I'm sure I don't have to remind you of this, but it is your O.W.L. year after all; you must not fall behind on your studies. You have a very full and strenuous schedule from what you told me over the summer, and apart from Muggle Studies (I will never understand why you chose that abominable subject to pursue two years ago) will have to work diligently. You saw what happened to your brother last year, which reminds me: please, in your spare time, be sure to help him out, it would be blasphemous for the regard of our family name if Marcus was to fall behind another year. He's such a talented young man, but I believe he puts his time and efforts into his extracurriculars. Remember, your eligibility is nested in his good name, so please, again, help him achieve the O's I know he deserves.
Carolina scowled down at her mother's twirling cursive handwriting. She had merely written home about the first week of Hogwarts—something that was supposed to be a casual update on what she would be studying in each of her 9 classes. She hadn't complained once about the difficulty of her lessons. It was just like her mother to assume that she was struggling in school, while her "talented" brother outshined her. Marcus was talented at one thing, and one thing only, in Carolina's mind, and that was pushing people off their brooms without making it look like a foul.
And did her mother actually expect her to waste her time tutoring her moronic brother? It would be like teaching ballet to a troll or... carpentry to a flobberworm. Her brother had been held back to repeat his seventh year after failing nearly all of his NEWTS, a feat which, although not unexpected to Carolina who had been able to outwit him since she was 8 and he 11, was rather impressive in its own right. He had become captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team in his fourth year and had been so focused on beating the Gryffindor team for the House Cup for the past three years that his grades had suffered (to say the least).
Speaking of her brother, where was he? Carolina looked up from her letter. The Slytherin table was almost full now as there were only ten more minutes of breakfast. Finally, after scanning the long table her eyes found him seated all alone at the far end, nearest the grand old doors. He looked rather miserable, Carolina decided. That made sense. All of his friends had graduated and knowing the Slytherins, the current seventh years wouldn't go out of their way to make him feel welcome among their ranks. Abruptly, Marcus got to his feet. He rolled his shoulders backwards twice before striding off. Carolina took one last bite of toast, grabbed her book bag and hurried off after him.
"Marcus! Hey! Wait up!" She called, just after exiting the great hall. He didn't pause walking, but his gait slowed down enough for her to catch up. "You could have eaten with me, you know."
"Merlin, mind your own business for once," was his sneering reply.
"I was just offering, no need to take that tone."
"Well, I don't need your charity."
"It's not charity, Marcus," Carolina drawled, "Can't a girl want to spend an intimate breakfast with her dear brother?"
Marcus glared at her, the sarcasm obviously rubbing him the wrong way. "Can't you just shut up for once?"
"No need to get your knickers in a twist, I just came by to ask how your first week with the new seventh years went," Carolina said, realizing that at the end of the corridor she would have to turn down the stairs to the potions classroom, and if she wanted to talk to her brother, she would have to get straight to the point.
"They all think they're so much better than me, the lot of them," he grumbled. "And hardly any are full pureblood, you know," he added with a grimace, his upper lip rising in disgust.
"They won't once quidditch starts up again," Carolina offered, hoping this would put her brother in a better mood. He would be more focused in his classes if he wasn't fuming. "Why don't you start holding tryouts?"
Marcus looked at her out the side of his eye. "That's not a bad idea; they'll all be begging to befriend me after we beat Ravenclaw." He almost looked as if he was happy now.
"By the way, mum wrote me. She says that if you need any help with studying that you should ask me," Carolina added, a smug smile tugging at her lips.
"And why would I need your help?" Marcus snarled, his face sour again, before turning left down another corridor.
"Oh, I don't know," Carolina muttered under her breath, "maybe because you're a complete moron who can't tell the difference between a bogart and a braggart," before descending the first of many staircases that would eventually lead her to the potions classroom.
