Chapter 6 : Two Plans Too Many
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6. TWO PLANS TOO MANY
Robbing Gringotts was still easier than getting Weird Sister reunion tour tickets.
When Fred finally found Bea in the common room later that evening, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to ask why she was sitting on top of Albus and attacking him with a quill.
It must have been going on for quite some time, as a smattering of people had gathered to watch. Verona had a bowl of popcorn.
"Come on, it won't hurt—stay still!" Bea grit as she wrestled past Albus' arms, both of which were shielding his forehead.
"I still don't want a tattoo," came the muffled whine underneath her.
"It'll wash off urf!"
"No means no!"
"Not in Portuguese!"
"What's going on?" Fred whispered to Verona, taking a handful of popcorn.
She shrugged. "Don't know. She's trying to draw a scar on him or something. How're your dives coming along?"
"Can we keep the Quidditch talk to the pitch?" Not even three sentences into the conversation and Verona Wood already made it about practice.
"Freddie, is that you?" The wild mat of hair on the floor swung upwards, revealing Bea's puffy face, so eager that Fred nearly stumbled backwards. "Freddie! Perfect! Al, get up."
The muttering crowd dispersed. Verona left with her popcorn, shaking a finger at Fred. "See you at practice."
"Freddie, I've got an idea!" Bea had her hands firm in bargaining position as soon as she leapt up.
Fred stared at his harassed cousin to the weaponized quill in Bea's hand, and then finally to her brightly shining eyes. "Do tell."
"So I was thinking, since Malfoy brought it up, we don’t have a lot of funds after all, and we’re going to need money."
Fred stood a little straighter, scratching his head. "Actually I was thinking the same thing." He scrabbled for the sheet of arithmetic from his pocket. "This morning I was calculating our budget. We ended up using less than projected for the balm-thing—"
"Stalker Salve," Bea amended. "Won't be enough, not if we want to replace my old set of tools. And since you're leaving this year, we'll need to finish this soon." As soon as Albus staggered to his feet, she grabbed him around the shoulders. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
Fred went through his triangle of staring again, this time focusing a bit longer at the splotches of ink on Albus' cheek and his best guess was no, but he tried anyway. "We should take up Scorpius' offer?"
"—we should rob Gringotts!" Bea declared at the same time.
Fred groaned. Bea sighed.
"Freddie, we've got to get better at speaking collaboratively."
He should have known better than to be grateful too soon. "We're not robbing Gringotts."
"They just make it seem hard! I've got a great plan—we don't even have to break into the vaults!" Albus gave a squeak as Bea wrenched him by the sleeve and pushed back his fringe. "Just draw on a scar, call him Harry, and we can walk right in!"
"Look, all joking aside—"
"I'm not joking." Bea was still stubbornly holding Albus down. "What part looks like I'm joking?"
"...all joking aside," Fred said slowly, "I was hoping you'd be open to taking Scorpius' offer."
The pout from the night before reappeared, and she released Albus with a thud. He waved his arms weakly at passing students for help.
"You're serious?" Bea's face crumpled into pug-wrinkles.
Fred swallowed hard. "Come on, you know the numbers now. This is for your own good," he said hopelessly. She had proved, in an infamous week-long fit, that her stubbornness grew exponentially the longer she stayed in a tantrum. "You've been working on the transistor for months and getting supplies have been rough. Scorpius' backing would help."
"I don't want to work with him," she snapped, spinning away.
Fred followed after. Only stubborn could fight stubborn. "Sometimes we have to work with people we don't exactly agree with or like. But think about the bigger picture. We'll have the money to get all those missing components you need."
Bea threw her quill into a nearby ink pot. "I don't trust him."
"You can't just say that. You have to give me a reason why."
"Blokes with that kind of abdominal definition should never be trusted."
"Never mind. Look, there are some things you just don't trust people with," she said huffily. "I wouldn't tell Lucy a secret or give Rose a carving knife. I certainly won't hand over my intellectual property to Scorpius. But!" She raised a finger, chin up. "I had a back-up plan just in case you turned down the Gringotts one."
Fred couldn’t wait to hear this one. Kidnap and ransom Headmaster Flitwick? Perhaps she was making use of James Potter’s Patented Procedures. Tip #27, offer an obscenely ridiculous solution first on purpose so the next will seem less so. She had always been a faithful pupil to his old partner.
Albus had only just gotten to his feet when Bea slung her arm around him again. "Al's still part of a rich family. He can ask for money. We could just borrow some."
Albus frowned. "That would just be taking advantage of me."
"I'm not taking advantage of you," she reassured. "You're just helping me. Helping a friend."
"Oh, okay." Not a breath later, he exclaimed, "Wait a second!"
Albus then rambled on about how this was indeed taking advantage him and not friendship-related while Bea drummed her fingers against his shoulder, grumbling.
