Homaira’s Note: Please read “A Summary of Our First Week with White Coats” before continuing.
“Look,” said Ron delightedly, gazing at his schedule, “we’ve got a free period now. . . and a free period after break . . . and after lunch . . . excellent.”
Ron sniggered. “I love being a sixth year. And we’re going to be getting free time this year. Whole periods when we can just sit up here and relax.”
“We’re going to need that time for studying, Ron!” said Hermione, as they set off down the corridor.
“Yeah, but not today,” said Ron.
As Hermione had predicted, the sixth years’ free periods were not the hours of blissful relaxation Ron had anticipated, but times in which to attempt to keep up with the vast amount of homework they were being set. Not only were they studying as though they had exams every day, but the lessons themselves had become more demanding than ever before. Harry barely understood half of what Professor McGonagall said to them these days; even Hermione had had to ask her to repeat instructions once or twice. Incredibly, and to Hermione’s increasing resentment, Harry’s best subject had suddenly become Potions, thanks to the Half-Blood Prince.
Nonverbal spells were now expected, not only in Defense Against the Dark Arts, but in Charms and Transfiguration too. Harry frequently looked over at his classmates in the common room or at mealtimes to see them purple in the face and straining as though they had overdosed on U-No-Poo; but he knew that they were really struggling to make spells work without saying incantations aloud. It was a relief to get outside into the greenhouses; they were dealing with more dangerous plants than ever in Herbology, but at least they were still allowed to swear loudly if the Venomous Tentacula seized them unexpectedly from behind.