Well here it is! Chapter 4 is finally here!
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. This series of epic awesomness belongs to the one and and only J. K. Rowling. I only own Esme.
The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives - Robert Maynard Hutchins
Later that evening, Esme found herself sitting in her seat at the Staff Table in the Great Hall once again. Giddy butterflies were fluttering around in her stomach, and it was all she could do not to squeal with excitement. If she were a little girl instead of a thirty year old woman, she would be bouncing up and down elatedly in her seat. But she had to be professional here, not childish, so she stayed still. But why on earth was she so wound up?
The Start-of-Term Banquet was about to begin, that's why!
Esme just couldn't believe that she was so thrilled about it. She had attended this same banquet for all seven years of her schooling, and it was all basically the same. Maybe it was the fact that she was sitting at the Staff Table this time instead of the Ravenclaw table that was making her so anxious. Or maybe it was the knowledge that tomorrow morning she would be beginning her career as a teacher.
Whatever the reason, Esme could not for the life of her wipe off the goofy grin that had found its way onto her lips.
Severus was sitting in his seat beside her, the same grouchy scowl on his face as he stared down at the empty plate in front of him. Esme turned to look at him, flashing a curious closed-mouth smile.
"What's the matter, Severus?" she asked him. His dark onyx eyes shifted to look at her, and his eyebrows twitched downward even further than they already were. "Why are you so bad-tempered? First Term is starting tomorrow!"
Severus' scowl deepened and he kept his mouth shut. Esme turned away knowing he probably wasn't going to answer her. She sighed to herself. How in the world was she going to get him to talk to her again?
"I don't see any reason to be happy about it."
Esme's eyes widened as she whipped her head around to stare at her old friend. He had turned his head, only slightly so, but just enough that he could make proper eye contact with her without his dark and greasy hair getting in the way.
He had finally uttered a complete sentence to her.
Esme couldn't find her voice for a moment, so shocked was she that he had finally said more than one word. She stared wide-eyed at him for a few minutes, her mouth hanging open. It took an eyebrow-raise from him to get her to speak again.
"Wh-what?" she finally managed to squeak.
Severus turned his head a little more to see her better, his dark eyes trained on her own. They began analyzing her as he spoke again, softer than before. "I fail to see why you are getting so excited over the arrival of the students."
Esme's shock melted into puzzlement. "Why wouldn't I be excited, Severus? I get to start teaching tomorrow!"
He snorted. "Well, be prepared. Most of these students are complete dunderheads who only do things halfway correctly."
"Oh, now I don't think so, Severus." She said with a good natured laugh. "You are still as negative as ever."
"I really meant that as a compliment." She told him with a smile. "Your response tells me that you haven't changed at all…well, other than physical appearance-wise."
His eyes seemed to darken. "You don't know that." He said softly.
Esme patted him on the arm, which caused him to flinch. "Of course I do," she said lightly, her smile still in place. "You've always acted like this for as long as I've known you."
Severus didn't say a word afterwards, and he turned back to staring down at his plate. Esme became puzzled again and briefly wondered if she had said something wrong. But her stupefaction stopped immediately when she saw the doors of the Great Hall open and the second through seventh year students filed into the room.
Esme watched as the students sat at the four long House tables that stretched the length of the hall. She was especially glad to see the students' whose neckties had the color of blue and bronze and whose robes had the patch of a raven surrounded in blue. Ah, it was good to see inhabitants of her old House of Ravenclaw.
She watched as second through seventh year students from all four houses spotted her and were looking at her curiously or suspiciously in the case of the green and silver clad Slytherin students. Feeling self conscious all of a sudden, Esme tried to tidy her hair, which was spiraled in its usual light curls all the way down to her lower back. She then smoothed the skirts of her dress over her lap, despite the fact that it was hidden under the table.
It wasn't long before all the students were seated and were chatting away to one another amongst their houses. Esme still saw some students shoot curious glances her way and scoot closer to the table, presumably wondering to their friends who the woman sitting next to Professor Snape was.
The doors to the Great Hall opened once again (Esme hadn't noticed they had closed), and Minerva came gliding through in her emerald green robes, chin lifted high and proud, a roll of parchment clutched in her left hand. Behind her followed around forty children, all looking to be around eleven years old and all looking either nervous or excited as they gazed with awe and wonder at their surroundings.
Esme's smile widened to a thrilled grin once more. The first years had arrived.
Minerva led them down the central isle towards the platform where the Staff Table stood. She climbed up on to the platform and turned around towards the first years. "Can you wait along here, please." She said.
