Chapter 3 : Sweet, Sweet Revenge
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3. SWEET, SWEET REVENGE
She had her revenge and ate it too.
After three attempts at the knocker's riddle (the recent trend in sarcastic questions had made answering them quite difficult), Bea and Fred stumbled into the empty common room. Bea, in the dreaded middle stages of a sugar crash, collided onto the sofa face first. Fred sat down in what little space was left.
He rummaged through her bag and took out the vial, sloshing it back and forth. "Think we can finish this soon?"
Bea lifted her head, stringy hair clinging to her cheeks from the staticky greeting with the sofa's upholstery. "Probably. Got to mix it with the flobberworm something and red whatsamacallit." She waved a lazy hand. "I've got it written down somewhere on my desk."
In all honesty, the best finder in Hufflepuff couldn't unearth anything in the trash heap known as her desk. It was, at one point, the reason for thirteen out of Hogwarts' fifteen health violations.
"So." Fred cleared his throat, folding his hands together. "Malfoy's offer..."
"He's always like this, s'not surprising in the least." Bea rolled over, her hair in no better shape than before. From far away, one might have mistaken her for an upturned sheepdog. "Two classes with him again this year, did I tell you? I thought I got rid of him after O.W.L.S. too! They say—don't quote me on this—but they say that his dad bribed the proctor for O's."
There was something off about Fred's expression, though it might have been the blood rushing to her head or because his face was upside down. She rolled over. "Fred?"
"You seem quiet."
"Ah—no." He rubbed the back of his neck. "Just, er, thinking about things. You know, uh." His mouth shaped vague words. "Things."
Bea nodded airily. "Speaking about things, about that tart..." She held out her cupped hands.
Fred patted her on the head. "Tomorrow. I'm tired."
She frowned as he leapt off the sofa. "But you promised."
"Come on, you're already full with what Malfoy fed you." It was at that moment that his pace picked up.
Bea called after him, "You don't have one, do you?" but he was already gone. Crossing her arms, she huffed to herself. Treacle tart was a serious matter.
After languishing on the sofa for another dessert-deficient minute, Bea tromped up the stairs to her room. She had long lost track of time, only certain that it was late enough for another scolding from Rose. Sounds of muffled chatter filtered through the door to her dorm as she approached. Just as her fingers brushed the knob, it swung open, assaulting her with the sight of Rose in her pink paisley nightgown, staring down at her.
Behind was Lucy, popping her head out of the bathroom, beard of foam hanging from her chin. "See," she mumbled through her toothbrush, "told youf she washn't deadth."
"Where have you been?" Rose barked.
Bea squeezed past. "You know, studying... reading... things."
Before Bea could reach her desk, Rose intercepted her and fluffed her hair, where a telltale cloud of grey soot escaped. Rose gasped, "You caused that explosion!"
While Rose was better at trying to intimidate than actually intimidating, she sometimes managed a wild look that would make Moody himself proud—eyes bulging from their sockets, two degrees from igniting in flames. It was scarier than Ringleward's detentions and Anjali's legs combined.
Bea shrank into herself until Lucy came over and herded her cousin to the other side of the room. "It's too late for super prefect mode," Lucy muttered, trying to get Rose to stay put. Rose was like a meerkat, perched at the edge of her bed. "And don't be so surprised. Who else could it have been? What matters is, did anyone find out?"
"Yeah, Ringleward." Bea tried to find a safe place to store the potion. Her desk, with its wobbly leg and precarious slant—the consequence of piling five times its weight in junk on one side—looked like it was about to keel over and die. The only clear spot on the table was... well, there really was no clear spot on the table.
"Well, then? Tell us what happened."
"Oh, nothing much." You know, breaking into classrooms, nicking things, glaring property damage. The usual. Rose would have a fit if she knew the extent of it. "Anj told Ringleward we didn't do it," she added as an afterthought while she dislodged her potions rack from the mess.
Rose ground her teeth. "That bitch?"
"That bitch" was Rose's nickname for Anjali. Other known variations were 'that Slytherin bitch', 'that skinny bitch', or Lucy's favorite, 'that my-dad's-an-international-Quidditch-star and my-mom's-the-heiress-for-the-biggest-potion-exporter-in-India woop-de-fucking-doo bitch'. According to Rose, Anjali abused her authority like no other prefect; that night was just further proof. Coupled with the staff's complete adoration of her, she more than grated on Rose's nerves.
Lucy rolled her eyes. "If you're going to keep looking like a gargoyle every time something or someone you hate gets mentioned, you should count yourself lucky he hasn't met you in person yet."
Verona Wood, who had been comfortably asleep, lifted the edge of a blindfold with a weary groan. "Are we talking about Colin still? Bloody hell, Rose, you're worse than Lucinda and her crushes." Colin was the pen pal Rose had acquired over the summer, a student of the Arthurian Academy of Magic, and the mere mention of his name reduced Rose to a stuttering loon.
