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Chapter 9: May – Break-Ins and Blackmail
Җ Pig Zits Җ
How to Guard Against Hayfever
By Liam McDougal
Witches, wizards, warlocks, wombles, whatever you are, if you are a sufferer of Hayfever you will no doubt recognise the symptoms: Itchy eyes and throat, running nose and sore face in general.
But it is a rarely known fact that Hayfever, suffered all over the world by wizard and muggle alike, is actually a mutation of an originally magical reaction.
The ancient Egyptian wizards who worked the fields during flood season were tired of having to collect all the sheaves of wheat manually and having to process it, a very labour intensive process. So they developed a wheat attracting charm that was unfortunately was too powerful and attracted even the tiniest grains of wheat, which were trapped in the eyes, nose and mouth of the unsuspecting wizards. The spell also did not wear off soon and therefore the renewing of this charm every year produced enough by-magic to continue the charm for many hundreds of years.
During this time, wizards and muggles alike became sufferers of what was termed ‘wheat fever’, and through the hundreds of years that the charms lasted, the immune systems of all the workers became allergic to wheat.
A couple of thousands of years later, the increase of the international hunger for bread and other wheat based products stamped out the effects of this spell, but not before some stray magic had mutated into an intermittent allergy to pollen.
There is still residual magic left in Egypt, so if you already suffer from hay fever, it is necessary to avoid the area if you wish the affliction not to become stronger.
There is no known cure yet for treating hay fever itself, despite a very specialised section of St. Mungo’s having worked on it for over 120 years.
The only cures that exist are those to alleviate the symptoms of hay fever, which do not always work and are unfortunately not very long lasting.
So as we enter the summer months, I wish all fellow sufferers luck as we struggle on with what should be idyllic days out but are in reality spelled up days of torture.
Gilderoy Lockhart poster. If found please return to Hufflepuff owl-hole 34 for 5 sickle reward.
SD, I think you’re the most fittest person ever. Go to Hogsmeade with me?
With the advent of spring, many new and interesting plants are blooming! If you’re a keen herbologist or fancy getting some free samples, come to Greenhouse 2 during Thursday lunchtime! Lunch of sandwiches provided.
House-Elf of the Month
The Current House Point Score Stands as Follows:
Gryffindor Ravenclaw Hufflepuff Slytherin
456 435 234 348
Capricorn: Wilkie Warlock Wants a Wife
Aquarius: Look back in order to learn now
Pisces: Your peers are plotting
Aries: A friend will backstab you
Taurus: Alcoholism is to be avoided
Gemini: Saturn is bright this month
Cancer: Carry on what you’re doing now
Leo: Avoid corridor 17
Virgo: A lady is your foe
Libra: The person to your right is evil
Scorpio: Divination will aid you
Sagittarius: The letter M will help
For any more info, see Prof. Vablastky in the Divination Tower
We would like to make it clear that all entries are entirely confidential as is the identity of the secret sorceress so those of you wasting your time trying to break into the last room on corridor 18, several more spells have been added.
Dear Secret Sorceress,
I’m like totally in love with this person but like I think that they don’t take me like seriously because I like can’t like be around them without like doing something like stupid.
From Like, Me
Dear Like, Me
First of all, NO ONE will take you seriously unless you stop putting ‘like’ after every other word. It’s being overused as a pause word while you think of something to say, but instead of using ‘like’, just stop. With regards to the person you like, just let them know about an interest of yours. That way they’ll see that you take something seriously and will maybe seriously consider you.
Love, Secret Sorceress
To Secret Sorceress,
I think I’m addicted to chocolate.
Believe me when I say that I know the feeling. But it’s impossible to take temptation out of your way at Hogwarts, so I’d suggest telling your friends and roommates about your predicament. I’m sure they’ll hide their chocolate from you if you tell them that you’ll eat it if you see it.
Love, Secret Sorceress
Dear Secret Sorceress,
I’ve lost a library book and even though it’s not due back yet I’m totally terrified that Ms. Pince will eat me alive for not taking care of it. What should I do?
I know that nobody will believe me when I say this, but Ms. Pince is not a horrible person. If you go to her now and explain the situation she’ll appreciate your honesty and your coming forward. If you do this, she’ll be able to find your book quickly because all library books have a magical tag on them that react to a coded ‘accio’ spell, the reference of which Ms. Pince will have.
And if you don’t tell her before you have to return the book, she WILL eat you up.
Love, Secret Sorceress
If you would like to send a message to the Secret Sorceress, leave a message in the Owl-Hole outside the last room on corridor 18.
Friends can be many things.
Like Kalliope, they can be your best friend. The first person you think of when you have something to tell, the person you love spending time with, the person who helps you and you help in return without even thinking about it. You don’t need to decipher them to see what they’re thinking and you’d never think of them needing to decipher you. Sometimes a best friend is less available and they need more from you than they’ve ever given but you do it, because not doing it would be unthinkable. And though you may not talk as much anymore, you’ll never love them any less.
