"And, um, that's why I was wondering... wondering if you could teach me," Kendra whispered quietly, eyes nervously flickering up.
The boy's expression hadn't changed, which wasn't helping Kendra's nerves. Her heart was hammering in her chest, and with the way he was looking at her she felt like he could hear it. This wasn't the first time she had talked to him, but she had honestly never had any meaningful conversation with the seventh year before. He was a whole year older, in a completely different house, and one of her brother's best friends.
"You want to learn the Patronus charm?" He asked after a moment, a slight frown crossing his face. "It's not part of any years' curriculum–"
"That's why I want to know if you could help me, Bracken," Kendra blurted out. She mentally cringed, and forced herself to slow down as she continued. "I've been trying to do it on my own, I've read up on every resource I could find but I'm just not getting anywhere. Seth said that you knew how to produce a corporeal Patronus so I thought..."
"Ah," Bracken said, a small smile appearing, though his blue eyes looked distant. "Seth, of course."
"I don't want to be a bother," Kendra said hurriedly, glancing down at the ground. "But if you could help me in any way, just advice or–"
"Tell me, why do you want to learn to summon a Patronus?" Bracken asked, and immediately Kendra went still.
The memory rose in her mind, the horrible coldness washing over her. The way her body seemed to slow down, refusing the desire to run, the large shapes gliding in the distance–
"Never mind," Bracken said before Kendra could offer an answer. "I'd be glad to help you in anyway I can. When do you Ravenclaws have a free period? We need to figure out a time to meet."
Kendra's heart leapt, slightly startled at this response. "I, um, you don't need to do that, just some pointers would be more than enough–"
The Slytherin smirked. "You said you wanted me to teach you, didn't you? In that case we should find a time to meet up. Any free time on Thursdays?"
"...The hour before dinner?"
"Perfect," Bracken said, sitting up a bit. "Ask that brother of yours to tell you how to get into the Room of Requirement, and I'll meet you there on Thursday," He smiled. "See you around."
Before Kendra could even ask what on earth the Room of Requirement was Bracken had turned, the silver-haired boy heading down the hallways without another word, leaving her standing there.
Figures her brother had access to a room that could literally give you anything you needed, and he of coursed used it for pranks. She knew that she shouldn't be too surprised, Gryffindors seemed to have built up a reputation over the years for being pranksters. Besides, the look on Seth's and Eve's faces had been priceless when she had asked about the room, probably thinking she was going to sell them out to a teacher.
Of course Seth hadn't missed a beat, giving her a knowing smirk when she had said that Bracken had told her about the room, a teasing 'ooo' having escaped him once he learned that she planned on meeting the Slytherin male there. She had done her best to ignore him, she was just going to be studying with Bracken after all.
But there was no denying that he was cute.
Kendra scowled at the thought as she made her ways through the halls, trying to find this 'Room of Requirement'. Yes, Bracken was cute. That was simply a fact, not her opinion, and it was something that didn't matter. She was merely just going to be studying with him, learning how to finally master the Patronus charm, and that was where her focus would be.
Besides, there was no way the pureblood Slytherin would even glance at a muggleborn like her.
She paused outside a blank wall, glancing about. This seemed to be where Seth had told her the room would be, though she honestly didn't see any sign that any kind of room would be here. She hesitated, knowing that now she apparently needed to walk past it three times, but it didn't make sense that something so simple would activate what clearly must be a complicated charm. She had studied masking and hiding spells before, and they were very difficult charms to master, the spells involving a great deal of power and sometimes other magical sources for them to work properly.
She began to pace the wall though, focusing her thoughts on the fact that she needed a room to study in. That's what Seth had said to do. Was that really how to get the room to appear? Just thoughts? It wasn't adding up, there wasn't even some sort of summoning spell to make the door appear? She hesitated as she walked past it a second time, doubts starting to form. What if this was just a prank that Seth, Eve, and Bracken were playing on her? It wouldn't be the first time the three of them had caused trouble.
She walked by a third time, again focusing on the fact that she needed a room to study in She turned back towards the wall, expecting it to still be a wall– and her eyes widened when she now saw a door standing there. It was a simple one, just like a door to any other classroom, and absolutely no sign that it had just appeared. Kendra approached it, staring at the door as she reached for it, half expecting an illusion.
Her hand grasp the handle, and the door pulled open with ease.
It look just like the many classrooms in the school, a chalkboard and desks. Except for the desks had been pushed to the side, piled near some book shelves in the back of the room. Sitting on top of one of the desks was Bracken, twirling his wand between his fingers. He looked up as she closed the door, smiling.
"You came," He said, sounding quite cheerful.
Kendra was just staring at him. "...This kind of magic shouldn't be possible."
Bracken frowned. "What magic?"
