Chapter 4 : A Hard Day's Night
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04. A Hard Day's Night
Hugo and I decided to sneak into Madam Hooch’s quarters at 4 am the next day. I woke up at 3.45 and put on my robes as quietly as I could, before sneaking out into the Common Room, making sure no one saw me. Hugo was already there, wearing his beater’s outfit.
“Did anybody see you on your way out?” he whispered nervously and I shook my head.
“You?” he shook his head as well and brought out the invisibility cloak from his backpack. He threw it over our heads and crouched. I wasn’t as tall as he was, so the cloak pretty much covered me from head to toe.
“I worked on some silencing spells last night, when everyone in my quarter was in the shower,” he told me. “I just hope they work.”
“We’ll whisper, just in case,” I said and we started walking.
“Won’t they get suspicious if they don’t see you in the Great Hall?” Hugo asked, stopping in his tracks.
“Can’t we get the keys and then go to breakfast? I could tell them I was in the library before that.” Hugo shook his head.
“It’s too much of a risk. You’ll have to stay in the tower.”
“For two hours?” I whispered loudly. “Tryouts won’t start till six!”
“I’ll wait with you till then. Or we can hide in the kitchens,” he finished with a grin and I nodded. Hiding in the kitchens was always a good idea.
“Alright, keep moving,” he said, giving me nudge. We walked quietly but hastily across the castle, looking around at all times. We finally got to Madam Hooch’s room. To our advantage, it was in one of the darker passages. Hugo brought his hand out of the cloak and tried the lock. “Got your wand?”
I nodded and pulled it out of my pocket. “Alohomora,” I whispered, and the door creaked open. Hugo and I spun around at once, hoping nobody had seen us. He pushed open the door and we huddled together, shutting the door behind us. When I turned around, Hugo’s hand clamped my mouth shut immediately.
Madam Hooch was lying under a pile of blankets, her mouth open, fast asleep.
“Frckk,” I swore and Hugo shushed me. “What now?” I whispered. My heart was hammering against my rib cage and I was so sure she’d wake up any minute now and snatch the cloak off the two of us.
“She looks like she’s fast asleep,” Hugo noted and I gave him a look. “Let’s get the key. I think it’s that one there. I’ve seen Hagrid carry it around.”
“Forget the key, let’s just try opening it with the spell,” I said hurriedly, but Hugo refused.
“It only opens with the key, Teddy’s told me about it,” he said and I sighed.
“Shit. Okay. Accio it?” I asked and he looked sceptical.
“It might make a lot of noise,” at that moment, Madam Hooch let out a grunt and turned in her sleep. I grabbed Hugo’s hand and nearly cut off the blood circulation to his arm.
“Calm down, Bloom,” he muttered. “She’s sleeping like an oaf. Let’s go get the key. Move slowly.”
Hugo put his arm around his shoulder and crouched further down, and we took uniform steps towards the key sitting on the drawer.
“This is too easy,” I said, panicking. “Something’s going to go wrong. If it’s in plain sight, won’t she notice when it’s gone?” Hugo shushed me and picked up the key. We were so close to Madam Hooch that I could see the way her small pixie hair stood up on her neck.
We moved faster then, out of the room and shutting the door quietly behind us. I let out a sigh of relief.
“We’re going to have to change the plan a bit,” Hugo said, running a hand through his hair and stretching his back. “Let’s go to the kitchens first.”
The house elves were asleep so we didn’t take off the cloak till we found a seat. I sighed and dropped my head onto the table and Hugo gave it a pat.
“Alright,” he said, pressing his hands over his eyes. “You’re going to have to stay in the Tower.”
“What?’ I didn’t fancy sitting all by myself in the tower, especially a tower I wasn’t supposed to be in.
“We’ll open the door, you sit inside and go through the plan just as we though it out. I’ll have to lock you in. And I’ll come back and leave the keys where we found them. I’m sure Hooch will notice otherwise,” he said, inspecting the long, bronzed key that had Announcing Tower engraved on it.
