The interruption was a younger girl, maybe a first or second year, who claimed she’d come to retrieve a notebook. Claudia stood straight again, palms planted on her hips, and then twisted from her waist, turning her torso one way and then the other, while she waited for the younger student to collect her belongings and leave.
“Ooh! I like your makeup!”
Or not leave. Claudia cast her eyes over her company. A flicker of recognition passed through her mind and across her expression: her lips twitched into the faintest smile. “You’re Darlene’s friend,” Claudia said. Being so far removed in years (and, presumably, circumstance, as Claudia had no other frame of recognition for the younger student) she had never spoken to this girl before, but was certain that she was the ‘Maggie’ of whom Darlene had spoken. Claudia was sure she’d seen the girls together on more than one occasion.
“Maggie, isn’t it?” Claudia sought clarification. She took in the girl’s admiration of her makeup and the confident way she spoke to an upperclassman, and the contrast of her clutching the recently relocated notebook to her chest, as if for comfort or reassurance. It added up to someone who was eager to please, perhaps, which was a trait with which Claudia could identify … or at least she could recall how that had felt. Now she was much less prone to giving a damn what anyone thought about her (or anything else, for that matter. That was their business, not hers), but in her early days at RMI that had been all that mattered.
Claudia had never had Maggie’s apparent confidence, however: for around half her time at school she had tried desperately not to be noticed. If there was a spell to make a person disappear at will, like a demiguise, Claudia would have studied it until truly proficient. When she was Maggie’s age she’d been familiar and gotten along well with Danny’s friends (it was practically satirical how drastically different the situation was now) but she’d hardly been able to talk to them, let alone to a seventh year who was a complete stranger. Well, Claudia could amend that, at least.
“I’m Claudia Dubois.” She said it evenly, the ghost of a smile still lingering. Reactions to her name varied massively in society these days, but it was unlikely this friend of Darlene’s knew anything at all about her, beyond also being Darlene’s friend. That was the only connection Claudia was hoping for her to make. If it turned out that Maggie was from a society family then she might not want anything to do with Claudia, and she wouldn’t be the first. It was a relief to the seventh year that her existing friends wanted to keep her around; Connor, Nolan, Alena and Darlene would all be forgiven for wanting to disassociate themselves from the social pariahs of the Dubois family. On the other hand, some socialites couldn’t see past money, so the millions Claudia was due to inherit allowed them to forgive her family’s irregularities.
In some ways it was easier if people knew nothing at all about pureblood society and just knew her as the student who almost got set on fire that one time. The scorch marks were still easily visible in the corridor but Claudia could walk that way without panicking now. She had never wanted to be memorable, and yet she hadn’t been able to avoid becoming part of the school’s history. If she was able to discover a time turner and revisit her past self, she’d really emphasize that younger Claudia should keep her head down and her opinions (and her wand) to herself. Life would be much less complicated that way.
Seventh year Claudia looked at this younger girl in front of her now and wondered whether she’d benefit from the same advice.