Wizards on Acid *Written by Gale* Disclaimer - Again, Draco’s not mine. Just about everyone else is, though, even my ideas on how this school works are mine. One or two characters belong to other people, not other fandoms, tho, but they were used with permission. Once more, this chapter has not been beta’d. So excuse the mess. This chapter stands as just an introduction to the rest of the house, and it’ll be less static-y once I can stick to just two characters at a time.   Chapter #3: Bloody Americans One thing that Draco’d come to accept about Buckland Academy, and America in general, was that people tended to be just as they appeared until they opened their mouths. This’d been his first impression with the Dean, and then with the Head of House Number Three, Molly Strauss. The Dean had the little woman, whom Draco came to learn was called Miss Wilson, escort him to his respective “prison,” where he’d been introduced to a fairly plain, mousy looking girl -- a seventh year more than likely. The first room once inside the door had been something much akin to the Common Room back at Hogwarts, and this was where she sat waiting, nose stuck in a book. She seemed the basic quiet type -- not leadership material. And then Miss Wilson greeted her, and she rose and spoke rather jovially, “So you’re taking Lysandra’s place, huh?” “Lysandra?” he echoed. She nodded to herself, “Accent’s a dead giveaway. I’m Head of Household. Call me Molly.” A meaningful look was reserved for Wilson, “Thank you.” And the little woman left. About time. Draco wasn’t sure if he trusted that lady, and his narrow gaze followed her until she was well out of sight, even from the front windows. “I take it you’ve already seen the Dean. Talkative man, isn’t he?” He blinked and turned back toward Strauss, still a little surprised that she was speaking to him at all. “Um, yeah,” he muttered. “Well,” Molly marked a place in her book and quite fearlessly grabbed one of his hands. As she led him toward a flight of stairs, he tugged back against her pull rather unsuccessfully. “Your room’s up here.” “I can walk without being led around by the hand!” he snapped, finally wrenching away. She shrugged. “Kay. Then come on.” “What about my things?” “The House Elves already moved them up there. You get the second biggest room in the whole house. Consider yourself lucky.” “And I take it that you have the larger,” he said with a roll of his eyes. “Yup. I’m in the attic. No one else likes to sleep up there because it can be pretty loud when it rains.” She stopped when they reached the end of a hallway, and she pushed a door open. “Here you are.” Draco strode past her, his boots sounding loudly on the hardwood floors. So different from stone, which he’d been used to, and he was pleased to see that not only had his trunks been brought up, but they’d been unpacked as well. He supposed a charm was used, because the room was situated to look almost exactly as his space at home did. At least the service is decent -- to some extent. He raised an eyebrow and turned back when he realized that the Head of Household was still in the doorway. “Yes?” “Just to let you know, dinner is at six.” Despite the whole quiet kid look, she had a fairly firm and commanding voice. She held eye contact, and she didn’t stutter, not like some of the wet-behind-the-ears prefects he’d encountered back at his own school. That would make getting things he wanted a bit difficult. “You can go about your business until then. You’ll meet the rest of the boarders, then, and I’ll go over the rules at that time.” She turned to go, then as an afterthought, “If you need anything I’ll be downstairs. The place isn’t so huge that you shouldn’t be able to find your way around by yourself.” “How well do the house elves cook?” he asked as she began to shut the door. Molly gave him a blank look, “I wouldn’t know. I’m the one in charge of the meals here. They just keep the place clean. And they’re only in charge of the bathroom, the halls, the kitchen and the den. Everyone here is responsible for keeping their rooms tidy.” “Fair enough…But why cook when you’ve got two perfectly good servants to do it for you?” Her next comment sounded almost insulted, like she was telling him and letting him know it wasn‘t any of his business in the first place, “Because practicing culinary skills is one of the best ways to improve your performance in Potions Class.” And with that, the door shut. Americans, he thought with a shake of his head. He wondered when it would be the best time to send an owl to his father to let him know how much he was making him suffer, then considered otherwise. Father was impossible to guilt trip. If he wrote back at all, he’d tell him that his misfortunes “built character.” “Lyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyysssssssssssssssssyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!” Draco nearly fell over when his door burst open, and a girl about his age came rushing in. She wore thick glasses that made him think sourly of Potter and wore a huge smile on her face -- until she saw him, that is. “Do you mind?” he asked her. “You’re not Lysandra.” “Glad to know you learned something at this school.” And with a pout, she trudged away. This is going to be the longest half-year of my life. * * * * “Maybe you should have the House Elves cook dinner from now on.” Draco did not expect to get a round of Evil Eyes from the entire table, and he felt his shoulders hunch. Not having Crabbe