Of Observations of Friendly Conversation

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Hey, all!!!

I apologize deeply for the extended wait. I had finals week (which was hell on earth, but I managed to survive), and then I had a major surgery done. It took me out for a lot longer than I thought it would, but here I am!

I really hope you all enjoy this new chapter! Enjoy!

Harry's POV

Ceramic shattered as Ron's knight took out one of my few remaining pawns, sending pieces of the red playing piece all over the board. I sighed and removed the larger bits and pieces from the chess board as I thought about my next move, Ron's move having completely ruined any semblance of a strategy I had laid out. For as much as Hermione and I picked on Ron for being so food motivated and sometimes having a one track mind, the red haired boy was brilliant when it came to strategy. I had playing against him for years and yet, my wins against my best friend were few and far between.

Christmas break had finally come to Hogwarts, and it was clear everyone was grateful for it, students and staff alike. Although, with the Yule Ball coming up in just a few days, some of the relaxation was missing. Instead, it was filled with the surprising amount of stress that came with a school dance. However, given that Hogwarts never had any formal dances, most of the students were in the same sinking ship of confusion. The only students not falling into the depths were the muggle born siblings who had muggle friends and knew everything about school formals.

And, of course, nearly everyone that wasn't already in a relationship had the extra stress of finding a date, Ron and myself included. Ron had asked Fleur, and that had gone about as well as anyone had expected. This whole Christmas break was just shaping up to be a lot more stressful than relaxing like I'm sure the entire student body had hoped.

It didn't help in the slightest that rumors of Draco's rebound were still flying around the school with no sign of stopping. For days everyone had been terrified to go back to alchemy class after hearing what had happened to Draco. Professor Elric had of course canceled class for the rest of the day to keep people out of the bloodied classroom, but that didn't stop people from getting the picture. Unsurprisingly, no one had wanted to attempt their first transmutation after that, not that the professor was going to allow them too. In fact, he had up and canceled the week's classes by Tuesday night after seeing everyone's reluctance to even enter the classroom.

Adding insult to injury, it didn't help that nearly everyone was now terrified of the young professor after seeing his plethora of scars. The one Hermione had talked about had been on very clear display, the professor's entire shoulder and part of his chest covered in red scar tissue. The other worrisome scar had been on his stomach, a matching one of his back. It didn't take a genius to know what that meant. There were dozens of other scars all over Elric's back, chest, and stomach, maring his tan skin.

Many stories had been created by the students, trying to explain the large amount of scarring on such a young professor. Some students called upon the memory of Profesor Elric and his brother being thrown into the wilderness with only a knife, but that didn't sit well with me. With those types of scars, they had to have been major wounds. If he and his brother truly spent an entire month on that island by themselves, there was no way the professor could have survived.

The theory that Hermione, Ron, and I had decided was the most realistic of the bunch was that he was attacked by a magical creature like a dragon. Ron was still very adamant about his dragon theory. Again, something just didn't sit right with me for some reason, but there was nothing that could prove I was wrong or right. They were all just rumors. Nothing could be proven, and there was no way anyone was going to ask him about it. I had thought the student body would have let it go by the week mark, but it had been two weeks since the incident, and the rumors were still blazing like wildfire.

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