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Love, and Arithmancy by KJ Cartmell
Chapter 15 : Trouble with Reginald Dennison
 
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Chapter Fifteen:
Trouble with Reginald Dennison



After dinner, everyone went downstairs. Stainton and Delia took the First Years on a tour. The boys were very quiet, but Dennison's eyes flitted this way and that. He stared a long time at the books in the library, color coded by subject and school grade. The stairwell, too, leading downstairs, also caught his eye.

The girls were surprised, for Dennison had a reputation for complaining and demanding special privileges. Maybe he's grown out of it, thought Freya.

The tour ended in a study room. Parchment and ink were already set out. "All right, my Firsties," said Delia, "I want you all to write a quick note for your parents to let them know that you made it to school, and you've been sorted into Slytherin. We'll be back in half an hour to check on you."

The girls dutifully started in on the appointed task. The boys sat down and immediately, there was a hiss of whispers. One of the boys, Jones, shouted out, "I wanna go!"

"Quiet!" said Dennison, sternly.

The three girls eyed the boys suspiciously. Alyssa said, "What are you scheming, Dennison?"

"None of your business, Pitchfork," he answered, coldly.

Freya countered with her own cold manner. "Don't expect us to cover for you. Not with that attitude."

"You girls sit there and play nice," said Dennison sternly, "and stay out of my way."

There was a silent standoff of cold stares. Then, Dennison stood, and his troop immediately followed. "The Prefects told us to stay here!" said Freya.

"We'll go where we please," said Dennison, and he strode from the room.

"What should we do?" asked Meriko.

Freya had a mind to follow the boys and spy on them, but Alyssa said, "Let them go. Whatever they're going to do, they'll get caught, and they'll get in big trouble."


Out in the hallway, Dennison split his troop into two groups. Jason Carter was his oldest friend and most trusted Lieutenant. He said to Carter, "Take someone with you, back to the library," he said. "Pretend to look at the First Year books. But, I want one of those NEWT level books. Potions or Defense."

Carter nodded. Aiden and Terrill looked nervously at each other. Aiden whispered, "Go with him." Terrill nodded, and the two boys slipped away.

Dennison led the others to the stairwell. "We aren't supposed to go down there," said Aiden, sharply.

But Jones urged him on. "Come on! It'll be fun."

"We're not here to have fun," said Dennison crossly. "The older kids are keeping secrets from us. I want to find out those secrets."

Down the dark stairwell they crept. There were voices below, older students greeting one another and sorting out their room arrangements. Dennison picked the first door he found and opened it.

There was nothing on the other side but a blank darkness. He lit his wand tip. "Come on!" he urged the others.

They stepped into the dark room. The other two boys were able to repeat the charm and light the tips of their wands. They were in a large cold, empty room. It was eerily silent. Despite their best efforts to be quiet, the sound of their footsteps echoed off the ceiling.

Sadie had never mentioned such a place to Aiden. This is someplace she has never been. She probably doesn't even know about it. "It's some kind of meeting room," he said.

"Yes, I think so," said Dennison. "Let's find something quick and head back upstairs."

They were in the Council Room, where the Slytherin student body met to resolve intra-House matters. Dennison walked boldly toward the desks where the Council Members sat. He looked amongst the seven chairs for a scrap of paper or a book, but he found nothing. There hadn't been a Council Meeting, yet, and the House Elves had tidied everything from the previous term.

"There's nothing here," said Dennison. "Let's go back upstairs." The other boys quickly assented. They made their way back to the door. At the threshold, Dennison said, "This is just a sortie. We'll come back later and get something really good."

Dennison cracked the door open and peeked out. Seeing no one, he motioned to the others. The three boys slipped into the hallway and shut the door behind them.

As soon as the Council Room door clicked closed, older students came from all directions, wand drawn. Dennison tried to bolt and break the circle, but an older boy grabbed him by the collar.

Dennison kicked out wildly with his right foot and found himself floating in the air. The older students laughed as he struggled and punched, harmlessly.

Leading the group of older students were the two former Prefects, now Seventh Years, Rebecca Gallstone and Blake Preston. Rebecca set her hand on Aiden's shoulder, while Preston put his hand on Jones.

"Let's take these boys back up to their Prefect," said Preston.

Dennison continued to kick and punch the air. "Put me down!" he screamed. "Just wait until - "

Rebecca silenced him with a swipe of her wand. With another spell, she began to push him up the stairs. "This one, we'll take straight to Gregor."

Rebecca and Blake led the three First Years and a group of curious onlookers up the stairs and into the Hearth room. Blake left to fetch Professor Gregor, while a Sixth Year boy went to fetch Stainton.

Dennison stayed floating in the air, in a silent bubble. Jones and Aiden kept their hands in their pockets. Around them was a thicket of wands.

A Second Year boy came up to Rebecca. "Miss Gallstone," he said, in a polite, obsequious voice, "one of the First Year boys stole a book out of the library. A NEWT book. I saw its little green sticker before he shoved it in his cloak."

