Cedric stepped into the Hufflepuff common room far later than he really would have liked. It was just his luck that he was late to the last Prefect meeting thanks to Quidditch practice and as a result was stuck with the latest rounds in the evening for Prefects. Which meant that the common room should be empty, everyone else having gone off to his or her dorm for the night. Instead, it wasn't, there was one girl off at a table in the corner, auburn hair tucked behind her ear and her tongue just barely sticking out between her teeth as she diligently revised for class.
Third year, he thought to himself as he made his way over to the table where she was working. With that hair it is probably - yes it is - Susan Bones.The younger girl had been one of the last to turn in every night as of late, becoming a topic of conversation for the older students in the house. They couldn't believe how much homework it seemed she always had - none of them remembered spending that much time on revising when they were third years, and her friend Hannah had told Ruth Madley that Susan was doing fine in her classes. Which made her study habits all that much more puzzling.
Hufflepuffs took care of their own. It was just part of what made a Hufflepuff a Hufflepuff. They looked out for each other, with the older students often taking younger students under their wings as if they were younger siblings. Which was why he ended up sitting across the table from little Susan Bones far later than he really wanted to be up, waiting for her to look up so he could ask her just what was going on. She didn't notice him at first, the sound of her quill scratching against parchment the only sound in the common room as she finished copying the notes in front of her. Next to her lay pile upon pile of parchment sheets, all of which looked to be notes copied and copied again for memorization. It was too late for him to try to decipher it to see which class it was for - what is it with girls and impossible to read handwriting?
Eventually she did notice his presence, a slight catch of breath in surprise just before she looked up at him. She spoke softly, as if trying to not disturb the quiet of the otherwise empty common room. "Oh, hallo Cedric."
"Hello Susan." He nodded at the papers in front of her, raising an eyebrow. "Lots of homework? You didn't get into trouble and end up having to write 17 inches on how you'll never torment Mrs. Norris again?"
"Nooooo," she gave him a look crossed between exasperation and disbelief, quite near rolling her eyes at him. "I'm revising."
"Revising?" Cedric tipped his head to the side, looking at her intently, "Susan, all of your classmates have already gone to their dorms. It's hard to believe that you have so much more revision to do than them that you're still down here. You haven't gotten into a fight with someone have you?"
He made a mental note to tell Ruth if that was so. He never understood how girls could fight by just not speaking to each other, but if that was the case it was best that his fellow prefect be the one to talk with her. He was actually rather relieved when she gave him a repeat of her earlier look, shaking her head. "No, I haven't fought with anyone. Why would you think that? I'm just revising."
"You're 'just revising' long after most everyone else has gone to bed. Why constantly burn the midnight oil like this? I thought you were doing fine in your classes."
"Oh, I am. I suppose. I'm doing okay, but I still have a lot to learn." Susan looked back down at her parchment, blowing the last of the ink dry.
"Then why study so hard? Everyone still has a lot to learn, even Ruth and I."
"Aunt Amelia wants me to qualify for Auror training." She glanced up briefly before starting to slide the parchment sheets in a haphazard stack.
Sitting there, looking at her with disbelief, Cedric felt a strong desire to hit his head on the table in front of him. "Susan, you're a third year. Qualifying for Auror training should be the last thing on your mind."
"Not really. Auntie Amelia says I need to work hard now if I want to keep my marks up high enough to qualify." She shook her head as she spoke. "See, some of my marks last term weren't good enough. I have to start getting better marks now, so it'll be easier to get the OWLs I should have to get into the classes I'm supposed to take so I can get the NEWTs required to qualify for Auror training. Aunt Amelia said that is the best way to get into the training program."
Quietly, he asked her a question that had been on his mind since she brought up the Auror business. "Susan, what do you want to do?" At her quizzical look he continued, "You keep saying your Aunt Amelia wants you to be an Auror. What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Tugging on her lip with her teeth for a time, she finally spoke. "I think I want to be a healer. I'd rather help people than hurt them, and if you're an Auror you have to hurt people sometimes."
"A healer, so you'll need E's on your NEWTs in Potions, Herbology, Transfiguration, Charms, and Defence Against the Dark Arts." She nodded, twisting a strand of hair, as he ticked off the classes on his fingers while he spoke. "But you don't need to worry about NEWTs just yet, Susan. No need to over work yourself on your studies now, you'll get enough of that your fifth and seventh years. If you start now you'll just burn out before then." He leaned in to whisper, giving her a grin, "And then you'll be stuck in a horrid job like Mr. Filch."
"Cedric!" She looked horrified, until she realized he was teasing her and started to giggle. "That wasn't very nice." Not that she was much nicer, sticking out her tongue as she pushed her chair back from the table and stood. "But, thanks."
"Anytime Susan. You know you can talk to any of us if you need to." She nodded and started down the hall to the girls' dorms while he picked up the books and papers left about the common room by other students. He was about to head to the boys' dorms when he heard her.
"Cedric?" She turned from the hallway to the dorms, to look back and ask him a question. "When you asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, did you mean 'what do you logically want to be when you grow up' or 'what do you want to be when you grow up if you could be anything in the world even if it isn't realistic'?"
"Either," he replied as he started for the hallway to the boys' dorms. Then paused, looking at her and asking the question she was expecting him to ask. "Okay, so 'what do you want to be when you grow up if you could be anything in the world even if it isn't realistic'?"
"I want to work with dragons." She grinned and turned to skip down the hallway to the girls' dorm. He watched puzzled. Dragons? I could have sworn she was scared of Fang, what's she mean she wants to work with dragons? Shaking his head, Cedric put it down to a combination of the time of the night and yet another of the mystery of girls.