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The Rise of the A.W.L. by MargaretLane
Chapter 19 : The End of Term.
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 5

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Disclaimer: Everything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling. No copyright infringement is intended.

As the term drew to an end, Rose stepped up her surveillance of Dora, determined to find out how to open her trunk. Of course, if it was bewitched to open only to Dora or only to the Nott family or something, odds were there'd be nothing she could do. It might be possible to lift such spells, but even if it were, she'd doubted she'd be able to. It would require skill far beyond anything a thirteen year old could attain.

She was hoping the spell protecting the trunk was a far simpler one. After all, Dora had no reason to believe anybody had any particular interest in opening it. Hopefully, just knowing how to would be enough to allow anybody to do so.

Even that wouldn't make her task easy though, as it was impossible to watch Dora twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, especially as she was already becoming suspicious.

"Everywhere I go lately, you're there before me," she said. "Are you following me or something?"

Rose rolled her eyes.

"Yeah, right, because I'm so anxious for your company, Dora. Seems to me you're getting paranoid. Guilty conscience or something?"

"If I had, you'd be the very last person I'd tell about it, wouldn't I? Since you don't exactly have the greatest record when it comes to keeping my business to yourself."

"Actually, I thought I did a pretty good job of keeping your secrets, now that you come to mention it."

Dora glared at her.

"Think I'm ashamed of my family?"

"No, actually I don't, which makes me wonder just why it's such a secret."

This was something she hadn't considered before. Why exactly did Dora want to keep her true identity from people? OK, so her parents might have wanted her to start Hogwarts unencumbered by her family's reputation, but now that everybody could make a pretty accurate guess as to her allegiances anyway, why was it still necessary? Could she have some assignment for the A.W.L. she didn't want people to guess at?

As soon as the idea crossed her mind, Rose realised the flaw in it. Dora's family background wasn't a secret in any real sense. The teachers knew exactly who she was. But it was still possible here was something she didn't want to draw her classmates' attention to. Her trunk for example!

Dora actually laughed. "Think you're Harry Potter, don't you?"

"No, actually, I think I'm Rose Weasley. And I think you're hiding something."

"So you are following me?"

She could have kicked herself. How could she have given herself away like that?

"No, actually I'm not," she said lightly. "You can keep your secret, whatever it is. So long as you leave Albus alone, I really don't care."

"I don't believe you."

"You can believe whatever you like, Dora. I'm honestly not interested."

The less adamant she was, the more convincing it'd seem. And it seemed to be working. Dora looked less certain.

"Well, stop hanging around me or I'll start thinking you fancy me or something."

"Ha. You wish, Dora."

Dora glared at her, before turning and walking off.

Her suspicions made  things more difficult though, especially when Albus refused point-blank to take a turn watching her.

"No way, Rose. What if she saw me? And it's not as if I can enter your dormitory anyway, so I wouldn't be able to see much, would I?"

She sighed. That was going to be one of the difficulties, actually. Even though she could enter the dormitory, Dora'd hardly open the trunk in front of her, would she? She'd have to stay outside and just hope Dora left the door open.

The plan was full of difficulties really, but as it was the only one she had, she was determined to keep at it.

Twice in the last ten days of term, she managed to follow Dora to the dormitory. The first time, however, she closed the door behind her, leaving Rose to wonder just what she might be getting up to. Placing her ear to the door, she tried to hear something, anything that might give her a clue as to what Dora was doing, but all was quiet.

The second time she left the door open. Rose peeked around the doorway, but all Dora was doing was getting a book from her bedside. Rose waited until she headed towards the door of the dormitory, hoping she'd put the book in her trunk or something, but no, she was definitely leaving.

For a moment, Rose panicked. If Dora saw her lurking in the doorway, she'd definitely know she was watching her.

An idea occurred to her. Confidently, she walked into the dormitory, heading towards her own bed.

The ploy worked. Dora hardly glanced in her direction.

She breathed a sigh of relief and sat down on her bed, thinking. Surely Dora'd have to pack before going home.

By the last day of term however, she'd the uncomfortable feeling Dora was either staying at Hogwarts for the holidays, or more likely, she'd done her packing at a time Rose was otherwise engaged. She must have had dozens of chances to slip up to the dormitory when Rose was studying or chatting to Albus or Rasmus or Angie or any one of whole lot of other things she didn't even remember now.

Although she'd known it was a long shot, she couldn't help being disappointed.

On the last day of term, however, it was hard to remain downhearted too long. The Christmas spirit had well and truly arrived at Hogwarts and even in classes, the atmosphere was light-hearted.

Their last Transfiguration class was spent trying to turn parchment into wrapping paper as a buzz of chatter filled the room. Blackburn was sitting on the edge of her desk, chatting and laughing with them as they worked.

And yet, Rose couldn't help suspecting the teacher wasn't quite as cheerful as she appeared. There was something in her tone that sounded a little false.

She supposed it wasn't that surprising, as the next full moon was the following night. It couldn't be the most pleasant way to begin the holidays.

The class came to an end and they gathered their stuff up quickly. Even on the last day of term, it was unlikely Fairfax would be too pleased if they were late.

"Merry Christmas, Professor," Nathan called.

"Merry Christmas, Nathan." The slightly false note remained.

"Merry Christmas, Professor."

"Merry Christmas, Albus."

Angie paused by the teacher's desk.

"Hope you've a good Christmas, Professor."

For a moment, Rose thought she saw a look pass between them, a look she couldn't quite read.

"You too, Angie." Blackburn's voice had softened and the false note of cheer seemed to have left it.