They obediently stopped short of the platform, all having the feeling that Professor McGonagall was not someone to cross. Ever. Esme watched as a few pairs of eyes from their little group swept across the Staff table. When they met hers, she gave them a warm and welcoming smile, to which some of them returned, albeit nervously.
"Now, before we begin," Minerva said loudly once she got the Hall to quiet down. "Professor Dumbledore would like to say a few words."
Professor Dumbledore stood up from his equivalent-to-a-throne chair and looked out at the students. All eyes were trained on him.
"I have a few start-of-term notices that I wish to announce." Dumbledore said, his voice loud enough for someone to hear even in the hallway outside. "To the first years, please note that the Dark Forest is strictly forbidden to all students."
Esme noticed that the doors to the Great Hall opened once again, but only slightly, allowing an old and ugly man to shuffle in halfway, a long haired cat at his ankles.
"Also, our caretaker, Mr. Argus Filch, has asked me to remind you that the third floor corridor on the right hand side is out of bounds to anyone who does not wish to die a most painful death."
Esme tried not to smirk knowingly and raise suspicion among the students. The 'anyone who does not wish to die' detail was all the students needed to know, and informed them that they weren't getting any more information than that.
"Finally, Professor Filius Flitwick, our Charms teacher for many years has decided to retire and enjoy the rest of his years." The House tables erupted into whispers for about two minutes before Dumbledore silenced them. Esme's heart began pounding. Dumbledore was going to introduce her to the school!
"There is good news, though." the Headmaster continued, smiling kindly. "I'm pleased to welcome Professor Esme O'Brien, who has kindly consented to take his place as Charms Teacher and as Ravenclaw Head of House. Good luck, Professor."
Esme stood up awkwardly and gave a small wave, a nervous smile plastered on her face. The students clapped politely, most not knowing how to react to their new Charms Professor. A few Ravenclaws, she noticed, were clapping a little harder than the rest. Well, she thought, at least I have some support from the student. It will just take time for them to warm up to me.
She sat down again when the clapping died down.
"Thank you." Dumbledore smiled again and sat down. Esme's heart fluttered with excitement as she watched Minerva begin unrolling her parchment. She was standing next to a stool that someone had placed on the platform. Perched on the stool was an old and battered looking hat.
Esme smiled at the hat. The Sorting was about to begin.
"When I call your name," Minerva addressed the first years gentler than she usually would. She probably didn't want to scare them out of their wits. "You will come forth, I shall place the Sorting Hat on your head, and you will be Sorted into your Houses."
The Deputy Headmistress picked up the hat and looked at the parchment for the first name. "Abbott, Hannah!"
A girl with blonde pigtails and a rosy face stumbled onto the stage. Her wide eyes flitted to each of the teachers nervously before settling on the hat. She turned around and sat down on the stool, where she was now faced with the watching eyes of about two hundred and seventy-nine students. Her rosy face turned pale as Minerva placed the Sorting hat on her head, which slid down over her eyes. Esme watched as the Hat's pointed top tipped forwards, folding the front of the Hat into several creases. A few of the creases moved, and Esme knew that the Hat was live and doing it's job.
She heard the Hat whispering to Hannah Abbott, but couldn't decipher what it was saying. Most likely it was assessing her personality traits. That was how the Hat determined what House a student would belong in.
Finally after much whispering, the Hat shouted out to the rest of the student body in a gravelly, male voice. "HUFFLEPUFF!"
Hannah Abbott sighed with relief that it was over, and the table farthest to the right began cheering for her. She ran to the table with a huge smile on her face and sat down as many of the older students began to welcome her. Esme smiled.
"Bones, Susan!"shouted Minerva, and another girl with a round face and long, dark red hair inched forward onto the stage towards the stool. It wasn't long before the Hat declared her a Hufflepuff, and she ran off happily to sit next to Hannah Abbott while the older students cheered and clapped.
Esme joined in the clapping at the Staff table, and noticed that Professor Sprout looked especially pleased. Of course she would be. She was the Hufflepuff Head of House.
Minerva looked at her parchment again. "Boot, Terry!"
Esme watched as the dark haired boy's face paled as he crept forward from the other first years. He sat down on the stool as the Hat slid over his brown eyes. Esme watched silently as the hat whispered to the boy, assessing his personality. Finally, the Hat came to a decision. "RAVENCLAW!"
Esme grinned and clapped happily along with the older Ravenclaws as Terry Boot ran for the second table on the left. The first new Ravenclaw, she thought to herself with a barely audible sigh as she watched several students shake his hand. How exciting!
