Chapter Twelve - Plan, Plot, Scheme
And suddenly it was April.
Okay, I’m exaggerating there. April wasn’t sudden at all. April kind of limped along in succession of moody thunderstorms, bringing up the rear behind March – a March of unusually good weather, although a bad bout of flu kept me out of action and under Tarquin’s motherly gaze for a week or so – and February, which, as Februaries go, was pretty average. February is typically a cold and rather miserable month, although not as cold and miserable as January. Scorpius, as resident mope, seemed to be in his natural habitat amongst the brooding, endless rain and the grey London streets. If he was a month, he would be January. Thirty days of non-stop pessimism.
I don’t mean it to sound like these months were boring or anything. They were, in fact, as memorable as any. Take, for example, a night out in March that seemed to end up with Scorpius upside down in a skip, and another awkward date with Obscure Henry in late February that resulted in nothing more than an awkward snog and another awkward interjection from Scorpius and a yarn about Tarquin’s ‘illegitimate son’. Scorpius timed his third-wheel interjection so well that Obscure Henry actually accidentally headbutted me. I may still have a dent on my forehead. And it was pretty alarming to have Scorpius pop-up dramatically mid snog.
Minor injuries aside, I was starting to see it as one of the best years of my life. Hogwarts had been all well and good, but where’s the fun in libraries and second-rate Quidditch games? The most excitement I’d had before this was my little Firewhisky enterprise in fifth year, and that had been cut prematurely short with my near expulsion and staff insisting I was only allowed to carry on because of ‘concerns for my education’ – concerns for the sanity of my father, more like. Art school was mad. I’d never known such sociable people in my life. Now I was living with Scorpius and Tarquin, I had round-the-clock mild eccentricity to keep me company. At Hogwarts, I had to share a room with four hormonal little harpies who didn’t quite agree with my rule-breaking escapades or my cousins. My social circle was largely made up of boys for a reason, although most people saw that reason in a rather unsavoury way.
As I’ve probably mentioned before, I had an absolutely cracking
reputation at school, both social and academic. Once upon a time, there was a name oft applied to me, and it rhymed with witch. And nobody had called me that since I’d come to London, so I felt like it was really the place to be.
I turned nineteen at last on the fourth of April, finally catching up with Scorpius in the age stakes before he would turn twenty in July. I wasn’t by any means the baby of the art gang – Eunice, as far as I knew, had been born in August – but I was the youngest out of my usual group (Tarquin and Gwendolyn/Raven both on the cusp of twenty-one – that’s a great phrase, isn’t it? On the cusp. I think it’s fab. Moving on…). I kind of wished I was a year older, thinking I’d have had more fun in life that way. Al and Scorpius had their own in-jokes from Hogwarts, as did Tarquin and Gwendolyn/Raven – there were people from my year in London, alright, but I wasn’t exactly inclined to meet up with any of them
. I hadn’t parted with any of my friends on the best of terms.
So I wished I’d been born a year earlier and had been part of the whole Rose/Scorpius drama from the outset. When Al told me all about it, I could only think how much fun it would’ve been to be a part of it, how much of a laugh the teenage Scorpius might have been to have around. Okay, I’d met him at school and known he existed, but we’d probably exchanged about three words in the entire time we were both there and were pretty much total strangers. It would have cheered me up no end to have been friends with Scorpius at Hogwarts. The boy’s good entertainment value – his poor coordination alone would have kept me chirpy for a year or two.
So, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, April kind of just…arrived
. Time flies when you’re having fun.
Operation Hippogriff was going well. At least once a week, Albus and I would either take Rose out somewhere or visit her, and at least once a week we would do the same with Scorpius. Neither of them were none the wiser – there was vague talk of ‘forgiving’ each other, but their paths never once crossed, and as far as Scorpius was aware my visits to Rose were actually visits to my parents. Considering how dim and clumsy I usually am, I kept Operation Hippogriff surprisingly secret. Tarquin and Gwendolyn/Raven were in on it, of course, but more in a casual observational capacity. ‘Casual observational capacity’ meaning that they spent a lot of time peering at Scorpius like demented hawks.
Up until the end of April, it was a fairly casual affair. Hints were dropped, glances were exchanged, music was faced at Rose’s flat. In whatever spare time we could find together, Albus and I schemed. We made diagrams. We drew maps. We sat in dingy rooms, building forts out of empty bottles and shooing away bystanders. We took up casual espionage. We confined ourselves to darkness, cupboards and codewords; we took it in turns to crouch outside Rose’s window, occasionally peering in; I spent an uncomfortable afternoon in Scorpius’ wardrobe until I realised he was out all day and I wasn’t really achieving much by shoving myself into his sock drawer.
