Jo opened the pamphlet in her hands and turned through it again.
Nothing about it had changed in the slightest, but that didn’t stop her from looking for answers between its very many pages. Too many pages, in fact, to be considered a pamphlet, but the man who handed it to her had run off rather quickly when she calmly pointed it out. At least she had this much to guide her through the ins and outs of a new school. Jo didn’t want to imagine where she’d be without her pamphlet.
She turned another page and muffled a sigh.
She was woefully ill-prepared to be here. That much she had to admit, if only to herself. She hadn’t even known what the acronym for this school stood for a week ago, and now here she was, sorted into one of its houses.
Jo eyed the dreamcatcher sitting innocently on her lap. There was an identical one, down to the cream and gray coloring, sitting in one of her mother’s office drawers back home. Jo had even thrown it into her bag with all the rest of her supplies before her mother had caught her and accio’d it back. At the time, Jo hadn’t cared to ask what the significance was; she knew perfectly well what dreamcatchers did, thank you very much. But now, Jo understood that those colors weren’t just tasteful decoration, that the dreamcatcher wasn’t just some souvenir from one of her parent’s happier anniversary trips like she’d assumed. The dreamcatcher had been the final nail hammered into the coffin, the great signifier that yes, this was really happening, that no, there was no turning back now.
Jo had been sorted into Aquila. She was now a student at RMI.
There had to be answers somewhere in this stupid pamphlet. Something that indicated what misstep she’d taken to put her on this path. She turned to a page that heralded the school’s very many amenities.
“Troll-free since 2006,” she muttered to herself, eying the happy exclamation superimposed over a picture of smiling (and, presumably, troll-free) students on one of the early pages of the pamphlet. She wondered what had happened to warrant such a declaration so early on in the pamphlet’s contents, but decided that ultimately it didn’t matter much to her either way.
Trolls or not, she was still here instead of Hogwarts.
Looking back to her lap, Jo pondered to herself if she’d need to keep the dreamcatcher. It was probably a good idea to hold onto it (it was probably a good idea to hold onto most everything, but that was besides the point). The pamphlet didn’t mention that they were reused, but Jo wasn’t about to be the idiot who tossed something because she hadn’t thought it might be useful in the future; she’d keep it. The dreamcatcher might act as a guide to her classes or be some sort of key for the dormitories. Maybe it served as a signifier, years down the road, that other Aquila alumni might use to see if she was up to snuff.
Or maybe it just kept nightmares at bay.
Or maybe, it didn’t do anything at all, and she should throw it away.
Jo wondered if there was some kind of threshold to determine where sentimentality and use blurred together and where one overtook the other. She thought about the dreamcatcher sitting in her mother’s drawer, clearly not doing anything remotely like catching dreams, but always within reach. Jo had never known her mother to do so much as blink longer than average in her office, let alone fall asleep. Why keep the dreamcatcher, then?
It was rare that Jo second-guessed an object once she decided to put it in her bag. There was absolutely no baseline criteria something had to meet to get tossed in; last week, she had on a whim tossed a pair of her father’s old quidditch robes and a broken hairbrush just because the mood suited her! She’d been filling it since she was five years old; certainly there were plenty of things inside that weren’t actually all that useful! What was one more for the bag?
Still, Jo hesitated.
This time, Jo let the sigh out threatening to spill out. She really couldn’t sit around the fire all night mulling over something as mundane as a dreamcatcher. She’d clean out her bag next week (or maybe the week after, if this school was as rigorous as the pamphlet promised), and she’d decide what to do with it then.
With perhaps less fanfare than it deserved, the dreamcatcher dropped into the bag and vanished into the depths like so many of Jo’s belongings before it.
As she stared down into the abyss wondering where it had all gone wrong (and coming back again and again to The Incident, to her increasing dismay), Jo suddenly registered that her theatrics had caught someone’s attention. She snapped her head up and made eye contact with the student before they could turn away and pretend they hadn’t been openly gawking at her.
“What?” Jo demanded, eyes narrowing at the person in front of her.