Monday arrived with dark clouds and grim faces. Alexis was sure Lilly had heard what happened last night. There didn’t seem to be any secrets in a place like Hogwarts. One way or another the story of Amalia and Alexis’s fight would reach the rest of the student body. With each passing of the story, details would be skewed, altered and exaggerated.
Alexis head turned down the table to stare at Lilly and Amalia during breakfast. Their heads close together, talking about something. Lilly didn’t greet her that morning, or even look her way. She always did even though Alexis was the outcast. Lilly had tried to sneak in a smile or a ‘hi’ in passing. There was a kindness in her, throughout all the rumours surrounding Alexis, Lilly kept giving her those small acknowledgements – until this morning. It made the skies seem more darker and Alexis’s mood worse. She tried to think about her Divination class that afternoon, it was the only bright side to the miserable day.
Pushing her empty bow of porridge away, Alexis was the first to leave the Great Hall. She made her way directly towards the green houses. Herbology was their first class of the day. She was the first to arrive outside of Greenhouse 3. The ground was damp, so she leaned against the green house and opened one of Skye’s history books to pass the time.
Not five minutes later, a high pitch voice was calling her name. Eloise waved her hand and increased her paced to reach Alexis. Victoria Smith was right on Eloise’s heals and both greeted Alexis with a warm smile. Other Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors trailed behind them.
Professor Longbottom arrived and ushered everyone into the greenhouse. There were a dozen wooden tables and chairs around the greenhouse, its perimeter covered by a variety of different plants. Alexis assumed many of them had some magical or holistic property to them. Eloise pulled Alexis and Victoria to a distant table where they could talk when a red haired boy with Gryffindor colours joined them.
“Why are you with us Hugo?” Victoria asked.
“I think he’s looking for a girlfriend.” Eloise teased.
“No! Professor Longbottom caught Hunter and I with one of Uncle George’s firecrackers and split us up. Hunter’s with Lilly and her group now.” Hugo clarified. Alexis turned her head to see a freckled face, brown haired boy looking very dissatisfied surrounded by Lilly, Amelia and another Hufflepuff girl.
“It’s just for one lesson.” Alexis said.
“Yeah, I know. But, I’m kinda glad to be paired with you, been wanting to ask you about-.” Hugo said, blushing to a close match of his hair. He couldn’t finish his question as Professor Longbottom began their lesson right away. He preformed a spell that made the seed grow at an accelerated rate until it blossomed into a mature flower. With a handful of seeds, and a pot of soil they were to recreate the blossomed flower and spent the rest of the class practicing the spell.
“What did you want to talk about?” Alexis asked as their table practiced, waving their wands and trying to pronounce the latin words.
“You hitting Amelia.”
Eloise’s spell missed her plant and bounced off the table, flew to hit a hanging basket overtop of the table beside them. It began grew at an incredible pace, becoming so large it threatened to crush the table and those around it. Professor Longbottom arrived just in time to bring the plant back down to normal proportions. He gave Eloise a warning glance before moving on to anther disaster about to happen.
“You hit Amelia!?” Eloise said in a tense whisper.
“About time someone did.” Victoria said with a smirk.
“Hugo, right?” Alexis said, giving the other two a troubled look. “I’m sorry about that, her words were getting to me and, well… my body just went into reflex mode.”
“Your reflex mode is to hit someone?” Victoria asked, the grin still on her face. “Don’t apologize.” Hugo said, “Amelia’s always been annoying and has been asking for it since first year.”
“What was she saying?” Eloise asked, leaning in to hear a bit of gossip.
“Forget it Eloise.” Alexis said with a sigh.
“Well, I just wanted to say is that, well it’s difficult to have a new student coming in half way through like you did. You’re obviously a Gryffindor. Standing up to her like that. So… I guess what I’m trying to say is that…”
“We need to finish this spell before Longbottom comes over and patronize us.” Victoria said with a cough. Longbottom was nearing them and none had made their seedling grow an inch.
Alexis smiled over at Hugo and nodded her head, an unspoken word of appreciated passed between the two. It wasn’t much, but it seemed Alexis had one new friend in the Gryffindor Tower.
