players: Kim Minseok/Xiumin (Minseo), Zhang Yixing/Lay (Yixiao), Kim Jongin/Kai (Junghwa), Oh Sehun (Sehee)
warnings: first day of school anxiety
summary: (Hogwarts AU) Every time she needs help, she goes to the same room for the same person.
a/n: Written for the femmexo challenge. I was tagged by xiuminseokkk and was torn between the cheerleading/dance prompt and Hogwarts. Obviously, I chose Hogwarts. I have only seen 4 Harry Potter movies and read one-and-a-half of the books. I'd love to write my own Hogwarts AU with everyone, but it is a very complex world that I have no handle on.
Re'em's name comes from the Hebrew Bible. Some translations have written it as unicorn, but it's more commonly believed to be a kind of ox. Ancient Mesopotamian art shows the animal in profile, with only one horn visible, thus “unicorn.”
The book Junghwa finds is an actual book, published in 1661.
The Gryffindor password is Latin for “young love.”
Junghwa got lost very soon after the sorting hat ceremony in the Great Hall. She had slipped away to sneak to the bathroom, certain she could catch up with the other Gryffindors without being noticed.
She underestimated just how large the castle was and, after just a few minutes of wandering, knew she was hopelessly lost. What a great first impression of herself to the school and of the school on herself. Simply fantastic.
What if she never found her way? There had to be someone to ask, not that she would, because how embarrassing would it be to let anyone know that she got lost because she had to pee? She'd rather take her chances on her own.
A cat meowed to her left and tilted its head curiously. “Hello.” A cat should be safe. Most of them couldn't talk, and they all kept to themselves, anyway. “I-I got lost. Do you know where the Great Hall is?” Her cheeks burned.
The cat nodded.
“Could you show me? Please?”
With another nod, the cat hopped to the stone floor and trotted ahead, assuming Junghwa would follow.
Junghwa recognised the tapestries and stairs and smiled. The Great Hall at last! It should be simple to find her way from there. “Thank you. . .?” The cat was gone. Junghwa shrugged and peeked into the Hall. It was empty; everyone had followed their respective prefects—like Junghwa should have—to their houses. Kim Minseo, the prefect who had greeted the first-years with a kind smile but commanding presence, told them that the Gryffindor House was in Gryffindor Tower and could be found on the seventh floor.
Obviously, Junghwa had to go up. The Grand Staircase lead all the way to the seventh floor, and she had seen the other Gryffindors using it before she'd slipped away.
She tiredly began her ascent, not really looking forward to climbing so much. “How many stairs are there?” she whined. A sound made her pause and look around; it sounded like someone pushing a stone across the floor. One instant she was a step away from a landing; the next, she was clinging for her life to the cold railing as the whole flight rotated 90 degrees.
The stairs moved.
Ignoring the laughter and cooing of the portraits, she dashed up the rest of the stairs, only counting the floors until she reached the seventh.
She hoped it was the seventh, at least; she'd tripped on a broken step and skinned her knee somewhere around the third or fourth floor and had to jump to make it to the corridor she hoped she needed.
“Fat Lady, Fat Lady. . .” Junghwa brushed her hair off her face and looked down the corridor. “Seventh floor, Fat Lady. It shouldn't be that hard to find?”
With each passing minute, she became more lost and more disheartened. What made her parents think it was a good idea to send her here? It was too big, too moving, too everything. What if she never found her way? She'd die in some dusty hall and haunt the school and students would make up stories about the dead girl on the seventh floor who got lost on her first day.
She really wanted to go home, but she'd settle for a hug and directions.
No, it's okay. She just had to calm down. Maybe one of the portraits could help her. Taking a deep breath through her nose, she let it out through her mouth and looked around.
A tapestry hung up to her right. It wasn't a very attractive tapestry, showing a small group of trolls kind of dancing and hitting a human with their clubs in a forest clearing. Why anyone would think trolls should be in a ballet was beyond her, and the trolls probably agreed, which was why they were beating the person who forced them into tutus.
There were only tapestries in this corridor. Junghwa walked up and down it, avoiding looking at the ugly troll tapestry and unleashing her mind to allow all the anxieties and insecurities to eat at her heart.
How hard was it to find a tower? She'd probably have had better luck if she walked around the grounds outside and scaled the tower. If she had a broom, she could fly to a window and probably get in. She should've just gone back to the Great Hall and asked one of the staff or professors for help.
Why was this floor so quiet, anyway? Maybe it wasn't the seventh floor at all. She rubbed her arms, silently wishing she wasn't by herself.
Next time she needs to pee, she will cross her legs and get a friend to walk with her.
If she ever made any friends.
At the rate she was going, she was lucky if anyone found her corpse.
“Why am I so awkward?” Her face grew hot, and she could feel the frustrated tears.
She just wanted a hug.