"This!" Kendra exclaimed, gesturing around the room. "A whole classroom just hidden here? Responding to thoughts, not even a spell or a magical object? How is that even possible? Masking charms shouldn't be that simple–"
The Slytherin let out a laugh, causing Kendra to fall silent. He ran a hand through his silvery hair, before looking around the room as well. "I promise you there's no masking charms here. This isn't a hidden room, the Room of Requirement creates a room to fit your needs, not just revealing one."
"That's... that's even more impossible," Kendra protested, though her voice sounded more awed than anything. She glanced around the classroom one more time, mind thinking back through every book she had read and class she had attended– but she had never heard of magic such as this.
"It's very ancient magic," Bracken said, saying the only explanation that Kendra could think of. "I'm not sure if there is anyone today that could cast such complex magic– the few that know about this room believe that Ravenclaw herself made this room."
"...You have a magical room that the Rowena Ravenclaw might of created– and you use it for pranks."
Bracken grinned, though he looked slightly hesitant. "Well there was no point in just letting it go to waste... Besides, we are going to be using it for learning magic now," He tossed his wand up into the air, standing up and catching it. "So, ready to master the Prantrous charm?"
Kendra still had a dozen questions about the room, but she was sure she could get answers from Seth about it later.
Bracken paused. "How did Seth react when you asked him about the room? He always said you were the last person that should know about it, that you'd sell us out to a teacher."
Kendra tried not to roll her eyes. "Of course he'd say that. As for how he reacted, it looked like he was going to have a mini heart attack– I'm pretty sure this room is the last thing he expected me to ask him about."
Due to being in different years and different houses she unfortunately didn't see her brother as much as she'd like to, and even if they didn't have much of the same interests she still considered them to be close. Seth was your typical Gryffindor though– reckless, a rule bender, and it would probably do him some good to put a damper on his pride. She still wasn't quite sure how he and and Eve, who were only in their fourth year, had become so close to Bracken– but all three were best of friends.
"I thought that would happen," Bracken chuckled. "He's always been so adamant about no one finding out about this place," He cleared his throat. "Anyways, we're way off topic– Patronouses. You said you've been reading up on it yourself?"
"Um, yes," She said. "There's hardly any books about it in the library, and everything basically says the same thing. That it's a very advance charm, but when done properly it can conjure a guardian to protect you. The guardian takes the form of an animal, unique to that person, and it's the only spell that's effective against... dementors."
Just saying that word sent shivers through her. Kendra shifted her gaze away from Bracken, trying to keep herself composed. She forced the memories to the back of her mind, but yet she could still feel the chills forming on her arms. She took in a deep breath, then returned her gaze to Bracken.
He was looking at her in concern, but when he spoke seemed relaxed. "Can you show me the charm?"
She stiffened up slightly. "Oh, I can't really do anything–"
"Just show me what you got," He replied. "Remember, it's a very complex charm, there's no shame in not having it mastered."
"You can summon a corporeal Patronus though," She said, hesitantly taking out her wand. She uncertainly gripped it, for some reason feeling very nervous. She knew that she couldn't do the spell... and she didn't want someone to watch her fail when she knew that she could pull off almost any other charm in a heartbeat.
Bracken's eyes shifted away. "...I practiced the Patronus charm the moment I got my hands on a wand... I've had plenty of time to learn," His gaze returned to her. "The best way to learn, Kendra, is to actually do it. Please just show me the charm."
She swallowed, but turned towards the center of the classroom. She tried to focus on the fact that she was going to be learning more about this spell, something she had wanted for a long time. She knew the spell was fueled by happiness, so she let that thought be her focus.
She raised her wand, taking in a deep breath, and moved it in a circular motion. "Expecto Patronum."
Her voice was quiet, but firm. She felt a warmth in her wand, and a silvery cloud burst out of the end. The misty light hovered there in the air for a moment, before it began to disperse– the same result she had always gotten. She had been excited when she had first summoned the silver wisps, but she had never been able to improve from there.
She turned back towards Bracken, whose eyes were wide.
"I know, it's not much," Kendra began.
"Not much?" He let out a small laugh, shaking his head. "Kendra, you do realize that's the most that many wizards are able to summon, right?"
"But it's not the whole spell–" She protested, but Bracken held up a hand.
"No, what I mean is that many adults wizards to struggle to even summon that much of a Patronus. The fact that you've gotten yourself this far just from self teaching... that's impressive. Really impressive."
He smiled, and she felt some heat in her cheeks.
