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Chapter 20 : When You Thought You Got It...
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Drenched in sweat, I managed to pat myself down before leaving the dormitory. These dreams were beginning to get too much – like they hadn't been an issue already – but right now, they weren't important. I had a plan. A plan that couldn't fail. And, as Beater to the Skies, I could do this.
I finally saw Drew towards the bottom of the Astronomy Tower. His back arched when he saw me and he trod up to meet me half way. His expression seemed fixed in a frown and I couldn't help but notice that his pupils seemed smaller than usual; probably because they were staring right at me.
“I still don't know about this.”
“I don’t think it’s that complicated a plan,” I assured Drew.
“Look, it's simple when you explain it the way you do," began Drew, "but 'run into Umbridge's office as a squirrel, steal letter, and bring it to me' isn't really as simple when you take it to a practical level."
"Don't be stupid."
Following after him, I said, "Thanks. I don't know why you're doing it -"
"Because I'm a kind person," answered Drew, though I couldn’t help but notice that something sounded forced.
"But people don't just do this for others, not people you’ve known for as long as you have me," I countered. "I mean, you could get into serious trouble for this."
"Well, then it's on a matter of principal."
My pace began to slow down. "Drew?"
Drew span on the spot. "What?"
Maybe Amy had a point. Perhaps all this wanting to be with me wasn't just altruistic. Perhaps, on some weird level, Drew was actually attracted to me. It wouldn't be the first time that this kind of thing had happened. In fact, I was beginning to get a bit of a track record. "Drew… I'm really flattered that you want to do this. But it won't change anything… between us."
Staring at me with a quizzical expression, Drew cocked his head to the side. "What?" Bless him, he doesn't understand. I suppose if I was letting him down, under the circumstances, the least I could do is put a little more effort on my part.
"I mean, I would really appreciate it, as you would be a good friend…"
"But that's all we'll be."
The entire room was silent for a moment. I watched Drew's features as it began to dawn on him. His back straightened, and his eyes widened with surprise. And then he laughed.
"You - you think -" Drew was practically choking with laughter at this point, "- you think… that I'm in love with you?"
"Not in love," I mumbled.
Now doubling over, which frankly could be seen as a little rude, Drew came over and rested his hand on my shoulder, which was probably crimson. That embarrassed. "Oh Anne, you're a funny girl, but… no."
My features twisted at this. No? "Oh… well good."
"Really, Anne, don't worry. You're really not my type at all."
No? "That's good… as well."
"I usually go for pretty girls."
The dick! "Well then I guess we'd never work."
"Oh Anne," said Drew reassuringly, now leading me towards the office. "You're a very good looking kid -"
"I'm in your year."
"- but it's not what I'd consider attractive to me.” Seeing my expression, he continued to smirk. “I’m kidding. But honestly, it’s not like that at all. Anyway, you have guys who like you. You have George."
Silently, I pressed on. Had it not been for the fact that I was actually on my way to receiving one of the most significant documents in my life, I probably would've blown a fuse by now. OK, so I was a little off, but could he blame me? What he was doing could be considered dangerous - I mean, it's not life or death, but you get it - and it had happened before.
Merlin, I am getting big headed. Shoot me now. Next thing you know, I'll be spending hours looking at my reflection like Bella.
It's only happened once, I swear.
Finally the office was in view, but Drew stopped me, saying, "You wait here."
"Why?" I complained.
"Because firstly, I might get caught in the moment and admit my love for - ow!" Rubbing his arm, he then said, "Merlin. Actually, it's so that you're less likely to get caught. I thought the whole reason I was doing this was for stealth."
"Oh yeah." I stepped back a little. "I'm not too good at that."
"Well it's all part of your charm, isn't it?" In response to my glare, he added, "I'm sorry; I'm going now."
I sat anxiously in the corridor, my feet ready to help me spring into the air at a moment’s notice. I could feel a cold sweat breaking out, and my fingers were tingling at the mere idea of what they were about to hold. All my senses were ready, heightened with fear and anticipation. My breathing became deeper and more erratic.
Hearing footsteps, I shot upwards, but it was merely a couple of younger students running past. It had to be the third time that this had happened. I hadn't really noticed how many pupils there were, and now it was really grating on me. Now was not the time to leave the dormitories, children! Stay indoors. Otherwise, my master plan will be ruined.
Finally, Drew came running, immediately gripping onto my hand and we both rushed forward. I saw it clasped in his hand, ratty and ageing. I want to reach it for it, but Drew wouldn't let me stop for a second. My eyes were fixed on the package, causing me to even lose my footing from time to time. However, Drew didn't seem to notice, or care. In fact, part of me felt that if I were to trip, he would just drag me along.
