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Chapter 1: Of Cigarettes, Burnt Shirts and Exploding Wands...
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Christopher awoke with a start, finding himself drenched in his own sweat and other less hygienic bodily fluids, namely snot and a bit of bloody sputum in his mouth. The after taste of copper lingered on his tongue, nauseating him a bit. Rolling down the window of his compartment, he spat out the contents of his mouth. Cursing under his breath, he wiped at his nose with his sleeve and instantly regretting this, as his eyes did not register what he had earlier presumed to be snot, but rather a rich crimson substance that would without a doubt leave a stain. This entailed another burst of colourful language as he fished around in his pockets in the hopes of finding some tissue paper.
“If you don’t mind, please use my handkerchief…”
Christopher literally jumped in his seat, his mouth on auto-pilot…
“IN’ HELL, JESUS ON A FUCKIN’ POGOSTICK!!! What the BLOODY HELL, are you doing there?”
Christopher ended rather anti-climactically, seeing as he was able to register that the owner of said voice was a small flaming red headed girl who was currently fighting a bout of the giggles, and that he was pretty sure that he was under no immediate threat of injury or loss of limb from an attack by a handkerchief. He mumbled a thanks while accepting the girl’s handkerchief, and followed this with a sincere apology, seeing as the piece of cloth was now inevitably soaked a good deal in his blood.
“No worries, you can keep it… By the way, I hope you don’t mind… It’s just that everywhere else is full…”
The red head motioned her head to indicate that the Hogwarts Express was in fact full, and as such, she was forced to intrude upon this particular compartment, seeing as there were still a lot of empty seats. At that exact moment, the train gave a strong jolt, which inevitably squeezed out a profanity out of Chris for the second time that day, and the train started on its journey to Hogwarts.
“Fuck!” But on monologue, the cursing streak went on for quite a bit actually. Shitarseholesonnofabitch… Chris was taking a stab in the dark pertaining to the destination of the train that he was currently on, seeing as he wasn’t exactly clear as to the whole picture just yet. You couldn’t really blame him though. Information had been scarce and dodgy at best, but he really didn’t feel like contemplating just how deep in shit he was, that would have to wait. Seeing as at the moment, all he had in his possession from the whole big picture of the mess he was in, was a piece of puzzle that looked like a bit of front teeth, that is, assuming that this big picture looked somewhat like the Mona Lisa. But waitaminute, does she even have her teeth showing in that bloody portrait?? STOP THAT… Girl-Conversation-Hanging…
“Ouh, don’t worry bout it… It happens I suppose… So I assume you’re on your way to school?”
Can you be any more pathetic than that? Honestly Chris, you’re better off asking whether she’s got matching lacy red lingerie to go with the hair… Chris mentally kicked himself as he realized how mundane and stupid his question had been, and it must have shown on his face, seeing as the red-headed girl was again stifling a giggle from erupting.
“Course I am… You sure you’re alright there? It’s just that your vomiting blood and whatnot, and the look on your face is horrendous if I do say so myself…”
Ahh, the LOOK. Yes, Chris was very well aware of this certain look that he usually had imprinted on his face each and every time he realizes he’s said or done something stupid. It was kinda like his tell, and he had been meaning to address this issue of his for quite some time now. Alas, instead of fixing the problem, he’s pretty sure that instead of the usual OMG-I-just-said-something-so-idiotic-right?!! LOOK, he had upgraded it to a much more bizarre I-think-I’m-having-a-massive-spaz-attack-so-PLEASE-bitchslap-me!!! LOOK.
“Hello there, Ginny to Captain Nose Bleed, do you read me?”
“Where’s the book then?”
Chris mumbled stupidly, and then it hit him that this girl’s name was Ginny, which was kinda weird but not that weird, and that yes, she was being sarcastic, and finally yes, he had that LOOK upon his face yet again and that he had let his mind stray off in the middle of a conversation with said girl and it was as if he had just answered ‘milkshake’ to a question of ‘where’re the cows’. Wait, WHAT?! He lost himself a bit there too.
“I’m so sorry, come again? I tend to think too much when I talk to girls. Then the thoughts, they tend to manifest themselves with my mouth and before I can stop it I just go on and on and on, so you see, the girls, they tend to lose interest real quick… Never really been around them much before though, seeing as they’ve never really felt the need to be around me before… So if you’ll just excuse the random zoning out and a mile a minute one sided conversation that I am currently having with myself, please, do excuse me… It’s a real bad habit of mine that I’m really trying to deal with but I’m Elvis Presley in a bikini!! I’m doing it right now am I not?”
