3. Of House & Home
Three Wise Monkeys - Chapter Three
Of House And Home
Notes: To Hogwarts we go.
Our rampant pack of heroes, heroines and that annoying blond boy who accidentally ended up in the story (gee...am I obsessed much?) get taken to the place that is to be their new home, for the duration of their education.
Time for an evil chuckle methinks...
Hogwarts is never going to be the same again.
Professor Minerva McGonagall could not recall seeing anything quite like the scene that greeted her as she opened the front doors of the entrance hall on the new group of first years.
Caught between the chilly, clear blue moonlight that was washing over the grounds outside and the flickering torchlight that made the Entrance Hall look warm and inviting, Hagrid stopped on the step, his eyes twinkling at her.
McGonagall felt her lips thinning already, which was a bad sign. Normally, she could at least wait until the feast...
In her fifteen years of teaching at the school, she had only ever seen one person, who had had the misfortune of falling in the lake, on the short boat-trip across the clear, glassy water.
To see two of them, held away from one another by the hands of Hagrid, one kicking and scratching to try and free herself, the other one trying to wriggle out of his robes gripped in the giant fists, was quite absurd.
They were both soaked to the skin, the girl´s long, red hair hanging in strings around her rosy face, the tip of her button-nose scarlet. The boy´s sweater and shirt had been hauled up, but he didn´t seem as aware of the cold as the girl.
"Let me down! Let me down!" the girl lashed out with a foot, trying to kick the boy.
"This isn´t funny!" the boy added, tugging futilely at the hand that was holding him.
"Professor McGonagall," Despite the fight Hagrid was preventing, the deputy Head Mistress could almost hear the amusement in the huge man´s voice. The giant of a groundskeeper held out the two first years. "These two had a bit of an accident."
"Accident, my foot!" The girl kicked out again and hit the boy in the shin. "He pushed me overboard!"
"I did no such thing!" Hopping up and down on one leg, the boy clutched his shin. "I would never dream of pushing someone into the water! If I did, why did I jump in to pull you back out?"
The girl´s eyes flashed at him. She had been hauled back again by Hagrid, who was shaking with thunderous laughter. "Because you tripped on the seat, you ninny! I saw you try to look over to see what you had done! You tripped and fell in!"
"I can not believe you would accuse me again! First you slap me on the platform and now, you accuse me of trying to what? Drown you?"
McGonagall, despite quashing a chuckle herself, cleared her throat. "Ahem?" Both the boy and girl fell silent, glaring at each other malevolently. "Now that you two have decided to behave..."
"Nitwit," the girl hissed.
"Hussy," the boy spat back.
"Excuse me," McGonagall cleared her throat again. "Hagrid, perhaps you should stay with our...good grief, boy! What happened to your face?"
The dripping boy immediately ducked his head, his red-haired nemesis smirking. "I had...er...that is to say..."
"They was fighting on the train, Professor!" a small, skinny black girl with robes that were far too big for her put in enthusiastically, pointing at the soaked boy and two others standing a short way behind Hagrid.
Professor McGonagall raised an eyebrow, counting to ten under her breath, as she looked from one abashed face to another.
Not one of them looked like they had been able to defend themselves: the red-haired boy had a rather impressive black eye. The sandy-haired one had a swollen nose and a black eye to match, although his eye wasn´t as impressive as the red head´s and the brown-haired, bedraggled looking boy who had fallen in the lake had a split lip, swollen nose and blacked eye.
"You were fighting?"
"Well, if...you...you could..."
"It was more of a game, I s´pose..."
Professor McGonagall was suddenly and quickly reminded why she was very glad to be female. Boys. Such a strange species. "And this game involved you beating the stuffing out of one another?"
"We didn´t!" the red-haired boy began to protest, until he got an elbow in the ribs from his sandy-haired neighbour, who cast a look down at him. "Well...um...maybe we did a little..."
"They were making a frightful racket, Professor," the red-haired girl remarked smugly, from where she was swinging peacefully from side-to-side from Hagrid´s hand by her robes. "Why don´t you tell the lovely Professor what happened?"
All three boys glared at her.
Minerva wanted to laugh. Oh, she really wanted to laugh. Her eyes went to the face of the little red-haired girl, who had crossed her arms over her chest and was smirking as if she had just been crowned Queen of the World.
