Chapter 11 : I see trouble on the way
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Since they'd arrived at Hogwarts on a Thursday and classes weren't starting until Monday, they had the weekend to settle in. Rose took great pleasure in making herself at home in her new dormitory. Erin had joined her the majority of the evenings, claiming that the other seventh year girls were insufferable at the worst of times, and unbearable at best. Natasha more than Miranda.
Rose and Erin were each taking seven N.E.W.T.s during their final year at Hogwarts, as were Scorpius and Albus. By the time Monday arrived, Rose was practically skipping down the corridors. She had missed being in the classroom and she had a feeling that her final year would be the best one yet.
Her first class on Monday was Defense Against the Dark Arts, followed by Arithmancy, and then Potions and History of Magic after lunch. Three of those classes she had with Scorpius and Al, and two of them with Erin. Al and Erin had never taken Arithmancy so they had a free period before lunch. Rose and Al were the only ones who had elected to continue with History of Magic. On Tuesday, the first class of the day was Transfiguration and then Herbology. Rose and Scorpius didn't take the latter, giving them a free period that they usually spent in the library. They all took Charms together after lunch. Scorpius and Erin took Ancient Runes while Al and Rose had a free period, and then they all had Muggle Studies as their last class of the day.
Every class had the same basic format those first few days. They were reminded of the importance of N.E.W.T.s, and given more homework than they knew what to do with, all while being encouraged to revise on a consistent basis. Rose was starting to feel the pressure as they headed to their first Muggle Studies class on Tuesday afternoon. It was the last first class they would take, and Rose had almost forgotten that they'd be breaking in a new teacher. Rose and Erin settled into a desk together, with Scorpius and Al behind them somewhere near the middle of the class. Professor Bray was writing his name on the chalkboard along with a list of dates when they walked in.
"Good afternoon class," he addressed the students as they settled into their seats. He casually moved around to the front of his desk and sat on it, appearing very much at ease as the class sat eagerly on the edge of their seats, curious about their new professor..
"My name is Malcolm Bray, but that's Professor to you lot. I'm not the biggest fan of the rather stuffy title though, so I'm all in favor of trying out names until one fits. None of your other school mates have been brave enough to try anything other than boring old Professor Bray, so it's up to you lot to rise to the occasion. Sound good?"
Everyone nodded and grins were appearing as they glanced around the class at each other. He grinned back at them as he stood from his perch on the desk.
"I want this class to be engaging and comfortable. We've got a lot of material that I'd like to cover, but if we're all focused, I believe we can make it happen. So, all that being said, there's only twelve of us so let's clear these desk out of the way and circle up."
With a wave of his wand the desks vanished and everyone excitedly shuffled their seats around. Rose was now seated between Erin and Al, with Scorpius on his other side. They were sitting to the right of their brand new professor, who was looking excited at his students eagerness.
"Now," he began once they were all settled. "We won't always meet like this. You'll have your desks when there's ever any practical work to do, but I want a lot of this class to focus on discussion. Before we get into what our topics will be this year, I want to take some time to introduce myself a bit."
Everyone sat forward in interest. He was very captivating with his deep voice and his warm smile.
"I was raised by two wonderful parents, as were my three sisters, one of whom some of you might know."
The people who knew Charlotte nodded in response.
"Both my parents are muggles, as are two of my sisters," he continued. "I was raised with the mindset that those with magic and those without were no different other than their ability to use a wand. My father's brother was a wizard, and he and my grandparents were killed in the second war. My parents raised me and my siblings to be accepting and considerate of anyone we crossed paths with, and I believe those are valuable traits to have. Not that we are to turn a blind eye when there's evil or someone is cruel, but to not judge someone based on something as inconsequential as the family they were born into. That's one of the main things I want to get across this year. That fundamentally, muggles aren't so different from us. I know most of you probably already have that mindset, but there are some things it never hurts to learn twice. So, are you with me so far?"
There was more nodding around the room. He was very upfront, and Rose liked that about her new teacher. Just about everyone else in the room seemed to share her sentiment, based on the expressions they wore.
