A/N: Just a little story I wrote about Charity Burbage during her school time. In my imagination, she wasn't really old, so this story she's in her fourth year, and it's June 1981 - near the end of the war, and months before Snape took over the position of Potions Professor from Slughorn (so the latter is still the Professor here).
Disclaimer: I don't own the world of Harry Potter. I might own the OCs, though...
Coming from a family consisting mainly of Pureblooded wizards and witches, Charity Burbage wasn't exactly the most normal teenager on earth. But even at Hogwarts, she stood out. Her family, Pureblooded as they might be, had managed to stay neutral in the war that was still raging; they weren't prejudiced towards Muggles (even though they knew nothing about them), but they didn't dare to openly defy You-Know-Who either.
Charity, at the age of fifteen, did have a clear opinion on the matter. As far as she was concerned, Muggles were just about the coolest people in the entire universe. She was forbidden by her parents to express this opinion at school, but that didn't stop her from befriending almost all the Muggleborns in her year just to learn as much as possible about the Muggle world.
However much she loved Muggles though, she was still a witch and thus, she had to sit her exams at Hogwarts. Which was exactly the reason why she was currently sitting in the library with her best friend and dorm mate Loretta Smith, who, surprisingly, was as pure-blooded as Charity herself.
"This is never going to work!" Loretta cried out silently, probably fearing that Madam Pince, the strict librarian who loved silence, would throw them out.
"Of course it will," Charity responded, not looking up from her Potions book as she quickly wrote down everything that could be of importance for the exam.
"No, it won't!" Loretta whispered. "Look at us, we're already stressed out and it's a month until the exams!"
"You mean you're stressed out," Charity corrected her, still not looking her friend in the eye but instead concentrating on accurately writing down the complicated steps needed to brew some potion.
"Of course, I forgot," Loretta said, rolling her eyes. "You're not stressed out – that's why you're still here in the library, isn't it? It's almost curfew and you're still working on Potions. You didn't even look up when Michael stopped by earlier – because you're not stressed out!"
"I just want to get this done tonight," Charity mumbled. She knew she might as well give up now; she would have to stay up until at least four to finish her notes on Potions. And she still had all her other classes left to do.
Loretta sighed. "To think that it'll be a thousand times worse next year…"
"We'll just start studying once we get here. No problem. At least we'll be prepared for our OWLs." Charity didn't have to look up (so she didn't) to know that Loretta was, most likely, about to scream out of frustration.
"Nobody else starts this early, Charity! And look, they're all fine; they all pass their exams!"
"I just want to be prepared," Charity muttered. "You don't have to come along."
Loretta sighed once more. "I know, but if I don't come along, you'll make me all nervous about not studying. I know you don't do it on purpose," she added hastily, "but knowing that you're studying and being a good Ravenclaw while I'm just hanging around, that's not the most pleasant knowledge in the world. Even though everyone else does nothing but hang around all day long. Even Michael."
"Oh, shut up," Charity said softly, finally looking up from her book. "There, I give up. Happy now?" Loretta just grinned, looking at Charity's pink cheeks knowingly.
A month later, not much had changed. Charity still spent hour after hour in the library, trying to memorise as many Potions theories, Transfiguration techniques, Defence spells and much more as possible. By now, she was joined by her House mates, since the first exam would take place the next morning.
"Charity?" Loretta's voice startled Charity; she had been concentrating on her Potions notes once again. "We're going back to the Common Room. Are you coming?"
Charity looked up and saw that all her friends were standing around the table. How she had not noticed them getting up and ready to leave was beyond herself. "I think I'll finish this first," she said with a yawn. "Go ahead, I'll see you all later. Or tomorrow."
"Are you sure?" Charity felt her cheeks burn slightly as Michael Soper, one of her House mates, looked at her hesitantly. "Do you want us to wait for you?"
"No, I'm fine," she replied, smiling tiredly at him. "I don't want to keep you waiting."
"It's not a problem," Michael told her. "Hey," he continued as Charity looked back down at her notes again, "you shouldn't worry so much. You'll do great, I'm sure."
