Chapter 9 : Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Puff
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December comes quick and snowy in the next few weeks. Lately it seems that every morning there is a new coating of snow on the grounds; almost as if a giant came along and dumped marshmallow cream topping all over Hogwarts. It’s been one of the snowiest winters we’ve had in ages. This made it sort of difficult for Al's and my project to grow. Our final mark was an average ‘acceptable,’ which, to be honest, was rather kind...seeing as our plants had each turned black and withered by the end.
Dara’s parents have finally gotten divorced. She cried for a few days, but has since seemed to have gotten over it. She’s spending Christmas with her mum and The New Year with her dad. It’s not that I don’t feel bad for her, but the way I see it is that at least she has parents to go home to. Rose has been substantially more helpful in the comfort department, something I was surprised by. I guess they’ve finally moved on from their little quarrel, but I still think there’s some bitterness there.
Meanwhile, I have been spending many a late night up on the Astronomy Tower with Fred and James, scheming. Oh, and I mustn’t forget fourth year Liam Scott, our scapegoat. He had agreed to join our anti-Ivy efforts one morning when we were telling Lily about all the ideas we have so far. She was, of course, very interested in what we were doing, and he seemed to notice. I suppose he wants to prove himself.
“I’m fr-freezing,” he says, shivering. We are sitting on the Astronomy Tower brainstorming, late on Monday night. Fred has laid out a long roll of parchment for us to make notes on.
“Ah, man up, would you?” James snaps at Liam. It’s blatantly obvious that James hates Liam’s guts for going out with his little sister.
Liam’s lips are turning blue and I can see in his eyes that he wishes he had never agreed to this. I have to admit, it’s icing pretty hard and the wind is frigid.
“N-now,” chatters Fred through his Gryffindor scarf, “If th-this is g-going to work, th-then someone’s going to n-need to d-dig up some d-dirt on Ivy.”
“L-leave it to me,” James mutters, make a note on the parchment. The wind is whistling around us.
“I’ll wr-write to dad tomorrow,” Fred says. “You know, t-to ask for everything we n-need.”
“I d-don’t get it,” Liam says gruffly. “Where do I come in on all this?”
“Q-quit complaining,” James hisses. “You’re the look-out, and I’ll n-need your help d-digging up some d-dirt on the s-slimewad.” He seems disgruntled by having to ask for a ‘traitor’s’ help. He pulls his Quidditch Captain’s hat down over his ears.
“Laney,” Fred says, turning to me, “you’ll be in charge of l-learning the enchantments, okay?”
“No problem,” I say, feeling the icy air whoosh in as I open my mouth for the first time in an hour.
“That’s settled then,” James says, rolling up the parchment and tucking it away into his robes. “It’s about midnight, b-better get back to the Common Room or else McCollough’ll be on our arses.”
Silently, we creep through the castle and over to The Fat Lady. “Galloping Gargoyles,” Fred whispers and the portrait swings open. We mutter goodnights and head up to our dormitories. I can tell my roommates are still awake by the flickering glow I see underneath our door.
“Hello, Laney,” Chaz says as I enter the room. She glances at her watch. “Wow, you were out late!”
I laugh awkwardly. “Yeah, just a bit of late night studying.”
Ivy scoffs. I raise my eyebrows at her.
“I’m sorry, but did I ask for your opinion?” I ask her in a condescending tone.
“Been snogging Al in then corridors, have you?” she snaps, clutching the enormous bruise on her forehead.
“As a matter of fact,” I say, considerably more stable after noticing how many bruises my spell gave her, “I was.”
“Go to hell,” she hisses, yanking her hangings closed.
“So long as you’re around, I’m already in it,” I reply, slipping into my pajamas. Chaz looks uncomfortable.
“Where are Rose and Dara?” I ask, glancing toward the toilets.
“The loo,” she responds, opening a book.
That’s a bit weird. I mosey on over to the bathroom and knock on the door. Rose opens it looking flustered, but before I can so much as open my mouth, she grabs me by the scruff of my pajamas and pulls me in. Her face is a pale green and she’s biting her lip.
“What’s up?” I ask, a little afraid of the answer.
“I’ve - I’ve messed up, Laney,” her voice shakes as she says this.
“Rose, what’s going on? And where’s...Dara...” With a scary dawn of realization, I gulp. “...Merlin, you didn’t...?”
She swallows thickly, looking like she might be sick, and nods. My jaw drops.
Oh my Merlin - Rose murdered Dara!
Slowly, she walks over to the shower and pulls the curtain open.
