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2. Charms.

“10 minutes to go!” Professor Flitwick squeaked from his regular perch of books at the front of the classroom.

It was the last yearly exam – one I was particularly glad to have end quickly. There was only 10 minutes to go and naturally I had finished long ago, left to sit at my desk twirling my quill between my fingers. As the sand in the hourglass slowly trickled down, the only sounds in the classroom was the scratching of quills, rustling of parchment, an occasional hoarse cough. The quietness was always so calming.

Seated two rows to the front, one seat to the left was Regulus Black, staring absentmindedly at his inkpot and scratching illegible scribbles into his desk. Charms with the Slytherins was usually an unpleasant ordeal, with numerous spells being cast under tables – upturning of ink pots, breaking of quills, sawing of table and chair legs - however being only a few days before students were allowed to go home, all attention was focused on getting the exam done.

The line for the weekend Hogsmeade trip was the longest ever. Filch stood with the Secrecy Sensor as his only weapon, hunched over with Mrs. Norris clutched protectively in his spare hand. Adelia and Alex were arguing as usual, and the line shuffled slowly forward.

“I swear by the time we get to the top of the line, everyone will be back for dinner,” I broke in.

They paused, blinked, then continued to spit angrily at each other. I dismissed it as another girl issue and left to relieve my bladder. They wouldn’t miss me anyway.

By the time I got back the line had reduced significantly.

“Where the hell did you go Eleanor? Filch got some teacher to put up a charm sensor thing instead of him having to physically search each of us. I really don’t understand what his job is if anything he does could be done faster and much more efficiently with magic anyway,’ Adelia said indignantly.

She was still fuming. Alex picked absentmindedly at a loose thread in his coat.

We walked through the charm and rushed over to The Three Broomsticks, bursting through its doors in relief.

“Butterbeer! Finally!” Alex exclaimed, and headed over to a table tucked into one of the many corners of the pub. I went to collect the butterbeers while Adelia followed Alex to the table.

I could barely get through to the bar, let alone yell out my order and be heard over the hubbub so I was left to trail off to the side and attempt to take any opportunity to reach one of the bartenders. Considering going back to the table and getting Alex to use his admirable philandering skills to get through, I began to head back.

To this day I swear on my life it was fate. It’s stupid, it’s cheesy, but it was fate.

As I headed back to our table, Professor Flitwick spotted me and motioned me over. Confused, I wove my way through the tables towards him.

“Eleanor! How are you enjoying this pleasant afternoon? I’ve got something to talk to you about, rather inconvenient really, especially so close to holidays … are you going home for the two weeks?”

“No, Professor. What’s wrong?”

“Well it seems, someone, or rather, Peeves, broke in and created a tremendous muck in our staffroom and, well, we appear to be missing a few of your papers. Two, in fact. I don’t suppose you know where this is heading …”

“You want me to resit the exam? But Professor …”

“Yes, yes, it is extremely vexing. Would next week do? Perhaps the first day of holidays?”

“Er, okay. I’m sure that would be fine.”

“Lovely! Perfect! You wouldn’t mind telling the other student either would you? I can’t seem to find him, very difficult. Regulus Black, would be lovely if you could make sure he was there too. Get it done and over with, yes?”

“Regulus Black?”

Professor Flitwick nodded, or rather bobbed, up and down on his perch of books.

“Perfect! Regular charms room, straight after lunch. I’ll see you two there. You go off and enjoy yourself now,” he winked.

Stunned, I walked back to the table, blaming the sudden colour in my cheeks on the pub’s stuffy heat, and my quickening pulse on the stress of resitting the exam.



Alex roared with laughter, and the people occupying the surrounding tables glared over at us indignantly.

“Don’t be an insensitive jerk Alex.”

“Oh man, Dell, I’m not! But honestly you can’t swear to me that it is not slightly, or even just the tiny but completely HILARIOUS! And not even in a rude way! It’s like, that thing you chicks like to blame everything on… fate! It’s like fate or coincidence, whatever you want to call it. And it’s funny.” Alex chuckled, and took a sip from his butterbeer.

