Shit, what time is it?!
I jolted awake, wincing at the frosty sunlight and the piercing sound of some twit screaming in the common room. After a moment of snuggling deeper into my duvet, I heard a throat being cleared above me and I looked up to see Marieke's morning-fresh face. When she told me we were five minutes until class starts, I let out a loud squeak and scrambled out of bed and into the loo. The cold tile sent jarring chills up my calves. I shivered. I emerged from the bathroom after a rush of brushing, scrubbing, painting and dressing to find my best friend, still smirking and holding out two pieces of buttered toast with bacon in the middle. I groaned in appreciation, grabbing my precious breakfast as I bolted out to the common room. Cecilia-bloody-Thwaites was still making muffled yet piercing cries for help through a turtleneck whose neck had been hexed shut. I didn't even laugh as I ran out of the portrait hole and into the hallway, taking huge bites of my breakfast. I could hear Marieke's footsteps behind me; she was running too.
"Wait…what class do we even have?" I pant-yelled back to her as I sprinted past a row of armor.
"Transfiguration!" she replied. My mind did a double take as I realized…we were running in the wrong direction. I looped back through another passage, doubling my speed because I knew we were definitely going to be late. I wanted to stop and look around, get reacquainted with the place that I knew as my second home. But I couldn't because it was just then when we skidded to a stop in front of the Transfiguration classroom. We'll be okay, I thought to myself, it's the first day and he knows me…
Crossing my fingers, I opened the door. It creaked loudly, causing both of us to cringe. It was then that I remembered my mouth full of bacon and the buttery crumbs all over my new blouse. I forced myself to swallow, causing my eyes to tear up, and attacked my front with my hands in an attempt to make myself look relatively normal. It was at that moment that Professor Malfoy appeared in front of me, leaning against the door. As I stared up at him, I counted the crumbs that were still around my lips and hoped that he was losing his short-distance vision.
"Miss Green, Miss Steenwijk," he said softly. I cursed to myself, because I knew from that tone that we would not be okay. I felt my fingernails digging unforgivingly into the flesh of my palm, along with my teeth biting down on my lower lip. He noticed this, and gave a somewhat sadistic half-smile. It didn't reach his eyes, though. They stayed wintry cold. Unfortunately, I have this thing for Malfoy eyes, so I felt myself melt a little in spite of my distress. Oddly, the moment of anger never came, and he simply returned to the head of class. It was when we began to walk to the two leftover seats at the front that I realized the reason for his silence. Why embarrass us when our classmates do an even better job of it? Their stares made me feel almost sticky. No need to say how low Marieke and I sunk into our chairs when we sat.
"As I was saying, this year will be largely a preparation for your NEWT's. For the first quarter, we will be reviewing basic Transfiguration…"
After a bit, I looked around at my classmates to see who was there. Laurie Talbot was behind me, sitting next to Gregori McGuff who'd done something absolutely hilarious with his hair. On the other side of the room were two Indian girls I vaguely recognized, flirting with Leander Llewellyn. Behind them was Dorian Flemyng with his new girlfriend. I thought they got together like three months before the end of last year, but I heard he was dating her while he was after this other third-year girl who-
"Miss Green," I heard a cool voice command in front of my desk. I whipped around to see those eyes looking at me again, almost exasperatedly. He leaned over my desk, his hands gripping the edge. Perfect fingernails.
"I find myself wondering…why everyone else has their quills out while you simply gaze around the room." I cringed again, almost near tears. I hate looking stupid. I reached to my right for my rucksack, only to realize…
It was sitting next to my bed.
"Missing something, Miss Green?" I couldn't believe he was treating me like this. I'd spent time in his house with his family! Despite what everyone else thought of him, come summer he was always nice to me! What the hell?
"I-…um, I f-forgot my-" his hands left my desk as he straightened once more. He opened his mouth to deliver another accusing barb when the door creaked again. The wood of our chairs squeaked in unison as we looked round to see my savior. Cecilia Thwaites was standing at the entrance of the room, practically hyperventilating, the top of her turtleneck thoroughly ripped up. I never thought I'd be so happy to see her. I was saved.
