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Chapter 4 : Task One
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• tiger sized
What I got however was more along the lines of:
• dragon sized, complete with wings
Really mother nature? Your damn monthly gifts, now this?
Just as I wondered if a spare pair of pants would be needed I remembered I was meant to be fighting this thing. I took several uncertain steps forward, stumbling and avoiding the temptation to look at its eyes. The crowd cheered and I felt so weak and useless, why the hell did the goblet pick me? I can't think of a single person who could've done worse, with the exception of fat Larry of course.
If I die what would I have accomplished?
Well I guess there's always that time I did the Heimlich manoeuvre on Hugo when he choked on a fish bone, I basically saved his life, although I'm not sure if the time when I pushed him into the road and he almost got killed by a car cancels that out... oh well, don't ruin the dream.
The crowd was starting to look somewhere between concerned for me, and annoyed that I wasn't doing anything. I'd like to see them be in my shoes for a bit. Anyway, just keep walking forward and hope it looks like you know what you're doing. Plan.
Then the ground lurched.
I jumped behind a bolder as the Cockatrice stepped towards me, shaking the earth, I saw the surface of a small puddle ripple, fracturing the reflection. Reflection! Water! Holy shit I was a genius!
The cockatrice took another step, I stole a glance from behind my rocky shield, it was stood in front of a great dip, the perfect solution formed in my mind, and best of all it needed little to no courage, intelligence, or physical strength! Things were looking up.
"Aguamenti" I whispered and watched the gush of water from the tip of my wand trickle down the harsh slope, this was going to take forever.
Then an idea popped into my mind, I'd always noticed that for a larger effect you simply add 'maxima' to the end of a spell, because whoever created spells (if they were even created) was obviously a creative bastard, still worth a shot. I crawled across a bit, earning a tiny 'whoop!' from a spectator. No eye contact, no eye contact, no eye contact.
The cockatrice looked like it'd been waiting, its great beaked face leaning low, watching the trickle of water with caution.
"Aguamenti maxima!" It worked!
I had to grab my wand with both hands because the gush had become more of a water fall, and the Cockatrice screeched and stepped back, seeming to fear the water. The hollow soon filled up so I stanched the flow. Instantly the Cockatrice flapped its wings and reared onto its back legs, screaming out what appeared to be a battle cry, the surface of the water was still rippling, and when he lurched himself from the ground they became more violent.
I scrambled across on all fours, not thinking straight enough to stand. I pressed down too hard with my right hand and heard a crunch. Preying what I thought had happened had not, I raised my hand, splintered pieces of wood stuck to my palm, my crushed wand lay in two parts on the ground. When people noticed what had happened there was a muffled gasp followed by complete silence.
I shoved the parts into my pocket, and looked up to check the whereabouts of the Cockatrice, it was directly above me. Its body rose and fell with each mighty flap of its wings, its golden eyes daring me to look at them. Extending a great arm, it batted me around my centre, flinging me god knows how far, until I hit a rock with such force my head swung back and cracked against it. Then I slumped to the ground, the spectators were screaming. Just managing to raise my arm to check for blood it knocked me again, this time flinging me in the opposite direction, I had no idea where I was going to land, I was very high up and I'd completely lost my sense of direction.
I felt myself falling, I had been too high up, whatever I hit would surely kill me, I could just imagine elderly Madame Pomfrey cleaning up my jammy remains off the ground. Jammy. I know it's not the time for it but that is such a shit word.
Then I smacked down, I was completely baffled until I realised that it was water I'd hit, and I felt myself sinking. At first I was relived, but I was soon panicking again, aren't I just a bundle of fun. The blow had winded me, and now I was in water. Which way was up? I turned over and over, then scrambled upwards when I saw a vague light, it seemed my 5 years of swimming lessons were of no use.
I gasped in the air then pushed myself back under, remaining as still as I could without resurfacing. I heard another screech, disorientated by the water and watched the blobby outline of the Cockatrice search around hopelessly.
It seemed to take an eternity for it to still, what with a giant beast above me, and my lungs feeling like when you drink too much water from your bottle, and its starts crumpling in on itself, but it did come, only the Cockatrice wasn't looking. Gently as I could I swam up, drawing in a rasping breath as soon as I could, loud enough for it to hear. As soon as it looked over though it flinched away. Then like a phoenix it began to burn, until there was just a huge pile of ash.
There was so much cheering that everything felt surreal, I staggered out and crumbled spluttering on the side, I bet I looked like a right champion. Golden and glinting I noticed it, the clue.
With the last of my energy I made my way over to it, pulling it from its bed of ashes, and I held onto it like a life line, this miniature model horse, crafted effortlessly from gold.
