i’m sick of being useless

by renegadekarma

Tatiana heaved a dry sigh. “I’m sick of being useless.”


The student commons were usually empty this time of night, but this year, Tatiana had barely noticed when they started to clear out. She wasn’t meant to be out, this late, she knew – it was past curfew, even for her, and she was still stuck down in an armchair, her chocolate locks spilling over her shoulders, hazel eyes resolutely fixed on the textbook in her hands.

OWLs were approaching soon, but Tatiana Penvrane had never felt more inadequate or ill-prepared. Five years worth of material had drifted into her head over the years, but she knew that some of it had slipped out again. And considering that they had exams tomorrow, she couldn’t afford doubts. Not now. Not when she needed her wits about her most.

She murmured the charm under her breath. Conjuring flowers was easy, and for someone that liked them as much as she did, it should have been a simple feat. It wasn’t. A leaf burst from the tip of her wand, but not the rest of the daffodil. Exasperated, she tried again. The same happened.

In a huff, Tatiana threw her textbook halfway across the room. It landed with a rather heavy crash at the base of another armchair. Normally, she’d be afraid of someone hearing and yelling at her for being out after curfew when she’d normally be scolding others for doing the same, but she couldn’t bring herself to care today. She brought her knees into her chest and wrapped an arm around them, bottom lip quivering.

A face appeared at the door, and her hazel eyes flitted up. Not another prefect or a professor, but a more welcome sight. Reece. He bent, retrieving the fallen textbook, before tucking it under his arm and wordlessly taking a seat on the armchair beside her.

Before he was able to ask, she answered the unspoken question on his lips. “I couldn’t figure it out,” she murmured irritably under her breath.

He held out the textbook to her silently and she huffed but reluctantly uncurled her limbs and reached for it again, flipping for the page in one of the early chapters before shoving the book back at him. “I can’t conjure flowers. Not a single one. And the exams are tomorrow.” Tatiana heaved a dry sigh. “I’m sick of being useless.”

Reece lifted an eyebrow as he pulled the book to his lap, glancing down at the charm. “Relax, you’re not useless. Not everyone masters every charm.”

“That’s easy for you to say,” the brunette huffed. “Mister Ravenclaw – you know just about how to do every charm in this book, don’t you? Have you ever flunked an essay or done badly in class, ever?”

“Everyone has,” Reece answered simply, pulling his wand from his pocket. “And you could have been a Ravenclaw, or a Slytherin, or a Gryffindor, and I could have been in a different house too. It doesn’t really matter. What does is that you focus on figuring it out, and don’t stress too much if you don’t.”

“But OWLs are—“

“Tomorrow, yes. I’ve been reminded of that already,” Reece cut her off as he studied the page again. With a motion of his wand and a muttered charm, a daffodil sprung out. He presented it to her, and she took it, fingers brushing the yellow petals.

“It comes so easily to you, doesn’t it?” Tatiana murmured enviously.

“It takes practice,” Reece clarified.

“I don’t have time,” the brunette sighed. “I’ve got tonight to master a charm, and I’m still so worried.”

“Just practice at it,” he suggested again. “I’ll help you.”

“You have to wake up early tomorrow and study for your own Charms,” Tatiana replied dubiously after a moment. “Are you sure…?”

“I’m sure.”

She leveled her hazel eyes on him for a moment before nodding and pulling the book from his lap back into hers. “Okay, so show me the wand movement again, slower?”

So maybe it took several hours, and maybe they both had to sneak back into their common rooms and risk the wrath of being caught out after hours, and possibly they’d both had very little sleep before they rose in the morning for their Charms exam. And when they disappeared into the hall for their practical, heaving nervous and shallow breaths in anxiety, they caught each other’s eye and tried to smile reassuringly (their lips curved up only half-heartedly).

Lunch afterward was a dreadful affair, with students moaning about how they’d done and anxiously trying to compare with their classmates over potatoes and soups as they ate. Considering her last name was farther back in the alphabet than his, she arrived later, but made a beeline straight for the Ravenclaw table when she did.

“So…?” he questioned as he saw her approaching, face grim.

Her reply was a suddenly cheerful smile as she offered him a daffodil that she’d been concealing behind her back. “Thank you, Reece. It worked.”