Rose fussed with the ruffles of her nightgown. "N-no, of course not. Lucy's being stupid. It's not like I like him or anything," she said as convincingly as Voldemort teaching Muggle Studies.
The bunch of them had been talking about him all night, every night for the past week. How someone could dissect possible implications from each word of a letter—the context, the connotations, the handwriting—was beyond Bea's comprehension, and she knew quantum theory.
Now, where was that flobberworm juice?
"Please," said Verona, "the denial's getting sad. You're starting a whole organization for him."
"He supports a good cause!" Rose crossed her arms. "Cecilia and Maisie already joined up, and Lucy helped me name it. Students for Underrepresented Creature Kind and Squibs."
"That spells S-U-C-K-S."
There was a long silence, punctuated by Lucy's stifled laughter, in which Rose ran the name through her head again. "Oh well, n-no, you forgot the 'for' and 'and'..."
"Right," Verona drawled. "S-F-U-C-K-A-S. Much better."
Rose gave an indignant cry and whipped around to her cousin. "You knew about this!"
"Of course I knew about it," she giggled. "I'm still rather fond of your other choice, 'Students of Hogwarts Institution for Teenage Squibs'."
"Well, only because it's about all minority rights, not just Squibs—" Rose stopped suddenly. "Lucy Weasley, does that spell S-H-I-T-S?"
Another peal of giggles erupted from Lucy until Rose lunged at her with a pillow and started suffocating her. Bea was quite accustomed to working in a din of quarreling; it was a requirement for living with diametric cousins and a grouchy Quidditch captain. What Bea never understood was why anyone would think she was the strange one when everyone else was so much worse.
"I AM NOT LETTING GO OF THIS PILLOW UNTIL YOUR HAIR TURNS BLUE FROM ASPHYXIATION!"
Bea hummed a tune as she continued her search. She brushed away the metal bits scattered over her desk—pieces from the transistor shell construction. At the center of the mess was the prototype itself, with all its wires exposed, glowing blue like an arachnid nightmare come alive. Placing her prototype back in its box, she dug through her sock drawer, surprised that the sock gremlins haven't stolen any that year yet (they were not just a fairy tale, as she once vehemently defended from the giggles of the common room). A bottle rolled out from the back. There was little Flobberworm juice left, just enough for a single batch.
"C..." Lucy clawed at the pillow, muffled syllables barely audible in her gasps. "C-Colin wouldn't want to date a murderer!"
"AZKABAN HAS A ONE LETTER PER MONTH POLICY, WE CAN MANAGE!"
"Actually, it's two months," Bea chirped, looking back, but Rose didn't seem to hear her and Lucy was too busy turning blue.
Meanwhile, Verona, who typically brought out popcorn to watch these fights, began prodding Rose with the end of her broomstick. "Could you two, I dunno, settle this in a quieter fashion? Poison her breakfast or something? Quidditch practice is too early for this."
"Fine." Rose threw her pillow aside and continued glaring as Lucy crawled her way back to her bed. "I hope I caused permanent damage."
Verona burrowed into her quilt. "Bea, don't you have class early? Shouldn't you sleep?"
Bea perked up at the mention of her name. "Erm, yeah..." Now that Verona mentioned it, she was quite tired. She was also in desperate need of a shower, not that anyone expected her to be hygienic. Well, she wouldn't want to disappoint expectations. The shower could wait until morning.
She changed out of her robes and, as the last one out of bed, snuffed out the candles. The room drooped into sleep and darkness, lit by only the moon and the soft glow of her prototype.
"Beeea! We're going to be late!"
Bea shot up from her bed at Lucy's screech, coughing; the soot settled on her pillow had swept up again and took residence in her windpipe. She stumbled out of bed, a lucky flail of the arms keeping her from tripping over her blankets. Rubbing the dusts off her cheeks, she followed the fluffy trail of carpet until she reached the bathroom.
This was prior to opening her eyes. The actual act of opening her eyes was an entire effort in itself. She felt along the counter for the sink, twisting both temperature knobs until the tap was at full force and splashed her face with water.
Then came the hard part. With a heave, she cracked open an eyelid...
...and promptly regretted standing in the only spot in the bathroom where the sunlight bounced off the mirror and into her retina.
"Beeeeea! Hurry up!"
"Burning... everything is burning..." Bea whimpered as she tottered around, spots circling her vision. Somewhere in the filing cabinets of her mind, she dug out the list of morning duties and crossed them off.
Clean teeth, scrub face, wash hair—
In the milliseconds before she made her next move, she calculated the likely amount of time she had before class started. If Lucy, who usually referred to sleeping well past breakfast as "early", then her wails to hurry up meant she was really, really late.
Sink shower it was.
