Only you can choose when to step out from the Shadows...

Follow on from 'a week at Hogwarts' competition winner, 'Standing in the Shadows'
Cover design by Lily Anna Nightshade


5. The Possessed Table

Next morning, Dani entered the Great Hall along with a hoard of owls, who swooped just below the ceiling – a mild, blue tinged grey – dropping assorted packages onto the heads of the unwary students below. In her place was a letter from her parents, telling her how much they loved the Caribbean, and about her father’s unfortunate sunburn. Dani turned the envelope over, and sighed. However many times she tried to explain that you didn’t need to put a stamp on owl mail, her mother never seemed to quite grasp the fact.

            Sophie was pushing her scrambled eggs around her plate.

            “Do you think I should cut my hair?”

            “What sort of ‘cut your hair’?” asked Ryan.

            “Oh, I don’t know.” Sophie abandoned the eggs, manipulating her hair to show them a variety of shoulder-length styles. “Something a bit more bouncy, more interesting. Short hair is all the rave now.

            Dani and Ryan exchanged a look, remembering an unfortunate second-year bob incident that Sophie had dearly regretted.

            “Maybe think about it for a bit”, said Dani.

            The chair beside her shifted as Elisha slid into her place, smiling shyly. As she reached for the toast, she was interrupted by the arrival of a feathery football, which shook out its wings to reveal that it was, in fact, a large, squat barn owl, which extended its leg towards her. Elisha awkwardly removed the crisp parchment, and the owl took flight towards the window.

            Dani was watching the Gryffindor. She could see Hallie Mason and the rest of the third years who had exiled them from the carriage last night. She could see Hallie’s brother with his arm around Taylor Monteveiw, the stunningly pretty sixth year who went out of her way to be cruel to Dani and her friends. A few seats down from her was Ben Potter.

                        Ben was, unsurprisingly, something of a legend at Hogwarts. He was the grandson of Albus Potter, the second son of Harry Potter. Harry had passed down his dark hair and green eyes, as well as his fame, to his great grandson, and Dani had always has a fascination with Ben. Despite his unasked for popularity, Ben was very down to earth. He was funny and clever, and very good looking, and one of the few students who didn’t entirely blank the extras. Not that Dani had any delusions, Ben was a fifth year, and being Gryffindor meant that he would never look twice at Dani, if he even looked at all. Even as she watched, Taylor Monteveiw turned away from her boyfriends to smile sweetly at Ben, who’s face lit up in response.

                     Dani turned back to Sophie, who was now thumb wrestling with Ryan, and noticed Elisha slipping away discreetly, her letter clutched in her hand.

                     It was then that Professor Fagleton descended upon the table. Faggy, as she was known, was the deputy head of Hogwarts, who also taught charms. She was a severe, unfriendly woman, who seemed to take great pleasure in making her student, particularly the houseless ones, as miserable as possible. She looked down her hooked nose at Dani, slapped a sheaf of parchment down in front of her, and swept off towards the high table.

                     Ryan rifled through them, passing Dani and Sophie their timetables. Sophie looked at hers and groaned.

                     “Double charms first thing! Ugh, are they joking? Faggy’ll kill me when she knows I haven’t done my essay.”

                     “We haven’t got Care of Magical Creatures till Wednesday,” Ryan added. “I can’t show professor Madders my five tongued Newt.”

                     And so it was with heavy hearts that the trio trudged along to Professor Fagleton’s classroom. They had charms with the Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs, and were among the last to arrive outside the large oak doors. There seemed to be some kind of conflict going on between the gathered Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors. As far as Dani could tell, it centred largely around the upcoming quidditch match between the two houses. Gryffindor had long since held the trophy, but Hufflepuffs recent addition of Harley Biale as chaser put them as favourites to win. Dani realised that the crowd of students contained not only fourth years, but also older students including, she noticed with a jolt, Ben Potter.

