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18 May 2005 @ 09:28 pm
... it wouldn't be for a dirty little punk like you. Let's be serious.  

Title: Asymmetric Perspective

Rating: Seeing as it's no longer hip -- or legal, or something -- to use film ratings, I'll use manga ones. OT. Swearing, slash, subtle insinuations -- the usual, in other words. Plus random House-bashing. :)

Betas: My precious coralia13 and my rareshipper partner in crime, spectacular.

Disclaimer: Everything belongs to JK; all that's mine is the fact that this sometimes keeps me sane. Other times it drives me round the twist. *starts humming theme tune to Round the Twist* Opening lyrics by Snow Patrol. Oh, and for those who slam rareshipping as an excuse to write what passes for original fiction, bear in mind this simple fact -- everything written in fandom, from the merest Mary Suethor to the most glorified BNF, is original fiction.

Just, the characters aren't.

Summary: Terry Boot holds sole occupancy of an ivory tower and he likes it that way, thank you very much. The perpetual quest for esoteric knowledge kicks arse. People are just confusing and besides being a person himself, he doesn't have very much in common with them ...

I should have just said "Terry Boot, pretty boys and sarongs" like the last time, shouldn't I?

 

Chapter One: Argot

Goodness knows I saw it coming, or at least I’ll claim I did

But in truth I’m lost for words

Birds are not noted for their stunningly high levels of intelligence. The phrase “bird-brained” didn’t come into existence because humans were excruciatingly envious of an emu’s ability to work out quadratic equations. However, everything is relative and it’s a truth universally acknowledged that most of your relatives are stupider than you are. On wading in the gene pool of the two-winged descendants of dinosaurs, it can be said that some birds have, indeed, graduated from doggy-paddle to champion backstroke. Owls are counted among the latter group.

Owls had been chosen aeons before by wizards to be their messengers. This was mainly because magical folk are prey to the same vanities and delusions as those who had to invent reality TV just to produce a decent equivalent to an Imperius. Owls were members of the group of animals perceived by wizards and Muggles alike to be symbols of wisdom. Why this myth made it a “wise” idea to choose them as postmen is one of the quantum leaps of logical idiocy that only humans can achieve.

Ravens would have been a far more sensible choice, especially given their ubiquitous distribution and diurnal habits. However, after the numerous incidents with the eyeballs -- attempts at eating of -- ravens were unceremoniously dropped. Odin may have been on to something with Hughinn and Munnin, but then of course Norwegians will eat anything.

Eagles, after the difficulties experienced in getting them to stop delivering dead mice instead of letters, were also turfed from the ‘Possibilities’ list.

In place of critical path analysis, birds have homing instincts. Sparrows fly miles and miles in pursuit of the sun and no ornithologist has ever satisfactorily explained why. Perhaps they have holiday nests in Bangladesh. If they do, they aren’t sharing their real estate tips with robins.

It only took the concerted efforts of two or three bright wizards to introduce a magical strain to owl genetics which enabled owls to use that same instinct to hone in on the recipients of letter and parcels. Like most very useful discoveries, it was simple. Anyone could have thought of it.

Those who did were all Ravenclaw alumni, which annoyed Slytherins because they were supposed to be the cunning ones. However, there was nothing cunning about seeing the potential in something that was already there.

In terms of the creatures themselves, the Gryffindors would have opted for something grandiose but hopelessly inefficient, like lions.

Hufflepuffs would have preferred an animal that was quite a bit less aloof than owls were and which, perhaps, could be groomed and have ribbons tied around its neck. Fortunately -- or unfortunately, depending on your view -- few people ever listened to Hufflepuffs, much less took notice of their ideas. The majority of Hufflepuffs were born to be the ones who, when great discoveries were unearthed and fantastic innovations developed, made the tea.

If the Slytherins had had their way, massive efforts would have been siphoned into creating an entirely new creature for the purpose -- a terrifying and magnificent snake-shark-Kneazle hybrid, perhaps. With a name like Eructalion.

Only two or three Slytherins in the history of the world ever managed to completely succeed in seeing the potential in what was already there. As a House, they could at times be as flashy and shambolic as Gryffindors with a new cause to burble about.