It wasn't long before Terry Boot was joined by miss Mandy Brocklehurst, and she was extended the same warm welcome as the boy sitting across from her. Minerva smiled briefly before calling the next name.
As the bubbly-looking girl approached the stool, Esme began remembering what it had been like when she had been Sorted.
Esme's heart was practically pounding in her ears as Adalson Nighman ran to the Gryffindor table. They were getting dangerously close to the O's now, and there were only a few first years left to be sorted, herself included. She was bound to be next.
As luck would have it, the next two words that came out of Professor McGonagall's mouth were the two words she had been dreading to hear ever since she had arrived at Hogwarts.
Esme's face paled as she slowly and hesitantly inched forward. McGonagall looked at her expectantly, but patiently, the Sorting Hat clutched in her hand. Esme turned around and perched nervously on the stool, waiting. The last thing she saw before the Hat dropped over her eyes was Lily waving to her and crossing her fingers from the Gryffindor table, and Severus watching her intently and nodding to her from the Slytherin table.
"Ah,"said a low voice in her ear. The Sorting Hat was speaking to her. "The eldest child of the O'Brien heir. Your father and mother were both fine students, both of different houses."
This was true. Esme's father, Asinius O'Brien, was a Slytherin back in his Hogwarts days. Esme's mother, Vesta O'Brien, who had been Vesta Spence then, was in Ravenclaw.
"Let's see where the offspring of such a pairing and with such a combination of their traits will fit in..." the Sorting Hat whispered.
And then it had started with its analysis. "No, I don't think you have the true courage to become a Gryffindor...you are loyal to your loved ones, so maybe Hufflepuff would be right...you have a small amount of ambition, perhaps enough for you to be in Slytherin?...ah, but you've a ready mind and a fondness for knowing things. Yes, I believe now that the right choice for you is...RAVENCLAW!"
Esme sighed with relief as the Ravenclaw table erupted with cheers. McGonagall took the Hat off her head and she skipped towards the table second from the left. She looked over at the Gryffindor table right next to the Ravenclaws' and saw Lily grinning at her, giving her the thumbs up sign. She smiled at her new friend before looking over at the Slytherin table on the opposite side. Severus was still gazing at her with much focus, but he nodded again and gave her the faintest hint of a smile.
Esme came back to the present just as Justin Finch-Fletchley was running towards the clapping Hufflepuff table. She could already see one first year sitting at the Slytherin table. She smiled. Severus must be pleased.
Esme saw the girl's brown eyes light up. She scuttled quickly towards the stool, her bushy brown hair bouncing behind her. She sat down and fidgeted eagerly as Minerva placed the Hat on her head. After a few moments, the Hat shouted "GRYFFINDOR!"and Hermione Granger practically skipped towards her new table.
Esme barely caught a red haired boy in the first year bunch, tossing his head back with a dismayed groan. She recognized him almost immediately, not because she knew him personally, but because she knew of his family. That boy was a member of the Weasley family, a Pureblood clan with hearts of gold. It seemed that the Weasley boy did not want Hermione Granger in Gryffindor. Oh well, Esme thought with a silly smile. He'll just have to get used to it.
After a while, Minerva called out "Longbottom, Neville!"
The poor, fidgety boy, who didn't seem to have lost all of his baby fat yet, tripped on the way to the stool. And when he had been declared a Gryffindor, he ran off while still wearing the Hat. He had to run back in order to give it to the next person in line, while several students from the tables and first year bunch laughed at him. The poor kid was going to get picked on a lot, Esme could tell. She would do her best to help him.
"Malfoy, Draco!" Esme's eyes widened and stared at the pale-faced, platinum-blonde-haired boy that swaggered forth next. He was almost a spitting image of old Lucius Malfoy, someone Esme really didn't like. Sure the man had been attractive back in the day, so attractive that Lily had even sometimes swooned over him until she remembered what he was like and then stopped. His personality, on the other hand, was far from attractive. Well, at least to the non-Slytherins' of the school. He just seemed so...arrogant. And she didn't like it one bit.
Of course, just like his parents before him, young Draco was Sorted into Slytherin. He walked towards his new table with a smug smile on his face.
The names continued on, at one point becoming interesting. It seemed as if a pair of twin girls were in the first year class, and one would think they would get Sorted into the same House. But instead, "Patil, Padma." was Sorted into Ravenclaw, and "Patil, Parvati." was now a Gryffindor.
