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Chapter 2 : communism in mermish
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chapter image; mintleaf @ tda.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single student in possession of a good History of Magic OWL grade must be in want of a History of Magic NEWT grade.
And, as History of Magic is the easiest subject Hogwarts offers- most people would argue Herbology, but I’ve always secretly struggled with it- this statement applies to almost every student in the Sixth Year at Hogwarts. Therefore there were several classes running, and each class was full to capacity.
“I regret not continuing History,” said Mikey absent-mindedly, as Aspen and I left him, Oscar and Liam Finnigan at the breakfast table that morning. Mikey was doing eleven NEWTs, he was a genius, a real brainiac with this lifelong obsession with knowledge. He was a total, dictionary definition pledged nerd, which always surprised the girls he dated who knew him from his Quidditch Chaser status.
“That’s such a lie,” I said, smirking. “You love being able to be in the elite few of the year not doing the subject.”
“Am I that obvious?” he called to our retreating backs. The late autumn sun was shining weakly through a pearly overcloud, casting the corridor we walked into in an almost ethereal light I appreciated as Aspen chattered away.
“If you and Mikey dated again we could go on double dates with Scorpius,” she said brightly, and I turned from the stained glass windows towards Aspen, who, I imagined, already had an idea of my response.
“We do go on double dates,” I said, shooting her a half-hearted dirty look. The previous Hogsmeade trip was the second time her and Scorpius tried to set the two of us up. Mikey found it hilarious, of course.
“But now he has competition from James Potter…” she teased, referring to the Quidditch incident a week ago. Aspen and Oscar had gotten over it, but she still liked to bring it up. It was the most exciting thing to happen to me, she claimed.
“Yeah, so much competition from James Potter… I hate all this drama…”
“What’s it like having two boys fighting over you?”
“Awful, honestly,” I said, and she threw her head back in laughter as we reached the classroom. I don’t think there will ever be a time in my life where I’m not harbouring a secret envy of Aspen’s hair. It was a glorious golden blonde, a real lion’s mane, if lions had access to L’Oreal Elvive.
“Late,” Binns trilled, as we walked in. We weren’t late, not in the slightest, we were right, perfectly on time but Aspen elbowed me in the ribs before I could object. It wasn’t like Binns would care, anyway, he was wondrously nonchalant about everything. He just did not care. Albus Potter, the boy I sat next too, had a theory that he was eternally high.
“Do you think ghosts can get high?” I asked him, still thinking about it as I slid into my seat. Albus Potter was nothing like his older brother. He was just as good looking, if not slightly smaller and skinnier, with vividly green eyes; but he was nice, friendly, outgoing. The kind of guy to start a conversation in the library over a book you were reading, but then suddenly leave in the middle because he got distracted.
“Effy,” he said, smiling pleasantly at me. “What a silly question. Of course they can get high. Just, I mean- look at him, for fuck’s sake- he looks like he got lost on the way to Glastonbury and ended up teaching at a boarding school in Scotland.”
I tried to contain my laughter as Binns drawled on, copying down the notes Albus had jotted down, but a small giggle escaped that sounded almost fart-like. Albus smirked down at his parchment as the two girls in front of us- Poppy Atticus and Eve Feltham, Hufflepuffs joint at the hip- turned around and gave me a look.
“I was thinking about it last night, actually," Albus continued, once Atticus and Feltham had turned back around. "Maybe he died high? Then you stay high, right? Forever in the afterlife. Like, if you die with brown hair, you don’t get to change it, do you-”
“High forever? Sounds like a Hufflepuff fantasy.”
“He is such a Hufflepuff.” And he said this slightly louder than his other words, almost as if to bait the two girls in front of us to turn around again.
There was something about Albus Potter; perhaps it was the way his eyes twinkled in this November sunlight emitting from the window beside me, perhaps it was a Tuesday and I was only two months into the school year and bored stiff; but as we continued speaking under our breath during the lesson, him cracking joke after joke in his enticing, fruity voice, I couldn’t help but look at his lips, wonder what it would be like to kiss them.
For Albus was great, and we were friends- not only through History, but our two best friends were dating, he and Scorpius were inseparable- when does a fancy turn into a crush? What is the anatomy of a crush? Truthfully, I had had a thing for him since October, when he flirted with me at a Halloween party thrown by Louis Weasley.
I haven’t had a crush since Mikey Lancaster in Fourth Year. I was obsessed; it was my first ever real experience with love, and with that my first ever real experience of growing up and maturing. We dated for three months but when it came to the summer holidays and we decided to leave it for the summer. Adolescent, love-fuelled angst, all of that.