In any case, it was all bluster on the parts of the other Houses. They were in fact very grateful to be able to correspond with other wizards in such a straightforward manner. The Floo Network and Portkeying were, at the time, primitive mechanisms still in the development stages -- and also the brain-children of Ravenclaws. It took Ravenclaws to be practical enough to do what had to be done.

None of the wizards and witches responsible enjoyed having their eyes sought after as a nutritional delicacy or having deceased rodents dropped into their dinner. This was why, despite the pleasing cognomen and mascot analogies, ravens and eagles were eventually scratched as possible candidates. It was also why, on one winter morning several centuries later, a parliament of owls and not an unkindness of ravens or a convocation of eagles were winging their way to a single destination.

The parliament was treated to an amazing view comprising a vast, iron-grey lake and a forbidding castle. Unfortunately for them, their brains were designed to ignore stunning panoramas and purple-misted vistas in favour of focusing on things like small mammals rustling in the undergrowth, otherwise known as lunch, dinner and tea. This, given all the wonder that spread before them on a regular basis, seemed almost spectacularly unfair. But then again, no one promised that life would be fair. Or even that it would be particularly long.

Of course, Dumbledore had not assumed his Animagus form for years. Of course, he had nothing to with what happened. Of course, if the owl had known the reason behind everything and was in a position to comprehend it, it would have been happy to become a martyr to the cause. Of course.

*~*

“Oi! Boot!”

Terry looked up in annoyance. He was ambushed by the urge to visit cruel and unusual punishment upon someone. To be specific, the person who had decided it was appropriate to call his name in such a casual and, above all, very loud voice. Badinage of any kind was not something from which he gleaned a cosmic amount of joy. Being strong-armed into it in one of the library’s inner sanctums was, for him, nothing less than criminally distasteful.

Zacharias Smith was standing before him, hands shoved so deep into his pockets his neck was practically horizontal. He had a supercilious expression on his face. This was nothing new; in fact it was verging on being a default trait, akin to Harry Potter biting his lip or Cho Chang bursting into tears. Terry had long considered that Zacharias’ expression was orchestrated by a permanently scrunched-up mouth and having one eyebrow that was higher than the other. Terry wouldn’t have been surprised to discover that Zacharias plucked them in order to accomplish this. He was that sort of boy.

“May I help you?” asked Terry. His voice was only a little above a whisper. Terry was a subscriber to the “Learning By Example” school of thought.

Zacharias was clearly not a fellow advocate, for his next words were at an equally strident decibel. “You know French, right?” His manner seemed to suggest that French was a person and one, moreover, for whom Zacharias felt nothing less than the deepest disdain.

“If you mean the written and spoken language, then yes -- I have a working knowledge of it.” Terry wiped his quill on his robes. It was a habit to which he’d become accustomed during the difficulties he’d initially experienced when learning how to write with a quill instead of a biro. He wished Zacharias would leave and allow Terry to finish his Arithmancy essay in peace.

Zacharias had always been in the habit of asking pointed questions, as long as Terry had known him. Often they were so pointed it was surprising that they couldn’t tear holes in, for example, concrete. The whole concept of tact was one which had bypassed Zacharias entirely, although “taken a ship to the other side of the world and built a ten-foot wall to keep him out” was, in Terry’s opinion, a more truthful assessment. All the same, his aggressive delivery of this latest inquiry was nothing short of boggling, given its more or less innocuous nature.

Terry wasn’t surprised that Zacharias had come to him for linguistic aid. Terry was considered to be something of a language buff. He was surprised, though, that Zacharias had come to him for linguistic aid.

“You shouldn’t do that. Ink stains, you know,” announced Zacharias.

Terry gave Zacharias an incredulous look. He decided it was fair to assume that the boy had been dropped on his head repeatedly as a small child. He wondered for a moment what it would be like to live in Zacharias’ world. A world where people, having written essays and notes and diary entries and lists and so on for about eleven and a half years, could be unaware of the fact that ink had staining properties.

