A Not-So-Welcome Back
“Be what you would seem to be - or, if you'd like it put more simply - never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.”
As we enter the Great Hall for the first time in what seems like forever, I allow a small sigh. The ceiling sparkles brilliantly with bright stars scattered across velvet black sky, floating candlesticks hover magically over the long tables, where students adorned in black cloaks chat happily. Lily, Meggie, and I make our way to the Gryffindor table and sit down at the empty end closest to the staff table. Just as I am pouring myself a glass of pumpkin juice, my favorite group of self-proclaimed ‘marauders’ feels the need to join us.
“Well hello again, Aria!” Sirius suddenly sits down next to me, hardly an inch away.
I can’t help but be startled, and I spill the pumpkin juice all over the place, “Sirius! You git! Look what you’ve made me do!”
“Oh, did my handsome face put you into a state of shock?” he asks coolly with a confident grin spreading across his smug face.
"Scourgify!” I say dully, and the mess is gone. “No, more like your wretched odor. Now, if you don’t mind moving, oh lets say, 6 feet away? That’d be peachy, thanks.”
He scoots about an inch away, “Happy?” he asks with an obnoxious smirk.
“Hardly,” I reply coldly.
“So, you going to try out for quidditch again this year?” he asks me, obviously at a lack of things to discuss.
Luckily, the first years enter the Great Hall at that precise moment, McGonagall leading them in with a gracious smile. We all gawk at their pink faces and nervous expressions, and I find myself smiling, remembering when I was one of those small, uneasy round faces. They stare, mouths wide open, at the grand room and I can hear a few closest to me whisper,
“Wow . . .How do they get the ceiling to do that?” a girl with blond pigtails asks.
“Magic, of course. Don’t you know anything?” another answers with a degrading tone. I wince and feel bad for the blond girl, remembering how I had been just as clueless, and how the other students would respond to my ‘stupid’ questions with just such annoyance.
“Stupid know-it-all first year . . .” I mutter under my breath, feeling a strong urge to hex the girl.
Of course, Sirius hears. Just my fantastic luck coming into action right there, “I’m sorry, what was that?” he teases smugly.
“Just shut up and watch the sorting, Black,” I respond in a less-than-friendly tone.
Surprisingly, he shuts up, but that is probably just because the Sorting Hat has finished its song and now the exciting part happens-the sorting.
“Harris, Jason,” McGonagall calls out, silencing the room. A small boy with jet black hair and blue eyes walks up and puts on the hat. Within seconds, the hat shouts,
“RAVENCLAW!” The boy jumps down from the stool and scurries off to the Ravenclaw table, where he is greeted with generous clapping and cheering.
The sorting ends surprisingly quickly, and soon the hall is devoured in conversation again. I remember the first time I stepped foot in the elegant hall and how Professor McGonagall herded us all inside the room like terrified sheep. I remember being sorted, I hated having all of the watchful eyes of the other students glued upon me as the hat argued in my ear:
“Smart . . . Yes, quite a bit of potential here . . . Not the friendliest either . . .” The hats menacing words drifted through my ears, and I hoped terribly that nobody else could hear it.
After a moment of silence from the hat’s disturbing words, it spoke again, shock creeping in on the edges of its voice, “What’s this? Quite interesting . . . Yes, well this definitely changes things . . .” Another insufferable silence and then the booming voice had echoed in my ears, “GRYFFINDOR!!!”
“Aria?” my memory is interrupted by Meggie’s polite tug on my sleeve, “Aria? Are you still alive in there?”
I turn towards her and smile with a bit of embarrassment, and I can feel my cheeks turning pink. Just what I need, to look like some ancient china doll and stand out even more among normal, tan people.
I can feel Sirius’s smug grin next to me, but I refuse to look at him, “Sorry,” I mumble, “must’ve zoned out again.”
“It’s alright, Aria,” Maggie reassures me kindly, of course she’s used to my attention span issues. “We were just talking about that new teacher over there, next to McGonagall. I’m surprised you haven’t noticed her yet.”
I don’t know why she’s so surprised, I’m not a very observant person really. I’m usually the last person to notice something, if I notice it at all. But as I look over to the person she’s talking about, I understand her surprise.
Sitting next to the strict Professor McGonagall is a vividly dressed woman with a huge violet hat resting uneasily atop her head. The hat looks as if it’s made of some sort of soft, floppy felt material, and a large lime green feather adorns the hat, making me giggle. She is in an enthusiastic conversation with Professor Binns, and her expressions are wildly amusing. She looks quite like something out of some ridiculous play, a comedy more like.
“Aria, you know you want that hat,” Sirius laughs next to me, and I have to remind myself not to laugh in response; it is Sirius Black, after all.
“Not as much as you do, Black,” I give him a smart smile, “and I do believe it would go much better with your complexion.”
“Yeah, I guess albinos don’t do well with bright colors,” he smirks happily and I grab the closest thing I can find -a roll- and chuck it at his head.
