A fierce argument raged on the grounds. It was the type of argument that onlookers ducked their heads away from as they hurried back to the security within the castle walls, anxious not to be caught between the two rivals. The damp and chilly autumn weather had made a valiant tussle over the past few days; as though it was seeking asylum from the changing season, the mud had seeped its way into every nook and cranny of the great castle. There, caked on the hems of robes and the soles of shoes, raked over the solid stone floor and ancient, woven rugs, slopped over soggy Quidditch equipment and dark, unnoticed corners, the tell-tale autumn mud attempted to ride out the impending argument unscathed. Autumn was losing.
The stiff and frozen wind of winter was prevailing. Outside the castle, the grey winter skies had blanketed the magical school and teasingly whispered snow through the ears of anyone who would listen. The mud of autumn hardened and the trees in the Forbidden Forest became more skeletal. Inside the castle, an elderly, bitter-looking man and his aloof, languid assistant combated the refugee mud armed only with buckets, mops, and a strong distaste for anything spelt using the letters M-U-D. It was on a Wednesday morning in November that the argument finally ceased and a winner was declared.
Teddy Lupin felt a vivid and unwelcome beam of sunlight on his face. He grunted and rolled over away from the solar intrusion. He could hear footsteps on the slate floor followed by the thick, canary-yellow curtains being pulled away from the corner post of his bed. He was now exposed and at the full mercy of the sunshine streaming in through the round window panes located at the very top of the dormitory’s tall, stone walls. The pane was frosted over, and the first snow-fall of the year pressed up against the ground-level window.
“Oi. ‘Bout time you opened your eyes.” Teddy squinted and refocused his eyes upon the smiling, too-chipper face of Braden. “I was afraid I’d have to miss breakfast on your account. I know if I’d have left ya here, you’d have slept straight through morning classes.” Teddy grunted again and launched a well-aimed pillow at his well-intended dorm mate.
“Gah. Bloody ‘ell, Teddy.” Braden chortled. “And this is the thanks I get. Professor Longbottom would have eaten you for lunch if you’d have missed his class.”
Teddy chatted and laughed with Braden the entire way up to the Great Hall and all through his rushed breakfast. He was still laughing as he reached the Entrance Hall. The door to one of the broom closets was open and the caretakers, Filch and Shunpike, could be seen bitterly replacing the mops in their hands with shovels. Teddy gave them both a jovial wave and a good morning as he and Braden passed. The caretakers only glared back in return.
“I honestly think that their faces would crack in half if they ever smiled,” Braden chirped away as they opened the heavy doors and stepped out into the winter morning.
The harsh wind whipped around the two boys living stinging tingles in its wake. It was a white morning. Everything around them was covered in a thin layer of frozen snow. Teddy shivered and pulled his cloak tightly around him. The castle doors opened behind them and rapidly shut again as several other rushing first years poured out into the frigid morning air.
“Ted, Braden,” Teddy turned his head to see Corey Lynch walking with a Ravenclaw boy and girl. “What in Merlin’s name are you just standing here for? It’s bad enough that we have to go sit through Herbology in this weather. At least there won’t be any wind there.” As Corey spoke he pulled his cloak around him more tightly. “You Hufflepuffs really can be a bit dense can’t you – just standing here like you’re waiting for the grounds to thaw out?” He chuckled jovially but his words stung Teddy.
Still nursing his bruised house pride, Teddy nodded to Braden and together fell in line behind the three Ravenclaws making their way down to Greenhouse One. The ground crackled under their feet and announced their tardy arrival.
Anxious to get out of the victorious wind, the Ravenclaw girl, Emma Davies, darted in front of her two housemates, pushed her wire-rimmed glasses back up her nose, and reached out to open the door. Just as her hand made contact with the door, it seemingly opened of its own accord. Startled, she jumped back from the entryway. Teddy giggled as Professor Longbottom appeared on the other side.
“Corey, Emma, and Dustin! Good, good. Albeit late, we finally have all of our Ravenclaws. Hurry in and join the others.” His voice was warm and sounded strange against the weather. “And our two late Hufflepuffs. Ted and Braden, go on in and take your seats.”
Teddy and Braden hurried into the greenhouse and took their seats at the second table with other three late arrivals. It was still cold indoors so Teddy refrained from taking off his scarf and cloak. He just hoped they would be taking notes today instead of working hands-on.
