Chapter 12 : Dizzying
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I wonder if it will hurt.
Getting brutally murdered by my DADA professor, I mean.
Seriously. Will I feel anything? Will there be a tunnel of light, some pearly white gates, the whole shebang? Or will it just be me, dead, my body rotting in the ground for the rest of eternity?
Actually, come to think of it, I want to be cremated. Yes, that sounds good. I could have a ceremony, or something. Friends and family could come and watch as my ashes are spread majestically over the ocean. Then, if this was a movie, there would be a little video montage of everybody elses' lives falling apart without me, accompanied by a Journey song playing in the background. My mother would fall into depression, Dom would become a raging alcoholic, and my brother would attempt to avenge my murder but, of course, fail and get thrown into Azkaban, where he would inevitably wind up becoming some ex-gang member's "bitch" because, let's face it, Aidan is definitely not suited for the dog-eat-dog lifestyle of the slammer.
Cut to the scene where, twenty years later, Ryan Fisher is sitting on his bed, weeping in despair as he gazes longingly at a smiling picture of me. Blackout. End of movie. Credits roll.
Really, dying wouldn't be so bad. At least its better than just sitting here in Nott's office, waiting for him to come back and decide what sort of cruel and agonizing punishment he's going to inflict upon my helpless soul. Honestly, I don't think I'm going to be able to go like this any longer.
I knew something was wrong the minute we walked into his office. He had been so blase' about the whole thing, simply gesturing for Potter and I to take a seat, and then—calmly, silently—he had just turned around and left the room, locking the door behind him.
He's probably sharpening his murder weapon as we speak.
Trying to be as discreet as possible, I shot a wayward glance at Potter, who was sitting in an identical chair to the right of me. So far, he hadn't shown any sign of worry or concern about my well-being. In fact, he looked almost bored.
I wonder if Potter will try and help when (because, let's be honest, it's going to happen sooner or later) Nott attacks me with his butcher's knife/chainsaw/bare hands. Maybe he will. Maybe he'll like, realize that our fighting is petty and meaningless when it comes down to it, and step in and be the hero, save the day.
Who am I kidding? He'll probably just stand there and laugh as I got bludgeoned to death.
Which is okay, really. I've come to terms with my death.
"So, who's ready to meet their demise?"
I wheeled around to see Nott, standing in the doorway—teeth returned to normal size—with an alarming, cheery smile on his face. His hands were clapped together, his expression sarcastically eager.
Neither of us replied.
Nott strode into his office, his posture relaxed and comfortable. He languidly paced the length of the small room, his hands behind his back and the same, strange grin on his face.
"C'mon, Two Shoes." He said, not even glancing at me as he took a seat behind his shiny, mahogany desk. His two feet seemed to fly up on their own accord, slamming down on the wood surface where his polished shoes left ugly, white scuff marks. I winced at the blatant show of furniture abuse and tried to keep my eye from twitching. "'Fess up. Who's responsible for all of this?"
"I-I—" It seemed as though my brain had packed up all its bags and left my body with nothing more than a hasty wave and a 'See you, sucker!' farewell. I couldn't speak. I couldn't even breathe.
I was going to be killed. Or worse, expelled.
"Don't worry." He said brightly, folding his hands behind his head. "I'm not going to murder you. Just your run o' the mill medieval torture, fifty or so lashes, some time in the dungeons...And then you'll be free to go."
I was too busy trying to regain control of my bladder to reply.
"So." Nott dropped his feet off the desk and leaned in, a wry smile on his face. "Who started it?'
I did! I wanted to scream. It's all my fault, just kill me now and spare me the misery! But of course, my vocal cords seemed to have gotten themselves twisted into a nice, convenient little knot, and my mouth was about as dry as Potter's sense of humor.
Dear God, you could have given me blond hair. Or a cool talent, like singing or drawing or playing Quidditch. But no... You decide to grant me a crippling fear of authority figures instead. So, for that, I would like to say thanks, buddy. Really. I couldn't have done any of this without you.