“I’m not sitting there all by myself!” I exclaimed.
“Come on, you just have to stay in there for about ... look, we’ll go up there now and I’ll leave back the key. I’ll come and get you out after tryouts,” Hugo tried to rationalize, but there was really very little that was rational about the conversation we were having.
“Hugo – ” I began, but he cut across, being gentlemanly as ever.
“Do you want to get back at those prats or not?” he asked seriously and I glared at him.
“I can’t be there all by myself! What if I mess up?”
“You won’t. You really don’t give yourself enough credit,” he smirked and I smacked his head.
“If I screw this up and if we get expelled – ”
“They won’t expel us. Couple of detentions with Filch maybe.”
I stared at him and he stared back. I sighed. “Fine.”
“Great. You didn’t really have a choice anyway,” he chuckled, shaking my head. “You might not have to use the microphone.”
“How we do we get them to hear the riddles then?”
“We can make them read them,” he said, with a mischievous glint in his eyes. “We could use the scoreboards. They have alphabets as well, for the houses, so we’ll use those.”
“Then someone will definitely know that there’s a person in the tower,” I said and he scratched his chin.
“But Madam Hooch will have the keys. And she won’t even be on the pitch, none of the teachers will,” he said and I shook my head.
“It’s too risky,” I said, biting my lip.
“It’ll be worth it,” he looked at me pointedly and I groaned.
“We’re going to get expelled.”
Half an hour later, the sun was still not up. It was nearing five, so Hugo and I put the cloak back on and snuck out of the kitchens. We walked across the Quidditch pitch and up the long flight of stairs leading to the announcing room. I shoved the key into the lock and turned it, and the door swung open.
It was a small room, cramped with typewriters and parchment. There was a small table and a stand for a couple of microphones. The control panel for the scoreboard was at the far right corner.
“You’ll have to crouch. The window’s right here and it’s flying distance, so people can see you if you’re not careful,” Hugo informed me and I glared at him.
“Thanks for telling me this now,” I snapped. “I can do a half baked disillusionment charm, if it’s worth anything.”
“Good!” Hugo said, giving me a thumbs-up. “I think I should get going and leave the keys behind. You know what, I’ll try and hover around this place, so that nobody else does. It’s only tryouts, so there won’t be much going on except the seekers flying about. I’ll try and steer them away from here.”
I sighed and we looked at each other again.
“You ready?” he asked and I looked troubled to say the least.
“I have another hour till tryouts start?” I asked and he made a sympathetic face.
“Don’t forget to pull the shuffle knob,” he said. “On the panel. And don’t start punching in the riddles till almost everybody’s looking at the scoreboard. Especially not Beatrice.”
I nodded. “Okay, you’d better go leave the keys.” He nodded and walked out of the room, shutting the door behind him. I took in a deep breath and heard the lock turn.
“You okay?” Hugo called from the other end.
At crack of dawn, I saw the tiny figure of Roger Davies enter the pitch with his arm around the keepers Priyanka and Cynthia. A few minutes later, they had begun warming up and they were joined by the rest of the team, as well as some awkward looking blobs, who I assumed were the newbies trying out. I could vaguely distinguish Hugo’s lanky figure from the rest of them. I saw him sneak a glance or two to where I was, and I tried giving him a thumbs-up, but decided against it. Everybody formed a circle around Davies and he began giving instructions, I assumed. I took this as the key moment to getting their attention. The scoreboard was opposite the tower, which meant everybody except Roger Davies was already facing it.
I pulled the shuffle knob and the letters started flapping about. Nobody noticed for a good five seconds, but I saw Priyanka turn to talk to Dragomir. In a matter of seconds, Davies had turned around as well, and they were all looking at the scoreboard. I took one long look at Beatrice Long, showed her the finger, and turned off the shuffle switch. I then began punching in the riddles, one by one.