“Leaping lizards!” I cry out in shock, stumbling backwards and getting tangled in the shower curtain.
I have good reason, too, because there in the shower lies a very un-Dara-ish Dara; she’s balding, covered from head-to-toe in flaming red pustules, her skin is purple, her nose is a pig snout, and her arms have shrunk ten sizes.
“I know!” Rose wails, clutching her face. “...all my fault!”
“It’s - I - what in the name of Merlin?” I can hardly find two words to put together.
“She has a b-bit of a cold!” Rose moans through her hands.
“What does that have to do with anything?” I ask, positively horrified by the drunken figure laying in the shower.
“I t-tried to give her some medicine, but it didn’t help, s-so I asked her if I c-could try out this n-new spell to c-cure her...” She sobs harder than ever.
“Just breathe, Rose,” I say, averting my eyes from the monster that was once Dara. “I don’t understand. You’re great at magic! What went wrong?”
Tears swallow her eyes. She’s so helpless looking - like someone just came along and kicked a puppy.
“That’s just it!” she cries. “I don’t know! Nothing like this has ever happened to me before....I must have recited the incantation wrong! Oh Laney, I don’t know what to do!”
“We’ve got to take her to Madame Smitty!” I say, thinking of the Hospital Wing.
“No!” she says, horror struck. “I’d be in so much trouble - trying to do a complex bit of healing by myself!”
“Well, we can’t just leave her in here!”
“I know, I know!” she says frantically. She’s clearly torn between Dara’s safety and her reputation as a spotless student. She chews her lip. I scrutinize her. “Oh, all right!” she says in defeat. “Help me lift her, she’s not in her right mind...she was mumbling something about Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans a few minutes ago....”
“We’ll use magic, Rose,” I say, shaking my head. “I’m not touching that.”
Rose rolls her eyes and quickly casts the spell. As we levitate her towards the door, Rose gasps. “Oh no! You have to distract Chaz and Ivy! Ivy loathes Dara, she’ll spread this all over the school if she sees her in such a state.”
I nod. “You’re right. Give me two minutes.”
I slip through the bathroom door and think on my feet. “Hey, Ivy!” I say, drawing both Ivy and Chaz’s attention.
Ivy rips her curtains open. “What?” she snaps.
I grin, pointing my wand at her face. “Confundo, you slag.” Ivy’s eyes fall out of focus.
I turn to Chaz, “So sorry about this.” Her eyes widen. “Confundo,” I murmur. “All right, Rose, you can come on out.”
Rose comes slowly out of the toilets, Dara levitating in her wake. “Confuond them?” she asks. I nod. She sighs and I can tell she deeply disapproves.
We creep down the girls’ staircase and into the Common Room where Rose let’s Dara drop into a squashy arm chair. “That’s harder than it looks,” she mutters. “You really have to focus....Do you know how to do it? Maybe you could help,” she asks.
I shake my head vigorously. “Hell no, I hardly have the disarming spell down.”
She bites her lip. “I guess I could try and levitate her all the way up to the Hospital Wing - so long as we take frequent breaks...”
“No, no,” I say, wishing I could help her. Why wasn’t I borne a better witch? Then something dawns on me. “I’ve had an idea...Al.”
“What?” she says.
“Al,” I repeat. “He’s brilliant at this sort of thing. I’ll go get him - you stay here.” I run up the boys’ stairs leaving Rose in the Common Room. I search for the door labeled ‘fifth years’ and slowly push it open. I peek through the crack in the doorway, squinting into the dark room. Everyone is sound asleep except one boy, whose wand tip is ignited. It’s clearly Albus by the way the light is glinting off of his spectacles. Trying not to make too much noise, I push the door wide open, letting the light from the corridor flood in. Al’s head snaps up and he looks at me quizzically. I frantically gesture at him to come with me. He nods, looking slightly startled. A second later he’s out in the corridor with me.
“It’s Dara,” I whisper. “Rose tried a spell to cure her head cold and it’s made her go all funny.”
“What? How?” he asks.
“I don’t know,” I say, crinkling my forehead. “She reckons that she recited the incantation wrong. Point is, we need your help levitating her to the Hospital Wing.”
“Of course,” he says immediately.
“Thanks,” I sigh. “They’re in the Common Room. Come on.”
We hurry down the stairs and over to Rose, who’s looking uneasily at a very purple Dara.
“Holy hell!” Al says, eyes popping as he sees Dara.
“I’m such an idiot!” Rose sobs.
