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“Transfiguration first thing,” Mary groaned over her porridge.

“Herbology,” Lily mumbled through a mouthful of toast and marmalade.

I glanced down my schedule. “Herbology.”

Lily grinned. We passed the schedules around to each other. I had most of my classes with Lily except for one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Mary had Potions with us but that was all.

“Hey, Prongs, look at this!” a familiar voice rang out behind me.

My schedule was snatched from my grip as James gave a shout of laughter, “Well, you two will be seeing rather a lot of each other, won’t you?”

Black chuckled.

“Give it back!” I demanded.

“As you wish,” he replied with a mock bow. The two of them took seats a few places down the table.

“Disgusting,” Lily remarked loudly enough for them to hear, and I saw James’s smirk falter.

I checked my watch. “Shall we? If we hurry, we can snag our station in the greenhouse.”

We left Mary to her Daily Prophet and made our way down the lawn to the greenhouses. To my great relief, neither James nor Black joined the queue waiting for Professor Sprout.

I walked back to the castle with Lily, but we parted ways in the entrance hall; she went to Arithmancy, I to Care of Magical Creatures.
Half of this class was theory and the other was practical. Once a week we had direct contact with the animals we studied. The other two classes were devoted to note-taking and poorly drawn diagrams.

I took a seat at one of the back tables and hung my bag on the back of my chair. On the board, there was only one word written: THESTRALS.


A copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them shook the desk as it landed. To my horror and revulsion, Black sat down beside me.

“Fancy seeing you here.”

I concentrated on the single word on the blackboard. He glanced at it.
“Thestrals. Cool. Have you ever seen one?”

I didn’t say anything, hoping that if I remained inanimate he would sit somewhere else. No luck. He spent the entire class pelting me with stupid questions and little bits of torn up parchment.

The instant the bell rang, I was out if the corridor, sprinting across the entrance hall and down into Slughorn’s dungeon for Potions. Mary and Lily joined me a moment later.

“What’s wrong?” Mary asked, seeing my expression.

I told them what had happened in Care of Magical Creatures.

“That’s bloody awful,” Lily wrinkled her nose.

Mary shuddered.

I started unpacking my potions kit. “I just don’t see why the hell–”

A warning glance from Lily cut me off. Our favorite gang had just sauntered into the dungeon. I waved to Remus, who grinned back. Black returned my wave with mock enthusiasm.

When he turned his back, Mary made an obscene gesture. Lily cleared her throat and it took me a moment to realize that someone was standing in front of me.

“Oh, err… hi. Sorry.”

“It’s fine,” the boy fidgeted. He held out my Care of Magical Creatures book. “Err… … s-someone told m-me to g-give this b-back to y-you,” he stammered.

“Oh. Thanks, err…”

He was already gone, running back to his seat at the front of the room.

I turned to the other two. “Who was that?”

Lily chuckled. “He’s in my Arithmancy class. Poor bloke doesn’t have many friends, if any at all. I can’t remember his name.”

At that point, Slughorn entered and class began. We finished our Drafts of Living Death early and watched as Pettigrew succeeded in fusing his cauldron to James’s. James hurriedly checked to see if Lily had seen this, but she was already doubled over with giggles.

In Charms, tiny Professor Flitwick was his usual squeaky self. After lunch, Professor McGonagall gave us her traditional either-get-with-it-or-get-out lecture in Transfiguration. I was looking forward to Ancient Runes until Black and Potter showed up, and Defense Against the Dark Arts was a total snoozer. (We took notes. How do you take notes in Defense Against the Dark Arts?!)

Dinner was enjoyable, although Mary complained loudly about Professor Bins, the ghost who taught History of Magic, who had assigned a large essay on the Goblin Wars.

“It’s the first bloody day back,” she said, taking her wrath out on her baked potato, “and now I have to go sit in the blooming library with Pince breathing down my neck whenever I inhale.”

Lily and I went back to Gryffindor Tower to relax. As we crossed the common room, James wolf-whistled at Lily, who, without even glancing at him, flicked her wand. I turned in time to see James’s robes fly up over his head and tie themselves securely.

Lily laughed. “Oops.”

We left James and his pants to their admirers were soon closeted smugly in our room.

Lily lay down on her four-poster and after a second asked, “Do you think Potter really fancies me or is he just screwing with my head?”