                     At the centre of the fray was Harley himself, who looked slightly taken aback as Taylor Monteveiw jabbed a finger at his chest. Ben laid a restraining hand on her arm, and for some reason it made Dani’s stomach tighten.

                     Just then, silence fell over the group, as the furious, white lipped face loomed over them. Before Professor Fagleton had had the chance to speak, the group disbanded, disappearing either inside the classroom or around the corner. Dani found herself left in the corridor with Ryan, Ben and Taylor. She turned to follow Sophie into the classroom, and as she did so, her elbow caught the edge of Taylor’s bag, spinning her round and causing her to stumble backwards. Dani began to apologise, but stopped abruptly when a hand shoved her roughly backwards. Suddenly, Taylor’s face filled her vision and Dani heard her voice raise in pitch and volume.

                     “You idiot surp! What in the name of Merlin is your problem? Can you just get out of my way all of the time!! What are you even doing here; go back to your pathetic houseless buddies, why don’t you. God, you surps are so-“

                     “Tay, TAY!” Ben pulled Taylor back from Dani. “Back off”. Taylor huffed angrily, tossed a filthy look in Dani’s direction and stalked off down the corridor, pulling Ben by the hand. Ben shot an apologetic look at Dani, but as they rounded the corner she saw him sling his arm around Taylor’s shoulder.

                     Ryan, who had been hovering uncertainly in the doorway, pulled Dani into the classroom, muttering

                     “Don’t let her get to you. She’s just, well, you know. Just ignore her”.

                     Dani nodded, but all the same she found it slightly harder to swallow as she slid into her chair next to Sophie, at the back.

                     As Faggy launched into a speech which they knew could well go on for an hour, Sophie leaned across as hissed,

                     “What’s happened?”

                     Between them, Dani and Ryan recounted the events of the corridor. Sophie’s eyes narrowed into slits when she heard what Taylor had said, but as Fagleton was only ten feet away, she was unable to curse Taylor as much as she undoubtedly would have. But then, on hearing about Ben, her eyes suddenly widened with curiosity.

                     “So what, are they together now? Taylor Monteveiw and Ben Potter, I mean.”

                     “Dunno, think so.” Dani tried to sound nonchalant, but there was a little too much knowing in Ryan’s smile.

                     “Hmm, that was quick,” said Sophie, oblivious to Dani’s discomfort. “She only dumped Mason this morning.”

                     “Excuse me, Miss Champion, perhaps, you would like to come and explain the highly difficult charm required to make objects dance? Hmmm? I thought not.”

                     Sophie fell silent, but rolled her eyes at Dani and slumped downwards onto her desk in an exaggerated expression of boredom.

            “The charm we will be learning today is, as I just mentioned, the dancing charm.” Fagleton resumed her rehearsed speech in a flat, monotonous voice. “It originated in ancient Italy, and is best remembered for the occasion that the rather inept warlock Zaccaria Inncoenti used it to conjure a dance inside Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.* It will make an object – any object – break forth into lively tap dance. Observe.”

With that, Faggy swept a stray quill from her desk and raised her wand with what Dani deemed to be an utterly unnecessarily dramatic flourish.

“Tarantallegra Mensula!”

At her command, the table did indeed commence the most enthusiastic and energetic dance Dani had ever witnessed. It’s stout little legs took upon them a life of their own, skipping, hopping - and on one very alarming occasion jumping and twirling – around the classroom.

“Forget dancing, it looks like it’s having some sort of spasm,” muttered Ryan.

Fagleton raised her wand again, said “Finite Incantatem” and the table at once ceased to move. It remained comfortably in a corner, nothing more than another inanimate piece of furniture.

“Yeah, well that's what you look like, dancing,” countered Sophie.

“Talking, again, Miss Champion,” Faggy tutted loudly. “Perhaps you would like to demonstrate the spell, since watching me is beneath you. Proceed”.

