Heeeeello! :) You might be wondering that this is up quite quick (only a week :O) but I figured that since things are starting to settle I should make up for lost time by at least giving you something extra ;) Also this chapter wasn't too hard to write so.. :P Anyway, the usual and bla bla, then enjoy the chapter!
JennyJeannette - everyday?! that's insane. wow. now i feel reeeeally bad :( well as you hoped, here you are! I guess this chapter can be dedicated to you for being such a great supporter and reader! :) hope you likey likey ~
Annalynn214 - haha i think you underestimate Harry, he's a good kid. i wouldnt peg him as someone who is judgemental on someone until he gets to know them :) look at him and luna for example!
BBauzzie - hahaha yes i'm sorry :3 hope this is a good consolation for making you wait ;) hmm sounds interesting. i've heard of alot of pairings from reviewers and tbh i'm still considering so no promises just yet :) it's good to have a lil input from people though - sometimes i don't even think about how it could work
Pocky Pox - eheheheh sound good. a level e slave to my story. mwahahaha. ok stop now :B mhmmhm. i'm still thinking about the pairings and also even whether i might include any at all really. yeah, but overall i like this year in general and its easy to mix in things compared to the other books too. well well well, there is a short snippet in this chapter that is dedicated just to you! :) hope you like it. i am putting in some more interactions between the other minor characters but as i said, its like their first week and i wanna take it slowww.
Aaand off we go!
Harry had not had time to practice Vanishing Spells, nor written a single dream in his dream diary, nor finished the drawing of the Bowtruckle, nor written his essays. He skipped breakfast the next morning to scribble down a couple of made-up dreams for Divination, their first lesson, and was surprised to find a dishevelled Ron keeping him company.
"How come you didn't do it last night?" he asked, as Ron stared wildly around the common room for inspiration. Ron, who had been fast asleep when Harry had slid under his covers silently yesterday, muttered something about "doing other stuff", bent low over his parchment and scrawled a few words.
"That'll have to do," he said, slamming the diary shut. "I said I dreamed I was buying a new pair of shoes, she can't make anything weird out of that, can she?" Harry merely shrugged in reply. For all they knew, she probably could. They then hurried off to the North Tower together. "How was detention with Umbridge, anyway? What did she make you do?" Harry hesitated for a moment, then vaguely answered, "lines." "That's not too bad, then, eh?" said Ron.
"Nope," said Harry.
"Hey – I forgot – did she let you off for Friday?"
"No," Harry sighed. Ron groaned sympathetically. When they arrived in their Divination classroom, Harry noticed Zero, sitting in the same spot he had sat the last lesson. He was slouched in his chair, scowling at nothing in particular. For a moment, Harry wondered where Kaname was; considering he was in their last lesson. Then he remembered that he only joined for the later lessons of the days. Harry found himself quite twitchy around him. He was sure that if he were to say a word to Zero, it wouldn't end well. Sighing, Harry once again went through the motions of whether or not he should let his friends know about what happened last night. The class were treated to a somewhat amusing show of Professor Trelawney sputtering at Zero for not putting any effort to do the work assigned, even though he was an exchange student. Zero had merely stared at her blankly. Harry had the feeling that if he were to level one of his glares at her, she would start spilling death visions again.
The rest of the day went bad for Harry; he was one of the worst in Transfiguration, not having practiced the Vanishing Spells at all. He had to give up his lunch hour to complete the picture of the Bowtruckle and, meanwhile, Professors McGonagall, Grubbly-Plank and Sinistra gave all of them yet more homework – which he had absolutely no prospect of finishing that evening because of his second detention with Umbridge. And to top it all off, Angelina Johnson had tracked him down at dinner once again and, on learning that he would not be able to atten Friday's Keeper tryouts, told him she was 'not at all impressed by his attitude' and that she 'expected players who wished to remain on the team to put training before their other commitments'.
"I have detention!" he had yelled after her after she stalked away. "D'you think I'd rather be stuck in a room with that old toad or playing Quidditch?!"
"At least it's only lines," Hermoine had told him consolingly, as he sank back onto his bench and looked down at his steak and kidney pie, which he seemed to no longer fancy very much. "It's not as if it's a dreadful punishment, really…" Harry opened his mouth to say something, before closing it again and nodding. He wasn't really sure why he wasn't telling Ron and Hermoine exactly what was happening in Umbridge's room; he only knew that he didn't want to see their looks of horror – that would make the whole thing seem worse and therefore, more difficult to face. He also felt dimly that this was between himself and Umbridge, a private battle of wills, and he was not going to give her the satisfaction of hearing that he had complained about it.
"I can't believe how much homework we've got," said Ron miserably.
"Well, why didn't you do any last night?" Hermoine asked him. "Where were you, anyway?"
"I was… I fancied a walk," Ron said shiftily. Harry had the distinct impression that he was not alone in concealing things at the moment. He was startled by Hermoine leaping off the bench and waving madly.
