“You’ve almost got it, Alexis! You just need to emphasise the incantation more, and it’ll be more powerful!” Said Sithofith appraisingly.
“Crucio!” she yelled, pointing her wand at a dummy of herself, as the dummy’s limbs twisted in abnormal ways as it lay screaming; letting out a bloodcurdling scream, as though seconds from death. She released the curse and fell to the floor and began sobbing.
“Are you right?” Asked Sithofith, crouching down.
“What’s wrong Lexis?” Asked Eruka, giving her a hug. Alexis wiped her eyes. “I’m sorry, it’s just scary. I’ve never used this curse before.”
“It’s okay, it’s only a dummy. It doesn’t actually feel pain.” Said Leon, consolably.
“Right.” She said, getting back to her feet. “You may rest if you’ve had enough, Alexis. Best not to push it.” Said Sithofith.
Professor Sithofith influenced Alexis back to her seat with his hand, and pointed at Leon.
“Up, Lopez!” Leon slid out of his chair, having only just sat back down. He pulled out his wand, and Sithofith transformed the dummy into a Leon lookalike. He pointed his wand.
“Crucio!” A small red and black orb emitted from the tip of his wand and struck the fake Leon in the chest. Leon kept his wand pointed at the dummy, and it fell to the ground, screaming; not able to bear the pain. He held it for about ten seconds before he was prompted to release it.
“That’s enough, Leon. You all look exhausted, having practiced such a curse. That will be it for today; you may all go to lunch early now—Oh, wait. Ms. Myrvold, you haven’t had a go, yet!”
May looked very nervous and scared. “But sir, I’ve barely even used any offensive spells; I honestly cannot see this ending well.”
“You have to try!” Said Sithofith, encouragingly.
She, too, like Leon, slid out her chair and took out her wand, now pointed at her dummy-self.
“Cru-see-oh!” She flicked her wand a bit too much, and Sithofith knew it, too, judging on how he ducked right as the spell was cast. The curse rebounded off the dummy and flew to the back of the classroom, striking Leon right in the chest.
“Jesus, May! Watch where you’re aiming that!” Said Leon, half-jokingly.
“Sorry!” she yelled. Fortuitously, the spell had been cast incorrectly, so it didn’t do much harm to Leon; all he felt was a slight sting for the next five minutes in his chest.
“Okay, that wasn’t horrible,” Sithofith lied, “Just try not moving your wrist so much, like this:” He showed her the appropriate way to flick the wand. “Okay, now try again.” He began walking off, when he remembered, “Oh, and it’s ‘Cru-she-oh’.”
“Right, sorry. Crucio!”
“That was fantastic, May.” Said Eruka as they left the classroom.
“I agree. Leon needed a good hit from the Cruciatus Curse!” Joked Dimitri.
“It didn’t even hurt much. Nowhere near enough to be classed as a—“ he cut off as he noticed he may have hurt her feelings by completing his statement. “So, anyway, what do we have after lunch?” he asked, changing the subject.
“Double potions,” said Blair. “We had better be brewing a good potion, like Veritaserum or Polyjuice.”
“Are you in our potions, May?” Asked Leon.
“Umm. I think so. We’re in the dungeons next, aren’t we?”
“Yeah, you’re with us. Excellent.”
Eruka forced Leon to drop back from the group.
“Willow. We should tell her that Lazarus has his mind set on more people than just you.”
“We can’t, Eruka. She’s thirteen! She’ll go into some kind of mental breakdown. She hasn’t known us long enough to trust us to protect her. In fact, now that I think about it, we don’t know ourselves well enough to know we can even defend ourselves.”
“Fine. But you have to tell her sometime, Lee.”
Many rather uneventful months had passed, and the time flew by quite quickly. Before they knew it they had all mastered dark arts: both defending and attacking. Christmas had come and gone, then they all celebrated Willow’s fourteenth birthday, and Leon kept trying ever so feebly to get May’s attention regularly. By late March, Professor Sithofith had begun preparing them to practice the most advanced and dangerous curse ever.
“So, anyway soon enough he will have us practicing the Killing Curse!” Said Dimitri to a horrified Willow. “K-Killing Curse? Like, a curse that kills people?”
“Well it’s not going to turn pillows to cupcakes, is it, the Killing Curse?” Said Blair, snidely, right before Leon nudged him.
“So, they will have you practicing an illegal curse that causes people to die immediately?”
“Yes, but it’s only so we can fight against the Death Eaters, should we need to,” said Dimitri.
“So the whole school is fighting for Leon’s sake?”
