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Clash by shenanigan
Chapter 5 : Discovery
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 47


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A/N:
Hey everyone! I know, I know, the wait was terrible, and I apologize for that. But anyways, I hope you enjoy the chapter, and I would really appreciate it if you could review after reading. Even if it's just a simple "I like you story", it still means a lot.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: None of it is mine!

Lovely chapter image by jetaway at The Dark Arts.




 





“Now, Agatha, I can explain! This is not what it looks like.”

“NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE?”

“No, it’s not! Just...just don’t freak out, okay?”

“DON’T FREAK OUT?”

“It’s not that big of a deal!”

“NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL?”

“You’re being unreasonable...”

“UNREASONABLE?”

“Okay, Agatha, you are going to have to stop repeating everything I say like that. It’s getting annoying.”

“IT’S GETTING ANNOYIN—? UGH!”

I glared at my brother, face burning with fury. This was...this was...terrible! Horrific! Inexcusable! How could my brother do this? How could he be so stupid?

I tried to steady my voice, tried to stop my fists from shaking too much as I spoke. “Aidan,” I said through clenched teeth. “You are... This is... I can’t... ARGH!”  Aidan’s blue eyes darted unsurely around the compartment, as if he was looking for a way to escape.

“Agatha, just please... Calm dow—“

“CALM DOWN??? CALM DOWN?” I threw my hands into the hair, furious. “AIDAN, YOU ARE TRYING TO SMUGGLE A GERBIL INTO OUR SCHOOL, AND YOU EXPECT ME TO CALM DOWN?!?!”

...That’s right.

You heard correctly, ladies and gentlemen.

The little mystery item in Aidan’s backpack? The one that’s been causing all this drama?

It’s a gerbil. You know, the oversized rats with the twitchy noses and the fondness for carrots? Yeah, those things.

Dom gasped from where she was standing next to me. “Ohmigod, is that what’s in there?” She grabbed the backpack from my hands and peeked into it, her light green eyes widening as she saw the animal inside.

“Eee! It’s so cute!”  she squealed.

“CUTE?” I bellowed. “CUTE?” I snatched the backpack from Dom, shaking it at her a little, which I doubt could be good for the creature inside, but whatever. I was angry. “Do you people realize how much trouble we could get in if we get caught? Only owls, frogs and cats are allowed at Hogwarts! Any other animal is...is...unheard of! Not to mention illegal!”

“Agatha, please, just don’t tell anyone!” Aidan fell to the floor until he was in his customary Groveling Position, which was a pose he always assumed whenever I found out about something and he didn’t want me to tell (on his knees, hands clasped in prayer, and of course—my favorite part—face pulled into classic Puppy Dog look).

I shook my head disbelievingly. This was...ridiculous. Sure, my brother’s done some stupid stuff...but this...this...this takes the ice cream sundae.

Can I please just say that gerbils are possibly the lamest member of the rodent family? They’re too small to be a decent pet, yet they’re too fat and big to be considered cute. They’re just...just...gerbils.

Gerbils are what parents buy when they think that their child can’t handle the responsibility of a dog or a cat. Gerbils are a cop-out pet. The only thing worse then gerbils would be fish. Or possibly parakeets.

In other words, out of all the prohibited animals my brother could possibly want to bring into our school, he chose a glorified hamster.

Why couldn’t he have opted for something cooler, like a Blast-Ended Skrewt or a jaguar cub? Why, god, why did it have to be a gerbil?

My brother is a fucking imbecile. It is a wonder we come from the same planet, let alone the same uterus.

“Oh, Merlin, Agatha,” Fred, obviously unable to contain himself any longer, finally spoke up. He slid to the floor next to Aidan, assuming the Groveling Position as well. “Please don’t tell anyone! We’ll do anything!”

“We?” I exclaimed, incredulous. “You were aware of this?”

Fred nodded sheepishly, eyes downcast. I sighed and turned to Potter, who was still in his seat and hadn’t resorted to the Groveling Position (he seemed to have a lot more dignity than the other two). “And you?” I asked, raising my eyebrows.