There are friends like Albus. You might not share every secret with them, but without that face there would be a hole in your world that would be very hard to fill. They’re there day to day to cheer you up and care about you right back, and when they want something from you you’ll definitely be there to give it. You know they’ll always be your rock.
There are also friends like Scorpius. Events can push you apart and bring you closer, but underneath these waves of attachment lies firm bedrock of solid friendship. You may not understand all of each other all of the time but what you do know you like, and what you don’t know you’d like to find out. A friendship like this never stagnates and wherever you are, you’ll always have places to go together.
Then, there are friends like Timmi. Initially you get on really well and they’re great fun to be around and though they have a few flaws you put them aside because, basically, they’re a good person. Then something happens, something ignites, and you can’t stand each other. What you do annoys her and what she does frustrates you. She does things you can’t understand and refuses to understand you. The initial glamour is lost and may never be repaired again.
The fact that the Secret Sorceress office was broken into wasn’t the worst blow. After I saw the destruction, I carefully closed the door and ran like crazy to the library where I hoped- oh, I hoped- that Lorcan was holding his Book Club meeting.
I bumped into someone along the way. Timmi, as she headed down to the Great Hall, forgot to look affronted and just stared at me in surprise as I muttered an apology and sped round her.
I risked the wrath of elderly Ms. Pince as I pounded down the dimly lit avenues of books and skidded round corners, nearly dislodging a lamp from its bracket. I reached the usual table, out of breath, but it was empty, apart from a startled Lucy looking up from her Charms assignment.
‘What happened?’ She asked, alarmed.
‘N-nothing.’ I wheezed, clutching at a chair. ‘D’you know where the book club is?’
‘Rose,’ Lucy reminded me gently, ‘It’s not a Tuesday. Lorcan’s probably in his common room.’
‘T-thanks.’ I gasped, and ran back on, massaging a stitch in my side.
I didn’t know the answer to the question, so I had to wait until a seventh year came along and let me in. In this time I calmed down somewhat so that when I finally approached Lorcan, who was sitting by the fire with Lianna, it was with a slower heart rate and a slightly paler complexion.
‘Lorcan!’ I said, as I approached him. ‘You’ve got to come- quick!’
‘I’m kind of busy, Rose-’ he said, looking annoyed.
‘It’s an emergency.’ I leaned forward to whisper in his ear what had happened, but he jerked away irritably. ‘Alright, alright, I’ll come.’
‘Right. What happened?’ He asked, as we made our way painfully slowly to the Secret Sorceress office.
‘We got broken into.’ I said bluntly.
Lorcan frowned at me. ‘Rose, are you sure?’
But even he found it hard to deny it when I opened the door for him and he saw the complete disarray of the office. While he bent down to pick up a broken quill, I waved my wand to check on the protective enchantments that we’d cast together. As I suspected, they were all shattered.
‘I suppose we have to tidy all this up now.’ Lorcan sighed, looking down at the mess at his feet.
‘I’ll do it.’ I said. ‘You go back to Lianna, I’ll sort it out.’
‘What kind of an editor d’you think I’d be if I let you do all this by yourself?’ Lorcan said indignantly.
‘The usual kind.’ I answered, smiling.
There was a lot to tidy up. Every Secret Sorceress had archived all the notes sent in, and over the years that meant a considerable amount had been amassed. The office wasn’t very big, but shelves of carefully catalogued notes had covered two whole walls. And now all the dividers had been torn out and most of the notes lay on the floor. A few had been drenched in ink. Our invader had done a pretty thorough job of screwing it all up.
‘I suppose we should be happy that whoever did this didn’t set fire to the place.’ Lorcan sighed as he handed me another note.
We’d dumped all of the notes on the desk in something barely resembling a pile, and Lorcan cleaned them up and laminated them one by one, to pass on to me, who re-catalogued them first by year, then by month, then by subject. It was labour intensive work, but Lorcan and I chatted pretty cheerfully as the size of the pile on the desk was slowly lessened.
‘Rose,’ Lorcan said sharply, when we were about halfway through the mound. ‘Do you recognise this?’
I carefully slotted in a note about hair loss in the far right end of January 2019, and ambled over to where Lorcan was sitting. He was holding a note, as yet unlaminated, that said,
I NO WHO U R
It wasn’t written in ink, but letters from the Prophet were pasted onto the parchment. There was a date in the top left corner. It was today’s date.
‘The person who broke in.’ I whispered, horrorstruck.
‘Did you leave anything here with your name on it?’ Lorcan asked me urgently.
‘I-’ I tried to think.
‘Rose, did you?’
‘I- I’m not sure.’ I murmured.
‘Rose, think! Did you leave anything?’ Lorcan paced up and down the cramped office.
‘M-my quill, maybe?’ I faltered.
‘Do you put your name on your quills?’ Lorcan asked sarcastically.
‘Shut up, Lorcan!’ I flapped my hands at him. ‘I’m trying to think!’