“The five of you are several minutes tardy which is inexcusable.” Professor Longbottom’s voice was stern sounding without losing its characteristic warmth. “But, considering the weather outside is colder than a Dementor, I’ll let it slide. All of you please be advised that if the weather is inclement, you are expected to leave a bit earlier so that you still arrive to class on time.” Teddy shot Braden a smile. They had not gotten into any trouble for their late morning start. “Now that being said, please open your texts to page 173. Who wants to read the third entry aloud?”
Time slithered by as Teddy frantically took notes on self-fertilizing cacti and, appropriately enough, frost resistant tentacula. His knuckles were cold and stiff around his quill. Professor Longbottom enthusiastically articulated that, in fact, these two very different plants were quite similar. Teddy felt his eyelids droop shut much against his will. Across the workstation, Emma snickered into her hand and kicked him under the table.
“Ted, psst,” Emma whispered as Professor Longbottom turned towards his blackboard. “Ted, wake up.”
Teddy’s eyelids flew open and he quickly shook the sleep off himself. He looked up towards the blackboard and frantically tried to find where his notes had left off. His hand again began to scribble Professor Longbottom’s notes while his eyes travelled across the table to Emma. He shot her a sincere and gracious smile before turning back to the roll of parchment in front of him.
At the end of the lesson, they left the greenhouses. Teddy slung his bag up over his shoulder; ahead of him and Braden on the path, Emma was walking with Corey, Dustin Higgs, and two other Ravenclaws that Teddy did not know. He gave a nod to Braden and jogged up the path to catch up with the gaggle of Ravenclaws.
“Oi, Emma!” Teddy called out to her. “Oi, wait up a second.”
Emma stopped and waved her group of friends onto the castle. The tiny girl was wrapped in a cloak twice her size that gave her a hulking look. Her pale skin blended into the snowy back drop, and several tendrils of dark hair escaped her fluffy blue earmuffs. She shoved her glasses up her nose and turned to face Teddy. He opened his mouth to speak, but his words stuck in his throat.
“What do you want?” Emma said through chattering teeth. “I have to get to Charms, Ted. I swear to Merlin that I’ll hex you if I’m late to class again.” She glared at Teddy expectantly.
“Er, I, erm.” The words would not formulate in Teddy’s mouth. “It’s nothing really. I just wanted to say thanks for waking me up in class. I really owe you one.” Teddy grinned and hoped that the Ravenclaw would as well.
“Oh. Well, it really was nothing, Ted.” Emma’s face was amused, yet sceptical. “I’ll be sure to remember this debt.” She turned and continued up the path through the grounds. Teddy followed her. “Ted,” she said after walking in silence for a few moments. “You should just ignore Corey Lynch. He gets on everybody’s nerves. He’s such a know-it-all.”
“Aw. I’d have never figured that one out.” Teddy chuckled as the two classmates walked into the warm Entrance Hall once more. “Right then,” he said more to himself than anybody else. “I have to get to Transfiguration.” Teddy turned to leave, waving goodbye over his shoulder. Emma too waved goodbye and soon disappeared into one of the many corridors in the castle.
Teddy scooted through the door of the Transfiguration classroom moments before the large door swung shut. Slightly out of breath, he took his seat in between Braden and Alastor. Alastor shot Teddy a curious grin and Braden quietly giggled into his hands. Teddy purposefully ignored them and pulled out his book and some parchment. Professor Grayson was very strict, and he was certain he did not want to be caught unprepared.
Professor Grayson was a tall, lanky man with a heavy brow line and incredibly red cheeks; his balding head gleamed in the classroom’s candlelight. An abnormal high-pitched voice cut through the dusty air. This time, Teddy’s attention did not wonder and his eyelids did not grow heavy for the entire fifty minutes; to do so would be life-threatening.
Several greyed and pointed matchsticks later, fifteen ruffled and tired Hufflepuff and Gryffindor students traipsed out of the classroom. Braden walked ahead with Michael Warrington, their other dorm mate. Teddy hung back still in conversation with Alastor and another Gryffindor boy: Bradley Wood.
“That Corey Lynch is a prat.” Bradley’s voice was adamant. “Always going on about how brilliant he is. And how great he is at Quidditch.” He laughed jovially. “I’ve known him for ages. His dad is the same way. My dad and Corey’s dad play for Ireland together. He has a ruddy big head.”
