Chapter 3 : Classes Begin
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“I reckon we got a good bunch this year,” I commented, reflecting on the Sorting and all the new faces that had joined our table.
“We always get a good bunch; we’re Hufflepuffs,” Gil said, stifling a yawn. “I hope they hurry up, I’m shattered.”
In came the first-years a few minutes later, and I realised why they’d taken longer than expected. It looked like Norman Abbott had filled the male prefect role, and he was widely known as a pompous know-it-all. He’d probably stopped in the Entrance Hall to explain its detailed history to the new Hufflepuffs, and by the looks on their tired little faces, they’d have much rathered to just go to bed.
“And here we have the rest of the Hufflepuff prefects,” Norman announced loudly. “Eden Dess-cottoo and Gilbert Bevan from sixth year…” We both cringed at our own names; me at the way he’d completely slaughtered the French pronunciation (although most people did, so I couldn’t really blame him), and Gil because he couldn’t stand people calling him by his full name. Norman continued, oblivious to our disapproval, “…and Alaric Trimble and Holly Macmillan from seventh year. If you have questions or need assistance in any way, you can come to one of us.”
“I have a question,” a little girl in the middle of the group piped up, and I was surprised to find that her eyes were on me. “Aren’t you that girl who got in trouble for snogging a boy in the Entrance Hall earlier?”
There was a ripple of murmuring and giggling, and I felt the blood rushing to my cheeks yet again. It was not a sensation that I wanted to get used to. “I wasn’t…we weren’t snogging,” I tried to protest, but the girl was grinning smugly.
“I’ve got two older step-sisters and they have their boyfriends round all the time so I know what snogging looks like. Besides, you’re blushing so it must be true.”
Oh Merlin, was I actually being trumped by an eleven-year-old? Was this really happening? “Well obviously you haven’t been paying attention because I’m pretty sure it involves, you know, lips touching and all that,” I responded futilely, but Lara Harman, the other fifth-year prefect, decided that her input would be relevant.
“Wait, is that what Sirius Black was on about when you came into the Great Hall? I thought he was joking!” she said, her eyes wide as she stared at me. “Nice one Eden, he’s so fit.”
“But I wasn’t kissing him!” I exclaimed, my voice taking on a desperate kind of breathlessness now. “Gil, you were there. Tell them.”
There were a few painful moments where my best friend just stood there, grinning at my humiliating situation. I very quickly developed an expression that clearly read ‘I will end you’, and he rolled his eyes and turned to the others. “She’s telling the truth. It was all a misunderstanding,” he shrugged. “You know, wrong place, wrong time, wrong person to trip and fall onto.”
I was disturbed by the fact that Lara looked positively giddy at the prospect. “How embarrassing for you! But if there’s one person you would want to fall on, it’s Black. I mean, imagine if you’d missed and got Pettigrew!”
Oh, that was the other one’s name: Peter Pettigrew. I knew I was close. “I dunno,” I said dubiously. “At least he’d be a softer landing.” Then I gasped and put my hand over my mouth, realising that that was actually a pretty nasty thing to have said. I mean, he couldn’t help it that he was a bit pudgier than most. Some people just had that body type.
I heard Alaric Trimble laugh at this, and tried to ignore the way my heart skipped a beat. Okay, so I might have had a bit of a crush on him last year. It was hard not to. He was so tall and well-toned, with dark skin and a smile that made you want to die, it was so beautiful. Being in the year above he’d never given me a second look, and I’d managed to keep my crush in check. Yet now here he was laughing at something I’d said. Suddenly all my secret fantasies from last year came rushing back and I had to force myself to focus on my breathing in order to keep my composure.
“Alright, I think it’s time we showed you lot to your dormitories,” Norman Abbott said, ending our conversation there. I was quite glad for the attention to be averted from me. Abbott directed the boys to follow him, and Lara herded all the girls past me. The little one who’d spoken out before stopped when she reached me.
“I thought the one you were snogging was much better than the one spying on you,” she whispered conspiratorially.
I furrowed my brow, confused. “Spying on me? Who was spying?”