I sought him out after lunch, where was sat in the common room with Liam. Obviously. Mikey Lancaster and Liam Finnigan were always together, almost Siamese, only rivalled in terms of closeness by Rudy Walcott and Louis Weasley, the Gryffindor Beaters in our year.
“Hey Effy,” said Liam, as I walked up to the duo. “You alright?”
“Yeah, thanks,” I said. “Mikey, can I talk to you for a second?”
Liam and Mikey looked at each other and Liam wolf whistled. Mikey laughed and hit him, who pretend to be in agonising pain from it. “Yeah, sure.”
We walked over to a more private corner of the Common Room, right by the window. “What’s up, Eff?” he asked.
“Well, remember earlier this term when you came to me for advice on Jasmine Azalea and we agreed that since we dated like, last year, we’ll help each other out as much as possible because like-”
“Oh, Effy,” he said, impatiently, and I noticed how blue his eyes truly were in that pearly late autumnal sunshine. “Spit it out. Liam was in the middle of telling me about the Quidditch Cup drawings.”
“I think I fancy Albus,” I said in a rush.
“How many Albus’ are there?!”
“You could have been referring to the old Head teacher,” he said, puffing a bit. “He’s a good looking lad, silver fox, all that Kingsley Shacklebolt jazz.”
I snorted slightly at his reference to the previous Minister of Magic, and continued in my earnestness.“And because Aspen and Scorpius are so on and off it’s quite difficult establishing a firm relationship with him, you know?”
“Poor little white girl. My heart bleeds for you,” he said, the left corner of his mouth lifting as he smirked, but then stopped. “Well Hogsmeade is having a Halloween fair next Saturday, right? Just let Aspen make you look pretty."
“What else am I meant to wear?” I asked.
“Mm. Dunno. A skirt, because your legs are nice. You’re a bit flat, though, so don’t worry about cleavage.”
“Wow, honestly, stop it! I'm blushing. I've always wanted to hear your review on my anatomy.”
"I live to serve, really."
"Like God, take me whenever. I'm so ready. I've won at life."
He winked at me, and crossed his arms. “I work with him in Herbology, so you know what I’ll do? We often talk about girls anyway, so I’ll mention how I used to date you and I’ll see how he reacts and report right back to you, yeah?”
“Oh my god, that would be great- can you put that in a Pensieve? I know the year above boys have one, they're super nice-” but then Mikey cut me off.
“No, oh my god, Effy, you freak. But my next lesson with him is tomorrow before lunch, so find me then, yeah?”
“Cheers Mikey,” I said, and hugged him. He hugged me back, and being a Quidditch player, has quite a big and defined body which, in the cold that came in through the window, warmed me up and just made me feel so secure because there’s just nothing like a guy hugging you, is there?
“How’s Cecelia Keegan going?” I asked after we broke up.
He snorted. “You’ll laugh.”
“She’s such a bad kisser, Effy,” groaned Mikey. “She’s shit, you know, absolutely awful.”
“Oh Michael Lancaster,” I said, pretending to tut. “That’s horrible.”
“Whatever, Effy. So I’ve just started talking to Niamph Finnigan-”
“That’s your best friend’s cousin!” I cried, attracting looks towards me from startled nearby students for the second time today.
“Which is why it’s a secret. Anyway…” And as I listened as Mikey filled me in with his girl drama, it occured to me that he was really rather awful. I don't think he had been in a real relationship either since the two of us decided to call it quits, and as I watched him speak I really wondered why. He wasn't awful to girls to fulfill a fragile ego, or a hidden insecurity, like other guys within the year group; I really think he just did not know how to behave, how to act, around girls he was interested in. He reminded me almost of a young Louis Weasley, a Gryffindor Beater in my Herbology class, who would sit with in between girlfriend and his girlfriend's best friend in lesson, holding one girl's hand and with his arm around the other girl's shoulder. But, of course, he was eleven. Not sixteen, like Mikey.
The next day dragged on. I had a free period until ten when Transfiguration started, and Oscar had a free period too, so we two and Aspen sat in an almost empty Common Room, classical music floating out from a record player as we wrote various essays in silence.
Total carnage, the whole thing. Ibiza Summer 2022? More like a Tuesday morning in the Ravenclaw Common Room, turn up!
“This sucks,” moaned Aspen, widening her arms and stretching, her mouth wide with a yawn.
“Okay darling,” said Oscar, scribbling furiously at his paper.
“I hate this school.”
“Down with the establishment! Down with the monarchy!” Aspen’s face lit up as she pounded the table with earnestness, and we grinned at each other as I caught her eye. Oscar, beside us, didn’t even look up from his parchment.