Eyes still glued to Dara, he puts his arm around Rose’s shoulders. “We better get her to the Hospital Wing,” he mutters. Rose nods, wiping her eyes. They both help levitate her behind us as quietly as possible through the portrait hole and into the sleeping castle.
“I’m so sorry,” Rose whimpers. “If we get caught I swear that I will take full responsibility!”
Al shakes his head. “Don’t be stupid, you were just trying to help her.”
Rose hesitates and then mumbles something about how much homework she has to do still.
Al stops very abruptly and Dara ker-plunks onto the ground. “You were trying to help her, weren’t you?”
Once again, Rose looks like she might explode with waterworks.
What the hell is with all the crying this year? It’s exhausting.
“I ― I just wanted to get her back!” she wails, clutching her face. “She was horrible t-to me at that party! I n-never asked for something like th-that to happen!” She sobs uncontrollably.
“Rose!” Al says, shocked.
“I n-never meant for th-this to happen,” she moans. “I j-just wanted to g-give her a bad h-hair day.”
“I thought everything was fine between you two?” I ask skeptically.
“I th-thought so too,” she cries. “B-but then I s-saw her with her head cold and I th-thought of a spell to m-make her hair frizzy, b-but it backfired! I feel awful!” Her cries are so loud that I have to cringe away at first.
Al and I exchange worried looks. “Listen, Rose,” he says, putting his hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay. People make mistakes, and you obviously learned from it. However, you may actually have to put that full responsibility thing to work if you don’t stop crying so loud.”
She gives a hiccuping laugh and quiets down.
I look around. “Actually, you could probably cry as loud as you want. Anyone sees her,” I gesture to Dara, “then they’re gone for good.”
We enter the Hospital Wing fifteen minutes later, exasperated from climbing so many staircases.
“Good dear!” Madame Smitty exclaims as we point to Dara. We had knocked on her office door and she came out in a nightgown, completely alarmed. “My, my! What in Merlin’s name have you done to this poor girl?”
Rose bursts into tears. “I’m sorry ― it’s all my f-fault! I was ―”
“She was just trying to heal her head cold,” Al interjects. Rose looks gratefully at him.
Madame Smitty gives her a stern look. “That type of magic is too advanced for a fifth year!” she says angrily. “I’ll have to notify the Headmaster.” Rose gives a squeak. “Now levitate her to the bed.”
Once Dara is being tended to, Madame Smitty distractedly snaps over her shoulder, “Young lady, sit in my office and wait for Professor Shacklebolt.” Rose goes pale and Al pats her on the shoulder.
“You two,” Madame Smitty says to Al and I, “out! You’ll get in the way! OUT!”
“Best of luck,” I murmur to Rose, and Al and I hurry out of the Hospital Wing. “I’m exhausted,” I mutter as we walk down the corridor. “ I’m worried about Dara, she didn’t look so good. And you can’t forget Rose, she’s really in for it.” I frown. “You don’t think she’ll get expelled?”
“Of course not,” Al says confidently, but I notice him looking at me in an odd sort of way. Is that...eagerness?
“I can’t believe all this drama,” I sigh. “It’s all because of Ivy, I reckon.” I scowl at the stone floor. “I wish I could just - I dunno, click the reset button on this whole term.”
“I don’t,” Al says thoughtfully.
I look at my feet. “Well, you haven’t really messed up like I have, have you?”
“No, I’ve messed up.” He pauses, “But I dunno what I’d do without all those memories from being with you.”
I falter, feeling sick. I sense the blush come on faster than my broom can fly.
He smiles at me. There’s that eager look again.
I cough a little awkwardly. “Right. Did you turn in that Arithmancy assignment? Hard stuff, I thought.” He looks at me, his expression a mixture of anxiety and frustration. “Ahem, oh look, it’s a suit of armour!” I point to a metal knight and as we pass by, it gives me a rude hand gesture. “Oh my, that wasn’t too friendly. Crazy stuff here, right? Just mad. I mean it is a castle, after all.” Merlin, I am babbling like an idiot. “Suits of armour, talking portraits.... Isn’t magic just great? Just spiffy, really. I wonder what ―”
Like a bolt of lightning Al grabs my shoulders, twirls me against the stone wall and looks me in the eye. I’m so taken by this swift action that I just stand there with my mouth hanging open.
“Al ―” I start, but he’s staring at me so deeply, frustration written on every feature of his face, that I cannot speak.
“I can’t read you, Laney.”
I look up at him and smile.
“So I’ve been told,” I mutter, my mind straying to the recent conversation with Jeremy Something in detention.
Oh Merlin, his face is so close to mine....
