The Sugar Quill
Author: Sarafu  Story: Hallowed  Chapter: Default
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I've always hated Halloween.

In the Muggle world, my parents always throw a costume party where the guests fawn over my three sisters. Elaine is the prettiest, Aurora is the smartest, and Alexis is the most talented. At those parties, Elaine strolls around with a glamorous costume, Aurora cites trivia and talks about her university courses, and Alexis plays difficult piano pieces to entertain. I never fit in at the parties; I preferred reading Shakespeare in a corner to socializing. I doubt that anyone even knew my parents actually have four daughters. I never managed to cultivate friendships either though. My peers sensed that I was different and shunned me for it. In the end, they were right - I was the only witch in a family of Muggles.

By the end of the summer, I couldn't wait to come to Hogwarts, envisioning the chance to find real friends. The opening year banquet was better than my fantasies, and the other girls in my House are friendly and intelligent. Unfortunately, Su and Morag connected with their similar ambitions and Padma, Lisa, and Mandy bonded over boys. For once though, I didn't mind being on the outside since I had already found a real friend, someone who shares my love of learning and a Muggle background.

Hermione and I met in the library on the second day of classes. She invited me to sit at her table, and soon we were laughing at the way no one could stay awake during History of Magic. We settled into a routine of studying together that first week, giving me a glimpse at the way her classmates spurned her. More than once, a tall redhead passed by and muttered "Bossy know-it-all" to his companion, the famous Harry Potter. I hated the pain in her expression and tried to distract her with stories about my classmates. Meanwhile, I wondered why the Sorting Hat would put her in Gryffindor when she obviously belonged in Ravenclaw with me. She rarely discussed any of the Gryffindors except for Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter, and Ron Weasley, but her words were always filled with an indefinable longing.

I woke up with the hope that that Halloween would be different. After all, I had a friend and a celebration to anticipate. My good mood lasted all morning, and I giggled whenever Kevin tried to frighten us. I was supposed to meet Hermione in the library after Herbology, but I managed to see her in the halls, walking behind the Gryffindor boys. Waiting for her to catch up to me, I didn't know what Ron said, but the tears running down her cheeks as she hurtled past all of us spoke volumes. I started to follow her toward the bathroom where she fled, but her roommates were on her heels, offering words of comfort.

Shrugging, I chose to follow the rest of the Ravenclaws toward our common room, knowing that Hermione will not want to study anytime soon. I figured I would catch up with her at the feast that night. Lisa and I played Wizard Chess all afternoon which offered me a distraction from thinking about Hermione's crying. In the Great Hall, I surveyed the Gryffindor table in hopes of speaking to Hermione but I realized that she was absent. Halfway through dinner, she still hadn't shown up, and I had nearly gathered my courage to lecture Harry Potter and Ron Weasley about the way they mistreat her. As I stood up, Professor Quirrell dashed into the Great Hall, gasping, "Troll - in the dungeon - thought you ought to know," and fainted. Prefects herded our House back to our common room, trying to keep us all calmed down.

In all the uproar, Hermione easily slipped my mind as I listened to everyone speculating about the ways the troll could have entered the castle. The excitement still hadn't died down by the end of the feast in the common room so the older girls decided to organize a Halloween program with each class contributing a skit. Assigned to the ghost story, our class finally chose to do the tragic story of the Gray Lady, our House ghost. When the time came to assign parts, Stephen noticed that Padma has disappeared and asked about her whereabouts.

"She went to check on Parvati. And to get the latest gossip, of course," Mandy giggled.

"She better come back soon." Morag keenly eyed Penelope who was checking on each group.

"She will. I'll be the Gray Lady, and she can have my part. That way, all she has to do is scream a lot. And she's a good screamer anyway." Lisa gave everyone a cheerful smile.

Padma returned within the half hour, knowing everything about the troll. Clearly desperate to share, we all gathered around her, pretending to rehearse our scene. "The troll is gone. Harry Potter and a couple of other first years knocked it out," she announced with quiet drama.

"What? How idiotic!" Su muttered, unimpressed with their heroics.

"What other first years would attempt to take on a troll?" Terry whistled in awe.

"That's the juiciest part of all. That girl with the bushy hair and funny teeth went looking for the troll. Harry and the youngest Weasley were trying to save her from it." Padma's tone was confidential as her dark eyes sparkled with excitement.

"But why? I thought they hated her." I winced inwardly at the jealousy in my tone.

"I don't know, Sally-Anne. I never really thought about it. But I do know that they were all pretty cozy in their common room," she said with a knowing grin.

The conversation swirled over my head as I thought about Hermione and the danger she had been in. I should have followed her that afternoon. I shouldn't have trusted those two airheads to properly take care of her. I could have talked her out of looking for the troll. There was no reason for her to be that courageous. Trolls are for the professors to take care of, not us. And why had they gone to save her anyway? A more likely story was that she had to go along with them because they needed her help. I didn't remember the rest of the night except how mechanical my screams sounded during the performance and falling into bed, grateful that I had survived another Halloween.

I was in much better spirits when I woke the next morning, convinced that Hermione still mattered very little to Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. It's a conviction that wavered only slightly when I glanced at the Gryffindor table at breakfast, and all I saw was Hermione giving homework advice. My daily routine did not change at all. I went to class and even managed to gain a couple of points from Snape for knowing the answer to a question. The day seemed perfectly normal until I reached the library. Our table, usually covered with Hermione's books, was completely empty. She always beat me to the library because I had to come from the dungeon. I thought she was just running late.

Noises through an open window drew my attention, and I walked over to investigate just in time to see Ron Weasley running away from Hermione who was busily pulling leaves out of her robes and glaring at him. Harry Potter just laughed and laughed until she dumped a pile of leaves on his head. She calmly snatched up a pinecone and hurled it at the redhead, nailing him in the shoulder. He moved further away before shouting, "You've got a good arm for such a bossy know-it-OOF!" Her next pinecone pegged him in the stomach, knocking the wind out of his body. She grinned at Harry Potter before turning an angelic smile toward Ron Weasley who had nearly recovered. It was the grin which chased away any conviction I had. The camaraderie on the grounds below was unmistakable and didn't resemble any of the interactions I had with her. It seemed like there was always something missing, and now I know for certain. Turning away, I slowly crossed the floor to our table and moved my bag to another table with a sinking heart.

I still hate Halloween.

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