"I'm not worried," Charity corrected him like she always did when someone implied that she was nervous, worried or downright stressed out, "I just want to be prepared. And just go," she said, gesturing towards the others, who were slowly making their ways towards the exit. "I'll see you later." With a final smile in Michael's direction, she focussed back on her Potions notes. Supporting her head with her hands, she forced herself to finish them even if it would take her the entire night.
Fortunately, she was done only half an hour later. This was even more fortunate because the library was about to close and it would soon be curfew. As she entered the Ravenclaw Common Room, she found her friends still up, chatting happily and playing a game of Exploding Snap.
"Charity!" As Susan Jones launched herself at Charity, obviously hyperactive from eating too many sweets, Loretta raised her left eyebrow.
"Are you sure you're done already?" she asked in a tone that clearly said she was only teasing. "It's only curfew, you can't be finished yet!"
Charity stuck out her tongue at her best friend and said, "A good rest the night before an exam does wonders to your brain."
Her comment caused the entire group to laugh loudly. "You're kidding, right?" Susan asked her, still giggling. "Who wants to bet that tomorrow, Charity won't go to bed if we don't force her, because she'll claim she hasn't studied enough by then?"
The others exchanged glances and murmured softly amongst each other, but nobody dared to take up the bet. Looking around the group disapprovingly, Charity rolled her eyes. "Whatever. I'm going to bed. See you lot tomorrow!"
Not waiting for a response (because it simply never came anyway), Charity walked up the stairs towards her dorm. After doing the necessary stuff, she curled up in her bed and tried to fall asleep before the other girls would come up.
Feeling lucky that at least she had been able to sleep that night (once upon a time, that had been very different), Charity walked to breakfast rather slowly the next morning. She wasn't looking forward to breakfast, because once breakfast was finished, the Potions exam would begin. None of her friends were in the Great Hall yet when she arrived. Although she was glad she wouldn't have to listen to their nervous chatter now, she was also all alone with only her thoughts and (some might say irrational) fears of failing everything and being kicked out for being such a huge failure.
By now, nerves had taken over Charity's entire body and as she was drumming her fingers at the table restlessly, she didn't hear the others coming over. One look at their faces told her all she needed to know. They were just as nervous as she felt and they were ready to tell her all about it.
"I – have to go," she therefore said, standing up hastily. "I – forgot my – quill in the dorm."
Her eyes met Loretta's, who looked about to roll her eyes again, and Michael's, who was frowning at her as if he didn't really understand why she was suddenly in a hurry. "You can borrow my spare quill," he offered.
"No, t-that's fine," Charity spluttered. "I wouldn't want to burden you with that – anyway, it's been lovely, but I should really run now!"
She knew that Loretta would surely tell her off for this later, but now was not the time to think about Michael's offer. There was a Potions exam coming up, and after that, eight other exams. Although Slughorn wasn't known for making his tests too hard for anyone to pass them, Charity was a wreck by now. It didn't matter what grade she would ultimately get; she knew that if she would only have the slightest feeling that it didn't go well, she'd be a wreck for the entire next week, or perhaps even until they'd get the results.
"I thought you said you weren't worried about the exams?" Michael asked Charity as they made their way towards the library, once again, to study for the Transfiguration test of tomorrow, something Charity was even more nervous for than Potions.
Charity chuckled uneasily. "Yeah – I know. It's just that once the first day of exams come around, I am nervous and worried and stressed out, no matter what I said before."
"So you're not stressed out before the exams?" Michael asked her, a disbelieving tone entering his voice. "Why do you spend so much time in the library, then?"
"I like to be well-prepared," Charity replied in a small voice, not daring to look him in the eye. Potions had gone fairly well, and by going to the library now, she had escaped an exhaustive discussion about the test. Merlin knew that would make her more nervous than she was right now.
"Okay," Michael said, obviously not knowing what else to say to that. "Let's start practising Transfiguration, then?"
Charity beamed up at him, ignoring the fact that she was probably about to become a nervous wreck again (for whatever reason). "Let's do that."
A/N: So, what do you think? :) Let me know, please review!