“Why can’t I understand you?” He’s looking intently at me. “I don’t know what you want, or what to give you.”
I squish my eyebrows together. “All you have to do is ask.”
His eyes twinkle. He’s leaning in closer. “Tell me,” he says. I can feel his breath on my cheek ―
A booming chuckle causes us to fly apart, startled. It’s Headmaster Shacklebolt and he’s wearing a long midnight bathrobe and smiling at us. “On your way to the Common Room, I hope?” he asks in a deep voice.
“Y-yes,” I say, gathering myself.
“Sorry Professor,” Al says awkwardly. Both of our faces are bright red.
“Move along then,” Shacklebolt says with a small smile. “I’ve got to go have a chat with Miss Weasley, myself. Wouldn’t want students in the corridors...”
We nod and head quickly out of sight.
We streak down the corridors and burst into laughter. I giggle so hard that I have to stop and lean on the wall in fear of falling over. I clutch my stomach, tears in my eyes and I can tell Al is in the same boat. After a few minutes of collecting ourselves, we watch each other silently, leaning against the wall on opposite sides of the corridor.
“Laney,” Al says rather suddenly. “I’m glad I’ve gotten to know you this year. I wouldn’t take it back for anything.”
My face burns. “Me either,” I say, smiling.
“Really, I would never regret becoming friends. Never.”
I don’t know what to say so I just smile.
He walks toward me, holding out his hand. “Come on, I’ll walk you back to the Common Room.”
I smile, taking his hand. “Lead the way.”
“And that was it. He just walked me back to the Common Room and we parted.” I’m sitting cross-legged at the foot of Dara’s bed and explaining to her, Rose, and Lily about the night’s events. Because of Rose’s improper use of magic, she is now serving a four day detention of doing busy work for Madame Smitty in the Hospital Wing.
“Well, if you got to hold hands with Al at my expense, then I think I’m okay with that,” Dara says, nodding. Her voice is still a little bit hoarse, but besides that, she is back to normal. She’s even estimating she’ll be out of the Hospital Wing for Hogsmeade this Saturday. Of course, nearly everyone wants to go to Hogsmeade this weekend; not only is it going to be great to get out of school, but Fred, James, Liam, and I are finally pulling our alleged prank on the Ivy-osaurus that night in the Common Room. I have even persuaded Daniel to make sure she goes to Hogsmeade this weekend so we can catch her as she’s coming back to the Common Room. It’s going to be an epidemic.
“Oh Dara, please don’t say that!” Rose moans. Dara looks annoyed. I don’t blame her either, because ever since the events of two nights ago when Rose ‘accidentally’ mangled her features, there has been an unrelenting stream of pity from the same very apologetic girl.
“What has it been like around him since that night?” Lily asks me excitedly. She has been positively giddy since I explained to her about the very confusing thing going on between me and Al.
“Well, he keeps smiling at me, that’s for certain,” I say, grinning a little. “You know, at Quidditch practice, Defense class, lunch, that sort of thing.”
“That’s so great,” Rose says, smiling as she magics the potion bottles clean.
“So,” Lily prompts, a sneaky smile creeping up her lips, “the prank. You wanna give us a go?”
Rose drops what she’s doing and sits down next to Lily. They are all looking eagerly at me.
I shake my head. “Sorry, that’s between Fred, James, Liam, and I.”
“No!” Dara squeals. “Why not?”
“Because,” I reply smartly, “if word got around what I’m doing to her before hand, it would all blow up in our faces.” I give a sly smile. “And it’s good.”
They all squeak excitedly.
“It’s legal, I hope?” Rose asks a little skeptically. As much as she has tried to be a part of my anit-Ivy efforts, I can she still feels slightly uncomfortable with the idea of deliberately breaking rules. Though, she doesn’t have much of a clean record anymore either, does she?
“Yeah, yeah, keep your head on,” I grumble.
“Visitors after hours!” Madame Smitty shrieks as she enters the room. She points at Lily and I. “Out! OUT!”
On Wednesday morning I stride down to the Quidditch pitch looking for James. Muggle Studies has been canceled today because our instructor, Professor Peabody, had a severe food allergy to his daily tea. In turn, my morning is free, so I figured I’d try and finish the last of the prank plans before Friday.
When I get down to the pitch, I see that it is empty. I stroll around it feeling heavy bits of sleet pound down on me, soaking my hair and shoulders. I make my way to the very centre of the pitch and sit down. The clouds are heavy and black; hard to look up at through the falling precipitation. I hear a pair of shuffling footfalls but do not look back right away.
