Song for this chapter: There's A Class For This by Cute Is What We Aim For
"Riddle, Adeline," the stern woman with her hair pulled back tightly into a bun called.
"Call me Adele," I piped up as I hurried up to put the tattered hat she held in her hand on my head.
It wasn't until the students began to titter with laughter that it occurred to me that I probably wasn't supposed to speak. None of the other students had done so anyway. Everything was so different at this school and I was struggling to adjust. Everything since this same stern woman had shown up on my doorstep to explain that I was a witch and that I was to be attending a school of witchcraft and wizardry called Hogwarts had felt so very confusing.
I felt out of place in every way possible. The other students had been raised in the world of magic, but I was raised by my father who was apparently a muggle. The other students starting their first year were eleven, but because my birthday was on the twenty-fifth of November, I started a year later. So many of the students around me looked eager to be here, excited even, but I mostly just felt depressed to have left home. My father had been devastated by the idea that I would actually leave him, and yet he seemed hell bent that I attend this special school. I was torn between the joy of learning, and just wishing I could go home, and return to school with the same students I had been in classes with for years now.
"You spend an awful lot of time in your head don't you?" a raspy male voice said and I jumped when I realized that the hat was talking to me.
"Very intellectual, and yet quite aware of those around you," the hat mused. "Keen, and observant."
"You would do well in Ravenclaw, yet you are no coward so you might also find a home in Gryffindor, but no the fit isn't quite right. It'll have to be SLYTHERIN!" the hat said, and the last bit was clearly announced to the rest of the hall as it was met with polite applause.
I slid off of my stool and turned to look at the group of students that would become my housemates for the next seven years. They didn't look particularly inviting, and they certainly seemed to be the more surly house of the four present in the hall. Was coming here a mistake? What did it mean that the hat thought I belonged with these people who looked so unkind?
It didn't take long for me to realize just how little I fit in. I stood out because I excelled in my studies, but I excelled in my studies due to copious hours studying in an effort to avoid spending time with the people in my house. My first year at Hogwarts I managed to squeak by with only the occasional foul language directed my way. It hadn't taken long for my housemates to figure out my muggle heritage, and they hated me for it. When I discovered what an issue it was going to be I tried to keep it a secret, but each time I fudged the truth about my background I could hear my father in the back of my mind whispering about the cost of secrets.
I would have hated Hogwarts if the lessons hadn't been so amazing. I loved magic, and so I threw myself at it with vigor absorbing everything I could about it. My favorite lesson by far was potions though. It reminded me so of being home with my father and cooking dinner together. I felt warm and happy while brewing potions, even if they professor was incredible dour. Professor Snape… there weren't many good words that could be used to describe him, so I often refrained from even talking about him, as if he didn't exist or something.
I wouldn't talk about him, but I lived for his lessons. I excelled in his classes, and often garnered points for our house because of it, but he was careful not to compliment me, and I often wondered if it was because of my heritage, just like everything else seemed to be.
The end of my first year had seen the end of the pure magic for me. When I had returned from school it had been to an angry father who wanted nothing to do with me after I had abandoned him. There were no warm loving nights of making dinner together, instead I frequently made dinner for him, which he ate alone at the dining table while I was expected to remain in the kitchen. I began to yearn for Hogwarts during the breaks because my home no longer felt welcoming.
My second through sixth years had been entirely uneventful. I had gone to classes and I had done well. I had watched quidditch matches, and went for walks on the grounds, but it had been as if I did not exist. Professor Snape occasionally noticed me because of my talent, and my other teachers did give me praise for good work but they did not seem to really see me. I was certain the other students actually couldn't see me.
They would run into me in the hallway as if they had seen a clear path before them, and then been quite surprised to find themselves colliding with my body. I was spared the teasing from the girls of the school because I was beneath their notice, but I was also spared the notice of any guys in the school. Perhaps it was kismet that I was more worried about my studies than about having a love life, because that certainly wasn't an option when I was something other than human. I probably should have been bored living my half-life, but school kept me occupied during the year, and attempted to please my father kept me occupied during the breaks.
I had a moment of temporary stardom after my fifth year when I set records with the highest OWL scores the school had seen in ages, but it faded as soon as Fred and George Weasley came up with their next prank. I noticed those boys once or twice, but I doubted they noticed me.
It wasn't until my seventh year that my world even seemed to have color in it. I was named head girl, and suddenly people knew who I was. I was no longer jostled in the hallway, and my teachers had smiles to share with me. Well everyone but Professor Snape. He was even more surly than ever, and though I would never say a word to anyone I suspected it had to do with the new celebrity student that had begun attending Hogwarts this year.
Harry Potter. He was beyond famous, and I had read his entire life story while I devoured books that would inform me about this new world I was joining. In my head I had imagined something far more impressive than the scrawny bespectacled snarky little git that showed up in the hallways. He was nice to other students I suppose, but he really had a hatred for Slytherins, and as I had a tendency to hang around the potions suite in the dungeons I had heard him talking back to Professor Snape on multiple occasions. One time he was so rude I was sorely tempted to go give him a piece of my mind, but I stayed at my bench in the side lab, as I was all too aware of how few students were granted the privilege Professor Snape had given to me, and I didn't want to lose it in a moment of rash behavior. My anger had passed when I heard the boy loose points for his swotty behavior.
