Chapter 5 : The Fat Lady
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05: The Fat Lady
“Faster! You’re as slow as a badger with a bowel problem!” That was Hugo’s attempt at motivating me to run faster. It was six thirty that morning, and he was chasing me around the Qudditch pitch. It was bloody cold and the only reason I hadn’t frozen into an icicle was because I had been running for the last five minutes. It was a good thing it hadn’t begun snowing as yet.
“I can’t – run – anymore!” I panted and he shook his head.
“Think about Roger Davies,” this was probably a better way to motivate me, and I wondered why he hadn’t thought of it earlier. “Think you’re running behind him with a bazooka in your hand.”
“B-bazooka?” I managed, huffing.
“It’s a Muggle missile used for large scale destruction,” he informed me and I snorted.
He closed in on me with his broomstick and I yelped and ran faster, thinking my legs would break any moment then and my lungs would explode.
“I’ve done like ten rounds! Let’s stop for a bit!”
“Audrey, you’ve done four rounds. Move your arse or I’m sending a bludger after you.”
Half an hour later, I was lying on the grassy pitch, chest rising and falling rapidly. Hugo settled himself next to me and yawned. I barely had the energy to walk, let alone climb up a couple of stairs to get to breakfast.
“We’ve got about five study periods today, so we better come up with some solid plans for everyone else on the list. We need to be done with all the tossers before Christmas, except for Davies, of course,” Hugo said, running a hand through his hair. “Between that and all the homework we’ve got, I reckon it’s going to be a long day.”
“Ugh and Fridays are the worst. We have the worst timetable ever,” I muttered. “Have they announced when the next Hogsmeade trip is?”
“No, but I heard the prefects saying it might be some time next week,” he said. “There’s loads of place and it’s hard to get caught, because there’s always so many people floating around. We can definitely use it to our advantage.”
“If we want to be done with the entire list in two weeks, we’ll have to group them up. We need to try and get two or three birds with one stone.”
“Who’s after Amish?”
“Patil and Hunter. If we can find the three of them together that would be perfect. But where?”
There was silence, except for the sound of the grass rustling and Hugo scratching his stubble. “Aren’t they in the duel club?”
“I don’t think Priyanka is anymore, after she got into the Quidditch team.”
“We’ll find out. And then it’s Lisa Beau and her gang right? Finding them together won’t be hard.”
I nodded. “Then there’s only Dragomir, Samantha and Hannah.”
“We could split them up if you want, but the homework’s going to be bloody awful next week. Everyone’s just piling it on,” he grumbled.
“No, we’ll do them together. If we finish off Patil, Holmes and Hunter by the next week, we have all of the week after that to take care of the last three. And then we break for Christmas,” I suddenly remembered the letter in my pocket and sat up straight. “Oh, I forgot to tell you. My mum said it was alright if I spent Christmas at your place. Here, read the letter.” I tossed it at him and unfolded the paper, squinting in the sunlight.
I’m so glad you’ve made a friend you like. I know how much you miss celebrating Christmas, so it was very nice of Hugo Weasley to invite you over. I should think it’s alright for you to go, as long as his parents don’t mind and you’re not being a burden on anybody. But come and spend at least a day with us during the hols, and bring your friend with you! Your father said he could arrange a Portkey to get us to the South of France. He’s staying in a little cottage there for a while and he says the weather should be good enough to do some sightseeing. If it’s not a problem for Hugo, it would be great if he could join us as well.
It’s good to hear you’re progressing on your studies. It’s just a matter of a month now, and your whole Hogwarts experience will be behind you. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve left the Digest. But nevertheless, it will look impressive on your resume when you apply for a job or to study further. Have they started giving you career orientation yet?
I hope you’re eating and sleeping well, and staying on top of everything. Try to have a good time and work hard. In no time at all, you’ll have graduated!
Write to me if there’s anything else, I’m always here.
