Annabelle eyed the long, narrow attic room that served as the dormitory with widened eyes. There was a dark girl yelling at her right now, getting right up into her face. Kelly appeared beside Annabelle and put the girl off with a word before smirking at Annabelle in satisfaction. "Shall we?" she gestured ahead of her and began to walk with a smooth, unconsciously poised gait. Annabelle followed, feeling self-conscious.
"Here, we have the Posh Totties," she said, gesturing to a group of three well polished girls dressed in ridiculously short skirts, bras and feather boas. The wavy-haired one in the middle was showing off the lacy tops of her thigh high stockings and garter just under the fringe across her thighs. "They all claim to have slept with a member of the royal family and have Perez Hilton on speed dial. The Geeks," Kelly added, jerking her head towards a group of busy-looking girls in pyjamas running several computers and electronic world maps. "If you ever have financial problems, they'll clear that up in a right jiffy."
"And are this lot already in bed, then?" Annabelle asked as they passed another group, the lights out around all of them. One girl in cheesy makeup and black clothes hissed at her. "Goths," she answered her own question.
"Emos," Kelly corrected, with encouragement from the others.
"What are emos?" Annabelle demanded.
"Emotionally disturbed. Down at the end are the first years, they answer to the twins, Tara and Tania. And right here—" she stopped next to four people sitting apart from the rest, looking relatively normal compared to the rest of the school population. Annabelle figured that she hadn't noticed them before because of the chaos of the rest of the room. But it was unmistakable that two of the people in this corner were boys. At the girl's school. Annabelle gaped at them.
There were four of them, two girls and two boys. The older, brunette girl was sprawled on one of the two centremost beds, writing on parchment with a calligraphy pen—nib and inkwell and everything. She was mirrored almost exactly by the dark-haired boy with glasses, who was writing in a coil notebook with a ballpoint pen. On the ground between the two were the redheaded girl and boy, clearly related. The girl was sprawled on her stomach facing outwards, book and notes propped in front of her, and using the thighs of the boy as a footrest behind her. He was sitting braced up, one knee up and the other supporting his sister's feet, book balanced on his knee that he appeared to not be paying attention to at all.
"They're our token male members—Ron Weasley and Harry Potter. Ron's sister Ginny, and Hermione Granger—Miss Fritton's other niece, your cousin."
Annabelle was still gaping. The presence of the boys and the eclectic choice of writing instrument in the girl who was obviously her Aunt Helen's daughter were hardly the strangest thing about the group. No, that title would have to be awarded to the witchcraft paraphernalia strewn everywhere across their living space.
The left two beds had a heavy velvet curtain around them, hanging open but clearly it could close. All four beds were accessorized with a heavy trunk at the end, various degrees of clothing explosion coming out of each. Annabelle could count four cauldrons sitting around in different places, there was a shelf against the back wall between the two curtained beds with jars of pickled—somethings on it. Each teenager was casually holding or otherwise in possession of a long, elegant looking stick—clearly, meant to be wands. She watched in disbelief as the red haired girl—Ginny—folded her fingers around the handle gently, and curved it through the air in a circular motion, mouthing words that Annabelle couldn't make out.
And then there were the spellbooks. The whole area was a book explosion of the highest order, books like Spanish 101 and Advanced Calculus interspersed with the Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit, as well as titles like 'A History of Magic', 'The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 6', and Advanced Potion Making'.
"We call them the Warlocks," Kelly said, smirking. "Mostly because they all hate the name. This is you," she added, gesturing at the empty bed on the edge of the line between the first years and upperclassmen. The first years were all running around in chaos, writing on chalkboards with various numbers.
"What are they betting on?"
"How long you'll last."
Kelly backed away before Annabelle could respond to that, and a bucket of slime promptly landed on her head, followed by a feather pillow.
Annabelle just sighed resignedly and found her way to the bathroom. She had been meaning to take a shower tonight anyway. Of course, then the girls stole her clothes, a traditional hazing ritual in boarding school. She was preparing to make a run for it when she was interrupted by a voice hissing through the door.
"What?" she demanded back.
"It's Harry, I swear I'm not looking. I know what they did, it was mean. I've brought you something. Just crack the door open and stick your hand out. If you run through the halls, they're going to put it on YouTube."
Annabelle sighed, and, hoping that this wasn't another nasty prank, stuck her hand outside. A lightweight fabric landed on it, and she pulled it back in. The piece of fabric was large, and a sort of shimmery silver colour that reflected everything around it.
"It's beautiful," Annabelle said, momentarily overcome by the delight of the thing. "But what is it?"
"An invisibility cloak. Just put it on, and nobody can see you."
"Excuse me?" She demanded shrilly.
"Oh, did Kelly not tell you? She probably made us out to be a bunch of lunatics. We really are magical, Ron and I are wizards and Hermione and Ginny are witches. We got kicked out of our magic school a couple of years ago and Hermione's Mum pulled a few strings in getting us somewhere. Just spread the cloak over your hand, you'll see. And if you don't, then there can't be any harm, can there?"
He had a point—true or false, she hadn't anything to lose. She tossed the fabric over her arm, and gasped as it disappeared. She pulled it over her head, and looked down at her invisible body. "It works."
"Of course it works, not likely that my father would leave me something for pranks that didn't work," Harry said. "I'm going to open the door now. I can't see you, don't worry."
Harry opened the door for her and led the way back to the dormitory. "Why are you helping me?" Annabelle asked.
"Because you're Hermione's cousin, silly. Family's got to stick together." Harry led the way back through the loads of girls crowded around the computer, glaring at him.
"Lay off her, girls. Hazing isn't amusing, alright? You want to haze somebody, save it for the new English teacher coming next week. Don't touch that cloak, Taylor, I'm watching you." He stopped next to the two beds that had been curtained off. "Since you can't change in the bathroom, you can change in, here, go on."
Annabelle moved past him after collecting some clothes and a towel from her bed, and watched as Harry slid the curtain shut around her. This must be the boy's beds—the only way to possibly allow two boys to stay in a girl's dorm room. She towelled off quickly and dressed, amazed that nobody yanked the curtains open on her, before emerging and handing Harry the cloak that had turned her invisible.
Harry was standing to the side, with the curly haired posh-totty hanging off his arm—at a girl's school, the dating opportunities must be pretty thin on the ground, so they probably all hung off one or the other of the two boys.
"Chelsea, lay off," Harry snapped. "I'm not in the mood. Are you alright, Annabelle?"
"Yes, thank you," Annabelle said, managing to retain some dignity. "Here is your invisible coat back, thank you very much for your help."
"Anytime," Harry said, pushing Chelsea away again. "Like I said, family's got to stick together, after all."