Potter crossed his arms and smirked, refusing to say a word. That was all the answer I needed.

So Fred and Potter were in on it too! Ugh, they’re shameless, the three of them. Shameless. I can’t believe this!

Well, actually... I can... But still!

They knew about it. They probably even helped, for Merlin’s sake! And let me tell you, when Potter and Aidan and Fred are collaborating together, the outcome is never good.

You see, the Tweedle Trio have a reputation at Hogwarts. They’re known for being pranksters. Tricksters. Mischief-makers.

They’re always pulling pranks. Left and right, wherever you look, there’s bound to be mayhem. And I’ll admit it: some of their jokes are amusing, even clever. The three of them have a knack for it, and their pranks never fail to make the students of Hogwarts laugh. I’ve even seen a few of the teachers smirking at some of their antics.

But here’s the thing: they always get caught.

And, of course, everytime Aidan ends up in trouble for doing something bad, it’s up to me to help him out of whatever hole he’s dug himself into.

Not very fun.

But if Aidan seriously thinks that he’s going to suck me into this, then he’s crazy. In no way am I going to get involved with him and that gerbil. I know nothing.

“This is...ridiculous. I can’t believe you guys! You, especially, Potter! You’re a prefect. You’re supposed to stop this kind of thing...not...participate in it!” I sounded like my mother, or McGonagall, but I didn’t care. I was too pissed.

“Agatha,” Aidan said tiredly, standing up and dusting himself off. “Can you please just save the lecture for another time...? We already know, okay? We don’t need you to tell us.”

I snapped my mouth shut, furious. This was... this was... an outrage! Unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable! A gerbil!

“Please, Aggy. Don’t tell anyone about Rufus. We’re begging you,” Fred said pitifully.

I raised my eyebrows, sputtering a little in shock. “Rufus? You named it?”

“Yes,” Aidan said, matter-of-factly. “Yeah, well, Fred wanted to name it ‘Sir Cuddles’, but we thought Rufus had a nicer ring to it. Don’t you think?”

...Their stupidity is astounding.

I can’t even be angry anymore. I’m just too shocked that the human intelligence can sink this far.

I turned around to face Dom. “What do you think of this?”

She shrugged, grimacing a little. “Well, it’s not like we can do anything. I mean, the thing’s already on the train. We don’t really have a choice.”

I swallowed, chancing a glance into the backpack, which I was still holding. There it was (I refused to use its stupid excuse for a “name”)—with its long whiskers and twitching nose. It stared up at me, its eyes like a pair of black marbles, and I felt my heart melt a little. Dom was right. It was kind of cute.

Get a hold of yourself, Agatha. This is wrong, no matter how big and round its eyes are, or how adorable its twitchy, little nose is, or—


No.

Must. Resist. The. Cuteness.


I took a deep breath and tore my eyes away from the backpack. “Where did you even find a gerbil, Aidan?”

“Well, you know the pet shop down the road from our house?” Aidan asked, his voice small.

“Yes...” I said slowly, not liking where this was going.

“Well, I was in there one day, just looking around, when the owner told me that the shop was closing. For good! They were going out of business... And all the animals would be going to the pound if they weren’t sold soon enough! And, well I couldn’t stand the fact of some poor animal cooped up in a dingy little pound! I had to do something! I had to take action! I had to make a stand for animal rights!”

“So you bought a gerbil,” I said flatly.

“Yes!” Aidan exclaimed.

“Aidan,” I began, trying to use my "indoor voice". “You can’t just smuggle in a gerbil and expect to get away with it! What if someone sees you? You’d get in so much trouble!”

“Please, Agatha. Just don’t tell anyone, and it’ll be fine! You won’t even notice we have it... Promise!”

I turned away from Aidan’s pleading expression to Fred’s identical one and then to Potter, who hadn’t said anything during this whole conversation. He was staring at me, leaning back in his seat, his face unreadable. It almost seemed as if he was testing me, seeing what I would do. It was... unnerving, to say the least.

I bit my lip and peered into the backpack again. Black marble eyes stared up at me, curious and bit apprehensive.