(Thinking about it now, it was a bit forward of Hugo to invite you to Christmas, after being friends for a week)
“Great, you’re mum reckons I’m a sleaze now,” he said chuckling, folding the letter and handing it back to me.
“It was a bit forward of you,” I snorted and stretched myself, yawning.
“What are you going to do after Hogwarts anyway?” he asked, looking considerably worried himself.
“I think I’ll write. Sylvie was telling me that almost anybody who does a stint at The Digest gets a job with a big paper or magazine or something,” I said. “And I was co-Editor. I hope it won’t be hard.”
“Why’d you quit?” he enquired, sitting up and combing down his hair.
“They wanted to make it more ... mainstream and include stuff about celebrities and rock stars,” I rolled my eyes and Hugo smirked.
“You mean they wanted to turn it into a tabloid.”
I nodded. “McGonagall didn’t like the idea and she replaced Sylvie with that Slytherin bloke Myers. He was alright, but he was just so thick. He said we had to start including pieces about Mandrakes and some bollocks. Our Herbology-related articles always get the least reads. It looked like it was going to spiral down into something pathetic. So I left.”
“It has spiralled down into something pathetic. Nobody even reads the damn thing anymore,” Hugo told me and I shrugged, patting myself on the back for my wise choice.
“What do you want to do after Hogwarts?” I asked, prodding him and he shrugged.
“I haven’t a bloody clue. I’m sure everybody’s going to ask me the same thing at Christmas,” he rolled his eyes.
“Maybe we should start an agency. People could hire us if they wanted anybody killed or tortured,” I giggled and he gave me a high five.
“We could expand all over the world,” I said, a dreamy look spreading over my face.
“Ask your dad if he can get us some business contacts in France,” Hugo chuckled, standing up. “Come on, we’d better go. I hope you’re not coming to breakfast smelling like that.”
When we were heading to Potions the same day, a Ravenclaw prefect bumped into us and told us that everyone could go to Hogsmeade the next day. Hugo and I pretended to stay uninterested and simply nodded, but when we got to class, neither of us would shut up.
“Tomorrow’s too soon – ”
“It’s perfect! We’ll finish our homework first – ”
“- we don’t even have a plan – ”
“- and then we’ll start during our third or second – ”
“ – plus there’s three of them to deal with – ”
“Mr Weasley, Ms Bloom? Is there anything you’d like to share with the class?” Slughorn called and we shut up immediately. People were turning around and looking at us.
Sluggy walked around, saying that he expected better from all us, given that NEWTs were in a month. He began handing out our assignments and I swore.
“This is the one we wrote really badly,” I said and Hugo rolled his eyes.
“We haven’t ever written a Potions essay decently. I’ll probably get a T.”
The potions master approached us and dropped our essays on the table. My eyes went as wide as saucers. I looked up at Hugo, whose expression matched mine.
“Bugger and tits!” he cried loudly and the whole class was looking at us again.
“Mr Weasley!” cried Slughorn, outraged. “I was just going to commend you for your good grade, but now I’m afraid I’m going to have to give you detention!”
Hugo didn’t look bothered in the least. I don’t even think he was listening to the professor. I nudged him and he looked up.
“Oh, sorry professor,” he apologized in a rush. “I just – wow I haven’t got an E in anything. Ever.”
“Perhaps you should save the excitement for when you’re out of my ear-shot. Really, the language you lot pick up these days!” he cried, looking perplexed and worried at the same time, with a look out outrage thrown in. He walked back to his desk and pulled out his cauldron.
Hugo and I turned backwards and found Cynthia Windsor’s large mahogany eyes staring into our souls.
“There’s a party in the common room tonight at eight,” she said. “You better attend. It’s a surprise for Casey. It’s her birthday tomorrow.”
I raised my eyebrow at her, wondering why she was inviting us to it.
“Don’t look at me like that, Bloom! You lot bloody well come!”
“Bloom and Weasley, if I find you talking one more time – ” came Slughorn’s voice and Hugo and I faced forward again.
“Sorry professor,” we said in union, and didn’t say another word till we were out of the classroom, shuffling to the library.
