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Disclaimer: Everything you recognise belongs to the wonderful J.K. Rowling. I thank her for being allowed to play with her characters and create my own little world with them. The name ‘Alucard’ was inspired by the Castlevania game series, but the character is in no way connected to them.

~*~

Chapter Two – Everything's Okay


For a moment your eyes open and you know
all the things I ever wanted you to know
I don't know you, and I don't want to
till the moment your eyes open and you know

Keane – Your Eyes Open


~*~

I put the last textbook in my bag – Potions. It wasn't the best subject to have first thing in the morning, partly because of the grouchy professor. Professor Malyras had long black hair that made his skin a sickly shade of grey. He never looked directly at anyone, but then again, he always tried being as distant as possible. He rarely said more than three words in class. It was just our luck that he was our Head of House.

I stood up, stretched and started to make my bed. The velvet curtains of my four-poster were a rich, deep green. On the bed lay silk, silver blankets and a pillow that was the same colour as the curtains. Around the room were three more beds that looked exactly like mine – if not slightly messier or tidier. They belonged to Derek, Isaac Crabbe, and Richard Fammet, my roommates. Isaac was a broad-shouldered boy with a prominent jaw and a sharp attitude. Richard was the wittiest of our lot – he knew the best jokes and his humour was even dryer than my grandmother's biscuits. Derek, as you know by now, was my best friend, a stocky boy with brown hair, blue eyes, and a strong desire to be a Quidditch player someday, either at school or professionally.

I closed my curtains just as Derek emerged from the shower. I glanced at the clock. At the beginning of each year, Derek always had trouble waking up, and this year was not an exception. I didn't mention the fact that he was only wearing boxers and a towel around his hair; it was already an improvement from first year, when he had come out starkers until Isaac had asked him rather rudely to 'keep his business to himself'.

The clock told me breakfast would be over in ten minutes and classes would begin. I hitched my bag onto my shoulder; I wouldn't have the time to pick it up later. Derek was unperturbed; he was still busy looking for a nice set of robes in his chaotic trunk. Isaac and Richard had already left, and I didn't feel like secretly eating scrambled eggs in Potions because my friend had a hard time dressing himself.

"Derek, I'm going. See you later, whatever lesson we have. Don’t forget your timetable.”

Derek looked over to me, looking like he wanted to argue, but merely shrugged and turned around. "Right. Bring some bacon for me, okay? It's not like anyone notices. And yeah, I’ll get my timetable; otherwise I won’t know our lesson."

I nodded. "Got it." I went through the door, up to the common room. It was deserted. Of course, everybody was at breakfast.

I ran up to the main floor, where the Great Hall was. I could hear people talking and laughing amid the general bustle of activity. As I traveled up, the cold, stone walls were replaced by a lighter, brown brick as early sunlight streaming through the windows. A beam caught my prefect badge and it reflected the light to the ceiling, causing a little spot of white to appear.

Arriving in the Great Hall, I felt my spirits lift at the sound and sight of all the students eating. Some people were already leaving, but the majority was still occupying the House tables, appeasing their appetite. I joined the Slytherins, and after a long look at Louisa, who was chatting with friends and had already finished her meal, I took a slice of bread and put on a thick layer of butter. I enjoyed the buzz of talking that filled my ears as my breakfast stuck to my palate. I swallowed it down with some milk, not bothering to follow any of the conversations going around. I reached for a napkin and put in some bacon for Derek.

The ring of the bell rumbled through the Hall, its deep tone making the floor vibrate under my feet. Along with everyone else, I stood up, and all traces of food disappeared from the golden plates. I looked at the marble staircase, where masses of students were fighting to get upstairs. I spotted the dark-haired girl I was looking for, in the midst of the crowd. I felt a stab of jealousy when I saw a sixth year being pushed into her, wishing it was me. But then the other stream of people heading for the dungeons caught up with me and I was pulled with them.

"Oi, Alan!"