She stuck her head under the tap and felt around the counter until she found her shampoo. It was only after working it into her hair that the choking fragrance reached her nostrils. A glance at the bottle told her everything she feared.
(now with extra Oomph)
It was Rose's shampoo, the one marketed as smelling like fairies which apparently meant concentrated sugarplum syrup, a level of sweetness too much for even Bea. Holding her breath, she shouldered on. Her first class was Potions, and she did not need to get on Ringleward's bad side.
With sopping wet hair, Bea and Lucy scrambled across the castle and burst into the classroom just as students were setting up their cauldrons. Ringleward was nowhere in sight. Lucy trotted off to her partner Reggie, while Bea found Albus in the back and slumped onto a stool next to him.
"Sorry, about that," she panted. "Woke up late and... where's Ringleward?"
At that moment, the white-haired professor emerged from the back room carrying a box of shrivelfigs, beady eyes peering at Bea. She held her breath as he made his way toward the demonstration cauldron.
"The potion of interest today will be the Euphoria, page two hundred sixty," he said. "Not in the syllabus, but over the weekend, some rascal whippersnappers got my classroom 'wasted' as you youngins like to say..." He muttered something about leashing children.
Albus nudged Bea. "I heard that was you and Fred," he whispered. "Also, you're shiny today."
"Wrong shampoo." Bea flipped through her edition of Advanced Potions-Making. "And it was me and Fred, but Anj vouched."
"Anj? Anjali? That Anjali?"
Bea glanced to her left where Albus was pointing. At the adjacent table was the aforementioned prefect and Scorpius in all his smarmy glory. The former looked as bored as ever, while the latter saluted her with a cheeky wave.
"Nutcase! Good to see you."
Bea gawked. Albus waved back until she slapped his hand away.
"I didn't know you were friends with them," Albus chirped.
Bea was shut up by another pointed glare from Professor Ringleward. "Five points from Ravenclaw for idle chatter, Miss Chang."
The other Ravenclaws grumbled. Across, a duo of Slytherins sniggered to themselves until Ringleward steeled his gaze on them as well. He cleared his throat. "Now where was I—ah! And so, further studies on the Draught of Peace must be rescheduled for next week. The Euphoria Elixir is a very potent happiness inducer..."
Scorpius leaned close, resting an elbow on their table. "You know, if you had agreed to our deal, we could probably find some way to get those points back."
Bea resisted looking up, lest she draw Ringleward's attention again. The nerve of him! It was no coincidence that he and Anjali were sitting there, no indeed. Scorpius returned to his seat, and at the corner of her eye, Bea saw that he had left a present in the form of a wrapped mini cauldron cake. She looked away, salivating.
When Professor Ringleward finally let the assignment commence, Albus dove for the stirring spoon. Bea slapped his hand away again.
"Not even this time?" Albus sighed.
"Never ever means not this time, too."
Albus had taken charge of making the potion base exactly once in their two-year potion partnership, which resulted in a catastrophic cauldron tsunami and pink hair for a week. He was only scraping by because James had asked Bea to help him. Albus insisted on the torture; he had it in his mind that he absolutely needed a N.E.W.T. in Potions to get a decent job, despite having well enough connections to make up for his shortcomings.
Bea threw in a handful of fish bones into the cauldron, and scanned for the next step in the instructions. "Oh, and Albus? Remember to crush those beans three at a time. And then do the red ones, too."
A different voice butt in. "Merlin, you're pushy."
She lifted her eyes from the book. Scorpius was leaning against the table, a finger on his chin. "Or is it shushy pushy? Bossy flossy?"
"Snoopy boopy is what you are," Bea muttered. Taking his sugary bribe from her table, she thrust it back at him. "Mind your own business, Malfoy. I mean that in two ways."
"What, dropped the ditzy act already?" He tossed the cake from hand to hand. "Fine. Don't take my presents. Can't say I won't cause some trouble instead."
"I'll report you."
"For what? I'm not the one filching from the cupboards."
"Is it Fred?" Scorpius mused, stroking his chin. "Is that why you're so irritated? He likes my offer, maybe?"
"Fred would never want to work with someone as... as smarmy as you." Sticking out her tongue, Bea shoved him back to his own table and jabbed a thumb over her shoulder. "Stay away from those types, Albus. Think they own the world."
"Kind of do, though. I hear the Malfoys have their own private theme park." Albus' eyes lit up. "Did he offer you a job? 'cause you should take it—"
"Al! Not helping! Beans!"
He sighed and pounded his pestle. Bea stirred the mixture counterclockwise three times and then frowned at the book. "These editions still don't fix the side-effects." Many mistook breaking into song as an intentional side-effect of the Euphoria, but it was in truth a poor measuring of wormwood. It was how Hogwarts' now-annual flash mob had started. Bea racked her brain. Mint ought to fix it. She tossed a sprig into the cauldron.