“I remember this place,” a voice says. I jump up and turn around to see what at first I think is Lily, but then quickly realize is a much taller, older version of my friend. I don’t know what else to do but just stand there, perplexed. “Ginny Potter,” she grins, shaking my hand.
“I ― um ― oh,” I stutter. I’m not too gifted at talking to adults. Especially not when it’s the mum of a boy I fancy.
She smiles knowingly. “I’m here visiting your Headmaster and I saw you walk into the pitch. I suppose I was curious to meet the famous Laney Becks.” She smiles. “My children talk endlessly of you. I feel like I know you already.”
I blush. “They ― they aren’t so bad either. I couldn’t think of nicer mates.”
She laughs, “I like to think so.” She considers me for a moment. “Al talks most fondly of you, you know. As does Lily. But yes, I do see what they mean. Your eyes are marvelous.”
I know for sure now that I am tomato red. I can’t remember the last I’ve been so flattered. “Thank you,” I say earnestly. I feel a little sorry that one measly ‘thank you’ is all I can muster.
“You’ll be joining us for Christmas, I hope?” she asks warmly.
“The Weasley’s, yes,” I reply.
“It will be wonderful to have you, I’m sure,” she responds in a meaningful tone.
“I’m sorry ―” I say quickly, “but Albus mentioned to me that his dad knew my parents?” I can’t help but ask.
“He does,” she says, nodding.
I look at her inquiringly. “Could you...?”
“I would, but Harry wishes to tell you himself. Besides, I fear I won’t do the story justice.”
I nod, feeling a little let down.
“I expect you’ll enjoy the story, though,” she says reassuringly. “I’m afraid I have to be off.” She gazes around the pitch once more, seeming reminiscent. “It was a pleasure to finally meet you, Laney.”
“And you as well,” I say genuinely. She’s so warm and sweet, but with an air of fierceness. With a spark in my stomach, she reminds me of my own mother. I push it away immediately.
“Tell my children I stopped by?” she asks.
“Of course,” I respond.
“Thank you. See you at Christmas, Laney.” She smiles warmly at me one last time and heads off towards the castle.
At lunch on Friday I tell Lily, James, and Al of my encounter with their mum. They seem quite interested that she introduced herself to me and a little embarrassed that she told me how much they talked about the famous ‘Laney Becks.’ Especially Al, but I can tell he’s trying to cover it up.
“I wonder why she didn’t come and say hello...” Lily ponders. “Seems a bit odd. So, did you like her?”
I nod vigorously, “She was really great. You guys are very lucky.”
James scowls. “I can’t believe she just showed up at school ― what if somebody had seen her?”
Lily rolls her eyes.
“Don’t look at me like that!” James snaps at her. “It’s Mum, she’s barking. She probably just wanted to make sure I’ve been making my bed.”
“Grow up, James,” Lily says, clearly irritated by her older brother’s behaviour. “She was probably just doing something for work.”
He grumbles to himself and eats some sandwich.
I observe Lily. “She looks exactly like you, you know,” I say honestly. “Like, a spitting image. Same hair and eyes.”
Lily smiles proudly. “That’s what everyone says. These two,” she gestures to her brothers, “look just like Dad.”
I grin at her. I can’t help but feel a little jealous, though. I know it’s petty, but I wish I had a mum like that....
“Hello, Lil,” Liam says, dropping into the bench between Lily and I. He kisses her cheek and she goes very pink.
“Oi!” James barks at them. “I don’t want to see that when I am eating!”
“Shove it up your arse,” Lily snaps. “You’re always snogging that dreadful Ravenclaw girl at breakfast, and that’s disgusting.”
“Hey!” James says, going red. “First of all, Mildred and I have something special ―”
“You snogged someone called Mildred?” Fred interjects, laughing.
“Second,” James says loudly, “I’m not your little sister ―”
“You sure about that?” Lily asks, her eyebrows raised.
“You clearly don’t want any Christmas presents from me this year, do you?” James asks her.
Lily grumbles something and continues eating her lunch.
“Hey Laney, do you have any more classes today?” Al asks me.
“Nope!” I respond gleefully, for he has just reminded me of this stellar news. “I just got done with Charms and remember how Fidgeon called off fifth year Arithmancy today? I think it was a Christmas treat or something similar.”
Al nods. “Right, I forgot. That’s great news!” He chews some pie. “Would you wanna practice Quidditch after we eat? I’m meeting a players from the Hufflepuff team to scrimmage after lunch.”