Isaac started walking next to me, looking cheerful. He pulled a piece of parchment from his pocket and gave it to me. I glanced on it. It was my personal timetable. Isaac peered over my shoulder as we walked alongside to below. "Potions, huh? Not my best subject... do you think I’ll manage not to fail it this year?"

I privately thought Isaac was very lucky to have passed fourth year at all. Sure, he was my room- and Housemate, but admittedly, he wasn't too bright. I just shrugged and quickened my pace. It was still a tad too early to have a conversation with Isaac.

Professor Malyras was already present, looking like someone had died, as always. He muttered to himself as he scribbled the instructions on the blackboard, large bags hanging under his eyes. I hastily moved to my usual spot in the back of the classroom, saving a spot for Derek. I took the bacon out of my bag and put it on Derek's stool, hoping he would notice it, as I reached for my textbook.

Several Ravenclaws entered. Jamie Goldstein, a rather bright and nice bloke, took place in front of me.

He grinned. "Malfoy! How was your holiday?"

I smiled back. "Oh, it was all right. Yours?"

Goldstein propped his feet on his desk and started telling a story about visiting a Muggle zoo. I leaned against the wall, listening only half-heartily while keeping an eye on Professor Malyras, who was still writing instructions. The dungeon filled up and Marius Briggs, a lanky boy with short black curls, took place next to Goldstein. Soon, he was immersed in his friend's story. Professor Malyras finally put down his piece of chalk and just when he sat down, Derek burst into the classroom, his face flushed and his hair slightly dishevelled. Professor Malyras immediately jumped up again, glaring in Derek's general direction.

Derek ran his hand through his hair, looking nervous. "Er – sorry I'm late..."

The professor shoved his hands in his pockets and jerked his head towards me. "Sit." Derek quickly made his way over to his cauldron, almost sitting on his breakfast. I snatched it right from under his bottom before slipping it into his hand. Malyras looked accusingly at me, but did not seem to want to waste his precious words on me. He sat down, sweeping his dark eyes over the classroom to check if every place was occupied before barking, "Work."

At once, everybody left their seats and silently went to the back of the dungeon, where our supplies were stored. I collected some beetles, shredded snakeskin, and Billywig needles from my own materials and took powdered unicorn horn from the students' storage. I walked back, opened my book to look for the potion, and started making a Slumber Solution.

As soon as Derek took his place next to me and lit a fire under his cauldron, I muttered, "What took you so long?"

"Oh," His flush turned a darker shade of red. "Nothing, I just had too little time."

I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, right. You were nearly done when I left; what could've possibly taken you –“ I glanced at the clock above the teacher's desk, " – thirty minutes to get in class?"

Derek widened his eyes, nodding ever so slightly in Goldstein and Briggs's direction. Their conversation had died, and it was quite obvious they were trying to hear ours. I lapsed into silence until they both went to work. By that time, Derek was making a good show of being very busy with his solution, measuring the exact amount of unicorn horn with uncharacteristically precision. I waited until I had to leave my potion bubble for five minutes before trying to pull an answer from Derek again. He should’ve known this behaviour was only making me more and more curious.

"Derek, come on. They're not listening," I mumbled under my breath.

"Fine, fine." He dumped the unicorn horn in his cauldron. The content turned a violent shade of yellow. "I met Daisy on my way."

I smirked as Derek’s face flushed a little more. Daisy Macmillan was a second – no, third year Hufflepuff with vanilla blonde hair. She had been Derek's girlfriend for a few months, which was a nice effort of Derek's since I had never seen him together with a girl for so long yet. He was quite taken with blondes and had picked up one after another last year, but apparently Daisy was different. I had never actually talked to her before, so I didn’t really know what she was like.

"So, you two occupied some broom cupboard before class?"

Derek groaned. "Alan..." But his red colour vanished as he grinned and pointed at his hair. "How did you think my hair got this way?"

My potion stopped bubbling, and I put in three beetles. It became off-white, how it should be. Derek flattened his hair and put in his beetles as well.