Surely that little girl...
"I´m sure that is unnecessary, Miss..."
Ah, it all made sense now. Georgiana´s little sister.
"I have a fairly good idea of what happened," the Professor said, trying to think of something that would take her mind of having a good old giggle that one of the first years girls had soundly pummelled three larger boys.
Unfortunately, the most serious image she could conjure up was Albus Dumbledore and with that infernal twinkle in his blue eyes, how on earth was she meant to take anything even a little bit seriously?
Keeping her lips thinned - it distracted her from the giggle fit she could sense building - she looked around at them sternly.
"Now, it´s my duty to tell you about what happens from here. In a few moments you will pass through those doors," she motioned towards tall doors behind her. "And join your classmates. However, first you will have to be sorted into your houses. They are Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin."
"The Sorting Ceremony is one of great importance, because - while you attend this school - your house will be like your family. With your triumphs and your failures you can and will earn or lose points for your house. The house with the most points at the end of the year will win the house cup."
Moving into her standard speech, her eyes moved around the faces of the rest of the pupils, taking in the wide variety of backgrounds and appearances, although there were a few that she had heard about.
A slender blonde girl, who was fairly tall for her age, caught the Deputy Head Mistress´ eye. First years, Minerva´s mental voice screamed in envy, should not look that bloody pretty.
The girl, however, was distracted by a young man a little further down the group, who was shooting equally furtive looks at her: he was also tall for his age, with silver-blonde hair, a pointed face and grey eyes.
A Henshaw and a Malfoy in the same year.
No, this wasn´t going to an interesting age-band. Not at all.
Especially judging by the arrogant look on the Malfoy´s face. Something told Minerva that it would be rather...interesting - and quite possibly fatalistic - to see how the fiery little red-haired girl responded to him.
By the time she finished speaking, Hagrid seemed to have decided that Henshaw had cooled down enough, depositing her back on her feet and letting her smooth out her sodden, rumpled robes.
The boy, not from any family that Professor McGonagall recognised, was shooting hurt looks at the red head, making the teacher wonder if little Henshaw had possibly been mistaken in her assumption that he really pushed her overboard.
However, when he looked back to his friends - unaware of the Deputy Head Mistress watching him - she saw something in his glittering green eyes that made her want to walk straight out of the castle, across the grounds and hurl herself into the lake, for the sake of her own sanity, if nothing else.
This year just seemed to be getting worse and worse, before it even started.
A blonde supermodel of an eleven-year-old.
A boy who looked like an angel and had a glint in his eye that only fitted a devil...
The Sorting looked like it was going to be...interesting.
"I´m not putting that thing on my head!" it was the damp, brown-haired boy who exclaimed it, staring at the Sorting Hat with distaste. His already wavy hair was drying in a mass of unruly curls, which only made him look even more impish. "For all I know, any one of you might have nits and I would rather not have nits!"
"Don´t be ridiculous, boy," Professor McGonagall sighed patiently, risking a glance up at Dumbledore, who was - as she had expected - giggling behind his hand. "The Sorting Hat would never tolerate the presence of headlice."
"It´s a hat! It wouldn´t care!" The red-haired boy who was standing near him tapped his shoulder and muttered something to the dripping boy. Understanding crossed the boy´s face. "Well, if it´s magic..."
Mentally counting from one to ten in English, then Latin, then Greek, then pig-Latin for good measure, Professor McGonagall unrolled the scroll she was carrying, which bore the names of all of the first years.
"When I read out your name," she announced, her eyes flashing down at the trio of boys who were whispering to one another. "You will step forward and I will place the Sorting Hat on your head...Andrews, Felicity..."
While various pupils passed beneath the Hat, Minerva couldn´t help but notice that the trio of boys were still whispering and looking in the direction of the blanket-decked red head girl.
The brown-haired boy ran up the step, towards the stool where the Sorting Hat sat, his shoes squelching on the floor, spurts of lake-water erupting from them and leaving shiny puddles wherever he stepped.
Placing the Hat on his head, McGonagall pursed her lips.
If any boy was ever meant to be in Slytherin it was...
"WHAT!?!" Almost every eye in the Hall shot to the Deputy Head Mistress, as she screeched that single syllable.
