A Momentary Pause
Yāyún woke up Tuesday morning with Alice walking insistently on his pillows and his face. The young kneazel was imperious, and after a few moments, Yāyún breathed out a sigh, and shoots a glare at Alice. She sat there, smugly staring at him with her blue eyes. He sat up, sending an unhappy glower at the sunlight streaming in cheerfully from the window.
Ren was still asleep, sprawled out on his bed, mouth open and drooling. Yāyún frowned at him, feeling rather irritated that he was awake and the other wasn't. Then he stopped, and looked at Alice.
"Can you wake him up?" he asked bluntly, and Alice seemed to almost smirk up at him, as though to ask did you even have to ask? "Make it irritating." Alice almost seemed to raise an imperious eyebrow at him. "Please," Yāyún added grudgingly. Alice rose, flicking the tip of her tail as she leapt soundlessly off the edge of his—admittedly, very comfortable—bed.
Yāyún sat there for a moment, and silently lamented the fact that now that he was awake, there wouldn't be any going back to sleep for him. Not only would Alice merely wake him up once again, but he didn't think that he would even be able to return to blissful sleep again. He slipped out from under the warm covers, and scooped up his school robes. If he was going to be awake this early—the sun seemed to have only recently peaked its face above the horizon, the chill of dawn still permeated the room—then he was going to enjoy the luxury of a hot shower.
Steam filled the bathroom as he stood under the hot water, letting it slide over him and wash away some of the tension that had collected inside him since he had come to Hogwarts. After a few moments, he scrubbed shampoo into his hair and washed himself, stepping out of the shower once he had washed off the last of the soap. He dried himself for a moment and stood in front of the sink and stared at the fogged up mirror for a moment, breathing in the smell of plain, unscented soap.
He stared at his eyes, the impossibly bright green making a pang of almost-pain ripple in his chest as he thought of his Mum. The heat stirred in his belly for a moment, shifting restlessly.
He liked being at Hogwarts. It was freeing, to not have his family watching his every move and clinging around him like miring mud or sticky honey. But at the same time it pulled and wrenched at him, making him want to say, no more, send me home.
It was straining and almost-painful, and he stuffed it away into the back of his head. After all, if he didn't think of it, it couldn't hurt him.
He dressed quickly, and Ren sent him a near reproachful look as he exited the bathroom, though it was tempered by the amusement in his eyes.
"Rude," Ren accused. "You set your cat on me!"
"Really?" Yāyún asked, letting one of his eyebrows raise.
"Yes," Ren scowled, but his lips twitched. "Don't do it again, Mr. Grumpy."
"Hm." Yāyún grunted. "Maybe if you don't sleep so late."
"Rude," Ren whined as he walked past Yāyún into the bathroom, intent on taking his own shower. "If you used all the hot water, I'll hurt you," he threatened.
"I'll turn your hair pink!"
"…I'll find a way."
Having breakfast early was far better, in Yāyún's opinion. Most of the students were still asleep or only just stirring from their warm beds, and it left the Great Hall blissfully quiet and empty. It gave him time to think, and retreat into himself in a way that he hadn't really had the chance to do since arriving at the castle.
Ren was even quiet, and seemed to be ignoring him, as though acknowledging that Yāyún needed some time to himself. Though he doubted that was the case—more likely the other boy was sulky about being woken up so rudely by Alice, despite his amusement over it.
The abrupt appearance of more raspberries on his plate had him stopping though. He glanced up, and Ren sent him a smirk.
"I don't like raspberries very much," he said easily, and the lie slid off his tongue like honey. "You appreciate them more."
Yāyún picked one up and put it into his mouth, biting into it and letting the sweetly tart flavor flood his mouth. "Thank you."
They continued in silence for a little while longer, and Yāyún cast his gaze up to the Head Table. Professor McGonagall sat near the middle, beside the Headmaster, and she looked at him carefully, though Yāyún thought he saw the disappointment from the day before lingering in her eyes. A dour, sallow faced man sat at the far end of the table, parallel the Slytherin table, where only a few students sat, eating their breakfast in relative peace. He glowered at Yāyún, a vicious look entering his black eyes.
Yāyún looked at the man for a moment, and wondered if this Professor Snape is the very same Severus Snape—or Snivellus, as his Da had called him, though the cruel name had very little appeal to him—that his parents had told him tales of.
Yāyún turned. A girl stood there, fidgeting nervously.
