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Chapter 3: Snakes in the Stomach
Snakes in the Stomach
I had never been so nervous in my entire life.
And it's okay for me to say 'never', 'cause I'm stating a fact again.
But I can get nervous pretty easily, but this is way worse than anything I've ever felt before! It feels like there are snakes in my tummy and they're twisting and turning and it makes me want to throw up. Because I don't like snakes that much. Actually, I don't like them at all. They're slimy and gross and slithery and... I just don't like them.
Snakes aren't important right now, though. What's important is the fact that I've never felt so sick in my whole life! Including the time that Jamesie told me I would be able to do magic if I ate two packages of cockroach clusters in ten minutes. So I did. Then I threw up- all over him. Mummy wasn't too happy, but she let him off without anything except some time on the Naughty Step. I think she figured getting puked on was a decent punishment.
I double-checked my suitcase to make sure I had everything. I had to be extra quiet, because everyone was sleeping, and if I woke them up, it'd ruin everything. Luckily, no one heard me moving around, and I made sure I had all my stuff.
I hadn't been able to take all my stuffed animals- there was no way they would fit into my one little suitcase, and it was the only thing I had to carry my things in. So I brought Stan, because he was my bestest friend in the whole world, and I brought Salem. Salem wasn't a stuffed animal, per se, but a rag doll. It was a sailor, but he was retired. He'd seen some rough times. He was missing one of his button eyes and most of his yarn hair had come out. But I still loved him, and he was the lonliest of all my friends. So I packed him with my muggle clothes and my toothbrush, making sure to leave the zipper just a little undone so he would have some air.
As an after-thought, I packed my photo album. Well, it wasn't really mine, but I kept it in my room to look at. It had been dad's when he was younger, and had pictures of my grandma and grandpa that I never knew. After that, the pages had been filled with wedding pictures, ultrasound photographs, baby snap-shots, and halloween costumes. Since I was running away forever and ever, I wanted to have something to remember my family by.
There was a small bump from downstairs, followed by the familiar sound of coughing one might expect to follow a trip through the fireplace. I took a deep breath in a last-minute attempt to calm my nerves. Clutching Stan tightly with one arm, I picked up my suitcase and made my way downstairs.
Teddy was waiting for me, covered in soot, and eating what smelled like one of Nanny's breakfast pastries. How he had gotten one at this hour, I had no idea. It wasn't even six yet, and the sky was still quite dark. I would normally tease him and say he was going to be fat someday, but I was far too antsy for that. Instead, I hugged him, very glad that I didn't have to do this alone.
"How are we getting there?" I whisper, pausing for a moment to listen for any sounds of life from above. The only audible noise was my dad's snores and Jamesie shouting something about quaffles in his sleep.
"Knight bus." Teddy whispered back, swallowing the remainder of his breakfast. He must've seen my face, because he hurried to explain himself. "I know it's not the most pleasant way to travel- but it's the fastest. I don't have a car, and even if we nicked your dad's, I can't drive, and it's hours to Surrey."
He had pretty sound reasons, but that didn't make me any happier about this arrangement. I already felt nauseous- did we really need to put me on that tripple-decker-bus of doom? I suppose I should've felt grateful. If it wasn't for Teddy, I might not be going at all. It would've been terribly difficult- not to mention terrifying- to get to my Great Aunt's by myself.
"Are you ready, Freddie?" Teddy asked with his infamous crooked grin. I took one last look around the kitchen and sighed. It was time for me to go. I nodded. Stepping quietly so we wouldn't wake anyone, Teddy and I crept across the kitchen floor and towards the door. He carried my suitcase for me, and I just held Stan as close as I could. My heart was fluttering rather violently, like a moth was trying to escape my chest. It seemed I was just filled with animals this morning.
As I closed the door behind me, I took the letter I had written that morning and slid it through the mail slot. It wasn't very long- just a quick goodbye to the family- and a list of who all my stuff went to. I sniffed once as I turned away from my house, and Teddy smiled at me and held my hand as we walked towards the street. Swallowing, I closed my eyes and waited for the sick feeling in my tummy to pass, and the next thing I knew, there was a screeching sound and a bright purple bus had appeared before us.
I had a feeling the snakes in my stomach weren't going to like this trip.
And neither was I.