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   The Christmas spirit of the castle had long since left, not wanting to overstay its welcome, and the castle ground had now turned to an ugly muddy brown as the snow melted away. February dawned, bringing with it cold winds and the flu, causing everyone's mood to collectively decrease. This, of course, included Filch who despised spring time because it equalled to him mopping dirty shoeprints off the stone floors for hours.

   The one good thing that February brought with it was the sixth-years' first Apparition lesson. It took place after breakfast on Saturday morning to avoid collision with other classes. All the students were gathered in the Great Hall due to the ever-worsening weather, Professors Snape, McGonagall, Flitwick, and Sprout standing at the front along with a very fragile and transparent looking wizard who Anabelle assumed was the Ministry Apparition instructor.

   "Good morning," said the Ministry wizard, when all the students had arrived and the Heads of Houses had called for quiet. "My name is Wilkie Twycross and I shall be your Ministry Apparition instructor for the next twelve weeks. I hope to be able to prepare you for your Apparition Tests in this time —"

   "Malfoy, Leighton be quiet and pay attention!" barked Professor McGonagall. Everybody looked around. Malfoy had flushed a dull pink, and this was a time when Anabelle was grateful that her dark skin hid most of her blush because otherwise, her cheeks would be the colour of Weasley's hair.

   "— by which time, many of you may be ready to take your tests," Twycross continued, as though there had been no interruption. "As you may know, it is usually impossible to Apparate or Disapparate within Hogwarts. The headmaster has lifted this enchantment, purely within the Great Hall, for one hour, so as to enable you to practice. May I emphasise that you will not be able to Apparate outside the walls of this Hall and that you would be unwise to try. "I would like each of you to place yourselves now so that you have a clear five feet of space in front of you."

   There was a great scrambling and jostling as people separated, banged into each other, and ordered others out of their space. Anabelle moved to stand five feet to the right of Vincent, five feet behind Draco as they continued their argument.

   "He's already told you a dozen times Vincent," Anabelle snapped at the boy who glared at her.

   "It's been months!" he whisper-yelled uglily back. "How long can it bloody take?

   "I don't know how much longer, all right?" Draco shot at Gregory. "It's taking longer than I thought it would." The latter opened his mouth, but Draco already knew what he was going to say. "Look, it's none of your business what we're doing, Crabbe. You and Goyle just do as you're told and keep a lookout!"

   "Is there something you needed Potter?" Anabelle had spotted the Gryffindor boy standing five feet behind herself. Draco, Gregory, and Vincent all whirled around at her words.

   Harry shrugged. "I tell my friends what I'm up to if I want them to keep a lookout for me," he said, just loud enough for the four to hear him. Draco's hand flew to his wand, but at that precise moment the four Heads of House shouted, "Quiet!" and silence fell again.

   Casting the boy a last glare, Draco turned slowly to face the front again, Anabelle mirroring his actions.

   "Thank you," said Twycross. "Now then." He waved his wand and wooden hoops instantly appeared on the floor in front of every student. "The important things to remember when Apparating are the three D's: Destination, Determination, Deliberation! Step one: Fix your mind firmly on the desired destination," said Twycross. "In this case, the interior of your hoop. Kindly concentrate on that destination now."

   Everybody looked around to check that everyone else was staring into their hoop, then hastily did as they were told. Anabelle gazed at the circular patch of floor within her hoop and tried hard to think of nothing else.

   "Step two," said Twycross from the front, "focus your determination to occupy the visualised space! Let your yearning to enter it flood from your mind to every particle of your body!" Anabelle raised a brow in disbelief. This was stupid, she had better things to do with her time.

   "Step three," called Twycross, "and only when I give the command, turn on the spot, feeling your way into nothingness, moving with deliberation! On my command, now. One, two, THREE!"

   Anabelle spun on the spot, lost balance, and stumbled. Evidently not having Apparated successfully, she frowned in irritation. Not that anybody else had succeeded either, but the girl did not base her expectations of herself on others' standards.

   "Never mind, never mind," said Twycross dryly, who did not seem to have expected anything better. "Adjust your hoops, please, and back to your original positions."

   The second attempt was no better than the first. The third was just as bad. Not until the fourth did anything exciting happen. There was a horrible screech of pain and everybody looked around, terrified, to see Susan Bones of Hufflepuff wobbling in her hoop with her left leg still standing five feet away where she had started. The Heads of House rushed toward her on her, there was a bang and a puff of purple smoke that cleared to reveal the girl sobbing but reunited with her leg. Pathetic

   "Splinching, or the separation of random body parts," said Willkie Twycross dispassionately, "occurs when the mind is insufficiently determined. You must concentrate continuously upon your destination, and move, without haste, but with deliberation; thus." he stepped forward, turned gracefully on the spot with his arms outstretched, and vanished in a swirl of robes, reappearing at the back of the Hall. "Remember the three D's," he said, "and try again . . . one — two — three —"

   But an hour later, Susan Bones's Splinching was still the most interesting thing that had happened. Twycross did not seem discouraged.

   Fastening his cloak at his neck, he merely said, "Until next Saturday, everybody, and do not forget: Destination. Determination. Deliberation." With that, he waved his wand, Vanishing the hoops, and walked out of the Hall accompanied by Professor McGonagall. Talk broke out at once as people began moving toward the entrance hall.

   "What utter rubbish," complained Theodore as soon as they had exited the Hall. "How are the three D's supposed to help us learn to Apparate. It's completely foolish."

   "You're just sour because a Hufflepuff managed before you, Theo," Sally-Anne said with a smirk. Though, being in Slytherin house, they all admitted to themselves that they were angry a Hufflepuff had been able to Apparate first.

   "What were you lot fighting about, anyway?" asked Millicent, doing her best to be casual and not give away that her, Sally-Anne, Blaise, Theodore, and even Vincent, Gregory, and Pansy at times, spent much of their times trying to guess what was going on with the duo, (Sally-Anne was still convinced that they were dating in secret.)

   "Nothing," dismissed Anabelle quickly. "Nothing at all."



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