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Year 1: Director's Cut

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Insane... his brother was...

Crazy could hear the whispers around him. Students looked at him out of the corners of their eyes, clearly not over the fact that he was Jacob Numnums' brother. He felt a rush of irrational hatred for his brother then, for putting him in this situation, but it went as quickly as it came.

Rowan and Ben weren't with him. Rowan was in the library, because apparently 'you can never study too early for your O.W.L.S.' Crazy laughed at this. He had a feeling that Rowan had been born with a textbook in his hand. That must've been painful for his mum. Crazy nearly snorted, but fortunately remembered that people already considered him mental, and he didn't want to arouse further suspicion.

Ben, on the other hand... Crazy didn't know where he got off to, and this worried him a little. Had Merula caught up with Ben?

Will he be expelled?... How long do you think...

The whispers were louder without his friends around, a combination of a lack of distractions and the other students being emboldened when he didn't have reinforcements. One particular group was staring pretty openly at him; finally, he couldn't take it anymore, and looked back at them. He was a pretty conflict-avoidant person, but there was only so much one wizard could take. He watched one boy stand up from the group and leave, his seat immediately taken by Penny Haywood.

Crazy rolled his eyes and went back to his work. She was the girl who he'd caught spreading rumours about him on day one, and ever since then he'd seen her constantly whispering with other students, mostly about him, from what he could gather. He couldn't help but feel a little self-conscious that he was a large topic for discussion for the most popular girl in his year.

I hope he leaves... gonna kill us all.

He couldn't take it any more. Standing up, his sandwich only half finished, he quickly departed the Great Hall, whispers following him as he walked down. He ran up the steps quickly, trying but failing to ignore the dirty looks from a pair of Ravenclaws who were on their way down. He practically sprinted through the Common Room, and ran straight to his dorm, which was thankfully empty. His only solace from the cruel whispers of the school.

He hated it.

Not the magic. That, certainly, was a fantastic part of his life now, and he was really enjoying the classes that were being put on. Other than Snape, the teachers treated him fairly, and he excelled in many areas.

But his social life, on the other hand, was up in flames before he'd even gotten to Hogwarts.

Maybe that was a little harsh. He did, after all, have Rowan and Ben. But while he would never have traded them up, and they were completely loyal to him, even they would have admitted that it was very unlikely that they would have been friends if they weren't also bullied in some form.

And with Merula's fixation on him, Crazy wasn't sure how to shake the public perception of him. He said that he would do so by proving himself a great wizard, but that was under the assumption that people would give him a chance. But they wouldn't. No matter how hard he tried, they couldn't seem to be able to let him prove himself.

"Hey, Crazy." Rowan had returned from studying. "Thought I'd find you in here." Crazy didn't say anything, just stayed on his bed. "They're brutal."

"I can't do anything."

Even hearing his own voice, he knew he sounded pathetic. Rowan looked at him as if he was made of glass. Crazy felt like that wasn't too far from the truth.

"It's just constant, Rowan. The whispers in the hallways, the dirty looks. I'd much prefer it if they just let me fade into the upholstery, but they won't even let me do that. Everyone has to notice me. I can always feel their eyes on me, and the only times that I can bear it is when I'm around you and Ben. But on my own, trying to study or eat a meal with that constant buzzing in your head? The knowledge that people already hate you for something you had no control over? I was nine, Rowan. I... I don't know how long I can do this."

"I'll tell you how long you can do this. You can do this for seven more years."

"Huh?"

"Maybe the whispers won't ever stop. Maybe. But there will always be people, somewhere, who are willing to give you a chance. You've already found me and Ben. Let's give everybody a little more credit, huh?"

Crazy nodded. After all, they were only a few weeks in to the year. But it just constantly felt like walls of voices were closing in on him, threatening to crush him. Rowan just gave him hope that maybe he had the ability to weaken that wall, bit by bit, until he was the stronger entity.

"Okay, Rowan. And the first thing to do, is learn how to duel."

"Ah," Rowan said, "I believe I can help you there."