Chapter 3 : First Wicket
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03. First Wicket
I was up with the rest of the girls at sixty thirty and was downstairs in the Great Hall at seven. Sure enough, there was no sign of Hugo anywhere. I shoved my fresh parchment into Transfiguration and Tyranny and ran back up the stairs to the Common Room.
“Oi! Finnigan!” I called, and the fourth year looked back at me, surprised. “I need you to do me a favour.”
The boy swallowed and nodded his head.
“Go upstairs to the dormitories and wake up Hugo Weasley,” I commanded, and the boy looked beyond surprised now. “Make sure he gets out of bed and don’t leave till he does!”
So whatever his first name was Finnigan ran up the stairs to the Boys’ Dormitory and came back downstairs fifteen minutes later with a disgruntled looking Hugo Weasley.
“Bloody hell,” he cursed when he saw me. “Why didn’t you just send a troll into the dormitory?”
“You have toothpaste on your shirt,” I informed him casually. “Did you even shower? No matter, we don’t have any time. Everybody will be downstairs in half an hour and the post arrives at 8 sharp!” I whispered and he nodded, running a hand through the nest of hair that sat on his head.
“Okay, what do we do about the essay?” he asked, taking a sip from a tall glass of cranberry juice. “McGonagall will know if we both do the same thing.”
I opened up Transfiguration and Tyranny and flipped through the pages. “I saw something about a Grobunk the Goblin who illegally came to possess a wizard’s wand and used it to transfigure children into vegetables. Is that a good example?”
“Yeah. I’ll use that one, you find another one for yourself,” he said and started scribbling hastily. I glared at him.
“There’s also the story of Tusker the King who transfigured the members of his court into armour and an Omegix who transfigured his wives into cauldrons. What do we write anyway, aside from the examples?” I asked and he shrugged.
“How magic was misused and evil people saw it as a form of torture,” he sighed. “This is bullshit. Just blabber about violation of all those rules she told us about in third year and prattle about something or the other. How long is this supposed to be?”
“One roll, thank god,” I flipped through a couple of other pages and rephrased some sentences nicely, writing them down as quickly as I could. “How much have you got?”
“Half a roll,” he said. “Give me that book, please.”
About half an hour later, just as people were spilling into the Great Hall, we finished our answers and tied up our scrolls.
“Damn, I saw McGonagall watching us,” Hugo muttered. “She knows we both got it from the same book.”
“They’re different examples, aren’t they? Bugger, we really need to stop doing this. From next time on, homework is priority number one,” I sighed. “I used to do well in Transfiguration at one point of time.”
“I didn’t, my dad was arse at it,” Hugo chuckled. “Aha, I see a particularly gleeful Wanda Krammer at the other end of the table. We’ll see how long that lasts.”
“How much longer till the post arrives?” My pulse was humming and I could barely contain my excitement.
“Can’t be long now,” he said, rubbing his hands together in childlike glee. “Have a sandwich in the meantime. It’s going to be a long and eventful day.”
“I might be sick,” I said and he laughed. I picked up a grilled sandwich and chomped happily. As I had started pouring the milk over my cereal, Hugo let out another poor rendition of an evil laugh. “Oh for god’s sake - ”
I dropped my spoon into the bowl of cereal and looked up. One by one, owls were flying all over the place, some dropping letters, some leaving droppings. I looked at Hugo and he gave me a small nod. I was so tense I wanted to grab his hand, but didn’t want to startle the poor boy. Or give him the wrong message, really.
“Don’t stare,” he said suddenly and looked straight. “She’s going to look for suspects the second it happens. Keep calm. Try and look alarmed when it happens.”
I nodded and let out a slow breath. “Where’s the damned Howler?” I said through gritted teeth, shaking my legs like they had got a fit.
“Ah,” Hugo’s eyes had glazed over and his mouth was now open. I followed his gaze. It was like it happened in slow motion; the tiny bird we employed in the Owlery just a few hours ago had the little red Howler in its beak. With every flap of its wings I felt closer to a cardiac arrest. Suddenly, when it was right above poor, unsuspecting Wanda Krammer’s seat, it opened its beak and dropped the square shaped envelope into her lap.
Nobody else noticed at first, but everyone around her table was whispering.
“Wanda is that a Howler?” Hannah Crowley said. Wanda didn’t touch it.
