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Chapter 13: Chapter 13
After a double lesson of Charms there was a double lesson of Transfiguration. Both classes started off with a lecture on O.W.L.s which was getting annoying. ‘They are a monumental part of your education,’ ‘They will affect your future,’ ‘Everyone is capable of receiving a passing grade.’ How was I supposed to make a career choice when I didn’t know what I was going to be doing in ten months let alone ten years?
I could already tell Care of Magical Creatures was going to be a long class before I even made it to Hagrid’s hut. I was walking several feet behind a group of Slytherins, including Draco, when I heard someone behind me, matching my pace. I stopped and turned around to find Theodore Nott. He stopped walking when I did and was now staring intently at me.
“What?” I asked rudely. His eyes flickered down to Draco’s group then back to me and a smirk came over his face as he shook his head. “I’d warn you that your face might stay like that, but it would be an improvement so…” Then I shrugged. Nott’s eyes narrowed and he moved beside me. “Cat got your tongue?” I mocked. When he still didn’t talk I took a step down the path.
“I’ll be watching you,” Nott said threateningly.
“I can’t imagine why you don’t have a girlfriend,” I replied sarcastically, rolling my eyes as I continued towards the rest of the class.
As I situated myself near the other Gryffindors, Draco’s head slightly turned in my direction before Nott fell into line behind the Slytherins, capturing Draco’s attention. Out of the corner of my eye I saw them glare at each other. Nott’s disgusting smirk had returned. Their stare down went unnoticed by the rest of the students and ended when Professor Grubbly-Plank began class.
We were instructed to break into groups of threes then sketch and label the bowtruckles we’d be studying today. Groups of three meant I’d be paired with Parvati and Lavender who already seemed fascinated by the small, pixie looking tree guardians, but who did not want anything to do with wood lice. Letting out a sigh, I stepped up to the table the bowtruckles and bucket of lice was on. As I stretched my arm towards the bucket, mass hysteria broke out among the bowtruckles and they scurried to the opposite end of the table. My hand froze and confused murmurs traveled throughout the class.
In the middle of the table was the smallest bowtruckle who was gazing up at me. It hesitantly moved closer to me as the other bowtruckles watched on, refusing to budge. When the brave bowtruckle was under my still frozen hand, it cautiously reached up and started poking me with its wooden fingers. When I didn’t move, it leapt up and climbed onto my hand. It looked up at me before it stepped to the end of my fingers and reached down into the bucket, grabbing as many lice as it could hold. The other bowtruckles started inching closer and the small one began throwing lice at them while eating several itself. I laughed when a couple lice bounced off one of the other bowtruckle’s head.
The rest of the class snapped out of their daze and Grubbly-Plank told us to get back to work as she eyed me suspiciously. I grabbed a handful of wood lice and carefully backed away from the table, making sure the bowtruckle wouldn’t fall. I kept my hand steady as I sat down away from the table. Parvati and Lavender joined me a minute later. After they shared a look between each other, they took out some parchment, ink and a quill to start sketching. I nudged the bowtruckle onto my left palm so I could begin as well.
Harry’s outburst caused everybody to turn towards him. His bowtruckle was escaping and running straight for me. The Slytherins laughed as Grubbly-Plank reprimanded Harry for mishandling the creature. The bowtruckle climbed up my arm and sat on my palm with the other one who was kind enough to offer it some wood lice.
This was definitely not normal bowtruckle behavior.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I skipped dinner in the Great Hall and snuck down to the kitchens. The bowtruckle thing was weird, really weird, tell-Snape-asap weird. So that’s exactly what I planned on doing…through a note. Smart, right? It let me avoid seeking out Snape but also kept him informed. Who knew having Dobby around would come in use?
I found Dobby working with the other elves, sending up food to the Great Hall. I sat out of the way and pulled out everything I needed to write a letter. A heaping plate of food was set down beside me as I dipped my quill into the ink.
“Miss must eat,” Dobby said before hurrying off to the opposite side of the kitchen.
I was going to ignore the food for now but when I couldn’t think of what to write, I laid down my quill and picked up the fork instead. Obviously I wanted to tell Snape what happened. The problem was I didn’t want to make it sound like a big deal that he would want to discuss face to face. Finally I settled on slipping it in casually, hoping it would sound offhand.
I think I’ll take Auror department heads over Umbridge any day. How does Fudge find these people? Congrats on your performance with Potter but I do have one tiny critic. It was a bit overdone, wouldn’t you say? Zero points for a grey potion? May I direct your attention to Goyle’s napalm concoction? Care of Magical Creatures was odd, I think I had a cheesy ‘soul mate’ connection with a bowtruckle even though the other ones freaked out when I was near. Sadly our love affair was cut short when Potter’s (nearly snapped in half) bowtruckle joined us. Nott is being…well Nott. ‘Do not underestimate him.’ I know, I know. He’s not exactly being discreet. Is Pansy Parkinson really the best you could find for prefect?
P.S. I think the Bulgarians want to adopt me.