Chris breathed heavily, slapping his palm upon his face while the girl just gave him an amused grin while nodding a bit. Chuckling to herself, she held out her hand;
“Well let’s start over again, shall we? I’m Ginny Weasley, third year Gryffindor… And are you sure you’re alright?”
“Right, well I’m Christopher, first time on this train and I am very very confused… But I’m pretty sure I’m just fine… This happens from time to time… No biggie…”
Griffin Door? What’s that supposed to be? Chris was wondering while taking her hand and shaking it in a grip that he hoped was not too tight for a girl, but at the same time not too loose as it would kinda give off the impression that he was a poof. Oooh, soft. Wait, must-release-soft-hand.
“You’re kidding right? But on the other hand… Yeah, I don’t reckon I’ve ever seen you around… How old are you again?”
“Uhh, fourteen… I think? Well, notchet, but soon… S’not like it matters either way”
Chris finished in a slow mumble, and when Ginny asked him to repeat himself, Chris chose to just shrug it off, simply stating that it was his bad habit kicking in again. Speaking of bad habits… he thought to himself.
“Right, so… D’you even know where you’re heading then?”
“Course I do… Umm, we’re goin to school, right?”
Chris’ intonation was a mix between indignation and uncertainty, and he decided on the spot, he was not fond of either tone presenting itself in his voice, especially since he was talking to a girl. So he gave a small cough and mentally readjusted himself.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m pretty sure, yeah…”
This time, he was glad his voice did not betray a single ounce of uncertainty, never mind the fact that he had actually added the word pretty in his answer.
“Right, as long as you’re not a Muggle that accidentally found his way on this train, you should be fine…”
Ginny gave a small smile to which Chris responded with an unnaturally high pitched laugh. Muggle? Is that even a word?! Ugh, now I definitely need a cigarette.
“Well, if you’ll excuse me for a bit, I think I’ll go for a walk, stretch my legs a bit…”
“Right, and I hope that you have every intention to finish this conversation then, cause I don’t really see myself going anywhere just yet. Plus I’m not exactly sure if my friends are ever gonna show up… Maybe they’re in another compartment already…”
“Haha, I promise… But if you’re friends do come along, and they don’t have a compartment to crash in, tell them I wouldn’t mind sharing… Be back in a minute, yeah…”
Smiling for the first time that day, Chris politely excused himself from the compartment. Once outside, he slowly made his way to the far end of the Hogwarts Express, trying his best to maneuver past all the hustle and bustle which were what seemed to him to be students ranging from eleven to seventeen year olds. The odd bit about this whole scene was that albeit some of them were in fact wearing normal clothes, some had decided to dress themselves in what Chris could only assume was the school attire, although it looked nothing like the usual school attire he was accustomed to.
Hmm, pointy hats, I must have one if I want to blend in I suppose… But blimey, there’s a whole student body here… Hmm, well at least that much of his story was true… Chris thought to himself, remembering the conversation he had had with an ancient looking old man clad in funny billowing robes, complete with a matching pointed hat usually associated with the sensitive yet ridiculous subject matter they were talking about, and a mile long white beard. He had took the liberty to dub this gentleman Santa, seeing as he had trouble remembering the man’s actual name, but he was pretty sure that it had sounded like bumble boar.
Bumping his head on the last door which had refused to open up when he twisted the knob, Chris fished around his pockets for his trustworthy lock-picking set, which was made up of just a bent paperclip really. It was something which he had picked up from the orphanage that he had been stuck in since he could remember, and as far as he knew, where he would be spending his whole life, that is, until he was deemed old enough to be kicked out. Yes, it had been a really depressing prospect, but now was not a woe-is-me moment or the time to lament about how pathetic his life had been up till this point in time. Now was the time for a cigarette which was long overdue.
Hermione had just deposited her hand luggage with Ginny, which she had trouble locating, having accidentally poked her head into a compartment which housed some very hostile Sixth Year Slytherins beforehand. Having freed herself off the cumbersome baggage she had, she was now ready to start on her Patrol Duty, alone. She figured that Ron was most definitely with Harry, goofing off as they usually do. Boys, hmph… Blowing away a stray curly strand of hair that kept tickling her nose, which had been aggravating her already irritated mood, Hermione slowly made her way to the end of the train while doing random compartment checks.