Fred and James took full advantage of the opportunity to throw a party in the room of requirement, only I was in the hospital wing recovering from stitches on my head. Thanks for the support my cousins. In fact all of my visitors had apologised and left 'seeing as I was all ok', which basically translated to 'there's a party on and you can't really do anything, so I'll go do that because it's more fun', it's not like it was meant to be my celebration or anything.
So me and the golden horse, which I named Perry, just had to chill by ourselves. Which was cool, he's a right laugh. Only I had a lovely reminder of my other, less life threatening problems, when Scorpius sulked in. I don't think there's any other way to describe his entrance. He looked like a little scolded boy sent to the naughty step. To be fair, if there was one I probably would have sent him to it.
He slunk into the chair beside me and chewed on his lip with frightening viciousness.
"I don't know what to say."
Took him a bloody long time to think of that opening line.
"Then don't say anything." I hope that hurt.
I glanced around, the room was empty, obviously Kristine and Matthew had made it out alright. Though one of them most likely had every piece of information on Cockatrices that the library had to offer. I doubt it was Matthew.
"How did the others do."
"They both had the same idea, they turned one of the rocks into a mirror and held it in front of them" right yeah, that would have made sense.
"Don't you want to go to the party? Trina will probably be looking for you."
He just sighed like I was exhausting him and for some reason it hurt, before, even when he had told me something that felt like it'd broken me, it at least seemed like he cared. Now I felt like a nuisance. Dad did tell me to keep away from the Malfoys. I should listen to dad more often.
"Yes, but she's not alone. If I leave you will be." If I didn't think crying was pathetic, I would have done it. I'd been here for less than two weeks and everything was already seeming too much, worst off all I mainly felt bad for him, so I couldn't just wallow in a pit of my own self pity. Which unfortunately is how I deal with most things.
"I have Perry."
He already knew what I meant, and picked him up. I watched him trace the lines on Perry with his fingers, his nails were short from where he had bitten them. Anyone else and this would've annoyed me, but not him.
"He does look like a right laugh"
I tried not to show how shocked I was at how alike we thought.
"But three is company." He continued, smiling at me. I wanted to punch him for being so nice. I was in the mood for an argument. I'll pick on Hugo later.
He place Perry down with precision and traced a vain on my arm like he had been doing with Perry. My arm felt tingly and it reminded me of when mum did it to me when I was a child. Hell, I'm still a child.
I propped myself up against the pillows and he held my hand, giving me a look to warn me that this was purely friendly, but I cracked my head open today, I have right to fantasise. When the doors swung open again it was like a punch in the stomach. Trina. Would it be wrong of me to yell 'oh no! She's caught us!' just to raise suspicions?
"This is why I love you Scorpy," don't mind me whilst I cry with disgust, "you're just so caring! Even for those you have been wishing were gone for ages... no offence Rose!"
Her giggle was like a possessed elf.
"Oh, there's only one chair, you wouldn't mind if I sat on your lap would you?"
"Not at all" I replied, earning me a glare fit to kill a Cockatrice. Maybe she should have been my weapon of choice, screw wands, they break.
She was wearing a short teal dress, her eyes drowning in a sea of glitter and her hair hanging in perfect curls. What did Scorpius see in her. Even though he didn't respond she nestled herself on his lap and attached herself to his face. Despite that he looked unwilling and quickly broke away, something about actually seeing them together, in real life, killed a part of me. A fairly large part as well. A cat-sized part. Like a really fat cat... wait what am I talking about?
"I'm tired, I think you two should go, enjoy the party on my behalf"
I sounded oddly mature. Maybe the part that died was the immature part. No that's never going to happen, scrap that.
"Sounds like a good idea" beamed Trina standing and dragging Scorpius up.
"Meet you there I just need to talk to Madame Hooch about this... ache I've had"
"Hope it's not serious!" She pecked him goodbye and practically skipped off. I felt really old and wise watching them together. I guess on programs and stuff, the wise old woman is always alone. Maybe that's what makes her wise. Ugh, I am wise as well, I'm going all philosophical on myself. I didn't even know I could spell philosophical. Go team me!
"The thing is, I don't really have an ache..."
"No shit?" Mmmm, sarcasm, my cushy safety net.
"It's just, you sure you're okay? I'll stay with you as long as you want"
"Just go, or she'll come back and watching you to together is giving me the oddest urge to slit my wrists." That's right, feel the burn.
Sadly I felt the burn, because he didn't look angry of irritated or anything, he just looked sad. He was being sad at me. Then he left. Sadly.