Nott looked pointedly from me to Potter, who was slouched in his chair (his shirt still untucked!) with an unimpressed look on his face. I had to hand it to him, Potter was either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid.
I think it's the latter.
I opened my mouth to speak. This was it, I had to do the right thing. The urge to confess was gnawing at me from the inside. Must. Help. Teacher.
"I did it."
Nott's expression of shock was a mirror image of my own face as, simultaneously, the both of us swivelled our heads around to stared at Potter, who was looking all casual and relaxed as he leaned on the back legs of his chair, a quill twiddling between two fingers.
"What?" I croaked.
"I did it." Potter repeated, shifting his weight forward. The front legs of the chair fell back to the ground with a thud, and Potter slid the quill behind his ear in one fluid, flawless motion. "It was my fault... Bennett had nothing to do with it."
Okay, someone please hit me.
For the eleventyth time that day, I turned around to look at Potter. His shirt was rolled up to his elbows (honestly, I think this kid is having a contest to see how many dress-code rules he can break at once—or, how high he can get my blood pressure, is more like it), his arms were crossed, and one of his eyebrows was quirked upwards ever-so-slightly. He looked like the picture-perfect example of calm. It was unnerving. I mean, so far, I could only think of two possible explanations for this madness: a) Potter was stupider than I'd previously thought, or b) this was all part of some elaborate plan to...confuse me to death, or something.
Either way: what in sweet Circe's name was going on?
Nott seemed to take a few minutes to compose himself. I think that, like me, he had assumed that I would be the one to crack first and 'fess up. And, like me, he was now in a state of paralyzing shock.
Finally, our professor opened his mouth to speak. "Potter, yo--"
But before I could stop myself, I was talking again. I mean, I knew nothing good could ever come from me speaking, but it wasn't like that was going to stop me.
"Are you insane?"
"Well," Potter sounded amused. "The subject of insanity is all a bit relative, don't you think? I mean, if you put me next to, say, Professor McGonagall or Headmistress Vespertine, than the answer would be yeah, a little. But compared to someone like you? No. No, I'm not."
I blinked twice. "I'm taking that as a definite, resounding yes."
Nott, all the meanwhile, was sitting at his desk, growing increasingly frustrated with us hooligans. "That's enough!" He finally barked. "Now, Potter—"
"I know, I know." Potter said, sounding bored. "30 points docked from Gryffindor, two weeks worth of detention, and a suspension from Prefect duties. Can I go now?"
Our DADA professor gaped at us. "I—er—Two Shoes!" He snapped, his expression hardening in determination. "You can leave. But I want to..have a talk with you, Potter."
I stood shakily up from my chair, casting a last, hesitant glance at the two of them as I left the room. Potter taking the blame for me? Nott dismissing me without either verbally abusing me/docking points first? This was all so strange...What kind of parallel universe had I landed myself in?
I waited outside the door for Potter because of two reasons: number one, I was curious to see if he was going to come out with all of his limbs still intact, and number two, I was kind of planning to ambush him when he walked out of the office. You never know, maybe he'd get caught by surprise and...oh, I dunno, actually explain some of this to me.
It seemed like I had to wait forever and a day. When the mahogany door to Nott's office finally opened, I sprung out of the shadows (surprisingly agile) and pounced on Potter, like a graceful lioness leaping out of the grass to capture her prey, only...you know, less Lion King and more...uh, Annoyed Hormonal Teenage Girl (which I think is, in a way, even scarier).
Potter did not look impressed.
I stood in front of him, assuming my best Cat Woman stance, and gave him the mightiest You Die Now glare that I could muster.
He still did not look impressed.
"Bennett." He said, not even blinking as he closed the door behind him. "I knew you'd be here."
"Why did you do that?" I exclaimed before I could stop myself. The words were shriller and louder than I had intended them to be, and they echoed brashly off the stone walls of the corridor. I cringed on the inside, slightly embarrassed by my volume.
"Do what?" Potter asked. For someone with a one-digit IQ, he could feign innocence remarkably well.
"Oh, don't play stupid with me. I mean, I know you're good at it, but seriously. Spare me the grief."
