Marie dragged herself through her morning classes, but felt completely exhausted by lunch time. Arithmancy had a tendency to completely drain her, both mentally and physically. She was relieved when she finally arrived in the great hall. She sat down for lunch with a growling tummy. As she ate her lunch, she wrote Sophie and enchanted note.
Dear Soph, its official: Arithmancy will be the death of me. Professor Vector assigns far too much homework. It really isn't any fair. When is the first Quidditch game? I need to unwind.
As the Ravenclaw wondered what to write next, a tap on her shoulder surprised her. She turned and found Sophie standing behind her, smiling broadly.
"Hello!" Said Marie happily, smiling at her dear friend. "I was just writing you a note!"
Sophie sat next to Marie and took the note in her hands. She quickly read her friend's neat writing, then smiled.
"First Quidditch game is in a two weeks." She winked. "And I'm sorry to hear you're not enjoying Arithmancy."
"Pah. It's my fault. I need to stop with all these 'why-me-isms'" Marie stabbed at a piece of potato on her plate. "Have you eaten?"
"Yeah." Sophie rested her head on the table and sighed through her nose. "Did you finish all your potions reading?"
"Yes" said Marie with a groan. "It was the Arithmancy that took me until midnight."
"You're telling me. I'll tell you, that's something I won't be perusing further. One Arithmancer in the Abram family is enough."
"Amen to that" concurred Sophie.
"Do you know if you're going to pursue an apprenticeship?" Asked Marie as she took a bit of corn.
"Actually, it's interesting you should ask. There is something I am considerably interested in, and I should talk to McGonagall about it."
"Are you talking about what I think you're talking about?" asked Marie, an eyebrow raising suspiciously. A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.
"Yes" Sophie grinned. "Legilimency."
"It's pretty unorthodox" said Marie, the logical and calculated side of her speaking first. "And not taught at Hogwarts."
"I know" said Sophie, shrugging. "But you know I have a gift for that sort of thing."
This much was true, thought Marie. Sophie did have a peculiar talent in reading people's faces, their body language. She could always tell how someone was truly feeling...
"Him. Over there. He likes you." Sophie's voice had been calm, and she spoke matter-of-fact.
"How can you tell?" Marie stole a peek at the tall blonde boy standing at the other end of the bookshop.
"See his body language?" Sophie's pretty lips parted, and she tipped her chin to get a better look at the fellow standing there.
"I don't notice anything." Marie was embarrassed by her friend's suggestion, and she felt her cheeks turning tomato red.
"Trust me. He wants to talk to you, but he's too shy. See!" Sophie grinned in excitement when the blonde turned his head to look at them. When he noticed them looking at him, his cheeks flushed and he turned his head away abruptly, poking his nose into the book he was holding.
"I dunno, Sophie." Marie was growing impatient. She didn't want to be teased with such things.
"Go talk to him." Sophie's angular eyebrows rose as she encouraged her friend. When Marie still looked sceptical, Sophie pushed further. "Go on, ask him what he's reading. What do you have to lose?" Marie huffed a sigh, and cast Sophie a glare before she scuttled over towards the tall blonde.
"Hello" she said, barely able to bring herself to look into the boy's eyes.
"Hi" he said, equally shy. Though there was not hiding the smile that pulled at the corners of his mouth.
"My name is Marie" she said. "What's yours?"
"Tyler" he said, smiling down at his book He suddenly looked up, and shyly composed a question. "Would you like to get a coffee with me sometime?"
Marie studied the brunette Gryffindor she had known for thirteen years.
"Well I suppose it would be worth asking McGonagall about." Marie smiled her encouragement.
"You think? Oh thank you, Marie" Sophie smiled and put a slight, pale hand over her friend's bronzy one. "Now, hurry up and finish your lunch."
"Yes, yes. We have Defence next, don't we?"
"Yes, we do." Sophie eyed a cherry tomato on her friend's plate. "Hey, speaking of which, Professor Lupin watched the Quidditch practice yesterday."
"Did he really?"
"Yeah, Kind of odd, huh?" Sophie found herself frowning. As much as she liked her professor, something about him made her feel uneasy.