Along the way, gracing the cramped corridors with what she hoped was an authoritative air, so as to discourage any unruly behavior on the part of the students, Hermione allowed herself a break, seeing as she had spotted the old witch selling treats and drinks. She was in the midst of an internal struggle between going for the chocolate frogs, which were at the moment winking devilishly up at her, daring her to have a go at all those calories, or the much safer bet of Pumpkin Pastries, which didn’t really appeal to her taste buds, but she could consume with half the guilt. Decisions, decisions. That was when she registered that a certain blonde haired git was eyeing her, complete with a smug grin plastered on his stupid face.
“I suppose they don’t feed you enough at that filthy Muggle home of yours eyh? You sure you can afford that?”
Draco Malfoy drawled out lazily, while this comment of his squeezed out roaring bouts of laughter from his ever present cronies, Crabbe and Goyle. Not that they understood of course. Hermione had a sneaking suspicion that the Idiotic Trio had practice sessions as to when and when not to laugh at their leader’s comments. Pushing his hands through his flawless bangs, Draco had on his face what now seemed to be a look of daring Hermione to have a go at his handsome face. Handsome?! I can’t believe I just had Draco in my head along with the notion of handsomeness... Waitaminute!!! Did I just call him DRACO?!! I mean Malfoy, MALFOY!!! Of course, she had more brains than that, taking into consideration how she was currently outnumbered three to one. Stupid, STUPID Ron!!! Of all the times to go skiving off, you choose this perfect moment in time. SHIT!
“Haha… Well at least I don’t have Mummy dearest fussing over my nutritional intake every time its breakfast, lunch and dinner. I really wonder sometimes, how you manage to take care of yourself when semester starts… All those classes and homework you’ve got to deal with, and not to mention Quidditch practice, which may I add, you always lose at… It’s a miracle really how you can survive at a boarding school… Ouh, SILLY ME… You’ve got Crabbe and Goyle to take care of your soiled diapers, right?”
Both his cronies had a look of utter confusion etched on their faces as they were currently trying to sort their slow brains around what she had actually meant. As for Malfoy, Hermione didn’t even bother to wait for a retort nor a reaction, seeing as that would just prolong their confrontation, something that on top of patrol duty, she didn’t think she could manage. Finally settling on the Pumpkin Pastries and a bottle of Pumpkin Juice, Hermione mentally gave herself a pat on the back, seeing as she had wisely avoided getting fat, not that Malfoy didn’t already have enough ammunition as it were.
There was a deafening bang, which had literally made her heart stop, followed by the stench that would have one reminded of a mixture of dead skunk and extremely old rotting garbage. Hermione jumped into action, muttering under her breath about school rules and student’s responsibilities. Stopping in front of the compartment that reeked the most, and slightly out of breath, she mentally prepared herself for the scene that would greet her.
Hermione thought she was prepared, but from the sharp inhalation of putrid air that was induced by the scene that was registering itself in her brain she obviously wasn’t. Gagging slightly, and fighting back tears that were threatening to overflow from her watery eyes, she didn’t trust herself to speak, unless she intended to risk letting her earlier lunch that day making a comeback. As such, she just covered her mouth and nose as best she could with the back of her hand and motioned her head and contorted her face to indicate that she wanted to know WHAT IN THE NAME OF MERLIN’S DIRTY UNDERPANTS HAPPENED?!!
The scene was in itself quite bizarre, even for Hermione’s standards, and that was saying something, taking into consideration the company she keeps which consists of Harry and Ron, both who were strangely adapt at attracting the strange and bizarre.
The compartment was covered from floor to ceiling and wall to wall, in a mucky green substance. Fred or George, Hermione couldn’t identify, and their best mate, Lee Jordan, were looking up at the ceiling at what she guessed was the other Weasley. The unlucky twin was plastered to the spot in all that goo and it seemed that he was having some difficulties trying to free himself. Fred or George and Jordan had a stunned look etched unto their faces, or rather, what little of their faces you could see under all that muck, and the trauma seemed to have rid them of their motor skills.
I really don’t want to deal with this so early on the journey… Hermione sighed inwardly, and against her better judgment, she slowly closed the compartment door again and retreated from the scene of the crime, hoping against hope that another senior prefect would deal with the twins and their antics. Realizing by now that the whole train was reeking of the stench, and that she was holding her breath the whole time, Hermione rushed to the end of the train to get some fresh air, while ignoring the wide eyed stares of students who dared pop their heads out of their compartments to investigate the violation against their sense of hearing and smell.