“Bradley, enough.” Alastor’s voice was calming. “Teddy only said that that Emma girl had told him that Corey is a prat. We don’t need to hear your Quidditch drama.” He chuckled good-naturedly. “We sound like girls gossiping like this.”
Bradley shook his head. Teddy laughed. He disliked gossip and could always count on Alastor to keep the conversations clear of it. They passed the library entrance, and Bradley, already behind on his classwork, nodded to them before sullenly disappearing amongst the book stacks.
“Well, I’m meeting Braden and Michael for lunch.” Teddy waved and started down the grand staircase. “I’ll see ya around, Alastor.” Teddy grinned as he made his way to the Great Hall. The faces that had seemed so foreign to him a little more than two months ago now had names and characters; some of them were fast on their way to being his friends.
Evening had fallen upon the castle. The moonlight reflected off the crunchy, frozen layer of snow that blanketed the grounds. Teddy stood on a common room table under one of the round windows looking over the wintry grounds. The moonlight reflected off of the crunchy ground.
“Teddy, what are you looking for?” Braden hissed up at Teddy’s straining back. “Dirk is always looking for some reason to correct me. Can’t you just get down?” Teddy looked downward. Braden did look rather anxious.
“How do you fancy going on an adventure tomorrow night, Braden?” Teddy hopped down from the table and plunked down into one of the large puffy chair. “We only have a half a day of class tomorrow so our homework should all be done.” Braden looked more apprehensive than he had moments ago. “Oh, lighten up. The moon will be bright tomorrow so it won’t be too dark out there. We’ve been here for two months already and we haven’t explored the grounds once. I know Alastor and Bradley were talking about coming along. Emma too.”
“I suppose you’re right. We really haven’t poked around the grounds at all,” Braden said slowly. He plopped down into a plush yellow chair. His face turned more serious and he leaned forward to Teddy. “But I swear to Merlin, Teddy, if Dirk catches us I will curse you into the middle of next year.”
Their mischievous plans were solidified. The two boys made their way down the round corridor to the first year boys’ dormitory. Braden went straight to bed, pulling the curtains around his bed. It wasn’t long before rhythmic snores filled the air. Teddy heard Michael roll over across the room.
Teddy hopped into his bed and pulled the covers up past his chin. He closed his eyes and waited. Sleep did not come. Faces of the Weasley and Potter children filled the backs of his eyelids, and he was filled with a consuming sense of sadness. He crawled out of his bed and sauntered his way back down to the common room. Mercifully, it was empty and Teddy took a seat on the large, yellow sofa near the smouldering fire place. He stared into the dying embers.
Only this past August, Teddy had been afraid at the prospects of not knowing anybody and having to make friends. Now, here he was, counting down the hours till he could go on a stellar adventure with four of his friends. There should be no reason for him to be sad. Teddy scolded himself gently.
Braden was always there with him. Teddy was quite lucky to have been sorted into the same house as the scrawny blond boy. Alastor was calm and rational and always knew what to say to prevent fighting. He was surely the group’s diplomat. Bradley was a bit of a trouble maker but he kept the group lively. Emma was kind and adventurous even though she often chose the recess of the library over the four boys. Yes, Teddy was quite lucky.
Teddy yawned and felt his limbs grow heavy and fuzzy. He really should make his way back to his dormitory. Sleeping in the common room was frowned upon and he’d hate to disappoint Dirk. The prefect had been so helpful to Teddy all term. The struggle was quite useless. Teddy’s eyes slipped shut as his mind travelled to a far away beach where he battled a fierce dragon next to a younger blonde girl.
Victoire. Teddy’s eyes flew open as he thought of his best friend. He earnestly wished that she could be here with him. He felt incredibly guilty about making friends without her. He forced this feeling of guilt from his mind. He had found friends at Hogwarts but the spot of his best friend was occupied. No matter how many friends he made at school, no matter how close he and his friends grew, no-one could ever replace Victoire. He promised himself that he’d write her first thing in the morning.
Teddy stretched out on the plush cushions of the couch and rolled away from the fireplace. The next time Teddy opened his eyes, sunlight streamed into the common room as he looked up into the face of a disappointed looking Dirk Creswell.
A/N: Again, Thank you for reading! I'd love to hear what you thought of this chapter...
Write a Review Snips 'n Snails: A Young Wizard's Tale: Chapter 6: Classrooms and Classmates