"I suppose not" said Marie, tilting her head to the side. "I don't think it's too abnormal for a professor to want to go and enjoy some sunshine."
"Yes, yes Marie you are right." Sophie nodded, and snatched the tomato of her friend's plate.
"What's up with you?" Asked Marie softly. "You seem to be very intrigued by this guy."
"Yeah, yeah, I know." Sophie made a face. "Ahg! Finish your lunch, girl." Marie responded by filling her face with the rest of her food.
The duo walked off to Defence against the Dark Arts, classroom 3C. Marie watched Sophie stride towards the classroom, her long, athletic legs covering lots of ground.
The two girls took their place in the classroom, early as usual. Professor Lupin descended a staircase in the classroom, dressed in grey slacks, a white button-down, and a blazer.
"Good afternoon, ladies" he said.
"Good afternoon" replied Marie politely.
"Afternoon, professor." Said Sophie.
"How are you ladies doing?" Lupin sat at the edge of his desk, and folded his large sinuous hands in his lap.
"Very well thank you" said Marie. She didn't particularly like making small talk with teachers. That was something Sophie did.
"What will we be covering in class today, Professor?" Asked Sophie. She tipped her chin, and peered up at the professor with her big blue doe-eyes. Marie smirked. Oh, Sophie.
"Well" began Lupin, steepling his long fingers, "I would like to spend the next couple weeks reviewing some of the more difficult spells from previous years, to get an idea where all my students are at." He smiled, close lipped as usual.
The door to the class opened and a great volume of students flowed in, all at once, and chatting amongst themselves. "Everybody in their seats" said Lupin, impatient when the 7th years failed to sit down after entering the class. He only had to raise his voice once though, because the students respected their professor. They sat down at the mahogany desks, ready for class to start.
Lupin repeated to the class what he had said to Marie and Sophie. He added that it would be prudent to ensure that everyone was refreshed and confident in previous, difficult spells.
"So today, class, it would be fun to warm up with the Riddikulus spell. Surly a 3rd year spell shouldn't be too much of a problem." Lupin pressed his lips together and smiled. The class murmured in excitement. Sophie had heard all about Boggarts and the Riddikulus spell, but had never experienced it firsthand. She had been in the hospital wing with a nasty Quidditch inflicted injury during 3rd year, while the Riddikulus spell was covered. "Now everyone remembers how the spell goes, yes?" Lupin glanced around the room, looking at all the students as they murmured yes.
"Sir" said Sophie, very shyly. Lupin turned his attention to the thin Gryffindor sitting in the front of his class. She had her hand raised timidly, her eyes turned towards her friend Marie, for comfort no doubt.
"Yes, Miss Phillips?" Lupin cocked his head as he considered the young lady.
"I was in the hospital wing, injured when the Riddikulus spell was covered. I've never performed it before." She nibbled her bottom lip.
"Well in that case" said Lupin standing straight up and taking his hands out of his pockets, "let's teach you." He smiled faintly. "Is there anyone here who would like to show Miss Phillips the proper conjure of the Riddikulus spell?"
A couple students raised their hands, amongst them Harry Potter and Marie Abram. Lupin was already quite aware of Potter's excellence in the Defence against the Dark Arts, but he was unfamiliar with Marie's capabilities in the class. He chose the bright 17 year old Ravenclaw, summoning her to the front of the class. Sophie smiled up at her best friend, who returned the grin.
Marie stepped up to the front of the class, and walked confidently over to a large leather chest placed on the teacher's desk.
"Explain what you're about to do" said Lupin calmly. He noted that Marie seemed a bit nervous. Her glasses began to slide down the gentle dip in her nose, as her face began to sweat ever so slightly. It was common for witches and wizards- especially students- to feel anxiety prior to facing a Boggart. After all, Boggarts take the form of the whatever it is the opposing witch or wizard is most afraid of. And there stood Marie, dressed in her Ravenclaw uniform, long brown hair swept back over her shoulder; prepared to face her worst fear in front of a group of students.
"To defeat a Boggart, one must force it to assume the form of something amusing. So as you encounter your Boggart, you must picture in your mind something that will make you laugh. You point your wand straight at the Boggart and say Riddikulus."
