Out of the Cascade Hall, through the corridors, and back to the library. The route was so familiar now, after nine years – more than he’d spent here as an Aladren student, in fact – as a teacher, that Professor Wright would not have been surprised to discover he could walk it blindfolded. Nevertheless, as he guided the new members of his little flock along, he made sure to point out details, useful bits of knowledge someone less familiar with the school could use to help navigate, until they reached the doors of the library.
“Most of your classmates,” he informed them, “will only hear that they must never tell anyone from another House about the entrance to their dormitories. You, however, will need to keep two secrets – most importantly, where the actual entrance to Aladren is, but also that the entrance is hidden here, in the library.”
He led them into Tarquin’s domain. “I’m sure I could leave this part unsaid, but protocol insists I remind you that the library itself is not part of your common room, and you should follow all the same rules and conventions as every other student when you are inside the library. Our librarian, Mr. Fox-Reynolds, and I are on very friendly terms, so you can rest assured I would hear about any behavior to the contrary,” he added. “But since I’m sure that won’t happen – on we go.”
Sonora was young, as far as wizarding schools went, and had been even more remote from society when it was built than it was now; a regrettable consequence of this was the absence of the sort of ancient grimoires and hand-illuminated bestiaries that one might find in the libraries of the European schools of magic. It did, however, contain rather good copies of a fair few of them, plus a wealth of more recent material, and thus it was a bit of a walk to the back wall and the section dedicated to zoology and magizoology. Once they finally reached it, he scanned the shelves and found the book he was looking for.
“Notice this book,” he said, pointing to a very worn volume entitled Birds of Prey. “If you want to read about actual hawks, you can find that information in many books around here I’m sure, but this specific book is actually the key to the door to our common room. To come in, you put your hand on the spine, like I’m doing now, and pull as though you were going to remove it from the shelf, like – “ he pulled on the book – “so.”
There was a sound of stone on stone, and a shelf began to move, first forward and then outward, revealing an entrance. He gestured through it. “After you,” he invited the students.
The shelf slid back into place behind them as they entered a spacious room decorated primarily in blue and black. The room was dotted with sets of tables and chairs, a few sofas, and bookshelves on several walls. He had looked over the shelves when he took over as Head of House and had made a few additions, so the common room library covered a variety of interests students might have - subjects related to magic, yes, but also other subjects, including history and literature and Muggle math and science. He had also decided to have several periodicals delivered to the common room for general use. The first issues of these, along with hodgepodges from earlier deliveries and his own, older collection of such things, were on a few stands around the room. He led the new kids to the rug in front of the hearth and waved for them to take seats in the immediate area. Since he was not exactly declaiming to a vast crowd here, he took an armchair himself so he was more or less on their level instead of looming over them from the rug.
"Once again, welcome to Aladren," he said. "As your Head of House and an alumnus of this House, I hope you will all come to see Aladren as a second home. This is our common room - where you can sit, meet with others in our House, do your homework, play some chess - whatever you want, within reason. If we continue thinking of this as home, then the common room is like your living room, with a few extras - that bulletin board, for instance." At least, his parents had never put up bulletin boards, that he could recall; perhaps some did, but he suspected most would regard a full-sized bulletin board as a novelty. "The bulletin board's useful if you want to find a study partner or start a group. You'll also see the sign-ups for clubs and teams and announcements about school events there. If you want to start a club or post anything else for other Houses to see, just let me know and I'll speak with the other Heads of Houses so they can post it on their bulletin boards too.
"My office is through that door over there," he said, pointing to a door set into one wall. "There's an outside entrance from the corridor around the bend, too, if you're with someone from another House or just already passing that way." By which he really meant: if you'd rather not advertise to everyone in the common room that you want a word with me; he assumed that would be obvious enough without an explicit statement even with first years. "If you have any questions about the school or any other concerns, you're welcome to come talk to me - as Head of House, I'm here to be your default adult, and to act as the middleman between you and the administration, when that's needed," he explained. "However, any professor would be happy to help you if you prefer, or if I'm not available, and our House prefects are also here to help you. You can recognize them by their badges. Their names are Ness McLeod, Sophia Priory, and, since earlier at the Feast, Ellie Alperton."