I became so focused on my theory that a potion could be created to eradicate dragon pox all together, that many of my other lessons began to suffer. Professor Snape, as my head of house, had to pull me into his office for a discussion about this being my NEWT year, and the risk I was taking of wasting my potential by missing out on other lessons to test my potions.
"I don't see the point in attending a lesson on how to transfigure a rock into a dog," I groaned, internally kicking myself for how obnoxious I sounded. "When I could be in the lab perfection a potion that could revolutionize how a childhood illness affects so many in our community."
"It is your final year of school, you are the head girl and other students look up to you," he drawled, but I hardly heard him as I tried to formulate the rest of my argument. "You should be acting accordingly."
"But with this potion," I interrupted. "If it were administered shortly after birth, each child would be protected. They would never contract dragon box. You know the fact that the wizarding world hasn't already thought of vaccines is a bit absurd."
"Miss Riddle!" he snapped, and I closed my mouth quickly, preparing for a verbal lashing. "I agree entirely that your potion is more important than learning a transfiguration spell that you will never use. But I can hardly ask you to be a potions apprentice under me should you fail to pass all of your NEWTS."
I sat in stunned silence. Had he really said that? I had not dared to dream. Even if I had begged on my hands and knees I didn't think I could attain an apprenticeship under Master Snape who had staunchly refused on student after another.
"You would like to offer me an apprenticeship?" I finally asked, my voice quiet and sounding as if it belonged to someone else entirely.
"I would," he nodded curtly. "You may find you are not interested when you discover that I would expect at least six years of study as you would leave my tutelage a true master. But you shall not even have the option to decline my offer if you do not pass your NEWTS."
"Transfiguration just became my second favorite lesson," I chirped before checking my watch. "In fact I need to be getting to one of those lessons right away. I won't let you down Professor Snape."
"Oh don't you turn into some sort of puppy now," he called after me sarcastically, though it sounded like he almost wanted to laugh.
I hurried through the halls to get to my lesson on time, and it wasn't until I got to Professor McGonagall's classroom that I began to wonder if this had been a real offer. I would work towards it as if it were, but Professor Snape was a Slytherin as well and I wouldn't put it beyond him to manipulate me into doing well with no intention of actually giving me what I coveted most.
The year seemed to go so much slower when I was actually attending all of my lessons. Attending them, and actually fully focusing my attention on them. I seriously wondered about my mental stability when I was looking for moment in the corridor or at the breakfast table to jot down notes on my potion ideas, when the other girls my age were talking about boys or if they were particularly mature where they'd like to work when they leave.
"I admire your enthusiasm, but your apprenticeship will not be starting until the fall," Professor Snape said when he exited his chambers with suitcase in hand to find me standing in the corridor waiting for him.
"Oh, I misunderstood," I said in my most composed voice, hoping he didn't realize how devastated I was at this revelation.
"You may use owl post to correspond with me on theories about your Dragon Pox Vaccine if you so wish," he said in a voice that was clearly meant to show his annoyance, but his face was soft enough that it felt more like he was taking pity on me.
I decide not to tell him that I've already finished that potion, but I don't want to give up the opportunity to write to a man I have come to view as my mentor about the subject he had mastered.
"May I write you about other theories and ideas as well?" I ask, trying and failing not to sound eager.
"You may," he concedes with a smirk. "But the second I read a letter about something juvenile and idiotic I will hex your owl."
"Might I perhaps get my most idiotic question out of the way right now then," I asked with a chuckle, hoping his relatively good mood might get me an actual answer about the rumors that had been flying around at the end of the school year.
"Just the one, and make it brief," he groaned, but he held his ground waiting for my question.
"With all of the rumors going around this year it's difficult to tell fact from fiction of course," I said quietly. "But I wanted to ask if I am supposed to believe that Potter and friends actually broke through one of your potion puzzles in his efforts to get to the stone?"
"It was a fairly simple puzzle honestly if one has common sense," he said, his voice growing deeper in obvious annoyance. "But I don't think for a minute Miss Granger actually solved the puzzle, I think she was smart enough to figure out that the answer was obviously the bottle that had already been drunk from, and was likely not even sitting in line with the other potions as Quirrell had already pulled it from the line up to drink from it."
"That is not nearly as courageous as it was made to seem," I said quietly a funny bubbling starting in my stomach.
"No perhaps not," he answered soberly. "But neither is the assumption that my riddle was difficult wise. You could have solved it within seconds by simply smelling the potions and ferretting out which ones were poison, which ones were wine, and which ones you actually needed. Assuming you didn't have the help of someone pulling the proper potion out of line anyway."
"Perhaps I shall research how to alter the smell of potions over the summer," I said with a smile before I walked away, trying to decipher if I actually disliked the three little Gryffindors or not.
"Have a good holiday Miss Riddle," he called after me, and in my mind I pictured him smiling even though I knew he wouldn't be.