With the following week, October arrived and with it the damp chills to be spread all over the grounds and castle. Unlike the year before, there seemed to be awful bouts of colds everywhere throughout Hogwarts. However, this year those largely affected were those individuals belonging to the Quidditch teams, who were out playing in the cold, sleeting rain.
In fact, more than half of the Quidditch teams had to be given Pepperup Potions, and when they recuperated the other half seemed to come down with it only to repeat the viscous circle all over again. It was a rather tense affair for the Quidditch house captains as they knew they were going to be behind schedule on training. And this year, all the house teams were looking at having a hard time winning the Quidditch cup.
Under the wet gray sky, the lake rose higher and higher as the flower beds turned into muddy streams, while Hagrid's' pumpkins swelled to the size of garden sheds. One such thundering evening, Rowan and Lupin sat in the library as they listened to raindrops the size of bullets pelts, pelt the castle windows and walls.
"I bet they must be soaking wet by now," Rowan commented as she glanced outside at the storm. "I don't even know how they'd be able to fly in this weather much less see anything."
"Well, they're committed, I can give them that much," Lupin drily said.
Glancing over at Lupin, Rowan says, "Well, I'm done. What say, we run down to the kitchens for a hot cup of something?"
"That sounds lovely actually," Lupin admitted. "I could use a break."
Packing up their things, the two of them headed downstairs to only come across to three soaking wet figures, James, Sirius, and Pettigrew holding their brooms. "What did you all do swim in the lake?" Rowan smirked.
All three boys glared as her as James grumpily replied, "We were out practicing, but Longbottom finally gave up when we couldn't even see the end of our broom in front of us."
"Well, you're all soaking wet," Lupin said with a frown. "At this rate, you're all going to catch a cold."
Rolling her eyes, Rowan says, "Tegero." All the damp wet vanishes but leaves them abruptly stiff as their hair and clothes instantly dry.
"Well, that was useful," Lupin observed as the three other boys wrinkle their faces at the sudden dryness. "Anyway, Rowan and I are heading downstairs for a warm cup any of you interested in joining in?"
"I'm positively starving!" Sirius boasted as Pettigrew rubs his grumbling belly. Pettigrew's face was less round as his stomach. He'd actually begun to slim down and was starting to gain a bit of muscle in his upper body.
Rolling her eyes, Rowan leads the way as they head down the grand staircase all the way to the bottom. The boys chatter behind her as they make their way past the broad stone corridor filled with brightly lit torches. "Aren't the Hufflepuff quarters around here somewhere?" Sirius can be heard asking.
"I think so," Pettigrew actually answered in a rare instance. "I often see the Hufflepuffs coming up from the dungeons."
Halting at the painting of a gigantic silver fruit bowl, Rowan gently stretches out her finger to tickle the huge green pear in the painting. The green pair squirms and chuckles causing grins to sprout on the marauder's faces. The green pear finally transformed into a door handle as she pulled the door open for all of them enter before her.
The four boys eagerly rushed inside as Rowan muttered, "So much for chivalry," before following them inside. As usual, the kitchens were enormous with high-ceiling rooms as large as the Great Hall. Mounds of spotless pots and pans were perfectly heaped in rows against the stone walls as the four empty tables are positioned exactly beneath the tables above.
The four boys are happily swarmed by house elves in uniform and quickly give their orders. Seeing the water-eyed female, Rowan says, "Why hello Toppy, how are you this evening?"
"Toppy is fine, Miss!" Squeaked the happy female house elf in a French maid uniform.
"That's good to hear," Rowan said. "I'd like a salted-caramel hot chocolate this evening. Are there any recommendations for dessert?" The four boys having already given the house elves their request is a bit startled as they listen to the ongoing conversation.
"Why yes, Miss!" Topsy happily proclaimed. "We recommend a nice slice of strawberry cheesecake or a peppermint cookie."
"I'll have the strawberry cheesecake, Topsy," Rowan said as Topsy bowed and rushed away to prepare the course. The four marauders stare at her as they take a seat at one of the tables.
"You actually know the house elves names?" Sirius said in bewildered disbelief. "And why would you ever thank them?"
"House elves are not slaves," Rowan snapped. "No matter how much they like to serve they should not be treated as anything lesser."
Sirius blinks a bit surprised at Rowan's tone of voice and stammers, "I didn't mean anything by it." He'd heard this all before at the Prince manor, but he hadn't really thought much about the topic since then. Nor really paid much attention to her response back then.
Rowan's face softens a bit as she sighs, "I know you didn't, Sirius. But still, don't just assume things about house elves merely because they enjoy serving wizardkind. That certainly does not mean that they don't deserve our respect nor deserve to be treated as such."
Lupin and Pettigrew both c.o.c.k their heads at Rowan as if curious. "But don't you have house elves, Rowan?" Lupin asked having been regaled with tales by Sirius of what Prince Manor was like.
"Yes," Rowan replied. "Our family has three technically."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Pettigrew blurted out in curiosity as his family didn't have any.
"Well, Dawn is our female house elf, but she just had a baby, Laldey," Rowan said as she paused to graciously accept the food and drink from Topsy. Taking a sip, she waits for the boys to have a bite of their arriving food, before continuing, "And then there's Tadbey."
"And what's so special about his Tadbey?" Pettigrew said with a mouthful of food.
"Tadbey is a free elf, of course," Rowan said with great relish as she watched their eyes almost pop out.
"House elves can't be set free they'd go mad!" James declared in utter bewilderment.
"Well, this one is," Rowan said with a shrug.
Sirius nervously eyes Rowan and says, "And what's he like?"
"Rather well-read," Rowan mumbled as she took a bite of her cheesecake as she let out a soft sigh in approval. "And he is always properly dressed in a crisp ironed white shirt."
Pausing to take a sip of her delicious hot cocoa, she adds, "Plus he's paid too."
Sirius wildly begins to choke as Pettigrew roughly slams his back as James just openly gapes at the wild concept. Lupin, on the other hand, nods his head in approval.
"Well, I think that's quite progressive of your family, Rowan," Lupin said. "I think that's it should be. A house elf should have a choice to be free or not. And even if they choose to be free or not, they deserve to be properly treated. I think most wizards and witches look down upon house elves simply because they are submissive and willing to serve."
James and Sirius look rather guiltily as Sirius protests, "But Kreacher is so old and evil. He doesn't like anyone except Regulus!"
"And why is that?" Rowan sarcastically said. "Could it possibly be because he's the only one who treats him right? Oh goodness me, a house elf with feelings."
Sirius flushes rather brightly as James softly says, "Well, our house elf is treated like my nana, she's been with the family ever since I can remember."
"And do you say thank you?" Rowan pointed out as she took another bite with her fork.
"Well, no," James sheepishly said.
"I am not asking anyone to set their house elf free," Rowan murmured. "Merely take the time to say thank you, a kind word or gesture. I'm not going to force you to change your present relationsh.i.p.s, but at least be as considerate with them as you would with any other stranger."
Rowan pointed at the house elves before them with her fork. "Why just look at them," Rowan said. "They're quite happy to serve but look at the light in their eyes. They've also done something for their own. They've seen the world learned new things and tried to better themselves in their own way. And who knows, maybe, we'll one day even have house elf, public servants. And I do believe they'd be rather good, since they're quite loyal and faithful to the establishment so to speak."
James and Sirius appear through their minds have been blown away by the novel idea, while Pettigrew merely shrugs and digs in. The topic did not concern Pettigrew very much nor impact him. Lupin, on the other hand, hides a smile and continues to eat. Either way, it proved to be a rather silent meal for the rest of their remaining time in the kitchens.