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Chapter 4 : Creative Output: Mischief
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My sixth year course load goes as follows:
Charms with Professor Flitwick
Defence Against Dark Arts with Professor Teddy Lupin
Herbology with Professor Longbottom
Potions with Professor Slughorn
Transfiguration with Professor Amelio
Alchemy with Professor Cunningham
Care of Magical Creatures with Professor Hagrid
Apparition with Professor Twycross
Divination with Professor Trelawney and Firenze
I am especially curious about Alchemy. In the course description, I read that the course will cover an introduction to the elements and the transmutation of them. Knowing how to use the unhealthy amount of carbon dioxide in the air to produce oxygen and diamonds and more, I figure this should be interesting and easy.
It’s my very first class of the new school year.
I enter the classroom and look around. Due to the small number of people who signed up, this class contains both sixth and seventh years. Some of my classmates are already seated, gossiping about James Potter’s jaw. How dreamy it is with the new addition of a light sprinkling of stubble on it.
Ever since the boy was old enough to be considered hot, James’s many body parts have been discussed in great detail by an impressive handful of admirers. People drool over him the way they would in anticipation of food consumption. I am disturbed not only by this very fact, but by the descriptions themselves.
Among the more popular body parts of his discussed are various parts of his muscular system, his drool-worthy bone structure, and most of all, his ‘oh-don’t-mind-me-I’ve-just-been-copulating’ hair.
Once again, I question the variety of conversation I may be subject to if, you know, I actually had a social life. In terms of assessing a person’s physical characteristics, I opt for objectivity rather than objectification. I would pity James if he wasn’t actually flattered by such attentions.
I place my textbook on my desk and set up my quill and inkpot. After first year, I stopped reading textbooks until I got on the train instead of reading them from the moment I got them. I instead imposed my presence on my parents because, attending a boarding school, I want to maximise the time I do have with them. They are the only two people who really know me in this world. More than the people who raised me and taught me, my parents are my best friends.
Among other people who slowly file into the room as class time approaches, I recognise Louis Weasley, Ava Finnigan, Ada Barnes, Lola Davies, and James from seventh year. Additionally, from sixth year, I see Rose, Harriet Baddock, Valentina Esposito, Scorpius, Lucy, Daisy, Clinton, Lindström Ahlberg, Claire Creevey, Al, and Arden Yang.
Rose seats herself to my left. I smile at her politely.
She smiles back. “Hello Annett. How was your summer?”
“It was great, Rose.” I think about the vacation I took back to Austria to see my grandparents and my happiness energises me. “How was yours?”
She wrinkles her nose, but her eyebrows aren’t furrowed and the corners of her mouth are turned up. “Full of craziness. Typical Weasley gathering.”
Suddenly she sits up straighter, her mood lifts. I recognise her symptoms. She’s been afflicted with Scorpius-is-here-invitus. Turning to the door, I see that Scorpius has been similarly afflicted, but I diagnose him to have Rose-is-here-isis. I leave Rose’s attention so that she may focus it on Scorpius by turning away after I give him a brief greeting.
Conversation between them starts up so easily and smoothly. They follow each other seamlessly. It’s like watching a waltz. If waltzing has anything to do with the nasty fall the captain of the Chudley Cannons took last week and whether or not it should’ve been considered foul play.
Al is sitting on the other side of me and James is sitting on the other side of Al.
“‘Morning, Kluge,” James says casually.
I return the greeting.
“So my ickle, little brother—”
“James I’m not that little.”
“Shush, Al, I’m trying to talk to your girlfriend. Anyway, Albie tells me that you are up to no good.”
I raise my right eyebrow.
“I want in.” James’s eyebrows form a straight line, his eyes are calculating, he is leaning towards me, he means business.
“Your plans for Yang,” he whispers with a grin most certainly not devoid of mischief.
“What can you contribute?” I ask him.
“I’m seventeen now. I don’t have the Trace on me.”
“I see. Your point is valid. I will take it into account as I consider opening up a position for you. Anything else?”
“If you take me, you also get Roxanne and Fred. You know we more than dabble in this game you’re trying to play.”
James, Roxanne, and Fred are known as master pranksters. Sometimes, I see and hear them sneaking about the halls late at night when I’m in my Animagus form.
Poor guy thinks I'’m an amateur, but I know that he knows the Shrieking Shack better than any other student. Al told me so when we were brainstorming last night.
