Willow’s second day of classes started with Herbology and Mr. Diatomungi. Just as they spent almost no time in the Care of Magical Creatures classroom, Mr. Diatomungi told them they would spend almost every day either in the greenhouses, in the gardens, or in the woods as part of their lessons. For the first class, the professor had them divide up into pairs to do a scavenger hunt among the flowers and plants where the first years had walked on their way to the sorting. Willow would have normally paired with Norbert, but he linked up with the three other Hammersmith first year boys to make two teams.
Lucky me, she thought, I'm going to get stuck by myself. She looked around as the rest of the class paired off. She felt like she was the last one standing in a game of musical chairs. As the teams formed, she looked around and saw that only three people remained: her, Lef, and Merigold Martinez - who was one of the two girls that hung out with Felicity Trueworthy.
Great, she thought. I think I'd rather get stuck by myself.
Mr. Diatomungi put the three of them together into a team. Willow wanted to talk to them and avoid them at the same time. After an uncomfortable silence, Willow realized that they felt the same way too. Marigold had crossed her arms, obviously ticked off that she had been left out of her clique. Lef was ignoring the two Hammersmiths and was staring at the scavenger hunt list, glancing up and down as if making a mental map.
This is going to be interesting, Willow thought, just like putting salt on a slug...except I'm the slug.
During the scavenger hunt, two things became obviously clear to her. The first was that Lef was amazing at Herbology. She knew almost all of the plants by sight. The second thing that was obvious was that Marigold knew nothing about Herbology, although she thought she did. Lef had to prevent her from grabbing one plant that would have caused her to break out in warts and another one that would have put her to sleep for the rest of the day. Instead of being thankful for the good advice, Marigold was awful about it.
“I knew that,” Marigold said after Lef had warned her about the skunkweed pods she was about to grab. “If you two hadn’t distracted me, I wouldn’t have even come this close. I can’t believe I get stuck with a Murgatroyd and a nothing. This is the worst class ever.”
Lef should have let her grab the skunkweed, thought Willow, who looked down at her feet after being called a ‘nothing’.
“She’s not a nothing,” said Lef to Marigold. “She’s a Hammersmith - just like you.”
Marigold muttered something that Willow couldn’t hear, but didn’t complain for the rest of the class.
How can she be that nice and still be in Murgatroyd House? Willow questioned. It doesn't seem to fit with everything that the Hammersmiths said about the house... She wanted to talk to Lef about it, but she didn’t know where to start, so Willow didn’t say anything to her except “thanks.”
If it hadn't been for Marigold's interference, Willow was sure that her group would have finished the entire list. I know I should talk to Lef, but I'll just do it later, she reasoned to herself as she grabbed her bag at the end of class...except she knew it wasn't the right answer.
Willow’s next lesson that day was History of Magic with the Suncorns. As she entered, Willow recognized their teacher as the very old man in the green and silver robes from the sorting. He was the one who the Chancellor had been talking to when the sorting hat malfunctioned. He introduced himself as Mr. Zolock and proceeded to divide them up by house. The Hammersmiths went to one side of the classroom, which had been cleared of desks and the Suncorns to the other. He told the Suncorn group to stay where they were and cast a spell in the air which made a muffled humming noise. Mr. Zolock then beckoned for the Hammersmiths to gather around him while they played a little role-playing. Willow pressed in with the other half of the class.
“I’ll tell you what’s been going on,” Mr. Zolock said. “Those people over there,” Mr. Zolock gestured toward the Suncorns, “have taken everything you hold dear from you. They have taken away your wands, saying that you don’t deserve to carry them. They have taken the goods produced by your hard work and kept them for their own. They are not willing to negotiate. What are you going to do?”
After a moment of silence, Norbert spoke up. “We should fight!” he said.
“Of course,” Mr. Zolock responded, “but you’ll need some soldiers for that.”
He waved his wand in the air and an army of foot-high armored figures appeared on the floor in rank and file. A group of one hundred of them was lined up in front of each of the Hammersmiths in a ten-by-ten square.
“Each of you will control a regiment,” he said. “So while you get yourselves set for battle, I’ll go speak to the other side.”
He left and crossed over to the Suncorns. Willow tried to overhear what was being said on the other side of the classroom, but all she could hear was a buzzing noise. Meanwhile, Felicity had assumed control of the Hammersmith side.