We stayed up past the very small hours of the morning, we paid Tarquin in cans of spray paint for arranging an elaborate practical joke that, really, had no relevance to the project and was just a little bit of comic relief. Then we remembered that all we had to do was set two people up – a pisstake of a job, really - and started getting a lot more fresh air and light in celebration.
Considering the level of blundering stupidity and incompetence we were running Operation Hippogriff at, Scorpius and Rose remained absolutely clueless. I was amazed.
Scorpius also somehow - somehow
- managed to break into the world of paid employment. What with his dramatic resignation from the farce that had been Screaming Bloodthirsty Disco and his father’s disapproval of the whole art school life, he was running rather low on funds. He took a job in a background jazz band at some dingy bar near Diagon Alley. I started looking for a job too, although not very successfully. I tended to make the mistake of being myself in interviews. I was also supposed to be flat-hunting, although that wasn’t going anywhere either. I wouldn’t admit it to them, but I was enjoying living on Scorpius and Tarquin’s sofa too much to move out.
Not that my life was stagnating or anything, as I’ve already pointed out. Simply put, I was having too much fun to do serious grown-up things like work and hunting for proper accommodation. Occasionally, I do
feel that the reputation I had at school was justified.
One afternoon in late April, Al and I met up, as usual, in a pub. It was brilliantly sunny outside, but the pub was dark and dingy; I thought I’d been blinded as I walked in and nearly walked into a party of Warlocks in my blindness. Skirting around them, I made a beeline for Al, who was sitting near the back.
‘Hey, Al,’ I perched on the edge of the free stool, dumping a bag of film (that morning’s purchase) onto the table. ‘How’s it going?’
‘Oh, fine,’ Al said. ‘We’ve got the details of the – what are you wearing?’
‘I’ve never seen you in a shirt like that before,’ he grimaced. ‘You look like a lumberjack. And are there birds nesting in that hair?’
‘It’s not my shirt, I just borrowed it. Since when were you a style guru? You can hardly talk,’ I pointed to his own mop of hair. ‘You look like you’ve got a cat sleeping on your head.’
‘Oh, burn, great comeback. I’m a boy, I’m allowed to look messy,’ he said. ‘You’re usually just a good deal more well-groomed than this, did something happen?’
‘Since when have I been well-groomed? Well, we were out last night and-’
‘Say no more. Something happened involving a skip, a wheely bin, a hedge, a cow? Or all of the above?’
‘Wheely bin, yes, skip, hedge, cow, no. Not to my recollection.’
Al groaned and cast his gaze to the floor. Then, suddenly, he lunged for my feet and hoisted them upwards, almost making me fall backwards off of my stool. A few funny looks were cast our way as my arms windmilled pathetically, then grasped the edges of the table. Al scrutinised my leather boots with a disdainful eye.
‘I’ve never seen you in anything but trainers,’ he let my feet drop with a clatter, this time nearly making me fall forwards
off the stool. I gripped the table again and stared daggers at him, clutching to the bag of film for reassurance.
‘Al, this isn’t funny. These boots have reinforced toecaps and I am not afraid to use them-’
‘Art school is having a big effect on you,’ he tittered, peering into the bag of film. ‘You’ve started dressing like Scorpius, this is hilarious. I thought you were supposed to be the bad influence…’
‘You’re not exactly in fits of laughter here-’
‘Well, what I brought you here to talk about was our plan.’
Wardrobe discussions went out the window. ‘Yes,’ I leaned in. ‘Our plan.’
‘My parents’ wedding anniversary is the fifteenth of June,’ he said. ‘That’s the date.’
‘The date,’ he confirmed. ‘We’re allowed a guest each.’
‘I’ll bring Scorpius,’ I said, without hesitation.
‘Good. So. We’ll enter the house. We need to plan our arrival well, we don’t want him arriving at the same time as Rose – could you imagine how awkward that would be in the vestibule?’
‘Erm, the porch.’
‘Right. Well, Rose will be early anyway,’ I said. ‘And there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell me and Scorp would ever turn up at any time other than fashionably late.’
‘It starts at seven,’ Al adopted a ponderous look. ‘Maybe if you turned up at…hmm, nine?’