"Um, I'm sure–"
"No, not just anyone could," He said. "Like you said yourself, this is a really complex spell," He took a step towards her, grabbing her wrist so that her wand was higher into the air. "Now, as for where we should start, I'd say hand movement. You got the right wave, but it's the final point that's very important–" He was moving her hand about as he spoke, showing her how to hold the wand, when he suddenly stopped. He let go of her, taking a slight step back. "Oh! Sorry, I shouldn't have just–"
"No, it's fine," Kendra said swiftly. "You're... you're just showing me what to do..."
He flashed her an apologetic smile. "That was still no excuse to just grab you," He walked over so they were standing side by side, but still there was a pace between them. "Here, just watch what I do."
He went over how to wave the wand once more, which was the same as what Kendra had read, but he showed her how to put the correct emphasis with the wave. She tried the spell once more, quietly muttering it with a wave, and was startled at the warmth that ran through her. A small silvery light shimmered at the end of her wand, though it quickly faded due to the lack of force behind the spell.
But the fact that the movement itself had been enough to summon some light was what surprised her, she quickly tried the spell once more, raising her voice and focusing on the small happy feeling in her chest. A bright burst flew out of the end of her wand, the same silvery mist as before, but it came much swifter than any of her previous attempts.
And maybe she was just being hopeful, but it most certainly had looked brighter.
"That's perfect!" Bracken beamed, a smile on his face as he looked at the light that was beginning to fade in front of them.
"Still not how the spell is supposed to be though," Kendra said.
"Stop being hard on yourself– that was very good," Bracken insisted. "It's going to take more than one day to master it, but you are well on your way."
Kendra hesitated. "...Do you think you could show me what your Patronus looks like? Maybe seeing an actual one will help me?"
Bracken's smile immediately fell. He glanced at his wand, thumb running along its base. He hesitated for a moment. "...Next time," He said slowly. "It's almost dinner time, so we should probably wrap this up. Do you want to meet here next week?"
Kendra's heart skipped a beat. "Are you okay with that?"
"I said I would help you, didn't I? As long as it still works for you let's meet here again next week, same time."
"Actually I have Quidditch practice next Thursday," She said uncertainly.
She racked her brain. "Before dinner again? I think that should work..."
"Perfect," Bracken said, and he smiled again. "I'll see you then."
"Thank you for everything," Kendra began. "If there's anyway I can repay you–"
"Just keep this room a secret," He winked. "You know, because Seth would kill me otherwise."
She shook her head. "I highly doubt Seth would be able to do a thing do you."
"Don't underestimate him, last time we dueled in here he left me with quite a nasty burn."
She paled. "Seth's been dueling?!"
He paused. "...Um, yeah– keep that a secret too. And before you hex me, no, we're not actually dueling– just practicing," Bracken grinned. "You know, just some more learning. You should be cool with that as a Ravenclaw, right?"
"Well, maybe he should be putting more effort into schoolwork..."
He laughed. "I'll see you around Kendra."
And with that he headed out of the Room of Requirement, leaving Kendra alone in the empty classroom.
There was nothing Kendra loved more than flying– the wind in her hair, the rush of speed as she urged her broomstick forward– it was a thrill unlike anything else. It was hard at times to believe that only a few years ago she had been terrified of the idea, but now she bolted about through the air like it was second nature.
"Sorenson, heads up!"
Kendra glanced to her left, in time to see a red blur coming at her. She raised a hand, snatching the Quaffle out of the air as it came racing towards her, before urging her broom to put on a burst of speed. Within seconds she was speeding across the pitch, swooping towards the goals on the other side.
Her goal unfortunately was blocked by the keeper, but since this was just simply a practice match it wasn't something to beat herself up over. Still she couldn't help but cringe slightly as the Quaffle was tossed back into play– she couldn't afford to be sloppy now because that could lead to her being sloppy in an actual match.
Kendra had a love for soccer when she was younger, and so when she and Seth had learned about the magical world sports had been one of the things she was eager to learn about. At first Quidditch had just looked like a frightening and chaotic mess to her– racing about on brooms a hundred feet in the air, four balls in play– two of which were made of iron that attacked players– and finally the Golden Snitch that the entire game hinged on.
Seth had been the one to beg for a broomstick, and it had been their grandparents that had answered the call. Of course the idea of flying was exciting, but she had refused to go higher than a few feet when she had first begun to zip around on that old broomstick.
It hadn't been until her first year at Hogwarts that she had truly fell in love with Quidditch, able to finally witness it in person. After watching one game... well, it was chaotic like she had originally thought, but muggle sports most certainly could never match the thrill. That summer she had actually begun putting effort into learning to ride a broomstick, and in her second year she had been accepted onto the Ravenclaw team as a Chaser.
Of course she could only practice in the summer at her grandparents home, since she couldn't exactly race around on a broomstick in front of muggles.