Or so I thought. Later on, after watching our professor quietly scare Cecilia into tears (Marieke and I refused to laugh with the others, knowing it could easily have been us), the time came to leave to our next class. As everyone funneled out of the room, I felt someone behind me.
"Stay here a moment, Miss Green. I promise to send you out with a note." I shot an apologetic look to Marieke, which she picked up on right away. In return she gave me an "ooh, staying behind with the professor all alone?" look before she left, leaving the two of us together in the classroom.
"What happened after Transfig? Did he try to make you cry? Cecilia was still crying a bit in Potions, no lie. What did he say?" At lunch, Marieke sat with her fellow Hufflepuffs, her back to the table so that she could face me as she inhaled a plateful of bangers and mash. From my seat at the Ravenclaw table, in a position mirroring hers, I took a moment to glare enviously at her unfairly slim, toned arms before I recanted my tale.
"He was…he just told me to be better organized next time." That was partly true. That was the first thing he said to me after the door closed behind Marieke.
"Miss Green," he'd said, perched on the corner of my desk. I could barely look up at him out of embarrassment.
"I trust that you'll not be this…scattered… for the rest of the year. Am I correct?" I replied with a small "mhm". He nodded. Of course he was correct. After a few second's silence, I figured it was alright to leave. I was halfway to the door when he spoke again.
"You didn't visit this summer." I looked back, confused by this sudden change in topic. He continued.
"I understand. This year was not the most opportune time to be seen with my family. However, I plan to make up for lost time soon enough…you may go."
"And then he threw the stuff off his desk and shagged you, right?" Marieke and I both turned to face Barney Thorne, another Ravenclaw who was in the sixth year. His eyes gleamed at us from behind thick glasses which were too big for his face.
"That's disgusting, Barnabas," Marieke sneered jokingly. We only pretended to get offended by his crudeness, when really we'd gotten used to it years ago. He laughed in this weird way that only he could do, kind of like a comical impression of a dying hippogriff, and continued.
"Did he tell you he'd overlook your lapse if you danced in his lap?" I wrinkled my nose as the image flashed in my mind.
"I'll feel ya, Green," Barney said in a lower voice that I guessed was meant to be an impression of Professor Malfoy.
"Oh haha, Barney, I get it. Ophelia, I'll feel ya. That's a great…Oaf? Hello?" Marieke waved her hand in front of my face. I quickly shook my head and laughed nervously. To my horror, I realized that I'd been carrying on from the lap dance image and imagining more things for Malfoy to do to me. What the hell? I looked over to the teacher's table at the front of the Hall. Professor Malfoy was absent. And for some reasonI felt a stab of...disappointment?
A second later, I also felt a splat of something against my head. My jaw dropped in shock as my fingers jumped to my head and touched something…gooey. I looked at my fingers, which were covered in strawberry jelly.
"Feelya," Barney whispered mockingly, "what's up? Fantasizing about everyone's favorite Death Eater?"
"N-no!" I yelped, a little too loudly. Fortunately, he and Marieke didn't seem to notice. It was safe to change the subject. All I had to say was Quidditch and Marieke was up like a shot. She ran out of the Hall, leaving Barney and I staring after her. He looked at me. I shrugged back. Weird.
I decided to spend the rest of my lunch unpacking my trunk in the common room. Leaving Barney to find someone else to mock, I quit the Hall and made my way to the portrait of the knight and his greyhound.
Walking through my favorite hall, the one with the view out into the stone courtyard where Umbridge booted Trelawney out in my fourth year. Blades of gray light filtered through the columns, illuminating the tiny particles of dust that floated out of books and school robes. I tried my damndest to forget the embarrassment of my encounter with Mr. Malfoy, but I couldn't flush the redness from my cheeks. It's just the cold. It's windy in this hallway and it's making my cheeks red. I sat in one of the alcoves and opened my Potions book, trying to rip my mind's eye from his pale, handsome (NO!) face.