‘We’ll meet you before we go in, make sure we’re both close by, just in case...’
‘Wise. So we’ll meet outside at nine, then we’ll get Molly to divert Rose or something?’
‘Yeah. If they stick to a vaguely quiet place…’
‘The morning room?’
‘The one off the kitchen…oh, nevermind, we’ll put them in the parlour.’
‘You have a parlour?’
‘Sitting room. Living room. Room with the sofas in,’ he said, changing tack. ‘We’ll get Rose on one side of the room and enter through the door with him opposite her-’
‘And they will share a lingering glance-’
‘Or Rose will blow the house up.’
‘We’ll just have to wait and see.’
Waiting and seeing seemed to be on the agenda that month. In a bizarre twist of fate and coincidence, the end-of-year show was planned to finish on June the fourteenth, with the end-of-year party set to take place later that night. I didn’t actually have a final piece or anything to display – just a bunch of photos – but then again, neither did anyone else. What had been a mildly peaceful and lazy bunch of artists throughout the year morphed into a frenetic bunch of diagram-drawing, paint-hoarding, caffeine-quaffing freaks. It became a bit of a tradition that, when asked what their final piece was, the student in question would reply ‘wait and see’.
Gwendolyn/Raven was the first to come up with her final piece.
‘I want you all to dress up as bats,’ she said, breezing into the common room around lunchtime early in May (alright, not that
much happened in April).
‘What’s the occasion?’
‘For my final piece,’ she explained, scrutinising the common room with her arms folded. ‘Do you think the light fittings are strong enough to support our weight?’
The three of us (Scorpius, Tarquin and I, engaged in a game of snap) looked up at the grimy strip-lighting that hung above us. I don’t know how the light fittings got so grubby when they hung out of our reach – but, then again, this was art school and the laws of physics didn’t really apply.
‘No,’ Tarquin said. ‘Definitely not. But I’m sure Scorpius would be willing to test them for you.’
Gwendolyn/Raven frowned. ‘I need you all to dangle from something
, though…the roof?’
‘You could hire a barrage balloon of some sort?’ Scorpius suggested.
‘What about a simple levitation spell?’ I chipped in.
‘No,’ she said, sounding cross. ‘The whole point is we don’t use magic. It’s to emphasise how, we, as magically able beings, rely on magic for everything, and it’s to show the underlying problems of dependency and basic self-sufficiency in this society by showing the anguish of having to go without magic. You’ll be dressed as bats to show your mourning for your lost powers.’
‘Right. That…makes sense.’ Tarquin said.
‘It’s called The Plight of the Wandless
,’ she said dramatically. ‘The Plight. Of the Wandless
Silence answered her, then-
‘Where do we get bat costumes from?’
‘I might make them,’ Gwendolyn/Raven said, with a pensive stare at the lights. ‘I’ll use wire for the wings…’
She trailed off, mumbling to herself. A moment later, she took a seat next to Tarquin, folding her hands into her lap and staring abstractly into the distance. The snap game continued – Tarquin won by a narrow margin, leaving Scorpius and I nursing bruised fingers – until, finally, the hour hand of the clock dragged itself to four, and Scorpius announced he was going to make a batch of tea.
Tarquin, Gwendolyn/Raven and I casually watched him for a few minutes as he dropped a box of teabags, got a spoon stuck up his sleeve and, for the grand finale, upended half of the (mercifully unboiled) kettle onto Obscure Henry’s head. As per bloody usual.
The three of us continued to watch in vague interest as Scorpius flapped his arms and hopped around from foot to foot, apologising profusely to Henry, who had got up from the sofa and had joined in the flapping and hopping (flopping?). As the two of them hopped and flapped around each other, probably communicating their hair woes to each other through the medium of interpretive dance, Gwendolyn/Raven leaned in and said, in an undertone, ‘how’re things with Henry?’
‘Things with Henry?’ I laughed. ‘Well…’
As if on cue, Henry turned away from his flopping and brushed down the front of his checked shirt, staring murderously in our direction. Okay, not at us – I got the feeling he was frowning at the pinboard behind us instead – but it proved my point so well that Tarquin actually chuckled.
‘Awkward,’ he said.
‘He wasn’t a bad catch,’ Gwendolyn/Raven mused. ‘But you could do far better.’