After Zacharias’ fourth outburst, other people in the vicinity were starting to take notice of his presence. As it was a favoured area for Ravenclaws to study, it was usually so quiet one could not only have heard a pin drop, but also the angels dancing on the head of said pin arguing about how many of them could fit if they wanted to launch a conga line. Zacharias didn’t seem to notice that he was the beneficiary of several nasty looks, all loaded with the quiet fierceness of ruffled academics. Then again, he was Zacharias Smith. It was quite possible that he was immune to glaring at this point.

“I’m aware of that,” replied Terry at last, when it became evident that Zacharias wasn’t going to make his departure. On the contrary, he had plonked himself down on a chair which he dragged closer to Terry’s table without standing up. The legs made a teeth-clenching squeal as they scraped along the flagstones. Hoping to chivvy Zacharias into going about his business in a speedier manner, Terry prompted, “You wanted to discuss la belle Français, I take it?”

“Yeah, if by that you mean you speak Frog.” Zacharias was peeling the feathers away from the rib of Terry’s favourite quill. His air of utter unawareness of the offence he was creating made the action all the more heinous. “I want you to translate something into Frog-talk for me.”

“I see.” Terry was cautious. He found it a wise approach to take with any given human being, particularly those who wanted something from him. Moreover, Zacharias was one of the more explosive individuals Terry had encountered. He ranked up there with Harry Potter, in Terry’s estimation. Explosive people required careful handling, as they rarely had a firm grip on their own fuses.

Zacharias rummaged about in the pocket of his robes, depositing string, two marbles, a broken quill-tip and a handful of small change on top of the wet ink of Terry’s essay. Terry marvelled at his unconscious audacity. He also just managed not to kill him. At length, Zacharias produced a crumpled bit of parchment, which he thrust at Terry as if it carried something contagious.

Terry himself wasn’t sure that it didn’t, even though he lacked the innate Hufflepuff loathing for the “disease” of pretentiousness. It was this same loathing that often carried over into their approach to literature, philosophy, pop psychology and their schoolwork or lack thereof. Terry opened up Zacharias' parchment with the greatest care. He read over the sentence -- which was scrawled in a loopy, messy hand -- and raised his eyebrows.

“May I enquire as to what use you will be putting this -- uh -- translation?”

“Are you saying you can’t do it?” Zacharias looked on the point of snatching back his parchment, but Terry held it in his lap, out of reach.

“I didn’t say that.” Honestly, the boy couldn’t be more annoying if he’d taken lessons in irritation at a boot camp. “I am merely intrigued by your plans for the future employment of this phrase.”

“Well --” Zacharias wrinkled his brow. What with the uneven eyebrows, he looked like an cross bulldog. “It’s for when I’m talking to the Frogs. Obviously. I mean, why else would I need the words in Frog language?”

“Why indeed,” murmured Terry. “If you will allow me to be detain you for approximately five minutes, I should be able to come up with a suitable French version.”

“Cheers, mate.” Zacharias leaned back in his chair and surveyed his surroundings with interest.

After a few moments, Terry realised he’d begun to flick his nails. The tiny sound fell into the silence in a way that recalled that of the first pebbles of a landslide plinking off a sheer cliff-face.

Terry grit his teeth and hurried on with wracking his brains -- the sooner he finished this task, the sooner Zacharias would go away. Then Terry could stop harbouring homicidal thoughts and Stephen’s snores would no longer have a rival in the “Most Maddening Sound in the World” stakes.

“With whom will you be conversing?” Terry had it figured out, but he needed to know if the person required the familiar or formal “you”.

“What?” Zacharias jumped as if he’d been woken from a daze and simultaneously stung by an irate wasp.

“Who will you be talking to?” repeated Terry with, in the circumstances, canonisation-worthy patience.

Zacharias’ face bore an improbable hunted appearance. “Um. Frogs. Frenchies. Like I said.”

“And I heard you. However, if they are your friends it will entail a different personal noun than if they are your superiors, or if they are strangers to you.”

“Friends with Frogs? Those smelly onion-snoggers?” snorted Zacharias. “Not bloody likely.” He caught sight of Terry’s astonished face and back-tracked with haste. “Uh. I mean to say. Friends. He -- they’re my friends.”