"Ayup," I heard a familiar voice say as a shadow was cast over my stockinged legs. It was Johnny Hicox, my regular Potions partner since second year. I smiled and realized I hadn't seen him since the start of the year.
"Hi, Johnny, looking forward to blowing more shit up?" I smiled as his white, symmetrical grin grew past his messy fringe.
"Oh aye, new Professor ain't gonna see what's comin'." We laughed, thinking about last year when our Hair Growth potion exploded and ended up turning everyone's hair into a blue mess. I wasn't really proud of my absolute failure at Potions, but hey - if you can't succeed, better have a laugh. He sat beside me and we laughed and chatted for a bit. My legs were cold. Two gray-cotton limbs shivering on the stone seat in the alcove, until Johnny's leg came to rest against mine. The rush of warmth quieted my shivering.
"Look, uh, Ophelia. If you want to just, you know, talk about what 'appened last year I'm, uh-"
"I'm fine," I replied shortly. I turned my head to look at him and said again "Fine."
Looking at him, I noticed that he didn't look like the same as he did when I first met him in the second year. His jaw - one of my favorite bits about a guy's face - was and peppered with black stubble. His eyes, permanently creased as though in a smile, were green and liquid. His messy dark hair, previously matted and unkempt, now looked like it was like that purposely. His mouth was thin and masculine, with a small mole under his bottom lip. I realized I was staring and resorted to laughing obnoxiously instead.
"What're you laughing at? I just said I felt sick after breakfast..." My face fell instantly, realizing how mad I must have seemed.
"Uh, nothing," I muttered, "Sometimes I just...laugh..."
He knitted his brows and nodded slowly, obviously regretting sitting down with such a nutter. I opened my mouth, maybe to find a better excuse, when Professor Malfoy happened to walk past. His glance -accompanied by a raised silver brow - knocked my own eyes to the floor. Johnny looked after him, then back at me.
"Hots for teacher?" he asked, not really teasing. His smile was almost gone. I shook my head quickly, and the perfect grin was back.
"C'mon," he said, standing up and stretching, "Potions next." He gave me a hand up but before I could thank him, he smacked my bum and ran off in the direction of the dungeons. I gave a whoop of laughter and chased him around the corner, my footsteps lost in the crowd of students walking to class.
The dungeon door slammed behind us, leaving us cold and in the dark except for a few floating candles glowing sickly-turquoise. Professor Flamel stood at the front of the class, watching us as we quickly searched for seats. Damn, I thought as I realized that everyone else had taken the seats at the back. The only seats free were the two at the very front. Thanks, guys.
We sank down into our seats, so close to our new and slightly odd-looking professor that we could hear him humming "The Boys Are Back In Town" softly under his breath. Even depite his eccentricity, I was intimidated. The great-grandson of Nicolas Flamel had to be good. Johnny and I shared a quick "Sweet mother, he's so crazy" look and then joined in the humming silence of the class.
"Well," Flamel said before clearing his throat, "well, well, welcome to another year of potions! I am your new teacher, Professor Flamel. Well I hope we can all um, embark on a um, well shall we way a quest of knowledge! As it...were. Well! Let's just jump right into it, yes? Right, page 16, if you please." He clasped his hands together and swayed on the balls of his feet. The sound of tomes being thrown open was deafening for a moment, the following sound of quietly riffling pages hardly calming in the cold, damp room.
"You will be brewing Gillitran's Liquid Lantern. An extremely difficult and em, finicky potion..."
I felt Johnny's eyes on me still. He pitied me. I knew it, and I also knew I liked the feeling of someone caring for me. Sickening, I know. But I didn't care. It was nice, knowing that someone was thinking 'poor Ophelia. Poor girl."
We got to brewing the potion, forgetting the woodrose roots and stirring the mixture 20 times instead of 17. I was about to slap Johnny's hand before he threw in the essence of weasel bile too early, when the whole class turned at the sound of the dungeon door creaking open. Mr - Professor - Malfoy strode in with his head held high.