Without bothering to reply, Potter began to walk down the corridor, an obnoxious, barely noticeable smirk tugging at his lips. I followed him, quickening my pace so that I could catch up with his long strides.
It was now officially dark out. The navy-cobalt sky shone through nearby windows, staining the cracked stone floors with a cool, almost translucent shade of blue. Shadows crept out of corners, sinister and hulking as they slowly leaked into sight, and the moon dangled precariously above the horizon, yellow and bloated.
The entire castle suddenly seemed to turn quiet in an eerie, muffled sort of way. Each sound was muted and dim, creaks and cracks no longer sharp and crisp, but instead softened, as if someone was smothering all the noises with a pillow in an effort to silence them. It gave me the urge to tiptoe, to be soft and delicate and whisper lullabies.
"Potter." I said firmly, tearing through the strange quietness in order to speak. "What was that back there, in Nott's office? Why...why did you do that?"
He didn't reply, just quickened his pace and kept on walking. Together but apart, we pushed through the dark, shadowy corridors, sloshing through puddles of moonlight as we tried to find our way amidst the countless number of twists and turns.
"Potter." I repeated in a more demanding tone.
He didn't reply.
"Potter." I hissed again, this time giving him a nice shove in the shoulder for added emphasis.
He stopped abruptly and sighed. "Look Bennett, I know you're not good at this whole 'social interactions' thing, but when a person continues to ignore you for a long period of time, it generally means that they want you to stop talking. Like now, for example."
"Har dee har har. Have you ever tried stand-up comedy before, Potter? You'd be good at it."
He gave a little shrug. "Well, I'm good at everything, so..."
"Answer the question."
"Why should I?"
"Why should you? Why should you?" I spluttered. "Because—because... you have to! You..."
He sighed, "Let it go, Bennett."
"No!" For some reason, I couldn't just 'let it go'. I had to know. Maybe it was silly, but my gut was telling my brain that this was important.
"Okay, fine, Bennett. You want to know why?"
"Um, yes!" Wasn't that what I had been telling him all along?
"It's because I'm in love with you."
Before I could properly react, Potter had suddenly closed the distance between us and was cupping my face in his hands. I could feel his palms, calloused but warm, against my skin, and I was suddenly aware that every detail of his face was visible to me now. The tiny scar above his eyebrow, thrown into clarity by the silver moonlight... His hazel eyes, dark and bright all at the same time... I was motionless. I couldn't even blink.
"That's right." Potter murmured, and his eyes seemed to...liquefy, almost. "For years, I have been yearning for you, Agatha Bennett. And I had hoped that if I gallantly swooped in and saved you from the wrath of our DADA professor, you would realize your undying love for me. And then you'd throw yourself into my arms, and we'd elope from the castle and go to some place like Tahiti, where we would have an impromptu wedding on the beach shortly before riding away into the ocean the backs of two dolphins. Not porpoises, mind you. Dolphins."
"Wh—?" I began to say, but Potter placed a slender finger on my lips and leaned in closer. It was from combined effects of Potter's finger on my lips and the proximity of our faces that I promptly shut up.
"Shh." He said, his voice taking on a strange, dramatic—almost romantic—quality to it. "Before you say anything, let me just tell you this. The way your bushy hair seems to come alive in the moonlight, the way you always act like you've smelled something foul whenever I come in close contact with you..." He paused, and then his voice changed back to it's normal, sarcastic tone. "It's a big turn on. Really."
And then he was letting go of me and walking away.
It took me a minute to realize that he had been kidding this whole time.
And then I got angry.
"Potter!" I said, hurrying to catch up with him. "I can't believe you, you...you..."
He stopped and wheeled around to look at me. "Prat? Prick? Idiot? Moron? Take your pick."
"I—Ugh, I hate you!"
"Good. We're on the same page, then." He said offhandedly, beginning to walk away again. I didn't follow after him, this time. Instead, I just stood there in the middle of the corridor like an idiot, my heartbeat ringing furiously in my ears.