"Very good, Miss Abrams." Professor Lupin smiled and stood next to the trunk. "Are you ready?" He studied her with blue eyes as she shifted from foot to foot, drawing her wand and holding it before her. She nodded. Lupin tapped the chest, and out sprung the Boggart. It hovered in the air as a smoky black blob before quickly morphing into the shape of a Daemon. Marie's eyes widened in fear, and she studied the fiend before her. It was herself, but something was terribly wrong. Her skin was chalky white, with sick greenish undertones. She stumbled forward, reaching out a long, bony arm. Her hair was a wild mess, and when she raised her head, Marie could clearly see that the Boggart's eyes were rolled back and just slits of filmy white. When the Boggart's head began to twist in an unnatural circle and she spoke in a terrifying demonic voice in a language unknown, Marie straightened her arm and cried "RIDDIKULUS!" The Boggart suddenly turned from Possessed Marie to a child wearing a sheet over her head, in a makeshift ghost costume.
"Very good!" Said Lupin, clearly amused and impressed by Marie's performance. He sent the Boggart back into the chest with a flick of his wand. "Now do you see how it's done, Miss Phillips?" He addressed her directly, and she found herself nodding. She was genuinely curious as to what would jump out of the chest. She quickly stole a peek at the group behind her as she nervously made her way to the front of the class. She had left her cloak draped over her chair, and she found herself rolling the sleeves of her shirt up to her elbows. She held the wand steady at her side, and gave Lupin a quick nod to signal that she was ready. Lupin nodded back, and gave the chest a quick tap. Again, the Smoky blob returned. It hovered for a lingering moment before morphing. Sophie was taken aback, and absolutely horrified when she saw what was suddenly standing before her. She had seen this before, no doubt, in her nightmares as a child. The creature that stood before her was a wolf. A black wolf. The size of a pony with a massive, terrible head. Its fur was midnight black, matted in chunks over its enormous, muscular body. Its black nails clicked on the floor as it slowly approached, its head lifting upwards as it opened its mouth, revealing rows of long, sharp teeth that no ordinary wolf would have. Its eyes were bright, luminous green, and it stared directly at Sophie. The girl quivered, and her knees grew weak. She knew she had to run, to fight, do anything, but she remained rooted to the spot, absolutely terrified of the werewolf that walked towards her. The wolf took in a deep breath, breathing heavily and sending chills of terror through the woman's body. She could barely take it anymore, so pointed her wand at the creature, who cocked its head and bared its teeth while letting out a terrible roar.
"RIDDIKULUS!" Sophie cried fiercely, scowling at the monster before her. The second the spell escaped her lips, the giant werewolf suddenly became a tiny Dachshund puppy, with a ribbon tied around its neck. Sophie breathed a sigh of relief, and walked back to her desk with her heart pounding in her breast.
"Very good, Miss Phillips" called Mr. Lupin from behind her. Sophie took her seat and cast him a look while nibbling her bottom lip. She smiled.
"Holy shiznat!" Said Marie, turning into Sophie as another student walked to the front of the class to encounter the Boggart. "That was pretty darn scary!"
"You're telling me" replied Sophie, her voice a breathy laugh. "I used to have nightmares about that thing for years." She shook her head in dismay, and placed her wand on the desk before her. Both girls looked up just in time to see the Boggart morph into an enormous grizzly bear. "Your Boggart was creepy" she said, shaking her head. "That's a pretty honest fear if you ask me."
"Possession has always frightened me the most" she said with a shrug.
Riddikulus! The grizzly had been turned into a teddy bear.
"For a moment there, I was really worried" said Sophie in a hushed voice.
"Worried about what?" Asked Marie.
"Well... I was worried that the Boggart would turn into... Freddy."
A silence passed between the women as Marie took a moment to consider her best friend. Sophie's face was scrunched slightly, her brow knitted in concern, in hurt. Years of suppressed pain.