I consider this for a moment. Everyday this week we’ve had grueling practices with James preparing for the Ravenclaw match. I’m so sore I can hardly feel my legs, but the thought of hanging out with Al...I can’t resist it. “Sure,” I say. “How many players is it?”
“Four on four,” he responds. “A Beater, a Seeker, a Chaser, and a Keeper.”
“All right, I’m in,” I respond happily.
“So uh,” he says, peering around. “Fred, me, you, and James against four Badgers.”
“Sounds fine to me. We’ll crush them.”
“Hi guys,” Rose says as she squeezes into the table between Liam and I.
“Want to come and watch us play Quidditch?” Al asks her.
“Sure,” she responds, shrugging. “I’ll bring this new book I started―”
“Eurgh, Rose! You ruin anything even remotely fun by bring a book,” I groan.
“Books are fun, Laney,” Rose sighs.
I snort. “Yeah, right...so is the Cruciatus Curse.”
“Laney! People have died from that!”
“Yeah, yeah, I hear you. Don’t get your knickers in a bunch.”
Ten minutes later I am walking onto the Quidditch pitch, Quickskip 3000 in hand. I can make out Rose’s red curls clearly in the stands.
“All right,” James says, mounting his Firebolt 1050, “they’re all ready in the air. Play as rough as you like ― there isn’t any referee today.” With a sly smile he bolts into the air, Fred, Al, and I following in his wake.
“Good scrimmage,” Albus says to the other players as we land. The captain throws him a dirty look. I can’t quite tell through his Quidditch goggles, but he looks familiar....
“Very good, thanks for playing us,” their Keeper responds in a cheery voice. She’s short and rosy, with blonde curly hair and a pair of electric blue eyes. I recognize her as fifth year Pheobe Rainwater. I rack my brain to remember if I have Muggle Studies with her or not. “You look familiar,” she says, turning to me. “Do we have Muggle Studies together?”
Well, that answers my question.
"Yes,” I respond, trying to seem offended that she didn’t know me.
She blushes. “I’ll have to look out for you next time!”
I roll my eyes.
We say our goodbyes and head off the pitch. Al, Fred, and James go straight to the changing rooms, but I run to catch up with Rose.
“Hi,” I say as I find her, just leaving the stands.
“Good job, Laney!” she smiles. “You really crushed them. And Merlin ― you scored like twenty times!”
“Thanks,” I grin.
She smiles and then furrows her eyebrows. “Who was that girl you were talking to? Down on the pitch?”
I laugh. I can’t wait to tell her about my little guilt-trip. “Well, it’s Pheobe Rain ―”
“ROSE! Aye, Rose!” a voice calls from down by the Black Lake.
Rose whirls around to face the Black Lake and then quickly turns back. Her face is going very pink and she’s looking nervously at me. “It’s him!” she whispers. “What do I do?”
As I see the face of the shouting boy, it dawns on me. That’s the familiar looking guy from the scrimmage, Riley O’Malley. The very same boy who had been flirting with Rose a few weeks ago. “Go down there,” I say, feeling a little over shadowed. I try to push that feeling away and be happy for Rose, despite the fact that, just a few moments ago, I wanted to cave his skull in for glaring at Al.
“Okay,” she says nervously. “I’ll let you know what happens!”
I watch as she trots down to meet him, fussing with her hair and robes. I furrow my brow; I know I should be ecstatic for her, finding a boy she fancies, but there’s something about him that makes me uneasy.
I don’t like him.
And I definitely don’t trust him.
It’s here. It’s finally here. Saturday.
The day I have been waiting for since a fortnight ago has finally come: pranking day. Today is the day I am going to unleash my wrath upon Ivy. Everything is in order. Fred, Liam, James, and I even had a late night chat on the Astronomy Tower until 3:00 AM last night. And the best part? The whole school seems to know about the alleged prank except for her. People keep throwing me winks and ‘good luck’s’ in the corridors. I can hardly stand the excitement.
I whip my covers off of me and skip out of bed. I run round and round looking for an outfit and preparing for the trip to Hogsmeade (tripping over Presto several times in the mix). In my loud motions, I wake both Dara and Rose.
“You ready?” Dara mouths at me, jerking her head at Ivy’s bed.
“Never have I been more,” I mouth back.
Rose stifles a laugh.
We finish getting ready and climb down the girls’ stairs. The Common Room is full of excited third years who are going to Hogsmeade for the first time, including Lily.
“Hi!” Lily squeaks, bouncing over to us with her best friend Hugo Weasley. Rose smiles at her little brother but he pretends not to notice. “We are so excited to see Hogsmeade! I’ve only ever been once....”
