The dissent grew quietly, lodging itself between the laughter and the crackling fires and the gentle hum of work. Indira might even have missed it – hell, she would have, because she was too stupidly focused on Quidditch and trying to avoid any remnants of last year. Even consciously thinking about anything before the summer sharpened the dull ache sharpen.
It didn’t matter. She could get by well enough on chatter with the people in her lessons, even if they didn’t really have anything in common besides a surname towards the middle of the alphabet. In some ways it was a blessing, anyway; it wasn’t like she didn’t have training to do. And there was no way in hell Ravenclaw were winning the Quidditch cup again this year.
Two weeks into term, the amount of people turning up to Quidditch training was still suspiciously small. They’d gone through the whole fiasco of try-outs – they’d gained a second year Beater, and there were a few others who could be decent with practice – but several of the players from last year hadn’t yet turned up. Although Indira knew that not everyone would get up in the mornings for extra training like she would, the team was close-knit; she had at least felt like they were friends. (Well. You had to be. After all those hours.)
Indira entered the common room and dumped her broom by the door, rubbing her hands together and trying to get at least something that resembled feeling into her fingers. Apart from the other players filing in from practice behind her, the common room was unusually quiet; the candles meant it was pretty difficult to do homework here anyway, although some people still tried it.
Emily was across the room, sitting on one of those melodramatic throne-like chairs that dwarfed anyone who sat in them. A textbook sat limply in her hands. Her eyes were unfocused.
Indira strode towards her. “Oh my god, please don’t tell me you quit the team to focus on studying,” she said. She had barely seen Emily at all…now that she both was a fifth year and no longer playing Quidditch as it seemed, Indira only spotted her in snatches at the dinner table.
The clouds only lifted from Emily’s eyes in part. Indira drummed her hands across the carpeted arm of the seat. “If you don’t play, we’ll have to recruit some awful first-year to play Seeker. You don’t want to embarrass us like that, right?” She cracked a smile.
“I can’t play,” Emily said flatly.
Indira’s fingers stopped moving. “What?”
“You won’t be able to train soon, anyway.”
“What?” Apparently Indira wasn’t capable of doing anything but echoing the same word. Multiplying it. She stared. A bubble of quiet had fallen across the surrounding areas. (As soon as Indira turned around, they’d be reading again, but she had done this often enough herself to know what a listening sort of silence felt like.)
Emily’s hands tightened around her book. Indira look down; it was Ancient Runes. The same page had been open for their entire conversation. A black wire curled out from under the pages and into the back of the seat.
Her gut clenched. “Oh,” she said tightly, and started to turn away to retrieve her broomstick. “I get it. You’re too busy playing with you Muggle toys. Don’t blame us when we lose all our matches.”
As soon as she got up to the girl’s dormitory, the tension in her body released like an elastic band. God. It nagged at her that Emily had quit the team for, of all things, her weird obsession with trying to get her Muggle electronics. (God knew what had happened to the rest of the team.) But she shouldn’t have said that. People would talk. The House divides weren’t nearly as strong as they used to be – but despite that, Slytherin still had somewhat of a reputation. And some words stuck, you know?
She dropped her broom beside the bed and dug inside the bottom of the drawer to find her lunar calendar. Maybe it was a full moon. She could have lost count… The run-up to school had been so rushed. It was possible.
She flicked past September three times before she found it. There was still another ten days to go in the cycle.
It would have been a lot easier if she could blame this on the wolf, wouldn’t it? That’s what normally caused this distinct feeling of wrongness. Because that’s what it was: there was something in walls of the castle that wasn’t right. That didn’t fit in with everything else. And Indira didn’t understand any of it.
*cackles* I’m evil. I’m an evil person who is really invested in Christmas and Harry Potter right now. I’m actually about to break up, yay! I still have two essays due in tomorrow, though… Ahem. I’d better get on with those. 😉
This post is the first chapter in the Story Mash-Up, hosted by Joan @ Fiddler Blue. She’ll also be the next to write, so keep an eye out on her blog! I also need to write a disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling, but all the characters and text from this project belong to their respective authors. 🙂