Sophie went beetroot red, a colour which Dani could not help but notice did not complement her hair. Nevertheless, she gripped her wand tightly and stared defiantly at Professor Fagleton as she got to her feet.

                     “Tarantificora Mensula!”

                     Sophie’s wand let out a blast like a cannon, and the table reacted at once. It began to charge around the classroom, banging into desks and wall.  Kaitlin Abbot was knocked flying, and soon the entire class was gathered against the wall, while the uncontrollable table proceeded to rampage.

                     “What’s happened?!”

                     “It’s gone crazy!”

                     “IT’S POSSESSED!”

                     Sophie was in the midst of this, her wand still uncertainly raised. Fagleton, pink in the face with hairs sticking to her forehead, was straining to be heard over the uproar. Meanwhile, the desk had found its way over to the door, and now heading butting it in an attempt to escape into the corridor.

                     “Finite! Finite Incantatem!” Faggy screeched.

                     The table fell to the floor, motionless. The class breathed a unanimous sigh of relief, and Dani cautiously ventured down from her perch on the windowsill.

                     Fagleton rounded on Sophie with a look of vindictive pleasure in her eyes. The entire class stared as Faggy took small, deliberate steps until the two of them were toe to toe, then spoke in a slow, sarcastic drawl.

                     “Miss Champion. Am I correct in assuming that you were not listening when I told you the incantation, or is it just that, more likely, you are too stupid and pathetic to be any good at magic?”

                     Ryan turned to Dani with widened eyes, and mouthed a word she knew he would not have dared to say aloud. Sophie on the other hand flushed redder still, and tightened her lips until they were whiter than Fagleton’s. She straightened, and despite being a head shorter than her teacher, still managed to stare defiantly back.

                     “No, actually,” she said. “I think a more likely explanation is that you are a rubbish teacher, who tried to make me perform a spell I had never been properly taught.”

                     Fagleton froze. Sophie had never been less invisible as, houseless or not, she was the only student ever to have dared to speak to a teacher, let alone Professor Fagleton, like this. Perhaps she realised it, for as the words left her mouth, she could not have looked more horrified. Dani could not help but laugh; the cruel, domineering Professor put in place by the humble, houseless student. She knew that Sophie too would have found it funny, were it not for the slowly purpling face of Faggy that blocked her vision.

                     Without looking away from Sophie’s sheepish face, Fagleton addressed the rest of the room.

                     “Class dismissed. Homework is to research the dancing object spell.” Her voice lowered to a carefully controlled hiss. “Miss Champion, you will remain here.”

                     No one moved, and Sophie let out a small squeak.


                     Without a word, the room cleared, save for Dani and Ryan who hesitated beside the door. Fagleton bustled towards them, ushering them out. They caught a glimpse of Sophie, who gave them a watery smile, before the solid oak of the door was slammed in their faces.




                     It was fifteen minutes before Sophie reappeared. Dani and Ryan were sitting at the base of a suit of armour, beneath a large tapestry of The Exile of Babbling Barnibus.

                     They both looked up when the door opened and Sophie emerged. Dani was unsurprised to see that her friend looked more angry than upset, although she didn’t push away Dani’s hug.

                     “What happened?,” asked Ryan, tentatively.

                     “Detention,” Sophie sighed, pulling him to his feet.

                     “Well, that’s not so bad,” he grinned. “By the look of her, I thought she was going to expel you on the spot.”

                     Sophie rolled her eyes. “I’ve got detention every weekday from now until Christmas, and then every Friday until the end of the year. Someone tell me how that’s fair!? And believe me, she would have kicked me out, but she realised; only heads of houses can expel people and, as I have no house, I have no head! Haha, guess that’s one loophole they forgot about”.

                     “Never had a rebellious extra before, huh?” Dani couldn’t help smiling at the thought of Fagleton desperately searching for a way to be rid of Sophie.

                     “Yeah,” Sophie half smiled. “The perks of being an extra”.






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