Harry Potter - Series Fan Fiction ❯ Harry Potter and the Werewolf Prophecy ❯ POTIONS, MUGGLE STUDIES, AND BROOMS ( Chapter 21 )
Alex was surprised to find that he’d slept comfortably through the night. The huge four-poster bed with its velvet hangings was surprisingly comfortable. At first sight he’d assumed it would be stiff and scratchy.
He automatically joined Sophie and Marion for breakfast at the Ravenclaw table. Alex was pleased to see that Sophie seemed a lot calmer after she’d had a good night’s sleep, though her eyes were a little red. They sat and chatted for several minutes, with Sophie looking around as she ate.
Suddenly she jumped up. “Oh, there she is!” She waved.
Marion grasped her by the elbow. “Go over, say good morning, and then come back,” she commanded.
“But she’ll want to talk… you don’t know what she’s like, you only met her yesterday.”
Marion sighed. “We talked about this. I know what she wants because she said what she wants. Say hello, ask if she’s all right, tell her you’re all right, then come back and leave her alone.”
For a moment Sophie looked as if she might break out crying again, but nodded and ran off.
“We were talking for hours, last night,” said Marion. “I know more about those girls than I do about myself.”
“They’ll be seeing each other every day, pretty much. It’s hardly a huge separation.”
Marion nodded. “My brother went away to boarding school three years ago and I never see him for months at a time. I think we fight less now when we do see each other.”
Sophie ran back and sat down. “Amy’s fine! She’s friends with that girl Janice, and she was chatting away. I think you are quite a wise person, Marion. I shall rely on you for sensible advice in future.”
“I really wouldn’t,” said Marion. “My mum thinks I’m a great fool sometimes.”
“Mums are like that,” said Alex. “They don’t really mean it.”
Sophie was glancing casually at a discarded newspaper when she gave a sudden start. “Alex! That’s you!”
She pointed to a picture on the front page.
“I can’t see anything,” said Alex. “I do recognise… it’s that woman from the café.”
“You have to tilt it,” said Sophie. “Look, if you turn the page, you’re just at the edge of the picture.”
“Oh no, do I look like that?” said Alex. The picture showed him staring open-mouthed across the café while his father was speaking to him earnestly.
“Heroes Reunited – A Heartwarming Story from Rita Skeeter,” read Sophie. “Heroine of the resistance Hermione Granger meets close friends Bill and Fleur Weasley, the Beauty/Beast combo who provided refuge for the Order of the Phoenix. Allegedly part-Veela, easy-on-the-eye Fleur first came to prominence in the Tri-Wizard…”
“What do we have first?” interrupted Marion.
“We have potions, then Muggle studies, then broomstick training,” said Sophie.
“I’ll rely on you for timetables, Sophie,” said Marion. “Do we play this Quidditch game then?”
“Not in first year,” said Alex. “We need to learn to use our brooms first.”
“Thank goodness for that,” said Marion. “I hate sports. I wouldn’t mind being able to fly, though.”
Sophie looked a little sad. “Please be careful, you two,” she said softly. “It’s quite dangerous. There can be accidents.”
“Careful is my middle name,” said Marion. “I will stay three foot off the ground at all times.”
“It will be supervised,” said Alex. “We won’t do anything silly.”
Potions was quite a jolly affair. Professor Slughorn introduced himself, and then asked each of the class their name. He passed briskly over most of them, but paid particular attention to one or two. He spoke at some length to Sophie, chuckling as he remembered her parents. “Heart and soul of Hogwarts, people like your mum and dad. Steeped in tradition. I’ve no doubt you’ll do ‘em proud.”
He didn’t spend long talking to Amy, though, and hardly spoke to Alex or Marion at all. Then he addressed the whole class.
“Potions is the very essence of what you’ll learn at Hogwarts. Charms or hexes are all very well, but they aren’t precise, you see. You’ll find that some of you have a gift for certain kinds of magic, and some of you won’t. In you from the start, one might say.” He gave Sophie a beaming smile. “Potions, now – if you don’t get ‘em right, you get nothing at all. Or worse, oh dear me yes, or worse, if you’re not careful. I remember…”
Professor Slughorn proceeded to recount a long series of anecdotes, and was surprised to find that the class was over before he’d done any actual teaching. “Be sure you all have your cauldrons and books for next time,” he called after them.
“That wasn’t so bad,” said Marion, as they hurried down the corridor to the staircase which was swinging around to meet them. “If all he does is chat then this will be pretty easy.”