and Goyle nearby was going to be a trying experience for him. His confidence did not take such terrible dives with them around. He cut and popped another piece of chicken into his mouth and chewed mechanically. It didn’t taste terribly bad, but seeing the look on Strauss’ face was worth it until everyone else joined in. “You might want to be careful how you talk here, Draco,” she said evenly. “Your conduct within this house goes into your grade.” He scowled, “And the teachers at this sorry establishment think it‘s wise to entrust people like you to report behavior?” “Dude, you need to shut up before she starts screamin. We had enough of that last year.” This came from a skinny individual sitting next to her. He was very dark in coloring, and carried himself, even while sitting, in a very effeminate manner that made Draco happy that he wasn’t close to him. “No no, Salem.” Molly waved a dismissive hand at him, “Let him talk. He’s new here, but he’ll get the idea eventually.” Does she think that’s supposed to scare me? “That’s an original name,” he quipped. The thin upper-classman shot him a glare, “It’s my stage name. And what about Draco? What kind of name is that supposed to be?” He sat forward intently, “Were your parents Hippies, by any chance? Be honest.” Draco could deduce that the word hippy must have been some abstract Muggle term, and he turned his nose up. Bet he’s a MudBlood. “Stop it, Salem.” Molly started in on her own dinner. The girl with the glasses was there, too, and she’d begun looking around, as though she were confused, “I thought we had a second year coming in?” Molly nodded, “Bus ran late. He’ll be up here in the morning. The Dean just sent me word.” “What on Earth is a bus?” Draco demanded. “Mode of transportation,” she responded through a sigh, “I believe you European wizards call it Muggle. Non-magic.” He remembered the Dean talking about using Muggle transportation for going to Quidditch matches. But for something simple as coming to the school, why not use floo powder? Father’s constant speeches about the Damned Conformists flitted into his mind, and he found himself frowning. He wondered if Father knew he’d just thrown his only child right into the middle of them. Maybe if I tell him that, he’ll reconsider this Exchange Student rubbish and bring me home. …And this would involve going to Hogwarts, where many people might have been waiting to try their hands at the Unforgivable curses on him. But at least he’d have Crabbe and Goyle there protecting him and keeping his morale up. “For now, though, with the five of us here, I don’t see any sense in waiting on just one more to go over the rules and such.” Molly appeared almost apologetic to the other three at the table. “I know you guys already know most of this, but I’ll repeat it for Draco’s sake.” The one that remained unidentified in Draco’s mind had been leaning over his plate for the entire course of the evening, and a curtain of black, shoulder-length hair barred his vision from any clear looks. He was dressed just as everyone else at the table, sans their work robes: wearing black t-shirts and odd pants made of a very strange fabric. “Lars, you awake over there?” Finally, he sat up, and Draco blinked. He could have been a year, maybe two years older than the blond was, but aside from the obvious youth and the sadly Muggle-ish clothing, the one now known as “Lars” looked very much like Professor Snape. Brooding scowl and all. “Yeh,” he grunted. Again, much like just about everyone else there, Draco found that this older boy was all he appeared to be until he spoke. The voice wasn’t nearly resonant enough, almost too high-pitched. “Kay,” Molly offered a slow smile, “Just checking.” And then her attention went back to Malfoy. “Wakeup call is at seven in the morning. There are two bathrooms in this house, so if you want to get in showering and stuff, I suggest you set an alarm for an earlier hour. There’s one right next to your room. Use what’s in there for now -- shampoo and such, and tomorrow afternoon we’ll go into town to pick up our own necessities. Don’t bother bringing your own money; they don’t accept Wizarding currency around here unless you’re having something imported. Follow so far?“ Draco tilted his head to the side, “This is a Muggle town?” “You’re quite stuck on that subject, if you don’t mind my saying so,” she said flatly. “Yes, it’s a Muggle town. Moving on.” Everyone around them smirked. “Classes start at eight-thirty sharp, and it’s your job to be dressed and at your first lesson of the day on time. If you’re tardy to class, you get detention. At noon, you’ll be dismissed to return here, where you’ll have your lunch. You must be back in class by a quarter to One. There are fireplaces in all the classrooms. If you’re in a hurry, you can use the floo powder in the den to get to the right place. It’s a special kind. Just say the room number and off you’ll go.” She waited for him to nod before continuing. “Class ends at three-thirty. Clubs and Intramurals won’t start for another few weeks, so come straight back here. No magic is to be performed outside of the campus, and don‘t fly your broom save out on the quidditch field. You won’t attend classes on Saturday or Sunday, and you may not go into town save with the group.” Not like I‘ll be going there unless it‘s an emergency. “Is that all?” Strauss produced a book and tossed it at him over the table. It barely missed his dinner plate. “That’s the code of conduct. You know