Her family's connection to the magical world and muggle world was... confusing to say the least. With neither of her parents having magical abilities she was technically a 'muggleborn', but technically her parents weren't muggles, but rather squibs– all four of her grandparents having been powerful witches and wizards. Of course growing up Kendra hadn't known a thing about this, her Grandma and Grandpa Sorenson having seemed somewhat distant from her family, and the Larsens having passed away.
Growing up in a magical community without magic definitely wasn't easy, which was why her parents had joined the muggle world once they were married. They had no plans of rejoining the magical world, until of course Kendra had began to show her first signs of magic, soon followed by Seth– which was when they had been told the truth of their heritage.
"Kendra, is everything okay?"
A gentle voice snapped Kendra out of her thoughts– and that's when she realized she was just hovering on her broom, staring off into space with her entire team around her. She blinked a few times as she snapped herself back to reality.
"Um– oh!" Kendra wasn't quite sure of what she should say. "I'm sorry guys, I just..."
One of her teammates drifted closer, concern in his green eyes. Easily the smallest member of the team, Raxtus Drake was both Quidditch captain and the team Seeker. The pure worry in his gaze only made Kendra feel bad for having interrupted the practice, all this concern over her merely being lost in thought.
"Is something wrong?" Raxtus asked. "Do you need to sit out for a few minutes, or–"
"No, I'm fine," She swiftly replied. "I zoned out there for a moment. I'm sorry, it won't happen again."
"Are you sure?" Raxtus asked, giving a quick wave to the rest of the team to get back into positions, though he lingered near Kendra. "Because if something's wrong we can–"
She smiled. "I'm really fine, Raxtus."
He watched her for a moment longer, before giving a small nod. He turned his broom about, rising up into the air so he could watch the entire team. Though younger than most of his teammates, there was no doubt that the fifth year was the best flyer on the whole team. That combined with his passionate nature made him the best captain the team had ever had– and he had only held that title for a few months now, having only been named captain since their previous one had graduated last year.
Raxtus was definitely her best friend here at Hogwarts, and her studymate when it came to homework. The fact that they were in different years actually helping their study sessions more than one would think. She helped prepared him for the courses and tests she had to take last year, and having grown up in the wizarding world Raxtus had value insight that she wouldn't have thought of herself. He had also been the one to have given her the broomstick she now raced on– which was a savor since the one she had before was an outdated Nimbus 2000 from the early nineties.
She noticed her teammates glancing at her as they all joined the practice match, but she pretended not to notice, eyes immediately locking on the Quaffle as the game resumed. She couldn't afford to get distracted again.
But as Raxtus flew by her with his silver hair gleaming in the sunlight, Kendra couldn't help but think of another silver haired boy, one that she would be meeting up with tomorrow...
"I wasn't keeping you waiting, right?" Kendra asked worriedly as she entered the Room of Requirement– having walked in to see Bracken leaning against the wall, a book hovering in front of him as he read. They had agreed on an hour before dinner, right?
He seemed to have been engrossed in his book, it taking him a moment to look up. Once he did though he smiled, and with a wave of his wand it flew onto one of the shelves of the enchanted room. Kendra couldn't help but notice that there was a few more bookshelves in here than last time, though it still generally resembled the classrooms around Hogwarts.
"I was just hanging out in here because me and the others were in here earlier," Bracken said, slipping his wand away into a pocket. "Figured there was no point in leaving if I was going to be back here, so I just did a bit of reading."
"What were you reading?" Kendra asked, eyes scanning the shelves for the book he had.
"Just a potions book, it's my N.E.W.T.S. year and as nice as Professor Dufu is, he doesn't grade lightly," Bracken said with a shrug. "Don't want to fall too behind."
"I'm not taking up any of your study time, right?" She checked. "Because I don't want–"
"You worry too much," Bracken said. "Seth's right, it would do some good to relax a bit."
"I do relax, but we can't ignore the fact that we're here to get our education," This wasn't an uncommon topic between her and Seth. They were in a magical castle as he always said, and they should take advantage of it. But if they didn't actually focus on their classes they wouldn't have any way to progress in the magical world.
"And educate ourselves we shall," Bracken replied, grabbing his wand and twirling it between his fingers. "So, shall we continue with the Patronus charm?"
"Are you going to show me your Patronus?" She tried to ask casually, but she failed to keep the excitement out of her voice. While it was what the Patronus could do that drew her to the spell in the first place, the idea of an animal guardian just sounded amazing in itself. She had read plenty of descriptions of them, she she still had yet to see one.
Bracken's hand tightened around his wand. "Well, I did promise you that I would, did I?"
The bright gleam that was usually in his blue eyes seemed to have faded, his small smile having faded to what seemed to be a neutral expression. But before Kendra could say a word he turned towards the center of the classroom, his back to her, raising his wand. For a few moments he didn't move, taking in a deep breath, and before casting the spell.
