Chapter 5 : Mood Swings
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Life is shit.
No, it’s not because I had a row with Sirius Black. I got over that about two minutes after it happened, realising on my walk back from the Owlery that people like him just aren’t worth my anger. It also isn’t because Gil asked me what’d put my knickers in a twist when I joined him at dinner afterwards, and I’d had to snap at him because no, there was nothing wrong, and how rude of him to say that I looked grumpier that the Bloody Baron.
No, life is shit because absolutely nothing is going right. I’m not a high-maintenance person; I don’t need my entire life to be peaches and brandy cream, but could I please just catch one break? After spending all of Sunday trying to make a dent in my avalanche of homework, I turned up to double Herbology yesterday morning only to find that I’d completely forgotten the essay for Professor Sprout in the frantic scramble to do all my other subjects. I had to watch the rest of the class hand in their rolls of parchment and then endure Professor Sprout’s disappointed looks for the rest of the lesson. Gil only made it worse by saying I should’ve done my homework with him but, alright, maybe I was still a tiny bit mad at him after the Bloody Baron comment. Besides, that day I felt more inclined to do my homework in the comfort of my bed with Altheda curled up in my lap. Sometimes people just want to be antisocial, okay?
What’s worse, I got a reply from mum this morning. She completely got the wrong end of the wand vis-à-vis the ‘Natalie loves Gil’ situation! I’ll copy the letter here, for worst-mum-in-the-world record-keeping purposes:
What a charming story, but you don’t need to make up tales about friends falling in love with friends to ask me for dating advice! You should know you can always be honest with me. I say just go and tell Gil how you feel. It’s fail proof; we all know he feels the same way.
Everything’s amazing here – I’m very busy organising something exciting for the magazine’s fiftieth anniversary! I can’t wait to tell you all about it once I’ve sorted out the details.
Love and kisses to you and Felix,
Mental, right?! And to top it all off, Natalie was sitting just across from me when I got the letter and of course she had to notice. She cornered me again when Gil was off chatting to Dale Hunter, begging me to tell her what mum said. I told her that maybe she should just tell him how she felt (which was technically mum’s advice, to be fair), but then she gave me a look that said she’d rather eat a barrel of Flobberworms and hasn’t spoken to me about it since. I think she suspects me of wanting to keep Gil all to myself, because she keeps looking suspicious when we’re together. Which is practically always. If only I had the guts to tell her I fancy Alaric Trimble; she could set me up with him (she’s in his year after all), and then she’d have plenty of opportunities for alone time with Gil.
Although speaking of Alaric… No, I can’t even write about it! It’s too embarrassing. Oh, but Gil’s off with his Arithmancy NEWT study group and as he’s the only one who knows about my little crush, I have nobody else to vent to.
Right, well… earlier tonight I was in the common room, trying to practise non-verbal spellwork (which I’m still not even close to accomplishing), when Altheda got all agitated by something and leapt onto my lap and pierced the hell out of my thighs with her claws. I yelped and lost my concentration and sent a jet of sparks across the room, right into Alaric’s eyes. He had to go to the Hospital Wing, and I now I’m sitting on my bed, wanting to kill myself from the humiliation of it all.
Everything’s just awful. I feel so grouchy all the time, and if I even try to be positive I’m just rewarded with something else that brings me down. Honestly, I give up. I’m going to bed.
Wednesday, September 15th, 1977
I got my period this morning.
That explains a lot.
“Oi, Gil! Wait up!”
He slowed to a stop just inside the front doors, then turned to look at me. Confusion crinkled his brow. “Is that … Eden, are you smiling?”
My lips quickly twisted into an apologetic grimace. “Have I been that bad?”
“Your face has been set in a constant glare since Saturday night. I almost considered sneaking a Cheering Charm at you once or twice,” he said as I drew level with him, and together we exited the castle and made our way towards the greenhouses for our early morning Herbology lesson.
“Probably could’ve used that,” I said.
“So what happened? Must’ve been something pretty bad to make you so grumpy.”