how to read, so I’m not going to bother telling you. Just get it into your head, and you’ll be fine. Any questions?” “Where do I get my textbooks?” “Most of them will be issued to you by the teachers. They’ll give you lists of whatever extra reading they recommend, and those can be picked up either in the library at the main building or at the bookstore in town.” “I thought you said the town was Muggle? Why would their bookstore sell our materials?” “They throw almost everything into the New Age section these days, kiddo. It’s just how the system works.” “New Age?” “Someone’ll explain it to you later.” Molly rested an elbow on the table, chin in her hand, “So, Draco. Tell us about yourself. And about Europe.” “Well, the wizards there, in most cases, are brought up a bit better.” This didn’t seem an awkward statement in the least, not to him, and since he’d been placed on the subject of himself, he did not notice all the death glares he got. “We keep away from non-magic folk, and the schools are quite a bit bigger.” “Well that’s understandable.” Molly seemed to be the only other person that was in on the conversation. Draco did not pay any mind to the fact that the rest of the occupants seemed to be bearing it solely for her sake. “So, I was told that you played on a Quidditch team.” “Yes.” He puffed his chest up proudly, “I’m a Seeker.” “Cool. And you’re a fifth year, right?” He nodded. “That means that if you tried out, you could be placed on either the Junior or the Varsity teams. They don’t give the fourth and fifth years distinctions unless their performance is exceptional.” “Well, that shouldn’t be a problem, then.” He popped another piece of chicken into his mouth and spoke between chews, “But I heard a few things, mostly about the Salem Academy, that Quidditch is different over here.” “Ah,” Molly set her fork down, “Salem is completely different from the other schools because it’s on the coast, and areas on the borders of the country are heavily surveyed, especially nowtimes. They can’t get the proper altitude or speeds to play a good game of Quidditch without the Muggles picking it up. So they’ve changed the rules and even branched out some new games.” “Picking it up?” “Yeah. See, they have the means to detect objects in the air. It should only be electrical signals, but magic gives off its own energy. We can fool the eyes, but not the machinery. The Ministry of Magic has had several departments working on patenting a broom that can be used for situations like that, that Muggles won’t be able to trace, but that started before even I was born. I don’t think they’ll ever manage it.” “But if you insist on living in such close vicinity to the Muggles anyhow, why bother hiding something like that?” “Because the people in this country are really stupid when it comes to practicality. In technical terms, we have every right to live and go about our business without hiding anything. But the reality of the situation is that if we did, things would go all to shit. The Constitution protects us if anything is discovered, but it really is best that the country, as a whole, did not know about what goes on here at the schools.” Molly Strauss got a few enthusiastic nods from the other people at the table. “Anyhow, lemme formally introduce everyone else here.” She pointed first at the Snapish Lars. “This is Bob Masterson, but he prefers that people call him Lars. Ain’t that right, Bob?” What she got in return for the jest was a brandished middle finger. Draco blinked in surprise. She waved a hand dismissively, “That’s just how he is. Don’t worry too much about it.” Then to the crazy girl with the glasses. “This is Tiffany Ponce, your next door neighbor.” “Hi.” She seemed to have gotten over the whole ‘him-not-being-lyssy’ dilemma. “And lastly we have David Pabon.” Molly indicated Salem and patted him on the shoulder. “Call him Salem.” “What is a stage name, exactly?” Draco asked, remembering that it’d been said earlier. “I dance,” Salem said evenly, arms crossed over his chest. If he weren’t so brittle looking, he might have looked threatening. “Dance?” Malfoy echoed. He knew there were a few ‘iffy’ people back at Hogwarts, but this was the first blatant example he’d ever run into. “You’re joking, right?” He shrugged, “Keeps the reflexes sharp. You’d be hard-pressed to find a duelist that’s better than me.” “And that’s a fact,” Molly concurred. “Salem’s the assistant instructor at the club meetings.” She shot him a meaningful look. “He’d be running the whole thing, too.” “So why doesn’t he?” Salem finished the last of his dinner. “Didn’t pass some of my classes last year.” He made it sound like it was do big deal. Draco’s father would have murdered him if he actually failed a class. “But he’s going to graduate this year if I have to forge his finals myself,” Molly stated. “Yeah yeah,” he drawled, “Whatever.” Strauss glanced at something attached to her wrist and sighed, “It’s late. Each of you remember to clear your plates from the table and take them to the kitchen. Get to bed at a decent hour, and I’ll see the lot of you in the morning.” She rose, grabbing her plate and silverware. “G’night, Molly,” seemed to be the collective response. All Draco could do was stare for a moment. The utter disarray of this place, as compared to Hogwarts, still had his mind racing to catch up. I am definitely writing home to Dad the first chance I get, he decided.   TO BE CONTINUED….

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