I thought about it. “I guess he could be genuinely in love with you if he’s capable of feeling human emotions.”

Lily smiled at my sarcastic tone. “Come on, Kat. Don’t take it the wrong–”

“You had better not be thinking what I think you’re thinking.”

“I’m not saying anything. I was only wondering if you thought his interest in me was genuine.” She glared at the expression on my face.
“Don’t look at me like that! I could never even dream of liking him in any way, shape, or form, and you know that!” she wrenched the hangings closed and behind them I heard her muttering, “Stupid, arrogant, pig-headed, Quidditch-playing, moronic, sophomoric, empty-headed…”

The next day, Muggle Studies was a welcome oasis after Transfiguration during which Pettigrew managed to transform Remus’s legs into those of a duck. Muggle Studies was one of the few classes that seriously interested me (on a good day when Professor Burbage didn’t ramble on and on forever). I was fascinated at the idea that people had learned to live without magic (my mother included).

I looked around the class, noticing that it was significantly smaller than last term. I did a double take. Stammer Boy from Potions stood at the back, unsure of where to sit. He saw me and made an awkward head gesture, as though asking if he could join me. I shrugged and he came over.

“Hi,” he muttered. He had a strangely crass voice. I hadn’t noticed it the day before.

Burbage introduced the “new” topic of similarities between the Floo Network and Muggle public transportation.

“What are the differences, though, apart from the fireplaces and the soot?” a girl in the front row piped up.

Professor Burbage surveyed her over the top of her spectacles. “Well, muggles have many more forms than we do: trains, planes–”

“And automobiles,” I mumbled under my breath and tuned out. We had covered this last term.

Stammer Boy, however, was listening to Burbage with rapt attention, scribbling down notes on his parchment. I stared at them. Who took notes in Muggle Studies?

He noticed and blushed a little. “This is my worst class,” he explained. “My family is pureblood.”

“I see.”

After a moment, he asked, “What about you?”



Burbage was still rambling about bus fares to the poor girl who had asked.

“What’s your name?” I inquired.

“Walter. Tristan Walter.”

The bell rang.

“It was nice to meet you, Tristan.”

He blushed even more. “You too, Kat.”

It wasn’t until I was submersed in Defense Against the Dark Arts that I realized that I had never told him who I was.

“Creepy little blighter.”

Lily, Mary and I were sitting beside the lake. The Saturday morning sun blazed overhead as we half-heartedly skipped stones across to the opposite bank.

“How did he find out what my name is?”

Mary chuckled. “Maybe he heard it through the grape vine,” she sang.

I smacked her knee. “Shut up, Mary.”

A cheer rang out.

“What the hell–”

I looked across the lawn and saw red figures zooming around above the Quidditch pitch.

“Shall we go watch?” Mary grinned slyly at Lily.

She gave a heavy sigh. “Fine.”

I cannot deny that James Potter was a fantastic Seeker. We watched as he zoomed around the pitch, weaving in and out of other players, Bludgers, and the Quaffle. Jeremy Stein, the team captain, nodded his approval, and James went to sit in the stands with the Beaters, Beck and Hare.

Lily jabbed me with her elbow and pointed. Black was swooping around the goalposts, whacking away the Chasers’ futile attempts at

“He’s actually quite good,” Lily murmured.

“As much as I hate to say it, he is,” I admitted.

Sure enough, Black joined James in no time. The three Chasers were all men as well.

“No girls again this year,” Mary noted.

I laughed. “Jeremy doesn’t want to risk them around Black and Potter.”

“Yeah. Let’s not have Black do an Olivia repeat.”

Lily and I gaped at her. “What?”

“You didn’t know? He knocked her up in Filch’s broom cupboard after the Gryffindor won the Quidditch Cup last term.”

“Sirius Black?”

“If you don’t believe me, just wait until the baby is born. I’ll bet it looks just like him.”

Lily nodded. “I heard that he’s been shagging Beth lately.” She turned to me with worried eyes. “You know, if Eloise isn’t careful–”


“What? He’s exactly the sort of pervert who’d do something like that!”

Mary must have noticed my clenched jaw because I saw her nudge Lily out of the corner of my eye.

The field was mostly empty. As we stood up to leave, there was a wolf-whistle and Black shouted something that made the scarlet-clad figures around him roar with laughter.

If only Apparition was possible inside the grounds…

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