It hit all the important points at least. Maybe all the waffle would distract Snape from the important bowtruckle part. Probably not though, this was Snape we were talking about. He had a knack for narrowing in on the most pressing issues.
I finished eating then gave the sealed letter to Dobby, telling him to leave it on Snape’s desk. Not expecting a reply until at least tomorrow morning, I made my way to Gryffindor tower and chose a table in the corner. I had so many essays to finish that I didn’t pay attention to the rest of the common room until someone was directly beside me.
“Hi,” Fred said, sounding nervous.
“Hey,” I greeted, glancing around the common room. Everybody was too absorbed in their own activities to notice us.
“Er…can I sit down?” I nodded and pulled out the chair beside me. Fred looked at the rolls of parchment in front of me after he was seated. “Crazy O.W.L. year, huh?”
I could tell he was trying hard to follow Snape’s rule of ‘slowly rebuilding our relationship,’ only he wasn’t quite sure how to go about that. I gave his hand a quick, reassuring squeeze.
“It’s a bit annoying actually,” I told him honestly.
“Imagine how it is for everybody else,” Fred said grinning. True, this was one time where remembering everything came into use. The amount of time wasted on studying would have been alarming.
“How’s N.E.W.T. year treating you?”
“Well, after the long lecture about exams we managed to learn some interesting Charms. And Sprout has us working with some plants that have very…wide ranging uses, which always makes class more entertaining.”
“Detention already?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Definitely not. Angelina would end up chewing us out like she did Harry for getting detention during Quidditch practice.”
“I have a feeling Harry will be the victim of many more detentions if Umbridge has her way,” I said in a low voice.
“Yeah, I heard what happened. I think the whole school has.”
“It’s what she wants.”
“Umbridge. She was goading him until he snapped. Then she gives him detention and the other students see what happens when you go against her. Of course no one wants that so they back down and follow Umbridge just so they won’t get in trouble.”
“You make it sound like…like some sort of mind game,” Fred said, confused.
“It is. She’s trying to isolate him. It’s how dictators stay in power. Isolate and brand the resistance as troublemakers that you’ll be punished for helping. Then people fall into line, become mindless sheep who will never stand up for themselves.”
“It’s been happening for thousands of years and still people do nothing. Over and over again and every single time people cower and follow proper protocol.” They’re cowards. “They’re cowards.” And weak. “And weak.” They don’t deserve to be saved. “They don’t des–”
Something pressed against my temple, startling me. A hand wrapped around my right hand and pulled it away from my left shoulder. I realized it was Fred who kissed me to get my attention. He was also looking very concerned.
“Are you ok?” he whispered, still holding my hand.
“Sorry. I-It’s just annoying seeing Umbridge do Fudge’s dirty work. Trying to make Harry look as cracked as Dumbledore.”
“Maybe you should –” Fred began.
“Let’s talk about something else,” I interrupted. I didn’t need to worry Fred. I especially didn’t want him to think I should go and see Snape, which I had a feeling he was about to suggest. “How’s the product testing?" I asked, seizing the first topic that came to mind. Fred didn’t look too keen to change the subject though. “Really, I’m ok,” I assured him. “I ramble, remember? I know what to do if it gets worse.” Fred frowned but thankfully accepted this answer.
“Hermione won’t let us test on students. Apparently it’s ‘too dangerous.’ Complete rubbish.”
“Ah, so that’s what she was upset about.”
“She threatened to write to mum,” Fred said darkly. “How are we supposed to test products if Hermione keeps getting in the way?”
“I think this is where creative marketing comes in.”
“We can’t get testers.”
“You can’t pay them to test for you. You two have already tested them and worked out most of the problems, right? Show people what your products do. Then add a disclaimer saying things could be potentially dangerous –”
“You want us to tell people our stuff is dangerous?”
“Disclaimer Fred, a very small disclaimer. First you make a big show of how much fun and entertaining your stuff is. Let them see you and George using it so they see you’re fine afterwards. Slap a tiny warning label on your products and sell them for a bit of a discount. You’re making money and testing out products on a range of people.”
“It’s not not allowed. You’re warning people about an assumed risk before they use your stuff. They aren’t going to worry so much about it after you’ve already taken the stuff yourself. Plus Hermione can’t get you in trouble for selling something that does exactly what you say it does.”
“You know, sometimes it’s like you were meant to be our third twin, or triplet I guess it would be.”
“Society generally frowns upon siblings dating, not to mention I could never pull off red hair.”
“I try and compliment you and you twist it around into something obscene,” Fred responded, shaking his head and letting out an exaggerated sigh.
“But you agree with the whole looking horrible as a ginger?”
Fred observed me carefully before cringing. “You’re just not as fabulous as me, I suppose.”
“You absolute git,” I said laughing.
This ‘rebuilt relationship’ with Fred probably wasn’t going as slow as Snape would have liked but there was something about Fred Weasley that made me feel happy and disgustingly sappy inside.
A/N: The bowtruckle lesson is from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling, Chapter 13, Detention with Dolores.