There was an incredibly slim chance that either Connor or Remington would consider dating the other. Claudia wouldn’t rule it out completely, because she was a person well placed to appreciate the merits of both of them. Plus she wasn’t ignorant of the way Connor admired a young woman with considerably more than Claudia had to offer in her silhouette, nor was she deaf to the hurt each of her friends was suffering. However, the slim chance of Remy or Connor wanting to date the other was considerably greater than the likelihood they both would agree to such a proposition. Smaller still was the possibility this would, in fact, occur, and that neither of them would tell Claudia about it, yet would share the information with Kit, instead. Conversely, the chance the Kit had misinterpreted something was a practical certainty. Claudia dismissed the gossip as such, and said nothing about the subject to anyone. If Remy or Connor had anything they wanted to say to her, they undoubtedly would do so, thus requiring no action on her part.
The rumors would inevitably die down and the student population would focus on something else in time. For her part, Claudia was determined to master Animagus transfiguration before she began preparing for the final exams. Her wandless and nonverbal magic was, in some cases, phenomenal, and she had all the focus and determination she could muster, but still, week on week, perfection eluded her.
Then, one day, she sat across from Aaron McKindy - both of them awkwardly but resolutely enduring the other’s presence - and it happened! One moment she’d been standing as a slender, blonde seventh year witch, and the next moment she’d been squatting as a dendrobates tinctorius azureus: a blue poison dart frog. Each of her four feet bore four round toes with suction cups that enabled her to climb vertical surfaces. In the frog’s natural habitat, Claudia’s blue pigment would serve as a warning to predators. She had yet to discover whether, as an Animagus, she could produce a toxin lethal to anyone who’d threaten her.
After a rigorous session of repeating the transfiguration over and over until she could do it without difficulty, Claudia was exhausted but immensely satisfied. Over the past few years she’d lost control of so much, and only in the past few months did it feel like she was reclaiming the reins of her life. This success was one of the long term goals that she achieved because she’d worked hard for it; no money or family ties had played a part in her success. It was exhilarating.
Treating herself to a tall glass of blueberry lemonade to celebrate a reduction in the amount of time each week she had to spend sitting across the desk from Aaron McKindy (sadly she still had her spellwork sessions), Claudia sat on the patio of a boutique cafe in the bright and breezy midmorning sunshine. Her long, dark blonde hair lay loose on her shoulders and was lifted from time to time on gentle gusts, tickling her cheeks and collarbones as she indulged in people watching the shoppers and workers of Pearl Street Mall. Inevitably, a familiar face joined the throngs of strangers, and Claudia nodded recognition when their eyes met.