"Expecto Patronum," He said quietly as he waved his wand. And even though in Kendra's experience quieter voices seemed to result in a weaker reaction, a bright dome of silver erupted from the end of his wand. The light flared up as it morphed into a larger shape, the creature trotting around the room as it took on a solid form.
The horse was beautiful, every detail visible on the animal despite having been made of light. The hairs of its mane shook as it tossed its head, hooves silent as it turned to face its caster. Despite moving as if it were walking on solid ground, the Patronus was moving through the air. Soft eyes locked onto Bracken, the Patronus completely silent as it drew to a stop in front of him.
It was then that Kendra noticed the large horn that adorned the creature's forehead, and she took in a soft breath. "A unicorn."
Bracken glanced back at her for a moment, before once again looking up at his Patronus. "Yes."
There was a shift in his tone, a far off look in his eyes, but Kendra was too focused on the unicorn to notice in that moment. She approached Bracken's side, and the silver guardian shifted its head in her direction. She reached out for a moment, before hesitating.
"Can I touch it?"
"Yes, you can touch him," Bracken said, and the unicorn returned its gaze Bracken. She reached out towards the equine, a warmth running over her as she drew closer to its glowing form. It wasn't a heat she was feeling though, like drawing close to a fire, but rather a warmth in her chest– a feeling of joy pulsing through her as her fingers touched the Patronus.
The unicorn closed its eyes, before slowly fading away.
She had seen a unicorn once before, in Care of Magical creatures. Their professor Mara Tabares had shown the class one from a distance, as it panicked if anyone other than the professor came too close. And even though the Patronus wasn't a real animal, it had still been just as stunning.
"He was beautiful," Kendra breathed, the joy of the Patronus radiated lingering in her even though it was now gone. The room around them seemed just a bit duller with the guardian now gone, and she turned to face Bracken. "That was amazing."
"I'd prefer it if you didn't go talking about him," Bracken said carefully. "...You see, magical creatures are very rare for a Patronus, and..."
"I understand, I won't say anything," Kendra promised. "Does he have a name?"
He blinked. "His name?"
The peaceful feeling the Patronus had left her with was starting to fade, and she felt her nervousness slowly beginning to return. Was it a weird idea to name a Patronus? If it was supposed to be a guardian it made sense that you'd name it, but she could see how that question could just seem childish–
He closed his eyes. "...Yes, he has a name."
"What is it?"
Bracken slipped his wand back into his pocket. "I think we're supposed to be focusing on getting you to cast a Patronus– not on mine."
"You just can't not tell me his name."
He let out a sigh, but when he looked up at her there was a gentle smile on his face. "How about this– once you're able to summon a Patronus I'll tell you what mine is named– deal?"
"So you're going to make me wait?" She grinned, crossing her arms, and his smile turned into a small smirk.
"Well if you want to know that badly... then it looks like you now have some more motivation to summon your Patronus now."
Seeing as she wasn't going to get her answer, Kendra pulled out her wand. The sooner they got started, and the sooner she'd be able to pull off a Patronus of her own. She thought back on the beautiful unicorn, and tried to imagine doing the same herself.
"If a Patronus like yours is rare, what shape do they usually take?" She asked.
"Dogs and cats seem to be the most common," Bracken replied. "Horses as well– animals heavily connected to humans. The more wild or magical it is, the rarer it will be. There's no guarantee to what form your Patronus will be, they can represent many things. An animal you have a personal connection to, or a passion you're pursuing, or even the love towards another."
There was something about the way he talked that seemed to draw Kendra in. The softness of his voice combined with the sincerity in everything he said.
"Someone's Patronus can even change, shifting to match a Patronus of a lover, or becoming something new as we change who we are as a person," He continued. "Some people say that's why it's such a complex spell to master, because recognizing who we are isn't a simple task."
"...What do you think my Patronus will be?"
Bracken studied her for a moment, and Kendra couldn't help but shift with his eyes locked on her. He pressed his lips together as he thought on the question. "I would say... a swan."
"Yes," He said with a nod, agreeing with himself. "A swan. They're beautiful and graceful, but they are far from fragile. They're a powerful bird, and loyal," The light in his eyes seemed to return, his features softening. "I think that represents you well."
"W-well I'm not sure about the beautiful part."
"You underestimate yourself too much," Was his reply, and before Kendra could say anything else he gestured to her wand. "Now, why don't you cast the charm, and let's see what we could work on."
The two of them ended up being late for dinner– not having realized the time that was slipping away. By the time they realized how late it was they had bolted out of the Room of Requirement and to the great hall, but by then the only food left on the trays were a variety of desserts.