“That’s the spirit.”
“I think I might drown myself in my tears.”
“You’re wearing my shoes so be careful not to get them wet, they’re suede.”
She glared and Oscar and then looked at me, her big Bambi eyes wide with faux innocence; she wanted a trip down to the school kitchens but I smirked at her and pointed to my essay.
“Hot date,” I informed her, tapping my quill upon my parchment.
“You two are impossible,” she snapped, and walked away, right out of the Common Room.
"It's been six years," Oscar said, after she left. "Why is she acting like she's still surprised she's got Ravenclaw friends?"
"She's forever in denial she wasn't placed in Gryffindor."
"To be fair, red is a fantastic colour on her." I laughed, and he smirked that post-joke smirk I think everyone is guilty of.
Oscar and I went back to our studying. I had to write an essay in Mermish about my hobbies and too be frank, I don’t have any hobbies. I play Quidditch, I sleep, I eat and sometimes if I’m feeling festive, I sing Christmas carols around the school with Oscar, until we run into Peeve and get belted with turkey fillets.
But when I tried explaining this to Professor Reagan, he just told me to make something up, so now I was a character who juggled Quidditch, the `Warts Weekly, Gobstones, Exploding Snap Society, the Centaur Liberation Society, the Debating Society, Quidditch 1 on 1, Homework Club and the Socialist Society.
“How do you spell communism in Mermish?” I asked.
“Komuniżmu,” he said, not even looking up. I glanced at his paper and couldn’t identify a single word from his large illegible handwriting.
"Thanks," I muttered, scrawling the letter down onto my piece of parchment.
“Thanks,” I repeated, perhaps a bit too harshly, because he suddenly looked offended.
"That attitude, Elizabeth Wilderson!" he said, looking up from his paper and shaking his head. Oscar had perfect vision, but insisted on wearing glasses whilst studying. When Shakespeare said that all the world's your stage, Oscar Green took it a little too far.
I didn’t notice the two girls come in until they sat in a booth next to us. The booths were ideal for conversations because they were right next to the fireplace and also very comfortable; during Common Room peak times it was considered a miracle to find an empty one, and the upper year formers often took it upon ourselves to kick out lower schoolers from them.
My ears perked up as soon as I heard the very easily identifiable American accent of Phoebe Sanders, one of the rare new students of my time at Hogwarts. She moved last year and due to her long purple hair, perky bum and, most of all, accent, became one of the most popular girls in the year above, and best friends with Dahlia Moss. She was also a Ravenclaw, which she was thrilled at, because “it matches my hair, and green just wouldn’t, you know?”
“So do you think you two will ever get back together?” said Phoebe Sanders. Oh wow. I loved her accent. I was desperate for a distraction, and I leaned back against the cushion of the booth to hear better.
“Obviously,” replied Dahlia Moss. She had a very upper class London accent; she was the daughter of a Muggle politician, after all. Rumour has it that that’s how her parents met; her mother was the sister of the Minister of Magic and when she met the Muggle Chancellor of the Exchequer of the time, the two fell in love. It would have been a lot more romantic if it was anyone but Dahlia Moss who was their only child together. “I mean, we’re Dahlia and James. This always happens.”
“But he treats you like shit! Total shit! Babe, you can do so much better-”
“Phoebe, I can’t. There is no better. I’m in love with him. I’m utterly besotted. And he is too with me, he’s just too immature to realise it. I mean, why else does he keep on running back, after every single girl he’s with?”
“Well he told Zachary Elliot who told me that you’re a fantastic shag-”
“Shut up, Phoebe. He says that on the morning of our argument he had encountered a girl who had really caught his eye- some silly year below who had her tits out, probably.”
"James loves a girl who can talk back. You know, because most girls are so star struck by him.”
“That’s what he probably likes about me, Phoeb. I’ve never been a fan. I’ve always, since Third Year, been his girl.”
This was such ripe gossip; I couldn’t wait to tell Aspen. Or Oscar, for that matter, he will crucify himself when he finds out he was too submerged in his work to eavesdrop on this conversation. I wonder who it could be? The only girl I know who answers back to him is Rose Weasley, a red-haired, absolutely bat shit crazy girl in our year.
I forgot that Rose was his cousin. Never mind, then.
Dahlia and Phoebe’s conversation changed to bitching about some girl in their year I didn’t recognise the name of, and I kicked Oscar under the table.
“What?” he snapped.
“Class is about to start. Let’s go.”