“Did we just get invited to a party?” I asked Hugo sceptically.
“I thought I was blacklisted,” he chuckled. “Great. We’re going to need to make time table. You’ve still got another ten rounds to run, so we’ll save that for after the party. Between now and then, we have two rolls of homework and ten pages of reading, as well as a good amount of scheming to do.”
I snorted and his choice of words. “I’m running out of ideas.”
“You’ve had two. And practically half of those were mine anyway,” he said and I smacked his arm.
“You can’t just take credit for my genius!” I exclaimed, outraged that I wasn’t being given any credit.
“Stop talking and keep walking.”
Hugo had fallen asleep on McGonagall’s essay and I was staring out of the wide windows in the far corner of the library. It was practically deserted, except for a group of Ravenclaws I was certain even ate and slept in there. It had gotten obviously colder over the week, a sure sign that winter was coming. The whomping willow was looking more manic than usual, and the fog had settled thick and fast, obscuring Hagrid’s hut from view.
Hugo grunted and woke up, scraping his palms over his face with so much vigour I thought they would peel off into his hands.
“What time is it?”
The clock struck five and he gave another lazy grunt. “Don’t tell me you were daydreaming. You’re supposed to be doing your essay.”
I narrowed my eyebrows at him. “Says the one who fell asleep.”
“I’ve written ten words! You’ve written .. a page? Oh alright. Good work Bloom,” he muttered, dunking his head onto the table with a loud thud. “I have no ideas. This is awful.”
“For the essay?” I asked, looking confused. Hugo was hardly the sort to get distressed over not knowing what to write for a Transfiguration essay.
“No, you flobberworm, for the tossers! The remaining ones,” he grumbled.
“We could just get something from Zonko’s last-minute?” I offered and he nodded.
“We still need a plan, though. It’s got to teach them a lesson, embarrass them and show the world their true colours, remember. An impromptu trip to Zonko’s might not cover all of that.”
“Do you think they sell those weird talking heads in Hogsmeade?” I asked and Hugo sat up straight.
“Yeah, in one of those weird, twisty shops. Why?” He suddenly looked terribly keen and I resisted the urge to grin.
“We could ... use them to our benefit,” I said slowly and Hugo squinted. “Okay, let me explain this properly,” I looked around and lowered my voice, before letting Hugo in on my brilliant plan. “We’ll get one of those talking heads, alright? And I know that there’s a spell you can use to get them to say whatever you want – only works once, and you know how they are. They create such a bloody spectacle all the time. So, we get one of those, and we figure out the spell, and use it to get the head to reveal their true identities. We’ll have to get all three of them to a place where there will be lots of people, though.”
“You’re finally using that stuff, aren’t you?” Hugo said, stabbing my forehead with his finger, a wide, manic smile on his face. “How do we get the heads though? If we need to cast the spell, we have to do that tonight. It’ll be too much of a rush tomorrow.”
We looked at each other in silence. We both knew the solution.
“We’re going to have to – ”
“We can’t – ”
“Oh don’t we such a wuss! Are you a Gryffindor or not?”
“It’s too dangerous! Besides, the shopkeeper might rat on us!”
“He won’t. We’ll just take the cloak and go out in a few hours. It’ll just be a matter of minutes!”
“Hugo, if we get expelled – ”
“If you say the word ‘expelled’ ever again during the proceedings of our planning, I’m going to do a full body-bind curse on you!”
I huffed and sat back in my chair.
“Fine. We have another problem. How do we give them the head? And how do we get everybody together?”
Hugo scratched his imaginary beard and I waited for him to come up with a solution. “An explosion.”
I waited, hoping he would elaborate or start laughing. But he maintained a perfectly serious look on his face.
“Is that what you’re getting from my face right now?”
I sighed and hid my face in my hands. He was impossible to negotiate with. “Hugo, we can’t cause a bloody explosion! Whoever’s on duty will probably come to see what’s happened. Not to mention the people who actually live in Hogsmead. There’ll be too many outsiders involved.”