"Derek, that’s too earl –" The black critters touched the liquid and abruptly the potion started spitting out large insects. One of them landed on Goldstein's head. He squealed and swatted at it, causing it to fall into his own potion. It turned into a thick, brown solution smelling of... well, toilets with bad hygiene. Two Ravenclaw girls in front of Goldstein pulled their robes in front of their faces and began to wail.

"Eeeeew, Jamie crapped his pants!"

"Gross!"

I laughed out loud. Great, Potions somehow always turned into chaos. Professor Malyras didn't even look up when the other Ravenclaw girls joined their Housemates, either shrieking or laughing hysterically. This was going to be a long day.

~*~

"Books out, please."

Next was Defence against the Dark Arts, which was taught by Professor Harry Potter. Yes, the Harry Potter. I had no idea why he was teaching when he could have been making money with his autobiography, but whatever – it wasn’t exactly my business, was it?

The first time Professor Potter taught me, I was rather surprised, since he was the teacher Aiden had moaned the most about. While most children would have heard the story about Harry Potter and the Dark Lord in a way that made Potter the hero, my father told it in a way you'd think Potter blundered his way into defeating the Darkest wizard of the century. No wonder I was pretty skeptical of him in my first Defence lesson.

But he actually turned out to be rather good. Though in the beginning, he was very distant towards us Slytherins. Of course he was a Gryffindor, so that might've been the case. I tried to ask my father once, why he didn't like me. He answered I'd better not be liked by scum like Potter. Yeah, sure.

I took out my book (General Hexes and Curses - A Student's Guide to Dueling) and placed it on my desk. I was in front of the classroom now, facing the teacher's desk. I sat next to Derek as well in this class. His back was turned, talking with Richard and Isaac, until Professor Potter tapped his knuckles on the blackboard to calm us down.

I opened my book on the right page. Starting Out, it said. So we were starting with dueling this year? Nice. I sat up straight and looked at Professor Potter, who was ready to begin.

"Right... Is everyone ready? You too, Crabbe? Okay, we're going to study dueling this year, since you learned a lot of curses and defensive spells last year. You know how to defend yourselves against basic magic creatures. Now it is time to learn how to defend you against other wizards. Yes?" He looked at Bridget Baddock, one of my fellow Slytherins. Her hand was raised.

"Well, Professor, you said 'basic' for a reason, right? Are we going to learn to protect against more dangerous creatures later?"

Our Professor smiled. "Yes, yes, you can choose to do that in seventh year. Now, dueling –" Bridget's hand was in the air again. "Yes?"

"Eh, what can we chose when we're in seventh year?"

"You will see when you get there. If you really want to know, you can get a leaflet at my desk at the end of the lesson," Potter replied mildly. "Clear?" Bridget nodded and opened her book.

Professor Potter cleared his throat. "Er, you might want to take notes."

We spent the rest of the period writing down the general rules of dueling on our parchment. As I scribbled down the homework Potter had put on the blackboard, Derek was sitting backwards again, talking about his holiday.

"Crabbe! Nott!"

Derek whirled around again. Professor Potter glared silently in his general direction like our Potions Master had done before. "You'll have an OWL in dueling at the end of the year. I'd like you to pay attention and do your homework." My friend rolled his eyes, but bent down and started to study his book.

At the end of the lesson, we cleared out, Bridget staying behind for her leaflet while the rest of us set oft to Transfiguration. Derek walked next to me, still peeved about his lecture.

"Really, when he looks like that, I'd swear I did something wrong!"

"You were talking," I pointed out.

"Yeah, still... He wasn't even explaining something! Sometimes I think he hates me. Well, not only me. He acts all polite, but when we're not looking... remember when he shot us ugly looks all the time in first year? Especially at you, Alan, like you murdered his family or something."

I shrugged. "Maybe some annoying first years had been tailing him again." Professor Potter was usually followed by a small group of first years in the first weeks of term, signing Quidditch magazines or schoolbooks with a forced smile.

We entered the Transfiguration classroom. Derek greeted Professor Granger enthusiastically as we sat down in front of her. It’s not like we had a favourite teacher or anything, but Granger had a good sense of humour. As long as you made your homework, preferably two rolls of parchment longer than necessary, you were a good student and allowed to make jokes, though she'd tell you off anyway.