If she kept pacing, her mark would be left in a deep track in the floor, but on her trek away from the stairs, she saw a door she hadn't noticed before. In fact, she was certain it hadn't been there at all.
Curiosity got the better of her. Maybe it was a shortcut to where she wanted to go or at least to someone who knew how to get her to where she wanted to go.
She pushed the door open and peered into a vast room full of random bits of furniture, books, and plenty of dust. A fireplace sat at the far end, directly opposite the door, between two wide windows. There were no other doors, as far as she could see.
Venturing further into the room, Junghwa picked up a very dusty book:
A Perfect Discovery of witches.
The Divine Cause of the Distractions
of this Kingdome, and also of the
Very profitable to bee read by all sorts
of people, especially judges of Assizes, Sheriffes, Justices of the Peace,
and Grand-Jury-men, before they passe
sentence on those that are condemned for
By THOMAS ADY
Her eyes crossed and vision blurred not even halfway through the title.
Other books had similar titles. “Maybe someone had taken them from the library to save other students from being bored to death,” Junghwa thought to herself. A leather-bound book with tattered pages and a title that filled its front page had a collection of suspicious brown stains. She dropped it as if burned and moseyed to the opposite side of the room, where a musty armchair sat completely clean of dust.
The new room was lonely, but at least it was lonely in such a way that Junghwa felt somewhat safe, and her eyes filled with tears.
Her sniffles and sobs hit the high ceiling and echoed. She jumped as something brushed against her ankles. Through watery eyes, she could only see a darkish blur. It hopped onto her lap and pushed its head against her chest, purring loudly.
“You, again.” Junghwa wiped the heel of her palm across her eyes and ran her fingers through its fur.
“Re'em?” The door opened slowly, and a girl poked her head inside.
Junghwa sat very still in the armchair—she didn't want anyone to see her like this, curled up on a filthy chair and crying like a child—but the cat had other ideas and leaned over the arm, meowing loudly.
“There you are! Oh. Hello.” The girl smiled at Junghwa, and it had none of the condescension the first-year feared. The smile slipped a little when she noticed Junghwa's wet cheeks“Are you okay?” She wore the black and yellow Junghwa recognised as Hufflepuff, and her hair hung loose over her shoulders.
She could just lie. “I got lost.” Or not. She waited for the snort of laughter or an exasperated sigh like when she'd mess up a potion with her brothers. Neither came. She was more than pleasantly surprised when she was wrapped in a tight hug.
“You must've been so scared. . .” The girl gave another squeeze and crouched beside Junghwa's knee, tickling the cat beneath its chin. She gave nice hugs. “This is a really big place. I still get lost, and I've been here three years, already! I'm Zhang Yixiao, third-year Hufflepuff. This,” she tapped the cat's nose, “is Re'em.”
Junghwa introduced herself with a slight bow. “I'm Kim Junghwa; I was just sorted into Gryffindor.”
Dark brows lifted. “Is that where you're trying to go? Gryffindor commons?”
“Yeah. I thought I could find my way, but then the stairs moved. . .”
“They do have a tendency to do that. You'll get used to it.” Yixiao grinned again, and Junghwa noticed a dimple on the girl's right cheek. “You're close, at least. This is the seventh floor, but you should've gone to the right corridor. I can take you, if you'd like.”
Junghwa could only nod, fighting off another onslaught of tears. Grateful ones, this time.
Yixiao stood and took Junghwa's hand. Re'em lead the way to the door, nosing its way out before it was even open all the way.
“Why are you up here? I heard Hufflepuff is in the basement.”
“I was looking for my Remembrall.”
“Where did you have it last?” They reached the stairs and waited. Junghwa clung to the railing with her free hand, concentrating on keeping her other hand from twitching. Yixiao had really soft hands.
“I don't remember. I was looking in the library when Re'em came and got me. I guess she was worried about you.” Yixiao gave Junghwa's hand a squeeze. She didn't seem about ready to let it go, yet, which Junghwa was grateful for.
“What was that room I was in, anyway? It wasn't there when I first got there, but then it was.” Like magic.
Yixiao hummed. “I dunno. . . It might be the Stop and Go room or something; I heard the house-elves talking about it once. It's just a secret room that turns into what you want but only if you really want it. Like, if you just walk by thinking 'I'm so hungry,' it won't do anything, because it's against one of the five laws.”
The telltale grinding sound echoed up the cavernous stairwell, and the flight the girls were on soon lurched and swung 180 degrees to the opposite wing of the castle. Re'em lead the way with a banner-like tail and a glance over her shoulder every few steps.
It was a short walk from the stairs. A single turn to another corridor, and the Fat Lady was looking at them curiously. “Did we lose a student already?”
“She just got a little turned around.”
“Hmph. As if you're one to talk, Miss Zhang.”