“You know, the one who snuck into the Great Hall after you lot. He had really greasy hair.”
My stomach dropped and I exchanged a worried look with Gil. “Was he wearing Slytherin robes?”
“Er, I think so. Yeah, I remember the green,” she replied. Lara chose that moment to call out to the girl to keep up, and she quickly hurried off to see the first-year girls’ dormitory. I turned to Gil, feeling slightly queasy.
“You know, I’m pretty sure it was a trip-jinx that made me fall into the Gryffindors. I felt like something was being tied around my ankles right beforehand.”
“You think it was Snape?” said Gil, reading my mind.
I nodded. “He’s got it in for me. Must’ve been the perfect opportunity: me and Potter’s gang all in the same place.”
“And with Filch just around the corner,” Gil added. He paused, then attempted to give me a reassuring smile. “Well, look on the bright side. At least it was only a trip-jinx.”
“Yeah, but what will it be next time?”
“Think of what your brother said; maybe he only did it because you were near Potter. Try to avoid those guys, yeah? And then you’ll be off Snape’s radar. He’s less likely to jinx you if you don’t associate yourself with them.”
I nodded again. “Yeah, you’re right. And that shouldn’t be too hard. It’s not like we were lifelong chums to begin with,” I said, forcing a smile as well. “But Gil, what on earth does ‘radar’ mean?”
“Oh, it’s a Muggle invention, we learned about it in Muggle Studies. It’s this scientific device they use to detect something’s location.” He got a familiar look in his eyes then, a kind of excitement that I had come to relate to his strange interest in everything Muggle. So while he started rambling on about things called ‘wavelengths’ and ‘transmitters’, I led the way to the nearest cushy armchairs. I liked to be comfortable when Gil got onto one of these tracks, because there had been cases where he’d managed to talk for hours about the crazy things Muggles came up with. It was like this whole different world, and sometimes I wondered whether he’d rather live in that one. I shuddered at the concept of a life without magic. How would anyone cope?
Gil and I both came from Pureblood families – well, almost as pure as they could claim in this day and age. I know that there had been a few discrepancies in my own lineage. It was rumoured that Tobias Misslethorpe himself was the bastard son of a Muggle and a witch, but as said witch was married to my great-grandfather (a very noble and traditional wizard) at the time it was kept quiet. Since then times and values have changed, of course. My parents married for love rather than status, and it was only coincidence that they were both Purebloods. The only pressure that I’d ever felt was my mother’s desire to see me with Gil, and that was purely for the prospect of her having attractive grandchildren. Typical.
Gil yawned, and the action was contagious. “Right, I’m off to bed,” he said. He stood up, stretched, then offered a hand to help me up, which I took. “See you at breakfast?”
He grinned, and for a long moment he just…stared at me. I was about to ask what he was thinking when he pulled me into a hug and said, “It’s good to be back, isn’t it?”
And with that, he said goodnight and disappeared down the boys’ corridor. Thinking how very odd that was, I barely paid attention as I turned for the girls’ corridor.
“Sorry,” said a soft, deep voice, and I glanced up to see I’d almost collided with Alaric Trimble. It seemed I had a penchant for running into attractive boys tonight, though in this case I wasn’t exactly torn up about it.
“No, I should really watch where I’m going,” I said quickly, unable to help my nervous smile.
“It’s okay,” he said with an easy grin, and my heart fluttered. “Night, then.”
And he was gone. It was the first conversation I’d ever had with Alaric Trimble, and though slightly awkward, I was sure it could have gone a lot worse. Maybe this year was going to turn out as well as I’d hoped after all.
Friday, September 3rd, 1977
It’s been two days since I’ve been back at Hogwarts, and this is what’s happened:
1. Alaric Trimble spoke to me! Granted, it was only because I almost head-butted his chest, but it counts, right?
2. I got into all the NEWT classes I wanted except for Potions, which I only received an A for, and Slughorn only takes students with grades E and up. It’s not a huge disappointment, as I always found Potions a huge struggle and I hardly need that NEWT if I plan on continuing the family legacy with Witch Weekly anyway.