We had Transfiguration together with the Gryffindors. The classroom was split, Gryffindors left, Slytherins right. But Derek and I were in the middle and I was on the Gryffindor side, and admittedly, they were okay, but that was maybe because Professor Granger did not permit House rivalry in her classes.

She impatiently clicked with her tongue. "Attention, please! That means you too, Abercrombie! Today we're going to start with Vanishing. This is a rather complex spell that is bound to come up in your practical exam end of the year, and it gets trickier as the size of your object or animal increases. We will start practicing on mice, as they are relatively simple animals. Malfoy?" I had stuck my hand in the air.

"But Professor, surely there are easier animals to practice on? Why don't we start with, I don’t know, fish? Or objects? They don't move as much." A murmur of agreement went through the classroom.

Professor Granger smiled encouraging at me. "A very good question! Does anyone know the answer? Abercrombie?"

The boy who had been talking at the beginning of class, Kevin Abercrombie, met her gaze with a rather puzzled look. "Eh... sorry, Professor. I don’t know."

She sighed, looking around the room. "Does anyone else have an idea?" When nobody answered, she started giving a lecture. "Look, I want you to start off with something interesting! I mean, everyone can Vanish an insect, it's too easy. If it's hard to Vanish your mouse, you'll want to have it happen, and you'll motivate yourself!" she exclaimed as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"Ooooh," Derek drawled out. "I totally get it. I mean, if I can't get my mouse to Vanish, I'll enjoy it instead of losing hope, I'm sure." The Slytherin side of the classroom sniggered. Professor Granger merely turned around, grabbed a box that made squeaking sounds and slammed it in front of Derek.

"You'll see, Nott. Now, if you will give everyone a mouse?"

Twenty minutes later, I was muttering the spell under my breath, my wand pointing at my mouse, while Derek was poking his, shouting the incantation.

"Evanesco! Vanish, you bloody –“

"Watch it, Nott!" Granger shrieked, her bushy hair crackling.

"Or what?" Derek said, waggling his eyebrows at her. "You'll put me in detention? Shut me in your office? I'll be delighted, fair maiden."

"Stop hitting on her, Derek." I grinned as a paw of my mouse suddenly turned a bit transparent. "She isn't blonde anyway. What would Daisy say?"

"Oh, you have a girlfriend, Nott?" Professor Granger asked, unperturbed by Derek's remarks.

Derek nodded and gave his mouse another shove with the tip of his wand. "Yeah, Daisy Macmillan, you know, from Hufflepuff. Since June already." He puffed his chest out, looking quite proud. "Evanesco!" His mouse squeaked as his wand connected with its abdomen.

Granger smiled. We were allowed to joke around as long as we did what we had to do. She pointed out a few mistakes in my wand movement and pronouncement of the spell, "It's Evanesco, not Evanesco."

At the end of the lesson, I hadn’t quite managed to vanish my mouse. I was able to see through one of my mouse’s paws, but other than that, it was just another rodent. I dumped it into the box Richard was carrying around, which by now contained a large heap of mice all squiggling and wriggling between each other. Derek dropped it into the box by the tail, ignoring its squeaks. We put down our homework assignment (Research the history of the Vanishing spell and write a two-hundred word essay in your own words), packed up and left for lunch. I could’ve sworn I heard Granger mutter: “Perhaps the snails would’ve been better after all…” as we exited the classroom.

"I hate OWLs," Derek said as we dropped into our seats. I pulled a bowl full of fruit towards me and chose an orange from the pile.

"How do you know? This is the first day of the school year; we're not going to find out how terrible they are for a while." I sliced my orange in two and began eating a half with a fork. Derek grunted as he reached for a few slices of bread.

"Man, I'm hungry, you have no idea... And you just wait, all the teachers are going to remind us about the OWLs like they're next week."