“You’re going to love it!” Dara cheers. “It’s so fun going with everyone.”
Lily looks overjoyed. “Really? I can hardly wait! And―Oh, here comes Ivy.”
I glance back over my shoulder to see Ivy slouching down the girls’ stairs and looking most unpleasant.
And I thought I wasn’t a morning person.
“No worries,” I whisper. “She’s going to wish she’d never come to Hogwarts after today.”
Rose looks concerned. “Laney, it is anything too awful, is it? I wouldn’t want―”
“Oh, look what the cat dragged in: two Weasley’s,” Ivy hisses as she passes by us.
“I hope you destroy her,” Rose snaps, turning on her heel and walking through the portrait whole.
“That I will, Rose,” I sigh. “That I will.”
I walk down the path to Hogsmeade with Fred, James, and Liam; all of us lagging behind the rest of the students.
“Everything seems to be in order,” Fred says, peeking at a piece of parchment.
“You do have the stuff, right?” I ask.
“Brilliant. Liam, you know what to do: you have an important job, don’t mess it up.”
Liam gulps. “R-right.”
“Make sure you aren’t late to the Common Room. Don’t have too much fun in Hogsmeade, guys,” James adds.
We trudge down to Hogsmeade, fighting to remain upright from the the harshly blowing wind. Meanwhile, I’m starting to worry about this prank. Of course it’s going to get the job done, but won’t it make her retaliate? And how couldn’t she? What I have planned is...utterly terrible. She isn’t going to take lightly to this....
I gulp. “I’ll see you lot in the Common Room at five, then?” I ask, turning to them. The plan is to meet back in Gryffindor tower to pull the prank. We’ll catch her as she comes through the portrait hole.
They all nod and we head off in separate directions, searching for our friends. Immediately, I set out for Honeydukes to meet Rose, Dara, and Albus. When I enter the little shop, Dara makes eye contact and waves me over.
“Hey,” I say, grabbing a chocolate coin from a shelf and popping it into my mouth.
Dara giggles, “Hi, Becksy.”
“Laney!” Rose gasps. “You have to pay for those!”
I roll my eyes to the ceiling and pop a tiny silver sickle out of my bag. “Here,” I say, tossing it into the jar of chocolate coins. Rose lifts her eyebrows in a dangerous way. “Hey Al,” I say.
“Hey Becks,” he responds, biting into a Licorice Wand and grinning at me.
“So,” I say, clapping my hands together and looking at the lot of them. “What’s the plan today?”
We each rattle off a few things that we need (robes, quills, parchment, etc.) and set off into Hogsmeade. Our fist stop is Rolanda’s Remedies for some flu potion for Dara (she’s terrified of ever becoming ill again) and then we walk to Missy’s Robes and Wizard’s Attire for Rose. As we enter the store, the shopkeeper sweeps Rose up and magics her robes shorter (she needed them hemmed). Afterward, we stop for lunch at The Three Broomsticks and down some sandwiches.
By four o’clock it seems we have hit nearly every store in the village. We trudge through the knee-deep snow and make our way up to the castle for dinner. I keep a careful eye on the time and make sure I am in the Common Room by five. I have never had more butterflies than I do right now. I can’t believe my luck with finding out what I did about Ivy....
Almost an hour later the Common Room is packed full of Gryffindor students. Fred, James, and I are waiting casually on the couches for Liam’s signal.
“Do you have them?” I whisper to Fred. He nods and hands me a small pink box. I take it and peek inside. “Brilliant,” I say, grinning.
Liam comes sprinting up. “She’s coming!” he shouts.
Way to be discreet about it.
I jump up, ready for action. “Hey Ivy,” I say, gesturing for her to come over.
She gives me a nasty look. “What?” she calls from beside the portrait hole. I gesture madly for her to come over. She finally gives in, looking very displeased, and comes over to me. “Is there something you wanted from me?” she asks in a painful tone.
“I wanted to say thanks,” I say, plastering an enormous smile on my face.
“For what?” she hisses.
I mimic her tinkling laugh. “Oh, don’t you know? I just wanted to thank you for telling the school about my parents.
I can tell that various people from the Common Room are shushing their friends and listening in on our conversation.
Ivy looks a bit pale and slightly worried. “What’s th-that supposed to mean?” she stutters.
That’s right, you slag, you better be stuttering.
“Well, since you exposed my biggest secret to the school,” I pause. She gulps. I continue, “I figured I’d do the same for you.” I give her a nasty smirk and lift up the little pink box. I can practically see the blood draining from her face.