She bent and weakly pulled the hat off the boy´s head. She honestly did look like she wanted a house to drop out of the sky of the Enchanted ceiling to squash her, in the way that the best witches died.
Giles stood up and gave her a grin that was anything but the innocent expression he had had when protesting his innocence to Henshaw. "Looks like I´m in your house, Professor," he said with a serious tone that was belied by his eyes.
Minerva McGonagall had never seriously contemplated running and screaming from a pupil, until that moment.
"Yes," she said, her voice stiff as she tried to conceal her panic. At least it was just him. At least she only had to deal with one. The others...well, as long as she just had to tolerate one of them. "Take your seat, boy."
Gordon, Mark and Guthrie Helen both followed the Giles boy, then McGonagall read out, "Henshaw, Morrigan."
Heavy blankets trailing behind her as she also squelched up to the stool, she sat down in as lady-like a fashion as she could, raising her eyes to watch the Sorting Hat come down on her head.
McGonagall wanted to break down and cry in a corner. Already. They had looked like they wanted to kill each other in the Entrance Hall. They were probably going to be enemies of the rest of their school life.
Henshaw was about to get put...well, there was only house that Henshaw´s family had ever been in and there wasn´t a chance that it was going to change now...
Lifting the Hat off the girl´s head, McGonagall tried to look vaguely delighted that she had another pupil.
Unfortunately, she only looked like she had a severe bout of constipation.
Stumbling off the stool and down the steps, the red-haired girl paused to give the tiny dark girl a warm, yet everso slightly damp, hug, before walking towards the empty spots at the Gryffindor table.
There were four open spaces on the side where Giles had sat, and five on the opposite side. Unsurprisingly, Henshaw took the very end seat at the opposite side of the table from the politely smiling brown-haired boy.
If they didn´t kill each other in the first night, it was going to be a hellish year.
Moving on down the list, she finally reached "Jacobs, Cathlee" and the small, dark girl darted up eagerly, but could barely manage to climb up onto the tall stool until the blonde girl hurried forward and gave her a leg-up.
The Hat had barely skimmed her dark hair when it yelled out, "HUFFLEPUFF!"
"Smashing!" the girl squealed. "Badgers are fabo!" Flinging herself off the stool, with a quick wave in Henshaw´s direction, she skipped down the step and towards the Hufflepuff table.
It was several minutes before the next of the pupils she had been observing stepped up: Malfoy, Lucius. As he turned to sit on the stool, his eyes scanned coolly around the hall, his upper lip curling.
Pursing her lips, Minerva brought the hat down towards his head.
Oh, what a shock that was.
Smirking as if he had just been proclaimed King-of-the-Universe-and-then-some, Malfoy slinked off the stool and strutted towards the table at the far side of the Hall, where he was heartily welcomed.
Blushing furiously, after being poked by several people, she tore her eyes away from the Malfoy boy and hurried up to sit to the stool, apprehensively raising her eyes as the Sorting Hat was lowered onto her head.
A minute passed...
The rest of the pupils were watching with fascination, as the hat´s `face´ twisted, as if it was deep in consideration. Professor McGonagall was as curious as they were, wondering what could be possibly taking so long.
Henshaw and Jacobs in particular were watching with concern.
McKinnon looked strangely disappointed as she slid off the stool and made her way towards the Ravenclaw table, which stood next to the Slytherin table.
Making her way around to the side closest to the Slytherins, she carefully sat down, accepting handshakes and smiles from her new housemates. However, she looked over her shoulder and went pink when Malfoy glanced at her and raised a brow.
Silly girl, Professor McGonagall thought as she sighed and returned her eyes to the register scroll.
It was only when she reached the `R´ names, that her fear started return, when she called out "Rayne, Ethan."
If Rupert Giles, with his devilish green eyes and wicked grin, had been frightening to contemplate teaching, it was easily matched by the naughty sparkle in this gangly, sandy-haired boy´s hazel eyes.
"All right, luv?" he asked, then actually winked at her!
More forcefully than was absolutely necessary, Minerva McGonagall slammed the Sorting Hat down on his head, wishing she could push it down far enough to suffocate the cheeky young man.
He just grinned the wider for it.
First years, she decided, had the maturity of a wet gym sock.