It misses, of course.
This causes everyone to go into hysterics, even little Peter Pettigrew.
“I’m glad that my physical skills, or lack thereof, amuses you,” I say tartly, not quite enjoying being the center of their little chuckle-fest.
“Oh, come on, Aria,” Maggie sighs, trying to catch her breath after all that rigorous laughter.
“Yeah, Aria,” Lily says in between bursts of soft laughter, “you have to admit, it was pretty funny.”
“Oh, fine,” I allow a disgruntled mumble, still not pleased at their obvious amusement with my . . incapabilities.
“Okay, we’ll stop, Aria!” Meggie takes a few deep breaths and her laughter subsides, “no need for you to get so pissed!”
Everyone follows Meggie’s example and soon enough the laughter has stopped, leaving me feeling a little better, “Thanks,” I say with the same, displeased grumble.
“Well, anyways,” Lily starts back up again, “I wonder what the new professor teaches?”
We all look towards the staff table and go through each subject carefully. James is the first to figure it out, surprisingly.
“Divination!” he says, obviously pleased with himself, “Professor Murphy isn’t there, so she must teach Divination. I wonder whatever happened to old Murphy . . .”
“Probably couldn’t handle another year of us and ran for the hills,” Sirius smiles proudly, as do the rest of the “marauders”.
“I wouldn’t be surprised, actually” I roll my eyes, “what with you two rearranging your tea leaves to create the Grim all the time.”
“And playing toss with the crystal balls,” Lily adds with similar exasperation.
“And pretending to have ‘visions’ of Professor Murphy being run over by hippogriffs,” Maggie eyes them judgmentally.
“It’s not our fault that class needed some excitement!” Sirius defends himself with the smug smile still spreading across his revolting features.
Peter giggles, and the disturbing noise almost makes me wince. Remus simply takes a bit of his shepherd’s pie, a placid expression on his face.
“Whatever,” I say grimly, taking a sip of my pumpkin juice and realizing how starving I am. Just as I’m reaching over to grab a roll, this time to eat rather than to chuck at someone’s head, the food vanishes and is replaced by dessert. A dessert consisting primarily of chocolate, I might add.
“Great, just great,” I say angrily, trying to find something void of chocolate while resisting the urge to vomit because of the terrible smell.
“What, don’t you like chocolate?” Sirius teases as he places a large slice of chocolate cake on his plate. Gross.
“Actually, Black, I find it nearly as revolting as you, and if you don’t get it away from me soon, the combination of your stench and the reek of chocolate will cause me to vomit all over everything.”
“I’d like to see that, it would certainly be amusing,” he retorts with a snide smile, but he still moves a bit further away from me.
I cringe as he takes a bite of the disgusting brown concoction, “I think I’m going to be sick . . .” I feel my stomach twisting uncomfortably, a combination of hunger and the wretched chocolate.
“Aria?” I hear Maggie from beside me, “You don’t look so good, maybe you should go up to bed.”
“Yeah, I probably should,” I say, standing up and feeling slightly dizzy and claustrophobic in the overcrowded room.
“Feel better!” I hear Lily say as I walk out of the room. Out in the corridor I feel considerably better with the fresh, un-chocolate-tainted air, but my stomach still writhes painfully. I walk calmly up to the Gryffindor Common Room entry, the painting of the Fat Lady. I enjoy the silence, the soft tapping my shoes makes against the marble floor is the only sound, even the ghosts are down at dinner.
I reach the portrait of the Fat Lady and realize that I don’t know the new password.
“Umm . . . Gobbledeegook?” I guess, hoping the password for some strange reason hasn’t changed since last year.
“Nice try, but the password has been changed,” the woman adorned in a heinous silk pink dress responds in her thick voice.
“It was worth a try, I guess,” I mumble to myself, leaning against the cool stone wall next to the portrait and sliding down into a slumped sitting position. The pain in my stomach rages and I try to concentrate on something else--anything else. I close my eyes and carefully listen to my breathing. The pattern becomes soothing after a while and I feel my mind drifting in between reality and that strange place my mind always seems to go when I sleep. Soon enough, I am lulled into a state of light sleep, and the snide voice in the back of mind makes an appearance:
“What a way to begin the year, Aria . . .”
Tally's A/N: Well... This is Eileen's chapter. And it's absolutely loverly ;D Ummmm, she's asleep again, I believe, so now I'm all looonneeelyyyyy. Lawlz. Okay, sorry. Lack of sleep getting to me.
Anyway, I"ll have to post her A/N next t ime I talk to her.
Next update: Sunday/Monday.
Eileen's A/N (3.16): Chapitre deux. Yes, that's right, I managed to finish it, Natalia. :D Hope everyone enjoys it, and sorry if "Meggie" turns into "Maggie" a lot. My spellcheck has some intense issues going on right now. Enjoy and dont forget to review!
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