It wasn’t exactly normal homework. Winding her blonde curls into a knot at the top of her head, Rose stared down at the chart in front of her with a curious mixture of pride and discomfort. It was definitely up to her usual standards: detailed, neat, and slightly more comprehensive than the assignment had actually called for. But none of that could stop her from wanting to hide it from sight anytime one of her housemates passed by.
It was nearly time for another lesson with Professor Qasim. He’d been suitably impressed with the results of her first assignment. So impressed that he’d decided to, as he put it, stretch her a little. So she’d stretched. And now it was time to show him the proof.
With a sigh, the tiny Ravenclaw rolled up the parchment and set out for the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor’s office. She paused outside his door, rocking on her heels and wishing she’d taken the time to remind Danny where she was going. Then, because he probably knew she was there already, took a deep breath and knocked.
“Enter.” Qasim’s silky voice came through the hard wooden door.
With only one glance down the hallway to see if anything conveniently catastrophic might be happening to get her out of this lesson, Rose put on a smile and stepped inside Professor Qasim’s office. Shutting the heavy door behind her, she couldn’t shake the sensation that she was stepping into night. “Good evening, Professor,” she greeted him, because it would be rude to just stand there feeling small.
The Egyptian Warlock sat behind his desk reading several scrolls of parchment. He looked up and set down the essays. “Right on time Miss Sheridan.” He said warmly as he pulled away from his desk. “Tea?”
Privately convinced that the professor had some insidious plan to turn her into a tea drinker, Rose shook her head. “No thank you, sir.” She paused for a minute, fingers itching to pull at least one curl down closer to her mouth, before holding out her rolled chart to him. “I finished last week’s assignment.”
“Ah excellent,” the professor nodded. He took the parchment from Rose and unrolled it.
Rose could only wait a moment for him to look at the multicolored lines before she started explaining the work she’d taken so much time on. “I started with myself in the center, like you suggested,” she told him, touching the small red flower she’d used to represent herself. “Then I added the lines to show my friends and family and people I see around me.”
She blushed suddenly, wondering why she’d picked the color pink for Danny’s line. “My closest friends really show up like this,” she continued, hoping he wouldn’t notice. “They’re stronger than the rest, thicker I guess.” She stopped and traced the yellow line from her flower to Orlando’s name as an example. It still amazed her that even after all the times she’d been unfair to him that their connection was as bright as any of the others, brighter than some. People like Sam and Dee, who she’d been so close to just a few years ago, seemed so pale and insubstantial by comparison.
“But it seemed incomplete so I connected my friends to each other a little too. Just to round things out.”She touched the silver lines she’d drawn between the boys, the housemates, the boyfriend and girlfriends. The complete picture made quite an impressive web. She’d stopped short of including family beyond her own, or favorite professors. That seemed like too much of an invasion of privacy.
Rose let her hand drop back to her side and let the professor examine her handiwork for himself. “I hope that’s okay.”
“Very impressive young lady.” Qasim looked up from her work and smiled at the blonde. “You seem to have gotten even further than I expected.”
She beamed at the praise before remembering that she didn’t want to like him. “Thank you, Professor. It’s just kinda hard to stop once I get started.”
“So let me ask a question,” Qasim sat back in his chair and knitted his fingers together, “have you had any side effects to this? Any of the headaches?”
“Now that you mention it…” The blonde cocked her head to the side as she thought it over. “I haven’t. That’s so strange. I didn’t even think about it but I haven’t had any since you’ve been giving me assignments to concentrate on.”
Qasim nodded like that was the answer he was expecting. “And do you know why that is?” His smile widened.
Rose thought it over, biting at a fingernail instead of her hair. “I don’t know. I was getting headaches when everything was so crazy and it was all coming at me at once. Maybe it’s better now because I’m doing things on purpose?”
“If we were in class young lady,” he looked at her with a proud expression, “I would give you house points.”
“Really? I thought I sounded kinda crazy there.” Rose grinned. It was so hard not to feel comfortable around him.
“It means your body is attempting to control your gifts, which of course is a vast improvement.” The professor said approvingly.
She couldn’t argue with that one. “I’m going to miss the skull splitting headaches,” she laughed. “And now I can’t use fainting as an excuse to miss class.” Looking back down at her chart, Rose touched her flower again. “It feels really good to be able to beat this though.”
“I would not call it beating it my dear,” he gave her a reproachful look, “I would call it learning to control a gift given by God.”
Her sunny brow furrowed as she turned that over in her mind. “Starting to learn how to control it,” she conceded. “Though I don’t imagine knowing how connected I am to my best friends is the most useful thing in the world.”
“Which brings us to our next assignment,” He stood up and stroked one of the black tapestries that hung on his office wall. As his touch receded, it seemed to still move on it’s own. “I want you to choose someone that you do not have normal connection with. I want you to follow them and map their relationships.”
“But…” Nose wrinkling at the thought, Rose tried to express her feelings without sounding like she was arguing with a teacher. “Isn’t that kinda… an invasion of privacy? It’s like staring in the window of a stranger’s house.”
“A very good point.” He turned to face her again. “If I was asking this as a member of the auror office under the authority of the Ministry of Magic, then yes I would agree with you. At this point however, I am a teacher assisting a student to learn how to control a power that she did not ask for. In that instance, I feel that a little privacy can be played with in order to hone your skills.”
It seemed almost reasonable when he put it that way. But the idea of playing with privacy made her skin crawl, like those rippling black drapes. “Should it be someone in my year or my house or just anyone?” the blonde asked, trying to work her way around her misgivings.
Qasim took a moment to think about it before answering. “I would take a first year Ravenclaw. Someone that did not have any love interests or secrets we may discover. Does that sate your morals?”
Rose blushed and looked down at her chart. She was being silly, overreacting again. He was taking time out of his schedule to give her these lessons and help her with this totally unwanted gift. She needed to get past her issues from earlier in the year and let him do his job. “Of course, Professor Qasim. I didn’t mean to be difficult. I can totally do this.”
“Excellent.” He clapped his hands together. “Shall we meet together next week to discuss this?”
She nodded. “Of course, Professor.” She took a step toward the door then paused and looked back at her chart. “You don’t need to keep that, do you?” She looked again at the pink line connecting her to Danny. “Because it’s kinda… personal.”
Qasim smiled. “You may take it with you my dear.”
“Thank you.” Her smile lit the gloomy office before growing into an almost impish grin. “I’ll be back next week to impress you again.”
“I hope to see you do so as well,” He returned her smile. As she left, he turned and stroked the curtains once more. His smile becoming something other than pride.