“Where’d you even get that from?” I raised my eyebrow.

“Oh, stole it from some first grader, want me to get you one? Might try get an extra one too, you could use it as some kind of peace treaty for Black. Or does he go for the harder stuff? Firewhiskey?”

He looked around the table expectantly, but when no one laughed, he shook his head.

“Girls. Girls. Calm down. No need to jump down my throat, I can be serious too.”

Alex made an attempt to imitate Adelia’s expression of repulsion.

“You look like a goblin’s backside,” Adelia rolled her eyes and turned to face me. “What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know, I really don't know. Well I have to find him don’t I?”

“Or you could just tell Flitwick that you couldn’t.”

“No, no… I think I’ll tell him.”

“Well you’d better do it soon, don’t want Black failing his all important Charms exam because of you, eh?” Alex chuckled.

“You’re a little prick, aren’t you Alex,” Adelia spat out.

I grinned and conjured over a first graders butterbeer. A hearty nod of approval from Alex sent us both into bouts of laughter and led Adelia to follow suit. I’d worry about finding Black later.

--

Back in the common room, Adelia was finishing up her packing to head back home. I collected a few of my overdue library books and headed out to return them.

“Dell, I’ll meet you at dinner, yeah?”

“You’re not going to help me with this godforsaken packing?”

“It looks like you don’t really need anybody’s help.”

Adelia was never any good with tidying things up, or even just being organised in general. Odd socks and robes littered the floor around her four-poster bed.

“Screw you.”

I grinned and left the room.



Madam Pince scurried around the library, flourishing her wand, cleaning the dust off all the shelves. After placing the books to be returned on the counter, I walked quickly to the back of the library in search for a new novel.

After browsing the shelves I moved towards the couches with a stack of new books in my hand. As I reached the alcove I spotted the dark shape of a head in Black’s usual chair.

It was late afternoon and the candles had already been lit, casting flickering shadows around the room. Surely enough it was Regulas Black, probably intently reading another large, leather-bound book. I lingered around the shelves behind him, remembering Flitwick and the Charms exam. I began to panic, and now was considering telling Flitwick I couldn’t find him, he was in Slytherin anyway and almost always they were in their common room.

The fact that he was alone made it that much harder to suck it up and walk up to him. The silence was terrifying. I walked along the shelf tracing the spines, trying to calm myself.

Why was I acting like this? Why was my chest beating so painfully? Why did I feel as though I would collapse at the slightest touch?

Black. Regulus Black, in all his terrible and flawless glory. He had the allure of something felonious, and I couldn’t stay away.

With this newfound terror, I turned back and headed straight to his chair.

“Regulas Black?”

He raised his eyes from his book, and stared at me, piercing navy eyes digging holes into what little confidence I had only just acquired.

“Who are you?”

“I’m – I’m Eleanor. I have Charms with you. Peeves – Professor Flitwick wanted me to tell you, you need redo your Charms exam.”

“Why?”

“It got misplaced. Or something.”

“He can’t locate it?”

He raised an eyebrow. God, he was so perfect.

“Doesn’t seem so. I have to do it too.”

“He couldn’t tell me this himself?”

“He told me he couldn’t find you.”

“Right.”

There was that silence again.

“You’re not going home for the holidays are you?”

“No.”

The awkwardness only made it worse.

“Er okay … our regular Charms room then. First day of holidays. Right after lunch.”

His eyes were back on his book. I began to walk away. I didn’t know what else to do.

Suddenly, I felt his hand grab my arm. I turned and he looked at me, with a deathly curiosity.

“What was your name again?”

“El – Eleanor. Eleanor Collison.”

“You were the one who bumped into me in front of the library, no?”

“Uh … I guess so.”

He let go of my arm and returned, once again, to his book. I hurried away, shaking from head to toe.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

--

a/n:
Finally, here is chapter two. Kind of cheesy I know, I just really want to get into Black and Eleanor really interacting. All of this character intro and developing context and shit gets really monotonous, and I'm sure it does for you guys (assuming people are reading) too. Hopefully next chap will be up in a few days ... maybe.

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