Minerva´s mouth fell open in shock, panic and dismay. What did the bloody Hat think it was doing? Were they bribing it? Did it want to give her heart failure before the year was out?
Rayne grinned at her as she lifted the hat off his head. "Looking a bit off-colour, there, Professor," he remarked, then stuck his tongue in his cheek as he sauntered off to join the smirking Rupert Giles at the Gryffindor table.
Henshaw was looking as horrified as she felt.
Both of the boys, seated side-by-side after Giles had cheerfully told one of the other first years to scoot up, were looking at the red-haired girl in a way that - had Minerva been in her shoes - would have been enough to make her run all the way home.
It suddenly made her very glad to know that she did actually hold some kind of level of authority over them, even if they were the worst pair of torags that she was ever liable to lay eyes on.
The spaces at the tables were rapidly filling and soon, there was only one person left to be sorted: a short, red-haired boy who was looking nervously at the two spaces that remained on two of the house tables.
There was one space in Gryffindor, the seat was right beside Henshaw, and one open in Slytherin.
Henshaw´s eyes narrowed at the boy, who went white as a sheet.
He looked towards the Slytherin table again, as if trying to measure up what was the worst option: the psychotic-looking red head currently glaring at him, or the notorious Slytherin group.
"Weasley, Arthur," McGonagall read out.
Reluctantly, the boy plodded up to the stool and sat down, only to be saluted with a cry from the Gryffindor table, "We´re waiting for you, Art!"
A second voice added, "Yeah! C´mon, mate!"
"Oh dear God..." Minerva moaned to herself. This poor, sweet-looking little boy had been taken under the wing of those two...ruffians? Giving the hat a shake, she placed it on his head.
"Come on, Art, come on..." Giles was chanting, leaning forward on the broad wooden table. His green eyes were alight and he was grinning that devilish grin. "You know you want to be in our group...come on..."
The sandy-haired boy was drumming his hands on the table. "Go on, Red!" he called out enthusiastically. "Tell that Hat where to go stick it´s brim and get your freckled arse over here!"
"Sorry, Professor," he said without a drop of sincerity, flashing a grin up at the Deputy Head Mistress. "And did I say how well that colour brings out your eyes?"
Her lips thinned again, her nostrils flaring and she could feel her fingers just itching to whip out her wand and transfigure the irritating little...
He would make a very fetching spider...or a beetle. Yes! A beetle. A scurrying little beetle, Minerva decided, upon which she would accidentally stand and twist her toe to grind him to a messy paste on the floor.
All accidentally, of course.
After all, the Deputy Head Mistress of Hogwarts would never dream - or even fantasise - of squashing annoying pupils.
At least, she wouldn´t admit to it.
Letting a long rush of air stream from her nostrils, she turned her eyes back to the young Weasley boy, who was gripping onto the edges of the stool for dear life, his knuckles white.
Fortunately for McGonagall, the next word, which voiced her very thoughts was cried out by a small, red-haired girl, "Damn!"
Scooting off the stool, Weasley was scarlet in the face and shuffled nervously over towards the Gryffindor table, where Henshaw narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips at him, as he cautiously approached the only available space.
"D-do you mind if I sit here?" he stammered.
Henshaw´s glare spoke measures, but she still pulled the blankets that were wrapped around her off the seating space.
"Don´t even think about looking at me," she said dangerously, pointing a small, feminine finger at him. "And if you even try to remember what my knickers look like, I promise I´ll bash you."
"Are you gonna let her talk to you like that, Red?" Rayne demanded.
Weasley looked at the girl, one hand rising to finger his black eye, then he turned his eyes back to the other two boys on the other side of the table. "Um..." He looked at Henshaw again. "Y-yes...I-I don´t want to get thumped again... "
"And when did you see her knickers anyway?" Giles demanded.
A finger came up under Weasley´s nose. "Not one word," she cautioned.
"I-i-it was an accident!" the red-haired boy squeaked. "You were standing where I could see!"
McGonagall raised her eyes towards the enchanted ceiling with a groan as the red-haired girl caught the red-haired boy in a headlock worthy of any street fighter and started slapping at the top of his head.
"All I ask," the Professor murmured desperately. "Is to get through this year alive..."