"Can I sit with you two?" she asked, and Yāyún frowned, eyeing the black-and-yellow edging to her robes. She was clearly a Hufflepuff, so why was she asking to sit with them? As far as he was concerned, she could sit anywhere she pleased; he wasn't going to stop her…so long as she didn't try and sit too close to him. That would irritate him.
"It's a free table," Ren pointed out unhelpfully, grinning at her. "Sit where you want."
She nodded, and sat down beside Ren, though with plenty of room between them.
"I'm Murry," she introduced herself, tucking a lock of her short brown hair behind her ear. "Murry Becke."
Yāyún nodded, and Ren laughed.
"I'm Ren Kendall—call me Ren, please. I don't really like being called Kendall. And that's Hadrian Potter over there, if you wondering about Mr. Grumpy." The irritating nickname startled a laugh out of the girl, and she sent a curious look at Yāyún as she filled her plate.
"So," she began after a moment. "Are you really the older brother of the Clarence Potter?" Yāyún felt his spine stiffen, and he breathed out a harsh sigh. He had run into such questions before, but it still managed to irritate him when people asked him such an obvious question.
"Yes," he answered, not really caring that his tone was clipped.
"Really?" the girl gasped, and a small muscle in Yāyún's eye twitched. "I thought it was just a rumor! Oh, but the Daily Prophet did talk about you…I thought it was just Skeeter making up stories again!"
"Well, as you can see, Mr. Grumpy over here is clearly real." As though sensing an impending explosion, Ren had cut in, his grin tinged with a crueler smirk.
"Oh, but what about Clarence?" the girl asked, ignoring Ren's warning tone. "Isn't he the Heir? If you're the eldest, why is Clarence the Heir? Maybe they just gave it to him because he's the Boy-Who-Lived? You know, there's a rumor going around that you're, you know, illegitimate, and that's why you're not the Heir."
Yāyún clenched his fist, and fought against the nearly overpowering urge to throttle the girl.
"Oh, really?" Ren asked pointedly, and the girl nodded.
"Yes! You wouldn't believe how fast the rumor mill works here; it's so much faster than the Muggle Primary my Mum sent me to. It's also so much more interesting! You should hear all the rumors flying around about you. They're so much more fascinating than the ones I heard at Primary; some people think that you're even here to steal your brother's fame! You aren't, are you? I mean, that's not a very brotherly thing to do, you know. Not that I would know, I don't have any brothers or sisters, or even cousins! I want some, though." The girl prattled on and on, and finally Yāyún had had enough. He rose sharply, and stalked away from her before he gave in to the swelling heat in his belly, the urge to throttle and hurt the girl for daring insinuate such things about his family and that he'd hurt his family.
Just as he stepped out of the Hall, though, he ran into someone. Or, more precisely, two someones.
It was the Twins.
"I don't know, Fred, but it looks awfully like our dear little Harry-kins!"
"I do believe you're right, George!"
The Twins grab his arms, and drag him off into a side hall.
"So, what's got your knickers in a twist, Harry-kins?" one of them asked, and Yāyún felt a faint blush rise in his cheeks at their crude wording. He looked away, but before they could press for answers, another voice interrupted.
"It's the students," Ren said. "They're being awfully rude with their rumors, slandering him left and right." Ren sighed dramatically, and Yāyún sent him a glare. "A true travesty, as Mr. Grumpy here will likely have a good many of them in the Hospital Wing before the week is out with the way they're going. Not that that's a true travesty. More a lack of good judgment."
The Twins exchanged a look, and one of them slung an arm over Ren's shoulder.
"We like you," one said. "Say, Fred, what time is it?"
"Early enough for a game, George!"
"Well, we do like you, and I, for one, would love to talk to you some more later, our dear underclassman. But for now…"
One of the Twins danced forward, and whipped out his wand, tapping Yāyún on his head sharply. And even without looking, Yāyún knew that he had done something, and he growled, tensing.
And they ran, the Twins dragging Ren behind them as they laughed and Yāyún chased them in a near-deranged parody of tag that they had been playing for years.
And if Yāyún was smiling as he chased them, his lips twitching upwards in a fierce, feral grin, then they certainly didn't say anything. After all, what happened between them, stayed between them.
In the end, the Twins end up leading both of them around in their game, and drop the two of them off at their first class of the day—History of Magic, double period.
"Don't have too much trouble sleeping," one of the Twins taunted them, and the two of them grinned and vanished down the halls. The two of them are out of breath, and Ren huffed out a laugh.