With the end of their Herbology lesson, most of the class parted. Care of Magical Creatures took place outside on the grounds, next to the hut Alexis had ran past numerous times. Others were heading back into the castle. A good chunk of Gryffindor’s traveled with Alexis over the grounds, except Amelia who turned back to the castle, which was a relief to Alexis. The group stopped and spread out around the field where the same massive, bearded man Alexis had seen at the train station stood.
“Hey Hagrid!” Everyone said, with bright smiles and eager eyes. Hagrid returned their greeting engaging with several students as if they were long time friends.
“I guess we’re waiting for the Slytherins to join us?” He asked and sure enough a small band of Slytherins arrived from the castle. The division between the two houses were clear. Slytherins sat to one side on the grass, Gryffindor’s to the other. Alexis sat apart from both groups and eyed the wooden crates behind him.
“All right, everyone in a group of 4. We should have enough for that.” Hagrid ordered as the pairs joined to make larger groups.
“Hey Alexis.” Zack said coming up to her, Hugo turned back and pulled Hunter with him towards her to make a group. “Weasley, Leatherby.”
“Hugo, why are we pairing up with these two?” Hunter asked a dark expression on his face. They were the last two he wanted to team up with.
“Hey Rowle. Going to try out for the Quidditch team again?” Hugo asked.
“Of course. How about you two?” Zack asked.
“No question, we’re going to beat you guys like always.” Hunter said, puffing himself up.
“What about you Alexis?” Zack asked, a grin on his face. He was enjoying the discomfort.
“I’m not big into the sport.” Alexis shrugged. It was the wrong thing to say to the three boys.
“Figures.” Hunter said gloomy huff.
“Either way, it should be an interesting team this year.” Hugo added, trying to find the peace.
“All right you four?” Hagrid said coming up and setting a crate down before them.
“Fine.” Hunter mumbled.
“What’s in the box?” Zack asked.
“You’ll see soon.” Hagrid said giving Alexis a wink. “All right everyone should have a crate. Now, on the count of three, I want you to open it. Carefully.” Inside the crate was a creature Alexis had never seen before. It reminded her of a tortoise, but its shell sparkled with diamonds.
“Now who can tell me the name of this beast?” Hagrid asked. Zack threw his hand in the air, along with a few others.
“Rowle?” “It’s a Fire Crab.” Zack answered.
“Well done, ten points Slytherin.” Hagrid said. “Now, be careful of its rear end, that is where the fire comes out.” As if on cue one of the Slytherins gave a yell as a blast of flames erupted from their Fire Crab. “Ah, Mr. Brute what did I just say. To the rest, I want you to sketch and list all of the traits of the Fire Crab.”
Nobody moved at first, many were afraid to take the Fire Crab out of it’s box. Eventually, with the unstructured class, everyone become more comfortable and the noise of multiple conversations merged.
“It’s pretty.” Alexis said, admiring the jewels.
“All girls say that.” Hunter replied. “I wonder what it looks like underneath.”
“I’ll give you a gallon to pick it up.” Zack said with a grin as he and the others pulled out their books and parchment.
“Make it ten.”
“Nobody’s lifting that thing up.” Hugo said, then leaned over to Hunter. “He’s just baiting you so you won’t be able to make tryouts.”
“What’s with this quidditch talk?” Alexis asked, leaning towards Zack.
“Gryffindor and Slytehrin are the first match of the season, I’m a Chaser, the same with Hugo and Hunter last year.”
“So old rivalry between you three?”
“Something like that. But it’s just a game in the end.” Zack said with a grin.
“Just a game?” Hunter spoke up. “It only decides who will get the Quidditch Cup.”
“Okay, relax… I’m not familiar with the game or the rewards.” Alexis spoke up, hoping to keep whatever communication between the Gryffindor’s open. The four remained silent for the rest of the class, focusing their attention on the assignment. Trying not to get burned from the fire that seemed to come erupt at random intervals was a challenge. It was Alexis and Zack who risk their limbs by attempting to turn the Fire Crab over. It worked too – for about fifteen seconds before the flames appeared and the two dropped it at once.
The morning ended with several light burns to Alexis’s hand, and one person in another group catching their robes on fire. It sounded like their professor for Care of Magical Creatures enjoyed the more dangerous animals – and that it wasn’t uncommon for one to get sent to the medical wing each class. With their Fire Crabs back in their crates, everyone was free to return to the Great Hall for lunch.
