|The Exchange Student|
~Chapter Three: Disturbing Behavior
"Mr. Potter! Do you have any idea where you are? Or what time it is, Mr. Weasley!" She glowered at them both, before whispering through clenched teeth, "I could have you both suspended for this!"
Ron and Harry hung their heads, mainly to avoid the inquisitive glances of the girls inside the room. Harry caught a final glimpse of a feverish face before he found himself being hauled off with Ron to Dumbledore's office.
"Could you please repeat your reason for appearing in the girl's dormitory at 11:47 at night?" Dumbledore gazed at them with his disappointed blue eyes, and Harry felt guiltier than ever. Ron avoided Dumbledore's eyes as he answered.
"We just wanted to see who was making all the noise, sir."
"I see." Dumbledore sat down. "Do have a good reason for being in the girl's dormitory?"
"Well, that was where the noise was coming from, sir."
"You are aware that the girl's dormitories are strictly out of bounds to boys?"
"Yes sir," Harry and Ron chorused.
Dumbledore sighed, and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I'm not going to suspend you. Although that would be what somewhat stricter teachers would do, I understand your concern for your fellow students, especially as you have some close friends in the girl's dorms." He looked pointedly at Ron as he said this, who tried to look grateful and keep from blushing at the same time. News seemed to travel fast among the staff these days.
"However, I am going to give you a three day's detention. Monday with Professor Snape, Tuesday with Professor Finch, and Wednesday with H - I mean Professor Hagrid." He smiled. "I can't deny the fact that I've had quite a few detentions myself, and I must admit that having to undergo the orders of the same teacher for three days in a row can be quite tedious. And before you leave," he added, "you must promise me to never, ever be caught in the girl's dormitories again. Do I make myself clear?"
Harry and Ron nodded.
"Good. Now go and get some sleep." Dumbledore's eyes twinkled at them as they left.
"If I didn't know better, I'd think that Dumbledore was favoring us back there," Ron said. "Except, he'd probably do the same thing for anyone else."
Harry wasn't so sure about this, but he nodded anyway. "What do you think Snape is going to make us do?"
"Knowing Snape, we'll probably have to clean out the toilets."
"At least we've got Hagrid on Wednesday."
Ron grinned in agreement. "I hope we get to go to the Forbidden Forest again. That would be the best. Hey, what do you think Finch is going to make us do?"
"I have absolutely no idea."
"Oh well, I'll just ask Fred and George. They had her a week ago."
"They got detention on the second day of school?"
"Yeah. That's the latest they've gotten detention in their life, actually."
"What was the earliest?"
"The first hour of school. They had to make it up from the year before."
As they reached their room, Harry and Ron noticed that none of the others had gone back to bed. About half of the Gryffindor boys were there. They clamored around them, demanding to know what had happened. Ron and Harry explained as best they could, afraid that the others would be dissatisfied with the gaping holes in their narrative. However, the holes seemed only to spark the others' interest. While half the dorm sympathized with Ron and Harry's fateful detention, the other half kept asking questions about what was wrong with the girl.
"Don't you have any idea who it was?"
"Like I said before, I have no cl-"
"Hey, maybe she caught that bugwort-fever epidemic that was going around.
You know, the one that popped up in the Daily Prophet."
"Maybe she just had a cold or something."
"Would you be screaming like that if you had a cold?"
The door to the hall opened and Peter peered in drowsily. "What's going on? What's the racket all about?"
"Didn't you hear that scream?"
"Oh." Peter shrugged nonchalantly. "That. Yeah I heard it. What about it?"
"What WAS it?"
Peter tanned features broke into a slightly worried grin. "In all likelihood, it was probably Amy."
"Amy!," Ron breathed incredulously.
"Uh-huh. When her mom and my dad were still together, she used to wake up the whole neighborhood with her yelling. And she was only a couple years old, then. Nightmares, I think it was. Only, she hasn't gotten them for a while now. She comes over to visit sometimes, and the last time she had one was when she was seven." Peter's brow knit together. "What could have started them up again that bad?"
"Why'd she get them?" Neville asked.
"Doctor couldn't figure it out. We went to a shrink once-"
"A what?" Exhasperated sighs of "Oh honestly, Neville," broke out through the crowd. Peter was unperturbed.