3. Professor McGonagall told me in my first Transfiguration class that I would not be given a detention for the incident in the Entrance Hall on our first night back, although she did ask me if I knew anything about a prank in the dungeons that involved a toxic green sludge shower any time the word ‘Mudblood’ was used. She wasn’t surprised when I said no; I’m sure she already had a good idea of who the perpetrators were.
4. Snivellus (yes, I’m using that terrible nickname, because he’s a terrible prat) has not tried to hex me again. This is probably because I’ve been avoiding a certain group of Gryffindor seventh-years like the plague.
5. Despite this, Lara Harman hasn’t stopped asking me about Sirius Black. She honestly thinks something is going on there, even though I cleared that up once and for all (in front of all the Hufflepuff prefects and first-years, no less!).
6. Did I mention seventh-year Hufflepuff prefect Alaric Trimble spoke to me?! I might die.
Otherwise all is going ahead as normal at Hogwarts. We’re back into classes (with more work than ever, I might add – NEWTs are going to be so stressful), and our first Quidditch practice is tomorrow morning. Graham Bennet is our new captain now that Gil’s brother Bryn has left, and he wants to get the existing team together before we start talking try-outs for the Chaser spot. Not that there’s any point; Gil seems pretty sure that his other brother Lloyd is the best bet, and I’ve got to agree with him.
We’re also going to receive our patrol rosters at the prefect’s meeting tonight. Gil told me they put us with a different partner from a different house for every shift so that there’s less chance of bias when dealing out punishments. I suppose it’s a fair call but I’m a little bit disappointed because a) I was looking forward to patrolling with Gil, and b) I might have also been looking forward to patrolling with Alaric Trimble. Imagine me and him, completely alone as we walk the halls of the castle for an entire evening! Too good to be true, I suppose.
Charms starts in ten minutes so I’d better be off.
I closed and magically sealed my journal, as always, and slid it back into my bag. Then I grabbed a couple of slices of toast and a hefty amount of bacon, and threw them together in a good old bacon butty. I had already eaten my breakfast over half an hour ago (I was an early riser), but chances were that Gil was only just rolling out of bed, and would likely need his breakfast on the run. True to form, he showed up just as I was leaving the Great Hall, his hair still in bed mode and his shirt collar sticking up on one side.
“Double Charms first,” I told him as he grabbed the bacon sandwich and took a sizeable bite. He merely nodded, still half asleep, and started up the staircase as he continued to chew on his breakfast. Once we reached the Charms corridor I made him stop, and I quickly smoothed his hair and fixed his collar as he finished off his last bites of toast. He mumbled a “thanks” and we stepped inside the classroom.
We’d had our first Charms lesson the morning before, in which Professor Flitwick had given us a lecture that lasted over half the period about the new intensity brought by NEWTs (the Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests), which we would be sitting in our seventh and final year at Hogwarts.
“You will find these first few weeks of term extremely difficult as your brains struggle to adjust to the new workload set upon you. I assure you all that soon enough, you will learn where your priorities lie with homework, study, and extracurricular activities. I would highly recommend that you relinquish any social pursuits, as you will have no such time for them in these last two years of your schooling.” The entire class had stared at him in shocked silence, until he heaved a somewhat amused sigh and went on. “I do, of course, understand that this is an impossible thing to ask of sixteen-year-olds, but I can promise that there will be times ahead when you will need to put your social lives on hold for the sake of your schoolwork. Please do not consider this to be the end of the world; life will continue after your exams are complete. As long as you achieve satisfactory marks, of course.”
His speech had been somewhat grim, to say the least. Unfortunately for the sixth-years, it had set the tone for the entire day, as we’d received similar lectures from all of the other professors, too. By the evening, we found that we’d been given more homework in one day than we’d had in a single week in our previous years. It was a nightmare.