"What it comes down to is that we're all people. We're all human. Being raised in a muggle family has helped me to see that, but not everyone has that privilege. So that's what we'll be exploring this first term, and we'll be doing it through the help of literature."
He got up and went behind his desk to retrieve a box of thick, heavy books, as curious murmurings started up around the class.
"What do you think it'll be?" Erin leaned in and whispered.
Rose only shrugged her shoulders as she watched Professor Bray start to pass out the massive volumes.
"I wasn't given the position until it was too late to put the necessary reading material on your supply list. Therefore, I'm handing them out now and the school is footing the bill for them. I had to beg for them to let you keep them and not have to turn them in at the end of the term. I want you to be able to write notes in the margins if you'd like."
He finished passing them out and Rose looked at her copy. Les Miserables was embossed in gold across the front of the brown leather cover.
"Who's Victor Hugo?" Angie Archer asked. She was the seventh year Ravenclaw prefect, and Rose had gathered that she was rather disappointed that she hadn't been named Head Girl.
"Anyone else care to answer Miss Archer's question?" Bray asked the class. Rose's hand slowly went into the air and he nodded at her.
"Victor Hugo was a French muggle author in the eighteen hundreds. He's also known for his novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame."
Bray smiled at her in pride.
"Excellent, Miss Weasley. Ten points to Gryffindor."
Angie Archer had a slight pout on her face.
"He was also a dramatist and a poet," Bray continued, "but our focus will be on the work you now hold in your hands. I know it looks daunting, but it's all very important. We have a lot of themes and topics to cover and this book does it the best. There will be a foot long reflection paper due once a week, which you will normally have time to work on during Tuesday's lesson, and then discussion on Thursdays when they are due. You will also have a group project about halfway through term that will be a study on a character of your groups choosing, to be approved by me. I'd like each group to pick someone different. And finally, throughout our time in the book, I want you to pick a main theme and write a final paper on it for the end of term. You can use your reflection papers to build up your material and figure out what you want to cover. It must be longer than your usual reflection papers, but the overall length is up to you. I want you to get out of this what you decide to put into it. The due dates for these are on the board. Any questions so far?"
Everyone looked impressed by their new professor and a few of them were flipping through the pages in the book, but Scorpius had his hand in the air.
"Mr. Malfoy," the professor acknowledged him. He seemed excited that someone had a question.
"Yes sir - "
"Too formal," the professor interrupted. "Try something else."
Scorpius looked taken aback before a contemplative look formed on his face.
"Professor Mac?" he said tentatively. The whole class looked at the young professor in anticipation. His face gave nothing away for a few moments before a smirk appeared.
"That's more like it. Ten points to Slytherin. You may continue with your question."
Scorpius smiled in relief as did most of the class. Even though he came off extremely friendly, the class seemed to have develop a sort of reverent fear of Malcolm Bray. Rose assumed it was a fear of disappointing him more than anything. He was the type of person that inspired people's best efforts.
"I was wondering," Scorpius continued, "other than this being by a muggle author, how does it tie into what you were talking about earlier? About muggles and magic folk being the same. How do you plan on using literature to show that?"
There was a scoff from across the room and Rose turned to see Devon Shepard with a smug look on his face as he whispered into the ear of Alec Turner, who looked like he'd just been told a distasteful joke. Professor Bray either didn't notice or chose to ignore the disturbance.
"I'm so glad you asked, Mr. Malfoy. That's the most important part."
Rose shot Scorpius a smile and he subtly returned it before she focused her attention back on her professor.
"For your papers, you'll pick what you thought was one of the themes of the book, like passion, or revenge, and I want you to find parallels between what you see in the text, and what you've seen in our society. It can be things that have happened in history, things that are going on in our current age, or things that you've witnessed in your own life. Even though this takes place a few centuries ago, I think you'll find that these characters are a lot like the real people you come face to face with everyday, be they muggle, wizard, or witch. And our worlds aren't all that different either. So, that being said, let's crack this giant open and get an overview of the
They were leaving class an hour later and Rose was chattering excitedly about their Muggle Studies assignments. Scorpius seemed excited about it as well, while Al and Erin looked extremely intimidated by the book that was now weighing down their bags.