Albus glanced at his book. "That's not what this says—"
"Ah ah ah!" Bea shook the spoon at him. "Golden Rule?"
He deflated. "Beatrice is always correct."
He bowed his head further. "Beatrice will receive one chocolate frog every week for being so benevolent, gracing me with her presence and wisdom."
Bea held out her hand, and he fumbled through his pockets, quickly producing a chocolate frog box. She beamed and lifted the cover. Her stomach had been growling ever since she gave up that cake. "Beatrice will allow you to take the spoon while she—" She stared at the headless chocolate frog knocking against the sides sightlessly. "Albus, this is half-eaten."
"I got hungry," he said, lowering his head so far that it touched the desk.
"What is it with your family and promised food? Always eaten, defeats the purpose..." she muttered, plucking the frog between her fingers and dropping it into her mouth.
Albus cringed, gaze trailing from her sticky hands to the preparation table. "That's... unsanitary."
"Well I'm not going to let it suffer!" she retorted, tongue thick with chocolate. "It was out of pity." He didn't stop staring, so she pointed at his workstation. "Beans!"
He slouched. "I've been mashing them for ages. Aren't they done?"
"Fine, put them in carefully—" She frowned. The cauldron was bubbling, There wasn't anything in the Euphoria potion that caused bubbling. "What did you add in here?"
"I didn't add anything. You would't let me." He peered closer at the mixture, prodding at it with the spoon.
Bea shuffled him away while the churning intensified. "Don't do that! At least go douse the fire. And Fred thinks I'm not safe." She clamped on the lid.
Albus sat, wringing his hands. "Erm, it's getting louder—"
"I know thaaaat—" She shut her mouth with a squeak.
He blinked. "Did you just sing?"
"Bloody wormwood in the chocolaaaate!" But her off-key warble was drowned out by the rumbling underneath her hand. In an violent hiccup that caused no small number of shrieks from nearby brewers, the cauldron spit out a sickening ochre mixture onto the surrounding floor and onto the feet of Professor Ringleward, who unfortunately chose that moment to walk past.
The professor lowered his glasses. "Quite an affinity for attracting explosions lately, I see."
"I didn't—it waaaasn't—"
"I expect you two to stay after class to clean this."
Bea nodded weakly while the amusement from onlookers crescendoed in the background, culminating in a jeer from Phillip Goyle, who was hardly one to talk with black-as-tar mixture, "Oi, you make potion inside the cauldron!"
Whirling to Albus, Bea hissed—or rather, belted out dramatically, "Whaaat haaaappened?"
But she didn't need to be a Potions expert to put two and two together when she turned back around and saw the offending bottle still in Scorpius' hand. Wheezes' patented Fizzpoppers.
Scorpius grinned broadly. "These are quite well-made. Your design?"
She pointed at him, extending her arm to full-length for maximum effect. "Youuuuu!"
He held up his hands. "I warned you I'd cause trouble. No one says no. That'd be bad for business." He nudged Anjali. "Ruthlessness is rather becoming for me, isn't it?"
"You do have the most delectable smirk when your plans go well," she replied mildly, attention stuck to the cauldron.
He moved closer, trying to break her indifference. "You're always delectable."
A small smile escaped. "Charmer."
Bea nearly threw up.
As Scorpius reached for the Shivelfig juice, his gaze still on Anjali, Bea saw an opening. Moving on vengeful instinct, she switched the vial from underneath his hand. He emptied the wrong vial into the mixture with a flair matching his sweet talk.
The cauldron immediately burst into purple flames, splashing potion everywhere. Anjali shrieked. Scorpius scrambled to find the lid, but it was too late; the damage was done.
"What the Bloody Baron was that?" he cried.
Professor Ringleward, who was quite tired of bustling across the room, plucked the vial from his hand and tapped at the label. "Adding flammable wraughtwort tends to have that effect, Mr. Malfoy. Any first year can tell you such. Have fun joining Miss Chang and Mr. Potter after class."
"But, but..." Scorpius stared at the vial. "That wasn't..."
Ringleward gave Anjali a sympathetic nod while she siphoned the goop off her skirt. "You have such patience with our less skilled brewers."
She plastered on a smile until he left to observe the next set of cauldrons, at which point she practically threw her textbook at Scorpius.
"You added wraughtworts?"
"I didn't even have wraughtworts out!"
"Have you lost your reading comprehension along with your mind? Because that bottle clearly said wraughtworts!"
Bea sat in her stool, licking frosting from her upper lip. She wasn’t sure which she was enjoying more: watching the spat in front of her or the cauldron cake she had snatched back during the ruckus.
In the end, it was no contest. Revenge tasted sweeter than sugarplums.
A/N: formerly chapter 4
Coming up: Adorable!Albus, Bull-headed!Bea, and Shirtless!Scorpius
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