W-H-O I-S A K-E-E-P-E-R
4 G-R-Y-F & B-U-L-L-I-E-D
M-A-R-Y D-E-A-N I-N-2
W-R-I-T-I-N-G H-E-R E-S-S-A-Y-S
I looked for a question mark but there wasn’t one. I waited and caught a glimpse of their expressions, and everybody was looking around, looking frantic. I counted to ten and pulled the shuffle knob again, before punching in a new set of letters.
W-H-O H-E-X-E-D C-R-E-E-V-E-Y
I-N T-H-E H-O-G-S H-E-A-D &
Things were going too smoothly till Davies mounted his broom. I began to panic. I quickly did a disillusionment charm and continued, while he began to whir around the place, closer to the scoreboard.
W-H-O N-I-C-K-E-D T-H-E S-O-A-P
& B-L-A-M-E-D A-U-D-R-E-Y
I pulled the shuffle knob one last time and sighed.
H-E-R L-A-S-T N-A-M-E
W-I-T-H-O-U-T T-H-E B-O-T-T-O-M
I sighed and let it be for another ten seconds, counting under my breath before pulling the shuffle knob and switching off the panel. I crouched under the table, peering through the crack in the top which gave me a direct view of the window. Minutes felt like hours. I finally saw Hugo’s curly head a few feet away from the window, hovering in mid air. He was grinning like an idiot, and I couldn’t help but do so myself.
We collapsed into our seats in Slughorn’s class laughing. Hugo sighed and rested his head on the back of the chair.
“How sweet, the taste of victory,” he exhaled and I giggled.
“I can’t believe she cried,” I mumbled. “She doesn’t seem the crying sort.”
“I would feel bad, but then it would be a waste of my feelings, really,” he snorted and rubbed his eyes. “Shit, I am so unbelievably sleep deprived.”
“Get used to it,” I said. “We’ve got thirteen to go.”
“Oh,” he sat up straight in his chair and pulled out a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket. “After I left the keys in Hooch’s room – she was still sleeping like bloody log – I headed over to the Owlery. Dom replied to my letter.”
He handed me the crumpled sheet and I opened it out, smoothening it over my knee. Dominique Weasley obviously had better handwriting than Hugo. “How is she related to you again?”
“My dad’s brother’s daughter,” he answered. “First cousin.”
“And she’s French?” I asked.
“No, she’s – it’s complicated. She’s a veela though,” he said, looking uninterested. “Went to beauxbatons.”
“Figures,” I mumbled, bringing the paper closer so I could read it.
“Ignore the first part, she got a bit carried away,” he said, dropping his head back onto the back of the chair.
You never write to me so this is a big surprise! Who is this friend of yours? You never told me you had any girlfriends. It’s always good to talk to an older sibling about it, especially if she’s giving you any problems.
As for the transformation...You know what I did. Ten rounds around the Quidditch pitch, and increase it with every week. No more treacle tarts and pumpkin pasties. No camping out in the kitchens either. I’m not saying eat the bare minimum – eat as much as you did before, but instead of eating pies and cake, eat fruit and nuts. Drink plenty of water. This running around the Quidditch thing has to happen twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the evening. Apart from that, try running up and down the stairs, but be careful, don’t hit your head like I did.
It’s really just consciously eating what’s good for you and discarding the junk. The water and working out will help get rid of all the excess toxins you’ve already consumed. Eat proper, balanced diets. Dieting isn’t an option, not if it’s of the unhealthy sort.
Write to me again if there’s anything else. It was such a pleasant surprise receiving a letter from you, and I hope you’ll do it more often.
All my love
“You’re kidding,” I said, laughing. “Pumpkin pasties are my favourite!”
“If you want to bash Davies’ head in, this is how you do it,” Hugo said simply, shrugging his shoulders.
“There’s got to be another way,” I groaned, folding the letter and shoving it into his hands.
“There ain’t no way but the hard way,” he grinned and I scowled. Lisa Beau and Dex Hunter took the seats behind us and started whispered under their breath. Hugo shot me a look and leaned back further, trying to eavesdrop. He smiled happily and I nudged him.