He was right. At the beginning of each lesson, our teachers started off with a lecture about exams. After we were dismissed from Arithmancy, our last class of the day, I was slightly freaked out. As Derek and I ran down to the common room, taking two steps a time on the stairs, I recited my homework in my head. Learn rules about dueling for Defence, write an essay for Transfiguration, solve a mathematical problem for Arithmancy, and look up the properties of the Draught of the Living Death for Potions. Not to mention, the next day I would have Ancient Runes, Herbology and – my stomach lurched – Charms, by far my worst subject. Though Flitwick seemed to like pretty much everyone, he was never quite the little happy man he normally was towards me. Probably because I really, royally sucked at his subject.

"Butterfingers," I said when we arrived at the common room entrance. The door reappeared in the wall and we walked in. Derek shooed some second years away by the homework tables in the back so we could sit. I ungraciously flopped down and groaned, "What a day."

"Yeah," Derek sighed. "Better get started. Let's start off with Arithmancy; I didn't understand a word of what Professor Vector said..."

Though we did leave for dinner somewhere in-between our essays, it was nearing nine o'clock when Caitlin Logan, another classmate of ours, hitched herself onto the table we were studying at and snatched my last piece of homework, Transfiguration, from right under my nose.

"Hey!" I cried out indignantly. My quill had scratched through the essay from her movement; it was going to take several tedious minutes to suck the excessive ink out. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Looking out for your best interests," she replied, idly turning the piece of parchment over to read what I had written so far. I took it back from her, being gentle so it wouldn't rip.

"Do your own homework. And what do you mean my own interests? If you mean the time, it's bloody nine, and you're not my mother –“

She waved her hand impatiently, clearly indicating that I should shut up. "Like I care if you are half asleep tomorrow in Charms. No, I'm talking about the next Hogsmeade weekend."

"I would have thought you'd be the last person to ask Alan out," Derek said, rubbing some ink on his parchment. I wordlessly shoved the Magical Ink Remover in his direction as I kept looking at Caitlin.

"Is it already announced? It usually takes a month or two before there's a notice."

She made that hand movement again, rolling her eyes in the process. "Don't be stupid, of course there's no notice up. As you said, that takes awhile. And I do not want to ask him out," she shot at Derek, who smirked at his parchment in reply, using the Ink Remover to erase a large spot of ink. "I was wondering if he'd want to go with Sally, you know, to patch things up."

It was my turn to let my eyes turn to the ceiling. "Caitlin. Look. I do not fancy her anymore. I do not want to 'patch things up', either. Did she ask you to ask me, by the way?" I started sucking the large stripe of ink out of my Transfiguration essay with my wand. The Ink Remover was just used to correct things of small quantities.

"That's – that's none of your business." I looked up to see her look rather embarrassed. Good. Sally and her tight clique of friends, in other words, the girls in her dormitory, had buggered me enough about this particular subject and I was getting rather touchy about it. They didn't seem to even consider the possibility I didn't like her anymore, not even in a friend-like way because of the way they were acting. And Sally and I had never been... normal friends to begin with.

Despite her Irish name, Caitlin was a dark girl with short black hair that didn't just fall down; it swung to the outside at the tips. It made her demeanour very playful, helped along by the fact that she was always smiling at everyone. Well, Derek and I were exceptions, but we could live with that. As she was well liked, even in the other Houses, she tended to be unbelievably cocky with any person that didn't grovel at her feet.

I knew Sally hadn't asked Caitlin to talk to me – she wasn't like that. It was more like Caitlin to act on such an impulsive decision; it was in her personality. That didn't mean I liked her. In fact, she was the most annoying friend of Sally's, in my opinion, of course.

There were three more girls in our class: Bridget Baddock, Theresa Greystone and Gwendolyn Court. Just our luck we guys had to be outnumbered by the girls, and just my luck that I didn't really like any of them. Bridget was okay, but she was good in everything (not terrific, just that she never failed) and pulled her nose up at you if you didn't get something. As my only bad subject was Charms, she was generally nice to me. She had long blonde hair that was usually tied in a ponytail to the back, and she was really tall. I could look her right in the eye if we were both standing up, and I was one of the tallest people in our year.