"Oh, Hun" Marie's eyes softened and her mouth bent in sympathy. She quickly hugged her friend, hoping Lupin and the rest of the class was busy paying attention to the enormous spider Boggart at the front of the class to notice their embrace. "The Boggart wouldn't have turned into Freddy because you're not afraid of him. You're afraid of the hurt associated with him." She tried to make a small smile, to show Sophie that everything would be ok. But she knew better. Talking about boys in her room in the summer time, casually going from day-to-day, without mention of the terrible tragedy that occurred two years ago... Sophie had bottled everything up. She was doing a lovely job at concealing her true feelings. "Oh Hun" Marie repeated her comforting phrase, stroking Sophie's arm soothingly.
Sophie became frustrated as tears stung the back of her eyes. She shook her head, and turned away from Marie, and faced the front of the class. Freddy is in the past she thought to herself, crossing her arms over her chest. He's in a better place now. She had just began to relax, the pink fading from her eyes, when she noticed Lupin studying her from his position beside the chest. He seemed lost in thought, but when he noticed her looking back at him, he promptly looked away.
Sophie knew what she had to do. She had to suppress that pain. Bottle her heart. Keep her chin up.
Class passed abnormally quickly for Marie. She found watching the other students' worst fears spring to life before their very eyes to be extremely entertaining. It was rather peculiar to both her and Sophie to see what it was made people afraid to venture out into the dark. How could it be that something laughable to one student was living hell for another? As the class gathered their books into their bags and prepared to leave, Lupin called on Sophie.
"Miss Phillips" he said, casually from his desk. Sophie froze, her book halfway into her bag.
"Yes sir?" She felt Marie's eyes on the side of her head, silently asking the question: What could he possibly have to say?
"Would you please come to my office?" His tone didn't let off that he was upset, or angry. He was just speaking normally, casually.
"I'll see you in Potions, Soph." Marie stroked the Gryffindor's arm before scurrying out of the class, peering curiously over her shoulder before abandoning the classroom.
Sophie slowly slung her bag over her shoulder, and approached her professor.
"Sir?" She nibbled her bottom lip as she peered curiously at her professor from behind long black lashes.
"Is there something you would like to talk about, Miss Phillips?" He asked as he lowered himself onto his desk, sitting on the corner as he had before. Sophie dodged his gaze and aimed her eyes at the floor.
"No sir" she said, raising her gaze and bravely meeting his eye. I will not cry. Lupin narrowed his eyes for a brief moment, considering 5'5 frame standing before him.
"Alright." He said, seemingly defeated. "But if you ever need to talk, you know where to go."
"Of course." Sophie felt uncomfortable. So he had noticed Marie's hug and the pink in her eyes! Meddling professor she thought miserably. "With all due respect, professor, I have potions class next, and Professor Snape isn't particularly... forgiving..." she spoke tediously, shifting from foot to foot and holding onto the strap of her book bag tightly.
"I understand completely" said Lupin, another tight smile passing over his face. Sophie nodded and murmured a thanks, then turned for the door. As she was halfway through the classroom, Lupin called after her. "Very good work with your Boggart today, Miss Phillips. I was most impressed with your bravery."
"Thank you Professor" she called back, then disappeared from the classroom.
Marie sat at her desk in the potions class, nervously gnawing at her bottom lip. The class was dead silent. Professor Snape stood at the front of the class, behind his desk; arms crossed across his chest, his face set into a dark, stony expression. He was, with absolutely no doubt, extremely un-amused. Marie had tried t explain to the professor why her dear friend was late for class, but Snape had penalized her for speaking out of turn and deducted five points from Ravenclaw. And so Marie sat tight lipped in her seat, praying Sophie would arrive soon. The dead silence in the classroom was unbearable, and she became embarrassed for her friend, knowing class was being delayed simply because of her. Oh, the horror! Suddenly, the sound of running footsteps barrelling up the stone hallway became faintly audible. The door to the classroom was closed, but as the running student came closer, her footsteps became louder. There was no doubt that the running student was Sophie. And Marie knew precisely what would happen: Her friend would continue to barrel down the hallway at a full sprint, and upon reaching the door would grasp the handle and turn it at a full run, thus entering the classroom in a fast, clumsy slide Sophie herself liked to call 'the Kramer entrance' (named of course after a Muggle television sitcom that Marie had never heard of). Marie literally cringed when she saw Professor Snape raise his wand. When the footsteps were at their loudest and it was quite obvious Sophie was mere inches away from the door, Snape silently charmed the door of the classroom to lock.
