Margaret Schoenberger

Tell me your secrets and ask me your questions

5 posts in this topic

The day mentor assignments were revealed, Margaret had a difficult time focusing in her classes. She felt so nervous at the thought of having to entertain someone by herself for hours and, ultimately, having the responsibility of taking care of someone their whole Hogwarts career. True, many people had bad relationships with their mentors and mentees and willingly cut all ties after their first term, but Margaret wanted to befriend her mentee. She thought about her own mentors, Desmond and Mercutio, and how they had guided her through her first year. Had they not been around, Margaret wouldn't have joined so many school activities and met new people.

 

And so, swallowing away her nerves, Margaret sent Alyssa an owl before breakfast, asking the girl to skip her usual lunch at the Great Hall and to join her out by the lakefront. It was one of those rare days where the weather treated them well: the sun was shining brightly and the breeze, although a bit chilly, felt refreshing. 

 

Margaret had tried to do as much research as she possibly could on one Alyssa Hoofer, but she quickly learned that one could not learn someone's entire life story by reading a library book. She wanted to pester some of the other first years to see if they could give her any information on Alyssa, but Margaret didn't want to bother them during their first week. She also feared Alyssa would think the third year was a bit creepy. But as luck would have it, Alyssa and Margaret did cross path a few times: once during flying lessons and another time when Alyssa had (very unfortunately) been hit by the Whomping Willow. 

 

Hoping that neither of them would be attacked by nature this time, Margaret laid out a picnic spread by the water. She didn't know what Alyssa liked, so Margaret packed a ton of her favorites, such as baked potatoes, potato cakes, potato chips, and potato soup. And if Alyssa really really didn't like potatoes, then Margaret could perhaps transfigure them into different food items, though honestly, if her mentee didn't like potatoes, it was a sure sign the two of them would not get along.

 

Biting into one of the soft starchy vegetables, Margaret waited patiently, neatly arranging napkins and bringing out her favorite book, House-Elves & Self-Hatred.

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Alyssa made her way out to the lake to meet her mentor. She was actually quite nervous about this meeting. Not only because she was an older student and all the older kids seemed so intimidating, but because she was embarrassed too. The last meeting they'd had, Alyssa had gotten hit by the Whomping Willow. The two hadn't actually spoken when it had happened, but Margaret had witnessed it. Alyssa knew who she was just because she'd been assigned as her mentor. Likely Margaret thought she was just some silly little first year to get hit by the tree. It had been a rather stupid situation. That whole day had been.

 

In fact, Alyssa was sure that maybe she'd be ashamed to have someone so stupid to look after that year. However, she'd gotten the letter for them to meet by the lake for lunch. That had to be a good sign. Maybe things would be okay after all. They'd seen each other during flying lessons as well, and not to brag, but she'd done quite well. So, maybe she didn't seem like such a silly little kid to her after all.

 

It was also exciting to meet this girl. She wasn't just embarrassed but excited because Margaret was a teenager. In her opinion, all teenagers were cool, and she couldn't wait to reach the age of thirteen. She probably knew so much and maybe if they got along, she could even go to her for advice about growing up. Her mother was so far away now, and Alyssa would soon be growing into a woman. It would be great to have an older friend around instead of having to wait for a letter from home.

 

So with mixed emotions, she walked to the lake with some sandwiches and a bottle of pumpkin juice. This could either be a really great meeting, or it could go wrong. She got along with other girls though, so why should it be different with a teenager? Even if she had made a fool of herself.

 

"Hello," she said timidly once she reached Margaret.

 

She sat down and pulled out a small blanket from her bag to lay on the ground to protect her food. She looked over everything that was there already, including a book. It was called House Elves & Self-Hatred. She wondered what such a book could mean. A long time ago, when her siblings and Alyssa all been really small, they'd had a House Elf named Treena, but they'd gifted her to a new family once they got older. The Elf has seemed quite happy from what she remembered, so she didn't understand the book. Did it mean-? Well, she'd ask later. She gave the older girl a shy smile instead.

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Alyssa appeared almost perfectly on time, automatically racking up a thousand points just for her punctuality. The first year's voice was small and she looked a bit nervous, and though others' nervous energy typically set Margaret off into her own state of worry, Alyssa reminded her a bit of her old self. Margaret hadn't grown that much since first year, but she'd learned to voice her opinions a little bit more and stand up for herself, and her voice was a smidgen louder and her words that much clearer.

 

"Hi! Alyssa, right?" Margaret beamed, then realized she might've looked like a hungry and evil step-mother and toned down her smile a bit. But did she appear too unhappy and unenthused about meeting her mentee? Margaret smiled again - the awkward half-smile that made the corners of her lips go into a muscle spasm. "Oh! Um, you didn't have to bring food. I-I have some... things here! I mean, not that you didn't - I'm not mad that you did. It's very thoughtful of you."