“I hope you’ve all perfected your Aguamenti Charms,” Professor Flitwick announced to the class as we took our seats, many of the students looking just as bleary-eyed as Gil. There was a murmur of disbelief at this opening statement – we’d only been taught the basics of Aguamenti in the last fifteen minutes of yesterday’s lesson. Did he really expect us to know it already? The answer, it seemed, was yes. “Would you like me to repeat my words from yesterday? For it appears that you were either not listening, or you did not take them seriously,” he said, his tone very firm. This was so unlike the usually excitable and chirpy Professor Flitwick, that each and every one of us sat up straighter in our seats as we started to comprehend the gravity of what lay ahead. “I will give you twenty minutes starting now to practice the Aguamenti Charm. It is one of the simplest spells that you will learn this year, so I trust that you will have little trouble getting a good grasp of it. After those twenty minutes are up, we will be using the charm to lay the foundations for our new foray into non-verbal spell casting. You may begin.”
There was a panicked rustling as everyone riffled through the textbook and consulted their notes from the day before. Beside me, Gil was swearing under his breath as he waved his wand around, failing time after time to get the right movements. “Slow down,” I said. “You almost poked my eye out just then.”
We worked together to figure out the proper incantation and wand movements. I’d managed to get a slight trickle of liquid coming from my wand tip the day before, so I imagined that all I needed to do was concentrate harder to get the stream of water that Professor Flitwick had shown in his demonstration.
Five minutes later a fountain erupted a few seats away from me, and the whole class fell about trying to find cover from the shower that was now descending upon us. “Well done, Miss Lawson!” Flitwick cried as Gaye Lawson of Ravenclaw struggled to regain control of her wand. The jet of water struck just about every surface of the classroom, its force far too strong for Gaye. Flitwick waved his wand and in a brief moment the spell was terminated. “Well done!” he repeated. “Perhaps a little too hasty in your wand movements, but a grand result nonetheless.” He proceeded to show her the mistake she’d made, and in her next attempt she procured a more manageable stream of water. Flitwick conjured up a brass bowl for each desk, and indicated that we should all try to accomplish the spell as Gaye had. I crawled back out from the protection of under our desk, thankful that I’d been quick enough to avoid most of the shower. Gil and I returned to our attempts with renewed vigour, and within the next ten minutes had mastered it as Gaye had done.
“I had a dream last night,” Gil said after a little while of us streaming water into our bowl. “About your mum.”
I jerked my wand in horror, and accidentally splashed water all down Maggie Bones’ robes. “Oi, watch it!” she said, and I muttered a hurried apology before turning back to Gil.
“First of all, that’s disgusting; second, why would you even tell me—”
“No, no! Not like that!” Gil said, his eyes wide. “I mean, she was in my dream. I wasn’t…we weren’t…” His face contorted in deep discomfort, and he began again. “I was at your house, and your mum had bought you all these new dresses from France, but you weren’t around so she made me try them on instead. It was…strange.”
I stared at him incredulously. “What in the world is going on in your subconscious, Gilbert Bevan?”
“Don’t call me Gilbert.”
“How did you look?”
I cracked a grin. “How did you look? In the dresses, I mean. Did they suit you? I bet you looked pretty.”
“No! Bugger that, Eden. What’s wrong with you?” His nose wrinkled in utter disgust.
“Mr Bevan, Miss Descoteaux, so glad to see you’re both paying attention,” Flitwick said, his high voice cutting right through our conversation. We jerked our heads up to see the entire class was watching us. I was about to apologise and share the joke of Gil in a dress, but as if reading my thoughts he stomped on my foot and I winced in pain. I glared at my best friend as Flitwick went on to explain the basics of non-verbal spells. The course matter from there on in proved to be much more difficult than the Aguamenti Charm, so our conversation was forgotten as we focussed on the task ahead of us. I didn’t master non-verbal spells immediately, but neither did he, and that was alright. By the end of double Charms, I’d come to the conclusion that, yes, my last two years at Hogwarts were indeed going to be the hardest, but there was one thing that made it all better: I had Gil.
Author's note: I hope you had a great Easter. I've been wanting to post this for ages, but only had internet on my phone. Dark days indeed.
For the record, Descoteaux is pronounced 'day-coh-toe'...at least that's what my limited understanding of the French language gives me.
Thanks for reading!
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