"A shrink, you know. A psychiatrist. So anyway, he said they were caused by some sort of 'insomnia attacks,' or, what was it? Oh yeah, 'subconsious disillusionment.' Load of bull, if you ask me. They're just ordinary, everyday nightmares. Man, that guy was a crock full," Peter mused. "I can't believe he got his diploma from Harvard. He must have bribed one of his professors. Anyway, I wouldn't worry about it if I were you. Just don't mention it in the morning. I made that mistake once and she almost bit my head off. Hates to be caught in a weak spot." And with that, Peter left, leaving the others to exchange puzzled and amazed looks. Ron looked vaguely troubled.
"What's wrong?" Harry asked.
"Nothing," Ron muttered. "Just thinking."
"Bet that's hard work for our ickle Ronniekins, isn't it?" teased Dean.
Ron punched him on the arm.
"Good," Ron said smugly, and climbed into bed, satisfied.
The next morning, the screams in the night were almost forgotten. Until Amy came into the Great Hall. Everyone from Harry's dormitory had been expecting her to look awful, maybe with puffy eyes, or a runny nose. Many had not even expected her to come at all, waiting to her Dumbledore's announcement of her illness at any second. But Dumbledore did nothing of the kind, munching happily on his toast and humming to himself as he chatted with Professor McGonagall. By now, all four houses were buzzing with anticipation of Amy's entrance.
Finally, soft footsteps were heard approaching the Great Hall. The whispers ceased immediately, and even the teachers peered around inquisitively along with the students.
Amy appeared, radiant as ever, with her dark hair pinned casually into twin braids. Everyone stared, not believing what they saw. The teachers seemed slightly amused.
"Hi Lavender," Amy chirped as she sat down at her seat. Lavender didn't reply. Amy's smile faded into a worried frown. "What? What's wrong? Is there a huge zit on my nose?"
Lavender just smiled weakly, and stammered, "I thought, I thought-"
"What? You thought what?" Amy's words hung in the still air. No one answered. "Did someone die, for God's sake? Why is everyone so friggin' QUIET?"
Peter laughed silently into his scrambled eggs. Amy whirled on him. "What is it?" Peter just kept on laughing. "WHAT?"
"Well, it's obviously something."
"Well, it's just that about the whole school heard you last night."
Amy froze. "They-they...heard me? Wha-"
"You were like moaning and screaming your butt off, like, still sleeping and stuff, and dude, Ron and Harry got detention 'cause they were trying to figure out what the hell was going on, and, oh man, hold on." Peter took a swig of orange juice. Amy looked stunned. Harry looked at Malfoy, expecting him to make a snide comment about Amy's nightmares. Startlingly, he didn't. In fact, an almost pitying look had entered Malfoy's eyes...no, impossible.
Harry shook his head. He was probably just imagining things.
Amy stood staring down at her plate. Suddenly, her shoulders began to tremble. Lavender looked at her hesitatingly. Amy's shoulders were haking uncontrollably, and suddenly she threw her head back and hooted with laughter. Peter choked on his juice, and began laughing with her.
"It-whoo-it was exactly like-haha-"
"When I was-I was-haha!-se-seven, huh? HA HA!"
"Whoo...okay, I gotta calm down, oh my God..."
Amy and Peter both gulped orange juice and chuckled about Amy's past experiences while the rest of Hogwarts looked on, perplexed. The first bell rang, and the students scraped out of their seats reluctantly. Malfoy sidled up to Amy.
"Er, hello Amy."
Amy glanced at him. "Oh. Hi, um-"
"Draco Malfoy." They shook hands cordially. "Um, I was wondering, if maybe-"
"Hey, aren't you the kid I called a turd yesterday?"
Ron winced, expecting Malfoy to retaliate, but all he did was blush. "Um, yeah."
Amy laughed. "Oh, I'm sorry. I was a little high then, I guess. We'll start off on a new foot, eh?" She shook his hand one more time, then said, "I have to go. See you later, ok?" Malfoy nodded brightly. The sight was pathetic. Amy hurried off to catch up with Harry and Ron. "Hey, wait up! Do you know who that was?"