Transfiguration, my next subject, was taught by a new teacher called Professor Campbell. He’s good looking and charismatic and rumours line the walls of girls’ dormitory walls of his alleged winking, his proposed long stares at cleavage, alternative interpretations as to why he thinks so-and-so needs to see him for after class lessons… Aspen is a prime example of a girl who reckons, even with a stable boyfriend, she and Professor Campbell will run off to Paris one day.
But today one of my favourite classes seemed dull and I was totally disengaged. Like History of Magic, due to the large amount of students wishing to continue Transfiguration into NEWT, there are several classes, and I share a class with Scorpius Malfoy; however we sit according to an alphabetic seating plan, so I’m at the back on a table with Rose Weasley, her best friend Parker Wills, a Slytherin mate of Scorpius and Al’s called Jack Robins and a Hufflepuff boy called Jed Veranda.
The double class, which was two hours long, stretched on for what felt like a good fraction of eternity. Rose and Parker did not stop whispering, Jed Veranda spent the lesson with Jack Robins trying to see how many swearwords they could etch onto the table with their wands and Franny McArthur did a big fart which would normally be hysterical but I was just too preoccupied with what news Mikey would bring about Albus over lunch.
Finally the bell went, I found myself engaged in conversation with Teddy Oliver, the Hufflepuff Seeker, in front of me about how much we disliked playing under the Quidditch captains’ new competitive leadership. Bitching about Danny Alton is a favourite past time of mine, but I got distracted when we walked into the hall and I noticed the dark hair of Mikey Lancaster.
“Speak later,” I said, and almost ran down the table to greet him. “Mikey!”
“Hey, Effy!” he said, helping himself to mashed potato. He was sitting with Aspen, Oscar and Liam Finnigan, and another Ravenclaw boy, Declan Ainsley. I do love Ravenclaw sixth formers; I feel that Ravenclaw just tends to mature faster than the other houses, and friendships were set way before fourth year. The four other Ravenclaw girls and the five other Ravenclaw boys are all classified as various degrees of nerdy in the school social hierarchy but they’re still nice; not like in Gryffindor, for example, where the girls dorms are a lions’ den for catty behaviour and bitchy comments, and the boys are forever fighting to prove their masculinity. I don’t think I could ever date a Gryffindor.
“What did he say,” I pressed, sitting down and wrapping my arms around Mikey to express my gratitude.
I hit him, and he laughed.
“I’m just joking.” We noticed the other four had stopped eating as to listen to our conversation so Mikey suggested we go outside the Hall to talk. Aspen and Oscar knew that I would tell them anyway, and Liam and Theo are, to try in vain to avoid stereotyping, just boys; gossip is never as much of a filler conversation when the Quidditch leagues are down.
We walked outside the Great Hall. How many important conversations do you think has taken place outside the Great Hall throughout the long history of Hogwarts? Hundreds, thousands, maybe millions?
I gave Mikey an impatient grunt and he laughed. “So Effy, you’re going to shit yourself but-”
“I’m telling the story! Christ’s sake, Wilderson. So he says to me, without any prompting whatsoever, oh Mikey I learnt yesterday that you and Effy Wilderson dated? And I say yeah, and then add as a joke, oh Effy Effy Effy, my first, my first muse, my first joy, my first love… And then I go, no but seriously Potsy, what do you think of her? And he laughs and goes no I think she’s fit-”
“REALLY?!” I scream, and my voice echoes across the hall.
“And then Al continues- hang on Effy, hold my arm and squeeze it yeah, don’t go screaming again- so Al says, I dunno, Mikey, I heard she liked Sam Ashcroft in the year above-”
“I kissed him the one time! Once! And people are still talking about it?”
“Shut up! I obviously deny it and then-” his dark eyes glimmer with what he’s about to say and my heart is beating rapidly and I’m squeezing his toned arm very very hard- “-then Albus says, oh Effy’s just become so fit this year.”
“Wilderson,” Mikey drawled lazily, “you’ll always be a solid 8 in my eyes.”
I laughed. I felt absolutely light headed with the information and my pulse raced at a beat that must be some degree of humanly impossible. I am giddy and Albus thinks I’m hot and I just want to dance with Mikey through the halls, beating on my tambourine and cartwheeling and flying for Albus Potter thinks I’m fit.
What can I say? I'm utterly elated with all the lovely reviews and favourites. Shout out to my best friend Jess for reading this when she doesn't even understand Harry Potter, and I don't own anything you recognise; including "Tennis Courts" by Lorde, one of my favourite songs. Moreover, the opening line is an adopted quote from Pride and Prejudice, page 1. Hope you enjoyed it!
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