"They are mad," he said, and Yāyún snorted an agreement. He felt lighter, somehow, as though the chase and the exertion it had brought with it had lifted a burden from his shoulders and made it easier to breathe. A laugh escaped his lips, and soon the two of them were laughing themselves down from a high borne of exertion and adrenaline.
"I didn't know you could laugh," Ren ribbed him, grinning tiredly as they sat at their desk.
"Everyone can laugh," Yāyún told him matter-of-factly.
"Well, yeah, but—" The rest of their class began to file in at that moment, and Ren cut himself off. The other students—once again a mix of Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws—eyed them disbelievingly, as though incredulous that someone had actually showed up early for History of Magic, the class that even the First Years agreed was the most boring class in the school.
Ren rolled his eyes exasperatedly at Yāyún, who merely looked ahead at the ghostly form of Professor Binns and wondered if he could possibly convince his Mum—or Uncle Moony, whoever was amenable—to come and teach History of Magic.
Their last class of the day was Potions. The First Year Hufflepuffs, lead by a Fourth Year girl, were lead down into the chill depths of the castle. The Becke girl from breakfast glanced at Yāyún nervously, but a single glare from Ren had her paling. Yāyún raised an eyebrow at his roommate.
"She's a gossip," Ren explained, smirking. "And horribly tactless. I proved to her why such things are…looked down upon, after this morning's fiasco."
"Hm." Yāyún hummed. With how Ren could be so very slippery and sly sometimes, he wondered if the Hat had pondered upon placing him in Slytherin as opposed to Hufflepuff.
The Fourth Year left them in front of the door to the Potions classroom, wishing them luck.
"Be careful," she warned. "Snape may not pick on us Hufflepuffs as much as he does the Gryffs, but he's still one of the strictest teachers and the most scathing and least tolerant of mistakes. Be sure to come back to the Common Room soon after your class ends; the Sixth Years will run you through a few tips and precautions."
The chill air of the corridor set Yāyún's arms prickling with goosebumps, and he fought back a shiver as the door opened. There he stood, his face as sallow and severe as it had been at breakfast.
"Well?" he snapped as they stood there for a moment, frozen. "Get in, you dunderheads!"
They moved forward, and Yāyún felt a swell of distaste for the man. He was harsh and insulting, snapping and snarling at his students as though vinegar would net him more flies than honey.
"Pair up," Professor Snape hissed, sweeping to the front of the room. Ren immediately claimed Yāyún as his partner, and soon each of the pairs had claimed a desk.
"You will set up your cauldrons," Snape announced, and there was a scramble of activity as the students brought out their cauldrons. "Each pair will work together to create their potion; any failure on the part of either of the pair, effects both grades." Snape lifted a parchment.
"Becke, Murry!" he called out, a sneer planted firmly on his face.
"H-Here," Becke squeaked, raising her hand. Snape sent her a cold look, and she put her hand down. Snape went on down the list, calling out each of their names.
"Kendall, Ren!" he said eventually, and Ren smirked viciously.
"Here, sir," he said easily, letting a hint of…something filter into his expression, and Yāyún felt the hairs on the back of his neck lift, prickling as the heat in his belly bubbled. Snape sent him a scathing glare, and seemed on the verge of demanding, quite rudely, that Ren 'wipe that smirk off his face', or some such, but seemed to think better of it.
It didn't take him too much longer to reach Yāyún.
"Potter, Hadrian!" he called out, sneering heavily as his dark eyes locked onto Yāyún.
"Here," Yāyún answered, grasping carefully at the lessons that his sensei had taught him. The heat in his belly tossed, and Yāyún clung onto those lessons, onto his sensei's words of 'be calm, Hadrian. Letting your opponent rile you up looses you half the battle.'
Snape's eyes glittered with hateful malice as he sneered. "Ah, yes, our resident…celebrity by association. Tell me, Potter," he spat, "where would you find a bezoar?"
Yāyún blinked. He cast back in his memory, vaguely remembering a passage in one of the later chapters of his Potions textbook listing a few poisons and antidotes. A bezoar, he thought, had been one…
"In…the stomach of a goat, sir." Yāyún said finally, frowning as he bit down on his tongue. The question had been one that only someone who had read into some of the later chapters of their book would have been able to answer; it showed that either Snape had unrealistic expectations of his students—after all, who expected someone to read to Chapter 15 of a book ahead of time?—or that he was deliberately choosing questions that he didn't expect Yāyún to be able to answer correctly, in an attempt to embarrass him.