Alex shook his head. “My mum says that potions were really tough. The trouble is that Slughorn rabbits on like that for a while, but suddenly he expects you to whip something up and you don’t know what to do. Better read up a bit before next time.”
Muggle Studies was very different. Professor Creevy was much quieter than the ebullient Professor Slughorn. He began by asking them to place their wands in a rack.
“Please, sir,” said Marion, raising her hand, “why do we have to put our wands away?”
“Well, now,” said Professor Creevy, “you won’t be doing any magic in this class, because that’s not what it’s about.”
“We could just put them in our pockets,” said Marion.
“You could, come to that,” said Professor Creevy. “But then, you’d have the temptation to use ‘em to do I don’t know what behind my back. And I really don’t know what. So better safe than sorry, eh? Right, now, gather around. No desks today, pull up the chairs, and we’ll just have a chat.”
He began by asking how many of them had Muggle parents, and how many of them had mixed at all with Muggles. Sophie looked quite ashamed to admit that she’d never spoken to a Muggle, but several of the Slytherins looked quite pleased with themselves.
“That’s good, then. So here’s your first lesson. Talk to each other. I know you tell each other how the Wizarding world works. Don’t you lot from the wizarding families think you know it all – because y’don’t, you know. Learn from each other. When you say this is how it works with us, ask how it works with the other lot.”
A number of the Slytherins looked sceptical, and one of them sniggered. Creevy gave him a sharp look, and he was instantly quiet.
“I know some of you don’t think there’s any point to finding out about people like me. You can do all this wonderful stuff. All these clever things. Flying on sticks, walking through walls, and I don’t know what else. Brilliant. But tell me, why do you hide?”
The children looked confused. Nobody spoke.
“You do hide, though, don’t you? That’s rule one, that is. Don’t be seen. Don’t be noticed. Now, forgive me if I’m wrong, but things don’t hide when they ain’t scared of something. Fox don’t hide from the rabbit. Even your great lord whatsisname, he didn’t let any of us lot knew he existed, ‘less he was about to murder someone.”
A Slytherin hesitantly raised his hand. “But… we’re stronger than y… than Muggles. Everyone knows that.”
Creevy shook his head. “No. You ain’t. You can do all sorts, control us, confuse us – but if you were ever to be found out – that’d be bad for you. You can tell yourself it’s all for our benefit, but the fact is, you’re scared of what we might do. There’s so many of us, y’see.”
The children sat staring at him. He laughed. “Nobody ever said this to you before, did they? I was saying the same thing to the fourth years this morning, and they were proper upset. All that time being told how they had to keep out of sight, and nobody wanted to say why. Well, now you know. So, what are you going to do about it? You, what’s your name, Fyng. Stand up now. What’s it like, living in the Muggle world, being a wizard.”
Alex stood up nervously. “Well, it’s just… I’ve always lived with Muggles. I went to Muggle school. It’s just normal.”
Creevy nodded his head vigorously. “That’s right. That’s right. You go back and forth between Muggle and Wizard and it’s all ordinary for you. You get the best of both, you see. Now, you, on the other hand…” – he pointed to Sophie – “You said you never go into the Muggle world. Never been to a Muggle shop, read a Muggle book, talked to a Muggle.”
Sophie blushed and looked downcast.
“Don’t get me wrong – you look like a nice kid, and it’s not your fault – but there’s a whole world out there you’re missing out on. That’s what this class is for.”
He held up a book. On the cover a man wearing a frock coat and top hat was waving his hands around aimlessly.
“This is the textbook I’m supposed to teach from. I had a read of it, and well.” He shook his head. “Now, I’m not going to swear in front of you kids, but I wouldn’t use it to line a bird cage. It must’ve been written back in the thirties, with little bits added in over the years.”
He pointed at the picture on the cover. “Nobody dresses like this nowadays except funeral directors.” He flipped open a page at random.
“‘Unlike broomsticks, airyplanes frequently explode and fall from the sky.’ Well, now, if they did, we wouldn’t use ‘em, would we?”
He looked again. “‘Muggles have photograph machines called cameras, but unlike Wizard pictures, Muggle pictures do not move.’ Apart from films and television, that is.” He closed the book and hurled it across the room, where it landed in a waste bin, which swallowed it with a gulp. Mr Creevy jumped and grinned.
“This isn’t going to be about you lot passing some exam. It’s not going to be a way for you to learn about Muggles like people on the other side of the world. You’re going to be able to share the world with us. Like it used to be, back in the day, when there were witches and wizards in every town and village. Before it all went wrong, with witch trials and all. Faults on both sides, I dare say, probably mostly us Muggles.”
