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      The morning following the Welcoming Feast, I awake rather early, at the ungodly hour of four.  The stars are still out, winking down at me through the half-closed drapery covering the windows, and the moon is nothing but a slight crest in the ebony-coloured sky, welcoming sleep.  However, no matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to find sleep, so I sit up in bed, pushing the silver and green comforter off me, and wander to my trunk—which is still completely packed— before pulling out the latest novel I am reading.

    The novel is a muggle novel, you see, battered and beat from the years I have spent hiding it at the bottom of drawers and trunks.  In a phase of rebellion when I was younger, I stole this novel from a muggleborn boy who is in Gryffindor—this lead into an unbreakable habit—, and read it.  It was Emma by Jane Austen.

    I immediately fell in love with the book.

    Thirsty for more, I started borrowing muggle books from my potions partner that year, a small halfblood Ravenclaw boy.  The more I read, the more I became addicted.

    The year after, which was my third year, I had the privilege to visit Hogsmeade.  During those visits, I would sneak away from Elladora to snag some books off the shelves of the small bookshop, which held everything from books on magical creatures, to muggle books that were turned in from muggleborns in exchange for money. Beaux was the one who caught me, and he promised not to tell.  Eventually, all of my friends discovered this secret, and began searching for muggle books for me to read.

    Currently, I am rereading Emma, another work of art by Jane Austen.  I love to reread the books, to ensure I do not miss anything.  There always seems to be a small, fascinating fact that slips past me.

    I read these books for the enjoyment of them, but I also read them because they educate me on life outside of this prejudiced cloud I live upon.  I can discover what it is like to be a muggle.  What they wear, how they act, what they do for a living.  It is all so fascinating.

    Reading these books feeds the hunger of escaping my life.  If I read books written by witches and wizards, I cannot quite disconnect from my world, because there are still comments on blood status scattered throughout any novel written by a wizard or witch, for it is our way of life.

    I have discovered that muggles, too, have their own ways of defining people, though there are no purebloods.  They judge people based on social classes and other factors, such as the colour of their skin. 

    At least I now know that no matter where I run there never will be entire equality.  Even in books, there is always someone labeled as lower than somebody else.

    With these negative and depressing thoughts circulating in my mind, I fall asleep with the copy of Emma open on the pillow above my head.

    That morning, I wake to Elladora and Yvette Gerald, the last of our dormitory mates, chatting at an obnoxious volume.  I moan, rolling over onto my back, and sputter and spit, trying to get the curls of my blonde hair that made their way into my mouth. I open my eyes slowly, blinded by the morning sunlight  which has leaked its way through my green and silver curtains hanging around my four-post bed.

    “Good morning, Walburga!” Elladora sings, her normal chipper self.  She is a morning person, much to my distaste.  I much prefer Trinity, who is just as miserable as I am in the mornings.

    I moan in response to Elladora’s greeting, which does not seem to fulfill her expectations.  I hear her stomp across the room, and before I have the opportunity to shield my eyes, she pushes the curtains hanging around me open, allowing the previously-shielded sunlight through to me.  I let out a yelp and throw my arm over my eyes, but Elladora grabs my arm and tugs me out of my bed.

    I sigh in defeat, meander over to my trunk and quickly slip on my uniform.  At the sound of Trinity exiting the bathroom, I quickly run over to it before any of the other girls claim it, and shut the door behind me.

    Looking into the mirror, I study my curls before deciding to straighten out my hair.  I am in no mood to mess with my natural hair whatsoever.  Pulling out my wand, I mutter the charm that straightens hair, and my blonde hair immediately transforms into pin-straight stands that fall down to just above the small of my back.  I leave my face with no makeup of any kind and brush my teeth.

    “Would you hurry up already?” Yvette moans from outside the door.

    I roll my big grey eyes.  I absolutely loathe Yvette Gerald.  Obnoxious and spoiled, Yvette cries more than Cygnus.  She has simple blue eyes and wavy, light brown hair.  She is by no means beautiful, but she is not ugly either.  Her nose is a perfect shape and size, and her features are soft, although her chin is a cleft chin.  Her cheeks are slightly chubby, although she is rather petite and short.

    Before Yvette whines any more, I stalk out of the bathroom.  If I had stayed in there any longer, I would have ended up jinxing Yvette.

    No one jinxes Yvette.

    Grabbing my bag, which I packed the previous evening with all of my textbooks, and I stuff Emma into the bag as well and follow Elladora up the stairs which lead into the Common Room.

    The Common Room is not very full this early in the morning; after all, it is a full two hours before classes begin.  However, we fifth year girls are notorious for waking early.  There is a pair of sixth year prefects sitting by the fire to prevent loitering near the staircases this early in the morning, but other than those two, it is just Elladora and I.

    We exit the Common Room and make our way up to the Great Hall.  When we arrive, I sit down in my seat, Elladora beside me as usual, and reach for a slice of toast.  Buttering it, I am just about to take a bit when a voice interrupts me.