It hadn't even been them working on the spell that had kept them so late, their conversation having somehow shifted elsewhere in the middle of it all. It hadn't even been anything special– just talking about their classes and the castle, but it was just so easy to talk to Bracken. And it was strange because there was no ice that needed to be broken or any topic forced, they just spoke as if they had been friends for the longest time.
"Ah, Mr. Faye," A deep voice said as made their way through the great hall, the two having yet to part ways to go to their house tables. Bracken noticeably paled as he heard the voice, and Kendra glanced behind them to find Professor Dufu approaching them. He was a large Samoan man, head of the Hufflepuff house, and easily the nicest teacher in the school– which was why she couldn't help but give Bracken a strange glance at his reaction.
"Hello, Professor," Bracken said warmly, though there was still a slight trace of nervousness in his face.
"I was wondering where you were, you didn't show up to class today," The potion master said. "And I didn't see you at dinner either, I was wondering if something had happened, but you seem to be doing well."
"I'm so sorry sir," Bracken said. "You see I fell asleep in the library and that's why I missed class. Probably would have missed all of dinner as well if Kendra hadn't found me and woken me up," He gestured to her, while Kendra did her best not to give him a completely confused look. "But because of me she's missed it as well– is there any way she can get some food? It wouldn't be fair for her not to have dinner because of me."
"Yes, I can get a house elf to send some food up to your dormitories," The professor said with a nod, and his gaze turned towards Kendra. "Thank you for waking Mr. Faye here, though in the future you don't need to let your Prefect duties get in the way of your meals."
"Of course, sir," Kendra said, shifting. Even if Bracken wanted the Room of Requirement to be kept a secret, she still didn't want to lie to a teacher.
"As for you, Faye, I normally don't let absences slide without a proper excusal, but as it seems you were attempting to study I can make an exception. We covered chapter twenty-four today, and next time we have an essay due on the same chapter," Professor Dufu said.
Bracken smiled and nodded. "I'll be sure to get it done. Thank you, sir."
With that the professor nodded, and headed to exit the hall. Bracken flashed her a grin, while the pieces fell into place. A frown crossed her face, and she leaned towards him.
"Please don't tell me you skipped a class just so we could meet up."
"My potions class falls before dinner," He replied, and her stomach twisted. "Between our different classes and your practice schedules for Quidditch I figured we wouldn't have much free time that would match up... so I decided to bite the bullet."
"You're in your N.E.W.T.S year, you shouldn't be skipping classes because of me!" Kendra hissed, not wanting to raise her voice in case another professor overheard them. "If we meet again I refuse to do it during any class times!"
"Yes," Bracken agreed. "I don't think the professor will buy another excuse. What's your practice schedule for next week?"
They headed out of the great hall– with the promise of an actual dinner being up in their dorms there was no point in staying. They discussed their schedules as they wandered through the halls, before finally deciding on Wednesday night.
Kendra had always been frustrated how different houses and years didn't have much overlap in their schedules– it made it hard for her to find time to even talk to her brother– and now that frustration seemed to grow with her struggle to find a time to meet with Bracken. But at the very least there was times that did work.
Though Kendra wished they could meet up more often.
I actually think that Raxtus would be a Hufflepuff or maybe a Gryffindor, but I really wanted him to be on the same Quidditch team as Kendra... so he's a Ravenclaw in this fic.
"Eat them for a sickle?"
"No Seth," Kendra said with a sigh.
"Come on, it's just candy," He taunted, waving the small box in front of her.
She snatched the box of Bertie Botts Every Flavored Bean, peering inside. An assortment of dark grays, browns, and greens met her eyes. She closed it, tossing it back at Seth, shaking her head.
"Did you really go through and put every possible gross flavor into one box?" She asked.
"Well I didn't," He said, clearly disappointed that he hadn't been able to get her to eat one. "Eve was the one that did– we have like a dozen ready to be handed out."
"Well perhaps in the future don't be so insistent on me taking it– that itself raises like ten red flags," Kendra replied, smirking at Seth as stuck his tongue out at her.
"I have boxes with the good flavors as well," He offered, pulling another one of his 'custom boxes' from his pocket. "I'm sure there's mint flavor somewhere in here, freshen up your breath in case Bracken comes along..."
"For the final time Seth, we're just studying," She knew it was a pointless argument though.
"Studying each other's eyes?" He asked, batting his lashes dramatically– resulting in a laugh when she rolled her eyes. "Bracken definitely has been studying yours, he's mentioned them once or twice... maybe a few times more than that."
He grinned triumphantly when he saw the startled look in Kendra's gaze, a blush starting to climb her cheeks, and she swiftly shook her head.
"If it's just studying, they what are you guys studying?" Seth asked.
"The Patronus charm," She replied. "Bracken is helping me learn it."