“That’s even better! They’ll know the truth about those twats as well, then.”
“You know, sometimes I want to take a fork and stab your spleen with it.”
“That would be an awful waste of a fork, don’t you think?”
We finished our essays and practiced some of Flitwick’s spells for next week, and made a list of things to do for Slughorn, before heading down to the kitchens to finalize our plan.
“I’ll have an apple strudel and Audrey will have some sprouts, please,” Hugo told Evie the elf.
“They’re good for you. No fat, high protein. No strudel for you till we turn Davies into one ourselves,” he said chuckling, and sent the elf away with a big smile. “Okay. So what do we have to do?”
“The party isn’t for another hour. I suggest we stick around there for a little while till everyone gets too drunk to notice us, and then we leave. Then to the Quidditch pitch, and I have those ten rounds to finish. God, I just hope Hogsmeade won’t take long. Then we come back, come here, and work on the spell for the head. Then we sleep.”
“I managed to sneak out that book that had the spell in it without Pince noticing. Hopefully it won’t be too hard to work out. Do we really have to go to that party?”
“S’pose so. Might seem a little suspicious if we don’t show, won’t it?”
“I don’t think anybody will notice, to be honest,” he said, smiling at the elf once again as she returned with his apple strudel and my plate of sprouts.
“This looks like something Hagrid would feed his dragons.”
“If you ask me, it looks like something the dragons poop after Hagrid’s fed them.”
I raised my fork and brandished it in his face, scowling as he tucked in to his strudel.
I walked down to the Common Room at around eight thirty, after taking a shower and a short power nap. I spotted Cynthia Windsor, she who was so kind to invite us lesser folk to her friend’s ‘surprise’ party, and she gave me a nod before turning her nose to an angle of ninety degrees and dazzling everybody around her. I shook my head and looked around for Hugo, missing from the scene of action as always.
The best part about Hogwarts was that they had given way to the old rules about houses mixing in Common Rooms that were not theirs. There was a fairly large number of Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs around, including the Slytherins Cynthia obviously felt obligated to invite, for no solid purpose whatsoever.
“We should not have come,” I heard a familiar voice say from behind me and I snorted at Hugo.
“Cynthia Windsor might have just nodded at me,” I said dramatically and Hugo’s eyes widened.
“What did you say? The Fat Lady’s on the cover of Witch Weekly?” he asked, pretending to strain his ears and I chortled with laughter. Sylvie Moran, my ex-co-editor at the Digest, came up to us smiling.
“Don’t you two look tight!” she squealed and gave me a tight hug, nearly crushing my oesophagus in the process. “Hello, Hugo,” she said shyly, tucking a strand of her absurdly long and shiny blonde hair behind her tiny ear.
“Hello,” Hugo said casually, giving her a bland smile and picking up a drink from the table next to us.
“How are you doing, Audrey?” she asked, looking at me and then back at Hugo, who probably felt as perplexed as he looked.
“Alright. How’s the Digest going?”
“Oh, it’s great. The teachers are getting more involved now, trying to bring it back to its former glory!” she giggled and I smiled, not quite getting the joke. “What are your plans for after Hogwarts?”
“I want to write,” I said simply, giving her another smile. She nodded and turned to Hugo.
“What about you?”
“Not sure yet, actually,” he shrugged. “I would say I’m keeping my options open, but at the moment, I don’t know what my options are.”
Sylvie laughed so loudly I thought my eardrum was beginning to bleed. “I’m sure it’ll work out,” she said earnestly and Hugo nodded. “Well then, I better get back to my Claws!” She gave us another giggle and left.
“Was she the one who escaped from St Mungos?” Hugo enquired sarcastically and I cackled, slapping his arm.
“You’re so rude. She was trying to chat you up!”
“Oh yeah, because asking someone what their life’s plan is is exactly the way to chat someone up,” he said, rolling his eyes. “Oh look, there’s a bunch of blokes there who are already piss drunk.”