It twitched its tiny nose. Its tiny, little button nose...and that was what killed me. I felt my resolve crumble.

 Maybe it would be alright to keep it. Just for a little while, that is. Like Dom said, there wasn’t much we could do, now that the gerbil was already on the train. Besides, how much harm could one little gerbil inflict?

I sighed. “Okay, we can keep it—“

Fred and Aidan cheered at the news, pumped their fists into the air, did a little victory dance, and then chest-bumped each other like a couple of idiots (which they are). Potter’s lips twitched upwards, and I had the weirdest feeling that, somehow, I had passed the test.

“On a few conditions,” I finished, and the cheering and chest-bumping and rampant stupidity came to an abrupt halt.

“What conditions?” Potter said cautiously, speaking for the first time in a long while.

“One: you guys have to take care of it. I’m not letting some poor, innocent little creature die just because you lot are incapable of upholding any sort of responsibility. You need to find a place to keep it, a cage, and food.”

“Done, done, done,” Aidan said easily. “We’re going to keep it in our dorm. And Fred has a cage and food.”

“You sure your dorm mates won’t mind?” Dom asked, her eyebrows raised.

“Nah, they’re pretty easy-going.” Fred nodded.

“Alright then... Now, here’s my second condition,” I said. “You guys can not suck Dom and me into this, alright? We are tired of having to help you three out every time you get into trouble. Deal?”

“Deal,” Aidan said. We shook hands for a moment, neither one of us willing to be the first to let go.

I pulled my hand away from his and handed him the backpack. “I trust you, Aidan,” I said seriously. “Don’t mess it up.”

“Agatha, stop worrying,” Fred said confidently. “When have we ever let you down?”

....Oh boy.






So here’s the thing: I have always been a cautious child. Always.

Even when I was young, while Aidan and the other kids would be doing flips and dives at the local swimming pool, I would be sitting on the deck, afraid to go in the water, meticulously applying my third layer of sunscreen. When the other children in the area would go outside with their skateboards and bicycles, braving the summer heat and the hard, unforgiving concrete of the pavement, I would be in my room, thumbing through glossy pages of an encyclopedia or dictionary.

I took the extra, unnecessary precautions many others did not, such as wearing a seat belt, or applying antiseptic to even the smallest cut. I did not like to take any chances, not even when I was a little child. It made me feel uneasy, nauseous almost.

Aidan and my mother certainly did not help, what with their careless and constantly forgetful nature. It was always up to me to be responsible, logical, serious. Even when I was six, my role in our family was clear—I was The Sensible One. It was my job to remind everyone else of their obligations, to look out for them.

Not that my mother didn’t do a decent job of raising Aidan and me. She was a good Mum... it’s just... she was scatterbrained. And emotional. Like, sometimes she forgot where she’d put her car keys, and I’d have to tell her where they were. Or sometimes she forgot to water the plants, and I had to do it... Or she would forget the electricity bill, and I’d have to go out and buy candles and flashlights.... you know, little stuff like that.

I was the rational one. The one you could always rely on to be reasonable. I was like my father. I observed, I hypothesized, I analyzed. Aidan was like my mother, rash and quick to jump to conclusions.

So yeah, as a kid, I was very careful. I wanted security, I liked to be safe. I was responsible. I didn’t break the rules. Aidan had always been the daring one, the one who was willing to take the jump from the high dive, or do a flip off his bicycle.

I just don’t like the instability of a chance, the probability that I can fail. It’s just not in my nature.

Which is why, that night, I sat at the Slytherin table during the Hogwarts Sorting with an especially queasy feeling in my stomach. The queasiness, the nausea...It was something I felt whenever I knew that Aidan was about to make a mistake.

...Which is basically all the time, come to think of it.

The Great Hall, as always, looked almost majestic that night. The ceiling above us was a nebulous dark blue, hazy and smudged with clouds. Stars twinkled in an almost lazy manner, and no moon could be seen.

Candles flickered above everyone’s heads, casting an amber glow that made the golden plates on the long tables glint. The Hall was completely silent, as one by one, the first-years stepped up and were sorted into their respective houses. Excitement and anxiousness made the atmosphere tingle.

