A/N: So I've changed my username. I know that this might be a bit confusing for you, but I don't think I'll change it anytime soon now. I'm happy to not be a number anymore! So if you're reading this because you got some random story alert from an author you didn't know, that's the reason why. I may not update as regularly as before, but it should be bearable. I hope. In this chapter, Issy is hungry, James is sarcastic, there are a lot of ellipses, and everyone is confused, whether it be about argument content, famous Muggle in the fiction business or their role in their family.
Disclaimer: idon'townharrypotter (asmuchasiwishidid)
Of course, I know exactly what the argument is about (Goodness knows, she hasn't been exactly secretive about it. I mean, it's not like I've known her for more than a day at most, and I can still tell.)
"Dom…" I ask, lining up outside Transfiguration, closely followed by the twins, Lorcan and Lysander, both resolutely determined to look anywhere but each other. There are name cards at every table- I am thankful that I'm paired with someone that I actually know, rather than someone who is a total stranger to me. Professor McGonagall starts to teach us how to turn a hedgehog into a pincushion- theory only, and about a minute or two after she's started, I am completely confused. This is a Wizarding school. Surely they must be ahead of a halfer school like us! A quick glance around the room shows a complete class of confused faces like mine (but I bet it's because they don't understand). There's only one thing to do- work on my Transfiguration from home. That is, until…
"Miss Anderson. I do understand that you are new to Hogwarts, however, I would think that even at your other school it would be expected of the students to pay attention!" McGonagall's scary when she's telling you off, and now she's walking over here, no doubt to give a lecture on the benefits of listening. I don't give her time to start.
"I've learnt this already. 'Few months ago, actually. That's why I'm reading", I say, holding up my textbook, open to the page on Animate Transfiguration (more concentration is needed to transfigure your object into a living creature…). Her face is unreadable, and for one split second, I almost think that she's going to go off at me. Then she smiles, an apparently rare occurrence, and tells me to continue, but not before giving me a small statue of a snail to practise on. James, beside me, just gives me an astonished look before turning back to the front. I smile too. Maybe this year won't be so bad.
I still hadn't managed to transfigure my statue into a real snail. So far, all I'd managed was to make it all soft and squishy, and when James touched it (why, oh why) his finger trailed slime. All in all, I was quite proud of my progress, and when the lesson was over, I couldn't help but grin. It wasn't alive, but it was better than nothing, and certainly better than I could have expected. I think my good mood has enhanced my ability, and right now, my mood is even better, due to the prospect of food in my immediate future.
"I should take Divination." A smirking James catches up to me after I rush out of class. I'll humour him.
"And why is that?"
"Because, Isabelle, I can read your mood. You're hungry."
"No kidding, Sherlock! And it's not 'Isabelle' in that haughty manner." His face is one of total confusion. Must be another thing that wizards here are sadly deprived of. "You have been limited in your literature. Sherlock Holmes is only one of the greatest detectives in literature's history. Tied for first with Poirot. Genius, the people who came up with them." I end my soliloquy on fictional detectives with a sigh, but my mind is still racing with questions about the contents of the Hogwarts library regarding Muggle books. Both James and Fred, who has by now joined the conversation as we walk into the Place at Where I Can Eat (I still don't know the actual name. I think it's like the Great Hall or something, but I like my names better.)
While I'm busy stuffing my face with everything I can find (it's so good…), along with most of the guys, nearly all the girls my age or older are just sitting there, eating half a sandwich each. I have no idea how they can function properly during the day. I certainly can't, and I'm glad that Sophie, next to me, has no such qualms about weight gain like the others around us, even though she isn't scarfing it down like me. Rather, she's finished, and just stares at me and the guys with a disgusted expression.
"Whaa? I'b hun'y!" So speaking with a mouth full of food may not be too elegant. I can understand why she promptly gets up and leaves to sit somewhere else.
"Honestly? I thought that gaining another girl would help the food etiquette around here."
"Hello, pigs. Or should I say, oink squeal. " she says, dryly. I know she's joking, that it's a reference to the amount of food we're eating because, well, that's just Dom.
"Why're you late to lunch?" Fred asks, like it's not obvious. The weird thing is, Lorcan seems confused too, which is strange, because I saw Lysander try to sneak in after Dom and Lorcan frowning at him as he sat down with the Hufflepuffs. God, these boys are thick.
"Umm… well, I… don't really… Library?" she finishes, with a sheepish look on her face, staring absentmindedly towards the Hufflepuff table. If they didn't before, James, Fred and Lorcan definitely knew that she was hiding something from them now. I guess it was obvious on their faces, or perhaps it was a regular event, but Dom grabbed as much food as she could carry properly before sprinting out of the room, closely followed by the trio of boys. And me, I just sat there, eating. But I'm not fat. I promise.
I made my way to the library for the rest of lunch, and my free period. Since I could only take electives that I'd done something in before, I could only take Arithmancy and Ancient Runes. Since the Fourth Year classes now weren't any of those, I was given a free period to catch up on work I'd missed, which now ended up as a mixture of studying to keep up at Rosebank level and reading to calm my mind. It was a great way to end the day of work, and I thanked my lucky stars that I actually had it, in comparison to the rest of my year. It was just me and a couple of sixth-year Ravenclaws in the library, and the quiet was welcome. I had time (finally) to reflect on everything that had happened in my time here already. Finally, I was somewhere where I could be free, free from people concerned for my well-being and how I was coping. Finally, I could heal. Among the peace, quiet and serenity. That is, until the whole group (Sophie, Dom, James, Fred and Lorcan) comes and clatters their books down on the table, and there starts to be a rumble of noise from the first- and second-years that have finished all their lessons for the day. Lucky them. We've still got 2 more to go, and then, just because McGonagall must like torturing us, the fourth-years have Astronomy tonight. Go figure.