"You know what, Potter?" I shouted after him. "You are the most annoying, thoughtless person I have ever met! You only care about yourself, never about how anyone else is feeling! You're selfish and mean and I--I hope you fall off a cliff! No, I hope y—"
But I stopped because, all of a sudden, Potter was turning around and marching right back towards me. There was a determined, sort of angry glint glowing inside his eyes, and it was so vivid that it made me take a few step backwards.
"You want to know the real reason why I saved your arse in there, Bennett?" He snapped, his face twisting with malice.
"Yes!" I snarled, throwing my hands in the air. "Enlighten me!"
He was now standing in front of me, almost as close as we had been before. But I didn't back away this time. I stared up at him determinedly, my fists clenched by my sides as I tried to hide my confusion.
"It's because I'm a nice human being."
"Huh?" What was Potter talking about? I could barely imagine him as a human being, let alone the 'nice' part.
Potter's jaw was clenched, his eyes burning bright. The lines of his face seemed harsher almost, etched in silver from the milky light that shone out of a nearby window.
For a minute, he looked like he was going to yell at me. Like, seriously yell and scream and shout at me. But then, Potter seemed to sort of just....deflate a little. The anger on his face melted away, and he composed himself a bit. When he spoke, his voice was softer. "You care more than I do." He said. "About points, and detentions, and prefect duties. You actually think it's important. I don't. I figured that if you got in trouble and had your prefects' badge taken away, you'd be...well, crushed, really. And as I said, I don't really care about that stuff, and you do...so...do you see where I'm coming from, Bennett?"
There was something crackling in the air. I could feel it. Energy, really, pulsing and thrumming and alive. It danced, tingly and effervescent, on top my skin. The world was in perfect alignment as we stood there, held in our places by the force that shivered between us.
"What are you saying, Potter? That you did this...for me?" I asked weakly. "So that I wouldn't get...in trouble?"
"Merlin, you're daft. Of course that's what I'm saying!"
So he took one for the team. Well, for me, really. I had thought that Potter had been hiding some secret agenda, an evil plot or a malicious scheme...But I had been wrong. Way wrong.
I couldn't think of anything to say. Potter could have just stood by and watched as I crashed and burned in Nott's office...but he didn't. He...he...
"You helped me." I said, ever-so-intelligently.
"Jesus, Bennett. Stop looking at me like I'm a fucking martyr or something. I know it's hard to remember sometimes, but I'm human, you know. I am capable of compassion."
Well, that's news to me.
There was a slight pause before I spoke again. "Um, er, are you still a prefect?" I asked.
He laughed coldly, his expression shifting to a bitter sort of grimness. "No, not anymore."
So, Potter wasn't a prefect. He would have to hand his badge back. A letter was going to be sent home. No more patrolling, no more docking points. All that would be left to remind anyone of Potter's prefect days would be a little, tiny blip on his academic record.
That could have happened to me. It should have happened to me.
I wanted to say something nasty. Maybe insulting Potter would make me feel less...Guilty. Ashamed. But when I opened my mouth, nothing came out. The usual mass of comebacks and insults that I kept at hand when Potter was around was gone.
He rolled his eyes. "You're welcome. Just...don't let it get to your head. This doesn't mean that I tolerate you, or anything."
And with that, he turned around and walked away from me for the last time that evening.
The next couple of days passed by in a blur, until, finally, Hogsmeade weekend arrived.
Dom, it turns out, had found a date. Foster Matthews. I didn't know much about him, except for the fact that he was a Hufflepuff Sixth Year. I wasn't really that thrilled about the whole situation (it would mean that I'd have to spend Hogsmeade alone and pathetic-looking) but Dom herself was over the moon. It gave her some leverage over Aidan, she said. Whatever that meant.
It was really blustery and windy that day. After being poked, prodded, and just basically flat-out assaulted by Mr. Filch, us students trudged down the path towards Hogsmeade Village, our scarves wrapped hastily around our faces in order to banish out the cold.
I slipped and skidded on slippery red leaves, huddling into myself as the wind dragged my hair free from it's hat. Dom had disappeared a few minutes ago, probably in search of her date, so I was left to brave the walk alone.