“Just a bad case of PMS, actually. I woke up this morning and – ”
“ – and that’s all I need to know, thank you very much,” Gil said, looking distinctly uncomfortable. I laughed and bumped him gently.
“Fair enough. And, sorry. You know, for being such a grouch.”
He grinned and slung an arm around my shoulder. “All is forgiven,” he replied, then shot me a sly look. “Reckon you’ll be apologising to Sirius Black?”
“I don’t thi – wait, I didn’t tell you about that.”
“Nope, but Lupin did. He’s in the study group – sixth and seventh years, you know –, and he heard the whole story from Potter. Apparently the two of you had quite the spat.”
Merlin, the boys were even bigger gossips than the girls at this school. “Yeah well, at least I have my feminine mood swings to blame. What’s his excuse for being such a prat?”
“A question I am sure many have pondered the answer to. Lupin actually seems like a decent bloke; dunno why he hangs around with someone like Black. You’d think he’d have better taste in friends.”
I shrugged. “Doesn’t look like he’s got much of a choice, does it? It’s either join the Marooners – ”
“ – Marauders.”
“Whatever. It’s join them or group up with the Gryffindor girls.”
“And what’s so bad about that?” Gil asked. “I hang out with you.”
“Yeah, but that’s different. You and I are to be married someday,” I said, performing the habitual roll of the eyes that went so well with this topic.
“Your mum’s still on about that?”
“Like you wouldn’t believe.” Then a hint of inspiration occurred to me. “Y’know what would put her off, though? If you dated somebody else!”
Gil stopped short just outside Greenhouse Four, looking bewildered. “What? Wait, why does it have to be me?”
“Because,” I huffed, then paused to consider what I was about to say. If Natalie wasn’t going to make a better attempt at winning him over, then it was time he was told outright. No more of this ‘subtle-in-the-back-of-his-mind’ bollocks. “Because I already know of someone who wants to go out with you.”
His eyebrows rose almost to his hairline. “Who?”
I glanced around surreptitiously at the other sixth-years waiting for the class to start, then beckoned him closer. “Natalie Burgess,” I said in a half-whisper after he’d bent towards me. He pulled away with a small ‘oh!’ but before either of us could say anything else, Professor Sprout was calling us inside.
“You’ve got your essay for me today, I trust?” our teacher said as I passed her in the doorway. I scrambled to swing my bag around and retrieve my Herbology homework, then handed it to her with a meek smile.
“Sorry about the delay, Professor. I promise it won’t happen again.”
“I should think not, Miss Descoteaux,” she said, though with a hint of kindness. “Luckily for you I have chosen not to deduct marks, as I believe this was an honest mistake. Please do not expect me to be so lenient in the future.”
“Of course, Professor,” I said, then hurried off to take my place beside Gil, feeling pleased that at last something was going right.
I didn’t get the chance to continue the topic of Gil’s potential love life, as today we were dealing with Snargaluffs, which, when provoked, attacked with thorny vines and thus required our full attention. It took the entire lesson for Gil and I to retrieve only two pods from the plants, and when the hour was up we left Greenhouse Four with many more scratches and bruises than we’d ever expected from a Herbology lesson. Straight after that we headed to Defence Against the Dark Arts, where Professor Boltimus told us that we would be continuing our work with non-verbal spells. I was part of the half of the class that groaned at this announcement.
“Yes, it is a difficult art to master, and I know that plenty of you are growing tired of it… not only in this class, but in Charms and Transfiguration as well. But seize the opportunity to turn this hardship into a challenge! One of the most important lessons you must learn in the defence against the Dark Arts is that we must draw on our deepest capabilities when we feel at our most hopeless. This is where we find our strengths and successes!”