Esme was watching as Sally-Anne Perks skipped off to the Hufflepuff table when she heard it. Two words had come flying from Minerva's mouth that made her stop dead in her tracks.
Esme blinked in shock. She watched as a skinny boy with jet black hair and bright green eyes walked slowly forwards, looking behind him as the sounds of whispering students wafted through the Hall.
"Potter, did she say?"
"The Harry Potter?"
"No way! The Harry Potter is here?"
She watched him get closer. He looked so much like his father. She remembered that he had been very skinny in his youth too. She peered through the boy's bangs, trying not to call attention to herself (not that she needed to worry, as other teachers were trying as well), trying to see it. Sure enough, partially hidden from view behind his black bangs was a scar. A red cut shaped like a bolt of lightning.
That was him.
He was her best friend's son.
He was Lily's son
She watched as he sat down on the stool and the Hat was placed on his head. As soon as it slid over his eyes, Lily's eyes, Esme turned to Severus.
Severus had gone paler than he normally was. His faced displayed nothing, but his dark eyes betrayed his shock, anger, and pain.
Of course he would feel those things. He loved Lily, but Lily married James Potter.
"Severus," Esme could barely whisper. "It's Lily's son."
Severus's usual frown deepened. "Indeed," he replied hoarsely. "But he is the spitting image of his arrogant father."
Of course he would be mad about that too. "Not quite, Severus." she said. "Didn't you see his eyes? He has Lily's eyes. Bright green."
Severus scoffed, signaling that he wasn't going to speak any more about the boy. Which was just as well, she supposed. He would just get angry about the fact that Lily chose someone else.
Finally, the Hat that was still on top of Harry Potter's head shouted "GRYFFINDOR!"
Esme began clapping and laughing merrily as the Gryffindor table exploded with cheers. Twin boys, who Esme realized had to be older brothers of the Weasley boy in first year, began chanting "We got Potter! We got Potter! We got Potter!"
She looked over at Severus again, but he seemed to be glaring at Harry as the boy dashed to the Gryffindor table and sat down next to what looked to be like the eldest of the Weasley boys. Briefly, Esme frowned. Just because Harry was the son of his old school enemy didn't mean Severus could shoot hateful glares at the boy. He was, after all, Lily's only son.
A few more names and the Weasley first year was up next.
The boy with flaming red hair looked to have swallowed a lump in his throat. He trekked to the stool, his freckly face pale. When the Sorting Hat was placed on his head, it shouted loud enough for everyone to hear.
"Ha!" It scoffed suddenly, startling the poor boy and making Minerva nearly jump a foot into the air. "Another Weasley! I know just what to do with you!"
The boy clenched his eyes shut, preparing for the worst.
The boy heaved a sigh of relief and ran to sit next to Harry, as his elder brothers all stood up, clapping the hardest.
Finally, the Sorting had ended, and the chatter had begun once again as someone took the Hat and stool away. It didn't last long, though, before Minerva clinked her glass with her fork, which created a steady ringing sound that told everyone to be quiet.
"You're attention, please." she said.
Dumbledore stood up once more, smiling broadly at the students. He gestured to the table tops in front of them.
"Let the feast begin!"
Suddenly, there was a collective sigh from all the students as the empty dishes and platters suddenly filled with food. Esme's mouth watered at the sight of all her favorites. She didn't know what to start eating first! So to make herself happy, she grabbed a little bit of each; a steak here, a spoon of mashed potatoes there, a few chicken wings thrown in for the heck of it, and buttered corn and a salad on the side.
She had just finished practically drowning her French fries in ketchup and was reaching for a platter of fruit when she spotted it. A familiar green fruit with a ring of small seeds in the middle.
Esme retracted her hand immediately. Kiwi! She was allergic to Kiwi! It made horrible looking welts and rashes pop up on her skin, and her throat would swell up and close. She held her hand to her face, covering her mouth and nose before turning to Severus, who was talking to Professor Quirrell.
"Severus?" she asked. Severus stopped talking to Quirrell and looked at her, one eyebrow raised at her.
"Do you think you could move that fruit a little away from me?" she pointed to the platter of fruit that had the evil kiwis on it.
Severus didn't budge, his eyebrow still raised. She sighed. He had forgotten about her allergy. Well, she didn't blame him. They hadn't seen each other for thirteen years. It was easy to forget in that time.
"I'm allergic to kiwis, remember?" she said, hoping to jog his memory. She watched as Severus' onyx eyes drifted to the fruit tray, probably noticing the kiwis sticking out everywhere.