“Must be a mistake. It’s not mine,” she said, looking at the Howler rather snottily. Hugo snorted and then covered his mouth, pretending to be eating a fruit bar while he watched from the corner of his eye. Smooth.
We waited for the flourish of the Howler. In a few minutes, there was a loud, screechy yell from the envelope, and Wanda Krammer looked more frightened than I had ever seen her.
“Wanda Krammer!” the Howler screamed and everybody gasped. Hugo and I pretended to look very interested as well. Well, we were very interested.
“Don’t you think it’s time
the truth be told?
Why don’t we start
with your ability to fold?
You were brave to sneak in pages of Beginners Arithmancy,
so brave that you got a gold!
For your information, Ms Krammer,
there’s nothing wrong with buying second hand robes.
Tales of your snottiness towards the Half-bloods
Will be publicized all over the globe!
Maybe next time you’ll think, Wanda,
When you hex a first year into doing your laces.
Or when you make fun of Little Lou,
Remember when you were ten and had braces?
What can be said about a girl like you -
Feared by all and liked by few?
You think you’ve got a fanclub going?
Oh Ms Krammer, if only you knew!”
And the Howler exploded into bits of paper. The expression on everybody’s face was priceless. Hannah Crowley and her little gang of followers were stunned. The entire Gryffindor and Ravenclaw tables, as they were the ones who probably heard it most clearly, looked surprised and amused at the same time. What can I say about Wanda Krammer? Her face had turned an ugly shade of plum and her eyes had gone buggy in fright. She sat still, staring at the remaining pieces of the Howler on her table.
Everything was quiet for a few seconds, till Lou Watson (or Little Lou – the girl had elfish origins I think) started to giggle. Pandemonium ensued. Everybody was laughing and talking so loudly, all staring at Wanda Krammer, that McGonagall had to get out of her seat and shut everybody up.
“Silence!” she cried, but to no avail. The other heads of houses came marching down the tables, telling everyone to settle down and be quiet.
“Can you believe that? I wonder who had the gall to do something like that!” I heard Abby Conrad tell Mary Dean.
“Bugger, the teacher’s are going to get her goat for copying on that test now!” Mary Dean replied and I tried my best not to smile at Hugo, who was looking frighteningly amused.
“Not bad eh,” he whispered and I shrugged.
“One down, fourteen to go,” I replied, thoroughly enjoying the chaos that had taken over the Great Hall.
“Weasley, Bloom, if you would be so kind as to stay back,” McGonagall called just as Hugo and I were making our way out of class.
“Shit,” Hugo swore. “Either she knows we were behind the Howler, or it’s the essay.”
“I hope it’s the essay,” I gulped and we walked up to the Headmistress unhappily. “Yes, Professor?”
“I had gone through your essays from the morning class,” she said and I sighed, both out of relief and disappointment. “And I must say that I approve of this new friendship of yours. As long as it is helping your academics, which it looks like it is, then I would encourage working together for assignments, as long as you don’t reproduce exactly the same material.”
Hugo and I just stared at her.
“Err. Thanks Professor,” he managed, clearing his throat. “Were the essays any good?”
“I’ve seen better, but they are an improvement to your usually lazy submissions,” she said primly and my face burned.
“Right, well, we’ll work on it, Professor McGonagall,” I assured her, not feeling too confident myself.
“I should hope so. Transfiguration used to be a good subject of yours, Ms Bloom,” the way she looked at me was like she was staring into my soul. “And it was not one of Ronald Weasley’s, but your mother managed to ace it.” She turned towards Hugo and he nodded, staring at his shoes.
“Off you go then,” she said as she shuffled back to her seat behind the large mahogany desk. “And when I say one roll for homework or an assignment, I mean a minimum of one roll.”
We smiled at her sheepishly and walked away, sighing simultaneously on our way out.
“That was nerve wracking,” I said and Hugo chuckled.
“That woman still frightens me a bit,” he said. “Alright. What are we doing now?”
“We have Slughorn’s essay. And then Beatrice Long to take care of,” I replied, having had The Tosser List memorized from bottom to top.
“Let’s leave Slughorn for later,” and held up his hand to stop any possible argument from my side. “We’re both arse at Potions anyway. We’ll finish off the plan first, and then we’ll stay up late to do the essay.”
“We have to practice those spells for Flitwick as well,” I reminded and he made a face.
