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The Rise of the A.W.L. by MargaretLane
Chapter 14 : Celebrations.
 
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Disclaimer: Anything you recognise here, including Hairy Snout, Human Heart belongs to J.K. Rowling.



It seemed the Daily Prophet had truly lost interest in Blackburn. One letter appeared on Monday, the twenty-second, again insisting McGonagall give details of what precautions had been taken and signed by “a concerned parent", but that seemed to be the extent of the coverage, which was definitely an improvement on the previous month.

“Do you think this’ll be the end of it?” Angie asked, glancing through the paper.

Rose shrugged. “I don’t know. I can’t really see the A.W.L. giving up this easily, but it's possible the media’ll just lose interest in them and they might just fade away into obscurity. Or they might find some other cause, like campaigning for the code of house elves rights to be repealed or something.”

Not that that would be much of an improvement. House elves were as vulnerable as werewolves, if not more so, but at least the code was already enshrined in law and couldn’t be overturned too easily. Werewolves employment rights were completely unprotected.

“The code of house elves rights?” Angie asked and Rose began the difficult task of explaining the complex code her mother had drawn up.

“Mum’s felt strongly about their treatment since she was at Hogwarts,” she concluded.

“I don’t blame her.” Angie sounded shocked. “I can’t believe it was legal to treat them like that.”

“I'm afraid the wizarding world does not have a history of treating part-humans well. Things are changing now though. Probably not quickly enough, but they are changing.”

Angie sighed. “Life is never really fair, is it?”

“I suppose not,” Rose agreed, “but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to improve things.”

Angie agreed.



The following morning, Rose was woken by a flurry of owls.

“I was trying to sleep,” Dora muttered in annoyance, as an owl hooted.

“Oh, come on, Dora, it’s her thirteenth birthday,” Angie said. “Gosh, how many presents have you received at all, Rose?”

She shrugged. “That’s the advantage of having a big family, I guess.”

She removed the parcels from the owls’ legs and dropped them on the bed.

Angie came over and sat down on the bed beside her.

“Well, open something, it’ll be time for breakfast soon, you know.”

“Guess I’ll start with Mum and Dad’s presents. They’ve probably included something from Granny and Granddad Granger too. My grandparents are Muggles, you know; my mum’s parents, I mean. My dad’s are a witch and wizard. So my mum’s parents don’t exactly have an owl to hand.”

She rummaged through the pile of parcels on the bed until she found a medium sized package. When she opened it, a number of smaller parcels fell out and began to grow in size.

“Wow.” Angie stared at it.

“Well, our poor owl would be weighed down completely if they didn’t shrink a few things. Let’s see now.”

She tore open the package her Muggle grandparents had sent her, which contained a game of Scrabble.

“Oh, cool,” Angie said. “I’m pretty good at this.”

“I only played once before,” Rose said. “When we were at my grandparents. I don’t think it’s a game wizards usually play.”

Fionnuala rubbed her eyes and sat up in bed.

“What is it?”

“What? Scrabble?” Angie asked.

“Yeah.”

“It’s a game where you have to spell out words. It’s fun. I’ll show you later. Or on Saturday.”

The following Saturday was the first Hogsmeade weekend for the older students and the Ravenclaw second years had already decided they were going to take advantage of having the common room practically to themselves to celebrate Rose’s birthday in style. The first years were unlikely to bother them too much.

Rose pushed the game aside and tore open the rest of the presents her parents had sent, which included a number of books, boxes of chocoballs and fizzing whizzbees and a globe which announced the news from any part of the world you pointed your wand at.

“But what if you want the news from somewhere like Luxemburg?” Angie struggled to find the tiny country.

Rose raised her wand and waved it over the North East of Europe, which popped up above the globe itself and began to expand, the names of the smaller countries gradually becoming visible. Then she aimed it right at Luxemburg.

“Luxemburg has just announced a relaxation in the laws banning the importation of magic carpets, prompting calls for other countries in Europe which have also long banned magic carpets to do likewise.”