"The dorms are through that door over there." He pointed. "When you get in, you'll see there's a hallway that goes two ways. Dorms for girls are down the hall to your right, and dorms for boys are down the hall to your left." It had seemed reasonable enough to work under the assumption that there was a good chance Antimony would be an Aladren - Ness and Ellie were not enough precedent to just assume the placement, but they were definitely a precedent he didn't think any of the other Houses could match - and so he had tried, before term, to go ahead and find another way to describe the dorms that didn't involve letting students fall through the floor until they figured out which side was theirs, but had not had much luck; he'd considered writing to Evelyn for assistance, but while his protégé was an adult now, she was also still a student until June, and that meant it was still unambiguously unprofessional. That just left him with a variation on the wording he'd developed when Ellie was a first year. "You can only walk down the hallway that contains the room you've been assigned to. If you walk down the other one, you'll fall through the floor and end up back in the common room. They tell me it's not a very soft landing, so I'd recommend you don't do that," he said matter-of-factly. "Your room has your year number - this year, that's a 1 - on it, so it should be easy to find. The second years will be in all your classes as well as being your neighbors, so I'd recommend being good neighbors," he added.
"That's a lot of information, I know, so you'll probably be glad to hear that's the end of this speech," he said. "If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them. If you don't have any questions, though, then this meeting is adjourned - you can look around the common room, or go see your dorms. Your trunks will already be in your rooms by now."
OOC: Welcome to Aladren! You can now post your character on any of the boards, though they do not have access to other common rooms outside of HoH offices. You can also continue your conversations at the Feast and at Orientation thanks to the magic of what we call "fuzzy time" - as long as two threads are supposed to happen at different times in character, you can write them at the same time as an author. If you have any questions, just ask in Chatzy or on the OOC board. Have fun!
Already feeling at home! by Constance Melcher with Grayson Wright
16Grayson WrightWelcome to Aladren (Head of House speech)11315
The Opening Feast had been all in all a pleasant experience: Constance had enjoyed the food, and she had even had a nice chat with Rosalynn, a second year in her House. All of that was well and good, but present in the back of her mind throughout was the anticipation to finally see the Aladren Common Room. It felt like such a rite of passage, and she could hardly wait to write home to her father and give her report, detailing every inch in as much detail as possible. And sure, he would remember it himself from his days long passed where this was his home as well, but further detail would only prove her Sorting to him, and in turn, they could share this experience together. Connie was, admittedly, a bit of a daddy’s girl.
So when Professor Wright called for them to assemble, she said polite farewells to her neighbors at the table and eagerly bounded to him, grinning happily and also still a little smugly. She pulled up her hair before they began to journey, freeing up her brainspace to truly and fully absorb every step of the journey, every detail of her surroundings. And she loved each moment of it.
It was perfect to find their entrance masked in the library, and as Professor Wright demonstrated the way to open the door, Constance simply could not contain herself. She squeaked cheerfully and clapped her hands together. A trick book! How could she have not come up with that during their discussion earlier? What stunning ingenuity!
Wide eyed, she now gazed around the Common Room, completely immersed in the blue and black walls. She vowed to herself now to read every book on their private bookshelves, as well as getting through as many in the library as she could over the next seven years. She might need to break it down by section. That would require some proper planning and chart-making, two things Connie absolutely loved. Indeed, her education years were already looking quite promising.
She was eager to see her own bedroom - she hadn’t yet talked much to her roommate (or mates? Constance couldn’t tell by looking at one of them which gender he or she was), but she had never shared a room before! - but before parting from Professor Wright, she raised her hand to indicate she had a question. “That book you moved. Birds of Prey?” she began. “Is that specific book found somewhere else in the library as well so that we can actually read it?”
OOC: Professor Wright doesn't actually need to respond to this unless you feel so inclined, or unless someone else replies wanting to know/with other questions.
Constance Melcher had a question, which really did not come as that much of a shock or surprise to her head of house. Gray had not been particularly close to Quentin Melcher in either age or acquaintance, but Quentin had been notorious, back in the day, for his near-flawless record of always being able to find a question to ask in any situation, regardless of how appropriate that question was for the occasion, or indeed if the occasion was an appropriate one to ask any questions in at all.