“We’ll squeeze that in somewhere,” he assured. “Let’s not go back to the Library. Fancy a visit to the lake?”
“It’ll be bloody cold,” I said but nodded. “What are you doing for Christmas anyway?”
“I’ll go back home. We always have dinner with the Potters and Teddy Lupin,” he shrugged. “Maybe you should come.”
I snorted. “We’ve been friends for two days, Hugo,” and he looked mildly affronted.
“We’re also concocting a mastermind plan. I don’t think we’re about to not be friends anytime soon, do you?”
I shook my head. “Nah. I always stay back here over the holidays though.”
“What about your folks?”
“They don’t celebrate Christmas,” I mumbled unhappily and Hugo sympathized, patting my shoulder.
“If you come to my place, at least you’ll get presents,” and his eyes shined. “It’s the only plus side to having such a huge bloody family.”
“How are we plotting the sad and sorry demise of Beatrice Long?” Hugo asked happily, an almost manic look in his eyes. I stretched on the ground beside the lake and grinned.
“We’re not going to kill her, you sod,” though I didn’t half mind the idea. “We need to do something completely different. By the end of the week, they’re all going to be watching their backs, wondering who’s going to get bit next.”
“Aren’t we fabulous?” Hugo smirked and I nodded.
“Damn straight,” I chuckled. “Aren’t the tryouts tomorrow?”
“Yeah. Long’s on the team. She’ll be on the pitch for sure.”
“What about you?”
“I will be too. We could try something Quidditch related. What are we getting back at her for again?”
“She left that picture of a potato labelled with my name in the bathroom for everyone to see!” I exclaimed, outraged that he had forgotten. “And I heard Mary Dean complaining that she was always being a bully.”
Neither of us could think of any suitable punishment that Beatrice deserved.
“We could bully her in some way,” I offered and Hugo looked interested.
“How, though?” he asked and I didn’t have an answer. We sat in silence. “I actually have a plan for Roger Davies.” He said slowly.
“What? We have to do something really evil to that prick. No prank or anything small. I want him to remember it for the rest of his life,” I said scathingly and Hugo understood.
“It’s...a bit risky. I mean, it might not work out at all,” he said. I sat up and raised my eyebrows at him.
“What are you thinking of?”
“We could turn you into this complete bombshell,” Hugo said and I burst out laughing. “I’m not finished, don’t laugh!”
“Well, we already have a problem, Hugo!” I cried, still laughing away. “Audrey Bloom and bombshell in the same sentence? Not bloody likely!”
“What about Audrey Bloom stole a breadstick from the svelte bombshell?” he smirked and I smacked his arm but continued laughing. “Give yourself some more credit, woman.”
“Okay, tell me the rest of your master plan,” I giggled, closing my eyes and waiting to hear what he had to say.
“After you come back from Christmas – ”
“Come back, woah! Hold on. Who said I’m going anywhere in the first place?”
“Shut up, Audrey. Just listen would you? After you come back from Christmas, Roger Davies sees you in a completely new avatar,” Hugo was grinning like a madman and I didn’t like how this sounded.
“My svelte bombshell avatar?” I enquired and he nodded.
“He’s going to be completely floored,” he ensures me and I roll my eyes. “Then you try cozying up to him – ”
“WHAT?” I exclaimed, my eyes the size of Bluebell’s. “Not bloody likely, Hugo Weasley.”
“Just listen to me! You know how this is going to end, right?” Hugo remained calm, certain that he had some plot to go off on. “Anyway. In a matter of months, Roger Davies is all over you. That’s when you start playing hard to get – ”
“Ugh stop or I’m going to hurl,” I covered my ears with my hands and turned away from him.
“Eventually, you give the prat a chance. And then it’s simple,” he says, pausing for effect. “You break his heart.”
I stood up and started clapping, and Hugo rolled his eyes. “Bravo! Bravo!” I cried loudly, clapping so everyone would look at us. When I had seated myself once again, I resumed our conversation. “For me to break his heart, he has to be adequately in love with me.”
“Davies and I have stayed in the same Dormitory for the last six years. I know all of his mannerisms and exactly how he reacts to things. He’s never dated anybody for more than a few months. He goes out with whoever is the ‘flavour of the month’ apparently. Don’t look at me like that; I get all of this from Humphries. I’ll tell you exactly what to do to get him to fall in love with you.”