Snape's face spasmed briefly, and he scowled. "Well done, Potter," he snarled, as though the words tasted foul on his tongue. "Now, name three potions that use porcupine quills in some fashion."
"The Boil Cure potion," Yāyún began, thinking. Beside him, Ren hissed under his breath, his lavender eyes narrowed as he glared at their professor. "The Pepperup Potion, and…the Deflating Drought," Yāyún finished. The heat inside of him leaped, and he bit his tongue sharply, refusing to let himself lose control. That would be letting him win, and he wasn't about to lose to this man.
"It seems you're not as much of a dunderhead as I had thought," Snape said grudgingly, glowering. "What is another name for atropa acuminata, and name a potion it is used in!"
Yāyún stared at the sour man. Atropa acuminata? What sort of name was that? He searched his memory, looking for an answer, but came up empty-handed.
"I'm…sorry," Yāyún admitted slowly, the words feeling like acid in his mouth. "I don't know."
Ren bit off a snarl.
"Well, well, well," Snape smirked cruelly. "It seems that fame, even by a sad proxy, is not everything. And for your information, Potter, atropa acuminata is another name for the plant known as Indian Belladonna. Well?" he snapped, turning to the other students. "Why aren't you writing all of that down?!
They scrambled to retrieve paper, and Yāyún swallowed drily, forcing back the fury that threatened to flood over him like thick, water-like fire, consuming him and drowning him in its depths. As the scritching of quills on parchment sounded out around the room, Snape began to pace in front of his desk.
"There will be no silly wand-waving in this class," he began. "Potion making is a subtle and deadly art, one that few appreciate. I can teach you to save lives, brew a sleeping potion so potent it can keep a wizard asleep for a thousand years, and even," he paused, "to stopper death itself." He cast his gaze around the room, a sneer chill and set on his face. "That is, if you're not all so many dunderheads as I usually have to teach."
The rest of the class was spent with him snapping out questions at them, and snarling impatiently whenever one of them didn't get it right or took too long.
By the time they were freed, one or two of the girls looked like they were on the verge of breaking into tears, and the Fourth Year who was waiting to escort them back to the Common Room took one look at them as sighed.
"Pretty bad, huh?" he asked sympathetically. One of the boys nodded emphatically. "Well," the Fourth Year began, "we have about…two hours until dinner, so why don't I take you down to the kitchens for a treat? You deserve it, after dealing with Snape. Come on."
He lead them down, away from the dark and dank parts of the castle and into the warmer, better-lit areas. Eventually, they entered the room full of barrels that lead to the Common Room, but the Fourth Year walked past the barrels, ignoring them in favor of a portrait of fruit at the far end of the room.
"Come on," he said, winking. He reached up to the pear that sat on one side of the portrait and…tickled it. Yāyún raised an eyebrow as the pear giggled before a handle appeared and the Fourth Year opened the now-revealed door. "Go on," he encouraged. "The House Elves will be absolutely thrilled to see you."
One by one, they ducked into the room beyond. Yāyún looked around, and tensed. It was hustling and bustling, all of the House Elves hurrying around preparing the food for dinner that night. The Fourth Year ducked in after them, and one of the House Elves bustled up to him.
"What would Young Masters and Missies be wanting?" it asked, luminous blue eyes wide.
"A tray of chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate with those little marshmallows for everyone," the Fourth Year requested, and the House Elf bobbed a little bow, leading them over to a small, round table in the corner.
"Of course, Young Master, Young Masters and Missies can be waiting and eating here," it said eagerly.
"Thank you," the Fourth Year murmured. The House Elf beamed.
"Floppy bes only doing what House Elves bes supposed to be doing," the newly named Floppy demurred before scampering off.
"I have to get to my next class," the Fourth Year explained, rising. "From here, you can get into the Common Room; if any of you have letters you'd like to send, the Owlery is in the North Tower. You can try and get there on your own, but I would wait until the older years get out of their classes first, someone should be more than willing to lead you to the Owlery. See you," he bid them, leaving the room.
"Here bes Young Masters and Missies cookies and hot chocolates," Floppy announced, using its House Elf magic to levitate the trays onto the table. There was a general murmuring of thank you from around the table, and Floppy blushed.
"Floppy only bes doing what Floppy was asked to be doing," it demurred once more before vanishing back into the bustle of the kitchen. Ren nudged Yāyún, pushing a steaming mug of hot chocolate in front of him alongside several cookies.