At this point, Scorpius hopped over to where Henry was standing with a wodge of kitchen paper in his hand. The two of them seemed to exchange a meaningful glance – there was a sharp intake of breath from Tarquin and Gwendolyn/Raven – and then Henry accepted the kitchen paper and patted Scorpius on the back in that way that blokes always do.
‘Nah,’ I said. ‘There isn’t exactly a whole heap of choice.’
Tarquin looked mildly affronted. ‘What are you trying to say?’ he swept his arm about the room. ‘Are you not entranced by the mysterious élan of Barry?’
The Barry in question looked up from his tormented brooding at the rug, looking moody and confused. Tarquin threw him a lively wave.
‘I like guys with a bit of cheer, to be honest,’ I admitted.
‘Do you now?’ Gwendolyn/Raven leant forward, chin resting on her hand. ‘What else?’
‘Why do you ask?’
‘Oh, you know,’ she said dismissively. ‘Just wondering. Henry’s deep. He’s moody. Not your type, obviously.’
‘I dunno,’ I said. ‘But, then again, he did ask me
‘You’re a very cheerful person,’ Tarquin chipped in. ‘Ever the optimist…’
‘…which makes your choice of Henry somewhat curious.’
‘I didn’t choose
him, he asked me out-’
‘And why did you say yes? Because opposites attract,’ Gwendolyn/Raven said firmly. ‘What’s your final piece, Tarquin?’
‘Wait and see.’
‘Lucy, do you have one?’
‘Oh, I dunno,’ I said. ‘I thought I’d just frame a bunch of my photos all nice, stick them on the wall…’
At that moment, Scorpius came wandering back over, a tray of teacups rattling in his arms. He set them down carefully on the table – just in time, as well, as a moment later he stood on his own shoelace and ended up falling into his chair.
‘Smooth,’ Tarquin tittered. ‘Do you have a final piece, Scorp?’
‘Erm,’ Scorpius said, struggling to free himself from the vast, squishy cushions. ‘I had this idea about covering a wall in duct tape, black duct tape – the whole thing, like a massive, bottomless pit-’
‘Except it’s a wall.’
‘Well, yeah, but it’s supposed to be-’
‘Covered in tape.’
‘Well, paint is expensive.’
‘And duct tape isn’t?’
‘Erm,’ Scorpius repeated. ‘Erm, alright. I’ll just paint some masking tape then-’
‘Paint is expensive,’ Gwendolyn/Raven echoed. ‘So you’re covering a wall in duct tape?’
‘Yeah,’ Scorpius spread out his arms as if to indicate just how big this bottomless-pit-made-of-tape-and-not-actually-a-pit-but-a-wall would be. ‘And in the middle there’ll be a little white speck about the size of a sequin.’
Everyone grimaced; I got the feeling we were all sharing a Lettuce flashback.
‘Right. So what does the…er, the white speck represent?’ Tarquin asked.
‘Um,’ Scorpius shuffled about uncomfortably, pulling his sleeves over his hands. ‘Well…me.’
The three of us gaped at him.
,’ I finally managed to choke out.
‘Pretentious.’ Tarquin said firmly.
‘Henry’s making a sculpture out of air,’ Scorpius whined, as if to shift the label of ‘pretentious’ onto someone else. ‘To represent…oh, I dunno, it’s a load of bollocks.’
‘And here’s me just hanging pictures on a wall,’ I said. ‘Maybe I should hang them on the outside wall instead, just to get that extra dash of deepness-’
I broke off when I realised that the other three were nodding in approval.
‘That’s a really good idea!’ Scorpius said.
My artistic ego inflated just a little bit more.
As well as being a month of waiting and seeing, May was also a month of scheming. On one rather cold night in May, I ended up shivering in a phone box outside the flat, hair still damp from the shower and staring up at several rather dodgy business cards that had been tacked to the back wall.
‘Albus,’ I hissed down the phone, as soon as the connection was made. ‘An owl would have sufficed.’
‘It couldn’t wait!’ Al cried. ‘I have important news!’
(See, Tarquin had got into the flat no less than five minutes ago to say that some idiot had been ringing the phone box outside pretty much non-stop since nine o’clock that evening, and the muggles in the surrounding flats with all their neighbourhood watch curtain-twitching had got a bit mardy about it. Which was why, if I turned around, I’d be able to see several of them watching me to make sure I was telling my idiot cousin to stop calling.)
‘Be quick,’ I told him. ‘I’ve got the mad muggle brigade breathing down my neck-’
‘Wannacomeholiday?’ Al nearly yelled down the phone.