Ever since the end of the Dark War, students were not required to sit by house. Hufflepuffs, Gryffindors, Slytherins, Ravenclaws...we all sat together now. The only exception was the Sorting Ceremony, when everyone sat with their house for tradition’s sake.

So Dominique and I sat at the Slytherin table that night, Dominique looking perfectly relaxed as she watched the sorting take place, while I, however, couldn’t stop fidgeting. I was unable to concentrate on McGonagall, or the Sorting Hat, or the petrified faces of the first-years. All I could do was clap automatically whenever someone got sorted into Slytherin, and even then, my hands moved on their own accord. The queasiness was working its way up my body now, making my throat tighten and my mouth dry out.

“Relax.” Dom was a mind reader. “They’re not going to get in trouble.”

“I hope not,” I said darkly. “Or else I’ll kill him.” By him, I wasn’t sure if I meant Potter, Aidan, or Fred. Maybe all three?

“Not if Mickey G gets there first. She would go ballistic if she found out.” Dom cackled. When she noticed my expression, however, she sobered. “Not helping. Sorry.”

“It’s just, I worry about Aidan sometimes, you know?” I said as the hat declared Cathy Hansinger a Hufflepuff. “He’s so... so...”

“Yeah,” Dominique said, and I knew she understood completely.

We sat in silence as the rest of the sorting continued. I found my eyes occasionally wandering towards the opposite end of the room, where Freddy, Potter and Aidan sat at the Gyrffindor table. The purple backpack was placed innocently in Aidan’s lap, unnoticed by all.

Finally, after Karen Zachary was sorted into Gryffindor, Headmistress Vespertine stood up to make her customary sorting speech.

Professor Vespertine has been headmistress since I was a third year, after McGonagall retired. Now, before you start getting you’re panties in a twist, Mickey G is still at Hogwarts. So don’t worry, even though she’s not Headmistress anymore, her position as Head of Gryffindor, along with her fun little ability to instill terror into any student’s heart, remains. And of course, she still teaches Transfiguration, too.

Anyway, Professor Vespertine is a very accomplished woman. She had been a prominent member of The Wizengamont, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and had even run for Minister (Ministress?) of Magic in 2018, following Kingsley Shaklebolt resignation. She lost though (a man named Eros Humdudgeon was awarded the position), and instead came to Hogwarts to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, and then later became Headmistress.

Professor Vespertine was an intimidating, no-nonsense woman. No one is exactly sure of her real age, it could range from 30 to 50. She was tall, with rigid posture and an elegant, yet strong, sort of grace about her. Her features were striking-- dark blue-black hair that framed a sharp face, uncannily bright steel eyes, and lips that were always pursed into a straight line. Her voice was clear and ringing, commanding, almost. She was strict, but she was also fair.

“Hello and good evening everyone, I hope you’ve had a good summer. For those of you who don’t know me, I am Professor Vespertine. I will be guiding and helping you throughout your career here at Hogwarts,” Vespertine called out, and all eyes were immediately trained on the teachers’ table, where she stood. “At Hogwarts, we hope you will excel and grow, both academically... and as a person.” Her smile was tense and thin, but still a smile nonetheless. “We have a great year ahead of us.”

“Now, I know that you are hungry, but I would just like to say a few things before the feast begins.” A few students groaned quietly, clutching their grumbling stomachs. “First off, the Forbidden Forest, as it clearly states in the name, is forbidden. Any student caught there will immediately be faced with detention and possibly even expulsion.” My eyes flitted over to where Potter, Aidan and Fred were sitting, and I could see that they were all wearing identical smirks. I rolled my eyes. “Secondly, Mr. Filch would like all students to know that any items purchased from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes are strictly prohibited at Hogwarts. Any student found with one will face punishment, and the item will be confiscated.” The boys’ smirks grew wider. They looked like a trio of Cheshire Cats, for Merlin’s sake. “For a complete list of all The Prohibited Items here at Hogwarts, please see Filch.” I sighed. Well, at least she didn’t mention anything about gerbils...