Wouldn't be the first time either…
It was only until we reached outside of the grounds that we came to a stop. He banged himself against the castle wall and then thrusted the letter in my direction, panting heavily. "You said a letter - not a book."
"It's a letter. It's just long."
"I had to carry that out of Umbridge's office with my mouth. Do you know how hard that is to bite when you're a squirrel?"
Petting him on the head in a rather ironic way, I brushed my hand along the surface of the parcel. "What have they done to it?"
"Who knows. OK, that was me," he said, pointing to the left corner where it had been slightly gnawed, "but the rest's a mystery."
"And the running?"
"They caught me just as I had turned human. I don't know whether they got a good look at me -"
"I get it," I said breathlessly. Part of me thought it would've been rude to cast Drew away, after pretty much owed this entire experience to him, but another part just wanted to be alone with the letter. It was odd, how much I was treasuring something I wanted to be cast into flames such a short while ago. Besides which, Drew had just insulted me and as a consequence, his face was beginning to get annoying.
I slumped to the ground, tracing my fingers along the creases. It all seemed so personal. Nevertheless, Drew was prepared to ruin my touching moment, warning me, "I wouldn't get comfy here." I was about to retort, but his finger slammed against my lips with such vigour that my head almost slammed against the brickwork. Listening intently, I could hear footsteps near, showing that the chase wasn't over yet. "Hide it," he mouthed.
I followed instructions, trying to think of a decent spell I could use. There wasn't one I could actually think of to shrink it, though I'm kicking myself now about that one. When the two Slytherins finally emerged, I threw the parcel into a bush adjacent to me. I watched it as it eventually balance into position, sighing in relief when it came to a stop.
The horror I felt when I saw Pansy Parkinson come could never be explained. Ever since the catastrophe last year, it was fair enough to say that we didn't bother to keep in touch. Next to her was Bulstrode, who gave the 'bull' in her name a whole new meaning. I could probably out run her, so I wasn’t as scared as some, but if she ever caught me…
"Why hello, Parkinson," I attempted to greet confidently, though I could feel my legs quivering. Drew seemed slightly more at ease, but the way his features seemed to suddenly position themselves showed that he was preparing himself.
"What are you two doing out here… so late… together?" I joked. Hey, if anyone has a right to make lesbian jokes…
"You certainly like your exercise." As the corners of her mouth curled further along her pale face, I could feel the remark coming on. "You used to walk around here with Pucey, all the time, didn’t you?"
Drew raised his eyebrow, and I immediately felt affronted. "Don't worry, I'm not his type -"
"And when have you ever taken a stroll?" Drew's eyes slid towards me. Right, not the time. But really, just no? Who for Godric's sake just says no?
Pansy took a threatening step towards me, which almost surprisingly actually had an effect, considering the situation. She then bluntly asked, "Have you seen anyone around here? Probably carrying something?"
My blood turned to ice. With Umbridge's authority, there was no way that I could fight back, not without getting punished. They can't find it. "No."
"Oh?" From that point, it was clear that she knew. Probably heard me talking about it. Or Drew. Or saw us while we were running. Since it was my package, it makes sense that I would get suspected. What this then meant was that this was a game of keeping face. All I had to do was keep composure until she left. "Well, tell us if you do. Might be of interest to you."
"Yes. It was addressed to you."
"Can't have been," I challenged. "Otherwise it would have come straight to me."
"It contained information that the Inquisitorial Squad felt may have been of interest." Which was code for: it was going to piss me off. "I mean, it's most likely not. But then again, why would anyone feel the need to steal something that was going to be passed on anyway?" I watched Bulstrode as she sniffed around, most likely using her canine senses to find me out.
Drew grinned, having mostly played the role of an observer throughout this and going, "You know rule breakers. Probably picked it at random. It'll find its way back to Anne once they realise who it belongs to."
"But by then it would have been tampered with," hissed Pansy. "It's best that we find it now…" Her voice trailed off for a second. I could hear it too. The parcel was too heavy for the poor branches in the bush, which were now beginning to give weigh. Pansy's eyes sparkled. "Well, I guess you two will be off then."
"We were actually -"
"It's after hours; I wasn't giving you a choice, Walters." Pansy's sneer virtually struck me full on the cheek, furthered when she then said, "I promise I won't tell."
Drew nodded before I could protest and we began to walk away. "How important is this thing to you?"