Leon quickly replied, “Oh no, it’s not just about me. The Death Eater’s are the most disgusting people you could ever meet! They will kill anybody who stands in their way; so, presumably, people standing in their way of getting to me would be everyone in this school—Just about everyone. Well, not everyone will fight alongside me, but it’s not in a Death Eater’s nature to spare innocent lives.”
Willow looked completely dejected.
“W-Will they come for me?” she asked nervously.
Leon opened his mouth, ready to lie, but he caught glimpse of Eruka sitting behind Willow with a face that looked like it said, “Tell her right now, Leon. She has the right to know. She’ll be alright” and “Tell her the truth or I’ll kill you.”
Leon closed his mouth, and then reopened it. “Willow, it’s not like they’re going to ‘target’ you, like they will, me, but they don’t like non-wizards or witches. The fact that you’re not a witch won’t spare you from execution. If they happen to attack, and there is no safer haven for you: say there are no teachers around, or there are Eaters everywhere, just stay right next to us and don’t get in their way. Understand?”
She was shaking, horrified, and nodded. “Uhuh…”
“Don’t you worry yourself. We won’t let anything happen to you, right, Eruka?”
“That’s right. You’ll be okay. They won’t be able to tell you’re a Muggle straight away,” everyone braced for a mood swing after Willow heard ‘Muggle,” but she was simply too dejected to worry about it, so she let it slide, “…and besides, their main priority will be killing Leon.”
Leon shot her a “Gee, thanks, you have just made me feel so much better,” look, and Eruka waved her hand as if telling Leon to dismiss it; like she only said it to make Willow feel better.
That night, Blair decided to help Leon out with listing the ingredients and their purposes for a Veritaserum potion, as that was their Potions homework. Leon muttered as he wrote: “Verita…serum is…a truth…-telling…draught…”
Eruka slammed her Divination book shut. “Nope. It’s still a load of garbage. I can’t believe you pair haven’t dropped that stupid subject, yet.”
“Oh and do what, instead? Ancient Runes? Muggle Studies?” Questioned Leon, “It may be garbage, but it’s not even close to being as tedious and stupid as those two horrible excuses for subjects. Now if you’ll kindly be quiet,” he continued, “Veritaserum is a very complicated draught. You know, I’m actually starting to enjoy Potions class!”
“Fine, then. I’ll just head back to Ravenclaw Tower and—“
“No, don’t leave. You can stay if you want; it’s just that I’m trying to focus on this; I don’t have time to argue about subjects.”
Eruka turned to face the exit to the library once again, “No, it’s fine. I’m still tired after last night; I was up until about twenty-to-four.”
Blair looked shocked. “What was Ms. Eruka doing awake in the early hours of the morning?” said Blair, snidely.
She yawned, and just managed to say, “Ancient Runes homework” through the yawn. “Actually it was studying for the half yearly examination.”
“Half yearly? Has six months really escaped us just like that?” panicked Leon.
“We only have four months left. God knows why they left the half-yearly until so late into the school year.” Eruka left the library and made haste for Ravenclaw Tower.
“Let’s call it a night, too.”
During their next Potions lesson, they had to begin to brew a Polyjuice potion for their examination. They had been instructed that they will be put into groups of two, and that the potion will take a full month to brew. Their teacher pulled out a roll of parchment.
“Gregory and James.
Alexis and Beth.
Zachary and Elliot.
Rebecca and May
Leon hadn’t panicked so hard in months. Who was his partner going to be? Alexis had already been arranged into a group, so he still had Blair, Eruka and Dimitri. If he got anybody else, he didn’t really talk to them or know them that well, so he couldn’t possibly do that good.
“Eruka and Isabella.”
Leon began panicking even more.
“Michael and Blair.”
This was it. He was about to be placed in a group with someone who would hold him back.
“Leon and Dimitri.”
He breathed heavily out of relief: he was with a friend. And it just so happened that Dimitri was interested in Potions. The whole class began breaking up into their groups and heading to different stations to begin brewing their Polyjuice Potion. Dimitri joined Leon.
“How good is it that we’re together, Leon? And brewing a potion I’ve been dying to learn about these past two and a half years!” Said Dimitri enthusiastically. “Wait here, and I’ll grab the ingredients and instructions.” Dimitri walked off towards the professor as Leon sat down. He began to set up the cauldron aand the equipment ready for when Dimitri got back.
About forty minutes into the lesson they had only just started brewing, as the potion was by far, the most complex they have ever covered in class.
“So, what’s this potion meant to do when brewed properly, Dimitri?”
“You have to add someone’s DNA to it by any means at all, and you transform into that person.”
“For how long?”
“Dunno. Guess it depends on how you brew it.”