The smirk on Seth's face faded, blinking a few times as she said this. He stared up at her for a moment. "Wha... what?" He stuttered out. "Wait, you didn't–"
"You said you he knew how to summon a Patronus, and I haven't been getting anywhere on my own, so I asked him if he could help me."
"And he agreed?" Seth cried, all humor gone from his gaze. Kendra looked back at him, confused, but Seth looked almost horrified at hearing this. He glanced about, a few people passing them in the streets having glanced their way, but no one's gaze lingered. He bolted pass Kendra, hurrying forward as she headed after him.
"Seth?" She asked, confusion on her face, as he came to a stop.
"Kendra, you know he–" He paused, again looking about, before lowering his voice as he took a step towards her. "Kendra, you shouldn't have asked him to do that, he... he doesn't like thinking about that, he..."
He hesitated, and Kendra's gut twisted.
"There's a reason why he decided to learn that spell, he lost, he–" Seth closed his eyes. "Kendra, when he was younger his dad was killed by dementors," Seth whispered, and her eyes widened. "Talking about Patronuses probably only reminds him about that time and..."
Seth trailed off, clearly not sure if this was something he should be telling her– but Kendra already felt sick. Her mind went back to when Bracken had summoned his Patronus, the way his entire demeanor seemed to have changed during the process, becoming quiet and distant. How quickly he seemed to jump away from the topic of the charm so easily, as if he'd rather talk about anything else.
Then why had he agreed to help teach her? Had he felt pressured, not wanting to be rude and say no? Did he feel forced into doing this?
Kendra looked away, and Seth grabbed her arm. "Er, um, I probably shouldn't have said anything, but... I–"
"No, it's probably for the best you said something. The last thing he probably needs is talking about Patronuses every week if it just reminds him of..." She took in a deep breath.
Their conversation awkwardly drifted away from there, neither knowing how to end it, and neither wanting to continue it. Seth attempted to lighten the mood, and within a few minutes he was joking like his normal self. Kendra would offer him smiles as they continued their trip through Hogsmeade, but she couldn't get rid of the heavy feeling in her stomach.
Why hadn't she noticed the way he had been acting earlier? Why hadn't she pieced together that he was clearly uncomfortable with what she had asked him to teach her?
She'd have to make sure this week was the last week they met up, she didn't want him to feel like he had to help for any longer. She didn't know what she should say to Bracken though, hearing that Seth had told her probably wouldn't be the best thing to say...
Kendra looked up as she noticed Seth turning, eyes narrowing when she saw where he was heading. "Seth, you know your head of house banned you from going into Zonko's!"
"What Professor Fisk doesn't know won't kill him!"
A small wave of silvery mist drifted out from Kendra's wand, the wisps fading away seconds after the spell had been cast. Kendra stared at them as they vanished, before her gaze slipped to the ground. She had failed at summoning even her usual silver veil of a Patronus, only these tiny bursts coming out from her wand every time she muttered the incantation.
"...I don't think you're focusing on a happy enough memory," Bracken said slowly. "Perhaps use whatever one you were using last time?"
"I am..." Kendra muttered, unable to make eye contact with him.
They were back in the Room of Requirement for their third meeting, and Kendra had been a mess. She had no idea of what she should say to Bracken, and so she hadn't said basically anything at all. And though Bracken didn't comment, she did notice him frowning at her silence, which made her feel even worse. There was no reason for her to pull away from him, but she didn't know what she should do.
"Something's bothering you," Bracken finally said. "Something big enough to be affecting your Patronus."
Kendra knew this was obvious, but she still couldn't help but flinch slightly as he spoke. She hesitantly met his gaze, her thoughts racing as she thought back on what she had learned. She had been dreaded this meetup ever since, a horrible guilt having been following her. A guilt for having him teach her when it probably only reminded him of what had happened to his father, and a guilt for knowing parts of his life he probably had never planned on telling her.
Bracken's blue eyes stared into her green eyes, his gaze gentle, but unblinking. She tried to look away, but felt almost mesmerized as they looked at each other. After a moment Bracken let out a soft sigh. "...Seth told you?"
Her gut twisted– what her panic that obvious? No, as obvious as her panic was there was no way he'd know the reason behind it. Perhaps he was talking about something else Seth might have told her, or maybe Seth had mentioned their conversation to him? Or just enough for him to piece together what happened?
She wrapped her arms around herself. "He– he did," She whispered. "I mentioned that you were teaching the Patronus charm, and he told me what happened and–"
She was practically sputtering out her words, vision blurring as she spoke. The horrible guilt seemed to surge up with each word she said. She wasn't supposed to know this, this was part of his personal life. He probably didn't even want her to know, but she did. And every time they met up she was probably doing nothing but remind him of such a time–
Her thoughts seemed to come to a halt when she felt a pair of arms around her.