Well, sort of alone.
I felt a warm hand grab my shoulder, and tilted my head to see Aidan's jovial face peering down at me. His blue eyes (only one shade darker than mine) were bright and dancing.
"Hey, Aidan." I said, slightly tiredly. "How goes it?"
He smiled, but the light in his eyes seemed to dim a little. "Good."
Since there was nothing I could truly say back, I just sort of nodded awkwardly and continued to walk down the path, Aidan falling in step next to me.
"So..." My brother said, clearing his throat. "I heard Dom has a date to Hogsmeade..."
I rolled my eyes. Of course. I haven't seen my brother in days, and when he finally decides to speak to me, its only because I'm the sole person out there who has enough patience (and tuning-out ability) to listen to his Dominique-obsessed ranting.
Really, I shouldn't have expected anything else.
"Look, Aidan, not to sound rude or anything but...Why do you care?"
Aidan's lips stretched into a thin, straight line, the way they always did when he was annoyed. "I don't. It's just that...you know, it was a bit of a surprise to see her move on that quickly."
Slowly, I felt myself getting more and more irritated. On behalf of Dom, on behalf of myself, on behalf of everything... "So? You're one to talk. You have a date with Margaret Corner."
Aidan blinked, his face slackening. "Um. No...I don't."
"No. Why would you think that?"
"Well, s-someone told us that you were, and... you, er, grazed her arm in Potions that one day, and w-we had thought y-you..." Now that I could hear the words come stumbling out of my mouth, everything seemed so silly all of a sudden. I felt a warm blush creep across my cheeks, and I fidgeted uncomfortably with the collar of my jacket. Why had I been so quick to jump to conclusions? Merlin, I was an idiot.
Realization seemed to dawn on Aidan. Slowly, his eyebrows tilted upwards in a display of understanding. "I'm not, Agatha. I'm not taking Margaret to Hogsmeade."
Before I could open my mouth to spew forth that hasty string of apologies that sat heavily on my tongue, Aidan was already speaking again.
"But, you know, that gives me an idea..." He said, a small smile growing on his face.
My stomach dropped. Oh great. Usually, Aidan's ideas meant one of the following: a) physical injury/hospitalization, b) emotional scarring, c) jail time, or d) someone getting covered in food. I mean, I have found myself the accessory--the unwilling partner-in-crime--for Aidan and his crazy whims on a countless number of occasions. Let's see...there had been that one time where we had tried to throw a surprise party for our high-blood pressured neighbor (that had been letter a), or the 'episode' (that was what the police had called it) with the girl scout cookies (letter b)...and also the Great Cantaloupe Incident of 2015 (letter d).
None of these things had ended spectacularly for any of us. So you can see why I wasn't too thrilled about the proverbial light bulb going off above Aidan's head at the moment.
But before I could even protest, Aidan was jogging away, the cogs in his mind whirling with thoughts that were too troublesome--and too abundant--for their own good.
An hour later, I trudged—all by my lonesome—through the cobblestone streets of the Hogsmeade Village, hugging my coat to my frame as I shivered in the cold.
I had spent most of my time in Scrivenshaft's, buying a few new quills and some parchment. But after my shopping had finished, I had no real place to go. The Three Broomsticks
offered no refuge from the cold—it was far too crowded in there, and the Hogs Head was a bit too shady for my liking. And don't even get me started on Madam Puddifoots. Yeah, right.
So I strolled (well, more like slipped and slid) down the winding Hogsmeade path, gazing aimlessly at shop windows and the random couples that wandered by hand-in-hand. Briefly, I wondered how Dom's date was going, and what Aidan was scheming. But then I pushed those unnerving thought sout of my brain, trying to focus on more happy subjects. Subjects that wouldn't induce a case of early onset cardiac arrest.
I was about to just give up, turn around, and brave the Hog's Head, when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted two figures standing by the forest.