Sophie collided with the solid wooden door with a terrible thud. The entire classroom heard her howl in pain, and the sound as she fell onto the floor. A number of Slytherins laughed, and Snape himself sneered at his own terrible prank. Marie found herself scowling at the Potions master as he unlocked the door with a flick of his wand. It was several moments before the handle of the door quietly turned, and the door was pushed ajar. Marie turned and saw her friend slowly slink into the classroom, a fair hand pressed against her forehead. As Sophie approached, Marie noticed a thin trail of blood seeping out from under her friend's hand. Marie glared at Snape in disgust.
"I see Miss Phillips has chosen to join us." He sneered. Marie's heart swelled in pride when Sophie cast the Professor a glare, her lip curling in contempt.
"Bonk your head, Canuck?" sniggered Draco Malfoy from the other end of the classroom. Sophie didn't reply. She sat down at her desk, ducking her head low so nobody else could see the blood dripping from her forehead.
"Now that Miss Phillips has joined us, we may begin" said Snape, his voice low and oily. Harry Potter leaned over his desk, which was placed behind Sophie's, and asked the other Gryffindor if she was ok. Sophie murmured a yes, and attempted to repair her bruised ego.
"Don't let him get to you" whispered Marie when the professor had his back turned. "Here, let me see." Sophie slowly withdrew her hand from her forehead, revealing a small pressure cut above her eyebrow. "Let me fix it" whispered Marie, silently withdrawing her wand from her robes. While the Professor still had his back turned, she whispered Episkey! And the wound quickly sealed shut.
"Thanks" murmured Sophie, wiping the blood on her palm off on her black skirt.
Potions class continued to progress miserably for Sophie. She managed to completely mess up her potion, and hot bubbles of putrid brew-gone-wrong- splattered all over herself and the desk. Snape was not impressed. Needless to say, when class let out Sophie fled for the Gryffindor common room to change into her muggle clothes and set to work on the essay Snape had assigned to her as punishment for both her tardiness and incompetence in the classroom.
Marie on the other hand, calmly returned to Ravenclaw tower, feeling immense amounts of pity for her best friend. But Marie knew Sophie, so she knew she shouldn't be concerned. The fierce Gryffindor would resume classes the following day, dignity restored and head held high. So in the meantime, Marie set to work on her miserable Arithmancy assignment.
Marie sat alone in the Ravenclaw common room long after midnight. It must have been about two in the morning when soft footsteps roused Marie from her sleepy trance. She peeled her gaze off the papers on the coffee table, and looked behind her to find the source of the footsteps. It was a blonde boy, dressed in blue and white striped pyjamas, cocking his head curiously at Marie. Marie recognized him as Anthony Goldstein, a prefect.
"Good evening" she said, too tired to be embraced by the yawn that suddenly seized her body.
"More like good morning" said the blonde, smiling slightly. He looked tired, and his eyes were still puffy from sleep. "What are you doing up so late?" He kept his voice low as he approached Marie. Marie was rather confused by the conversation unfolding between the two of them. She had barely ever spoken a word to Anthony before. Why was he speaking to her now?
"I had a lot of homework to do" she said, pulling her glasses off her face so that she could rub her eyes. "What are you doing out of bed?" She watched as Anthony took a seat on the armchair beside her.
"I woke up suddenly and couldn't fall back asleep." As he spoke, Anthony had his face turned towards the embers burning low and red in the fireplace. "What homework are you doing?" He asked after a long, tired pause. Marie barely had the energy to speak.
"Arithmancy and Potions."
"Bummer." Anthony chuckled under his breath. "Your name is Marie, right?"
"Yes" she said ,feeling a slight smile appear on her face. "Marie Abram." She met Anthony's gaze, and the two smiled sleepily at each other. "I really should be getting to bed" she said, after another yawn ruptured from her mouth. "It was nice talking to you, Anthony."
"Nice talking with you too" he said. "Good night."