“You’re in. We convene tonight at the library.”
I hear Al sarcastically whisper to James, asking him if he knows what and where the library is.
“Good morning, class. I am Professor Cunningham.” A woman looking to be in her 70s, but probably around a century old, enters the classroom.
“I’ll just take attendance and we’ll get to our first lesson: Introduction of the elements.”
She drew a square on the board and then an equilateral diamond right on top of it.
On the corners of the square, she wrote from the top right going clockwise: 'dry,' 'cold,' 'wet,' and 'hot.' On the corners of the diamond, she wrote from the top going clockwise: 'Fire' between dry and hot, 'Earth' between dry and cold, 'Water' between cold and wet, and 'Air' between wet and hot.
My hands twitch as I resist the urge to slap my own forehead, to ‘facepalm.’
“These are the basic elements,” her voice rings unpleasantly.
Basic elements, classical elements, not basic elements of the periodic table. Why did I not see this? When were any elements of the periodic table ever referred to as ‘basic?’
Yes, these elements were important to know, but there are limitations to them. We could do so much more if we take the periodic table of elements into account. Transmutation requires molecular change, so would it not make sense to study the behaviour of molecules, starting with the elements of the periodic table?
Professor Cunningham notices my scowl directed towards her diagram.
“Something wrong, Miss Kluge?”
“I am wondering if we also discuss the periodic table of elements anytime in this course?” This is the first time I’ve ever spoken aloud like this in class.
She laughs. Some of my classmates laugh as well. Others give me strange looks.
“Goodness no, my dear. This is magic, not muggle science.”
“Now, class. I want you all to open your textbooks to chapter one and write me a one foot long essay concerning the basic principles of Alchemy. You have until the end of class.”
I read the first chapter. I don’t like it. It completely ignores particle physics. Turning to the front cover, I read that this textbook, the latest edition, has been in circulation for more than a century. In more than one century, has alchemy not changed?
I groan intrinsically. Scientific concepts must be constantly updated upon new discoveries, they must be added to. Improvements in science stem from a different perspective, new experiments, and even falsification. Change is usually improvement. This book indicates that Alchemy has not improved in a whole century! The information contained within these pages are severely out of date.
I write my own theories. I write about particle physics and molecular behaviour. I conclude that by taking these into account, Alchemy could be so much more. I hand my essay in and leave.
After dinner, James, Roxanne, Fred, the Corners, Scorpius, Al and I adjourn at the library.
“I call this meeting into session,” Fred starts dramatically as the Corners finally join us.
“What are your plans so far?” James asks me.
“To meet your deadline, the 20th of October, I will have him slowly warm up to me. I aim to make small talk by the end of this month by acknowledging his presence. This week, I’ll give him a nod 35% of the time, by the next, about 70%. This percentage will increase as we approach October to 90% including small talk 45% of the time.”
“Why not just seduce him?”
“Annett feeds Yang’s attraction to her by acting mysteriously aloof and indifferent. Seduction would be too forward,” Al explains to his brother. “That being said, you could give him a wink or two every now and then.”
“That would make sense. You do want to be the mysterious chick he finds attractive, but you don’t want to be too aloof that he is deterred.” Roxanne says.
"Are there rules I should know about concerning the bet?" I look around our group.
"Anyone who mentions the bet or the prank to the professors gets cut out of the wins, if they win. If they lose, they don't get back their secrecy deposit of a couple galleons back. There are also too many students involved for anyone to willingly say anything." Carter tells me. This is one well-informed boy.
"And what's to stop Yang?" I ask him.
"His ego and reputation." Carter smirks.
“The betting group agreed that Yang will have to ask you out publicly for the date to count. Do you think you could work with that?” Fred asks.
“I’ll find a way to use that to humiliate him even more,” I tell him.
“You sound like a professional schemer,” James notes.
“Do I?” I ask him.
“Annett, what have you done?” Al inquires hesitatingly.
His eyes are restlessly roaming my face for answers.
“You’ve pranked before, haven’t you?” By now, the continual searching is enough to make me squirm very slightly. I clear my throat.
“I’m a Slytherin. You understand as well as I do that our cleverness and resourcefulness are not satisfied unless we have a form of creative output for it. Usually, mischief.” Al nods in conceding agreement.
Never doubt my skills in deflection. It only ever falters with my parents, though.
Scheiße - shit
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