Mar 06, 2021 5:42 AM
giant snakes? in my magical boarding school? it's more likely than you think
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She's able to close on her new house - a lovely four bedroom single family home outside of a muggle town, with plenty of room for her, two children, and a kneazle - fairly quickly, though that still does leave them with an awkward week spent on top of each other in her old apartment after Hogwarts lets out for the summer holidays. It was a farm house, once, though the fields have long since gotten choked over with weeds - a perfect field for flying over, once she sets up clever enough notice-me-not wards over the property, and once she banishes all the brambles in favor of softer grass. She leaves their muggle neighbors able to see and visit the home, though she sets it so the house will alert her if anyone other than the four of them approaches.

(She sets a lot of protective wards, and she calls in favors for more. Her American friends accuse her of the world's most aggressive nesting. She jinxes them, laughing, and then draws up plans for more ways to give her home teeth.)

She sets up the fourth bedroom as a library and puts a table she can tap to fold away in the formal dining room so they can use it to practice spell casting. Most of the house isn't very obviously magical, though, and as she finds more stuff to expand into it - her tiny apartment not having nearly enough - she mostly continues forward her same eclectic taste.

(Anathema makes this... Somewhat more eclectic. She has a twelve year old's taste in decorations, access to the vaults of a family she hates, and a manic glee about buying muggle things with pureblood money. Professor Reynolds - who tells them they can call her Fay if they'd like, at least outside of classes - only somewhat tamps down on this.)

She starts them on Occlumency very early, before they even leave Hogwarts - which is just meditation, becoming steadily more focused. She explains to them the absolute importance of knowing your own mind, before you can declare mastery over it - and before you can then attempt to deny another access. She also assigns them philosophy readings and discussions - "It might seem a bit orthogonal, but developing your ability to think about your own thinking, and to know what you think, and to know how to reason, is actually fairly important to self-mastery."

Defense proper is more exciting - she focuses on teaching them how to call for help, first. Calling for house elves, sending sparks into the air (gives away your position if you're hiding), amplifying your voice (which you can add on to if you want to project it so it's not revealing where you're hidden - ideally, you'd drill this until you can do it wandlessly and wordlessly, to prevent someone from stopping you from screaming), even just creating magically noisy explosions or effects... But she also helps them get closer to mastering foundational defense spells like the Disarming Charm, and begins teaching them first aid.

In between all that -

She keeps to a routine of encouraging them to get out of the house and have fun at least an hour or two a day, of spending significant time with them on fun things at least once or twice a week - Anathema takes to video games with delight, and Fay learns to play a few. She takes them to the zoo and museums and movie theaters and an amusement park once, smiling at Anathema's wonder. She celebrates both their birthdays however they want (Anathema has apparently declared hers is on June the thirteenth.)

And, as August rolls in, she takes them to Diagon Alley - their books for most of their core classes haven't changed. The Potions textbook is different, though they seem to still have Professor Cleary, and the History textbooks are a massive list of thin books with titles that sound like they belong to a fictional series rather than a history classroom (Fay seems to really dislike their new History teacher, though she's reserved about this opinion). There's textbooks for their new electives, too, whichever four they chose at the end of last school year. (The 'Personal Enrichment' options were the same as last year - Art, Drama, Literature, Music, though it was noted they could change their elective from whatever one they had first year. There's 'Magical Studies' as the second slot - Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Astronomy, Care of Magical Creatures, or Divination. 'Ancient Languages and Cultures' occupies the third slot - Old English, Latin, Ancient Greek, or Ancient Egyptian. And then the fourth slot is 'Cultural Studies' - Muggle Studies, Cultures of the World, Government and Law, or Comparative Religion. Fay mentions to them that the cultural studies classes are all from a wizarding perspective.)

The morning of September first arrives far too quickly.

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It has been a good summer. Ellie did a bit better than Anathema in picking up the Occlumency, though she mostly relies on her to pick their 'fun' activity. Along with her books for Ancient Runes, Old English, and Cultures of the World, she got a day planner, so she's feeling well-prepared to take on the year.

Here's hoping the train goes as well as it did last time.

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Anathema is terrible at meditating, even when Professor Reynolds exhausts her first, or encourages her to meditate while stimming or even moving - she can kind of meditate while doing yoga, actually, once Professor Reynolds runs through enough options trying to get her to calm her body and mind, and she makes a few friends in the class she ends up taking. She actively enjoys the philosophical exercises, though, giving her a bit of a sideways edge with protecting her mind.

She ends up hesitating a lot over her electives, actually - and takes Ancient Egyptian and Arithmancy, instead of going with Ellie's picks. Still, they'll have their core classes, Art, and Cultures together.