He opened his mouth to ask why she couldn't just take any other fruit besides the kiwis, but he stopped himself. He knew what peanut oil allergies did to some students if they even smell anything that contained peanut oil. They couldn't even eat anything that had touched the food with peanut oil on it. The same principle, then, must apply to Esme.
A memory flashed into his mind of a day during his fourth year at lunch time. There had been a collective gasp from the Ravenclaw table that had made him look up. His eyes widened as he saw Esme clutching her throat and struggling to breathe properly. Large welts and rashes were popping up all over her skin, which she now tried to scratch at with her other hand, the first still being occupied with her throat. She had been rushed to the Hospital Wing almost immediately. It turned out that she wasn't paying attention when grabbing for a strawberry and grabbed a kiwi instead, taking a huge bite out of it. She was in the Hospital Wing for the remainder of the day.
Remembering that experience, and how especially worried he had strangely gotten that day, Severus slid the fruit player over, almost knocking over his goblet of wine, which he managed to save just in time.
Esme took her hand away from her face and smiled. "Thank you, Severus." she said.
Severus only grunted again in reply.
By the time the dessert dishes cleaned themselves and left the plates sparkling on the table, Esme was completely stuffed. She sighed in agony, for she felt she ate a little too much. But honestly, how could she stop herself?
The Headmaster stood up once again, smiling broadly. Briefly Esme wondered if he should be getting up so much, considering his age. She dispersed the thought. He's gotten on well so far, hasn't he?
"And now, students, it is time for us to sing the school song!" Dumbledore said happily.
Esme inwardly groaned. This was the only part of the Start-of-Term Banquet that she didn't like. And judging from the moaning and grumbling from the rest of the staff, she could safely say that they didn't like it either.
Dumbledore pulled out his wand and flicked it once, making a golden ribbon shoot out and twist into the words of the song. "Everyone pick your favorite tune, and off we go!"
And then the school began to sing.
Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts, Teach us something, please, Whether we be old and bald Or young with scabby knees, Our heads could do with filling With some interesting stuff, For now they're bare and full of air, Dead flies and bits of fluff, So teach us things worth knowing, Bring back what we've forgot, Just do your best, we'll do the rest, And learn until our brains all rot.
Teach us something, please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they're bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we've forgot,
Just do your best, we'll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot.
Esme never belted out the words like everyone else. She always thought she never sang well. She just whispered the words to herself. Next to her, Severus kept his mouth shut. He always did. Severus Snape did not sing. Period.
All the students finished at different times, due to the wide and painful difference in tunes and tempos. At last, only the Weasley twins were left singing to a very slow funeral march. Esme stifled a laugh. They were funny buggers, those two.
Dumbledore counted off their last words with his wand, like a conductor in an orchestra, and they hall began clapping. Most of them, it seemed, we're clapping because it was over. Only a few clapped because it sounded good.
"Ah, music." The Headmaster said dreamily, wiping a tear from his eye. "A magic beyond all that we do here."
Esme giggled under her breath.
"And now, bedtime!" exclaimed Dumbledore. "Off you trot!"
The House Prefects' leaped into action. Shouts of "Gryffindors' this way!"; "Hufflepuff follow me!"; "Slytherins' over here!"; and "Ravenclaws' keep up please!" resounded over the chatter of the other students as the Prefects led the first years to their House Common Rooms. Esme briefly let her eyes wander to the retreating figure of Harry Potter among the Gryffindor first years. She just couldn't believe that he was here. She would finally get to meet the boy.
It seemed that Harry had felt her eyes trained on his back, because he turned his head and looked over his shoulder. Hazel and gold-flecked eyes met bright green ones, and Esme took the opportunity to smile warmly at him. The son of Lily and James Potter returned it, albeit awkwardy, before following the eldest Weasley out of the Great Hall.
Esme giggled to herself again before leaving the hall herself through the staff entrance and heading towards her sleeping quarters.
TA-DA! Well wad'ja think? Good? Bad? Asi-asi?
Good news guys! I'll have more time to write because SUMMER IS ALMOST HERE! YAY! Only a week and three days and I'll officially be a junior! WHOOO!
But then I will miss all my senior friends, like TrenchCoatGuy here on the site :( *bursts into tears*. Oh well, at least I have fond memories of the graduading seniors. My sister is graduationg too. Holy shit where did the time go?
Reviews are love, constructive riticism is appreciated, and flames will be used to start a camp fire :3
Until next time, my lovely readers!