She hadn't much chance to wonder about it as the final Potions class of the term was nowhere near as relaxed as Transfiguration had been. Fairfax kept their noses to the grindstone right until the last minute and the entire class heaved a sigh of relief when lunchtime finally arrived.

"Does he even realise it's Christmas?" Derek asked incredulously.

"I don't think he particularly cares." Fionnuala grinned. "He probably spends Christmas day hunched over a Potions textbook. I can't imagine him actually celebrating, can you?"

"Maybe he doesn't have much to celebrate," Angie said sharply.

Rose glanced at her curiously. Now that she thought about it, she couldn't remember Angie saying any more about her plans for this Christmas than she had the year before. Perhaps she was staying at Hogwarts again. Rose remembered she'd done so the previous year.

Angie didn't give her a chance to ask, hurrying ahead of her classmates into the Great Hall. Whether it was deliberate or not, Rose couldn't say.

Now her attention had been drawn to Angie, though, she couldn't help feeling that like Blackburn, she seemed somewhat less than enthusiastic about the upcoming festivities.

She didn't have much time to think about it, however, as she was still keeping what she hoped was a discreet eye on Dora and when she saw her slipping out of the common room that evening, she jumped up to follow her.

She was heading towards the dormitory, she realised, trying not to get her hopes up. There were probably a hundred and one reasons she might be going there on the final evening of term. She might even be simply getting an early night. They did have a long journey the following day after all. But it was their final chance to finish packing for the holidays.

When Dora again closed the door behind her, Rose decided to take a chance. This was, after all, her last opportunity to find anything out before the holidays and she wasn't going to find out anything staying behind a closed door.

Slowly, carefully, she eased the door open and slipped quietly into the dormitory.

Dora was crouched over her trunk, her wand touching the lock. She lifted it and touched the lock with it again. The trunk sprung open.

Rose grinned, but she hadn't much time to savour her victory. Any moment now, Dora would turn around, either to get some item to put in the trunk or if she'd finished, to leave the dormitory. She mustn't realise Rose had seen her!

Rose stepped cautiously backwards towards the door. Her best bet was probably a variation of what had worked the last time she'd spied on Dora in the dormitory.

She pushed the door further open nosily.

Dora glanced up quickly.

"Oh, it's you!"

"Am I not allowed into my own dormitory now?" Rose asked nastily.

She stormed over to her own trunk and pulled it down, rooting through her things.

Dora slammed her trunk closed as she got closer. Was Rose imagining it or did she seem a little flustered? She'd closed the trunk very quickly. What was in there she didn't want Rose to see?

She thought she knew the answer to that. The Invisibility Cloak. Or possibly something else that would allow her become invisible. Instant Invisibility Powder, perhaps. It had recently occurred to her that Invisibility Cloaks weren't the only way of becoming invisible and after all, they were pretty rare. Either way, she had to access that trunk.

Opportunities that evening, however, were limited. More than once, she was about to slip upstairs when she noticed one of the other girls get up, presumable to check they'd everything for the morning or to slip some last minute item into their trunks

Finally, as nightfall approached, she spied an opportunity.

She got as far as the trunk and tapped the lock twice with her wand. Nothing happened.

For a moment, she stared at it, before realising there must be something more to the spell. She hadn't seen everything Dora had done, after all.

She was still thinking when she heard footsteps coming towards the dormitory. Perhaps it was one of the boys heading towards theirs, but she couldn't risk it. Quickly, she shoved the trunk back on its shelf.

It was a good thing she did, as moments later the door opened and Fionnuala entered the room.

"You haven't seen the wrapping paper I made in Transfiguration today, did you?" she asked.

Rose shook her head.

"No. Have you seriously managed to lose it since today's class?"

"It seems that way and I really wanted to use it to wrap my parents' presents. Oh dear. Well, no doubt it'll turn up, don't you think?"

"Fionnuala, we're going home first thing in the morning."

Fionnuala shrugged. "Well, it can't have gone far. Things usually work out in the end, don't you think so?"

"I think it depends how much effort you put into ensuring they do, actually. Come on, let's try and find this wrapping paper of yours."

Once they'd roped a couple of their classmates into helping with the search, the wrapping paper was eventually found, in a lavatory in Ravenclaw tower.

Rose stared at Fionnuala.

"How exactly did it end up there?"

Fionnuala shrugged. "I don't know. I suppose I must have gone to the toilet on the way back after classes and just put it down while I washed my hands or something."

Rose shook her head.

"Honestly, Fionnuala, you're hopeless sometimes," she said good-naturedly.

Fionnuala just laughed and Rose tried to do likewise, but she couldn't help feeling slightly irritated. It was now far too late to make any futher attempts to access Dora's trunk, as students had already begun retiring to bed. She doubted there'd be much opportunity the following morning either.

Oh well, at least she'd have the Christmas holidays to try and figure out what she might have been missing.

The following morning, Ravenclaw tower filled with activity as students hurried around preparing to leave for the Christmas holidays.

Angie remained sitting by the common room fireplace, a book in her hand.

"Are you staying here for the holidays?" Rose asked.

Angie nodded briskly.

"Well, happy Christmas."

"You too, Rose."

Rose retrieved her own trunk and joined the rest of the school as they crowded onto the carriages that took them to Hogsmeade station.

The journey home was a loud and raucous one, but finally the train pulled into King's Cross station where Hugo and her mum and dad awaited her.

If you notice any mistakes in this chapter, please let me know, especially if "lavatory" isn't the term that would be used in Britain for a room with a toilet and sink, but no shower or bath.

If anybody is interested in why Blackburn might not exactly be looking forward to Christmas, there are some indications in "No Room at the Inn", a one-shot set the Christmas after she was bitten.

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