"I'm so excited to finally read it," Rose was saying. "It's one of my mother's favorites. In fact I think it's where she got my brother's name and-"
"Oi, Malfoy!" The four of them paused and turned to face Devon Shepard as he was leaving the classroom behind them. He had an arrogant look on his face and Alec Turner was trailing cautiously behind him.
"Heard your comments in there. Don't think muggles are equal to wizards do you?"
"What are you on about, Shepard?" Scorpius asked with a resigned posture. Al, Erin, and Rose immediately had their guards up as the other boy approached them.
"Dev-" Alec timidly tried to speak up before his friend continued.
"I hope you're open to learning how wrong your prejudices are. Us Muggleborns are ready to teach you a lesson. Here's hoping we won't have to do it the hard way."
"Shove it, Shepard," Al barked. "He's in Muggle Studies isn't he? That not enough for you? Maybe you should check your own prejudices next time you start accusing someone else of having them."
The Gryffindor boy raised his eyebrows at Al in surprise.
"Sticking up for your boyfriend there Potter? Don't worry," he raised his hands in a gesture of surrender as Al made to lunge towards him. He was held off by Erin who was whispering warnings furiously at him. "I don't judge, unlike some people."
He shot Scorpius another dirty look before walking away, but not before giving him a rough bump to his shoulder. Rose had just about had enough.
"Hey, Shepard!" she hollered at the boy. He turned around and looked her up and down, a smirk on his face.
She ignored his disgusting observation of her and attempted to put on her most authoritative disposition.
"Next time you threaten another student, I'll be very much inclined to give you a detention."
Shepard just laughed as Turner hauled him off towards Gryffindor Tower, but he couldn't help getting one last shot in.
"You won't be able to hide behind the children of war heroes forever Malfoy!"
"Bloody Bastard," Al grumbled as he shook off the grip that Erin still had on his arm. They all continued down the hall and Rose suggested they head to the joint common room instead of their separate ones. She didn't want to be in that slimeball's presence for longer than necessary, so the Gryffindor common room sounded less than appealing. They spent the majority of their walk abusing the Gryffindor boy and Scorpius remained mostly silent, only offering any conversation when he was specifically addressed.
Once they'd made it to the joint common room and were settled around one of the fireplaces, Rose immediately started pulling homework out of her bag.
"I can't believe we already have work due tomorrow," Erin complained, beginning to copy Rose's actions. "Blast that Simpson and his need to make us all suffer."
"Are you joking?" Al asked Erin. "Learning how to cast a Patronus is all you talked about wanting to do last year. Now that we're starting in on the theory of it you complain?"
Erin rolled her eyes at Al, pulling a book from her bag. "Performing one, yes. But you know I'm not the best at defense theory."
"How do you expect to master it without knowing the theory behind it?" Al challenged her.
"I never said it wasn't needed," she countered in annoyance. "I merely said that I-"
"Your problem," Al interrupted, "Is the fact that you'd rather just have it handed to you than actually work for it. Well that's not how the world works. You have to do difficult things and shit happens. So quit complaining about it."
He started flipping through his defense book. Erin's jaw was clenched and her brow severely furrowed in anger.
"I know," she said in a poor attempt at remaining calm, "that the world doesn't work that way. You don't have to remind me how unfair it can be."
Al looked back up at her, a blank expression on his face. Rose and Scorpius watched in silence, unsure of what to make of the situation or if they should interfere, before Al spoke in a cool voice.
"I don't? I never would have guessed." And he turned back to his homework.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means that I'm not sure I've ever met someone quite as cold as you."
Without another word, Erin slammed her book shut and shoved it back into her bag before rising to her feet and storming from the room, with only a "see you at dinner," thrown at Rose.
The redhead turned to her cousin, furious.
"What the hell was that?" she snapped at him. Scorpius didn't look too happy either.