“Lastly, I am happy to announce that we have a new addition to the teaching staff.” Whispers broke out among the students. “Please welcome our new Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts, Theodore Nott.”

My mouth fell open. Next to me, Dominique choked on her own spit. Theodore Nott?

Murmurs rippled through the entire crowd as Professor Vespertine gestured to a man sitting next to her, someone who I hadn’t noticed before. He was grim looking, with dark blonde hair and a gaunt face... There seemed to be something old about him, even though he couldn’t have been more than forty.

“Is that—“

“—Theodore Nott?”

“I heard he was a Death Eater, back in the day.”

“Well, I heard that he was arrested for attempting to assassinate the Prime Minister of Belgium.”

“No, that was the King of France.”

“I heard he’s got a record deal in Japan.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Victor Krum asked him for his autograph.”


I glanced at the Gryffindor Table to see Aidan’s reaction to all of this. He wore a frown on his face, forehead creased, navy eyes dark. Next to him, Potter and Fred had identical looks of complete outrage on their faces. I snorted quietly to myself. Typical Gryffindor pride.

You see, Theodore Nott was a controversial choice as a DADA professor for many reasons. First off, although Theodore hadn’t been a Death Eater, his father had, and there was still speculation, even to this day, as to whether or not Theodore had supported Voldemort during the War.

Secondly, in 2016, Theodore’s wife had gone missing... And the prime suspect had been Mr. Nott himself. However, despite many intense investigations, Eileen Nott was never found, the case had been dropped, and no one ever discovered who did it. But there were still grim whispers, suspicious glances, accusing fingers... and they were all directed at Theodore.

Personally, I didn’t have any objection to this. After all, there was no proof that Theodore had actually been a Death Eater, nor any that he killed or harmed his wife. In fact, Theodore Nott was actually quite an accomplished and respected man amongst the wizarding scholar community. He was famous for inventing several spells, such as the Transparency Charm and the Flummoxing Jinx, and has also developed Nott’s Theorem on the Seven Ways to Resist the Veritaserum Potion (this theorem, ironically, was actually the reason the aurors were unable to decide whether or not Theodore was guilty of killing his wife, seeing as nobody knew when he was--or wasn’t--telling the truth).

It was eerily quiet in the Great Hall as everyone stared at the new DADA professor. Finally, after a long, painful moment of tense silent, Professor Vespertine cleared her throat. It was obvious, from the look on her face, that she had been expecting this reaction from her students. “Well then, that will be all for now, students. Enjoy the feast!”

I heard the customary gasps from the first-years as our food suddenly appeared on our plates, and immediately, the Great Hall switched back to its normal, noisy self as students began to chatter with each other again, most likely about the jarring news we had just received.

“Can you believe it?” Dom asked, her eyes wide with excitement as she stabbed a piece of chicken with her fork and popped it into her mouth. “I mean... Wow. Theodore Nott.”

I shrugged, still more concerned about the rodent in Aidan’s backpack rather than our new DADA teacher. “I don’t see what the big deal is.”

“The big deal? The big deal? He was almost sent to Azkaban!”

“They couldn’t prove anything, Dom.”

“Still...” Dom’s eyes moved swiftly across the room until they found their target. She sat for a moment, staring in thoughtful silence, before speaking. “He’s kind of hot, actually, in a broody, mysterious way.” Her grin was secretive, almost cat-like. “Don’t you think?”

“You’re sick, Dom. He’s old enough to be your father!”

Her eyes glittered in the candlelight, coquettish and sly. “Who knows? Maybe I’ll need some extra help in Defense some day. I bet he could teach me a few things. If you catch my drift...”

“Ugh, seriously, Dom!”

“You think he’s any good with his wand?”

“You’re worse than my brother!”

She licked her lips and winked in an over-exaggerated manner. I groaned, exasperated. “You are such a flirt.”

“No, I’m charming.”

I dug my spoon into my mashed potatoes and grinned knowingly. “Sure, Dommy. Whatever you say, whatever you say.”




