Sixth-year was going to suck. It was pretty obvious since I was sitting alone in Transfiguration in the second row with all the Slytherins huddled to one side as if I had dragonpox or something. Then out of nowhere, James Potter appeared beside me. No, he did not improve my outlook on the year ahead, he is only James Potter after all, not Heston Purvell, the ridiculously attractive singing sensation on WWN.
‘Why aren’t you with your friends?’ I asked. I wasn’t being rude, really. He and his little gang were like a three-headed beast.
‘Can’t leave a comrade all alone in enemy territory. So, you ready for sixth-year?’ he asked, unpacking his bag.
‘I think so. Bryce Hughes told me that the workload jumps up heaps in NEWTs, so I tried to do some reading during the holidays,’ I said.
‘Really, Sylvia? You wasted your summer studying?’
He rolled his eyes and flopped into his chair, his long legs barely fitting underneath the desk.
‘You do realise we’ll be spending our next summer studying? And anyways, I didn’t study the whole time. I stayed two weeks at Ruby’s, which was pretty fun.’
‘Ok, cool. By the way, how is she?’ he asked as Professor Hurst entered the room, late as always.
‘Um, fine, same as she was last night,’ I said.
‘Oh yeah, she would be.’
Professor Hurst slammed his books onto his desk and we all fell silent.
His bulging, bright blue eyes roved over us, giving the distinct impression that he was looking his next murder victim.
‘You may have, cleared your timetable with … your head of house but let me assure you this … course is not for everyone,’ he said, taking pauses in the wrong places. ‘You will, feel the strain the pressure and … at least one of you will drop out,’ he said, looking at James and showing a hint of a smirk. James stared back coolly. Hurst theatrically swept his cloak around and wrote “non-verbal spells” in very large letters on the board. ‘Miss Potter, explain a non-verbal spell, please.’
I guess I should explain a little. No, I’m not related in any way to Harry Potter, the Chosen One, Vanquisher of the Dark Lord, the Boy Who Lived, Saviour of the Magical World, etc, etc, though an old hag with the most hideous bejewelled glasses named something Skeeter thinks I am. Can you imagine such a terrifying old bat cornering my twelve-year-old self at Platform 9¾, and haranguing me until the famous Hermione Weasley managed to pull her off me? Anyway …
‘Um, well, a non-verbal spell would be a spell that you, um, well, you - '
‘Can anybody, else answer seeing … as Miss Potter is having trouble with her brain?’ said Hurst, cutting me off.
‘Professor, if you need to clarify what a non-verbal spell is, I would be assuming that you are having trouble with your brain,’ said James. The whole class, including me, froze and stared. Hurst glared at James with creepy, unnaturally blue eyes and I swear I could see a vein throbbing in his skeletal skull.
‘Detention, Mr Potter, tomorrow, night seven sharp. I think you, will enjoy your punishment,’ said Hurst, his voice showing the strains of keeping calm. He quickly scribbled something on a piece of parchment, sealed it and gave it to James. ‘Once the lesson, is over give, this to Professor Longbottom. Now if, no one else feels the need, to be an insolent twerp, let us continue.’
The tension in the room, however, was not forgotten as we tried to make sense of the notes that Hurst was dictating, and by the end of the period my head was spinning.
‘James, what on Earth was that?’ I hissed as we packed our bags. He stopped packing and pushed his glasses up his nose.
‘Look, I’m just sick of the way he treats everyone. I figured that I may as well try and show him this year that he can’t just insult us,’ said James.
‘You do realise that if you asked your dad, or anyone in your family, really–’
‘It’s not their problem,’ said James, almost angrily. ‘And anyway, it was worth it.’ He grinned and waved as he ran off with BJ and Fred to Muggle Studies.
I was packing up after Arithmancy when suddenly a shadow fell over me. I looked up to see the excessively tall Will Saunders, Danni O’Keefe (and her enormous boobs), Lucas Reeve and Sid Khosla. They all smiled, and I got the distinct feeling I was going to bashed up.
‘So, how was your summer?’ asked Danni.
‘Um, good. Can I help you guys with something?’ I said, more than a little nonplussed.
‘You can definitely help one of–’
‘Yes, actually,’ said Will, cutting off Lucas. ‘Sid and I were thinking, we should form a study group for Arithmancy, because, you know, it’s going to get harder, so studying together might actually help us. Danni and Luke wanted in, and we figured that since you’re topping, you should join too. So, do you want to?’
‘Um, sure, I guess. But I’m not sure how much help I’ll be, I’m pretty sure I fluked my way through Arithmancy last year.’
‘Are we forming a study group?’ said someone behind me. I turned to see Slutty Sammy, sorry, I mean, Samantha Rickards, also standing over me. I shoved a last book in my bag and also stood up.
‘Um yeah, we are,’ said Danni, looking more than slightly uncomfortable. It was common knowledge that Sammy had slept with Danni’s best friend’s boyfriend.
‘So, can I join? I sort of do need the help, and believe or not, but I want to do well in my NEWTs,’ she said.
‘Sure,’ said Will, looking pointedly at Danni. ‘So, should we decide a time and place?’
‘How about … Wednesday evenings at the library?’ I said. They paused for a moment and considered.
‘I have Charms Club Wednesdays,’ said Danni.
‘Gobstones,’ said Lucas.
‘Wow, that’s unbelievably lame, even for you,’ said Sid. ‘So, how about Tuesday evenings?’ We all nodded, finding this time slot to be free. Actually, I was almost always free. Yes, I am the most boring person alive. Deal with it.
‘Cool, then it’s Tuesdays after dinner. See you guys there,’ he said, leaving with a smile, Sid and Danni.
‘Right, well, I’ve got Divination, so see you later,’ said Lucas. I stood and turned to Sammy.
‘Herbology?’ In a slightly awkward silence, we made the long trek down to the greenhouses.
The Great Hall was almost empty when I came in, and most of the dinner had been eaten. The whole scene was kind of depressing, especially after last night’s scene of groaning tables and students filling the hall to maximum capacity. But I could see a mass of blue-black curls at the Gryffindor table and slid onto a seat in front of Ruby.
‘Howdy, partner, how was your first day?’ I asked, filling my plate with the now meagre offerings.
‘Ugh, that stupid Mary Lewinski. I couldn’t do the spell in Charms, and she just had to say, “looks likes Ruby Ho is the proof against the stereotype that Asians are all smart.” I mean, was that necessary? Why does she still hate me?’ groaned Ruby. She pushed the peas in her plate around, sighing.
‘Look, she’s a mean and petty person if she’s still going on about how Jason preferred you over her. And if it gets any worse, you can get her for racism. Until then, just chill. Like, what’s the worst she can do?’ I said. Hungrily, I tore into a chicken leg with my teeth, and very messily. Ruby grimaced.
‘Why are you so disgusting sometimes?’
‘Why oo suf a priff?’ I said through a full mouth. She turned away and I grinned; I really enjoyed grossing her out sometimes. She really was a bit prissy.
‘Anyway, how was yours? And please don’t speak until you’ve swallowed.’
‘Hm, a bit a weird, really. James sat next to me instead of BJ and Fred in Trans, insulted Hurst, and then I basically got cornered by my Arithmancy class and we started a study group. Oh, and Peeves did something weird so if you walk past the statue of Britta the Bearded on the fourth floor, your robes fly up. Now, I’m not talking until I’ve fininshed my dinner,’ I said, before ripping into the chicken again.