Just then, Stainton and Delia appeared. "Stainton," said Rebecca, "go with Chalmers, here and find the other two First Year boys. One of them has a NEWT book from the bookshelf."

"I told them not to touch those!" said Stainton, crossly.

"They apparently have some trouble following directions."

By the time Professor Gregor arrived, Stainton had returned with Carter and Quinn. Stainton was holding a copy of Moste Potente Potions. "They thought they could hide it in one of their trunks," said Stainton, casually. "I just Summoned it."

Professor Gregor released the spells holding Dennison and set him gently onto the floor. Immediately, Dennison erupted. "Professor! The older students have been bullying me!" Professor Gregor held up his hand, but Dennison ignored the sign and kept carrying on. "We weren't doing anything! We were just exploring! And this witch started bouncing me around like a beach ball! My parents won't stand for this! I want to see punishments!"

Professor Gregor stared silently down at the boy with a cold, furious glare, but Dennison did not get the hint. Finally, Gregor bent down and stared into the young boy's face.

"Dennison," he intoned solemnly, "when I hold up my hand, that's a sign for you to stop talking."

"But, Professor! They were bullying me!"

Gregor stayed calm, but his voice became like ice. "I am asking you to remain silent, until I speak with Preston and Gallstone. If you cannot comply, I will allow Gallstone to silence you with her wand once more."

Finally, Dennison got the message. He bit his lip. Gregor straightened, and looked to Rebecca. "What happened?"

"We heard them in the Council Room. They were sneaking around, looking for secret things. They clearly knew they weren't supposed to be there."

Blake picked up the narration. "Once we caught them, this one started kicking and screaming. So Becca shut him up and cast that clever spell to keep him from hurting himself and others."

Gregor: "Whose idea was it to go downstairs?" Aiden quickly fingered Dennison. "Was it his idea also, to steal the book?"

Aiden: "Yes. He split us up so we could do both."

Carter: "Rat." This won him a hard pinch in the shoulder from Rebecca.

Aiden: "The girls would have ratted us out. We were foolish to plan and scheme in front of them."

Gregor: "I want to impress upon the five of you the seriousness of this matter. There are privileges to being in Slytherin House, but those privileges must be earned. As a First Year, you must wait your turn."

He reached out his hand and took the book from Stainton. "The potions in this book are far beyond the abilities of First Year students. You would do nothing but harm to yourselves and others by attempting them now.

"Likewise, the lower Halls are reserved for older students. It is a privilege and an honor to be in those rooms. When you are older, you may peruse them at your leisure. For now, you will stay in the Upper Halls, unless escorted by your Prefects."

Looking to the two Fifth Year Prefects, Gregor said, "I want these five under constant surveillance. This is beyond what I would expect from a single Prefect. Soulbridge, I will need you to assist Stainton in this matter."

"What about the girls?" asked Delia.

"One of them is Felwich's sister. That coven has taken the initiative with the three new girls. Let them continue to be guides and mentors."

Delia nodded. "I'll ask them if they will help me."

After she had finished her letter home, Freya had slipped away from the table and gone out to the Hearth Room. She observed from the shadows the confrontation between Professor Gregor and Reginald Dennison. When she heard Gregor’s instructions to Delia, she hurried back to the room.

“So, what happened out there?” asked Alyssa.

“They got in trouble,” said Freya. “The Deputy Headmaster had to speak to them.”

Meriko’s eyes were wide. Alyssa made a wry grin. “That’s bad.”
“Delia should be coming soon to check on us.”


Delia, though, first sought out the Third Year girls. She found them in one of their favourite lounges. Morwena and Tess sat on one love seat, while Rhiannon and Pauline sat on another.

Delia addressed Tess. “Cousin, can check on the Firstie Girls? I’m going to have to help Stainton keep an eye on the boys. They’ve been in trouble already.”

“What happened?” asked Tess. The four girls sat in quiet shock as Delia described the evening’s high jinks.

Tess said, “I’ll get the little girls ready for bed.”

“I knew I could count on you!” said Delia. “I’ve got to run. They’re finding a room for me upstairs. I need to move all my stuff! Thankfully, I haven’t had time to unpack!” She went to the threshold of the room and waved. “Ciao!”

As soon as Delia had gone, Morwena’s look of polite interest soured. “Why is she asking you to do this? Why didn’t she ask all of us? She at least should have asked me to check on Freya.

“It’s just that I’m her cousin, that’s all,” said Tess.

“Rhiannon is her cousin, too.”

“The Soulbridges try to forget that fact,” said Rhiannon, dryly. “And, that’s fine with me.”


Tess kept her cheerful attitude, though she was starting to get frustrated with Morwena. “Let’s check on the girls together.”

The coven got up and went to the Hearth Room, then made their way to the study room where the three younger girls were still sitting. Their folded letters were in a little stack.

“Look!” said Alyssa. “Freya showed us how to make envelopes!”

Morwena set her hand on Freya’s shoulder. “Well done.”