“That’s brilliant. Can I try Algeria?”

“Yeah, sure.” Rose turned back to the pile of presents, as Angie continued playing with the globe.

She really hadn’t much time, she realised, tearing through the presents quickly. Harry and Ginny had sent her a pocket sneakoscope, which really would be more of a nuisance than anything else. Sharing a room with Dora, it would probably go off almost constantly. Bill and Fleur sent her another box of chocoballs, her favourite sweets and Victoire sent a chain with the number thirteen hanging from it in gold and a note saying the number would change each year with her age.

“Could get embarrassing when you get older.” Fionnuala finally got out of bed to join them. “Imagine being fifty-one and having a chain that announces it to the world at large.”

“I guess I wouldn’t have to wear it then. Have I time to open any more, do you think?”

Fionnuala nodded. “Definitely. I’ve often gone down to breakfast a good deal later than this.”

Somehow that wasn’t very encouraging, but Rose decided not to say so.

She opened the parcel George had sent her, which contained a decoy detonator.

“Good thing I didn’t take that downstairs to open.” She stuffed it away in her locker. “Trying to keep it from going off would be rather a hassle.”

She decided to take the three remaining presents, from her Weasley grandparents, Charlie and Percy, downstairs, along with an envelope which she assumed contained a card from Hagrid. His writing was rather distinctive.

As soon as she reached the breakfast table, Albus handed her yet another box of chocoballs.

“Thanks Albus.” She grinned.

“I know they’re your favourites. What else did you get?”

“I haven’t even finished opening everything yet. Let’s just take a look at these, then let me eat my breakfast. I’ll show you everything else after class.”

She opened the remaining presents quickly. Charlie had sent her some Romanian jewellery, Percy’d sent a book about the history of the Ministry, which looked about as boring as one of Binns’ classes and Grandma and Grandpa Weasley had sent a matching scarf and gloves knitted by Grandma Weasley and a birthday cake.

“It will be getting cold soon,” the card said in Grandma Weasley’s handwriting. “Especially in Scotland.”

Rose grinned. It was just like Grandma Weasley to worry about her being cold.

Albus passed her the small scruffy envelope remaining. “Don’t forget this.”

She tore it open and sure enough it contained a card from Hagrid.

“Come down to my cabin for tea this evening,” it said. “Have something for you that should come in very handy next year. Tell Albus come along too.”

 She handed him the card and ate hurriedly. Their first class was Herbology and out in the greenhouses, so there was no time to dawdle.

At the end of Herbology, Neville beckoned to her to remain behind for a moment.

“I’ve something here for you.” He handed her a gift. “Happy birthday.”

“Thanks.” She grinned, not having expected a gift from him.

“Have a great day.” He shook his head. “I just hope your teens are less eventful than your parents’ were.”

“Me too. Thanks again.”

“You’re welcome. Go on now. You don’t want to be late for whatever you have next.”

She hurried to catch up with the rest of her classmates. She’d already been late for Potions once that year. Professor Fairfax would not be happy if it happened again.

The rest of the day passed quickly and before long, she and Albus were on their way to Hagrid’s cabin for their tea.

“Come in.” Hagrid beamed at them and ushered them inside. “Can har’ly believe you’re a teenager now, Rose. Seems no time since your parents were in my Care o’ Magical Creatures class. Tha’ was the firs’ year I taught, yeh know. Did your parents tell yeh tha’?”

“Yeah, they did,” she said.

“Pity they couldn’t take it fer the N.E.W.T.S. Timetables too full, yeh know. Ah well, mebbe one o’ yeh two will, eh?”

She bit her lip.

“Maybe,” Albus replied, saving her the trouble of answering.

“Know yeh’ll like the class. So many amazin’ creatures. And tha’ reminds me. I’ve your present here, Rose.”

He handed her a gift, roughly wrapped in brown paper. She tore the paper off to reveal a book entitled Dragons, Unicorns and other Powerful Animals.

“Erm, thanks Hagrid.”