“Excellent.” Terry was once more lost in the abstract world of memory and knowledge. He didn’t let on that he’d noticed Zacharias’ gender slip. After all, it would save Terry asking him whether these “friends” were mostly male or mostly female.

Although Zacharias seemed to be rather on edge about something -- and a very sharp, serrated edge at that -- Terry didn’t probe. The last thing he wanted was to be brought into the horrid boy’s confidence.

There was a moment of blessed calm as Terry wrote the translation on a clean piece of parchment, torn so that the corners were perfect right angles. He pushed it across the table, hoping his script -- which was naturally crabbed and small -- was legible. He wasn’t exactly gagging to spend more time in Zacharias’ company.

Zacharias read it and mouthed the words to himself. Terry pre-empted his next question by answering it.

“I can write you a phonetic guide as well, if you wish.”

“Go on, then.” Zacharias sounded relieved. Terry realised he’d inadvertently saved Zacharias from making a fool of himself upon trying to pronounce the translation.

It hadn’t been his intention. Given the nature of their conversation and the niggling point that Zacharias was keeping him from his assignment, Terry’s thoughts were verging more towards hoping a bookshelf would fall on Zacharias than desiring that he retain his dignity. Still, Terry wasn’t cruel by nature and there was nothing wrong with fostering a little goodwill between the Houses, albeit by accident.

Once Terry had added the pronunciation, Zacharias proffered a perfunctory thanks and scuttled off. Terry watched him leave with a thoughtful frown.

Terry was a Ravenclaw. Ravenclaws did not turn away seekers to the fount of knowledge, no matter the circumstances.

He didn’t know Zacharias very well. Even at DA meetings, which gave Terry the most contact with him, Terry’s attention had been focused on Harry and Hermione because they were the ones to watch in terms of further enlightenment. As far as he could recall, Zacharias had also concentrated solely on Harry, although his aims seemed to be more of the “Let’s see how pissed off I can make Harry before he actually explodes” variety.

For all Terry knew, Zacharias could very well be feuding with French people. From what Terry had heard of his opinion of the race, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to imagine that Zacharias was quarrelling with a couple of Beauxbatons students. Although Slytherins thought they had written the book on holding grudges, there was nothing in the world as tenacious as a bolshy Hufflepuff.

Besides which, Terry was only nosy when it came to juicy information on thaumatological logarithms or developments in Transfiguration theory. People didn’t often catch his interest quite to the same extent.

Therefore, Terry never thought to ask why Zacharias wanted to drop an expression like “Je pense que tu es le plus grand couillon partout dans le monde” into casual conversation.

*~*

“Oi! Boot!”

Terry grit his teeth as he shoved a bookmark into The Effects of Ethnography and Articulation upon the Efficacy of Charm-Related Spell-Casting. He wished he had been sent the memo when it became unpopular to greet people in normal way. For example by saying, “Hello, Terry,” as opposed to acting as if they were at some unholy hybrid of punk rock concert and army headquarters instead of a mere school.

He turned to confront the person hailing him and hid his grimace at seeing whom it was. Anthony Goldstein, wearing the smile that never quite reached his eyes, accompanied by Stephen Cornfoot, Snorer Extraordinaire, Kevin Entwhistle, whose hair was green this week and Michael Corner, who was sometimes called Mike by those who wanted a right duffing-up.

“May I help you?” said Terry, the manners which had been drummed into him as a child rising to the fore as they always did when he was feeling frustrated or was interrupted whilst reading. The two events were indistinguishable, after all.

“It’s more a case of what we can do for you,” said Anthony, dropping on to the sofa. Kevin and Stephen followed suit, so that Terry was squashed up against the arm. Michael stood behind them, yawning and rubbing his neck.

“Harry said to pass along the message that the DA is starting up again next Saturday afternoon,” volunteered Stephen, when it became clear that Anthony was waiting to be flattered into sharing the information. Anthony shot Stephen a glare. Stephen merely scowled back.