‘Wanna…come…holiday?’ he said, sounding breathless.
‘I’m still confused-’
Al let out a cry of frustration. ‘Posh Healer mate!’ he cried. ‘In my flat! Dad of posh Healer mate has holiday home in Devon! Posh Healer mate is lending it to me for a week! For a discount price! It takes four people! Four! Four!
‘So take your posh Healer mates-’
’ Al nearly screamed. ‘Me and you makes two, and Rose and Sc-’
I nearly jumped up and down in the phonebox (the surly muggles outside were giving me the evil eye like nothing else). ‘But that’s perfect! They’ll have ages to work out their differences away from…away from all the the
ness of London!’
‘That’s what I thought!’ Al said. ‘Only in less words. And a bit less shouty.’
‘And a holiday!’ I nearly screeched. ‘Is there a beach?’
‘Why would there not
be a beach?’
‘There’s a beach!’ I hollered, twisting round to face the muggles outside. Looking positively alarmed, they started to inch away back to their flats.
‘And we’ve got it for a week from the sixteenth of June!’ Al cried. ‘Perfect timing or what?
‘Perfect timing!’ I shrieked back at him.
We spent the next five minutes essentially shrieking at each other and planning the aforementioned holiday, right down to what flavours of ice cream we would buy each day. Albus was just contemplating what pistachio flavour would taste like with chocolate when the phone line beeped and he swore very colourfully at the top of his voice.
‘Ah!’ he cried. ‘Phones aren’t free! Or cheap!’
A second later the line went dead. I hung up and left the phone box, casting the gaggle of muggles what I hoped was a sincere and apologetic smile before retreating back to the flat.
‘Did you manage to talk to Al?’ Tarquin asked, when I finally flopped back into the sofa, running my hands through my now slightly less damp but a great deal frizzier hair.
‘Yes,’ I said, then told him all about the holiday situation.
‘Wow, wish I was going,’ Tarquin said. ‘Although somehow I can’t picture Scorpius in sunglasses and surfing shorts-’
He was cut off as the front door slammed open and Scorpius himself came thundering through, looking as though he’d been told that fringes had been declared illegal and Christmas cancelled in one fell swoop. He paused to slam the door shut again with his foot, and then stormed into the kitchen. Tossing his jacket in the vague vicinity of the table (and missing), he finally threw himself into the armchair, the worn cushions letting out a rather ungainly noise that can only be described as akin to the passing of wind.
‘Bad day?’ Tarquin asked, politely.
Scorpius grimaced. ‘I hate my job,’ he whined. ‘It’s so hopelessly boring. They only want me to play background jazz and it’s dead dull, and then I get requests from people who are all like, ooh, play this by the Weird Sisters, play that by Celestina Warbeck, and all they want is rubbish
music that uses, like, three chords-’
‘Such philistines,’ Tarquin said, making no effort to conceal his broad grin.
‘And then this one woman came up to me and was all, oh, play this by the bugs, or the insects, or something, some stupid muggle band I’ve never heard of, and she fully did her nut – it’s ridiculous! We’re a bunch of- of-’ he flapped his arms around his head, searching for the right word. ‘Magicfolk!
’ he finally spluttered, with a horrified look.
‘Scorpius,’ I said, trying to keep a trembling laugh at bay. ‘Was it the Beatles?’
‘Something like that,’ he waved me away. ‘It’s ridiculous, who’s ever heard of them?’
Tarquin and I exchanged a pointed look. Then, Tarquin sighed, and came to sit beside me on the sofa, facing Scorpius.
‘Scorp,’ he said, patiently. ‘Everybody
has heard of the Beatles.’
Scorpius blundered through several lame excuses, flapping his hands around again, before, finally, he turned the colour of a ripe tomato and said, ‘er, but, my dad. He’s all…pureblood. And stuff. And he banned muggle things.’
‘Isn’t your mum muggle liaison?’ Tarquin said.
‘And didn’t they play you the songs in Muggle Studies?’ I chipped in. ‘They did to my class. We had to learn about them for the culture section of the O.W.L…’
Scorpius did more hand-flapping, looking incredibly flustered – I imagined he’d stormed all the way up the stairs and was still out of breath. ‘Yeah, but, nobody paid attention in Muggle Studies.’
‘Nah, it was a really good lesson when they played us The Beatles,’ Tarquin said, a faraway, dreamy look on his face. ‘Maybe they just skipped your year.’