“Ugh. I’m so full... I could explode.” Dom moaned as she clutched her belly. I nodded feverishly in agreement.

“Me too,” I said. My stomach felt like it was about to burst. “I think that last treacle tart did it for me.”

“Eurrrrghhhh... Don’t even mention treacle tarts to me right now. I had five. Five. Treacle. Tarts. Do you know what that can do to one’s digestive system?”

We were still sitting at our table in the Great Hall, waiting for everyone to finish dinner so that Vespertine could dismiss us. I yawned—now that my belly was satisfied, all I really wanted to do was retire to bed for a nice, long sleep.

“Ah—I’m so tired...”

“Me too,” Dom said, her eyes drooping shut. “I can’t wait to go to bed...”

“Bollocks!” I exclaimed, suddenly remembering my obligations as a prefect. “I have to take the first-years to their dorms!”

“Haha. Sucker.”

“Thanks for your support and sympathy, best friend.”

“Anytime. Anytime.”

I smiled to myself. Well, on the bright side, at least I had Ryan to help me. Ah, Ryan (insert dreamy sigh here). With his blonde hair and stormy eyes and—

“You’re thinking about Ryan Fisher, aren’t you?” Dom asked shrewdly.

“No, of course not!” I said shiftily. “I’m just thinking about... um—the duty and responsibility I am required to uphold as a diligent, hard-working prefect. That’s all.”

“You want to jump his bones.”

“I do not!”

“Don’t deny it... you want to get you’re freak awnnn.”

“Okay, firstly: Never again. Secondly: I only think of Ryan in a purely platonic way. We’re acquaintances!”

“Yeah, and McGonagall favorite hobby is roller disco-ing.” Dom snorted. “Face it, you just really want to—“

“Attention, students!” Professor Vespertine stood up and began to speak in her loud, clear voice (effectively silencing Dom as she did so—thank Merlin). “You may now retire to your dorms for the night. Remember: have a good rest, you don’t want to be tired for lessons tomorrow! Thank you, and goodnight.”

Professor Vespertine sat back down, and immediately the hall was filled with the clamor of screeching benches and clapping footsteps. I sighed dejectedly and stood up from my seat.

 “Dom, I’m going to go find the first—“ I was interrupted by a tap-tap-tap on my shoulder, however, and I twisted around to come face to face with Ryan Fisher. He was looking very distressed, and he had his arm around a small first-year whose face was turning an unpleasant shade of green.

“Oh... Ryan! Hi,” I squeaked, my eyes widening slightly. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m sorry, but this little guy’s really sick. Something about having too many treacle tarts—” Dom groaned as she heard this, clutching her stomach and slamming her forehead onto the table. “I’m going to have to take him to the Hospital Wing... Do you think you can handle the first-years by yourself?”

My heart sank, but I forced a smile on my face. “Sure, Ryan. No problem.”

“Thanks a million,” he said, flashing me a grin that made my legs turn gooey. The first-year groaned loudly and sagged to the floor. “Ah, crap. I better get a move on before he starts vomi—nevermind. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Bye,“ I said wistfully as I watched him walk away, dragging the poor kid along with him.

“You love him...” Dom sing-songed annoyingly, still clutching her stomach.

“Shut up.”

She cackled—and yes, it did actually sound like a cackle—and stood up to go, swinging her leg over the bench in a very unlady-like fashion. “I’ll meet you back at the dorm. Good luck with the munchkin people!” She flounced off, merging into the sea of people who were slowly filtering out the door.

I sighed. Well, better get this over with.

“First-years!” I called as I waved my arm in the air. “First-years, over here please!”

But no one heard me over the chatter and footsteps. I gritted my teeth together in irritation.

“First-years!” I said louder, this time. “First-years! First-years! Over here!”

No one came.

I growled. My patience was wearing thin. I mean, come on, I was tired and it was crowded and I was overwhelmed and I just wanted to sleep, for God’s sake.

“First-years... First-yea— OI!” I shrieked, finally loosing it. “MUNCHKINS! OVER HERE! NOW!”