“W-what’s in there?” she asks, eyeing the pink box nervously. The Common Room is completely silent now. I smile and open the lid. Her eyes bulge. “GET THAT THING AWAY FROM ME!” she screeches, stumbling backwards and falling down.
I grin and dump the two little smiling Pygmy Puffs onto the floor. “Engorgio!” I call, pointing my wand at them. Instantly, they are no smaller than a fluffy pink cat. Ivy screams, running around the Common Room. Thinking it’s some sort of fun game, the Pygmy Puffs waddle after her excitedly.
“You see,” I call out over Ivy’s squeals and the sounding laughter in the Common Room, “Ivy suffers from a terrible and very irrational fear of Pygmy Puffs.” At these words, the Gryffindor’s burst into near explosions of laughter. “It says so in this letter I found from Healer McMartin in her bedside table.” I hold up a piece of parchment. “According to this note, she was attacked by a cursed one when she was six. Ever since she’s been dead afraid of the adorable creatures.”
Ivy gives a screech of horror as one little Pygmy Puff licks her ankle affectionately. “Get off me! Get off me, you monster!” she shouts, kicking it.
“Hey!” Lily interjects, grabbing the large Pygmy Puff around the middle. “Don’t hurt him!”
“Yeah!” calls out Stella Felton, a second year.
“He just wants your attention!” another person yells from the crowd.
Suddenly the Common Room is filled with angry shouting, all telling Ivy off. I make eye contact with Fred and he winks at me.
This. Is. Brilliant.
Ivy continues stomping on the remaining Puff until the whole of Gryffindor is rushing up to rescue it. After a few minutes of confused fighting, in which a lot of hair was mistakenly tugged and a first year was knocked clean out by someone diving for the Pygmy Puff, Ivy breaks free from the crowd and storms up to me. Her eyes are wild and her hair is in every direction, bits of Pygmy fur poking out of it. “You’ll regret the day you did this to me!” she bellows at me, spit flying in my face. I use the back of my hand to wipe it off in the most offended looking way possible. “I’ll hex you straight through Gryffindor Tower if I have to!” she snarls, pulling out her wand jabbing at in my face. Several people gasp and the Common Room falls quiet.
My eyes widen and I take a step back, my hands in the air. “Woah, Ivy, calm down...” I say, taken aback.
“DON’T TELL ME TO CALM DOWN!” she roars, red sparks shooting out the end of her wand.
Out of nowhere it seems, Al is behind her, his wand at her throat. “Touch her and I’ll put you in St. Mungo’s,” he says dangerously.
Fred and James appear on either side of her as well, wands in the air.
Her lips tremble but she does not lower her wand. “As if you know enough magic to harm me, anyway,” she says, a nervous flicker in her eyes.
“My father defeated the most powerful dark wizard that has ever walked this planet,”Al says in a deadly voice. “Try me.”
Her wand falls to her side. “This isn’t over,” she hisses at me.
“You bet,” I snap back.
“Get her, Cornelius!” Lily orders, dropping a Pygmy Puff at Ivy’s feet. She lets out a terrible scream bolts out of the Common Room. I turn to everyone, grinning. “Hope you enjoyed the show.”
Rose comes walking up to me, beaming. “Really good work, Laney. I mean it. You really got her!”
“Glad you approve,” I say, tickled by this rare statement.
“Laney?” a second year girl asks, walking up to me.
“Ivy tripped me once in the corridor because we had the same shoes on,” she says sadly. “Th-thanks for putting her right.”
“Sure thing,” I respond happily.
“Wow,” Al says as she walks away, “I guess you’re popular now.” He sniggers.
I cringe. “Please, don’t ever say that again.”
Al laughs, putting his arm around my shoulders. The movement gives me chills. “Who’s up for breaking into the kitchens to celebrate?” he asks.
“Is that even a question?” Fred says, ducking through the portrait hole.
Al and I laugh, his arm still around my shoulders, and we follow Fred out into the corridor, Dara, Rose, Lily, Liam, and James in our wake.
Author's Note: Hey guys! I hope you enjoyed this very long chapter! Quite fun and dramatic. I apologize in advance for any mistakes! My beta is still working but I felt bad keeping you guys waiting so I'll resubmit the edited version is as soon as possible! Also, I know you are very busy this November but it would be terrific if you could leave a review and tell me what you think. Author's thrive off of your comments so please oblige if you have a minute. There's a chance some of your suggestions could get featured in JO, too!
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by Emily Potter