"Professor Snape's…really mean." One of them said.
"And scary too," agreed another.
"Almost none of the questions he asked were in the chapters of the book that I read," complain another.
"How far did you read?"
"To about chapter five; I figured that would be enough, you know?"
"Really? I only read the first chapter…"
Yāyún closed his eyes, sipping at his hot chocolate. Now that he wasn't so mad, he could feel exhaustion creeping up on him. He really just wanted to be alone right then, with maybe Alice beside him demanding attention, because Alice was imperious and would definitely do that regardless of whether he wanted to be utterly alone or not.
Yeah. That sounded good right about then.
"Professor Snape is…harsh," explained one of the Sixth Years.
"That's an understatement," hissed another, tossing her black hair.
"He has a right to be," pointed out the first. "Potions is a very dangerous branch of magic; one mistake could mean a deadly explosion right in the face of the brewer."
"Maybe," scoffed the black haired girl. "But that doesn't mean he can be a huge prat about it!"
"Granted," another agreed, chewing at his lip. "He doesn't have to be so harsh about everything, but you have to remember that he's also a Potion Master who's being forced to teach student who are just starting out and are making mistakes that must aggravate him, as they must seem so obvious to him."
"I hate it when you make sense." The black haired girl muttered. "Anyway, since Snape is so…rough around the edges, you need to keep a few things in mind," she explained to the First Years. "First of all, you always want to read ahead in your Potions textbook. He'll be testing you, quizzing you, and he often chooses questions that are from farther ahead in the book than anyone could have expected. So, reading ahead equals him being less irritated."
"Second," picked up one of the other Sixth Years, "is that whenever he pairs you up for a potion, you don't complain. Actually, don't complain, period. It only makes him mad."
"Third," the girl continued. "When he writes the instructions for a potion on the blackboard, copy them down before you start, that way you're not having to try and read them through the cauldron steam."
They continued on in that vein, and Yāyún finally sighed and walked up to one of the Sixth Years. He looked down at Yāyún, puzzled.
"Whatchu need?" he asked, tucking a flyaway lock of his mouse brown hair behind his ear.
"I would like to send a letter," Yāyún said bluntly.
"Oh, you want to get to the Owlery? Come on, then."
The Owlery, as Yāyún found out, was cold and dirty, straw strewn everywhere and owl pellets everywhere he stepped.
"Just ask one of the school owls," the Sixth Year explained. "Just tell them who you're sending it to, and they'll take it."
Yāyún stepped forward, and a big Great Gray owl fluttered down in front of him, holding out its leg. It hooted impatiently as Yāyún tied the letters to its leg carefully.
"Lily Potter," he said, and the owl hooted once before flying out of the window.
"Come on," the Sixth Year said, reaching out and grasping Yāyún's shoulder. "You should probably get your homework done before you head to bed."
Yāyún pulled himself free, and sent the Sixth Year a sharp look.
"Don't touch me," he said firmly, and the Sixth Year frowned, his face turning faintly angry.
"Fine," he snapped, walking past Yāyún. "Come on, I don't have all night."
Yāyún suppressed a sigh. People could be so very strange.
Later that night, Yāyún sat by one of the windows in the room he shared with Ren, stroking Alice. The moon was high and bright, illuminating the lake and making the Forbidden Forest look even more intimidating and dark.
Alice mrowed up at him, leaping up into his lap. She pushed her head against his chin, and Yāyún smiled faintly. The near-constant war in his head, the sense of free-no-not-need-them-no-don't-go-away fading for a moment. Alice mrowed again, as stared up at him with her wide blue eyes, demanding that he pay attention to her, not whatever was going on in his head.
He huffed a laugh, his hands coming up and rubbing her ears. She purred, and a smile found its way to his face.
So far, despite the actions of the other students and the horrible attitude of some of the teachers, Yāyún found himself enjoying being at Hogwarts. It was mystical and enchanting, and he just wanted to sit back for a moment and let the magic of the castle wash over him. It was nice and warm, despite the chill from the window. It sort of tingled, and he fought back a shiver even as he leaned forward and placed his forehead on Alice's.
"I think…" Yāyún looked up at the moon, bright and sharp, glowing in the sky, "that I'll like it here, Alice."
(Sometimes, even the ever-moving wind must stop and look around, and realize just where it is. Life is a journey—not a destination. Even for the wind.)
So…here's this chapter! I hope you all enjoyed.
Next chapter should have more Aleksandra, Luca, and Tom, for those of you who want to see them.