Theresa... well, she was... she faded back in the background a lot. You always have one of those people you just don't really notice, because they never try to be seen. They are the voice of reason to the others of their group, holding them back before they do something stupid. Yeah, that was she. It wasn't like she was shy, (on the contrary, if she loosened up a bit, she could get really acid) but she wasn't exactly approachable either. She was always frowning, her short, wavy, dark red hair falling into her face until she pulled it back with a clip. I had the impression she was deep in thought when she looked like that, which was just about any time of the day.

Gwendolyn. Just the name gives you the creeps, doesn't it? She had always refused to let anyone abbreviate her name, to something sensible like Gwen or Wendy. Wouldn't it be much easier to say 'hey Gwen' instead of 'hey Gwendolyn'? Whatever. She was the most stuck up snob I had ever met. Not much to say about her – I preferred to stay as far away as possible if I could help it. With that chestnut brown hair she always shook back in such an awful way – you know what I mean? That arrogant toss. Ugh.

I gathered my belongings and stuffed them into my bag. Caitlin had left quickly after my accusation, allowing me to finish my homework. I let Derek copy my conclusion and together we set off for our beds. Upon entering our dormitory, I saw Richard drawing something in his sketchbook and Isaac listening to the wireless, sprawled on his four-poster. The news was on.

"Bloody hell, you people already done?" Derek asked them, voicing my thoughts.

Richard absently nodded, his shoulder-length auburn hair hiding his face from view; Isaac responded by doing something between a nod and a shrug. He probably only did half of his work. I dumped my bag next to my trunk and let myself fall backwards onto the mattress of my bed, making it groan in protest. The muscles in my right arm and hand ached from writing so much; I needed a good long shower and a nice long nap.

"Throw me a towel, will you?" I called over to Derek, whose four-poster was closest to the wardrobe with towels and spare sheets. He obliged, but muttered a complaint we had all heard every year, every day so far.

"I don't understand why we can't move that closet over to the bathroom entrance. It would be much easier."

"Because that's where my bed is," I yawned.

Our dormitory was a small rectangular room. When you walked in, Isaac's bed was with the head against the wall on the right. On the left was the door to the bathroom, with my bed next to it and the head against the wall, leaving no room for a four feet wide closet. On my other side was Richard, whose bed was in the corner. In the other corner was Derek's bed, and the closet was in between his and Isaac's. I liked being close to the bathroom – not much chance of hitting anything with your small toe, something Derek had a lot more problems with.

I deftly caught the towel he threw to me and disappeared to the showers. Everything was made out of silver and emerald in here, or at least charmed to look so. I took one of the two showering cabins and undressed. The water of the shower was charmed to be the exact temperature you wanted it to be, which was a luxury – except when the charm begun to wear off. I smiled inwardly as I remembered the day when that happened – Richard had come out, shrieking we had played some kind of prank on him. The water had gone all cold, it had seemed, because we had dared each other to take one shower with the charm off. It had been surprisingly refreshing, though I hoped it would never catch me off guard and force me to come out squeaking like some girl.

When I was finished, I put on my pyjamas and took aim at the laundry basket, trying to throw my towel in it. It ended up hanging half out, but I didn’t care enough about tidiness to put it in all the way. I went straight for my bed and jumped right in it.

"Okay chaps!" I said. "I'm the prefect here, and the lights will go out in about five minutes!"

"You're kidding, right?" Isaac smirked. "Like we'd ever listen to you now you've got that stupid badge."

"The only stupid thing in this room is you, Isaac," Richard grinned. "Get your arse in bed and put the radio out, or I'll do it for you." He chucked his drawing in his trunk and gave me a quick thumbs-up as Isaac gaped, but started getting ready. I tried to take a glance of the drawing, but Richard had already closed his trunk, shaking his finger at me. I waggled my eyebrows.

"Hiding something, are we, Fammet?"

"Too right, I am," he said back. "Now go to sleep, little prefect."

I pulled my blankets shut. "Right then. G'night."

~*~

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