‘I dunno,’ Scorpius said. ‘Maybe…maybe I just forgot. Are they any good?’
Tarquin and I exchanged another look.
‘Put it this way,’ I said. ‘They’re the most famous band ever
for a reason.’
‘Well,’ Scorpius threw up his hands. ‘Passed me by.’
‘To be fair, they were around a time ago,’ Tarquin said. ‘But what about muggle music in general? Do you know anything?
‘Er…no,’ Scorpius said. ‘Honestly? No.’
‘But they play muggle stuff on the WWN all the time-’
‘I don’t listen to the wireless!’ he burst out. ‘I – I grew up in a Pureblood house! And my mum isn’t really in muggle liaison for the music, more like in it for the pay-’
‘What about Al?’ I chipped in. ‘Al always liked muggle music, he’s practically an authority on Britpop…’
‘Well,’ Scorpius shrugged. ‘He played records around and about the dorm, yeah, but it’s not like I paid too much attention to them or anything.’
, Scorp,’ I said. ‘You’ve got to have liked at least one
‘Er…’ he went bright red again. ‘Er, um, Al listened to The Smiths a lot. And I guess they were okay.’
I exchanged a third look with Tarquin.
‘Typical,’ I said.
‘Right up your street, I guess,’ Tarquin said. ‘Just okay, were they?’
‘Nooo,’ Scorpius had gone bright red again. He blundered about for words for a bit, and then, finally, said ‘…Rose. Rose liked them too.’
‘Rose?’ Tarquin and I exclaimed in unison.
I somehow found it hard to believe that even Rose listened
‘Well, um, you know-’
‘No, we don’t know,’ Tarquin said. ‘Stop being so you
and just spit it out.’
‘They had that song. It was our song,’ Scorpius said in a very, very, very
The general pfffffttt
ing from the direction of me and Tarquin made Scorpius shrink back in his chair and clutch at the armrests.
‘Mmmmmmm,’ Scorpius mmmd.
‘Oh. Wow. You had a song,’ I said. ‘Wow. That’s…wow.’
‘Mmmmmmm,’ Scorpius mmmd again, sinking into his chair as if hoping it would swallow him whole.
‘Well. Wow,’ Tarquin echoed.
I honestly couldn’t imagine Rose being sentimental enough to have ‘a song’ and, for a second, I didn’t think I fully believed Scorpius. But then I noticed how hopelessly embarrassed he looked, and realised that he was actually telling the truth.
My first reaction was that I should extract from Scorpius the name of this song, then make a madcap dash to the phone booth outside and update Al on this latest development, so that we might play it at the promised Rose-and-Scorpius reunion. I’d just opened my mouth to ask him when Tarquin got up, gave me a very pointed look that seemed to say ‘ask him about the holiday already, you fool’ (or maybe I was imagining things and he was just giving a general look) and sloped off to the loo.
‘So, Scorpius,’ I said, casually. ‘Are you doing anything this holiday?’
‘Nooooo,’ he seemed to sink deeper into his chair. ‘Nothing planned…might go and see my mum…’
‘Well, fancy going somewhere?’
‘Huh?’ he sat up a little straighter. ‘What, like a day trip?’
‘Better! Al’s managed to get hold of a place from one of his posh Healer mates…it’s in Devon. He says we can have it for a week. Just the three of us!’
See, this was all part of the plan. Keep Rose and Scorpius in the dark until we actually set off. Then the reconciliation/total madness would begin.
‘Oh!’ he sat up fully, a small, smile replacing the radioactive blush. ‘That’d be lovely.’
And so, you know, the plan sort of came together.
: haai. Oh my word, I'm sorry this chapter took me so long and then turned out so generally meh and naff. It's one of those transition-y chapters that kind of sets up the plot for later action, and was mostly written in little snatches between exams (they're over! at last!) so it's a bit...meh. Hopefully I can get the next one up quickly.
I'm actually unbelievably chuffed (still) because, well, I got featured story of the month at TGS this May. I'm really honoured that my arty-farty slapstick was recognised in this way, and I'd like to thank Gubby for nominating me (I fully flailed for about an hour and it really made a horrendous week a lot better) and also anyone who voted. To use a much over-used phrase, I was over the moon. Also, I should thank Gina and Hattie for helping me out with these final piece ideas, more of which will appear later. I may be an art student, but even I'm not pretentious enough to think about what this bunch would do. So thank you, guys!
edited 19/06/2012 - made considerable changes to much of this chapter