"Zero! Zero, over here!" He turned to see Zero walking in with the three Ravenclaw exchanges. The short blonde one and him seem to be studiously ignoring one another whilst the two weren't too bothered by it. Zero had seemed on the verge of lashing out at the boy before Hermoine had called out to him, catching his attention. He shot a look at the group, the taller blonde smiling and saying something too out-of-earshot for them to hear, before the group broke off. Zero and the taller blonde made their way towards them.
"Good evening," the blonde said in a friendly tone, "I don't believe we've been acquainted. My name is Ichijou Takuma." The rest introduced themselves less enthusiastically than Hermoine. She invited him to sit with them even though he was in a different house, but he decline politely, stating that he shouldn't leave the other two alone to their own devices lest they cause a ruckus.
"Takuma-senpai," Zero leaned in, grabbing Ichijou's attention who leaned in obligingly, "anta wa Souen-senpai to ore o nirande tomero ni oshiete suru koto dekumasu ga (could you please tell Ruka to stop glaring at me)?" Ichijou turned, and sure enough, over at the Hufflepuff table was Ruka holding a steak knife looking like she was plotting a massacre; glaring daggers in their direction. He let out a soft laugh and lightly touched Zero on the shoulder.
"Kinishinaide (don't worry), Kiryuu-kun, kanojo wa yoku imi dayo (she means well)," turning back to Hermoine and excusing himself, he went over to speak to Ruka, Rima and Shiki briefly – which earned Zero more glares – before returning to his own table.
"Zero," his attention was quickly brought back to where he was as he looked down at Hermoine who had sat back down, "what're you doing? Take a seat! You should eat more, geez, you could use it. Then you and Harry can go to see Professor Umbridge together too," Zero didn't miss the slight choke from Harry beside him. They locked eyes at that point, neither saying a word, before Harry looked away. From what he could see, Zero guessed that Harry hadn't told his friends what was going on in those 'detentions'. His lips twitched into a miniscule smile. He liked that the boy would try to keep his friends from unnecessary worry.
"Luna-chan! Here're the books I told you about yesterday," Takuna materialized a stack of soft-cover manga's which he promptly laid in front of Luna. She looked up from her meal and gave him one of her dazed-looking smiles, putting down her utensils and reaching beside her.
"These are the only copies of the Quibbler that I have at school," she handed him a smaller stack which he cradled carefully in his hands, "if you like them, I can ask father to send some more to school." Takuma thanked her and immediately took the first magazine off the stack and flipped it open to read as he absent-mindedly began to gather some food onto his plate. "Oh! That's one of the newer issues! You have to read them with these," Luna reached across the table and pulled out a pair of novelty glasses from a pocket at the back of the magazine and pressed it into Takuma's palm. He glanced at it, the frames coming out and twisting in odd shapes and painted an array of colours, the lenses a swirling mass of colours that changed at every angle. A bright smile lit his face as he unhesitatingly put on the glasses.
"How do I look?" A few of their classmates around them turned and many of the girls giggled at the sight. Some complemented Takuma. Luna's face was completely serious the entire time.
"Perfect!" she said approvingly. Takuma smiled and resumed his reading. Luna, with a spoon full of pudding stuffed in her mouth, reached to the top of the manga stack and pulled the first one down to flip through. "Takuma, you'll go through these with me, won't you? I'm afraid I don't understand Japanese much," she noted in her quiet voice. Takuma looked back up at her.
"Of course," he grinned, "when you're done with them, you'll even be able to pass yourself off as Japanese too!" Luna giggled and flipped through a few copies, admiring the artwork. Every now and then, she would ask a question about something in the comic that caught her eye, or Takuma would lean over to the others and talk excitedly about something in the Quibbler. The students, whilst still a little wary of him, had come a long way in just over a day. None of them could resist Takuma's friendly charm for long after he'd become a part of their house – although the same couldn't really be said about the other two exchanges, who tended to keep each other company. However, they were friendly enough to their peers to not pose a problem either. The fifth years at the table ate and laughed heartily, exchanging stories of the day and sometimes exchanging experiences with the exchange students.
The second detention was just as bad as the previous one. The skin on the back of Harry's hand became irritated more quickly now and was soon red and inflamed. Harry knew that it was unlikely to keep healing as effectively as before for long. Soon the cut would remain etched into his hand and Umbridge would then, perhaps, be finally satisfied. Over the course of the hours spent in the detention, Harry would glance at Zero reading opposite him every so often. Sometimes, they would lock eyes and a few times Zero's gaze had slid to Harry's left hand. The first time, Harry had quickly turned it over and pulled it down to his lap, eyes dropping, embarassed. He didn't see the face Zero made. The next time it happened again, Harry resisted repeating the action, and instead glanced at his own hand before looking back at Zero quizically. Zero would look in his eyes and the look he gave me left Harry with no doubt what he was trying to convey. Zero was asking if he was alright. Touched, Harry pursed his lips and gave the tiniest of nods. Seeing Zero's eyes soften from their tense expression, Harry would feel the ghost of a smile lingering on his lips.