Ron nodded grimly. "Yup. Just about the most arrogant, snobby son of a-"
"Mr. Weasley! Mr. Potter!" The trio turned around to see Finch running towards them. "Professor Dumbledore told me to inform you that all of Amy's classes are scheduled so that the three of you will be together for the entire schoolday. He said that it's the best way for Amy to adjust. Don't forget you have detention with me tomorrow. Cheers." And she was racing down the hall in the opposite direction.
Amy groaned good-naturedly. "I guess that means I'll have to look at your ugly ol' faces for the rest of the semester." There a long pause. "Dude, it was a joke. Honestly. What's our first class?"
"Herbology," Harry answered.
"Okay. You can tell me all about Mr. Draco Malfoy on the way there."
Ron groaned. "Where do I start?" As they made their way to Herbology, Harry and Ron explained about Malfoy's father, how he had nearly gotten Hagrid fired, how he had nearly killed Buckbeak, how he had tormented Harry, Ron, and Hermione ever since arriving at Hogwarts. Amy's eyebrows rose higher and higher as Ron and Harry made accusation after accusation. When they were done, she cleared her throat and asked hesitantly, "Are you sure that you're not exhaggerating everything you just said?"
"No," Ron said firmly. Harry nodded in agreement.
Amy seemed a little bewildered. "But he seemed pretty friendly back there..."
"He's not normally like that," Harry said. He thought for a moment, then added. "A lot of people have been acting rather strange lately. Look at Snape."
"Who's Snape?" Amy inquired.
"What about him?" Ron asked.
"Well, he's being polite to the other teachers-"
"He was always polite. How else would he suck up to them?"
"No, I mean really polite. Like, genuinely nice. And he didn't snap at me once yesterday, except in class. Not one remark. That just can't be normal."
Ron was frowning. "Not once?"
"Not one remark."
Amy burst into the conversation irritably. "Will someone please tell me who Snape is?"
"The Potions teacher," Harry said hurriedly as they reached the Herbology class. "But quiet, we don't want a professor to hear us badmouthing another professor."
Professor Sprout smiled at them absentmindedly as they entered, thinking aloud. "twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five. Hmm, I suppose that's all of you then. Right." She turned to the class and conjured a large, floating water lily, suspended in a hemisphere of water. Professor Sprout glanced at it proudly before beginning her lesson. "What you see before you is a rare, five-century old Ocean Lily. Ocean Lilies are found near enchanted islands, and some are cultivated for medicinal or hallucigenic purposes. The earliest record of the use of an Ocean Lily is in an epic called The Odyssey, by a rather unremarkable wizard name Homer. He was, however, widely regarded as a wonderful poet among the Muggles that he lived among. No one knew he was a wizard, as a matter of fact. The Ocean Lily is described incorrectly as a lotus, which..." Professor Sprout prattled on enthusiastically. Amy shook her head slightly. "I'm totally lost," she whispered. The two boys nodded. Professor Sprout was gesturing wildly with her hand, and babbling excitedly, but what she was so excited about was beyond understanding.
Suddenly, she exclaimed, "It's opening up! It's opening up! Oh my, oh my, Ocean Lilies only open every two-hundred years, oh you're so lucky to be able to see this. Look! Look!"
The roots of the lily were stirring gently, as if they were caught in a mild current. They began to untwist gradually, gradually, until finally a small opening was visible within the net spindly tendrils. For a while nothing happened. Harry thought that maybe that was what Professor Sprout had meant by "it's opening," but soon he was proven wrong.
"What the heck is that?"
A tiny head had peered out of the roots. Its face was blurred, its mouth and nose distinct only by small rises and dips on the surface of its face.