“You should have seen Beatrice’s face. I’ve never seen her look so startled before,” he mimicked Lisa and I snorted. “I wonder who was behind it. Maybe it was Madam Hooch. Or Hagrid. They’re the only ones who have the keys to the tower.” He did a bad impersonation of Dex Hunter’s deep, masculine voice and I burst out laughing.
“Shit, they think it’s the teachers!” I whispered, eyes filling with tears as I tried to stop laughing. I took a deep breath and calmed myself.
“I’ll shake your hand later,” Hugo muttered as Slughorn entered the class. I smiled.
“Sorry for the delay, students. There was a bit of confusion on the Quidditch pitch.”
And it took so much of my will power not to burst out laughing again.
“Eat all the tart you can manage,” Hugo said when we had got to the kitchen. “We’re starting Operation: Transformation tomorrow.”
“Next week,” I rationed and he shook his head adamantly.
“We won’t have any bloody time, Audrey,” he said and I took another bite out of the treacle tart. “How long did he say the essay was supposed to be?”
“Two rolls,” I said, rubbing my nose. “Should we take a day off, you reckon? Amish Holmes is next on our list.”
“Yeah, or everybody might get really suspicious,” he nodded, squashing a boiled egg with his fork. “We’ve got a lot of free periods tomorrow as well. Plenty of time for scheming.”
“Not with the amount of homework they’ve given us,” I groaned. “I’m going to fail my N.E.W.T.s because of you.”
“Nah, we’re doing alright,” Hugo said. “We’ll have to start studying once we get back from Christmas break, though. So we’ll have to finish off whoever’s left fast, except for Davies, of course.”
“I still don’t feel too good about Operation: Transformation,” I told him. Hugo didn’t look surprised.
“It’ll be a big hit, you just wait,” he said. “Smart thing you did, by the way. I forgot to tell you that each row had a character limit.”
“Yeah, I managed to work it out,” I said, feeling quite proud of my intellect. “And the disillusionment charm wore off in ten minutes, but it was good while it lasted.”
“You’re a genius,” Hugo mocked and I wanted to throw an apple at him. “Have you made up your mind if you’re coming over for Christmas or not?”
“I’ll have to ask my folks,” I said. “I doubt they’ll mind.”
“Alright. I have to tell my grandmum before hand, because she needs a head count before she starts her Christmas prep.”
“How many people are going to be there anyway?” I asked, swallowing unsteadily.
“My parents, Rose, me. Uncle Percy, Aunt Audrey, and Molly. Uncle George, Angelina and Roxanne. Bill, Fleur and Dom. Aunt Ginny, Uncle Harry, Lily, Albus, James. Oh and Teddy,” he counted. “Twenty one of us, including grandmum and granddad.”
I just stared at him. “Bloody hell, Hugo,” I muttered. “You know I’m not comfortable around people.”
“It’s alright, if Charlie’s coming, you’d get along with him. He deals with dragons, so you’d be relatively easy for him,” he laughed and I did throw an apple at him that time. “They’ll all only be there on Christmas day, anyway. So if you spend the week, it’ll just be with Rose, me and my parents. Rose does get annoying though, with her bloody eleven-year-old spells and fancy crap.”
“You’ll be a legend by the time she’s done with school,” I grinned.
“If anybody ever finds out,” he noted and I nodded.
“We should make an announcement after the Roger Davies stint.”
“No one will believe us,” he shrugged.
“Right? Two unsociable hobos; who’d think we could accomplish something of the sort.”
We sat in silence for the remainder of the evening, scratching away at the rest of our essays and yawning away loudly. A hard day’s night it was – bloody worth it.
ENOUGH4 MAKES THE BEST CHAPTER IMAGES EVER.
Chapter title from the beatles' song with the same name (: no updates till march 26th since i've got finals coming up! thanks so much to everybody for favouriting and reviewing, it really makes my day to know that there are people out there who like how the story's coming along :D
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