“What an absolute prat,” I spat.
“It isn’t a fool-proof plan. But it could work. And it will hurt his thick skull, that Davies,” Hugo said confidently and I gave him a look. He shrugged. “You in or not?”
I groaned and smacked my forehead. “Do I have a choice? Besides, if I do become a ‘svelte bombshell’, it’s going to be like I was actually affected by his words. He’s going to think I changed for him.”
“Let him think whatever he wants. He’ll know the truth in the end, won’t he?” Hugo was making sense and I hated it.
“It won’t work.”
“Let’s give it a shot. If we finish off at least ten of these tossers by December, then we’ll get to the Davies Act in March. Which means we have a whole month to think of another plan in case it doesn’t pan out.”
“I’ll look like a bloody idiot if it doesn’t work!” I cried.
“If it looks grim half way through, we’ll abort mission,” Hugo said confidently and I groaned again.
“This is an awful plan.”
“It’s bloody brilliant. I’ll tell all my kids about it,” he grinned and I nearly threw a rock at him.
“Fine. How exactly do I miraculously transform myself into someone people actually want to look at now?” I said grumpily.
“I’ll write to Dom, my cousin,” he smiled. “You have a nice face you know. And you’re pretty smart. Davies is just too shallow to date you.”
“And he might still be too shallow, even after I go from frog to princess.”
“We don’t have to do this unless you want to.”
“Oh shut up,” And that time I did throw a rock at him.
Two hours later we were back in the library, having practiced our spells for charms and finished our essay for Slughorn.
“This is the worst essay I’ve ever written,” Hugo groaned, skimming his eyes over the parchment.
“Mine’s actually pretty good,” I chuckled proudly, and earned a glare from the ginger. I shut Potions for all Occasions with a thump and rested my head on the book. “Now what? We still haven’t thought of anything for Beatrice Long.”
“You haven’t thought of anything for Beatrice Long,” Hugo shut his books and resumed his mastermind thinker pose – fingers joined together and eyes squinting. “Let’s use the announcer’s desk.”
“You’re bloody crazy!” I cried, laughing. “Someone will see us.”
Hugo snorted and rolled his eyes. “You think like an amateur,” he told me and laughed when I showed him the finger. “You go in there. I’ll give you the cloak.”
“And say what?”
“I haven’t figured that out yet,” Hugo said and I glared at him.
“Isn’t the announcing tower normally locked, except during matches?” I asked and he nodded.
“A simple Alohomora ought to do it.”
“And if it doesn’t?”
“We’ll have to nick the keys.”
“No bloody way!”
“Honestly, woman, where’s your sense of adventure? Before try outs, maybe really early in the morning, we’ll sneak into Madam Hooch’s quarters. She doesn’t sleep there anyway, so it might just be open. I’m so sure the keys are there.”
I stared at Hugo like he was mental. “And then what?”
“Take the keys. I’ll go back to the pitch, you go up to the tower. And then we make an announcement,” he answered, like it was the easiest thing in the world.
“Saying what, again?”
Hugo sighed. “Have you seen the Muggle movie Avenging the Fallen?” I raised an eyebrow at him. “Alright well. The protagonist who’s trying to avenge a couple of kids who were bullied and killed by this prat Alan Blare leaves riddles lying around the place, all leading to Blare.”
“What do you mean?”
“We could do the same thing to Beatrice. Like, who’s a keeper for Gryffindor and bullied Mary Dean into writing her essays? And who – ”
“Who was the one who actually nicked the soap and blamed Audrey Bloom for it?” I chimed in, nodding. “We could announce all of this and not really give anybody the answer, but they’d all know from the hints – like, keeper for Gryffindor? The others are all blokes, right? Everybody would start suspecting her and she’d feel exposed!”
“Aren’t I brilliant?” Hugo asked, grinning from ear to ear and I patted his shoulder.
“Getting the keys, though,” I said, looking worried. “That’s going to be a bit of a task.”
“Let’s write down more riddles,” Hugo said, pulling out parchment from his backpack. “You’ll have to modulate your voice, or everybody’ll recognize you.”
I did my best impression of Celestina Warbeck. Hugo shook his head. Then I did one of Cornelius Fudge. It worked for both of us.
Chapter image by Enough4 at the dark arts <3
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