It was amazing, how quickly they appeared. It was like Whac-a-Mole. One minute, they were no where to be seen, and then the next—poof!—they were popping out of the ground, frightened and blinking in the daylight.
 
“Oh,” I said, staring at their frightened faces. There were nine of them. Nine snivelly, trembling, ickle little first years. I cleared my throat. “Hi. I’m...er...I’m your prefect. I’ll be showing you where your dorms are.”

They stared.

“Uh... Yeah. Shall we... um... get a move on? Just, er, form a line behind me,” I said, feeling a bit mortified as they continued to stare at me. I towered over them, at least a head taller. Surely I wasn’t that small when I was a first year.

I led them out of the Great Hall, making sure that they were all following me. The crowds had really thinned out--everyone was already in their respective dorms—and there was no one else as we walked down the corridors and to the dungeons in our solemn, straight line.

“So,” I said, feeling an urgent need to fill the awkward silence. “Just so you guys know, you now have to refer to me as Commander Cool at all times.”

No response. The munchkins looked bewildered.

“Um, just kidding... You don’t really have to...call... me...that...”

Silence.

I cleared my throat. “Um. Well. Yes. Anyways... We’re going to turn left here, and then we just take the stairs to the dungeons... Which is where the Slytherin Common Room is. Yeah... That’s it. Oh, watch out for that trick step. Those are nastly little buggers... Um, okay just down this hallway—“

We were silently shuffling down the corridor, towards the stone wall that hid the entrance to the Slytherin Common Room, Common Room, when all of a sudden I abruptly stopped walking. One of the first years, not looking where he was going, bumped in to me with a squeaky “Oof!”

I didn’t notice though, because I was to busy staring, transfixed, ahead of me, at something that made my blood run cold and my heart stop beating.

“Peeves,” I said under my breath, the way someone would utter a particularly nasty curse word.

And there he was, floating in the air, right in front of the entrance to the Slytherin Common Room, a malicious smile on his impish face. My heart sank to my knees. So much for a good night’s sleep...

“Oooh, what have we got here?” he cackled, swooping down towards us. Several of the first-years whimpered from behind me. “Ickle firsties? Fresh meat? How fun!”

“Peeves,” I said, trying to sound as menacing as I could. “Leave. Us. Alone.... Or else.”

He cackled, circling in the air above us like a hungry shark.

“Awe, the ickle wee prefect ain’t up for some fun
 In fact she’s getting upset,
Methinks ‘tis time for a proper Peeves welcome,
First-years, prepare to get wet!”


And with that, Peeves took out a water gun—yes, a water gun—from the rather large pocket of his purple tuxedo jacket and pulled the trigger... spraying me right in the face.

All hell broke loose.

The first-years started running around like chickens with their heads cut off, screaming and shrieking as I desperately tried to control them. Peeves flew above us, doing back flips and somersaults in the air as he sprayed the walls, floors, and first-years with icy cold water.  I slipped and skidded, unable to keep my balance as I frantically tried to calm everyone down. It was chaos, pandemonium. It was like Seaworld gone terribly, terribly wrong.

“No! Stay calm! It’s alright! Just—” I felt panic wind its way around my chest like a hot, metal cord, making it harder to breath... “PEEVES! PEEVES! STOP IT!”

A first-year was starting to cry, screams and shouts were echoing off the stone walls in a confusing, chaotic manner, and it was obvious that Peeves was having the time of his life, screeching and cackling as he aimed his water gun.

I ran to the sobbing first-year. ”Don’t cry, it’s going to be ok—OOF!” I slipped on a puddle of water, landing on the cold stone floor with a painful ‘thud’.

Why? Why me? Out of all the hundreds of corridors in this blasted castle, why did Peeves have to choose this one?  I hate my life... I’m a failure! Why did Vespertine make me a prefect? Was she drinking at the time? She must have been if she had thought that I would be able to ...to...handle this!

I bet Potter isn’t having this much difficulty! I bet his first-years are all safe and tucked in bed now, sleeping soundly, not getting terrorized by a senile poltergeist and his water gun of doom.