“I’ve a lot of time for wizards. Had two sons who started doing magic before they could walk. I want the best for all of us. The more we all know, the better we’ll get on together. Maybe one day we can all live together openly, eh?”
He reached into a bag at his feet and took out a handful of magazines, with pictures on the cover that didn’t move. “Now, let’s get started. Clothing. What do Muggles really wear?”
Unlike Professor Slughorn’s class, Muggle studies was very demanding. Every member of the class was interrogated in turn. Those from wizard families were asked what their preconceptions were about Muggles, and the ones with Muggle parents had to explain what their life was really like. Professor Creevy continued to probe them about their ideas and attitudes.
When the class had finished, Alex was exhausted. He’d thought that he’d have had a restful time in Muggle studies, having lived in the Muggle world, but he had found that a lot of things he thought he understood he didn’t.
“That was hard!” he whispered to Sophie as they gathered their books. “I felt like I was teaching, not learning. Though… I suppose I was learning, as well.”
Sophie looked thoughtful. “I’d thought that Hogwarts was all about learning to do magic, but there’s a lot more to it, isn’t there? I almost feel that I’ve learned more in the last hour than all the rest of my life. There’s this vast world, billions of people, and I’ve just ignored it. And you – you’ve been learning about it your whole life.”
“I don’t think that’s down to me, you know,” said Alex ruefully, as they walked out of the classroom. “I didn’t have any choice about learning about the Muggle world. That’s just where I lived.”
“You’re lucky. There’s so much out there, isn’t there? I thought the Muggle world would be dull and boring – like being a squib in our world, just with something important missing. But Muggles can do nearly anything we can, can’t they? They just have to do it differently.”
Alex smiled. “Funny, all those years looking at the wizard world from outside – I really wanted to be part of it. I never appreciated being a Muggle.”
Sophie patted him on the shoulder. “Well, you should. Oh, dear, it’s brooms next. I am worried, I can’t help it.”
Realising the time, they ran through the castle to the main entrance, and down to the Quidditch pitch. They found the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff pupils already lined up and waiting, beside a stack of school brooms. Along with the other Ravenclaws they joined them.
There was a figure chatting to one of the Gryffindors and it was several moments before Alex realised that it was Viktor Krum. He looked small and awkward on the ground, and when he moved to stand in front of the class he was bow-legged and clumsy in his movements.
His voice, however, was powerful and compelling. “I am Krum. I am here to teach you to fly. I am here to teach you to use this!”
He held up a broom. It was battered and old, covered with stains and cobwebs, its underside scorched as if it had been snatched from a fire. “It is not much to look at, is it? Ignored, battered – but you can use it to…”
Suddenly, he was in the sky, far above their heads. He seemed almost a speck, turning, looping, barely touching the broom. For two or three minutes he swooped above them, sometimes leaping from the broom and catching it again. Alex was transfixed.
All too soon it was over. Krum swooped down, his feet skimming the grass, and he stopped gently, and held the broom aloft.
“I find this broom discarded, on a shelf. It is old, yes, but I, Krum, I know it for what it is. It is Goblin-made – yes, Goblins made brooms, long ago. Too fragile now, for rough work, Quidditch, racing – but there is nothing finer in this school.”
He gently placed the broom upright, and it floated, swaying gently. “You too, you are not regarded. This broom was forgotten because it is old; you are ignored because you are young. You have no experience.”
He pulled a wand from his robes and gestured at the pile of brooms. The brooms detached themselves and one made its way to each of the children, lying beside them. “You are lucky to have no experience. The person who did not know this broom…” – he gestured beside him – “…that person would not tell you what you need to know. Who has flown before?”
A handful of hands were raised. Alex noticed with surprise that one of them was Amy’s. He hadn’t noticed her at the other end of the line. He turned to Sophie, and saw that she was biting her lip and shaking her head.
“No…I can’t…” Suddenly she had turned and was running back to the castle. Alex gaped after her. There was a blow on his shoulder. “Come on, Alex. Let’s fetch her back.” It was Marion, of course.
Sophie had a good start, and was running hard, but after about two hundred yards she stopped, and stood staring at the sky. As they caught up with her, she stared at them wildly. “I can’t!” she said, “It’s too… I was the one who found her. She was… what if it happens again? She should be frightened, not me.”
Marion grasped Sophie by the shoulders, and looked her in the eyes. “Sophie. Would it make you happier if you and Amy were to quit brooms? Ask to be excused.”