However, that didn't help with the pain that came every time he rewrote the line I must not tell lies. He let no gasp of pain escape him, however, and from the moment of entering the room to the moment of their dismissal, again sometime past midnight, he said nothing to Umbridge but "good evening" and "good night". Zero was another case. Umbridge seemed to keep him back longer to talk to him. She would dismiss him and tell him to return to his dormitary when he tried to stay. He stayed anyway, a couple of meters from the door. Zero was surprised to see him waiting when he came out a couple of minutes later. Harry smiled and justified his actions as "a reason to have company back to the common room; much more efficient" which Zero merely smirked at.
"What did she want?" Harry asked. Zero merely shrugged and mumbled that it wasn't of any importance. He frowned, but let it go. They made good time and Harry told the fat lady the pass word and they entered the common room in companionable silence. His homework situation, however, was now desperate, and though he was completely exhausted, he did not in fact go to bed, but dragged himself over toward the glowing fireplace. He felt Zero's eyes on his back following him, probably wondering what he was up to now. So, he risked a glance behind him. "I haven't had time to do any homework since you managed to do anything either?" Zero just raised a brow, which seemed to suit him actually, and also Harry noticed was one of the first expressions he had given him that was not negative in anyway. Zero was starting to give him an odd look, then it hit him. "Oh! Right, exchange students..." he trailed off, turning away and mumbling under his breath about stupid exchange students not needing to actually do any work. Zero's lips twitched at the immaturity of the boy sitting on the rug before his eyes flicked around the common room. He could feel the peace of the place, everyone was asleep in the tower – well, aside from Seiren obviously, who was doing who knows what in her room. Then he looked back at Harry, gave a little shrug and strode forward. Harry was surprised when he heard a muffled thump beside him and saw Zero take a seat on one of the plush maroon chairs near the fireplace. Zero didn't seem to be doing much, just taking in the room pleasantly. Harry was about to question him about going to bed before he once again remembered; vampire. Nocturnal. Duh. He rolled his eyes and opened his books to begin Snape's moonstone essay.
Once Harry was paying more attention to his own work, Zero stopped his looking around and glanced at the work Harry was attempting to complete. Even though they didn't need to do any work, the point of the exchange program was to learn about their culture after all. He as someone here to just enforce security among.. other things.. didn't need to read up but he did sometimes, at night, when he was feeling a little restless. As he was writing, Zero suddenly spoke up.
"Are you aiming for an Outstanding?" He looked up, surprised. Zero merely looked at him and waited for an answer.
"Uh, not really. Just an Acceptable I guess," he slowly answered. Zero's hand lifted from the armrest to point at his piece of parchment.
"Well it's still a little ways to go. That looks like a Dreadful to me. Especially to the Professor's standards," Harry's brows went up. He realized that he was getting mocked.
"Oh really?" He said sarcastically, "and you're saying you could do better than?" Zero raised a brow again.
"No, I'm just saying that that," pointing again, "is not going to get you your Acceptable." Harry pursed his lips into a tight frown.
"Well then, if you're so confident in yourself then why don't you tell me what you'd put in here then," Zero seemed to consider this for a moment before his body fluidly slid down to the floor beside him. Harry almost jerked away in surprise as Zero snatched his piece of parchment out of his fingers, giving it a brief once over. Then, as if the most normal thing in the world, Zero handed him back his parchment and began pointing out errors and things he could add in at various points, going through the entire assignment with him easily as Harry merely went with it in a daze.
It was half past two by the time they had finished it. He knew he would have done a poor job, and there was no help for it unless he didn't mind a detention with Snape next, but as he read through his final paper, he saw some quality work in there. Some really quality work. He began to frown at the paper.
"What? Is there an error?" Zero's voice cut into his thought process. He looked at him, then back at his parchment.
"No, it's great. Too great. Snape's going to think I cheated off Hermoine again or something," Zero scoffed – close enough to a laugh – and shook his head.
"Then tell him you had help." This time Harry scoffed.
"Yeah right. He's not going to believe that. Even if he did, he'll still be able to make it look like I can't do my own work." Zero rolled his eyes and sighed
"Look, who cares? He can't give you a Troll or whatever even so. The worse that could happen is that you just have to settle with that Acceptable." Harry shrugged and grumbled that an Acceptable was good enough for him anyway. He then proceeded to fly through the rest of his homework, occasionally asking Zero's opinion on something and often coming up surprised that Zero was so well acquianted with their syllables. He dashed off answers to Professor McGonagall's questions which Zero read through to make sure he wasn't just regurgitating nonsense in his sleep-deprived state, cobbled together something on the proper handling of Bowtruckles for Professor Grubbly-Plank that sounded like a generalized answer to caring for anything in general. Finally finished, Harry thanked Zero who just nodded and they parted ways with goodnights. He staggered up to bed, where he fell, fully clothed, on top of the covers and fell asleep immediately.
Aite, so, i am slightly sad that although the story in general seems to get roughly 200+ viewers, only 7 of you guys reviewed last chapter :( are you giving me the silent treatment for being so slow? D: nooooooo. those of you writers of your own fics know that we more or less live off reviews, so please please please review :3 it makes my day and also gives me more drive to update tehee :P
Other than that slight ramble, let me know what you think and thanks again to those who DID review; i love you all :) xx