The only thing that was distinctive about the creature's face was that it had
clearest eyes Harry had ever seen. They seemed blue, but as it turned this way and that, they shifted in color, ranging from the lightest blue to the deepest green. But something seemed strange about them-Harry gasped as he noticed. There was no pupil, and the whites of its eyes weren't visible. It gave the creature an eerie semblance, and the class watched now, quite fascinated, as it moved and tweaked a few roots. That was when the lily opened. Ron gasped and Harry's mouth dropped open. Its beauty was breathtaking. Whole spectrums of color streaked the petals-pinks, reds, silvers, blues, violets, and colors that Harry hadn't known existed. At its very center was an orb of soft, shimmering pollen, gleaming with a golden sheen. Harry hadn't known that the sight of a flower could affect him so. Amy was transfixed, her eyes relaxed and lucid. The creature pulled a few more roots and the center of the lily began to glow brighter and brighter, until it was too bright to look at. Suddenly, the creature caught sight of Amy. It hadn't been paying any attention to the class until now. Its eyes locked with Amy's, and they both stared at each other for what seemed like hours. The creature pointed to Amy's forehead. A ray of light flashed from its extended finger to Amy's upper forehead. Amy stood unperturbed, almost as if she didn't know what was going on. She had a plesant smile on her face. After a while, the creature lowered it arm, then bowed low and retreated into the mesh of lily roots. The blossom closed once more, and the lily was as inanimate as it had been before.
Professor Sprout looked curiously at Amy. "Ms. Shift?"
"Have you ever seen one of these plants before?"
"I see." Professor Sprout looked as if she didn't see at all, but merely shrugged and gave the assigment for that night. The class was not so easily put off, however. They whispered and murmured through the rest of the period, glancing at Amy and shaking their head in bewilderment.
Ron looked at Amy. "Do you have any idea what that was all about?"
Amy shook her head slowly. The bell rang, to Harry's relief, and they made their way to their next class. By the time they had made it out the door, Amy appeared to have forgotten the entire incident with the Ocean Lily. "What do we have next period?"
"Double Potions with Snape," Harry answered.
"Ah. The much loathed Snape." Amy grinned. "Is he really as strict as everyone says?"
Amy laughed good-naturedly and murmured, "We'll see." Ron and Harry exchanged glances.
Snape scowled as the trio entered his room. "Late again, I see."
Amy opened her mouth to protest, but Ron shook his head. "Don't push it. He won't do anything if we don't talk back." Amy frowned, but closed her mouth.
Snape's scowl grew deeper and deeper as he took roll, as if he was expecting someone to be absent. Finally, he came to Amy's name. "Ah. I see we have a new student." He glanced at Amy, sizing her up mentally. Suddenly, he barked out, "Swift!"
"What would you get if you simmered the petals of yarrow and powdered jujube roots for two hours and then steeped a newly-germinated madrake in the broth?"
Amy didn't answer.
Snape sneered. "It seems the teaching is lacking in-where do you come from?-ah, yes. California. If you did all that I just mentioned, you would be able to make-"
"-a basic fermentation of the mandrake, which if taken, will give the drinker a temporary source of beauty and youth."
Snape's eyes narrowed. "What did you say?"
Amy quietly began to repeat what she had just said. "You would get a basi-"
"How did you know? The basic cirriculum doesn't teach that until-"
"We learned it our second year," Amy interrupted. "I'm in the advanced Potions class at my Californian school, sir."
There was a drawn-out silence, during which Snape glared blankly at Amy and Amy stared back, calm and tranquil.
Finally, Snape glowered at Amy for one last time before turning back to his lesson plan. He waved his wand, and words began to scribble themselves on the chalkboard. As the class copied notes and listened to Snape's cold voice, Amy twirled her wand and traced shimmering spirals and doodles in the air.
"Having fun, are we?" Snape snapped, as if having fun in his class was strictly against the rules.
"Oh yes, thank you," Amy replied cheerfully.
"And have we copied down all the notes?"
"Well, I have sir, but I wasn't aware that you had to too. So I can't be too sure."
"Five points from Gryffindor!," Snape snarled. "I will not have this sort of arrogance in my classroom, do you understand?" He turned back to his notes.
Snape narrowed his eyes at Amy until they were slivers of in his face. "What now, Swift?"
"I'm afraid you can't do that sir."
There a few gasps. Everyone swiveled around in their seat to stare at Amy. Ron was mouthing, "Quiet!" Amy ignored him.
"What did you say?" Snape said dangerously.
"Well, sir, you can't take points off of Gryffindor for one of my offenses, sir." Amy was looking pleased with herself.
"Really? And why ever not?" Snape's voice was as smooth as oil, and his eyes glinted furiously, a sure sign that he was in a murderous mood.