I sat in my puddle, arms around my knees; unable to do anything as I watched Peeves assault the first-years with his water gun.

“Aggy slipped and fell,
and now she’s on her bum,
Look at her, she seems so sad
And also kind of dumb!”


“PEEVES!” I screamed, struggling to a stand. “GO AWAY! GO AWAY...OR ELSE!”

Peeves cackled, obviously amused. “Or else what?”

“Or else...or else... I’ll...I’ll—“

“What is going on here?” A voice, so blood-chilling and eerie that it sent shivers down my spine, suddenly slid into my ear. I snapped my mouth shut and turned around to come face to face with the translucent form of the Bloody Baron.

Peeves lowered his water gun, the smile falling of his face almost instantly.

It was as if someone had hit the Pause button. The first-years were frozen, unmoving as they stared, awestruck, at the Bloody Baron. I felt goosebumps pebble my skin.

After a few minutes of just silence, Peeves, his voice tight, finally exclaimed, “Oh...Mr. Bloody Baron! Long time no talk! How are you, sir? Good, I hope, yes? Lovely weather we’re having, isn’t it? I just love it this time of year... Just the perfect temperature, not to warm, not to chilly, either— ”

The Bloody Baron’s gruesome face betrayed no emotion or feeling. He almost looked bored, as if this situation was a natural occurrence for him. As if it was everyday that Peeves flew around spraying innocent first-years and equally as innocent prefects with water guns. “You didn’t answer my question, Peeves. What are you doing?”

“Oh, nothing at all, your Bloodiness,” Peeves said nervously, fluttering and waving his hands about. “Nothing of any importance... I’m just, er, having a little bit of fun! We’re all having fun, in fact...Right, kiddies?”

No one replied.

The Bloody Baron’s pale gaze moved swiftly from Peeves, to his water gun, and then to the shivering figures of the first-years, who were dripping wet and clinging on to each other in a miserable fashion.

“Fun,” The Baron repeated flatly. “I see.”

He turned to me, and I felt a cold, undescribable feeling wrap around my heart. Even though the Bloody Baron had been the Slytherin patron ghost for the past four years, I was still afraid of him.

He didn’t say anything, just kept looking at me with those dead, hollow eyes. I didn’t know what to do...so I just kind of stared at the floor. It felt like he could see through me, could see into me, could see everything.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the Bloody Baron, his gaze not straying away from me, said, “Go make a nuisance of yourself somewhere else, Peeves. Leave these people in peace.” His voice was raspy, terrifying.

“Oh yes, of course, your Bloodiness, sir! Absolutely...yes, yes! Anything, for you!” Peeves stuttered, obviously flustered. He bowed so low his nose was practically brushing his shoes, and then, in a blink of an eye, was gone, zooming down the corridor.

A long silence stretched out, as the Bloody Baron just floated there, and the first-years gaped stupidly. I was surprised none of them had tried to escape yet. If I were them, I would have run off screaming like a madwoman as soon as I had gotten the chance.

“Er, thank you. Mr. Bloody Baron,” I finally said, trying as hard as possible to look anywhere besides the blood on his robes, or the chains dangling from his silver arms.

He didn’t say anything. Just looked at me, his eyes unreadable, and then turned around and floated off, melting into the nearest wall and disappearing.

I closed my eyes, my heart racing. That hadn’t happened, I told myself. None of this is real.

Maybe I was dreaming. Maybe Peeves...the watergun...the Bloody Baron...it was all just a bad nightmare. Maybe I had eaten too much cold pizza before going to bed, or something. Maybe, just maybe, if I closed my eyes long enough.... I would wake up and—

“Er, excuse me?” A small voice squeaked, and I felt a tug on the sleeve of my shirt. I snapped opened my eyes and glanced down to see a small first-year boy, eyes wide, hair dripping with water. “Commander Cool, can you...  can you...please show us to our dorms now?”
 
 “Er, yeah,” I said, not bothering to correct him about the nickname. Of course. This was real life. Not a dream. Who was I kidding?

Therapy is starting to sound like a really good idea right now.


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