    “Miss Black!  Miss Greene!” a jovial voice echoes through the Hall.  Thankfully, it is virtually empty, only a group of Hufflepuffs accompanying us at this early hour.

    I turn toward the voice to discover Professor Slughorn waddling his way over to us, smiling widely.  He is rather young; however, he walks as though he is at the ripe age of fifty, waddling about whilst holding his jiggling belly, his thinning hair sitting atop his head.  He stops just in front of us and speaks again. “How are my two favorite students?”

    Most people know that Elladora and I are not, by any means, his favorites; however, we are elite members of the Slug Club.

    Well, that is what Professor Slughorn refers to us as.  I would not go as far as considering us elite; the most we do at his parties is eat and drink.

    “Quite well, sir!” Elladora exclaims, putting on her fake smile, which convinces just about everyone but the boys and I. “And you?”

    “Very well, indeed!” he shouts loudly, causing me to cringe slightly.  “Miss Black, how are those lovely parents of yours?”

    It takes everything in me—and I mean every fiber in my being—to not scoff at the adjective he used to describe my parents.  Quickly composing myself, I respond as jovially as I can muster, “They’re doing phenomenally, sir.  Thank you for asking!”

    Slughorn laughs, holding his belly.  “Always one to charm, Miss Walburga.” He pauses. “Now, here are your timetables.  I am very pleased to notice you both enrolled in double Potions! I will see you there!”

    We say our goodbyes and he waddles away, toward his next victims, a trio of second years a ways down the table, who had just sat down a ways down the table.

    Elladora groans, rubbing her temples.  “That man is too much; far too much.”

    I nod slowly in agreement, studying him as he laughs with the frightened second years, and respond to Elladora, “It amazes me that man was a Slytherin.”

    “Who?” Beaux’s voice cuts through the conversation.  We look up to see him and Winston sitting across from us.  Again, I cannot help but notice the space between the two which Winston puts there as he moves away from Beaux. His friend notices, as well, but chooses to push it aside and instead focus on me, waiting for the response to his question.


    “Ah!” Beaux responds with recognition, piling a variety of breakfast foods on the plate in front of him.  “I completely agree; far too joyful and naïve to be a Slytherin.”

    This comment catches Elladora’s attention.  She looks up from her timetable and cocks her head slightly, her green eyes focusing in on Beaux’s pale ones.  “Do you truly believe he is naïve?”

    “Do you?”

    She shakes her head. “I believe it is a façade.  For if he acts that way, there isn’t much intimidation, yes?  That way his enemies do not fear him.”

    “The element of surprise,” Winston says, speaking for the first time that morning.  We all nod in agreement.

    I look at Winston and notice his plate is empty.  “Why are you not eating?”

    “Why aren’t you?” he shoots back.

    I roll my eyes.  “Please.  I already had a slice of toast and that blueberry muffin looks incredibly tempting.  I am eating.”

    Beaux turns toward Winston slightly.  “You need to eat, mate.”

    Winston pointedly ignores Beaux’s comment and reaches across the table, snatching my timetable from my hands in an attempt to change the subject.  “Double Potions?  Are you mad?”

    I decide to drop the eating subject for now, and respond, “I enjoy Potions class, thank you very much!”

    Winston scowls playfully.  “That is the most horrendous subject.  You should have doubled up on DADA like Beaux and I.”

    I stick my nose up in the air slightly, and speak in a high-pitched, nauseating voice, “DADA is not a class for women.”

    The four of us laugh.  I am impersonating my mother, you see.  Last summer, she had said that exact thing to all four of us.  However, the boys stop quickly and their eyes both focus on something behind me.

    Cringing, and knowing who it will be, I address the newcomer without turning around.  “Good morning, Alphard.”

    While Alphard often agrees with my distaste for mother and her beliefs, it is rare that he encourages my negativity and public displays of my attitude toward her.  He is right when he says that it is careless and that someone may overhear me, but he is wrong when he says that I should not express it to my friends.

    Who else is going to listen?

    “Not quite, sister.”

    I roll my eyes at Beaux.  Sticking my tongue out slightly and screwing up my face in a mocking manner at Beaux, I turn to face Alphard, who stood over me, his arms crossed over his chest.  “What’s the matter, Alphard?”

    I say this sentence with a bit of indifference, along with a slight tone of sarcasm, and I see the hurt flash across his face.  He tries to deflect it, to hide it; but it does not work.  I notice, and I sigh, rubbing my temples.  I often times forget that he is my younger brother, and that he looks up to me.  It is so common that it is I looking up to him, rather than the other way around.

    “You can tell me, Alph,” I say with sincerity, looking up into his grey eyes that resemble my own. 

    He shakes his head.  “Not now.  I just came to inform you of a group of fifth year Gryffindors who have been raiding the corridors with water balloons.  Their latest prey, sources report, are their fellow fifth years—particularly Slytherins.”