You see, there's an area at the edge of Hogsmeade that is just purely woods. Usually no one goes near it, since there isn't much except trees, trees, some grass, and more trees. So it was slightly strange, you can probably imagine, to see two people—tall and boyish-looking people—loitering near the forest's edge. In fact, it was so strange that, my prefect's senses kicking in, I swivelled around and started walking towards the area, just to...you know, check it out and stuff.
It only took me a few minutes to recognize two figures as none other than Freddy and Potter. Which didn't surprise me, really. Of course they were up to no good...The only question was...where was Aidan?
The two of them were huddled behind a tree, their backs facing me. They seemed to be conversing in hushed, rapid tones, their whispers floating in the air between them, dancing on the verge of clarity before melting back into that same, quiet murmur. I hastened to them, pushing my hair out of my face and trying to look as brusque and business-like as possible.
"Fred? Potter?" I called. "What's going on?"
The two of them whipped around, lightning fast, at the sound of my voice. Fred's face betrayed his guilt, but Potter's expression was as cold and unassuming as possible.
"Nothing." They chorused at the same time, so ridiculously simultaneous that it was almost as if they had practised.
I shot them A Look. "Yeah right. Where's Aidan?"
Fred's rigid posture relaxed. "He ditched us awhile back. He said he had some plan or idea or something."
Potter nodded. "You can probably find him at the Hogs Head."
Translation: Leave. Now.
I ignored his subliminal messaging, and instead inched forward, trying to peer over one of the boys' shoulders. But of course, I couldn't see. Drats. When had they gotten so tall?
"So... Whatcha guys doing?" I said, trying to sound as cheerful and innocent as possible.
"Nothing." Fred said nervously, twitching slightly. "Well, not completely nothing. I mean, we're breathing, aren't we?" The fidgeting increased as he rambled on, his pupils darting back and forth and landing on everything but me. "Actually, the process of respiration is incredibly complicated. You see, the oxygen flows down the trachea, going towards the bronchi and bronchioles, before—WE'RE SPYING ON ROSE AND SCORPIUS, PLEASE DON'T HURT US!"
Potter sighed and muttered a very swear bad word. I stared at the both of them, arching an eyebrow.
Potter grimaced. Obviously, the jig was up for the both of them. Placing my hands on my hips, I tapped my foot against the ground and turned my glare from the boys to the trees of the forest.
Finally, Fred decided to elaborate. "Rose and Scorpius. They were on a date...and the slimy git took her to the forest! So we decided to go follow and spy on them. You know, to make sure he doesn't try anything fishy." He paused, a frown creasing his smooth brow. "Except we can't see them properly, 'cause of all the trees... Curse you, foliage. Always getting in the way..." He muttered the last part under his breath angrily, as if he had some sort of long-standing, personal vendetta.
Speaking of which, who even uses the word 'foliage' (besides Freddy, of course)? I mean, are you really so snooty that you need to over-complicate and snob-ify such a simple concept as the word 'trees'?
I opened my mouth to retort, but Potter had interrupted us (of course).
"Mate," He said. "Who even uses the word foliage?"
While I tried to ignore the complete and total weirdness of what had just happened, Fred shook his head eagerly, his lips pursed in a thoughtful manner.
"If only there was some way we could see above everything." Freddy said, his words lingering and deliberately drawn out. "Maybe if one of us climbed a tree..."
He turned to look at Potter pointedly, his eyebrows arched meaningfully. Potter, in turn, threw his hands up in the air and took a step backwards.
"Don't look at me. These tree's are flimsy..."
He was right. The trees—if they could even be called that...they were more like little sticks poking out of the ground than anything else—were frail and brittle, probably from old age and the arriving autumn season. If Fred or Potter tried to climb one of those things, well, the outcome would not be good.
I tilted my head to the ground and smiled to myself, internally chuckling at the two buffoons' and their predicament. Honestly. It was just Rose and Scorpius. They were Third Years, for Jupiters' sake. The worst thing Scorpius would be able to do was probably teach Rose a scandalous swear word or two.
Still staring at the ground beneath me, I frowned. It had gotten eerily quiet, all of a sudden. Too quiet. Whipping my head upwards, I realized that both Fred and Potter were staring at me with identical, very-very-bad looks on their faces.
