She’d had a dream like this, once.
In her dream, she’d seen Harry. He’d been smiling more widely than he ever had at the Dursley’s, grinning as he walked towards where she was sat at a long table in a huge hall filled with people. Everyone was cheering, Calla especially, as Harry moved to sit down on the bench next to her.
At the time, it hadn’t made any sense. She’d woken up next to her brother in the cupboard they shared under the stairs, their limbs all tangled uncomfortably together, and she stared at the faint light that shone in through the slats in the door, thinking of a hall bathed in golden light from floating candles. It’d been just another one of her silly daydreams about escaping this life.
Except, it hadn’t. It had happened just like the dream had shown her. She’d been sorted into Gryffindor, and Harry had followed right after her, and then the cheering, and the smiling, and the feeling so happy she could just burst—
And now she was in bed, in a magic castle, and her brother was down the stairs and up another hall, and they were wizards, and they were safe.
It was crazy how much could change in just a few days.
Three days ago, she’d sat on the dusty floor with her brother in some decrepit hut their uncle had moved them to after the debacle with the letters—which, in retrospect, now makes a lot more sense—and they’d watched in shivering silence as they both had turned eleven years old.
Now? Now she had her own bed. She had eaten so much for dinner that her stomach still ached. She’d smiled more in the last three hours than she had in days before. She didn’t have to worry about the cooking or the cleaning, or if Harry or her was going to mouth off and get them into trouble again soon.
A lot had changed, and Calla couldn’t be happier about all of it. She put her head down on her pillow, eyes sliding shut, and she’d expected to have the best night’s rest she’d ever experienced.
Of course, because she could never be so lucky, not everything had changed.
The room was pitch black when Calla awoke, a scream caught in her throat. She was trembling in the fine, barely noticeable way Harry’d learnt to sleep through years ago. There was nothing wrong. There was no one hurt.
She’d only dreamed of Ron Weasley getting his head bludgeoned in.
But the problem was that sometimes, occasionally, every once in a while, her dreams came true. It was like the dream she had about the Sorting, days before she’d even been told she was a witch. She’d seen Harry join her at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall prior to knowing what any of that was.
Calla lay back in bed, shaking, staring up at the vague dark shape of her bed’s canopy above her. She’d hoped the dreams would stop. That they were just one of those things, the accidental magic the others talked about. That now that she knew she was a witch, knew about her magic, they’d stop.
After all, it didn’t make sense. There was no reason for Ron Weasley to be in the girls’ bathroom. There was no reason why there would be something like that hulking, lumpy beast within Hogwarts. There was no reason anyone would get hurt.
No reason, except for a dream that Calla had stating otherwise.
She didn’t sleep for the rest of the night.
When morning came, Calla was relieved. No one asked about why she looked so tired, probably because they didn’t notice next to the excitement of their first classes of the year. Even Harry seemed too preoccupied by the idea of Potions and Charms—their classes before lunch—to do much more than furrow his brows when she rejected a second serving of cheesy potatoes.
It was hard to look at Ron without imagining the awful crack of his skull caving in under the monster’s bat, the explosion of red, the bits of gore that flew from the mess onto the wall behind him. He was laughing and smiling and shoving food in his mouth like nothing was wrong, and nothing was. It was just Calla, creating problems as always. Just Calla.
She tried to shake off her bad feeling as they walked as a group to their first class. Hermione was chattering fast enough to make the boys’ heads spin, but Calla found the slew of words she didn’t understand almost soothing. Trying to follow the train of conversation was a needed distraction as they settled into a dark classroom, fit with cauldrons bubbling and various beakers.
That was exciting, at least. God. She was going to be making real potions.
“This is so exciting,” she whispered to Hermione, unable to contain her excitement, and Hermione grinned back.
“Isn’t it? I’ve already read through the assigned textbook. It looks like we’re going to be focusing a lot on—”
Before she could finish the thought, the doors to the classroom snapped open and then closed with an awful slam as their professor appeared, shocking everyone—even Malfoy, who, on the Slytherin side of the room, had been bragging loudly about his gold-lined cauldron—into silence. She’d seen him in the Great Hall, Professor Snape. He was the head of the Slytherin house, and he looked just as dour as he had at the Sorting as he stalked between the desks to the front of the room.
When there, he turned around with a swish of his black robes and hair. His expression did not change as he surveyed them all, cold and superior, until he reached Harry; then, his face twitched, nostrils flaring, and his eyes narrowed just the slightest amount.
Calla stiffened in her seat beside him, resisting the urge to bodily shove herself in front of Harry, intercepting that glare and the violence that was bound to come with it. Her opinion of this Professor Snape took a very sudden downwards turn just as his eyes slid to her.
And that—that drew the most interesting reaction of them all; his eyes widened, and he took a half-step back, face somehow paling further. He wrenched his gaze away from Calla as soon as he had begun to stare, but she’d noticed. It was hard not to. She got looks from several people as Professor Snape cleared his throat, cutting the rest of his examination of the class short.
“I don’t expect many of you to appreciate the subtle science and exact art that is potion making,” at those words, Professor Snape’s gaze cut to Gryffindor, “However, for those select few who possess the predisposition, I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses.”
Beside her, Calla could see Harry excitedly starting to take notes as Professor Snape spoke. She could just make out brew fame and bottle glory being scribbled down as Professor Snape raised his voice.
Harry jolted, setting his feather quickly back in its ink pot, but the damage was done; Professor Snape stalked towards their desk, lip curling.
“Mr. Potter,” he said, venom dripping from his voice, “Our new celebrity. Tell me, what would I get if I added the root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”
Harry floundered as Hermione’s hand shot up. He blinked up at Professor Snape a few times, mouth opening and closing, until he finally settled on a weak, “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know,” Professor Snape repeated, glancing around the room as if this was ridiculous, as if it weren’t the first day of class, as if they were supposed to know everything already—oh, Calla was getting angry. Especially as he asked her brother another inane question and snapped as he once again didn’t know the answer.
“Pity,” he said. “Clearly, fame isn’t everything.”
Fame? Is that what he called it? The fact that their parents were murdered by some dark wizard with a weird name, that they were the only two to ever survive his fury, proven by the scar on her brother’s forehead—does he think they wanted this?
Calla leaned forward, mouth opening, but Harry jabbed her with his elbow before she could speak and said, “I think Hermione knows.”
She shot him a look, and he steadfastly ignored it. Hermione, at her side, began to say the answer, only to be cut off and scolded by Professor Snape.
“Fifteen points from Gryffindor,” he snapped to finish, not even sparing Calla a glance as she glowered up at him before returning to the front of the room to continue his lecture.
Calla was going to hate this man.