, but nobody I’d particularly like to speak with.
“Uh, hi, Tor,” Gregory Goyle says thickly, plopping himself down rather too close to me. His usual smell of old sweat itches at the inside of my nose.
“Hello,” I say frostily, shifting away from him slightly. “Can I help you?”
“There’s a Hogsmeade trip in two weeks,” he informs me. “After Halloween, yer.”
“Er, yes, I’d heard.”
“Who are you going with, Gregory?” Amaris interjects.
“See, uh, that’s the thing, I was wondering if you’d like to go down with me?” He looks at me hopefully, tray-like hands extended.
“I don’t think so,” I tell him. “I have, er, a date already. Sorry.”
“With who?” Goyle asks, meaty hands clenching into fists. I don’t need to invade his mind to tell he’s plotting a nasty fate for whoever my date is.
“Er, he’s a very powerful wizard, uh, you wouldn’t want to cross him…”
Goyle cracks his knuckles.
“Yer? Who is ‘im, then?”
Amaris laughs as I stutter. “Er, its…”
“Me,” A cool voice says, and Theo Nott stretches his hand towards me. I take it, startled, and he pulls me to my feet and swings an arm around me.
Goyle gulps – yes, I literally see a bead of sweat run down his face.
“Er, you, Nott, I thought you were with that other girl…”
“If you paid attention to anything besides stuffing your face, you’d know that we broke up,” Theo retorts. I wrap my arm around his waist, gratefully. “Now, if you’ll excuse us, my date and I have plans to discuss.” He pulls me away, and we collapse into a sofa on the other side of the common room, ducking down to avoid Goyle’s aggressive stares.
“Why won’t he just get the hint?” I sigh, leaning back and exhaling. “It’s never going to happen! I think he’s just vile.”
Theo rolls his eyes. “Imagine sharing a dormitory with him, Crabbe and Malfoy. I have to talk to myself or Summon Selby to get any intelligent conversation.”
I laugh and ruffle his hair. I’ve missed Theo’s dry wit.
“Thanks for helping me escape, but you really didn’t have to do that, you know. Take me to Hogsmeade, I mean. I’ll just go with Amaris and the guys.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Astoooooria,” Theo says in a girly, overly posh accent that he only ever brings out around me. “I’d love to go to Hogsmeade with you. We never get to spend time together.”
“I know,” I sigh. “You must be so busy with N.E.W.Ts, and worrying about your Dad, and…” I stop suddenly, afraid I’ve gone too far, but Theo only looks sad.
“We’ve got lots to talk about outside the ever-listening walls of this castle, that’s for sure.”
“Did you and Christiana really break up?”
“Kind of, it was really awkward. I told her I just wanted to be friends with occasional, er, side encounters and she didn’t take it too well. I’ve just got too much on my plate without worrying about girly emotions. I just can’t handle a relationship right now.” He sighs, dejected. Boys.
“Sorry to hear it,” I say, even though I’m not. Good riddance to slaggy milk-face!
Theo shakes off the words. “Its cool. Say, have you and Pyxie made up yet?”
“He literally has the maturity of a first year. Has he told you about his theory about Zabini and Daphne?”
“Nutter, my little brother. Really, I don’t know how we came from the same parents.” Theo goes silent, and I know he’s thinking about his mother, who died in front of her sons, and his father, locked behind a barrage of Dementors. Cautiously, I reach forward and grab his wrist, wrapping my fingers around it in a display of love and support. Theo doesn’t acknowledge it, but I feel him relax a little beneath my touch. “Too bad for Pixie that I inherited the handsome gene.”
“Not to mention the sensible gene,” I giggle. “At least you don’t come up with crazy conspiracy theories on the fly.”
“I know,” Theo frowns. “I worry about that kid.”
That night, I go to bed feeling happy and protected. When I wake, the state seems to have disappeared with the waning of dreams. Once again, Hogwarts is a fearsome place, divided by loyalties, segregated friendships that will never reconcile one another.
What was I supposed to gather from the Muggle Studies class and the tales of Muggle hatreds and prejudices? I look in the mirror as I comb my hair, the same face I’ve always been, but something is changing inside of me. Something that desires the opportunity for change. What has Terry Boot awakened in me, and is it a force for good or evil?
A terrifying, critical feeling has been born inside of my mind, and its affects are poisonous and fast-spreading. I am no longer daughter of Slytherin, firm in my beliefs of right and wrong. I am contested, torn in multiple different directions.
But as I walk into the Great Hall for breakfast, something happens to vanish these thoughts from my traitorous head.
And I look past him, to the teacher’s table, where a figure next to Professor Snape is rising to his feet, his arms open, his face haggard but split in a grin.
“Hello there, little daughter,” my father laughs, stepping down onto the cobbled floor, and extends his arms as I fly into them.
A/N: I am back from Italy, and thus another chapter is born! (My trip was amazing, and I have been considering a “Tor and Terry do a secret weekend trip to Venice… hmmm…). I’d love to know what you lovely readers think of their relationship, of the Muggle Studies class, of Theo’s character, of Yaxley turning up at Hogwarts, or of anything really… so please make my day and REVIEW!!!! :D
I do not own Prince Caspian, Rice Krispies (I do own Rice Kelpies, however), tricycles, political philosophy, or especially Harry Potter. I realize that WW2 was a lot more complex and multi-faceted than what was portrayed in the chapter, but seeing as Tor barely knows anything about Muggle history it would make sense that they’d start with the basics, like learning about the Holocaust. Hopefully it was explained realistically and tastefully! :)