I stared at my hands. They were shaking. Whatever had happened in my personal life, I’d never expected that someone would actually be able to threaten my position as Secret Sorceress. The enchantments around this place were so stringent… who would have cause to work that hard to break into the office? Okay, so a lot of people had tried, but only a person with a strong motive would… motive.
‘Rose, where are you going?’ Lorcan yelled at me.
But I was running. Running faster and harder than I ever had before. I skidded round corners, leapt down stairs, pushed people aside, until I burst into the Great Hall. I paused at the entrance, just to ascertain that Timmi was indeed sitting alone at the table, sulking into her dinner.
She looked up morosely I as slammed my hands down on the table in front of her. ‘How dare you.’ I said, my voice shaking. ‘How dare you try to blackmail me.’
She looked confused. ‘What?’
It was hard not to believe the expression of plain bewilderment on her face, but I knew she was adept at manipulating people. It wouldn’t work on me today. ‘Don’t try to pull that one on me.’ I said. ‘That note you left? Did you think I wouldn’t realise that it was you?’
‘Rose, what are you on about?’ Timmi asked, looking infuriated.
‘Stop denying it!’ I hissed. ‘You did it, you tried to blackmail me-’
‘Rose!’ Lorcan said breathlessly, coming up behind me. ‘What the hell?’
‘She’s saying I tried to blackmail her!’ Timmi said angrily.
‘Rose, she can’t have. Look.’ He waved the Standard Book of Spells, Grade 6, in my face. ‘It was in the office.’ Lorcan said.
‘Yeah, so Timmi gave that to me last year.’ I said.
‘Look inside the front cover.’
I flipped it open. In the top right hand corner were written the initials, T. S. ‘So?’ I said acidly.
‘So, the blackmailer knows that Timmi is a Secret Sorceress.’
‘Timmi is the blackmailer!’ I said.
‘Was.’ Timmi said. Lorcan and I both looked at her. ‘I was the Secret Sorceress.’
‘That doesn’t stop the blackmailer from thinking that you are.’ Lorcan said.
‘The blackmailer knows who she is because she is the blackmailer!’ I said.
‘Give me one shred of proof to support that!’ Timmi said heatedly, rising from her chair.
‘I saw you near there when I went to get Lorcan!’ I shouted.
‘Rose.’ Lorcan said quietly, but he said it with so much authority that I immediately subsided. Then he turned to Timmi. ‘Where were you coming from?’
‘See?’ I said to Lorcan judicious anger rising.
‘I was with Professor Longbottom. He’s giving me extra lessons because I’m not doing so well.’ Timmi whispered. ‘You can go and ask him.’
‘Oh.’ That brought me up short.
‘Rose, apologise to Timmi.’ Lorcan ordered.
This time I was the one that didn’t say a word.
‘Rose!’ Lorcan said. ‘If we want to move on from this, you must apologise to Timmi!’
‘What if I don’t want to move on from this?’ I snapped.
‘What?’ Timmi said angrily. ‘I deserve an apology! How dare you assume that I would blackmail you?’
‘How dare you assume that I wouldn’t tell you about Mario and Rudolfe for any reason other than trying to help you?’ I retorted, choking back tears.
Then I stormed out.
I wandered outside into the warm weather, but the sunshine and cool breeze couldn’t sustain my anger. I soon felt tears wetting on my cheeks, and I wiped them away, feeling sorry for myself. Would Lorcan kick me out of the Pig Zits team for refusing to apologise to Timmi? Maybe. Would I get into trouble with him? Probably. Would Timmi hate me forever and ever? Almost definitely.
I sat down by a solitary beech and turned my wet face to the sun. It was so beautiful, and I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy this.
Last summer, Timmi and I had snuck out of the castle one afternoon. She was supposed to be having a Charms revision lesson and I was supposed to be going over a test paper with Scorpius, but we both deserted our duties and met by the beech for an illicit picnic.
It felt so good, chatting in the sunshine, knowing that we were absolutely not supposed to be there. I guess that’s why we made such good Secret Sorceresses. We weren’t afraid of breaking the rules in the name of… in the name of a better world.
We had been discussing one particularly juicy note which had stumped Timmi. They didn’t often occur, but after forty-five minutes of good-naturedly arguing, she eventually conceded that she just didn’t know who it was. Until I hit upon the idea of it not coming from the student body, but from the staff… turns out Professor Squint did knock up the trolley lady on the Hogwarts Express. He took our advice and retired so that he could spend more time with his kid.
That had left the position of Defence teacher open, and in had come Professor Creevey, but Squint’s departure also left the Book Club without a head… Lorcan had taken that position up…
I sat up.
No… surely not?
Not my dear, innocent Lucy…?
But she had known.
She had known that I was looking for Lorcan.
I started running back up to the castle. Unfortunately the most of the student body decided to come out of the Great Hall at that moment. I pushed past, trying to reach the stairs. I was lost in a throng of bodies, and then someone grabbed me. I wrenched myself out of their grip.
‘I was trying to apologise.’ Timmi yelled after me as I scrambled out of the heaving mass of bodies, headed to the library.