“Let’s go see your room!” said Tess, cheerfully.

Tess led the group to the room that she and her friends had lived in as First Years. The room had been re-configured, as there were only three beds. Nobody had to lay next to the water closet with its noisy plumbing.

On the middle bed, his paws crossed in front of him, was Mr. Morganfield. Meriko ran to him and pulled him into her arms. “Oh, a kitty! He’s so cute!”

“That’s my cat,” said Freya, a little harsher than she meant to.

“She can pet him for a minute,” said Tess. “There’s room for only one at the sink. Alyssa, why don’t you brush your teeth? Freya and Meriko can get ready for bed.”


Tess went back to her own room. As a Third Year, she had a wardrobe for her dresses as well as a chest of drawers. She began unpacking her trunk. The picture of the Esoteric Club, still in its silver frame, she set on the nightstand by her bed.

A few minutes later, Alyssa came into the room. She was wearing a red and black plaid flannel nightgown. She sat on Tess’ bed while Tess finished putting away the rest of her clothes.

Alyssa picked up the frame and looked at it. “What’s this? It’s a Muggle photo!”

“My mom is in it,” said Tess. “It was taken while she was at Hogwarts.”

“Oh, I think I see her. She’s sitting with her boyfriend.”

“Yes.”

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

“Not yet.”

Alyssa set the frame down and ran her hand through her bushy blond hair. “My hair is tangled,” she said.

Tess pulled a brush from her nightstand drawer. “Would you like me to brush it for you?”

“Could you?” asked Alyssa, meekly.

Tess sat down next to Alyssa on the bed and began gently running the brush through the younger girl’s hair. “Are you missing your family?”

“A little.” Then, more anxiously, “Was it a mistake to come here? Should I have been with Mona in Ravenclaw?”

“I think you’re right where you need to be.”

Alyssa winced as Tess pulled the brush through a tangle. “How are we gonna do three girls?”

“You’ll manage,” said Tess, though privately, she had been worrying about the same thing. “You’ll be stronger as three, than as two against one. You’ll just have to keep everything even as best you can.”

Into the Third Year girls room came Meriko, in a pink nightgown. When she saw Tess and Alyssa together, she ran and sat on Tess’ other side. “Will you brush my hair, too?” asked Meriko.

Tess laughed. Meriko’s hair was straight and shiny black. It didn’t look at all tangled. Still, Tess gave it a few brushes.

“You two get a whole day tomorrow to hang out and be friends before classes start. If it’s not raining, you should take a walk. There’s a path that takes you all the way around the castle.”

Tess stood and set down her brush. “Now you girls run along to bed. I need to change into my nightgown. I’ll check on you in a few minutes.”

Alyssa and Meriko slid off the bed and went back to their room. Tess pulled a nightshirt from her drawer and began to change.

As she was putting away her laundry, she noticed that Freya was lurking in the shadows. She looked urgently at Tess, yet she seemed also to be hiding. “Hello, Freya,” said Tess, gently. “Did you want to talk to Wennie?” Freya shook her head no. “Would you like your hair brushed?”

Freya came and sat on the bed. Tess ran the brush through Freya’s straight brown hair. Freya murmured, “I hate my life.”

“Why?” asked Tess. She gave Freya a kiss on the temple. “You’re going to be fine.”

“Wennie hates me. Everybody hates me.”

“Nobody hates you, silly. Morwena cares about you and wants you to be successful. Alyssa and Meriko want you as their friend.”

“They don’t hate me?”

“Of course not.” Tess gave Freya a firm hug. “Come on, now. Let’s go to bed.”

She walked Freya back to the younger girls room. The two other girls were sitting on Meriko's bed. Tess could hear the low rumbling purr of Mr. Morganfield as he sat on Meriko's lap.

When she saw Freya, Alyssa slid off the bed. She gave Freya firm hug and said, "Oh, Freya, we're going to have so much fun this year!"

Meriko slid off the bed, and she too gave Freya a hug. Then all three girls gave Tess hugs. "All right now," said Tess, laughing. "It's time for bed."

When Tess returned to her dormitory, the other girls had left, and the room was dark. Tess moved easily across the room. She turned on the lamp by her bedside, then put away her brush and completed the rest of her unpacking.

She heard soft footsteps behind her and turned her head. Instead of another little girl, needing comforting, it was tall Rhiannon. Her face was shrouded in darkness. "What did Freya want?"

"All the girls were feeling a little homesick," said Tess.

"They'll be fine."

"Freya didn't want to go to Wen?"

"I guess not. Morwena means well, but she's so hard on Freya. You need a gentle touch every so often."

Rhiannon nodded. "I told Wen as much. 'Tess will be sweet to Freya, the way she is with Aylie.'" Tess nodded.

Rhiannon's expression was opaque. She delivered her warning in a level voice. "Just be careful - people might start to think of you as the Third Prefect."



[I'll let you ponder those words on your own for a bit. Next up: back to Liam and the Hufflepuffs! Liam get a difficult assignment from an unexpected source . . . .]


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