Out of all of them, Stephen was the one whom Terry disliked least intensely. Anthony was pure malice wrapped up in a diaphanous outer coating of deceptive charm. Kevin was a large boy who had felt the separation from his rugby ball most keenly when he first arrived at Hogwarts. Terry’s head had provided a convenient replacement in the early days. Compared to Anthony, however, he was as soft and cuddly as a marshmallow teddy-bear. Michael was just a flighty, unreliable idiot. Stephen, on the other hand, at least tried to temper his friends’ treatment of Terry -- even if he never managed to put himself out to stop them entirely.

“Are you going to attend this time?” asked Terry, choosing his words carefully. These four boys could find innuendo in the word “tomatoes”. He made sure not to let them realise that this news wasn’t news at all, at least for him.

Harry had never reinstated the DA after its dramatic disbandment during fifth year. Terry gathered that this was because he’d spent sixth year in mourning for Sirius Black, the murderous felon who had turned out to be not a murderous felon after all, but Harry’s godfather. Padma had been greatly intrigued by the whole story, but personally Terry thought it wasn’t really anyone’s business but Harry’s. Terry did regret the passing of the DA, which had been an excellent opportunity to hone his Defence skills. His practical magic was all over the place, mainly due to his stage fright.

“Yes, I will.” Stephen nodded along with his words, as if he were chatting to a third, invisible person. “Kevin here said he’d come too, didn’t you, Kev?”

Kevin ignored the question, instead peering around Stephen to look Terry right in the eyes. Terry shrunk back against the seat, hoping he didn’t look too much like the frozen-in-the-lamplight rabbit he felt he was. To be fair, Kevin could demonstrate more violent intent with one palpitating nostril than most hardened criminals could achieve wielding a twelve-inch oak baton with nails in it.

“I don’t know why Potter’s bothering.” Anthony, cheated of an opportunity to torment Terry, was sulking. “Lovebright’s a perfectly acceptable teacher, so long as she doesn’t talk too much.”

“Yes, it’s a pity you can’t look up Harry’s robes, isn’t it?” Stephen rolled his eyes, but Anthony didn’t appear to be affronted by his assertion.

From various overheard conversations, Terry knew that Professor Lovebright’s charms were a topic of conversation that, for them, superseded even the “Who We’d Do If We Got The Chance” list -- of which Lovebright was always in the top three. Her hyper demeanour and idiosyncrasies of speech rarely came into the reckoning, because the boys really weren’t drafting conversational skills into the ratings.

“I think starting the DA again is a good idea,” continued Stephen. Terry silently agreed. “Now’s the time to learn some stuff that’s not on the syllabus -- hardcore Defence -- before we get out into the real world and have to face down these ruddy Dark Wizards.”

The words that lay unspoken dealt with the recent Azkaban breakout; there were now many more Dark Wizards slipping under the radar than at any time since the last war against Voldemort.

Anthony coughed. He managed to fit a leer into it, though. He was a man of many talents. “Oh, I think Lovebright’s pretty hardcore,” he said.

“No wonder your results are so dire, Anthony. All you do in that class is ogle the professor.” Stephen’s amusement carried a hint of disapproval.

“And you don’t?” Anthony scowled. He hated being brought to task on anything.

“Of course I do.” Stephen’s voice was even. “What do I look like, a corpse? I don’t let it affect my grades, though.”

“Bugger off picking on me, Cornfoot,” said Anthony, sounding sullen. “Michael’s results are the worst of all of us.”

“That’s true,” agreed Stephen, turning around to fix Michael with a hard stare. Anthony did the same. Terry’s seating space was severely compromised by these movements; in addition, it drove the spine of his book into his thigh. He compressed his lips and started reciting the twelve uses of dragons’ blood in his head. He found it to be an effective method of combating the rage that he so often suffered from, because it usually happened when he was too far away from a handy pillow -- for screaming into.

“What? Did someone say my name?” Michael blinked at them. “Sorry, I was miles away.”

“Up Lovebright’s skirt,” suggested Anthony, his tone arch. The others sniggered .

Michael shook his hair out of his eyes. As it seemed to fall in them no matter what he did to it, the unconscious head-toss had become one of his signature mannerisms. “Hardly,” he said, with a sigh in his voice. “She’s not my type and I think I’m allergic to her bloody perfume.”