Sophie turned away for a moment, then looked back and nodded.
“Right,” said Marion briskly. “Would it make Amy happier?”
Sophie looked at her for a moment, her eyes widening. “I see. I see. Amy would never forgive me.”
“She would, you know,” said Alex.
“Oh, she would, and that would be worse. Now I have to go back, looking like a fool I suppose.”
Marion grinned. “They’re just as likely to think we ran away and then you talked us back,” she said.
“That is the story I will attempt to promulgate,” said Sophie, as they scampered back to join the class.
Krum ignored them as they arrived. He was giving instructions. “Summon the broom to your hand. Do not grasp it! I see so many of your elders, even the best, clinging to their brooms so fiercely. So firmly! They master the broom as a slave. You… you will learn to make the broom your friend.”
He walked over to Amy. “Good. Good. See, she has the broom under her hand, but it is not touching. Feel. Feel it pushing. It wants to fly. It wants to be ridden. It must sense your will. You will not need to drag it, to wrench it around.”
Alex could feel the broom tugging and pushing to be free. As he tried to push down, it seemed to twist and writhe. It suddenly wriggled loose, twisted upright and fell to the ground.
“This is impossible!” he whispered to Sophie. “We’ll never get to fly.”
“I hope so!” said Sophie. His broom had begun to spin along its axis, the bristles in the brush end spreading wide.
There was a shriek from Janice. Her broom had shot forward into the sky in a great arc, before plunging downwards and embedding itself in the ground.
“That is good. You have the power. More control. Fetch it, fetch it,” called Krum.
“Oh, dear,” said Janice, and she scampered after her broom.
“You think this is too hard!” shouted Krum, watching as the class struggled to make their brooms behave. “It is the only way you will have true control. Soon, soon it will come to you. Do not try too much. Small movements. You, boy…” He looked at Alex. “You have it now. Ah, no, you do not. Try harder.”
Alex swore under his breath, convinced that if Krum hadn’t spoken to him he’d have finally controlled the squirming, almost liquid seeming stick.
At the end of an hour, they were all tired and grumpy. Several of them had sent their brooms flying into the air like Janice. Some were unable to get them to move at all. Nobody seemed to be able to make the broom do anything.
Then, gradually, people began to turn their heads to one of the Hufflepuff boys. He was turning in a circle, his arm outstretched, his broom hovering just under his hand. He turned completely twice, then moved his hand slightly back and forth, making the broom tilt.
“What is your name, boy,” said Krum.
“Er… Adolphus Liekos,” the boy replied. “Addie. Professor.”
“I am not a professor,” said Krum. “This,” - pointing to the boy’s broom as it hovered – “is good. Soon, you all will do this. I tell you, there are men who play Quidditch, professionals, who cannot do this properly.”
He folded his arms, his legs apart. “There is a mistake they tell you about flying. They tell you that the broom flies, that you ride it. This is not true. The broom flies, and you fly, together. You will learn this. You will not cling to your broom to save yourselves. You will travel together, as companions.” He gestured to them to continue.
By the end of the lesson, Alex had managed to raise the broom to just under his hand, and lower it to the ground. He glanced at Sophie. “This is so hard. I thought this would be the fun lesson, flying around.”
She shook her head. “If it’s a lesson, they always make it difficult. Look, I can pull it towards myself now.”
Krum clapped his hands. “This is good. We finish now. Leave your brooms there.”
Adolphus Liekos raised a hand. “When will we be able to fly, sir?”
Krum shook his head. “Christmas. Perhaps. Perhaps spring. Flying is dangerous. Very dangerous.” He looked around the class. Alex thought he gave particular notice to Amy. “You will fly as safely as I can teach.”
Alex thought that Adolphus was about to reply, but he bit his lip and turned away. Sophie ran up to Krum.
“Professor, I’m sorry for running away like that. I just…”
“Not professor. Krum. Or sir. You understand the danger, I think?”
Sophie reddened and nodded.
“You come back. That is good, too. We must fight our fear.” Krum walked away, gesturing with his wand at the pile of brooms. They rose up together and followed him in an orderly queue.
“I think I’ll have a quick word with Amy,” said Sophie. She ran over to where a group of Gryffindors were pushing the wheelchair up the slope.
Alex felt a tap on his arm. It was Adolphus Liekos. “Er… hello,” said Alex, doubtfully.
“Hello, Alex,” said Adolphus. “I’m Addie. I’m your cousin.”