Spike left the castle in a glowing daze, passing by students excitedly recounting their own adventures with the OWL examinations, some gleefully punching the air, eyes flashing; some quietly reciting, shoulder hunched, surrounded by friends who suggested things like "There's always next term, you'll do it next term." She touched the badge pinned to her left shoulder over and over; each time for the first time. I did it. I took my first OWL -- and I passed it! Slytherin's going to win the house cup during my first term here, and we will celebrate in the dungeons all night tonight. In the morning, we'll board the train, trunks haphazardly packed, green sparkles in our hair, and every student will know that we've won.
She was through the Western gates, wandering through the grounds behind the castle. The Forest loomed to her left, dense and impenetrable looking, but she knew it to be a deep glowing green place once you found your way inside. A dark place, to be sure, but it had its glades of light among the twists and gnarls of the old trees that jealously clutched at the sun and choked out any saplings that dared raise their heads. It should be the bald knoll past the oak, she thought, with the wide path cut through the trees to where you can see the sun go down. She picked one of the season's first bluebells sprouting, placed it in her hair. The way grew steep, and she leaned into the hill,
When she reached the top, she looked around. There was the solitary pine she remembered, a sole softwood in a forest of hard. Some Herbology student, maybe. Or professor Snape or whoever taught Potions before him, planning ahead for the rare occasion when they'd need a few needles, or some sap. But this was indeed the place, and the first stars were twinkling low in the sky.
She held the corner of her chart in front of her, used it to start to orient herself to the sky. So many hours staring into the heavens, I think I know all the stars by the names they sing to one another by now. She was watching them come out as the sun faded, when an hand fell on her shoulder.
"Been looking for you," growled Dmitri. "Whole House gone in to dinner. Sent me to go find you. End of Term Feast starting, you gonna wanna be there."
Spike gasped. The Feast! When they announced Slytherin's victory, and the House Cup changed hands, and the party afterwards! She had forgotten, flushed with victory over winning her first OWL. She ran back down the hills with only a brief parting glance at the sky.
She was just barely in time to slip into a place at the table before Headmistress Wroxton took the podium. She peered over half-moon spectacles at the shifting students at Slytheirn, narrow mouth folded tightly, but the tiniest glimmer of a smile pleated into the severe corners. Wroxton had sorted Slytherin herself, Spike suddenly remembered. Surely she'll do what she can to ensure the right House wins.
"Before we begin dinner, I would like to thank all of you for a most excellent term. The scores between the Houses were close, very close indeed. All of you should give yourselves a most hearty round of applause." She paused, and when the students continued to wait, she began slowly clapping herself. Gradually, Hufflepuff joined in, and soon the rafters of the Hall rang. A few whistled or cheered, and the smile finally slipped its reins and Wroxton beamed down at her charges, finally motioning for silence.
“As I said, well played, all of you. And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for.” The green hangings from last term’s Slytherin victory shimmered, then turned violet, the color of Hogwarts unity. All the staff’s robes were trimmed in purple, with the heads of house having their crest on the right breast. Spike shifted uneasily at the loss of the familiar emerald and silver banners, but they’ll be back soon enough, she consoled herself.