“It isn’t perfume,” Terry couldn’t stop himself from volunteering, “it’s a Redolence Charm. And you can’t be -- allergic to -- Charms --”

His voice trailed away as one blue and three brown pairs of eyes turned to him. Four faces wore identical expressions of shock that would have been well-qualified to compete with that of the Creator’s on waking up on the Seventh Day and discovering he’d forgotten the dinosaurs.

“And how on earth did you discover that, Terry?” Stephen’s voice was warm and indulgent, as if Terry were a two-year-old presenting him with a full potty.

Terry bristled at the condescension, but they were expecting an answer so there was no time to start listing off “One: is efficacious in the brewing of many potions, Two: has properties akin to …” in order to achieve inner calm. When he spoke, therefore, his voice was trembling with suppressed outrage. However, as many things -- from being forced to read aloud in class to talking with people he didn’t know -- gave Terry’s voice a shaky quality, it passed unheeded.

“Perfumes have a tendency to wear off after a very few hours,” he explained, fixing his eyes at a spot beside Michael’s head so that he wouldn’t be further incensed by the amused expression on Stephen’s face, or the contemptuous one on Anthony’s. Kevin merely looked constipated, but then again he always did. “In addition, the olfactory neurons in the nose accustom us to the scent so that after one second, fifty percent of the smell sensations disappear. However, Professor Lovebright always smells of roses, even at the end of the day. Moreover, if you have occasion to converse with her for a few minutes, you will notice that the somewhat heady attar lingers when it should have diffused.”

“I don’t suppose she could have, I don’t know, topped up on her perfume after every class?” There was something very cold about the challenge that Anthony issued in his question, but Terry knew that he was the one who was right. Secure in that knowledge, he could have faced down lions, tigers and Dark Lords, although possibly not Kevin.

“I assumed that myself, initially.” Terry glanced at Anthony’s face, clocked the pronounced sneer and looked away again. He noticed that one of the ship’s lanterns behind Michael’s head had a panel missing. “However, there were other signs, such as the fact that the professor wears a bracelet with a rose quartz bead embedded in it. In and of itself this would be nothing remarkable --” especially given her propensity to wear more bangles than Shiva, Terry added mentally “-- but if you investigate closely, you will see that it contains a faint golden glow -- the hallmarks of a contained Redolence Charm.”

“Why the hell do you know so much about perfume, Boot?” Anthony loaded the word “perfume” with several tonnes of disdain. From his attitude one would never guess that he squandered a small fortune in the Magical Scents Emporium every Hogsmeade visit.

It was a source of no little incomprehension to Terry that Anthony -- whose façade of charm was so transparent that it could have been marketed as window-glass -- managed to convince girls to go out with him on what was an almost continuous basis. Squandering a small fortune in the Magical Scents Emporium every Hogsmeade visit was probably a contributing factor.

“Not perfume,” corrected Terry with some asperity, “Charms. I did a project last year.”

“I don’t remember that,” said Stephen, frowning.

“It wasn’t compulsory.” In fact, Professor Flitwick had nearly fainted when Terry had asked if he could do some extra work for his class. Professor McGonagall had been equally surprised -- although less melodramatic -- when Terry had suggested the same for Transfiguration after Christmas. Teaching as a profession seemed to be a haven for cynics and drama queens. Professor Snape, after all, embodied both.

Anthony snorted, loudly, demonstrating his bête-noir of not being the centre of attention. “Well, I’ve never heard of this -- Rendolence Charm.”

“Redolence,” amended Terry, and played his trump card. “Professor Lovebright has. She seemed pleased that I’d spotted it when I asked her if that’s what it was.”

He held his tongue about why he had been talking to her in the first place. It was only due to his overwhelming quest for erudition that he’d managed to summon up the courage to approach someone who dressed so unconventionally, and disconcertingly, in the first place. Unconventional for a witch, anyway. Terry was aware that Lovebright’s low-cut, sequinned robes, often worn open over short frilly skirts, could easily pass her off as Muggle indoctrinate of the boho movement, or at the very least a Muggle prostitute.