"James, ol' chap... Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
I looked at them incredulously. "You want me to climb those trees? Are you kidding?"
I was about to turn around and march away, when all of a sudden Potter sighed. "See? I knew she'd never go for it."
I stopped in my tracks and swivelled around to face Potter. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing," Potter shrugged as Fred snickered besides him. "It's just that...well, you're a Slytherin, is all."
The way he said the word 'Slytherin' as if it was some sort of disease made my blood boil with anger. He was acting as if being a Slytherin was the wort possible position to be in... It made me so angry, hearing him say those things in that smug tone of his...
I gritted my teeth together, trying to quench my fury. 'Forget it,' I told myself, 'He's just trying to get under your skin...'
'And it's working...' The logical part of my brain hissed into my ear, it's slithering voice dripping with a sick, sadistic sort of pleasure in being correct (as usual). I shivered, trying to ignore it all, but couldn't get Potter's nagging words out of my head.
He thought I was a coward. He thought I was incapable.
"Just forget it," Potter sighed. "She'd never—"
But Potter stopped speaking because all of a sudden, I was marching past him and Freddy and grabbing onto the lowest branch of the first tree behind them. Placing my right foot on the trunk, I pushed off and used that momentum to hurl myself upward.
I don't know why I was doing it. Maybe it was because I wanted to prove Potter wrong. Or maybe it was because Potter had saved me back there in Nott's office, and I didn't feel like owing him. Either way, I suddenly found myself shimmying up a tree trunk in nothing but ratty old jeans and a wool coat. I had to admit, I felt a little ridiculous, but the shell-shocked expressions that pulled on Potter and Fred's faces as they gazed up at me were so worth it.
I gripped the frail, delicate branches of the tree gingerly, trying to find my way among all the dangling leaves and wiry twigs. My breath came out in short gasps, fogging up in the cool, crisp air. I'd never really climbed a tree before, but I'd watched Aidan do it millions of times and knew what to do. Stick to the sturdier branches. Find good footholds. Always stay near the trunk.
Finally, when I was as far up as I could possibly go, I peered down at the view spread out beneath me and smiled. There was a sense of triumph welling up inside me, at finally being able to defy Potter's expectations. In that moment, it was my tree, my Hogsmeade, my world. I could do anything.
Squinting my eyes, I could spot Rose and Scorpius standing somewhere deeper into the forest. The sunlight glinted off Scorpius' ridiculous helmet hair like a beacon. From what I could see, they both looked relaxed and happy. Scorpius was sticking true to the old-school kindergarten rule and keeping his hands to himself. Potter and Fred had nothing to worry about.
I was about to start climbing down, when, suddenly, a sickening, cracking noise splintered through the air.
Time seemed to freeze, and then I was tumbling through the air. Down, down, down, everything around me a haze of blue and green, earth veering out of control.
I landed on the ground with a harsh thud and a loud yelp of pain. Wincing, I lay there for a moment, motionless as I stared straight ahead. Six different versions of the sky swam in front of me in a dizzying, swirling pattern. Owww...
I heard the distant sound of footfalls and groaned. It was probably Fred and Potter, coming to gloat and laugh. I was never going to live this down...
At the sound of a voice, I slowly glanced upwards to see four Rose Weasleys and two Scorpius Malfoys peering at me in what I think was a concerned manner. I dunno, I was sort of too disorientated from all the pain and agony to tell.
"Agatha Bennett? What are you doing here?"
Sweet Merlin's bowel movements, how do I get myself into these situations?
A/N: Woah, so it's like Characters Gone Wild in this chapter!
I'm serious... What did you think of Potter's completely out of blue—gasp!—niceness? And Agatha's crazy urge to climb trees? Wacky, eh?
I'm really sorry for the terrible wait, but school has just been so hectic lately. Hopefully, updates will become more frequent as I get used to the flow of things.
Also, I just created a Meet the Author page. So...you know, if you have enough time you can hop on over and ask me a question. Or...you know, don't. That's cool too. ;)
Anyways, thanks for reading and (hopefully) reviewing!
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