Percy sat across from Audrey, sipping his wine and staring into her eyes. He told her about saying hello to his father, and she said she was proud of him. She was proud of him! Percy didn’t think he’d heard anyone say they were proud of him since he received his NEWT results. He loved listening to the sound of her voice, even if she was only telling the waiter her order. Percy ordered, too, then turned again to gaze at Audrey.
“I remembered something today I wanted to ask you, Percy. At your Sorting, did the Hat know where to put you or did it have to think about it?”
“That’s rather an odd question, isn’t it?” Percy wasn’t sure he really wanted to tell her what the Hat had thought.
“I’ve asked several of my friends, and it seems like everyone else had this wonderful Sorting, and the Hat knew where they should be, and they were happy about it. I wanted to die at my Sorting! The Hat debated between all four houses and was taking so long to decide, and everyone was staring at me and getting fidgety, and I was getting fidgety listening to the Hat drone on and on about how I was smart enough to be a Ravenclaw, and ambitious enough to be a Slytherin, and loyal enough to be a Hufflepuff, and brave enough to be a Gryffindor, and it just kept dithering until I finally told it to shut up!”
“You told the Sorting Hat to shut up?” Percy laughed.
“Yes! I think I had the longest Sorting in history!”
“You know, I remember that. That would have been my third year. There was a Sorting that took forever. So what did the Hat do when you told it to shut up?”
“It got all huffy, and started to tell me how rude I was, so I interrupted and said I wanted to be in Hufflepuff.”
“It’s Nanny’s house. It was the first one to come to mind. I just wanted to get off the stool and have people stop staring at me.”
“Were you happy with choosing Hufflepuff? Was it a good fit?”
“Yes, it was. And I really enjoyed having the same house as Nanny.” Audrey smiled at him, reached across the table to take his hand, and said, “Percy, I noticed you have not answered my original question.”
Percy blushed and looked down. He was looking at their joined hands. Audrey gave his hand a little squeeze, and he looked back up and said, “I’ve never told anyone about my Sorting. The Hat wanted to put me in Slytherin. It wasn’t debating where to put me. I had to beg it to put me in Gryffindor. I was afraid what my family would think. Weasleys have always been in Gryffindor. I was scared they might disown me if I were a Slytherin.” Percy glanced at Audrey to gauge her reaction.
“That’s all right. I’d rather be in Slytherin than Ravenclaw.”
“In order to get into their common room, the Ravenclaws have this bird door-knocker that asks questions. You have to answer the question correctly to be allowed to enter.”
“How do you know that?”
“One of my Ravenclaw friends told me. I think I would strangle that door knocker. Even if I knew the answer, how annoying!”
Percy laughed. “Yeah, I’m glad I only had to remember a password for Gryffindor. How about Hufflepuff?”
“Our door is guarded by a portrait of Hildie, the Fat Friar’s sister. She knows who belongs to her house and just lets us all in. I don’t know what the Slytherins had to do. I never asked.”
“Did you have a Slytherin friend you could have asked?”
“I’d probably call her a “friendly acquaintance” more than a friend, but we got along well. Anne was my Potions partner for all seven years. She told me once that I would have made a good Slytherin.” Audrey smiled.
“Really? What prompted that?”
“Well, most people do accidental magic when they are angry or afraid, but I’ve always seemed to when I’m bored or distracted. I was thinking of something else at the beginning of Potions, and when I tried to use my wand to light the fire under my cauldron, I accidentally conjured a flock of green and silver butterflies.”
“What did Snape make you do for detention?”
“Suprisingly, I didn’t get a detention. When Professor Snape saw the butterflies, he swooped over and hissed, ‘Miss Mitchell, what is the meaning of this?’ I don’t know what came over me, but I said, ‘Happy Birthday, Professor Snape!’ He just stared at me. I think it’s the only time I have ever seen Professor Snape at a loss for words. He was staring silently, the class was waiting for the explosion, the butterflies were fluttering all over the dungeon, I was certain I was about to get my first detention, and then he said, ‘It is not my birthday, Miss Mitchell, but thank you for the thought. Now please concentrate on your potion.’ I was too shocked to speak, so I just nodded, and after class Anne told me I would have made a good Slytherin. I took that as a compliment.”