Getting on a bit early lets them claim a compartment for themselves - though it seems the train's filling up a bit more than it did last year, and they end up with two first years who don't really seem interested in talking to either girl joining them. The train ride's long but peaceful, mostly, and gets to Hogwarts as the sun's setting.

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Well that's fine.

She supposes they won't be taking the boats to the castle this year.

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Nah. Apparently they're supposed to go over to a path to the right, where a whole bunch of carriages are lined up - moving forward as each one takes off, full of students, the line stretching back murkily towards the Forbidden Forest.

They're dark, lanterns hanging outside their doors and illuminating the insides, and - they're not pulled by horses, but by - 

Smudges, maybe. Dark intimations of shadow, wisps drawing out a shape almost like a horse, almost like wings rustling to the sides. Almost like pale flickers of eyes, watching the students as the smudges in reality shift around, quiet. 

A couple of the other second years, especially the muggleborns, are talking with some interest about the carriages as if nothing's drawing them.

Six students can fit in a carriage, so they're going to have to sit with other people for the ride up, too.

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Right so Ellie is just going to try to mostly ignore these uh horse smudges. If she doesn't look directly at them it's like they're not even there, right? Right.

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Anathema does glance at them briefly, brow furrowed a bit, but climbs into the carriage without acting like anything's weird. 

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Anathema glances over at Ellie. And, since no one else is in the carriage yet: "You okay?"

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"...Did you see the- horses?"

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"There were some hard to see shapes in front of the carriages? Which I guess are probably a kind of horse, since they're pulling a carriage..."

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"They're creepy."

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She shrugs. "Don't seem too weird to me... But we can ask Professor Reynolds about them?"

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"Okay."

Other students climb in the carriage, and it sets off, moving smoothly.

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Here comes another year.

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Fun!

A few of their friends from last year find them at the dining table - it does seem food won't arrive until the first years are sorted, and that the process of all of Hogwarts' upper years filing into the Great Hall takes just long enough for the first years (with some mild delay) to arrive from the boats.

There's no names they really recognize being sorted, except one kid who's maybe the younger brother of one of Anathema's friends in Hufflepuff. There's a lot more first years this time than there were last year - or at least it feels like that, sitting and waiting for the Hat to make its proclamations on a long procession of fidgeting eleven year olds.

Professor Dumbledore reiterates the school rules after the Sorting, introduces their Potions professor - Professor Cleary is in fact staying on - and their new History professor, Professor Lockhart, who looks kind of annoyingly smug.

Still, the food's good, there's a lot of gossip to catch up with, and that's what matters as far as Anathema's concerned.

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Yes, clearly the hot goss is the most important thing. As long as it's not about them.

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Gossip's pretty much about the professors - Professor Lockhart's apparently mostly known for publishing travel memoirs, which someone who's actually already skimmed through all the books thinks the 'textbooks' actually all are? That seems weird - sure, some of the elective professors published their own textbooks, but those're fields that change a lot and also the professors are experts, and also those textbooks aren't stories? Though maybe having History framed through the stories of different locations the author's traveling to is actually kinda cool? ("We have a different History professor every year," an upper year says from down the table. "Professor Dumbledore might've run out of people who're, like, actual historians.")

Also Professor Cleary had said she wasn't staying on, so why's she staying on - also this other muggleborn had assumed she was Professor McGonagall's sister in law since her actual last name's McGonagall, but their usual Professor McGonagall apparently doesn't have a brother??? Or a husband with a brother??? ("People can just have the same last name, you know," another muggleborn points out. The pureblood Ravenclaws are staring at this conversation like everyone's grown a second head, which also has a concussion.)

There's some less gossipy stuff about everyone's summers, though sometimes talking about everyone's summers gets into gossip. There was an actual fist fight at a professional Quidditch match in July, apparently.

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Ellie is among the skeptical regarding Lockheart's actual credentials as a teacher of history. The books all seem to be... rather modern. Professor Cleary staying on is good, she liked her.

Was the fist fight between players or spectators?

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Spectators, this time, though there was a player fist fight two years ago - usually it's other sports that get player fist fights, though, Quidditch doesn't have you in arm's reach of each other really often.

And yeah Anathema thinks Professor Lockhart's possibly a good, like, author? But he's teaching History not Creative Writing. ("A writing class would actually be cool," another student says. "We just read books and write essays about them in Literature. But, yeah, that's different than History, even if you could be a creative writer who also has a history degree I guess.")

"We'll have to see," Anathema says, "And plot our rebellion if he is a bad teacher."

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"You're gonna develop a reputation. The professors will start telling scary stories about you in the staff room."

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She giggles. "I'll be the cautionary tale for all the new hires."

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"Start a new style of pedagogy. Anathemaism."

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"Maybe they'll let me be the History professor some time."

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"Put your application in for next year."

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