That's when she realized there were tears running down her face, her entire body trembling as she spoke. She wasn't quite sure when Bracken had gotten so close, but he had pulled her into his embrace, his warm arms wrapped around her. She instantly quieted down, startled, but she didn't pull away.
"What did he say?" He asked quietly.
"...That your dad was killed by dementors..." She whispered back quietly.
He let out a sigh, not saying anything for a moment. He then stepped back, his arms going to his side, and she couldn't help but instantly miss his embrace. She looked up at him, his gaze having that far off look.
"Killed isn't the word," He said softly. "Dementors don't kill. He's still alive... but he's gone. Without his soul he's gone..."
"I'm– I'm sorry. I'm sorry if asking you made you remember, I shouldn't have asked you to teach me–"
"You didn't do anything wrong. You didn't know."
Bracken had pulled out his wand, and was now uncertainly passing it from hand to hand. He sank down to the ground, and Kendra sat down next to him, silence filling the room.
"...I was with Father that night," Bracken said. "There were three dementors, and Father summoned his Patronus to drive them off... it was enough to keep them from reaching us, but not to chase them away. He couldn't keep the spell up forever, so he told me to follow the Patronus back to the house, and that everything would be alright..."
Bracken's hand tightened on the wand.
"I didn't know better, I was too young to know better, I didn't even know what they were at the time... but I was scared enough to do what he said. I just walked away, not knowing that I was leaving him to be... to be..."
Bracken choked on the last few words, several tears entering his eyes.
"They found him later that night, but I didn't understand what had happened, I didn't understand until years later. Father wasn't sick, he wasn't hurt and that wasn't why he wasn't talking... he was gone. The man in the hospital isn't him, it's just a shell, and he's gone..."
"I'm so sorry," Kendra whispered.
"...You said you wanted to know my Patronus's name," He said softly. "Well, I named him after my father. A Patronus is a protector... and Father gave everything to protect me."
"...You don't have to teach me anymore," Kendra said. "I don't want you to feel like you have to just because I asked."
Bracken smiled. It was a small smile– but still a smile. "I think Father would be happy knowing I was helping someone learn this spell. It saved my life, and if it could help anyone else then that's what's important," He looked her in the eyes. "Besides, you have your own reason for wanting to learn this spell, don't you?"
She looked down at her feet. "Y-yes, but... but nothing happened, I just–"
"Something must have happened."
"Quidditch World Cup," She said after a moment. "I was able to go over the summer, and y-you know, there was some attacks nearby. No one with seriously hurt, it was all scare tactics and everything was taken care but– but I–"
"You encountered a dementor," Bracken finished, as if pulling the thoughts right from her mind.
"...It didn't even come close..." She whispered. "I saw it in the distance, but I could still feel it, and it was horrible. I couldn't sleep for a week, every time I closed my eyes I could just see it and feel that horrible feeling all over again–"
She forced herself to stop, breathing slightly ragged– what was she doing? Acting as if her brief encounter had actually been dangerous, being shaken up when he had seen worse, when he had gone through worse–!
"That doesn't matter, Kendra," Bracken said, and a warm hand touched her shoulder. "Even from a distance... they're horrifying creatures. I'm sorry you had to go through that."
Kendra didn't say anything.
"I know you can master the spell, Kendra, the magic I've seen you do is really powerful," He squeezed her shoulder. "I'm going to help you."
"I don't want you to feel like you have to–"
"Can I tell you secret?" Bracken asked, and she looked up at him. "The truth is, I've been wanting to talk to you for a long time now, but I never knew how to approach you. So when you came up to me asking for help... well, you don't know how happy I was," He let out a small chuckle, but there was still a heaviness. "I promise you, I'm not doing this because I feel like I have to, I really do want to help you."
Kendra didn't know how to respond, but Bracken didn't give her a chance to give a response. He pushed himself to his feet, offering a hand out to her. She hesitantly reached for him, and he grabbed her wrist to help her up. Her skin tingled from where he had touched her, and he slipped his wand away into his pocket.
"I don't think there's much we can do with Patronuses tonight, we'll need to meet up again when we're both feeling... better."
"This weekend?" She asked quietly.
"I think that would work," He said, and she followed him to the door. He held it open for her, and they slipped out into the hallways. "Do you want me to walk you to the Ravenclaw dormitories?"
"If it wouldn't be any trouble..." She began slowly, even though her mind wanted to blurt out 'yes'. She didn't want to be alone, and she didn't want him to be alone either. Not after everything they had talked about.
Hardly any words were said between them as they made their way through the corridors, but there was a comfort in the silence as they walked side by side. The knowledge that Bracken really wanted to help her was... lightening. It made the heaviness in her heart go away, replaced by a feeling she just didn't know how to describe.