Yixiao shrugged, smiling.
“Oh, well.” The portrait looked back to Junghwa. “You're here now, dear. Password?”
“Uh. . .”
“There you are!” A short girl stormed around the corner, red tabby cat at her heels, and planted herself firmly with her hands on her hips. “Do you have any idea how long I've been looking for you? First-year students are supposed to follow the Head Boy or Girl straight to the commons after the sorting ceremony!”
Junghwa blushed. “I'm sorry.”
“Don't be so hard on her, Minseo. She was helping me; I wasn't paying attention to the time.”
Kim Minseo rolled her eyes, but her shoulders relaxed. “You'd think having a part-Kneazle would keep you on track.”
“Um, excuse me? Hello?” the Fat Lady chirped. “Password?”
The portrait swung inwards, and Junghwa heard the din of voices inside the commons.
Yixiao peeked inside and waved to a couple of friends. “I'll see you around, Junghwa.” She bowed and let go of her hand.
“T-Thank you!” Junghwa bowed hastily. She watched Yixiao amble down the corridor until Minseo took her gently, yet firmly, by the elbow.
“Come on. You missed the Head of the House's speech and rules.”
Junghwa nodded but didn't really pay attention.
She learned that the room she'd found was called the Room of Requirement. Walking passed it three times and concentrating on what was wanted or needed would make the door appear. It took some doing, but she eventually returned to the ugly troll tapestry one blustery day and thought of how wonderful it would be if she and Yixiao could sit in a flower field together by themselves.
The door appeared, and a light breeze teased her loose hair as she pushed it open.
Re'em pawed outside the door, a strange sight in the middle of a field, and Yixiao entered moments later, eyes bright and smile wide, dimple prominent, as she saw the transformed room.
Junghwa waved shyly. “Thank you for helping me.”
They sat in the tall grass and chatted about classes, classmates, professors, their homes and families, anything and everything.
Yixiao played with her wand, a springy sort with a unicorn hair core, she said, and waved it with a slur of incantations. A brilliant blue butterfly sprang from the tip of the wand and tottered on the breeze to alight on Junghwa's nose. Its tiny feet tickled, and her eyes crossed to look at it.
It became a hideaway of sorts. Junghwa would imagine someplace cosy, or just someplace she thought Yixiao would like, and envision herself with her, and the Hufflepuff would inevitably show up. She never complained or questioned it, so Junghwa hoped that meant she liked it.
Re'em would keep watch outside and sneeze if someone approached, a warning to stay inside.
Before her first exams, Junghwa imagined a cosy pub where she and Yixiao sat before a merry fire.
When she learned to ride a broom and broke her ankle in a fall, she thought of Yixiao in the hospital wing. Her ankle was wrapped and set, but it seemed to hurt a lot less when the Hufflepuff was around.
Quidditch try-outs had Junghwa's nerves so jumpy and fried she could only think of Yixiao's warm hugs. They shared the same musty armchair, Junghwa bundled on Yixiao's lap, and were almost discovered when someone noticed Re'em lying by the troll tapestry. By keeping very still and holding their breaths, whoever it was didn't investigate thoroughly, and they erupted into relieved giggles the moment the door closed.
She ended up not making the team until her second year and played her first game against Hufflepuff. Yixiao was a chaser who seemed to spend most of her time watching the birds or waving to her friends in the stands.
Oh Sehee, a Slytherin, teased Junghwa in the library about having a crush on a Hufflepuff. “You were watching her for most of the game like a puppy. You only caught the Snitch because Yixiao pointed it out.”
Yixiao had kissed her cheek after the game ended.
Junghwa hid her face in her arms and shrugged her shoulders over her red ears. “It's not like that. . .”
Sehee snorted at her friend and tied off Junghwa's braid. She settled her cheek on her palm, bored with studying. Her gaze roamed over the other students, avoiding the librarian, who had reprimanded Sehee for smuggling chocolate frogs into the library and let them get away. No one was interesting, but Junghwa still flushed pink, probably obsessing of her not-obvious-at-all crush. Sehee sat straight, eyebrows rising, and muttered, “Speak of the devil. . .”
“What?” The Gryffindor sat up and looked towards the library entrance. No one was there. She glowered at her friend and slammed her textbook open, earning a hiss for silence from the librarian.
Scratching her quill absently over the parchment, Junghwa slowly slouched lower and lower until she just about laid on the table. Maybe she did have a bit of a crush. Just a slight one. Who could blame her, though? Zhang Yixiao was cute, friendly, warm, kind, and even kind of smart, in her own way.
Maybe Junghwa could ask about how Yixiao felt about her later. A sleepover in a pillow fort like the ones she and her brothers made sounded like fun. A good opportunity to talk about feelings and cuddle.
Junghwa burrowed her face into her arms and tried not to squeal too loudly.