“Of course I’ll be the general,” she said, “and I’ll take the center.”
She set up her two friends, Marigold and Francesca next to her and pointed two boys to take the far left side and Norbert and the boy named Pete on the far right side. She didn’t even look at Willow or give her any instructions. After a moment, Willow went to the far left side of the line and waited.
On the Suncorn side, Mr. Zolock was getting them excited as well. They also had figures in front of them and began to line up opposite the Hammersmith soldiers on the other side of the room. Willow saw that they had many fewer figures than her side did. Only ten per student by Willow’s count.
Once set, Mr. Zolock waved his wand and the buzzing sound barrier disappeared. He looked at both sides and said “begin!” before stepping out of the way.
Felicity started giving orders right away, yelling for the boys to attack from both sides.
From the other side of the room, Norbert jumped up and down, pointed toward the opposing line, and yelled "Charge!" Willow saw his figures start running toward the Suncorn side. Hesitating, Willow just watched to see what would happen. The other three Hammersmith boys followed Norbert's prompt and screamed for their own soldiers to move forward.
They look like Barbies in armor, thought Willow, smiling at the image. The size was right, but these figures were strangely shaped with long fingers holding their ghostly blue weapons and long pointy boots. As the sea of soldiers streamed across the floor and entered the Suncorn side, Willow noticed that the figures on the far side were much taller, appearing to be twice the height of her own soldiers. Are they supposed to be giants? she wondered, but her attention shifted to the right side of the line where a flash of light and squeaky screaming marked the first shots fired.
Oh, thought Willow. This isn't going to go well for us. The glowing blue Suncorn figures could clearly use magic and were knocking down the front ranks of Norbert's soldiers with blasts from their matchstick-sized wands. The Hammersmith figures were blasted around like small armored bowling pins.
Willow glanced at Felicity. Maybe she will tell me what to do. But Felicity was consumed with her own troops, screaming at them to move faster, her arms waving in the air. Yeah, and maybe I'm a chocolate cupcake. Willow, feeling ignored and useless, stood by her own regiment, bewildered about what to do; but clearly seeing that charging the enemy was a suicide mission.
The fight wasn’t even close. Even though the Suncorns had one tenth the number of figures, their soldiers could perform magic and cut down the Hammersmith side like a lawnmower over weeds. While Willow watched, the floor became littered with bodies. When Mr. Zolock finally called a halt, three-quarters of the Hammersmith figures had been destroyed, while more than half of the opposing side was still standing. Willow had never moved her soldiers at all. They were still standing in front of her, kicking the dirt and sticking their fingers in the earholes of their helmets.
Mr. Zolock looked around.
“This looks about right,” he said. “Does anyone know what this battle was all about?”
One of the Suncorn boys that Willow recognized as one of the unsorted ones raised his hand and Mr. Zolock pointed to him.
“The other side looked like goblins,” he said. “Was it from the goblin wars?”
Willow didn’t realize that she was controlling goblin figures since she only ever saw their backs.
“Yes, very good,” Mr. Zolock said. “And your name?”
“Mabeobsa Ryong,” he answered, “but I go by ‘Incheon’.”
“Well, Incheon, five points to Suncorn for your answer.” Mr. Zolock turned back to the class. “This was, in fact, a reenactment of the battle of Hogsmeade, fought in England nearly four hundred years ago.” Turning to Norbert, Mr. Zolock asked him, “did you feel that your side was justified in its actions?”
“Yes,” Norbert replied. “The other side had taken everything from us and there didn't seem any other option.”
“Very good,” Mr. Zolock responded. He turned to a small boy on the Suncorn side. “And did you feel that your side had any options?”
“No, we had to defend ourselves.” he responded.
Mr. Zolock then spent the rest of the lesson describing the outcome of the battle and how it affected goblin-wizard relations for the next several hundred years.
“I hope you see that both sides of this battle had reasons they did what they did,” Mr. Zolock lectured to them in summary. “I want you to remember this about the history you’re going to learn this year. History is not just about dates and places; history is about people - about fear, passion, and misunderstanding. It’s about bravery and cowardice, wisdom and folly, charity and ruthlessness, power and exploitation. My goal is for you to understand why history happened the way it did.”