“Knew yeh’d like it. Thought yeh’d want to make a start on the readin’ fer nex’ year. Jus’ like your mother tha’ way yeh are.”

She sighed inwardly. He couldn’t really think she was planning on taking Care of Magical Creatures, could he? She was fond of Hagrid and didn’t want to disappoint him, but her mother had absolutely forbidden her from taking any more than three of the optional classes and there was no way she was wasting one of those precious spots on Care of Magical Creatures. The way Hagrid taught it, it was practically useless. Well, unless you particularly wanted to work with the most dangerous creatures known to mankind, she supposed.

“Thanks,” she repeated weakly. “I’m sure it’ll be really interesting. I can’t wait to read it.”

He beamed. “Now yeh mus’ have some bir’day cake. I made it ‘specially.”

He brought out a rather wonky looking cake, with a huge gash in the side.

“Well, I migh’ have sort o’ dropped it, bu’ it’ll taste great. I’m sure o’ tha’.”

“I’m sure it will,” she said doubtfully.

“Here, why don’ yeh cut it since you’re the bir’day girl?”

He handed her the knife and she attempted to cut the cake.

“Ah, yeh’ll have to shove it harder than tha’.” He took hold of the knife and tried to shove it roughly into the cake, only succeeding in breaking the knife. “Oh! Mebbe the cake’s a bit hard. Knew I should’ve taken it out of the oven sooner.” He looked crestfallen.

“Don’t worry about it, Hagrid. I got way too many sweets for my birthday anyway. Including another birthday cake from Grandma Weasley. We’re going to have a party on Saturday.”

They continued chatting until Rose finally realised they’d have to leave if they were to have any hope of getting their homework done before bedtime.

“Sorry Hagrid, we’d love to stay longer.”

“Ah well, I know yeh’ve homework to do. No’ tha’ it’ll be any problem to yeh. Come down again whenever yeh’ve time. You’re always welcome.”

They both thanked him.

“He doesn’t really expect us to take Care of Magical Creatures next year, does he?” Rose said, as they walked back to the castle.

Albus shrugged.

“I probably will,” he muttered.

“Really?” She stared at him. It hadn’t occurred to her he might want to take it.

“Well, it’ll be fun having Hagrid for a teacher, don’t you think? And James enjoys it.”

“James!” she scoffed. “And I’m not sure ‘fun’ is quite the word I’d use. Sorry,” she continued, seeing his discomfort. “I don’t mean to be mean. I’m very fond of Hagrid, you know that. I just meant the class when I said I wouldn’t exactly call it fun. I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but…”

“I think James is considering keeping it on for his N.E.W.T.S.,” Albus said. “If he does, Hagrid’ll probably be so pleased, he won’t care if you don’t take it.”

Very few students ever continued with Care of Magical Creatures.

“That won’t be until the end of next year, though.” She sighed. “Oh well, at least if you’re doing it, that might keep him happy.”



With the full moon falling on a Wednesday night, the second year Ravenclaws didn’t miss any Transfiguration classes that month, as they never had Transfiguration on a Thursday.

“I guess it’s a bit mean to say this,” Derek said, “but I could really have done with a free class. I still haven’t finished that Potions assignment for Fairfax and he’ll have a fit if I don’t have it done for him.”

He wouldn’t really. Fairfax could never be described as “having a fit”. He was always entirely calm. He would simply look at Derek with disapproval, impose a detention and make some more notes on the parchment he always carried with him. None of them were quite sure what he kept the notes for, but it made many of them nervous, particularly Nathan, who seemed incapable of concentrating on anything he was doing when Fairfax paced the room, parchment in hand.

“You wouldn’t have time to do it in Transfiguration anyway,” Rose pointed out. “Blackburn nearly always leaves work left for us.”

“I could leave that until the evening. She wouldn’t know the difference.”

“Unless Fairfax was supervising. You’d be in trouble then.”

“I suppose.” He sighed. “Well, I’ll just have to skip lunch and scribble something down then. I’ll be starving though.”