"Well, it's kind of a long explanation, sir, but since you asked." Amy took a deep breath and rushed on. "Well sir, no matter how I misbehave, it doesn't change the fact that I attend a different school, sir. And although I am going to be attending Hogwarts for a semester, sir, I never went through Hogwarts's particular Sorting Ceremony. Therefore, technically, I don't belong to any house. So, how can a teacher -such as yourself, sir- take off points from a particular house for something I do when I don't even belong to a house, sir? And for that matter, sir, how can you assume that I belonged to Gryffindor when my proper house information isn't even on the attendance sheet, sir?" Amy gave a little smile. "That's about it. If you didn't understand me, sir, you can always check on my Exchange Program papers, sir."
The entire class was staring at Amy in disbelief. How could anyone have the nerve, the sheer nerve, to say something so derisive to Snape? The class looked fearfully at Snape, afraid of what he would do.
He didn't do anything except turn an exceptional shade of purple, dig his nails into his desk, and mutter something furiously under his breath.
Amy looked demurely at her lap.
"What are you waiting for? Get to work!," Snape growled.
There was an instant scraping of chairs as everyone hurried to stand by a cauldron. Snape didn't even bother putting them in groups, he just warned that if everyone didn't have a second-degree siren's hair sleeping potion in ten minutes, he would be sure to give them all detention. Amy got up lazily and walked over to Harry and Ron. Ron was grinning broadly. "Brilliant!", he whispered.
Amy smiled, and said "Thanks. You still gonna show me that passage at lunch!"
"Yeah! Yeah, sure-"
"Stop that infernal hissing and get to work!" Snape was beside himself with rage. Pacing down the row of cauldrons, he took off points left and right for thigns like, "The texture is too bubbly," "The texture isn't bubbly enough," "You're cauldron's too hot," "You're smiling too much," and "You should have gotten to the third stage by now." Fortunately, Harry and Ron had worked hard to memorize how to make a sleeping potion, and Amy was as good a student as Hermione. Snape had nothing to say when he got to their cauldron, and in his frustration, he shouted, "It's too perfect!," and took a point from Gryffindor.
Amy made a face at Snape's retreating back. Sensing something wrong, Snape whirled around to find Amy stirring diligently at her potion, while Ron and Harry did their best to stifle their laughter. Frowning, Snape turned around again, and this time Amy flicked him off.
"Amy!," Harry hissed, shocked but overjoyed at the same time.
"He deserves it," she grumbled.
"He deserves what?" inquired a soft voice.
They jumped, and turned to face Professor Finch.
"Oh, hello, Professor."
"Hello, Harry. How are you today?"
"Pretty, well, thanks-"
"If you don't stop talking I'll give you a week of detention Potter!," Snape yelled, turning towards Harry. His voice wavered and died off as he caught sight of Finch. "Oh, er, hello Professor."
"Professor Snape," Finch returned coldly. She glanced at Harry before adding, "I don't believe talking is a sufficient reason for a week's worth of detention, Professor."
"Oh, well, yes, I can see what you mean."
"And also, I would like to comment on your rather...strict habits of teaching. Not that my opinion will change anything, but it personally bothers me that any professor is given such free reign in bullying and tormenting his students. I realize that I have not been working here for very long, but I still think that something should be done about your rather eccentric methods. And also, would you mind awfully if I borrowed one of your bicorn horns, I seem to have run out." Finch raised her eyebrows and waited for Snapes reply.
"Oh, well, I do have an extra one somewhere, I think." Snape was staring fiercely at the floor, and after much rummaging about in his cupboard, he pulled out a long, curved, onyx horn.
"Thank you," Finch said and turned smartly on her heel.
"You're welcome," Snape called out. Finch didn't reply.
The class stared at Snape, frightened. Ron and Harry exchanged wide-eyed looks. You're welcome? Snape never said you're welcome. What was going on?
Snape stared in the direction that Finch had taken. He didn't even move until the bell rang for lunch. "If any one of you says anything to anyone, I will personally see to it that you are suspended!" he barked. The class hurried out , whispering with wonder, looking over their shoulders to make sure Snape wasn't watching.
