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Chapter 6 : Off with their Heads!
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06. Off with their Heads!
The next morning, I was awoken by the sound of house elves. I prodded Hugo and he grunted, still very much in a state of deep sleep.
“Sprouts for Miss Bloom?” asked Dolly the elf and I politely refused.
“Can you help me wake up Hugo, though?”
The little elf looked like nothing could have made her happier. She snapped her fingers and a second later, Hugo was drenched from head to toe. Several expletives and a bowl of cereal later, we were headed towards the Common Room.
“We’re going to be under the cloak the whole time, so I think we’ll be alright,” Hugo said, rubbing his eyes. “We’ll head off to the Quidditch pitch and if anybody asks, we’ve been there all along.”
I nodded and stopped at the dormitory and spoke loudly, so that more than a few people would hear me.
“Not going to Hogsmeade right?” I casually said, running a hand through my hair and yawning. Hugo nodded.
“I’ll meet you at the Quidditch pitch in some time. I just need to clean up.”
I nodded at him and we went our separate ways.
The rest of the girls had left by the time I was finished with my elaborate shower, and I had the whole dorm to myself to get dressed, look for my socks and do a cover of Celestina’s Mister Walky Talky. I went downstairs and Hugo was sitting in a large couch, reading the paper and smoking from a pipe.
No, he really was smoking from a pipe.
“Are you smoking?”
“It’s candy flavour,” He said, folding up the paper and tossing it aside. I pretended not to notice when he so casually checked me out from head to toe. “Shall we go?” He asked finally and I nodded.
“Got everything we need?”
“In here,” he said, holding up his backpack from behind the sofa. “You ready?” I nodded and we walked towards the entrance. He threw the cloak over us and shut the door.
It was the first time I was in Hogsmeade without the girls from the dorm. It was the first time I was in Hogsmeade with a boy. And it was the first time I was in Hogsmeade with a shrivelled head in my pocket.
Most of the snow from the previous night had melted so there was little chance of our tracks being seen. People were all over the place, hanging out with their usual cronies. The usual hotspots were bustling with people – most of them starting their shopping for Christmas. A few shops had begun putting up decorations already, and the street choirs were practicing carols.
“Now would be a great time to focus, Audrey,” Hugo said from next to me and I shook myself out of my reverie.
“I love Hogsmeade,” I mumbled and he shot me a confused look. I shrugged. “It might be one of the last times we come here, okay? Once we come back from the hols, I doubt they’ll give us weekends off, with all the prep for N.E.W.T.s.”
“We have more pressing things to attend to at the moment,” Hugo said, heaving a sigh. “Okay, the Fizzler isn’t going to last much longer. Let’s climb up onto that roof? It’s a nice central spot.”
“It doesn’t matter if the people from Earle’s miss the show. Everybody who matters is at Zonko’s.” I said, and we began climbing up the roof of Cuddy’s Confectionary together. The cloak almost slipped off us about five times, but we managed to get to the top without much of a struggle.
Hugo readjusted the cloak over our heads and I pulled the shrivelled head out of my robe pocket. I looked and Hugo and he nodded at me surely, although he looked a bit nervous himself. He pulled out a vial from his robe pocket and we looked at the fizzing green liquid inside.
“Here goes nothing,” Hugo said, taking a deep breath and flinging the vial onto the ground below from under the cloak. There was a loud bang and the entire stretch of road became engulfed by a sickly green smoke. My heart was beating so fast I almost wanted to hold onto it and make it stop. People began gathering around, none of them (thankfully) Professors.
“What was that?”
“It didn’t look like a Weasley product to me!”
“It smells funny – like toothpaste and ... sprouts?”
I looked at Hugo and we grinned at each other. We spotted Priyanka and Dex walking towards the crowd with Lisa Beau, and stopping to speak with some of the others.
“No clue. Should we wait?”
“No, they might leave! Let’s do it. Cast the spell,” Hugo said and I pulled my wand out and gave it a flourish, pointing at the shrivelled head. I gave it a toss under the cloak and waited.
Somebody shrieked and backed away from the head, and one of the Creevys (I’m ashamed to say that after all these years I can hardly tell the difference) picked it up and held it up in the air.
“Where did it come from?”
Everybody looked up immediately and I clutched onto Hugo’s arm.