She liked sitting on that little bit of wood at the very end of the train, and she had unceremoniously laid claim that it was her little private place. It had been her getaway spot when a game of Exploding Snaps between the Weasleys and Harry got out of hand. She had scouted for a place to spend the time alone ever since that incident of her losing her left eye brow, incidentally being the very one she was rather fond of. This spot, she had found to be perfect for what she had dubbed ‘Hermione Time’. Albeit being very dangerous by her standards, she liked sitting there on the ledge and letting her legs just swing along with the twists and turns of the train.
That’s odd… The door’s supposed to be locked. Hermione wondered to herself. Slowly turning the doorknob and easing the door open, she was greeted with a scene which was much much more bizarre compared to the one she had just previously witnessed.
Chris wasn’t entirely sure how it had happened. In retrospect, all he could conclude was that, lighting his cigarette with a wand was not the brightest idea that he had ever come up with, taking into consideration that he did not have the slightest clue how to actually work the bloody thing. At least I managed to light my ciggie… Chris congratulated himself, albeit almost setting his hair on fire along with his bloody shirt in the process. Quite the accomplishment, if I do say so myself. That, and the fact that I still have both eyebrows intact. He gave off a small laugh.
What had happened was this. After successfully picking the door’s lock and getting out his cigarettes, Chris found himself to be the proud owner of an empty box of matches. What ensued was purely driven by his stupid addiction. Seeing as he had no other means as to light up, he had drawn out his piece of stick, (no sexual connotations here, he had simply refused to acknowledge that this piece of stick which that old man dressed up as Santa had affectionately called a WAND, had any magical properties up till this point), and chuckling to himself, not really believing that he was going to actually go through with this, he had pointed this piece of stick at the tip of the cigarette, with his face directly in the line of fire. He had then proceeded to concentrate his mind on FIRE or some semblance therof, and just to garnish it off in all its glorious stupidity, he had exclaimed “SHAZAM!”
SHAZAM indeed. There had been a small blast, followed by a cloud of smoke engulfing his entire head, and it wasn’t until later did he realize that his shirt had caught fire. Ripping his shirt off, he had then proceeded to stomp the fire out, cursing his stupidity, this ‘Santa’ character, and the whole world in general. He had imagined Lady Luck doubled over, one hand suppressing a cramp in her abdomen, laughing gleefully at his antics. This entailed another bout of cursing, but when his eyes fell on his lit cigarette, which had somehow miraculously survived the whole ordeal, his mouth had instantly slackened, sending his chin to the floor.
But on a more serious note, what the hell was that crazy old bat thinking, giving me this weapon of mass embarrassment? And secondly, I am now certainly positive that yes, magic is REAL. The exploding wand laid testament to this... Ouh, I am so over my head this time… Hey, I called it a wand... A WA…
“…AND JESUS IS ON A POGOSTICK PLAYING POLO WITH SANTA!!! What the HELL are you doing there?!!”
The scene unfolding before Hermione’s eyes was this, a boy about her age was puffing on a cigarette, and giving off small chuckles every now and then. OMG OMG OMG, he’s laughing all to himself... What if he’s crazy?! I don’t wanna die just yet... Please oh please Dear God… Yes, she was panicking alright, so much so, her thoughts actually came out in abbreviations. She wasn’t sure how she knew this little bit of info, she just knew it.
Apart from the cigarette smoke emitting from his mouth and nose, she was pretty sure that this boy had smoke coming from his head too. Ouh, and he was shirtless, which didn’t hurt really. She also noticed that the boy was currently standing on what to Hermione had seemed like a smoldering… Is that a smoking piece of Dragon Hyde? But I thought they were inflammable… However, her intellectual internal debate was cut short when the boy had suddenly turned around, and upon seeing her, had the audacity to fold booth arms to cover his chest, as if Hermione had actually caught him naked, and he was doing his best to protect his modesty. You can’t be serious?!
Hermione had not actually registered fully what the boy had exclaimed, but she was pretty sure he had mentioned Jesus, Polo and Santa. Not exactly sure how to actually deal with the bizarre scenario she had somehow found herself in, Hermione decided to fall back on a response which came instinctively to her, seeing as she was a prefect and on top of that, a law abiding citizen.
“Smoking is prohibited on the train…”