"I'm not saying that I won't help you," Albus said, now a little abashed. "But I'd just like something in return is all. You know how I've always wanted to join you guys on all your fun, so I was hoping..."
Bea looked to Fred for confirmation.
Fred massaged his temples. Oh gods, she was dragging the whole clan in. "So Malfoy's money is no good, but my family's money is a-okay? And Scorpius also has a lot that Albus can't offer," he continued, remembering Anjali's words. "He can make this go beyond my dad's shop in Hogsmeade."
"Malfoy's all about profit and I can't let it be about that." There was a resoluteness to her that made her seem bigger than her small frame. "I thought you knew how important it is to me. It's bigger than just us; it's going to be a revolution."
"Revolutions are all very nice on paper, but they're quite expensive to pull off."
"Has there ever been a cheap one?" Bea shot back. "Paid in lives, broken families—"
"It's a transistor, not a government overthrow."
He could see her mutter, "But the metaphor fits."
She was cracking though. The idea had planted in her mind and she was searching for excuses—he knew the look.
"Obviously you have some issues with people who are a little rich or have a little power," Fred said gently, "but not everyone is out to get you."
Her eyes suddenly narrowed. "Why are you so insistent?"
The lingering memory of Anjali's flirtations left Fred momentarily blank and Bea's stare hardened. Pulling his jaw up to stop any drool, he tried to focus on the matter at hand. "Look, I like helping you out, I really do, but it's nice if I know that it's going toward something that actually... works."
Bea sighed and crossed her arms in a fidget of rebellion. "I guess you wouldn't understand."
"No, I do," he countered weakly, though he had heard the tone a million times before. She never said it out loud, but he knew what she wanted to say: You don't make this stuff, Freddie. He was the sidekick, not the star, even in his dad's shop, where he worked the backroom while James worked the till.
Bea snorted. "Do you know how it feels like when someone like takes your idea and massacres it beyond recognition? Because that's what people like Malfoy would do. Ideas aren't just ideas. They're like—like my babies!" She leant forward with renewed zeal. "Do you want to be a baby-killer, Freddie? Huh, do you?"
With her intense scrutiny, he nearly believed that he was a baby-killer and shook his head to regain some sense. "Let's be reasonable. Dignity's not going to pay. As much as you like your self-business, it's not realistic—"
"Oh ho ho, there you go high and mighty again." With a harrumph, she stuck her nose up. "Next you're going to tell me you haven't really got that treacle tart you promised."
It was at that moment Fred remembered that after lunch, he had eaten the promised tart during Charms. In his frozen silence, Bea's tantrum dissolved and her lip now quivered with a tremor reserved only for the gravest of tragedies.
Fred hid his wince behind a hand. "Come on, it's just one tart—"
"But you promised."
"I'll fetch you one tomorrow."
"You said you had a treacle—"
"I forgot I ate it during—"
"But you said —"
"I know I said—"
"So you lied—"
"—a tart of lies."
Bea's eyes pleaded, even watered. She leaned forward pouting, and Fred leaned backwards to avoid her.
"Look, Bea—" He glanced away from her puppy-stare. "Bea, can you forget about your stomach and take this seriously? Truth is, we can't keep this up. It's only a matter of time before someone catches us nicking things from the teacher's cupboards."
Her shoulders slumped in acquiescence, but she remained silent. Fred got up and paced backwards toward the dorm staircase. "We can talk about it tomorrow. It's been a long day."
Albus waved but Bea didn't reply, choosing instead to pick at the scab by her knuckle. Only after Fred was halfway up the stairs did she pull her head up and call, "Good night!" A hint of gloom painted her voice, always late to jump on the forgiveness train.
Fred stepped a few paces down. "Treacle tart tomorrow for sure, yeah?"
Biting her lip, she nodded. "We can share," she offered.
He smiled lightly before plodding up the steps again. Bea meant well, as she always did. He could only hope it was enough.
After Albus left, Bea flopped down across the entire length of the sofa. Fred had a point, but they were supposed to be the plucky underdogs! The duo that charged through thick and thin, thwarting the evil plans of the smarmy, monocled capitalists! Whatever they were. Couldn't Fred show a hint of optimism?
Besides, she had told him from the very beginning that it was more than just any old invention; it was going to pull wizards out of their silly traditionalism. Wizarding culture was falling fast behind against the tech age of the Muggles, and all they needed to do was figure out a way to get magic to work with some circuitry. If they could cure the common cold, surely they could do this much.
But wizards were wizards. There were still so many who snubbed their noses at primitive devices, and no one would hear the growing clamor for tellies and laptops and mobiles—Fred included. He didn't live in both worlds like she did. For one, his definition of instant messaging was that the owls flew a lot faster. He didn't see how big this would be.
She sighed. There was so much she needed, not only money but access to a proper workplace. A prefect on their side wasn't half-bad, either.