When she arrived she let out a soft groan, spotting a red and gold tie. Gryffindors. But she continued on, placing herself on the right side of the classroom, in the front row, nearest the supply cupboard. She liked to be the first in the class to get to the ingredients so that she could choose the best and get started brewing before her peers.
The class slowly began to fill up until there were only two available seats, one next to Carolina and the other next to a tall, dark skinned girl that Carolina knew to be on the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
"Wands away and essays out. You are fifth years by now and should know this but if your name isn't on your parchment, you won't get any credit," Professor Snape sneered as he strode into the room amidst a flurry of quills scratching. Carolina, however didn't move a muscle, her essay was neatly written, her name in the top left corner and her potions book out, open to the last page they had left off on Thursday.
Snape' s eyes moved over the room, stopping briefly and approvingly at Carolina, before he swished his wand and all the papers came flying towards his desk and landed neatly in a pile.
"Today, we will begin our first practical lesson. Now, who can tell me what the the proper antidote for anxiety would be?"
"Carolina raised her hand calmly, knowing Snape disliked the overeager students.
"Yes, Ms. Flint?"
"While both a calming Draught and the Draught of Peace would work, the calming Draught is more typically used for overexcitement and is easy to overmedicate, often leading to elongated naps. I would posture that the Draught of Peace would better suit someone with anxiety as it would put their mind at ease, without clouding their thoughts."
"Correct, five points to Slytherin. Now, today we will be starting with the calming Draught, a much simpler potion before we move on to—" Snape stopped mid sentence his eyes flicking from the faces of his students to the back of the classroom, where the heavy wooden door had just shut. Carolina turned around in her seat just slightly. Of course, she couldn't say she was surprised: it was the red-haired, insufferable Weasley twins who had entered the classroom nearly ten minutes late.
"Tardiness..." Snape snarled, "will not be tolerated. Five points from Gryffindor. Each," he added on. "Now please, find a seat."
Carolina watched as the two boys' eyes scanned the classroom. The one on the right immediately took off towards the back of the room, next to the gryffindor girl, where he sat down and raised his eyebrows at his brother. His brother scowled at him, before marching over to sit next to Carolina, who immediately turned her head and body to face the front of the room. She felt her desk shake as the Weasley twin's tall frame slumped down in the seat next to her and let out a verbose sigh, obviously wishing he had moved faster and gotten a seat next to a fellow Gryffindor.
Carolina rolled her eyes. If anyone was unfortunate in this scenario, it was she. The Weasley twins had been just about awful to her ever since they made the Quidditch team in their second year and learned that she was Marcus's younger sister. One time they had even convinced Peeves to drop eggs on her head after Marcus had "accidentally" given a Gryffindor chaser a bloody nose.
She sighed, turning her attention back to Professor Snape who had begun to enumerate the various uses of the calming Draught. The Weasleys were misguided however, it was unlike her brother to take notice if his little sister was the target of a nasty prank, much less care. After a while, the twins had realized Marcus had no clue they were harassing her so much, and had given up, but she had never forgiven them for misplacing their anger on an innocent bystander, only besmirched by her relation.
Whichever twin was sitting next to her remained silent throughout the duration of the class, not even moving his eyes to look at her, which Carolina was grateful for as it enabled her to better focus on the draught which, in her opinion, looked exactly as her textbook said it should.
"Please bottle your vials and bring them up to my desk for grading," Snape said, " And students, make note where you are sitting, these will be your assigned seats for the rest of the term." Carolina's eye flickered to the twin next to her as he groaned into his hands. She quickly stood up with her vial and brought it to Professor Snape's desk.
"Very good work today, Ms. Flint," Snape said, inspecting her vial before putting it next to the others.
"Thank you, sir," Carolina replied, noting the smallest trace of remorse in the Potionmaster's eyes. Perhaps this was the easiest way to keep the Twins from sitting next to each other, Carolina thought. Perhaps Snape had felt a tiny bit sorry for forcing her to proverbially and literally "take one for the team."
She sighed as she collected her book bag and left the classroom. That must be it.