"Is it worth getting detention for?"
I thought on the matter. I could wait, having waited already for so long. But part of me knew that I was dying as I did. "Yes."
"Get your wand."
Understanding his intention, I drew my wand out and continued to walk calmly with him. The parcel was now in Pansy's hands while Bulstrode grunted in satisfaction. Quickly, I cried, "Accio letter." Flying out of Pansy's hands, it rushed towards me, and Drew and I darted into the castle, bursting through the doors and hearing shouts behind me as I scrambled up the stairs.
A jolt of lightning. I stumbled.
Heat. Unbearable heat.
So much heat it was burning.
"Anne!" Drew's cries broke the dream sequence, just seeing water jet out from his wand. I tried to not look at my arm, which seemed slightly singed. However, I then looked upon the victim, and I was almost brought to tears.
There, now nothing more than scraps of paper and ash, was the letter. Burnt string curled up around the edges, and the paper seemed to be completely wasted. I threw myself towards it, but there was no making sense of it. Most of it almost seemed to have been crossed out, but the remains of what could bee seen were just odd words. It was lost.
How ironic. It actually got burned, and I was prepared to weep for it.
I was prepared to harm for it.
"PARKINSON!" I roared.
Pansy was still lurking by the edge, marveling in my reaction. My anger just seemed to fuel her more. "Something wrong?"
"You diabolical… bitch." Drew tried to stop me, but I just shoved my wand in front of her, having to steady my wounded arm with my left hand. "You did that to hurt me. It meant nothing to you."
"But something to you, clearly. Missing daddy?"
She didn't even realise how bad a thing that was to say. I flew at her, claws at the ready. She had narrowly dodged my attack, but wasn't scared at all. My lack of control was appearing to be nothing by amusement to her. "Oh, going too far, am I?"
"Or what?" Pansy was ready for the challenge, much to my dismay. "What can you, or any of your kiddy friends, do? We have the power now. Don't think you can just lift up your skirt and get out of this one. You just destroyed evidence." Pausing to take in my reaction, she explained, "I don't know what for, but I'll think it up. Ever since that slag mate of yours decided to fight me last year, I've been ready for this. You're done for. So I suppose this boy will just have to find someone else to fing -"
She flew to the other side of the room. I repeated the action when Bulstrode came towards me, clearly now noting the danger. They were both unconscious, blood trickling down Pansy's head. Oh Merlin, what had I done? I just wanted her to shut up. It wasn't even the things she was saying. It was the things she could have said. So many personal things she didn't even know about.
I had almost forgotten that Drew was in the room. Helplessly, I sunk down to Pansy and asked, "What can I do?"
Drew didn't take his eyes off of me as he approached the two bodies. He merely pointed his wand at their heads and muttered, "Obliviate," in turn.
"What will that do?"
"They won't remember this." He then looked at me with more alarm. "Anne… what was -"
"Don't," I pleaded. "Don't say anything to me, or anyone."
Watching me for a moment, he finally said, "Fine." The look that he had given me was so confusing, I couldn’t make it out. “Right, let’s go to the Hospital Wing, get you some cream for that arm.”
“We can’t explain this to Madame Promfrey,” I said distractedly.
“That’s why we’re going to steal it.” I stared at Drew. “Nobody’s perfect, Anne. I think now’s not the time for you to forget that.” I slowly nodded my head. “Look, I’m sorry, I… I know it meant something to you.”
“My fault really. I should’ve read it when I got it.”
“Well you know… it’s the end of the world. Because… if you really want to know what whoever said, you could always ask them.”
And that was the end of unnecessary conversation.
When the sound of the morning came, the birds’ chirping echoed through the corridors, and it felt as if the spell of last night had been broken. Though still disturbed and mildly heartbroken, I was sane. Packing all of my belongings for the holiday to come, I tried to build up the nerve to tell the others about it, but I just couldn't. Like the dreams, like everything else, there was an anger inside of me that I didn't want them to see. I was the funny one, the one that kept them on some lighter ground. I wasn't going to take that from them, or myself.
Everything was done in silence, as if they had sensed how I really just wasn't in the mood to speak about anything. Hauling my trunk, I almost glided to the platform, my fingers trying to remember how the letter had, at one point, felt in my grip.
I had found out when arriving on the Express that George had vanished away somewhere, forcing me to remain secluded with the girls. It was probably for the best. After all, I was basically cheating on him every day I was with him. I was half tempted at this point to just send him an owl with a brief confession and hope that he just bears with me.
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