Al sighed and set his book aside before looking between his two friends.
"I'm sorry, I probably shouldn't have done that, but you can't deny, that's the most emotion any of us have seen come out of that girl in weeks," he said, pointing towards the door Erin had stormed out of moments before. At his words, Rose realized that Albus was probably right, not that she approved of his method though.
"That may be, but I don't know if you're going about this the right way," Rose cautioned.
"I don't know," Scorpius said with a shrug. "He may be onto something."
Rose looked at him questioningly.
"Why do you say that? I hardly find it beneficial for her to be mad at Al."
"Well at least her emotions have some kind of outlet," Al defended himself. "I'm just worried she'll keep everything bottled up until she goes crazy. You remember what happened when she had that fling with Carter Brighton? How much she shut down when it ended? She completely lost her shit that summer, and this could be worse than what that Gryffindor put her through. Trust me, Rose," he said before his cousin could interrupt as she was preparing to do. "I think I know what I'm doing."
She shared a look with Scorpius, who seemed inclined to trust Al, before she nodded and they all got back to their homework.
Al and Scorpius sat at the Slytherin table during dinner at Rose's request. She assumed Erin hadn't calmed down yet after her confrontation with Al, and she wanted to have some time alone with her friend. If Al was right, maybe this would spark some emotional venting from her, and she could finally deal with her grandmother's passing.
Erin was already in the Great Hall when Rose arrived, separating from the boys as she entered. The blonde looked up at her as she approached the table, giving her a strained smile. Rose sat across from her best friend, searching her face for any sign of how she was doing.
"I'm sorry I didn't come after you," she apologized. "I figured you needed some time on your own to deal with things."
Erin looked confused at Rose's apology.
"Why would I need to deal with things? There's nothing to deal with."
She started eating the food she'd already dished onto her plate before Rose had arrived. This was what Rose had feared. Al's plan hadn't worked at all. Time for a new tactic.
"Erin, I know you're avoiding how you feel, and it's ok to let yourself fall apart. Let yourself feel your grief, deal with it, and move on. You're bottling everything up and I'm worried about you."
Erin stared blankly at her friend, chewing her food slowly before swallowing, setting her fork down, and draining her goblet of pumpkin juice before addressing Rose.
"How many times do I have to tell you lot that I'm fine? I'm guessing Al's little goading session was an attempt to get me to 'feel' or something?" She said this in a calm voice with a sarcastic edge that made Rose cringe in guilt on behalf of her cousin. "I can bloody well take care of myself. You don't need to prod me into behaving the way you think I ought to behave. We all handle things differently, and if you have a problem with the way I do it, you can bugger off until you think I'm stable enough to be friends with again."
They stared each other down for a solid minute. Rose felt slightly ashamed of herself. Erin was right, to some extent, but she was still worried about her.
"I understand what you're saying," Rose assured her friend, "but that doesn't mean I'm not going to worry about you. So if I agree to stop pestering you, can you agree to at least let me worry from a distance? No more interfering. I promise."
"From any of you," Erin said.
"I know Scorpius will let it be if I ask him," he hadn't pushed her much anyway, "but I can't do anything to control that hotheaded cousin of mine, unfortunately."
Erin gave a slight smile at this.
"I'll deal with Al, no worries. Thanks, by the way. I know you mean well, but I really think I have to figure all this out on my own. Let me deal with my own issues, please."
Rose smiled at Erin, nodding her head as they continued with their meal. A few moments later, they were joined by Louis and Caleb, who were quickly followed by Lily and Hugo. They could see Molly and Jill at the Ravenclaw table, and Lucy and Charlotte at Hufflepuff's.
"Is this national sit-with-your-own-house day?" Rose asked. It was rare for them all to be segregated.
"Well, we saw Al and Scorpius weren't sitting with the two of you, so we figured it wasn't a free for all tonight," Louis explained.
Erin and Rose shared a confused look.
"Why would what we do affect what the rest of you decide?" Erin asked.