Percy laughed. Audrey could even make him feel better about being an almost-Slytherin.
As Percy and Audrey were eating their delicious meal, Percy said, “So what was it that distracted you enough to conjure butterflies in Potions class of all places?”
“Don’t sound so surprised I conjured butterflies in Potions! It hasn’t ever mattered where I was, that’s the only accidental magic I do. Anyway, Potions was my first class of the day that year, and I was thinking about my first kiss which was the previous evening.” Audrey blushed.
Percy smiled. “What year were you?”
“You had your first kiss as a third year?!”
“Yes! My boyfriend was a fourth year. Why? What year were you?”
“So was your first kiss with Penelope Clearwater?”
“How did you know that?”
“Percy, you were a prefect and Head Boy. The general population of Hogwarts knew more about you than you realized. Probably more than you wanted them to know, actually.”
It was Percy’s turn to blush. He decided to change the subject, “So, why weren’t you a prefect, Audrey?”
“I was asked to be, but I declined.”
“Why in Merlin’s name would you decline being a prefect?”
Audrey burst out laughing. “Oh Percy, it’s not a crime to not want to be a prefect. I didn’t really want the responsibility, and I also didn’t think it was a good idea to take on the role of enforcing the rules when I fully planned on breaking them.”
Percy looked even more horrified, which only made Audrey laugh harder. “You PLANNED on breaking the rules?”
“Yes, Percy. I had a boyfriend starting in third year. I knew I would be breaking rules. And don’t even try to tell me you never broke any rules with Penelope.”
Percy turned even redder. Audrey was right, and from the amused look on her face, she knew it, too. He decided to change the subject again. “So you said you always conjured butterflies for accidental magic. When did that first happen?”
Audrey giggled, but allowed the subject change and answered, “When I was about 9 months old, my mum had the window open by my cot since it was a warm day, and a butterfly flew in the window and landed on me. My mum saw it happen and even has a picture. I don’t remember this, but I must have liked it so much, I started conjuring them. Butterflies were flying in and landing on me every day, or so my mum thought. Until I was a year old and the weather changed. Mum left the window closed, and butterflies continued appearing in my cot. Fortunately, Nanny was visiting at the time and suspected what was happening. Mum and Dad went completely mental! At least from what Nanny has told me. How about you?”
“I silenced Fred and George. I think I was around five and the twins were three and were teasing me. My mum couldn’t even undo it! My parents threw me a party, they were so happy. They always did something special when any of us performed our first magic, but I was later than my siblings, so I know they were worried. Were your parents upset because you were so early?”
“My parents were upset because they’re Muggles!”
“What did they do?”
“Fortunately, Nanny explained everything. Granny helped, too, since she grew up as a Muggle with a witch sister, she had good advice for Mum and Dad. Mum bought me all of the butterfly toys she could find, and I really liked them, but I still conjured my own occasionally. It wasn’t really a problem until my first day of Reception. The other children didn’t question why there was a flock of butterflies in the classroom. We all played with them together. The teacher almost died from fright. She sent a note home with me for my parents to come see her.”
Percy was intrigued. He’d never really thought about how Muggles would handle a magical child. “What did they do?”
“We moved to the States to be near Nanny.”
“They moved away just because you could do magic?”
“I think they moved so Nanny would be around to undo any magic I did. I don’t know what Muggleborns without a magical family member would do. We knew what was going on, and it was still difficult for my parents. I’ve always thought Hogwarts should inform Muggleborns’ families at birth, not when they are eleven. That’s why I always wanted to work in the Muggle Liaison Office.”
Percy and Audrey continued talking until they were the last two people in the restaurant. Percy walked Audrey to the door of her flat and kissed her goodnight. Unlike their first kiss, this one was not chaste.