So I finally had my pit of self pity, but I was struggling to wallow in it, it felt more like I was drowning. God that's deep. So I just went to bed before I did something stupid, like crying or becoming religious.
The next morning Madame Pomfrey came to tell me that I could leave but I told her I still felt dizzy and she left me again after plumping my pillow. Al came to pay me a visit too which was mediocre at best.
"Sorry I didn't come last night, to be honest I completely forgot about you, I went to that party, got completely shit faced and hit it off with this amazing girl from the year above!" A Hufflepuff slut no doubt, but he looked so chuffed with myself I couldn't bring myself to point it out, now I'm wise and caring, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!
He soon launched into a story about him and the Hufflepuff slut, which I blocked out for my own mental safety, no person wants to hear this about their own cousin, or at all in honesty. I tuned in for bits of it but by the end he was staring off into space no doubt reliving the events of last night. Shudder.
"Did you come here for any reason or just to make sure I'm sick enough to have the next few days off?"
Somehow the fact that he's my cousin makes these subjects uncomfortable.
"Sorry, how are you feeling?"
"A lot better, but I'm 'dizzy' so I get to stay for the day" I said doing air quotation marks.
"Oh and did you know Scorpius and Trina are going out? They were all over each other! Bet you didn't see that one coming"
"Trina repulses me."
"Let's be honest though, I'd tap that."
"Ugh, you are so unhelpful it's actually unreal. By the by, do you know where Hugo's been hanging around lately, I might go talk to him later"
"Well, I didn't want to tell you, but apparently he's been skiving a bit, been hanging round behind the herbology greenhouses"
"Bloody hell, really? I knew he was up to something."
"Well, unlike some, I'm off to breakfast, don't have too much fun here by yourself" I don't think his grin had ever annoyed me more. I was in a foul mood and very much looking forward to lecturing Hugo. I told Madame Pomfrey I felt better and was going to head off to lesson, and left clutching Perry, my new bestie.
The morning was pale, the emptiness of everything was reassuring, though if any teachers were to be out for a stroll, Madame Pomfrey said I needed some fresh air; Let's be honest, none of them are going to be bothered to check.
I pretty much knew what I was going to see as soon as I smelt the stench of smoke, only I didn't expect him to also be eating some randomers face (not in a vampire way, unless you're thinking more along the lines of Edward Cullen). I stood for a moment, shocked and admiring the way the girls roots were the direct opposite colour of her hair, before stepping towards him and over reacting slightly, but hey, I just thought a Cockatrice and almost died, if that doesn't give me the right to over react I don't know what the world is coming to.
I grabbed the cigarette from his hand which, was enough to break them apart with a bit of a stunned look, then I may (or may not) have jabbed it into his chest, burning a little hole through his shirt, singing his skin. The girl, apparently not knowing who I am and thinking I was some stranger, proceeded to produce a string of swear words I would not like to repeat to your tender ears, the fucking slut (see what I did there?).
Then my hand slightly collided with her face.
God knows how it got there.
Then she slapped me and I shoved her and she pulled my hair blah blah blah, all I know is that I ended up on the floor having a full on bitch fight, I don't regret it, I've always sort of wanted to see what it's like. Hugo must have pissed off at some point, I think we can see who wears the trousers in this relationship, so when Scorpius turned up, asking (in a very impolite way)why his cousin's nose was bleeding and I was standing looking smug, I can see how it could have looked bad.
Despite my feeble attempts of explaining Scorpius put his arms around the racoon-eyed girl and led her away, mouthing 'what is wrong with you?' over his shoulder. Damn. My life is a mess.
I trudged back to the hospital wing, feeling less happy overall than I had on the way out, but Scorpius couldn't just let it lye, oh no, that would just be appalling.
"What the hell was that?" I turned on my heel to see him storming towards me along the corridor.
"I'm ill," I moaned, "leave me be"
"Well maybe I would if you didn't go around punching my relatives in the face! And to think I felt bad for you yesterday!"
"A, it was self defence, B, it was a head butt."
"Self defence? She said you walked up to her and slapped her."
"Strictly speaking that's not true, she swore at me first and I was only innocently approaching her and Hugo."
"Whilst we're on the subject, I saw Hugo on the way in, a mysterious burn mark on his shirt Eve informs me was your doing. I see that Cockatrice gave you a taste for fighting, huh?"
"You don't even know her name!"
"Oh right... that Eve..."
"Sometimes I just don't get you, Weasley." He spat my name at me and pushed past me, oh no you don't, you started this argument doesn't mean you can end it when you want!
"Yeah well!" I called after him, "just because I'm defensive of my brother, you wouldn't understand because you're a spoilt little only child"
He turned a corner out of sight.