“Is that Davies?” I followed with a number of profanities. “Laugh all you can, boy. I’m going to squish your little perfect world like a slug under my boot!”
“Getting vindictive now, are we?”
“It was your idea.” I said pointedly.
“All the good ones are,” Hugo shrugged with a grin and I rolled my eyes.
“Can we get out of here already?”
“No. We’ve been here for about five seconds. Let’s go get some food – oh wait, not you. You stay here.”
I huffed as Hugo walked away towards the large table that was laden with all kinds of fat-inducing food. I couldn’t believe I was putting myself through so much just for revenge. I just hoped it was bloody worth it.
I walked to the other corner of the room where a group of girls were sprawled all over the sofas – I noticed Priyanka with Beatrice, Wanda and Samantha – all seemingly terribly drunk, judging by the general slurring and unsteadiness.
“Did you see what Ebbs was wearing? I honestly don’t know why Cynthia even bothered inviting her – or her misfit sister,” went Samantha.
“Well, we all know that everybody sorted into Hufflepuff has very poor taste of clothing,” Priyanka said snidely, downing a glass of whatever it was with the poise of a femme fatale from an old noir movie.
“What’s happening with you and Dex, by the way?” Beatrice asked, and it seemed like she was eager to change the conversation. Learned her lesson, had she?
Priyanka waved her hand and poured herself another glass before slinking back into the couch. “He’s being a total wanker. He spends more time with the Quidditch team than with me!” she huffed.
“I know; I heard Dragomir tell Weasley the same thing. He and Davies have been screwing them over in practice.” Samantha said, as if it was her life’s greatest sorrow that Priyanka was having boyfriend issues.
Priyanka snorted. “I didn’t know anybody even spoke to Weasley.”
I felt my chest squeeze with anger, and wanted to stamp my foot (or her face, whichever was easier) and say Hugo was ten times the person she was.
“Except for Bloom, that is,” she added, and I felt my pulse quicken.
“You’re right, I don’t think anybody really does,” I said loudly, heart beating in my face. “You know what they say about everyone else though – rotten bunch they are, really.”
I felt a surge of pride wash over me, as Priyanka squinted in the dim light and focused on my face.
“S’that you, Bloom? Blimey, I thought it was the Fat Lady!”
It hit me like a punch in the face, and the only thing keeping me on the ground was my pride, which was slowly being washed away by the sound of raucous, demeaning laughter. I stumbled backwards, eyes stinging, not wanting to meet anybody’s condescending gaze.
Blimey, I thought it was the Fat Lady!
I almost fell out of the Common Room and down the stairs, gravity overpowering my pride and causing large blotches of tears to roll down my cheeks. I thought of every single meal I could remember, and every gram of self loathing increased as I tumbled down the stairs and out into the icy grounds.
Blimey, I thought it was the Fat Lady!
I didn’t realize I was near the lake till the first snowflake of the year landed on my nose. I sobbed and shivered, cursing through clenched teeth and flinging rocks at the icy surface of the lake. Damn Priyanka Patil! Damn the snow! Damn the lake! Damn the bloody mermaids and their size zero waists! DAMN THE SPROUTS! DAMN ROGER DAVIES! DAMN THE TABLES OF CHOLESTEROL INDUCING FOODS!
It started snowing with much more intensity and I was pretty sure my breath was crystallizing in the air. My face was like a block of ice, except for the hot tears that were leaving tracks down it like sleighs in the snow.
“It’s a bit cold for an emotional breakdown, don’t you think?” I heard a soft voice behind me and instinctively wanted to hide my face. “Why don’t we go to the kitchen?”
“Why, so I can out-fat the Fat Lady?” I let out a loud sob and realized that my larynx had frozen.
“No,” Hugo said firmly and walked in front to face me. His expression was stern, but traced with a hint of anger. “So that you can eat an energy bar, we can go running, then head to Hogsmeade, and get back at the bint who made you feel like you’re anything less than you actually are.”