“This one likes his motivational speeches, doesn’t he?” Gil said under his breath, and I sniggered quietly. Having had a new Defence teacher every year since we arrived at Hogwarts (and for a long time before that, apparently), we’d begun to make note of the defining characteristics of each person to take up the post. My favourite had been in our second year: an ancient witch named Professor Clore who’d had a voice like a banshee. Every lesson she’d regaled us with stories of her time as an Auror, and the adventures she’d had on overseas missions in exotic places like Indonesia and Peru. We never got any work done, but somehow we managed to scrape through our end-of-year exams. This probably had something to do with Clore suffering from bouts of madness every few weeks, and her substitute made up for her lack of teaching in those times.
“Alright, everybody on your feet. We’re going to have a go at non-verbal attack and defence spells,” said Professor Boltimus, and I felt the dread well up inside me as I rose from my seat. With a wave of his wand, Boltimus pushed the chairs and desks to the sides of the classroom to clear the floor.
“I still haven’t got this,” I huffed to Gil.
“You’ll pick it up eventually. You just need more practise,” he said confidently, taking a few strides away and then turning to face me. “How about you attack first?”
I nodded an okay, then adjusted my grip on my wand. I started by saying the incantation for the Melofors Jinx in my head and pairing it with the correct wand movement, but nothing happened. I tried again, this time screwing up my face with sheer concentration.
“Oi, you prat. You’re putting me off!” I grumbled, pointing my wand at him menacingly.
“Sorry. I was just wondering if I’ll end up in the Hospital Wing like Trimble,” he said with a cheeky grin.
I groaned. “You had to remind me.”
Gil muttered something about the look on my face when I did it and broke into a fit of giggles. Thinking that I’d love to give him something to really laugh about, the Tickling Charm popped into my head and I found myself thinking Rictusempra! With a swish of my wand, Gil had hit the floor, tears streaming down his face as he writhed and squirmed, the ticklish spell doing its work. I grinned triumphantly as Boltimus hurried over.
“Well done, Miss…?”
“Yes, very good indeed. We can see here, everyone, that one of the advantages of non-verbal spellwork is to catch our opponent off-guard,” he said. “Although, perhaps you should relieve your friend of the jinx now. He looks a little out of breath.”
Somewhat reluctantly I lifted the spell and Gil rose, panting, to his feet. “Nice one,” he said once he could manage to breathe properly. I was about to shoot a teasing remark back at him, but with a quick flick of his wand I was on my back, staring dazedly up at the ceiling. A few seconds later his face appeared in my line of sight. “I wasn’t going to let you get away with it that easily.” With a hand up I was back on my feet, and for the rest of the lesson we practised our non-verbal duelling with each other, sometimes deflecting the others’ spells, sometimes not. By the time first break rolled around, I was exhausted.
“Is it bedtime yet?” I said as I rubbed my backside. I’d taken a fall to the floor a few too many times that lesson, but it was a comfort to know that Gil had received the same torture. Mostly I was pleased that I’d finally managed to conjure a few halfway decent non-verbal spells.
“The poor dear is tired after two lessons,” Gil cooed, patting me on the head. We grabbed our bags from the edge of the Defence classroom, then headed out into the third floor corridor. “I’ve got a free after the break, then Arithmancy. What about you?”
“Ancient Runes, then a free.”
“Ah, that’s right. Remind me again why we had to choose different electives?”
“Because Arithmancy is dull as balls, and you are not advanced enough for Ancient Runes,” I said with a smirk.
“You’ve got that the wrong way around.”
“I am clearly – ”
“Hey Eden, Gil!” We both looked to where the voice was coming from, and saw Natalie approaching from the end of the corridor. I cast a quick glance at Gil, realising that I hadn’t had the chance to talk further about the whole fancying situation.
“Hi Nat,” I said lightly. “What’s up?”
“Nothing, really. Just wondering whether either of you had a free next. Lauren and Graham have Divination and Alaric’s being boring and doing homework in the Library,” she said, pulling a face. How anyone could think Alaric was boring was beyond me, but I didn’t miss the fact that this was an opportunity for Nat and Gil to spend some one-on-one time together.