"Oh, em, Professor Malfoy! What uh, brings you to my class?" He raised his eyebrows as he made a small "hm?"
Professor Malfoy smirked slightly and mirrored Flamel's raised eyebrows. We all watched as the pair moved to the corner behind his teaching podium and began to talk in low voices. I kept my head down, stirring the potion I knew was already ruined while straining to hear their conversation. A sharp huff of aggravation was followed by Professor Malfoy gliding out of the room, a strange and thoughtful expression in his eyes, which met mine briefly on his way out. I blinked.
At dinner, the Great Hall was full of whispers and laughter.
"How can he be teaching here, after last year-"
"Whatever Flamel is on, I want some-"
"And so I said, how DARE she say-"
"Malfoy's a creepy bloke, takin' over for Snape, I expect-"
"Well I'm kind of glad that Harry Potter came back. I thought I'd never meet-"
"The rack on that bird!"
I sat with Marieke at our house table, gorging on drumsticks and mash and two helpings of sheperd's pie. A filet mignon, two sausages and an extraordinary amount of pumpkin juice. Marieke stared at my display of digestive fortitude with a look of utmost awe and caution.
"That's vaguely disgusting, Oph," she said, lip curling slightly as I somehow fit a heaping spoonful of both steak and shepherd's pie into my mouth. I didn't answer: if I did, she'd be sprayed with my half-chewed meal and even more disgusted than she already was. We hadn't been friends last year so she'd never watched me while I was "feeding", as she put it.
After dinner, I found my head in the toilet once again. The barely-digested remains of my enormous meal lay just a few centimeters from my face; the odor was skin-peelingly pungent. I promptly flushed and lifted myself up. I looked at myself in the mirror as I rinsed the bile from my mouth. My face looked thinner already, I noticed with a strange twinge in my mind. The tips of my light brown hair were tangled and stuck with bits of vomit. My hazel eyes were wet, my long lashes heavy with water after five minutes of gagging. Was that a pimple on my nose? I shook my head violently and dried my face. When I looked back at the mirror, I saw Cecilia Thwaites staring. Has she been there all this time?
"Um," she swallowed, "Ophelia, are you okay?"
I couldn't move. She knew. I thought someone might find out this year, but not so soon! What had happened last year was enough without this bullshit. My face paled as I turned and ran up to the Girls' Quarters. There, I kicked off my school loafers and shrugged off my robe. Grabbing the cardigan I'd borrowed from my neighbor Calvin back home, I pulled on my slouchy black boots and made for the halls.
Past the Common Room door, up three flights of stairs (which took forever; damn enchanted stairs) and down the Charms hallway, I stopped to lean against the wall. I reached in to the pocket of my cardigan and pulled out a pack of Ocelan's Smokeless Cigarettes.
Luckily, when my parents found out I smoked, they were cool about it. Just told me that if I ever got caught at school, I was on my own to deal with it. And when Mum wasn't looking, Dad slipped me a pack of Ocelan's. "This'll keep you out of trouble," he'd said. I'd smiled as best as I could.
Lighting up, I tried to forget about Cecilia's face in the mirror. Cecilia's face, sad and judging. Faces surrounding me, eyes visible through slits. I inhaled, exhaled, wishing there were plumes of smoke rising from the cigarette to distract me. Suddenly, footsteps. I stubbed the cigaretter out with my boot and hid it under there. A black-clad blonde was heading my way. Professor Malfoy, with the tip of his wand lighting my silhouette even from so far away. I sighed and leaned my head against the cold stone.
"Ophelia," he said, as though he were surprised. He wasn't; he'd seen me from the end of the hall.
"Professor Malfoy," I murmered. I knew he heard the guilt in my voice.
"What brings you into this dark hall so late at night? After curfew?" I winced. He smirked.
"Come, walk with me. I'll escort you to your common room." I hesitated until I realized he wasn't waiting for an answer. He was already walking in the direction of the Ravenclaw Common Room.