    Winston chuckles, “Who is your source, may I ask?”

    Alphard’s friends are notorious for hiring second and first year Slytherins to keep up on any information they may need.  They pay them, of course, and I suppose that eases their guilt.

    “Blake Zabini, first year,” Alphard informs us.  We nod, not sure who Blake is, but recognizing the surname, nevertheless.

    I glance over to see Winston and Beaux sharing a quick glance at each other that I cannot decipher, and am just about to ask what the look was for before my brother cut through my thoughts, his deep voice loud and attention grabbing.  “I have to go; Hayden seems to be looking for me.”

    Alphard begins to turn slightly away from me, but he then turns back around and leans down to whisper into my ear. “Eleven o’clock.”

    Before I can even comprehend what his lips form, he disappears into the steadily growing crowd of Hogwarts students.

    The first thing that I assume is that he is speaking of the time of day.  However, I quickly realize that Alphard is much more mysterious than that.  It is a riddle of some sort; he is not speaking the physical eleven o’clock.

    He is speaking of the direction.

    I turn my head slightly toward the direction of eleven oclock, careful not to catch the attention of anyone.

    There sits Abraxas Malfoy, his pale blue eyes, almost colourless, trained on me with a severe intensity.

    I whip back toward Winston again, allowing my back to face Abraxas, and place my head in my hands.  What does he want from me?  Why would Abraxas Malfoy, a young man so high in class, be watching my every move?

    It is unnervingly satisfying.

    Unnerving due to the fact that, as I said before, there is an intensity in his gaze, which provokes the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck to stand up.

    Satisfying because he is, after all, one of the purest and intelligent bachelors within the circle of purebloods I have been brought up from.  To earn his attention, which so many young women vie for, is satisfying to me, for it leaves me with a bashful feeling.  A proud aura.


    My eyes snap open, dilating, and I look over at Elladora, who had shouted my name.  “Yes?”

    There is a silent pause, then Winston creases his eyebrows and looks at me with a concerned expression colouring his features.  “We’ve been trying to get your attention for the past two minutes, Walburga.”

    I open my mouth to respond, but I stop and mirror Winston: my eyebrows crease together and I wear a confused expression. “Really?  I’m sorry; I was lost in my own thoughts.”

    Beaux laughs quietly, and mumbles something that sounds a lot like ‘No shit’, but I choose to ignore it and pick at the remainder of my breakfast, pondering the reasons for which Abraxas Malfoy would be watching me.

    So caught up in Abraxas’ pale blue irises, I fail to notice the pair of dark blue ones on me as well.

    Arriving to Defense Against the Dark Arts, my first class of the day, I sit myself next to Yvette, so I am between her and the aisle.  My friends all took up Divination again, while I did not, so I was inevitably separated from them and forced into a class with no friends. Due to the three of them taking up double DADA, they have a different class time. 

    Yvette, however, was more than happy to sit beside me.  She claimed that she did not want to end up next to some filthy Gryffindor, therefore she allowed me to grace her with my presence.

    She is quite a handful, Yvette Gerald.

    As I have established, we take DADA with the Gryffindors this year, which is extremely dissatisfying to many, if not all.  The Gryffindors reciprocate the feelings that we Slytherins have toward them, so they too are quite unhappy with the arrangement.  Dumbledore insisted, though.

    Pulling my supplies from my bag and placing them on the tabletop in front of me, I dip my quill in my ink and begin to doodle.  By no means am I an artist, but doodling keeps me preoccupied, and it is also an extremely successful way to distract myself from the world around me.

    Naturally, of course, something as simple as getting lost in your own thoughts is quite impossible when one is sharing class time with rowdy Gryffindors.

    Yvette taps me on my shoulder and leans in, her brown waves falling over the shoulder she tapped me on. “There they are—those boys Alphard was warning everyone about.”

    I follow her light blue eyes and find myself marveling at the group of five young men.  They saunter into the rooms; heads held high with something I am unfamiliar with—courage.  Their noses are not stuck in the air with snootiness, nor with superiority.  Their noses are not, in fact, even in the air.  Their chins are held high with courage, for they are not conceited—well, perhaps a bit—, but brave.  They are unafraid of being laughed at, or called names.  It is often they get in trouble, or do something insane, but they do not worry about failing.  I find that courageous about them.  They aren’t afraid to fail.

    “They hit me with water balloons earlier this morning,” Yvette explains, her voice slathered with disgust.  “Baboons.”

    I agree with her, of course.  They were baboons.  However, I do not disregard their lack of fear.  For I sometimes wish I had that kind of courage. 

    It would be amazing to feel invincible, rather than acting like it.

    A/N: What do you think?  Ooh, what's Abraxas up to?  Who are the Gryffindors?  What do you think about the pair of dark blue eyes?  Any new guesses about anything?  LET ME KNOW, PLEASE!  I love hearing feedback from you guys!  Everything means so much!  Thanks!  -Janelle

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