Packing her bag at the end of class, Willow was amazed that someone had made history so interesting. Every history class she had been taught was as boring as watching a sloth run a marathon. As she was walking toward the door, Mr. Zolock called out to her.
“Miss... Carter, is it?" he asked. "Could you stay back for a moment?”
Nodding her head, Willow went over to where he was standing in the middle of the carnage.
“I noticed you never moved your figures,” he said, pointing to her figures which had now broken ranks and were napping, cooking phantom food or arm-wrestling one another out of boredom. “Any reason why?”
Willow thought for a moment. “Felicity never gave me any direction and by the time I was ready to act on my own, the battle was already decided,” she said. “I didn’t want to just send my soldiers to be destroyed.”
“Interesting,” Mr. Zolock said, “and also historically accurate.” He then changed the subject. “I couldn’t help but notice that you don’t seem to be fitting in with your classmates.”
“The sorting song said that Hammersmith was brave and daring,” replied Willow. “I just thought they’d do things differently.”
“Ah, the sorting hat song," he sighed. "I will tell you that for at least the last two hundred years, the hat did not sing that version fothe song and that Hammersmith was not the house of the brave and daring. It simply sorted students into that house whose families were involved in some kind of crafting or manufacturing. It all dates back to the founding..." He paused for a moment as he caught Willow's eyes beginning to glaze over.
"Besides, even if they’re brave doesn’t mean they’re right,” said Mr. Zolock. “Look at the goblins. What they did was brave, but horribly unwise." He gestured towards Willow's camp of goblin figures. "Now Morlock the Bold on the other hand did exactly what you did during the battle and was labeled as a coward and a traitor by the goblins for his actions, even though he ended up bridging the rift between the two sides after this battle. He's only 'Morlock the Bold' in our history books: you don't want to know what the goblins call him. Don't be afraid to be different, Miss Carter."
"Thank you, sir," she replied.
"Well, if you ever need somebody to talk to, please don’t hesitate to come talk to me,” Mr. Zolock offered.
“Now that you mention it," said Willow. "Can you tell me anything about what happened at the sorting?”
“I wish I could,” responded Mr. Zolock. “There’s absolutely no record of anything the hat talked about during the sorting song. I have no idea why it started sorting students differently. And there is no fifth house, but of course quite a bit was lost in the library fire of 1764.”
After leaving History of Magic, Willow sat through her Thaumaturgy class with Mr. Hendershot where she tried levitating a feather with no success. She couldn’t even get it to wiggle. After Thaumaturgy was Alteration, where Mr. Puterschmidt amazed the class with his transformation into a rabbit and back. Willow didn’t have any more luck turning a pencil into a quill than she did with the feather. After lunch, she spent the afternoon with Mr. Holmes in a double Alchemy class learning some of the fundamentals about brewing potions.
By the weekend, Willow had been loaded with homework. She had papers to write for Herbology, History of Magic, and Alteration, not to mention a description on how an airplane worked for Nomaj Studies. It was clear that Mrs. McCracken thought that a plane flapped its wings like a bird in order to fly. She also had to work on her star charts for Astronomy and had to finish labeling her drawing of a Kivinoid for Care of Magical Creatures.
After working late on Saturday night on her star chart, Willow fell asleep at her desk. She had the most incredibly vivid dream. In it, a gigantic American Indian was standing in a clearing in the forest near a circle of giant stones. He was wearing buckskin pants and no shirt and was holding a huge bow. He was speaking to Willow in a strange language which she didn’t understand at first, but the more she listened, the more she thought she understood.
“...I am the Hunter...”
She felt herself falling and woke with a start as she fell off her chair onto the floor. Her mom opened her door a moment later.
“Are you alright?” her mom asked her.
“Yes, I just fell asleep on my desk and was having a weird dream when I fell. I’m okay.”
“You’ve been working all day, no wonder you fell asleep,” her mom said. “Why don’t you get to bed now? We’ll go out for breakfast tomorrow and you can finish your homework tomorrow afternoon, okay?”
“Okay,” Willow replied. “Mom, do you know if there are any American Indian constellations?”
“Constellations? I don’t think so, honey. I think they’re all from the ancient middle-east. What makes you ask that question?”
“Nothing, just trying to figure out a dream, that’s all. Good night mom.”
“Good night sweetheart,” replied her mom, tucking her into bed.
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