As Amy was about to leave with Ron and Harry, Snape suddenly snapped out, "Swift! Come here!"
Amy exchanged startled, worried glances with Ron and Harry. She left them hesitantly and walked as slowly as possible towards Snape's desk. Harry heard Snape mutter threateningly, "I'd like to comment on your attitude, young lady," before the door slammed shut behind her. Harry and Ron pressed their ears to the door, totally forgetting how this same action had gotten them three-days worth of detention. The door must have had a Dis-eavesdropping charm cast on it, however, for Harry and Ron could only hear shouts and low grumbles, catching a few phrases here and there.
"...not stand that...disrespect! I expect...that you will improve your..."
Amy's voice rose angrily. Snape yelled back. Harry and Ron heard Amy snort with disgust. Snape's voice increased in volume. Amy's voice grew more high-pitched. Snape roared something unintelligible. Amy yelped incredulously. A tense silence stretched within Snape's door. A low muttering started up, which crescendoed to a loud hum, then to another verbal war. To their surprise, they heard Snape shout, "FINE!" and the door burst open. Amy marched out, her forehead clouded.
"I hate him," she announced.
"You and the rest of Hogwarts," Harry muttered. Amy laughed shortly.
After a pause, she ranted on, "How can anyone be so unfair? I mean, according to him, there shouldn't be any free speech, independence, individuality..." Amy complained endlessly about Snape as they reached the Great Hall.
Harry shook his head grimly.
"If you hated him after that short a period of time, you're not going to be too happy during the rest of the semester."
"No kidding." She frowned. Then her brow cleared, and she turned eagerly towards Ron. "Ron! The passage!"
"Oh! Well, er, let's have lunch first."
"Okay." Amy bounced into her seat, took a bite of her sandwich, and stood back up. "I'm done."
Ron laughed merrily. "Well I'm not."
"Bring some sandwiches with you. I'm so impatient, aren't I?"
Ron grinned. "I'd say you are." He wasn't nearly as shy as he had been when he first met Amy. Something about her personality dispelled all timidness. He stuffed two sandwiches into his bag, glancing up at McGonagall and the other professors to see if they had noticed. They hadn't. Before leaving, Ron turned back to Harry. "Are you coming, Harry?" Ron asked, half-hoping the answer would be no.
Harry shook his head. "No, I think I'll stay here. I'm a little tired."
He wasn't actually, but he wanted Ron to have a good time with Amy, and was afraid he'd get in the way.
"Oh. Okay. Well, see you later, Harry." Ron looked torn between being elated or crestfall at Harry's choice. He left with Amy, looking back at Harry long enough to grin mischievously before disappearing around the corner. Harry was relieved. The old Ron was showing up again.
After Ron left, Harry walked over to talk with Seamus and Dean, having no one else to really talk to. The two of them were discussing the progress of their Defense Against the Dark Arts projects.
"Well, I haven't really found much yet"-Dean-"but Professor Finch lent me one of her old textbooks, and it's got loads of stuff."
"Oh. Well, our Defense Against the Dark Arts books has a whole chapter on vampires. I guess I got a lucky break. Oh, hi Harry."
"Hey. How are you doing on your project?"
"Don't even talk about it," Harry groaned cheerfully. "I can't find a thing. I suppose I should have taken notes on the first day of class, but I thought there'd be more stuff on unicorns."
"Try asking Finch. She'll probably help."
"So how does it feel being the new Gryffindor Quidditch captain?" Seamus asked, reporter-style.
Harry laughed. "Great, I guess." With the grgaduation of Oliver, the team had elected a new captain from the remainder of the team. Unsurprisingly, the captain turned out to be Harry. "Ron's going to make a brilliant Keeper, too." Professor McGonagall and Madam Hooch had both had Ron run through a series of tests for joinng the Quidditch team, at Harry's request, and he had passed with, quite literally, flying colors. The conversation shifted to the upcoming Quidditch season, who'd they play first.
The first lunch bell rang, yet Ron and Amy still had not returned. Harry bit his lower lip worriedly. Where were they? Finally, he spotted them walking towards him, bright-eyed and slightly flustered. They looked as if they were fairly bursting with joy, but neither of them said a word about what had gone on in the passage.
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