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intelligence is surest

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 Our first year she Summoned a cave troll into the common room. That rather set the tone. I heard Carter say--she was the Transfigurations professor then, before going back to the Aurors--Carter said she shouldn't have had the magic or the skill to do it. That it must have been an accident, which set Foster off, of course. Experiments produce unexpected results by design, she'd like to say. 

I don't remember much of her at that age, to be honest. She was weird, brainy. Well, we all were, we were Ravenclaws, but even at eleven Foster was obsessive. She'd forget to come down for meals, spent all her free time in the library. The house elves used to bring her things especially, just so she wouldn't suffer malnutrition and collapse. And also she was the only Muggleborn our year, which probably didn't help. 

Honestly, though, she just wasn't very well liked. Professor Selvig loved her, but he was always fond of the oddballs. Mostly you could tell the teachers found her sort of irritating. She argued with them in class sometimes, and got terrible marks, when she remembered to do her coursework. She was the type to consider classes beneath her, a distraction from her own research. She certainly wasn't a teacher's pet. 

There was Banner, but you only ever saw them together when he'd gotten into a strop with his real friends. I wouldn't like that, being someone's safety friend, but Foster never seemed to mind. It was useful for the rest of us, you know, because Stark and Rhodes could be so horrible when they were upset. It was kind of a way to test the wind–-if you saw Banner traipsing up to Foster's little lair, then you'd know Stark would be in a terrible mood and to avoid the dungeons and the potions classroom at all costs.

Her lair? That was in the library, of course--up on the fifth floor mezzanine, up the spiral staircase between Literary Transfiguration and Eighteenth Century Charms. There used to be quite a cozy nook by the window, desks and fireplace and all, if you didn't mind the portrait of Loki the Mad God sneering down at you as you studied. Most people minded, which meant even at eleven Foster had the space all to herself. I think she spent more time there than she ever did in the common room. She and Banner were friendly generally, but he was the only one who ever went up to study with her. They made quite a pair--Foster was the sort to spill custard down her robes and promptly forget about it--and Banner was always thin and sickly, of course. We didn't know he was a werewolf, then. 

There were rumors about the two of them, of course, especially later on, but no one took them seriously. In fifth year Banner discovered Betty Ross, and he ditched all his former pals to moon around in Gryffindor Tower with Ross and Potts. Foster never had any romances, I don't think. None that I knew of, anyhow. 

In fifth year, Foster created a mostly-stable portal between the Astronomy Tower and the highest weight-bearing branch of a North American conifer three miles away in the Forbidden Forest. It was only visible as a sort of shimmery haze in the air, and it was about as big as a door. You can imagine how many surprised young couples found themselves suddenly up a tree at two in the morning in flagrante delicto. Another thing that shouldn't have been possible, according to the laws of–-everything, but particularly since the school was so well-warded against transportation spells.

The funny thing was, the teachers couldn’t manage to undo it. Their best efforts to erase the portal only managed to unhook it from the Astronomy Tower, and so for several months a wrong step anywhere in the castle might leave you stranded on the highest weight-bearing branch of a Ponderosa pine in the middle of the forest. The teachers were furious, especially when this became a popular excuse for missing class. I used it once or twice myself, and the portal never caught me. They never did banish it entirely-–just convinced it to slowly collapse on itself, encouraging its natural rate of decay. 

Anyway, Foster just seemed elated about it, even during her resulting six months of detention and general ostracization from the rest of the House while we made up our glaring points deficit. Her library nook filled up with sketches of wells and holes made of spells. The portrait’s shouting could be heard from the ground floor on a bad day. I can't remember what it yelled about, to be honest. More stuff about wormy holes, I expect. 

What was her home life like? Merlin, who knows. She’s Muggle-born, and American, which is why her accent is so muddled up. She was meant to go to Ilvermorny, but her father was abruptly hired by some Muggle school in London in August before our first year, and if Professor Selvig hadn't interceded on her behalf she would have had to attend a Muggle school herself. 

They say she originally received a letter from Salem, but her father was abruptly hired by some Muggle school in London, and if Professor Selvig hadn’t interceded on her behalf she would have had to go to a Muggle school herself. She doesn’t have a mother, apparently–-only ever mentioned her father.I do know she spent her holidays in America. She came back every year with some new mechanical thing she'd be loudly annoyed wouldn't work on the castle grounds. You'd think a genius would have realized it was useless sooner, wouldn't you? 

See, I know Jane Foster is a genius. She's rightly famous for what she did. But I think sometimes people forget that she got the Order of Merlin for discovering the Bifrost, not for dragging an alien into our reality without his consent or ours, which nobody should be rewarding her for, in my opinion. 

Jane Foster lived with us for seven years. Ate the same food, slept in the same dormitories, took all the same classes. She was one of us. But sometimes you'd say something to her and she'd look right through you. And it wasn’t just that she clearly thought Seventeenth Century Transportation Theory was more interesting than you--loads of Ravenclaws felt the same. You just felt insignificant, somehow, under Foster's gaze. Like she could see something else, something big and scary, maybe, just over your shoulder, and was only not mentioning it to be polite. It was different, before the accident. She was was absent-minded to begin with, hungry and odd and maybe lonely, you know, the way that children are--but afterward. Well. Everything is amplified by those eyes of hers. 

The accident was seventh year. It's still sealed, the exact details of what happened, but Professor Selvig always called it a potions accident. Ross was the one that found her--she'd been pulled into the Ponderosa portal, at that point only as big as a shoebox--and from the top of the tree she could see something was wrong. Foster collapsed in a clearing full of red smoke, and the sound of somebody laughing.

Ross came out of the forest weeping and half-dragging Foster with her. That much I saw myself. 

Foster wasn't unconscious, although she was obviously weak, and her eyes were bleeding all down her face. She had that portrait clutched in her arms, the one from the mezzanine. The portrait was the one laughing, you know. Loki the Mad God, just laughing away. 

She was in the hospital wing for weeks, and when she came out her eyes looked like they do now: black as anything except for the irises, like a cat's eye in reverse. They were brown before, I think. Maybe hazel. Nothing like that. A curse scar, if I’ve ever seen one. Certainly not from a potions accident.  

She’s done brilliant work-–I’m not about to deny that. I just don’t know if I trust her, completely. And she’s already decided our trust doesn’t matter, you know? She dragged us into contact with an alien civilization without ever asking for our trust. She made the decision. I don’t know. It’s all worked out, hasn't it?

Well. It's worked out so far.