I gave a regretful sigh. “Sorry Nat, I’ve got Ancient Runes next. But Gil’s free. You were just heading down to the common room, weren’t you pal?” I said, giving him an over-genial slap on the back. He gave me a half-terrified, half-accusing look, but by now it was too late to protest.
“Brilliant! How about a game of wizard’s chess?” said Natalie, looping her arm through his and starting to pull him away. She cast a glance back over her shoulder at me, and I gave a wink in return. Beaming, she led him around the corner and out of sight.
Well, I’d done my part. It was up to the two of them to figure it out now. With a satisfied smile I shifted my bag more securely on my shoulder and made my way up to the sixth floor for Ancient Runes.
“I would like two feet discussing the prevalence of Latin in pre-modern transcriptions to be handed in next Tuesday. That will be all,” said Professor Akila, and there was a hurried scratching of quills as we all wrote down the essay topic. It had been a highly interesting lesson, and I was beginning to find that Ancient Runes was becoming one of my favourite subjects. Determined not to have another screw-up like my Herbology homework, I headed straight to the library at the beginning of my free period in order to make some headway with Latin transcriptions.
There were a small number of books on the topic in the Ancient Runes section, and I scooped up all of them before settling down in a seat at one of the long tables at the far end. It wasn’t until I stopped to look around me that I realised Alaric Trimble was sitting only a few metres away. I blushed and tried to make myself look busy, but he’d already caught my eye. To my surprise, he smiled.
Flabbergasted, I only half managed to smile back. “I, uh… meant to apologise about last night,” I said. I really hoped my cheeks weren’t as red as tomatoes. They probably were.
“It’s alright. Accidents happen, and Pomfrey fixed me up fairly quickly,” he said. I studied his dark eyes, which did look fine, apart from the faint redness around the edges. He smiled again. “Besides, you sort of did me a favour. It gave me an excuse to escape a weird conversation. Do you remember that first-year who accused you of snogging Black on the first night?”
I nodded, though I was all-too-eager to forget the events of September the first.
“Well just a heads up, she’s a strange girl,” Alaric chuckled. “Steer clear of her if you can.”
I laughed too. “Why? What was she talking about?”
“I’m not entirely sure. But she was definitely on par with that Lovegood bloke in Ravenclaw. Maybe they’re related?”
Having no idea who that ‘Lovegood bloke in Ravenclaw’ was, and unwilling to ask in case it made me look stupid, I simply laughed along with him for a moment and then glanced down at my Ancient Runes textbook. Wow Eden, talk about awkward.
“So…” Alaric said after a prolonged silence, and I quickly looked back up at him. He seemed … troubled by something. “You weren’t really snogging Black, were you? Because I did hear – ”
I sighed, cutting him off. “Lara Harman is a liar. Just gossiping for the sake of drama,” I confirmed, and a look of relief passed over his features. I couldn’t help but let the tiniest of smiles twitch at my lips. “Why do you ask?”
“Black’s not a nice guy, is all,” he said, albeit a little too quickly to be classed as casual. I simply nodded and went back to my work. He stayed quiet, and I suspected he was relieved that I hadn’t pressed the topic. For the rest of my free period until lunch I mulled over the entire conversation, and by the end of the hour I was busting to go and tell Gil all about it. I didn’t get the chance to though, because Alaric walked with me to the Great Hall and sat beside me for lunch, which made me feel nervous and excited all at once. To top it all, Gil and Natalie weren’t even there, which led me to thinking that something had gone either very right, or very wrong. I tried to shrug it off, figuring I had better things to occupy myself with and besides, I had double Transfiguration with Gil next. He could tell me how it all went then. For now, I would bask in the glory that was Alaric Trimble: the Hottest Boy at Hogwarts.
Author's note: I am SO sorry it took me so long to post this. Life has been insane, plus I had very limited motivation for this chapter. It's so hard to write when nothing exciting is happening! Oh wait, please don't be put off by that. There is exciting stuff coming up (and plenty of Sirius, too), but I'm just not keen on rushing the plot. I promise if you stick by me, things will get better.
As always, many thanks to those who read and review. I quite adore you all.
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