After lunch, Alexis was glad that the one class she had been looking forward had arrived. She climbed the steps to the Divination Tower with high expectations. Already a number of Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were waiting at the foot of the trap door. Alexis noticed the familiar faces and greeted them warmly. They were all cheerful, all but one Slytherin, Alice Nott. She gave Alexis a gloomy, threatening look before turning her backon her. She wasn’t the only eyes that had daggers pointed at Alexis, not five minutes later Amalia and Lilly appeared on the staircase.
On cue, the trap door above them opened and one by one they climbed into the tower. The room felt stuffy, and humid, an odd smell of multiple incense played havoc on Alexis’s senses.There were small tables scattered about, with cushions on the floor for them to sit on. It was not what Alexis expected, but perhaps this was the custom in the western world. She hunted for a spot near a window, any place where the smoke was thinner and she could breath.
Victoria Smith from Hufflepuff, and Zoe MacMillion from her own dorm room that joined her at the table. Zoe looked abashed and avoided eye contact as she took a seat.
“Didn’t expect you to take Divination.” Zoe said a light laugh on her voice.
“Actually, it’s one of the few classes I enjoyed back in Japan.” Alexis answered. Could she win Zoe over? Maybe Hugo was trying to help her make friends. Maybe that punch she gave Amelia helped to break the ice with some. Alexis was about to ask when she noticed Zoe looking to her left. Amelia sat with Lilly, those dark brown eyes staring at her as if she was trying to hex her or something. It seemed it was Amelia’s group of be an outcast with her. She couldn’t blame Zoe for her distance, peer pressure sucked.
“Do you have the ‘gift’ then?” Victoria asked, making Zoe jump back to their conversation. “I hope you won’t be disappointed in the class.”
“Silence.” Came a voice that echoed around them. A woman appeared next to the fireplace – which had a roaring fire. “The spirits are speaking to me, that it is time to start the class.” The professor had large glasses and grey hair that hung wild around her shoulders. She wore a mix-match set of robes with a bright coloured shawl. “I see that the fates had blessed you all to return to my class. Plus one extra, young girl welcome to the art of Divination, of opening your mind and unclouding your future. This year we will be diving into the dream world, unraveling the mysteries and symbols of the future that are hidden in your dreams. But first, some tea. Let us see what the spirits have foretold for all of your futures this year.”
Tea cups were passed around and tea poured for everyone. “Remember your lessons from last year, the leaves at the bottom of your cup will reveal any misfortune and darkness you must be aware of.”
“See… what did I tell you.” Victoria whispered over to Alexis.
“Tea Leaf reading is an ancient art.” Alexis said. Professor Tweelany may be a little theatrical and overdramatic, but maybe it was just a show. Teaching year after year could get boring, maybe she wanted to spice up her lessons?
“You believe in that?”
“It’s all about interpretation,” Alexis explained, she took Zoe’s cup since she was the first to finish her tea and spun the cup around three times as instructed before gazing into the bottom.
“See, this stick here, along with the clump of tea leaves here make it look like an Axe, or if you spin the cup around, it looks like a broom. Both have different meanings.
“So it’s a guessing game?” Zoe asked, taking her cup back. “At least the Axe is stronger sounding.”
“Not so much guessing, but intuition. That’s were the magic is. After all anyone with a book of symbols can make out a tea leaf reading, even muggles…”
“What’s this?” Professor Tweelany approached their table. “My dear girl, muggles my attempt to read the stars, and leafs, but they do not understand the readings, nor get them right.”
“I know… I was just saying…” Alexis said, but before she could apologize, Tweelany took her cup and peered down into it.
“OH! How terrible!” She screamed, almost dropping the cup. “Knives, crossed… danger and pain in your future.” Tweelany said, with a sob. “How sad, but there is more, death… the grim… so young and already the fates are ready to cut your life thread.” With another sob she handed the cup back to Alexis and moved her way through the rest of the class.
Curiously, Alexis looked into the cup herself. She saw the knives, but not the death omen as her professor made out to be. She frowned and narrowed her eyes at Tweelany’s back.
“So, are you going to die?” Victoria asked with a grin.
“Not today.” Alexis said. The memory of the car accident, then the dream on her first night at Hogwarts came back to her mind. “Perhaps you don’t give Tweeleny enough credit… she seems to have picked up something.”