Leon glanced up at Dimitri, then back down into the potion, and overheard Alexis shouting at her partner, Beth, “No! What are you doing? You boil it AFTER you add the Wolf-bane! Not before you mix it in with the—“
“Listen to them, huh?” Leon and Dimitri laughed together, “Thank god we’re not in a group with her or Eruka.”
“Though they seem to be brilliant at pretty much every subject. I’ve got a feeling their Polyjuice will be the best batch. If it wasn’t for Alexis worrying so much in Dark Arts, I daresay she would be the greatest in every single subject she takes.”
Leon had just come to a realisation after thinking back to his conversation with Willow a while back in the Ravenclaw common room: he didn’t know Dimitri that great either. All he knew was about his escape from Durmstrang.
“Hey, Dimitri, I’ve always wondered, why is it that you’re in Slytherin?”
“I told you I shouldn’t—“
“No. I know you know. There must be some reason.”
Dimitri breathed deeply, “I come from one of the only pureblood families that remain. Every pureblood is always placed in Slytherin.”
“But,” Leon began, “purebloods are the—“
Leon and Dimitri quickly averted their attention away from their potion to look across the room at Michael and Blair’s. They had somehow managed to blow the whole thing up.
“Oh, get yourselves to the hospital wing at once, boys.” Muttered the professor, to the two boys now covered in the beginnings of Polyjuice, as they walked off.
“What were you saying, Leon?”
“I was just saying, that—oh, it’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.”
He changed the subject with a chuckle in his voice, “I can’t believe Blair and his partner actually managed to blow up a Polyjuice Potion! Surely, the ingredients cannot possibly blow it up.”
Dimitri snickered, “Maybe they added something wrong? Wouldn’t surprise me; Blair has never been very good at Potions, has he?”
Once the lesson had finally ended, everyone’s Polyjuice Potion (except for Blair and Michael’s) had only just started brewing; they were told to bring their cauldrons into the storeroom with their lids on…
“…so that foreign objects won’t enter the potion and mess the entire batch! You don’t way a fly’s DNA in your potion, and then go drinking it! They are for human transformations only.” Said the professor as the students placed their cauldrons away.
“So, Dimitri,” began Leon, as they made their way to Herbology, “got any hobbies?”
Dimitri seemed happy that Leon had actually asked him something about his life; as if Dimitri is glad he and Leon are beginning to bond. “Oh, I enjoy playing Quidditch with my siblings. I also enjoy reading books, listening to music.”
“So you have siblings, then?”
“Yes. An older brother and a younger sister.”
“Parents? Do you live with both of them?”
Dimitri seemed to be petrified at being asked this. Quickly, Leon said, “You know what, don’t answer that. I’m sorry.”
“No, it’s okay,” began Dimitri, “it’s just that my mother got sick when I was seven, and died when I was 9, and my father—God knows where he is; he ran off one day, not long before mum died and never came back. Before she passed, my mother asked our grandpa to raise us.”
Leon looked sympathetic, “I’m very sorry, Dimitri.”
“Oh, it’s not that bad anymore. I went to Durmstrang for two years, so I was away from home; it was almost as though my parents were both still with me. I met Alexis and we became very good friends, but our other friend wasn’t so lucky in our attempt to flee the castle, as I’m sure Alexis already explained to you. So now, here I am.”
“Well, if it’s any consolation-which it probably isn’t- I’ve rarely seen my father; he works with the Ministry as an Auror, so I barely seem him. He’s always stuck at work and sometimes he doesn’t even come home. My mother is a Muggle, too.”
They began talking about their personal lives as they made their way to class. It was over halfway through the year and Leon and Dimitri had barely spoken much. They talked about their favourite activities, their favourite subjects, what music they both like, until eventually a silence was drawn upon the two. After thirty seconds, as they approached the professor, ready to begin the lesson, Dimitri said, “Leon, are you prepared? Prepared for Lazarus, I mean. He could attack any day – any second.”
Leon breathed, “I don’t know what I’ll do. I can’t face him alone, surely; he’s much too powerful. I’m just very much concerned for Willow. She doesn’t stand a chance against him, and he enjoy hunting Muggles.”
“Non-Witch!” yelled Dimitri, in a high-pitched, mocking voice, similar to Willow’s.
They both laughed together, and walked towards where Eruka and Blair were seated. “Where’s Alexis?” asked Leon.
“She dropped the subject,” said Eruka.
Leon never paid much attention in Herbology; he knew that was a mistake, but he just could not care less for the class. He may as well be sitting in a six-hour-long History of Magic lesson with no breaks. However, this lesson, he had felt… different.
He could feel that there was something terrible coming.