Of course, Terry got equally flustered when it came to sharing dormitory-space with four other boys who walked around half-naked with nary a blush. Any exposed skin at all perturbed him.

No, it was Lovebright’s manner -- effervescent in the manner of a too-much-shaken bottle of Butterbeer -- that unnerved him more. However, he knew from close observation that Lovebright was actually a very kind sort of person. That was why he’d felt no compunction about asking her to supply him with an extra Defence Against the Dark Arts assignment to cover him until Christmas.

The surprising thing was that she was not surprised by his request. The other surprising thing was that she’d refused to comply with it.

“You don’t seem to, like, socialise much, Terry,” she’d said, her glittery mouth curving into a smile that seemed almost sad. “I reckon you totally need to get a hobby. Join the Charms Club, maybe. Filius told me that you were OH MY GOD, his best student! With Hermione Granger, natch.”

Terry had remained silent. The Charms Club centred around the finding and practising of Charms on other people. While he would have loved to dip into the combined knowledge the members brought together, his stomach squirmed at the thought of having to get up in front of a crowd of people to tell them about the new Charms he’d turned up, or of demonstrating them.

Lovebright had seemed to realise that if she continued in this vein she’d soon be conversing with herself. “I think that Harry Potter is planning to start up his little vigilante group again. OH MY GOD, not vigilante. I mean, like, the Practical Defence Army thingummy. You know?”

“Dumbledore’s Army?” Terry had said, privately wondering if Lovebright’s “vigilante” comment had been a Freudian slip or not.

“The very one!” Lovebright had beamed, displaying a bright row of teeth, all of which -- against nature -- seemed to be the same size. “Alby -- OH MY GOD, Professor Dumbledore! -- said that Harry had come to him to have a talk about it. If he does, you should totally join!”

“I was in the first one.” Terry had felt moved to inform her of this. Admittedly, the first few times his stomach had turned to an ice floe, complete with Emperor penguins and ozone-depletion-melt, on entering the Room of Requirement. Fortunately, it soon became clear that Harry was going to operate things on a classroom-like basis. This, while still nerve-wracking, was at least familiar.

“That’s good!” Lovebright had a very searching gaze, Terry found. It was quite a lot like Kevin’s, although it lacked the latter’s bowel-loosening qualities. “You know, Terry … not everything worth knowing is, like, found in a book.”

“Yes, I know.” Before Terry could help himself, he had opened his mouth again. When it came out, his voice was very dry indeed. “I hear sex only really works with at least one other person.”

“OH MY GOD, you cheeky thing!” Far from looking offended by his comment, Lovebright had appeared almost proud -- or something. Terry wasn’t very adept at reading people; their emotions and desires were, aha, a closed book to him. “Well, I think you should make your project this term something totally different. Like getting a girlfriend, maybe?”

Terry had no idea what his face had looked like at her suggestion. However, it could not have borne an expression that showed a immeasurable quantity of delight at the thought, given her hasty volte-face.

“Eh, well, perhaps that’s out of my capacity,” Lovebright had added. “Still, you’ll totally ace anything you put your mind to.”

Terry was doubtful of that. He hadn’t yet mastered the walking on water thing.

She’d patted him on the shoulder -- a maternal gesture, from the look on her face, although Anthony would almost certainly have construed it otherwise. Terry’d noticed the bauble on her wrist, an illustration of which he’d come across in a dull treatise on Charms the year before. That was when he’d asked her if she used the Redolence Charm and, when she’d affirmed it, got into a discussion with her about its properties.

Not that he’d let on to Anthony in a million years, but he’d designed a citrus one for himself. It was tied to a strip of leather around his neck, under a t-shirt which was only ever removed when there was a locked bathroom door behind him.

Which brought them up to the present time and Anthony’s half-disdainful, half-wildly-jealous stare. He’d never managed to hold a conversation with Lovebright that went beyond “What does this mean?” This was yet more evidence of her intelligence, in Terry’s opinion -- that she didn’t supply Anthony with an opening to ply her with sly comments overflowing with more double entendres than a flooded cocktail bar.

Continued in .:part ii:.

 
 
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