The waiting was nearly physically painful as the four staff members put their heads together, whispering. Spike studied the skies overhead, trying to determine just how many silver stars there were among the green. Some of the greens were brighter -- was that green, or silver? Some were dimmer -- was that green, or just imagination? How many points off for each one? How many to failure? She wished she knew more about the process. Maybe I shouldn't have left my first OWL to chance. I should have studied the requirements more thoroughly, made an informed and thoughtful choice based on my strengths. I should have planned better. She resolved to think it through in the future, not heedlessly rushing into an OWL with too many variables.
The professors resumed their places in the semicircle. Spike looked at their faces, but everyone had fixed their features in masks of firm neutrality. Professor Gorre bent, and handed Spike back her star chart. "We are pleased to announce," she paused, flicked her wand. A table, resting on four impressively clawed feet appeared near the door. On it rested a velvet cushion, and something that sparkled in the dim light, growing brighter as the scene vanished and the empty classroom surrounded them once more. "That you have passed your OWL, Spike. Well played. Your first OWL, and we know the trouble you ran in to at mid-term. But you found a way around it, and your chart is acceptable. Please pick up your badge on the way out." Gorre extended her wandless hand, and after a moment, Spike shook hands with her Head of House.
The Gryffindor professor gave her a firm nod of approval with his handshake, Professor Randall swept her into an enveloping hug. Professor Wildsmythe put her other hand on Spike's shoulder, giving it a squeeze. "Nicely researched," she said. "And you really do know how to throw a party."
"Thank you, Professors," she said, voice shaking a little. One hundred and fifty points for Slytherin! All my doing! She could see the end of term feast, the pride in Gorre's eyes as she accepted the House Cup, Spike applauding her teammates, knowing that she had a hand in their victory, the envious glances of the rest of the Houses as Slytherin carried the Cup into the Pit to drink mojitos and Midori margueritas, and other green-tinted, exotic Muggle beverages from the Cup until dawn lit the waters of the lake above.
She pinned the new badge to her robes (diamonds and emeralds, she noted, spinning slowly widdershins) and walked out of the hall, the doors opening easily to the touch now that the Examination was over. Treading her way back through the crowds, she made her way back to the Dungeon.
Totenberg looked up from the game of arima'a he was playing against Dmitri. "Zo?"
She jumped into his lap, careful not to disturb the pieces. "I did it! I did it I did it I did it!! I got my OWL!!" She sat back just far enough to display the new brooch on her left shoulder. "I got my OWL, and we're going to win for sure, and I can hardly wait for the feast to be called! And to tell Atyets and Matya all about it, and I can hardly wait to come back and do it all over again! Next term!"
Totenberg laid a finger across her lips. "Think you need to take a nice long walk," he suggested in his thick accent. Spike blushed as she heard the echo of her words. That was a longer speech than she'd heard Atyets make in meetings of state, where there was certainly more at stake than a trophy and a party.
"You're right." She got up, wrapped the star chart around her shoulders for a little extra warmth, and went out for a long walk on the moors to see if she could find the exact hilltop she had just spent a lifetime on a few minutes before.