 

She didn't know what else to say. In her first year, her own mentors Desmond and Mercutio had set up a game of chicken fight, so there was less conversation and more physical wrestling. Margaret didn't condone violence but when it came to choosing between an hour-long one-on-one conversation and an hour-long physical activity, she preferred the latter. Silently cursing herself for not coming up with a fun activity in which they wouldn't have to force a conversation, Margaret continued to smile at Alyssa in silence for a few seconds before realizing she needed to say something. After all, she was the one who invited Alyssa on this picnic.

 

"So um... how's your week going? Do you like Hufflepuff? And your professors?" Margaret asked awkwardly, playing with the torn spine of her book. "Any... enemies I should be aware of?" That was mostly a joke - Margaret didn't have the courage to defend Alyssa from any of her enemies even if they were first years.

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“Yes, I’m Alyssa,” Alyssa answered shyly with a small grin. “And I mean, I guess we can share all the food, right?”

 

She hadn’t realized that she shouldn’t bring food and she couldn’t remember if Margaret’s letter told her not to. She didn’ t think this was a big deal though. If they didn’t eat everything now, it could be a snack for later on. She felt hungry all the time lately, and so she didn’t think it would be a bad thing to carry a couple sandwiches around as long as she made sure they didn’t make a mess.

 

She focused on Margaret’s next question. Aside from the bad day she’d had, it had actually been a very good week. She loved all her classes so far though Professor Knaggs scared her a little.

 

“I love it here already and I am so happy to be in Hufflepuff. My parents were sorted here, so I was hoping I’d be sorted there too. I don’t mind most of the Professor’s except for Professor Knaggs. He is a bit scary to be honest with you. He seems very angry but maybe that’s just my first impression of him. I could be judging him too early. I haven’t made any enemies yet, and I hope I don’t,” she had a feeling that the last question was a joke, but she figured she’d answer it anyway. “I’ve made a couple good friends so far. We met on the train and we still talk. I still need to get to know my fellow Hufflepuff’s though.”

 

The idea scared her and she was so relieved that Zsu had at least been sorted with her. It was a shame that Gracie-Mae hadn’t been, but at least she had one familiar person with her. She wasn’t sure if she would ever talk to the other Hufflepuff’s because they were friends already, and she was so shy. What if she went all seven years without friends? Thankfully, that didn’t seem to be her fate. At least she hoped not.

 

“What about you?” Alyssa asked. “You’re a third year aren’t you? You’ll get to go to Hogsmeade this year. My parents told me all about it. I wish first years could go.”

 

She felt herself relaxing around Margaret. Something about the older girl made her feel at ease, and they barely knew each other. Perhaps it was because she could sense that Margaret was shy too.

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"Yes, of course!" Margaret replied cheerfully. She wasn't a massive fan of sharing things, but as long as she was on the receiving end of another person's sharing, she didn't mind. Given she had a basket of infinite potatoes, however, Margaret stuck to her own food.

 

Her heart sort of fell as Alyssa shared her thoughts on Hufflepuff, remembering how disappointed she had been two years ago when the hat revealed she'd be a badger. Margaret's family had a history of Hufflepuffs - her maternal great-grandparents, maternal grandparents, mother, and brother were all former Hufflepuffs - but oddly enough, her mother was obsessed with Ravenclaw house and what the represented: curiosity, intelligence, wisdom. From a young age, her mother had ingrained in her the idea that Ravenclaw was the best house and it was what Margaret had hoped for, if not for herself to make her mother proud. It took her three weeks to muster up the courage to owl her family and let them know she'd been sorted a Hufflepuff.

 

Luckily, many others instantaneously clicked with their house, like Alyssa. And Margaret was happy to have been sorted a Hufflepuff in the end, not just because of the housemates she'd met previous years, but Alyssa and Margaret might not've met otherwise! Some of the first years seemed far too wild but Alyssa was calm, quiet, sweet - just the type of person Margaret wanted to spend time around.

 

She handed the girl a potato (hoping she didn't have any allergies) and nodded. "Professor Knaggs is... um... not someone anyone would enjoy the company of, I don't think. He's very - I mean, he's a good teacher, that's for sure, in that we actually learn in his class, but he's very mean about the way he teaches." Margaret had never been called so many insults in her life until her first lesson of Transfiguration.

 

"Third year, yes!" Margaret repeated, surprised to hear those words roll off her tongue. She hadn't done much the past two years and the fact that time could speed by so quickly frightened her - what if she graduated without any accomplishments? She wasn't anywhere close to her classmates when it came to dueling and Quidditch was something she did for fun, not because she thought she was any good at it. Receiving perfect marks would prove useless if she had no other talents. "I'm very excited to go to Hogsmeade! Um, not that I can really shop there because I don't have an allowance... but it'll be nice to see different stores. I hear there's a sweets shop that everyone loves. Your next two years will fly by, though! I'm sure of it. Just um..." She tried to think of some advice, though she really didn't have any (because again, she had NO LIFE EXPERIENCES!). "...just do your homework, I suppose! I can help you. In fact, I can lend you some of my books, too! Or... or fun books, if you'd like? This is my favorite book." Margaret gestured to House-Elves & Self-Hatred, something she'd purchased from her own mentor a while back.

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