“Well, if you did it last night, like you were supposed to,” Rose began.

“Oh, don’t rub it in. I intended to; I just sort of lost track of the time. I didn’t realise it would take as long as it did. Fairfax gives the longest assignments. I’m not sure how anybody gets them done. He doesn’t seem to realise we’ve other subjects to study for as well.”

She refrained from pointed out everybody else had managed to finish it. It was true that Fairfax often gave a lot of homework, but that was something you expected and you worked around it. Leaving it until the last minute in the hopes it would take less time than Potions homework usually did was pretty silly, in her opinion.

“I’d let you copy mine,” Albus said, “but I don’t think it’s the sort of thing you can copy.”

“Yeah, he’d notice immediately that it wasn’t my ‘personal evaluation’. Well, my personal evaluation is that the potion is utterly useless and boring and I wish we didn’t have to learn about it, but I can’t really write that.”

They all laughed.

Somehow, he seemed to get enough written to hand Professor Fairfax a roll of parchment as thick as any of the others he was collecting.

“I’ve probably failed though.” He gave a sigh as they left the classroom. “I was writing complete and utter rubbish by the end of it.”

“Well, it’s only homework,” Angie pointed out. “It’s not like it’s an exam or anything.”

“I suppose.” He sighed again. “I’m not letting this happen again though. This is the very last time I’ll rush a Potions assignment.”

Rose couldn’t help laughing. Somehow she doubted it.






Although Blackburn looked tired and a little pale when they entered the Transfiguration classroom the following day and she remained seated for most of the class, Rose thought she seemed far less ill than she had the previous month.

Rose paused by her desk before leaving the room after class.

“How are you, Professor?”

“I’m fine, Rose, thanks.” She smiled.

Rose paused for a moment, unsure if she should say anything else, but unable to think of any more to say, she left the room and headed to the Potions dungeon.

After calling the roll, Fairfax began handing back the assignments he’d collected the previous day.

“Oh no,” Derek muttered. “I was hoping he’d take a while longer to correct them.”

Rose rolled her eyes. Fairfax collected assignments regularly and always had them back within a day or two, unlike some of the other teachers. Binns rarely corrected homework at all and when he did, it was sometimes weeks before he returned it and Neville also often took a while to return assignments. Blackburn generally returned their work quickly, though there had been one or two occasions when there’d been a delay. Rose now wondered if those had corresponded with the full moons.

“Excellent work, Rose.” Fairfax handed her a roll of parchment. “Nathan, again, excellent. Derek…” He paused. “How long did this take you?”

Derek muttered something inaudible.

“A little rushed at the end, would I be correct?”

“Yes sir.”

“Well, you’ve learnt something here, I hope. What is it?”

Derek’s reply was again mumbled.

“Out loud, please.”

“Take more time over my assignments in future.”

“Very good. Redo the ending of this, please.”

“Yes sir.”

Fairfax nodded and continued handing out the assignments.

“Good work, Albus. A solid attempt. Abric, this is nowhere near an acceptable standard. Do it again, please. Scorpius, adequate, but I expect a little more in-depth research in the future.”

“Yes sir.”

“Hey, Scorpius,” Rose called as they left the classroom.

“Yes?” His tone was wary.

“We’re celebrating my birthday tomorrow. I know you can’t come into our common room, but come over to the Ravenclaw table at lunch tomorrow and have some cake.”

He smiled. “OK.”

The school was unusually quiet on Hogsmeade weekends, with only first and second years and the few older students who stayed behind for whatever reason around the building. As the O.W.L.S. and N.E.W.T.S. approached, more students would remain behind to study, but the first Hogsmeade weekend of the year, the castle practically emptied.

“It’s nice to have the place to ourselves for a change,” Rasmus said as they decorated the common room before lunch.

“We’re not entirely by ourselves.” Rose indicated Felicity and a couple of other first years who were playing gobstones by the fireplace.

Rasmus shrugged. “First years don’t count. They’ll know better than to bother us.”

Albus shifted awkwardly.