On cue, Ravenclaw's red-headed terror loomed over like a phantom.
"Bea? Could I borrow you for a sec?"
"Er—" But before Bea could properly respond, Rose dragged her up and out of her seat. She didn't fight, for while Rose was skittishly harmless, she was also a lunatic.
Rose towed Bea to a quieter corner of the common room, obscured by the back of a shelf.
"Are you all right?" asked Bea. Her temper dampened quickly as she watched Rose pace around, wringing her hands.
"No, I'm not all right! I am in a crisis—!" Rose let out a long breath. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap. I—I'm just at the end of my wits. I don't know what to do..." Her words devolved into despairing squeaks.
Bea certainly didn't know what to do, whatever it was. It was times like these that she wished Rose had a larger group of friends to consult; few people other than Lucy or Verona could stand her, which was only a result of living with her for so long (the violent tendencies were endearing, even). But Verona wouldn't care to listen and Lucy would only laugh in her face. That left Bea, and it was a sad state of affairs when your local nutter was the go-to girl for advice.
"...so I was wondering if I could maybe help," finished Rose.
"Help?" repeated Bea, blinking. She wasn't the greatest listener, either.
"With your trap-sitter thing. It can make mobiles and laptops and intertubes work in Hogwarts right?"
"It's transistor, and yeah, it can do all that, but it's a little more complicated—"
"I know, I have to sign up for some Muggle service. Right now, I just need to know if this thing you're working on will let me ring people."
"Theoretically..." Bea wasn't sure if Rose understood she might not get reception in the Scottish moors, especially in a place that didn't exactly exist to phone companies. Rose seemed to have been doing quite a lot of research, however. "What's this all about?"
Rose bit her lip. The hand-wringing resumed. "You've... you've got to keep this secret, okay?" Bea nodded. "You know Colin, the boy I've been getting letters from? The one I'm making that Squib rights group for? Well..." Her eyes squeezed shut. "He is the squib."
The Wizarding community had made great strides in anti-discrimination since the last war, but if news broke out that Rose Weasley was in love with a squib, it would make her an absolute laughingstock.
"I lied about him going to the Arthurian Academy," she whimpered. "He just goes to Muggle school and he has Muggle things and he wants to talk to me the Muggle way and I don't know what to do, Bea. I don't know what to do!"
She flung herself at Bea, sobbing hysterically, while the diminutive girl stood stock-still with her hands up. Cautiously, she pat Rose on the back.
Bea knew how it felt to be cut off from the Muggle world. Last summer, after she, Mum, and Sasha moved in with her grandparents after the divorce, she had to bid goodbye to her electronics; there was too much magical interference at home for them to work properly. She missed all the crazy gadgets that did things that wizards couldn't even dream of.
That was what she admired about Muggles like Dad; they had such imagination. It was no wonder they never needed magic.
Eventually, Rose calmed down to a coherent babble. "Colin has a point. He wants to grow up like a Muggle and if that's the case, it's not right to keep him tied to this world. He already owls me, but I want to hear his voice and see him... Muggles have that two-way mirror thing—"
"Yeah, that, and maybe he'll like me, maybe he'll really like me and not hate me like everyone else and oh my god my life is a wreck—" Rose's voice climbed toward a dangerous shrill.
"No one hates you! You're um... you're just a little intimidating sometimes—"
"EVERYONE HATES ME!"
"Shh, shh!" Bea looked around wildly. Nearby Snap players stared. "I don't hate you. And... you know what? I am going to let you help me with the transistor." A prefect did come in handy...
Rose brightened, almost to the point where she wouldn't scare away first years on sight. "You are? I'm a fair brewer. Charms, too—"
"Actually, I was wondering if you'd be willing to, er, bend a few rules..."
All of Rose's nervous habits threatened to break loose as the question flashed before her eyes. Her beloved rule book or her beloved boy?
"Do it for Colin," pressed Bea. It was terrible to take advantage of an emotionally distraught girl, but surely it was in Rose's best interest. After all, who knew when she would ever be able to find another bloke she liked so much and didn't run away from her screaming?
At last, trembling, Rose nodded. Bea smiled widely, forgetting herself for a moment, before hastily conjuring a handkerchief.
Who needed Malfoy, anyway?
A/N last edit 3/25/12, formerly chapter 6 part 2
:D THE TEAM IS ASSEMBLED. Sort of. Kind of against their will and/or bribed.
Coming Soon: A FIGHT D: Girl banter. Cupcakes.
And so the first domino tipped over. She had been waiting for this moment, ever since the train ride at the beginning of the school year, where the carriage felt more empty than ever before. Some people were able to keep in touch with friends despite having different schedules, living in different houses, or leaving Hogwarts, but neither she nor Fred were like that. Without James, they were drifting apart.
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