I felt a strong, unshakeable urge to hug Hugo, and was rather surprised when he walked towards me and clumsily put his arms around me and patting my head. Merlin, he smelt of potato wedges. We stayed like that for a few minutes, till Hugo started humming and stepped back.
“Sorry, I just – I cry a lot.”
“And you sound like the giant squid. We better get inside before all my vital organs turn into popsicles.”
I smiled at him and he smiled back, before telling me to wipe my nose and follow him back inside.
And that’s when I knew that I’d be okay as long as I had Hugo Weasley by my side.
It stopped snowing a while after my little episode at the lake, and with my new, driven enthusiasm for revenge, I finished the remaining ten laps around the Quidditch pitch without much of a fuss.
“I can’t feel my bones. I think I need to see Pomfrey!” I choked, gagging on air. Hugo rolled his eyes and dragged me off the floor.
“You’re going to need a better excuse than that to get out of this Hogsmeade trip, Bloom,” he said stiffly and I groaned.
“You have no consideration! There’s a giant slug where your heart is!” I cried dramatically and he shot me a look.
“Get off the floor before I transfigure you into a toad. The sooner we get back, the better,” Hugo dropped his backpack down and pulled out the invisibility cloak. I sighed and managed to drag myself off the floor, every inch of my body screaming in pain.
“Aren’t the old passages locked?” I groaned, stretching my back and he nodded. “The blokes on the Quidditch team are forever going to Hogsmeade to buy firewhiskey. We’ll use their passage way.”
“Need I remind you that this is dangerous enough without us treading through the path of a bunch of drunk pansies?”
“Need I remind you that we’re going to be treading in the path of said pansies under an invisibility cloak, and not naked while singing All You Need is Love and doing the line dance?” he shot back snottily and I rolled my eyes at him.
“Let’s get this over with.”
We had managed to work some silencing spells on the cloak so that we could have a conversation while walking under it. The passage was easily navigable, and if Hogwarts was cold, it was colder by at least another ten degrees in Hosgmeade.
Hugo swore as the cold breeze crept under the cloak. Most of the shops and houses were still lit up, but some were locking up.
The snow wasn’t deep enough to make our footprints obvious, but everybody around was oblivious as it is. We reached a dingy shop that read All You Needs and Hugo and I looked at each other worriedly from under the cloak. We walked in and took it off, and I knocked on the table that had a bunch of dubious looking instruments on it.
A dark-skinned woman with wild hair appeared, giving us a wide, grin. Between the snake that was wrapped around her neck and the foul-smelling flower in her hair, I was feeling rather uncomfortable, and I could tell Hugo was as well, as he had stiffened considerably.
“Students out of bed, hmmm,” she said, her grin expanding. “How can I help you?”
Hugo cleared his throat. “We’re looking for the uhh.. talking heads? The ones that can be enchanted?”
“Hmmm?” She leaned closely. “Any preferences? The uglier they get, the more expensive.” She seemed to be thoroughly enjoying herself.
Hugo looked at me and I looked at the sales woman. “We’ll take the cheapest.”
“The pretty ones, hmmm?” she slinked back into the dark room she emerged from and I let out a deep breath, looking at Hugo, who looked thoroughly mortified. She returned with a rather ugly looking head in her hand, and propped it on the table in front of us.
“Do you like him?” she asked, laughing eerily.
“Sure, he’s .. lovely. Erm, all standard enchantments will work on it, right?” Hugo asked and she winked at him.
“You have something in mind, hmmm?”
“Uhh, how much?” I interrupted, grabbing a couple of galleons from my pocket.
Hugo and I looked at each other again, but decided it was a useful investment and split it as six galleons each. The saleswoman dropped the head into a paper bag and handed it to us, and we walked to the door as fast as we could.
“Nice cloak, kids,” she said dreamily, and Hugo threw it over our shoulders, and we disappeared into the cold night.
All my loving to Enough4 at the Dark Arts for all the fabulous chapter images <3
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