“Is it really fair to just leave them out?” he asked quietly.

Rose laughed. “Don’t worry, Albus. We’ll offer them a few sweets. I doubt they’ll particularly want to hang around with us though. They’ll have their own plans.”

“I suppose,” he said doubtfully.

She was glad she’d asked Scorpius to join them, she decided as she cut the cake Grandma Weasley’d sent her after lunch. He didn’t seem to have many friends and while he didn’t really interact with anybody at the table, he seemed pleased to be there.

She passed him a large slice of cake and gave him a smile.

“Thanks,” he said.

A couple of second year Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs also joined them and they hung around the Great Hall chatting and eating cake for some time before the Ravenclaws returned to their common room to continue partying.

In addition to the sweets Rose’d received for her birthday, the second year Ravenclaws had pooled their Galleons and sent an owl order to Honeydukes ordering a large consignment of sweets and drinks and a couple of students also donated goodies sent by their parents or other relations. As a result there was plenty for everybody and even Dora took a handful of sweets before disappearing. Rose was glad to see the back of her. They’d all be more comfortable if she wasn’t around.

Rasmus was right that the small groups of first years chatting or doing homework or playing games in various corners of the common room wouldn’t bother them, but Albus had been right too; it wasn’t very fair to leave them out completely.

“Hey!” She turned to a couple of boys sitting nearby. “Want some sweets?”

“Yes, please.” They hopped up from where they were sitting on the floor and grabbed fistfuls of sweets quickly, as if afraid the offer might be rescinded.

Hearing the offer, some of the other first years moved closer.

“Yeah, go on,” she said. “Have something.”

Not that there was that much left. They’d eaten more than she’d realised.

“I’m just going to make sure the rest of those kids get something.” She picked up the bowl.

“I don’t know why you’re bothering,” Rasmus grumbled. “There isn’t much left.”

“Ah, come on, I think most of us have had enough anyway. And it’s not as if there’s anything really good left.”

She laughed and headed towards Felicity and Belinda, who were working on what appeared to be Transfiguration homework and didn’t seem to have noticed the sweets being passed around.

“I hate handing stuff up to Blackburn,” Felicity was saying fearfully. “You know a scratch from a werewolf leaves a permanent scar even if they’re not transformed.”

“Oh, for God’s sake,” Rose burst out, the bowl of sweets in her hand completely forgotten. “How could Blackburn scratch you? Have you even seen her nails?”

“Yeah.” Felicity shoved her chair back a little, as if trying to avoid Rose’s anger.

“Then you must have noticed how short they are.”

It was something Rose had noticed a long time ago, as they’d seemed at odds with the care Blackburn appeared to take with every other aspect of her appearance, apart from which they were so short as to look almost painful. It was only now it occurred to her that the possibility of accidentally scratching somebody was probably exactly the reason for it.

Felicity bit her lip. “All the same…”

Rose sighed. She couldn’t help thinking it would be pretty hurtful to know people were afraid to even hand you a roll of parchment. Blackburn must have noticed. She doubted Felicity was particularly subtle about it.

And Felicity probably wasn’t the worst. At least, she didn’t seem to be purposely hostile to Blackburn, just nervous. Though maybe in a way that was worse. At least you could dismiss people like Dora as just obnoxious. Knowing people were truly frightened of you for something you couldn’t help might be harder to dimiss.

She slammed the bowl of sweets down on the table the two girls had their essays on.

“Have some sweets.”

Felicity and Belinda exchanged glances. Her tone hadn’t exactly been inviting. Then, almost defiantly, Belinda reached forward and took a handful.

“Take some, Felicity. Don’t mind her.” She gave Rose a look of disdain.

Felicity reached forward quickly and grabbed some sweets before pulling her arm away.

Rose snatched the bowl up and turned to offer some sweets to the small number of remaining first years.

“Don’t tell me you’d another row with Felicity.” Rasmus grinned, as Fionnuala got up to change the wireless station.