"You're the seventh years now," Caleb shrugged. "You pretty much set the tone. That's the way it was last time we had inter-house friendships among the seventh years. Don't you remember what it was like with your cousins and the Scamanders?" he gestured at Rose.
Rose thought back to two years previously and sure enough, if Lorcan and Lysander were at the Gryffindor table, so were all of the other people from other houses they were friends with. If Fred, James, and Roxy were at the Ravenclaw table with the Scamanders, the rest of the Gryffindors joined their friends at their respective house tables. They rarely didn't sit together for a meal, but when the odd moment happened, everyone else stayed with their own house as well. It was surreal for Rose and Erin to realize the position they now held. Not that they had any type of unlimited source of power, but that they now set the example for everyone else. They were looked up to by their friends and family. This was exceptionally difficult for Erin to wrap her mind around, being the youngest in her family.
"Oh," Rose finally said. "Well, you don't have to do things just because it's how we do them."
"We know that, Rosie," Hugo said with a roll of his eyes. "But it's sort of easier this way. Keeps the status quo and all that."
Erin leaned across Lily who sat beside her to address Hugo.
"What happens if we have a falling out with those two Slytherin's over there?" she said, gesturing across the room with her fork and causing Lily to back even further away from her out of fear of losing an eye. "Who's to say we haven't already fallen out with them and that's why they're over there and we're over here?"
Lily shoved Erin back into her seat.
"That," Lily said, "will happen when hell freezes over. Ever since the four of you buddied up in your fifth year, I've never known you to go a day without each of you speaking to each of the other ones."
Erin looked like she was thinking long and hard about Lily's words as Rose couldn't help but agree with her younger cousin.
"I'm pretty sure I didn't talk to Scorpius one day in sixth year, and the only reason I saw Al that day was because he needed to borrow one of my Herbology books. Plus," she almost yelled in Lily's ears at her excitement of what she believed to be a counter to the younger girl's argument. "Al and I had an argument just today. Who says I'm planning on speaking to him again?"
Caleb snorted into his dinner and began choking. Rose had to pound him on the back as Lily asked him if he was alright before turning back to Erin.
"You, my dear friend, will not last a week without talking to my dear brother. I'm willing to bet on it."
She looked incredibly smug at her challenge, knowing Erin was going to take her up on it.
"How much?" Erin asked, her competitive nature coming alive.
Lily thought for a moment before she answered.
"I'm not sure I want to play for money. How about you owe me a favor? To be cashed in at my discretion?"
"Deal," and they shook on it.
"I'm not sure why I'm doing this," Erin told Rose in an undertone as conversation carried on around them. "I lost the last bet I made with a Potter."
"What bet was that?" Rose asked.
"That I'd do better than Al on our Transfiguration exam. The prat beat me and I had to ask my dad about heating and cooling charms on the path to and from the greenhouses," Erin explained.
"You actually asked your dad for a favor on someone else's behalf?" Rose questioned.
Erin merely nodded in response. Rose couldn't think of anything else to say. Erin never went to her father for favors, even for herself.
"He did it, too. I was surprised." she told Rose. "Then again, Al is his favorite, unfortunately, and I told Dad it was for him."
Rose laughed at the less than pleased look on Erin's face.
"Well you have slightly more control over this bet, and not that I want you to ignore my cousin, but I have all sorts of faith in you to remain stubborn."
Erin grinned and thanked her friend.
"Oh! And don't tell Al. It'll be fun to watch him go spare, thinking I'm actually still mad at him."
"You're not then? Still mad at him?" Rose clarified.
"Nah, not really. He means well, I suppose. Even though he's got a funny way of showing it most of the time."
Even though Erin smiled, it didn't quite reach her eyes. Rose reluctantly decided to let it be. This whole letting her friend deal with her own issues was going to be much, much harder than it sounded.
A/N: I have loved Les Miserable since I first read it about four years ago, so I was very happy when it fit in rather well with the story I developed.
Thoughts? Feelings? I've loved hearing from you all! Sorry I haven't been able to respond to every comment. It's been busy recently! Keep sending the love and I will respond!
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