But I follow James, Sophie and Lorcan down to Arithmancy, while the others go to Divination, even though I don't know why they do it, and prepare to lose myself in the wonder that is Arithmancy- no subjective answers, just facts, and logic and formulae. Perfect for what I need right now- no emotions needed. As we set about trying to figure out the value of 'x' compared to 'k' and 'z', I know that, though I haven't got an advantage through previous learning, I can plough through, just like the rest of the class. With added blank look of confusion. But I am not a quitter. I will see this through until the end, no matter how confusing it is- I had thought that it would be just like normal maths at home, but here it goes further- the magical qualities of every number, and the logicality of future paths using number probabilities. Bleh, it really is just logical Divination. But it's mindless and repetitive, and numbery, so I can't complain. I got what I asked for.
Later that night, the crowds in the common room have thinned, as the younger kids have gone up to bed already. It's a relaxed atmosphere, but I can't help but think that there's someone missing. And true to that, I can't find James anywhere. Come to think of it, I haven't seen him since dinner, when the Evening Post arrived. None of the others seem even remotely worried, and I'm debating whether to ask them when I do, I see him, head in hands in a corner that was blocked by a group of second-years now moving to bed. I've actually got no idea what could have happened. He really looks in need of some help. Or, at least some sort of comfort.
"Stay back, Issy. He's fine." So they have noticed, have they? Well, I think that they need to pay more attention to their friends!
"He's fine, Issy. Just… something his parents send him every year. The annual 'namesake letter', if you will. He just gets a bit sad about it sometimes. Nothing to worry about."
"Really? Well, I moved here to get away from people worrying about me. But this is completely different, that boy actually looks like he needs help, and the people that he calls his friends are just saying that he's fine!" I'm whisper-yelling now, and I know I shouldn't let my emotions get the better of me, especially with the few friends I've been lucky enough to gain. But it worked, if the sheepish looks on their faces are anything to go by. Fred gets up, shrugs and leaves. Lorcan gives a gesture that I take to mean 'go on, but don't blame us if it doesn't work.' So I do.
I've seen enough people like this, myself included after… Bella, to know not to initiate the conversation. So I sit, just watching everyone in the room. Dom, Sophie and Lorcan are staring straight at me, and when I give a raised-eyebrow smile, they flinch and look away, but not before shrugging at me, as if saying that they knew it wasn't going to work.
"You can read it, if you want." James' voice cuts in. He pushes a piece of paper over the table towards me and leans back in his chair, still wearing the same sad expression as before.
We hope your first day back was wonderful. Don't worry, we won't write to you too often, we promise! That is, unless you start playing jokes on innocent bystanders again. Just because you bear the name of two of the most infamous Hogwarts pranksters in the school's history, does not give you permission to be the same! And your Aunt Angelina wishes you to pass this message on to Fred, too. We always knew you two would be trouble. Pass our greetings on to Neville, Dominique, Sophie and Lorcan, as well as anyone else we've forgotten, as we haven't seen them in such a long time.
We would ask you to take care of your sister for her time in Gryffindor, but the task should probably go to Al, as the more mature of you two. Even so, if you do see her in trouble, take time out from your trouble-making and please help her. The first year in Hogwarts is always one of the hardest, as you might remember. Don't try to terrorise the first-years too much, at least not for the first few weeks. Hogwarts is hard enough for them without you helping the natural order.
Mum & Dad
I've been given a few lines to add in of my own here. Don't worry about your mother, she's just overprotective, and I'm sure Lily will be fine. I know your mum would disapprove, but can you ask Fred to send her a toilet seat for Christmas? I'm sure it would make her laugh (and me too, now that you think about it). As we said above, don't get too many detentions, stay out of trouble (as much as you can) and do your work.
"What the hell is this all about? 'Stay out of trouble' 'playing jokes on innocent bystanders again'?" I am so confused. What is the point of this letter, and why is it making out James as some sort of juvenile delinquent and the person himself look like he just killed a puppy?
"They… expect me to be… this rebel, who doesn't pay attention in class, who does all this stupid stuff. And Al, too. He's supposed to be perfect and quiet and mature, but he's not! He's not who they think he is, and neither am I! I'm just sick of it, sick of all of it, those expectations, and having to try to fake myself to live up to my name, even! You wouldn't understand."
"What you don't understand", I start, "is that I actually do. At least, part of it- having massive expectations to try to fulfil."
His head snaps up at my words, and I take this as a good sign.
"Rosebank… my school, is a very, very competitive environment. Just to get in, you have to fulfil so many expectations! My parents sent my brother and my sister and me to music and sport and academic tutors from the age of three. They expect us to be the best. And we are. But we work for it- so hard and we strive to reach our goals, because… well, that's how we will be the best. But we want it. My brother and I, we want it so bad. And my parents want it too, so they push us, push us to succeed. Your parents just want the best for you. But if you're really worried… just show them that you aren't who they think you are. It's not healthy for anyone, pretending to be someone you're not just for show. Believe me, I've tried."
James' face is thoughtful, and I have no idea how much of my motivational speech actually got through to him, because he really hasn't moved much. I have no idea what else to say, so, getting up of my chair, I head off towards the girl's dorms, nodding to Sophie, Dom and Lorcan as I pass them. It's so soft, I can't be sure if it was actually there, but at the division between the two staircases, there's a voice, quiet, reflective.
"Goodnight, Issy." I smile.
A/N: :) I love this last scene. It makes me smile.