 “Has she learnt anything in the two months she’s been here? Honestly, it’s about time she learnt to question some of that rubbish she must have been brought up with. When is our society going to hit the twenty-first century?”

“It is happening,” Rasmus pointed out. “Look at the stories from twenty years ago. Things are definitely changing.”

“Not fast enough,” she snapped.

“The Muggle world is the same, really,” Angie said thoughtfully. “I mean, different issues, but people still seem to love judging each other. At least, I suppose that is what we’re talking about.”

“Yeah.” Rose sighed.

“Oh, actually, I have something for your birthday.” Angie jumped up.

Rose stared at her. “You didn’t have to. I wasn’t expecting anything from anybody here.”

“Well, it’s not really a proper present. I mean it’s not new or anything, but well, you said you hadn’t read it.”

She hurried out of the room and came back with a crudely wrapped copy of Hairy Snout, Human Heart.

“Oh, thanks Angie. I’ve been meaning to read that.”

“No reading allowed now though. Come and have some fun.”

They continued chatting, listening to music and playing games until the older students returned later in the evening.

“Hey Rose!” Lucy called, as she entered the common room.

“Yeah?”

“I’m guessing you’ve probably eaten all your sweets by this stage, so I’ve brought you back some from Hogsmeade to finish off your party.”

“Oh, thanks Lucy.” Rose threw her arms around her, before passing the sweets around to her classmates.

With Hallowe’en the following Wednesday, they were enjoying a full week of celebrations, she realised.

“I wonder what entertainment they’ve planned for the Hallowe’en feast,” she said, as she prepared for bed that night.

“Don’t tell me you’re looking for another party already,” Angie teased. “Didn’t we do enough partying today.”

“Ah sure, that’s over,” Fionnuala said. “Time we were looking forward to Hallowe’en now.”

Angie shook her head and grinned. “There’s always something going on here, that’s for sure.”

“Honestly, it’s nothing compared with my family.” Rose paused for a moment, wondering if she should ask about Angie’s, how they’d celebrated their birthdays or if Muggles celebrated Hallowe’en, but she decided against it. Angie mentioned things occasionally, usually about her younger siblings, but she didn’t seem to like being asked direct questions.

As Hallowe’en drew closer, excitement in Hogwarts mounted, particularly among the first years.

“Imagine we were like that last year,” Fionnuala said.

“Actually, I’m still looking forward to it,” Rose admitted and the others agreed.

“Wonder if we’ll get much homework,” Angie said. “A lot of the teachers didn’t give us any that night last year.”

“It’ll probably depend on the teacher,” Rose said.

It certainly seemed to. Neville, Blackburn, Jones and Flitwick again excused them from homework. Binns and Fairfax, however, treated Hallowe’en as if it were just a normal day.

“Um, Sir.” Dora raised her hand at the end of Potions.

“Yes Miss Nottingham.”

“We don’t usually get homework on Hallowe’en. Because of the feast.”

He raised his eyebrows. “You’ll have plenty of time to complete your homework before it.” He glanced around the room. “Class is dismissed. Good day to you.”

“God, Fairfax never lets up, does he?” Derek sighed.

“Oh well, I suppose we’ll just have to put in a bit of work before the feast.” Rasmus shrugged.

Most of the class rushed off their homework as quickly as possible before hurrying to the Great Hall, which like the previous year, was decorated with candles and bats. Unlike last year, however, a thick fog seemed to permeate the room.

“It’s just decoration,” Lucy hastened to ensure them. As a prefect, she was waiting by the door to welcome them into the Hall.

“Wow, that’s impressive,” Derek said.

The top of the room was free of the fog, presumably so that students could see whatever entertainment was organised, and perhaps it was because so much of the rest of the room was obscured from view, that Rose immediately noticed there was something different about the memorial behind the staff table.

She stared at it for a moment before realising just what it was that had changed. Instead of his usual pleasant smile, a nasty smirk spread across Remus’s mouth.



Sorry this is a little late for Hallowe'en. Hope ye all had a good Hallowe'en anyway.


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