Luckily, his daughter’s question was reasonable enough for this situation, so they were off on the right foot. Whether they stayed there would remain to be seen, but it was a good beginning. He smiled understandingly even as he shook his head in advance of his reply.
“I’m afraid not,” he said. “I’ve never been able to make up my mind if that means that one of the Founders was very much like one of us, or if it means that whichever one decided how the door would work didn’t understand us very much at all. On one hand, many of us would want to read the book…on the other hand, the fact it isn’t real encourages us to read more of the surrounding books on related subjects.” He thought for a moment and then added, “Birds of prey do form a very broad subject for just one book anyway, don’t you think? At least one slender enough to make a comfortable doorhandle."
Constance liked Professor Wright. He was already proving to be a challenging man, even when his response was unfortunately tainted with bad news that the book in question was not available. Constance did not have a particular interest in birds of prey, but now that the idea was presented to her, it felt a bit dishonest to have it taken away. But as he reported, there were other options for gaining comparable knowledge, so that relief fueled her as she considered his return question.
“Maybe,” she gave as a slight act of compromise, tying up her hair absentmindedly as she considered. “It might be able to fit into a small book like that if it were very specific, like if it were only about a certain region’s birds of prey, or maybe only flight patterns or behaviors versus an in-depth analysis of their biological variances. I think that would make a much larger book, but if it was only about one of those factors, it might be slender enough.”
Quite abruptly, the redhead raised her hand to ask another question, despite the fact that she was already engaged in conversation, which most likely rendered that action unnecessary. “What is your favorite bird of prey, Professor?” she asked, mentally preparing her own response if the question were to be returned to her after the fact.
Constance Melcher, it seemed, was determined to live up to her father’s reputation. Maybe. It had been – dear Merlin – probably closer to thirty than to twenty years, now, but he seemed to recall Quentin being a touch less forceful than this girl. Quentin had just been sort of…about, if he recalled him correctly, able to draw attention to himself, but fundamentally more or less passive. Constance came across as possibly a member of that sub-type of their kind who could become something of a leader simply by dragging others along in her wake, though of course it was a bit early for diagnosing such things, much less worrying about them.
“Ah, but then the title would be inaccurate,” he said, amused, finding a small flaw in her reasoning. “Though I suppose a children’s book very broadly covering the topic, without much more than lists, might meet the bill,” he conceded after thinking of that – he’d been badgered into attempting an instructive children’s book over the summer, and how to generalize broadly enough to allow for the narrowness of a young child’s capability for understanding was…challenging, more than it seemed like it should have been. How could something broader work better for something narrow than another narrow thing did? Though in fairness, terms like ‘broad’ or ‘narrow’ were – aside from referring to dimensions that information didn’t really have in its pure form – very much relative words. A book he might consider exhaustive on the subject of switching spells might seem broad to the point of worthlessness and crudity to someone studying theoretical transfiguration and trying to figure out how to find the coordinates of objects once they were in Vanishing Space, or whatever it was the theoretical transfiguration people did….
He was surprised to already find her hand in the air again, but supposed that was his foolishness at this point. This question, though, was in its way even odder than the first; this sounded like she was…making conversation?
“I, I can’t say I’ve ever really thought about it that much,” he admitted. “Though as Head of House, it’s probably in my contract to go with the House mascot. Do you have a special interest in birds?” he asked, figuring it wouldn’t hurt to pick up ideas that might prove useful in shaping lessons. Birds and bird-like objects were certainly not unheard of as examples in charms; in his first year of teaching, there had been a kid in the Advanced class who had somehow worked them into major projects, leading Gray to discover there was more than he’d ever known, wanted to know, or known there even was to know about any given type of bird. He could still remember moment of horrified realization that yes, all the pages of those things were, in fact, different from each other, not a lot of copies of one page shoved in here and there to pad things out; he had learned on the spot why it was not advisable to let students design their own research projects too freely, as he had never guessed from the project proposals handed in at various points over the year that the end results would be things to give nightmares to, say, someone thrown into teaching at the deep end without much time to develop a grading system first.