"And so's ya mum!" Ha. That ought to show him.
This was a sad argument. Not only did he clearly win but things with us were just looking somewhat better between us. I can't be dealing with this right now, screw dignity.
"Scorpius!" I yelled, jogging after him. "Scorpius! Wait up!"
He faced me, giving me the most withering expression he could humanly muster.
"Okay look, I don't like arguing with you, and I know we do it a lot, and I know I sometimes don't particularly help matters, and I know I may have gone around 'punching' your relatives in the face, and I know that there was that one time that I-"
"I like you, let's be friends?"
He raised an eyebrow like I might be joking, then held out his hand, his little finger extended. Ah, the pinkie promise, you can't get more serious a promise than that.
"Crosses don't count" I mumbled whilst we shook, just in case he intended to whip out that latter on. Haha, trapped into friendship now!
“I swear you just enjoy confusing me.”
“Nah, it’s more of a habit”
“Well I guess I’ll just have to accept that as long as next time your ‘habit’ doesn’t injure people, agree?”
“Agree. And out of interest why were you by the greenhouses anyway?” He shifted slightly.
“Well, I just needed a few things for potions and so I thought I could just, you know, borrow some until I can get at Hogsmeade this Saturday”
“So stealing?” He was the one under the spot light now, and so I shall prolong it until he decides to forgive me, though I’m not sure how this is going to work considering what I did is kind of much much worse.
“Stealing is a very harsh term, I was simply taking without consent,” he swivelled around and we started walking towards... actually I’m not sure, I was literally just following him; I am the perfect example of a sheep, I mean aside from my being humanness. And lack of curly whiter hair. And my inability to live off grass, I could go on. “Anyway due to a slight... distraction, I didn’t actually get round to taking anything”
“Yes well, as with many things it was the thought that counts, the fact that you were going to do it is just as bad. You sir have loose morals.”
“You’re on loose territory Rose”
“Sorry.” As it turned out we were heading towards potions class.
This is why I dislike surprises.
Somehow the double lesson passed fairly quickly and it was nice to be sitting with Scorpius again, though it meant avoiding disappointed glances from Matthew and co. The day had gotten hotter since the incident earlier so we sat outside for break, me, Al, Scorpius and that girl he’s going out with (I don’t like saying her name... or thinking it for that matter).
The nice weather didn’t last the rest of the week and the day the Hogsmeade trip was due was perhaps the dullest so far. We all lined up outside the school to be registered, the drizzle frizzing my hair more than it was already, if I cared about my appearance this would have been terrible. Luckily, having inherited all the worst features from my parents, I'd learnt there was no point in me trying really.
We all began to walk in a large huddle when I realised I had literally no idea where I was meeting Harry, he's the adult, he should have cleared this up. Fortunately he had in his own special way, he was waiting by where the path turned onto Hogsmeade, I swear nobody but Harry Potter could get away with lingering there waiting for school children to pass by.
He looked incredibly fidgety, eyeing the whispering teens amble past like they might ambush him, I'd say it was overreacting but I'm pretty sure it's happened to him before. Nobody openly said anything, apart from Karl Creevey but he's always the exception isn't he?
So after Karl scurried away brandishing a camera which held an image of me and Harry like it was the holy grail we went into the Three Broomsticks. I let him pick our table, which was a small one near the back, out of view of most of the other students flooding the inn.
So tell me, when is the first task?"
"This is no time for jokes"
"And I fully understand that, they moved it, the first task was last week. I won."
It's odd how he gave me the most disbelieving look I'd ever had, even when for once I was telling the truth.
"Seriously! The man in charge of controlling the Cockatrice had to leave really urgently so they had to move the task because they couldn't look after them without him"
"Oh, I'm sure I mentioned that, I wouldn't exactly leav-"
"And you're alive?"
"Evidently." This was going to be a long afternoon. I watched him fidget, the internal battle of whether to grin stupidly and congratulate me or point out how stupid I was again was waging in his mind. There must of been some kind of truce.
"Your mum and dad are going to murder you when they next see you" he said grinning
Now seemed as good a time as any to introduce Perry. I dug around in my bag and slammed him down onto the table, mirroring Harry's smile which disappeared pretty damn fast into mild confusion.
"And that is?"
"My clue for the next task."
He sat staring at it for some time before he got up, placing Perry carefully on the edge of the table, and stood opposite him, bowing his head slightly.
But then Perry began to bow too, raising one of his front legs as wings seemed to unfurl jollity in time with a small ticking noise which had started within it. Finally his gold surface peeled up into the pattern of hundreds of tiny delicate feathers.
"Now how the hell did you work that one out?!"
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