“Remember the rule. Remain calm under all circumstances,” he said quietly, though he was gripping my arm as tightly as I was his. “It’s one of the Deathly Hallows. There’s no way these squits can see through it.”
At the right moment, the shrivelled head let out a loud burp and several people screamed. All attention was diverted back to the head and more and more people were assembling around Creevy.
“Look there’s Amish,” Hugo and I whispered at the same time, before letting out a slow laugh and holding onto each other even tighter than before.
“What a spectacle! What a spectacle!” the head suddenly cried out in a terribly shrill voice that was almost identical to Professor McGonagall’s, so loud that I almost fell off the roof myself. “Oh crumpets! Oh crumpets! A spectacle worthy of a bunch of tosspots who can’t write their own essays!”
People were shaking their heads and looking at each other. I was too scared to do so much as glance at Hugo.
“Why Dex Hunter, you old top! Thought it would nice to copy off Hugo Weasley’s essay and make him redo the entire thing, didn’t you? That’s not how a gentleman acts, nay!” the head went on, and Dex turned a nice shade of plum. “I think a certain Miss Patil is in the habit of doing the same! I have eyes everywhere, you see! You might want to be a little careful when you bribe prefects into using their loo next time!” it broke off into loud laughter and Cuddy, the owner of the confectionary whose roof we were perched on came outside, looking half amused and half worried. “Amish, you old crumpet!” the head carried on, suspended rather happily from Creevy’s arm. “Really, old boy, it simply won’t do to make Mary Dean take notes for you in Charms! You old, bean! I wonder if the Headmistress knows – students being naughty! Students out of bed! I will have order!” the last bit came out sounding like Umbridge and Hugo snorted with laugher before I shushed him. The head writhed around in the air a bit and Creevy dropped it to the ground, looking terribly pleased with the way the day had progressed. With a little poof, the head was reduced to nothing but a black, charred blob.
Everybody stood in stunned silence for a few minutes, before Mary Dean pushed through the crowd looking like a child on Christmas. She pointed her long, bony finger at Amish Holmes, who looked like he had swallowed a dragon egg, and let out a loud, triumphant cry of “Take that, asshole!”, as a result of which the whole gathering began laughing and clapping, and Amish turned the same shade as Dex.
I stole a glance at Hugo and we joined in with the laughter, shaking each other’s hands and patting heads and backs. “Let’s go.” I said, and we slid off the roof with the cloak still over our heads and ran towards the gates of Hogwarts.
Later that same day, Hugo and I were asleep in the kitchens, our bowls of onion soup scraped clean and only crumbs from the toast remaining. I felt a sharp jab in my ribcage and woke with a jerk, only to find Bluebell the house elf staring into my soul with her giant eyes.
“Sorry to wake you after a long day, Miss Bloom,” she said quietly, looking rather ashamed. “But there’s a note from the Headmistress. She wants to see Miss Bloom and Mr Weasley at once!” she squealed and I swore. I tapped Hugo on the head and he grunted, looking up through half-closed eyes.
“McGonagall wants to see us,” I said gravely, swallowing hard and feeling the onion soup do a little squirm in my stomach.
“What, why?” he groaned, rubbing his face.
“Let’s find out.”
We walked in silence to the office, minds clouded by the potential showdown we were bound to have with the McGonagall. She always knew what was going on, the bloody hawk. I told myself to ‘remain calm under all circumstances’ as Hugo had said earlier when we were on top of the roof of Cuddy’s, and a small smile formed on my face at the memory of the day’s incidences.
“Enter!” I cast Hugo an uncomfortably side-way glance and he pushed the door open, letting us into the large room that was filled with a variety of strange magical objects, portraits, and a particularly stern looking Minerva McGonagall. “Have a seat, please.”
“I trust you know that there was a bit of a commotion in Hogsmeade today?” she asked, looking at us like she could see right through the folds of our skin and into our conscience.
“No, professor,” I said, trying to remain calm and Hugo nodded. “We were at the Quidditch pitch, and we went to the kitchens afterwards to get something to eat.”
“At what time did you go to the Quidditch pitch, and why, if I might ask?” she turned to Hugo this time and he shrugged.
“We both woke up late, and neither of us were in the mood for Hogsmeade. I think it was after everybody else had left to the village? Because there were very few people in the Common Room when we left,” he said normally, like she was asking him if he liked his classes. “And as to why – ” he looked at me and motioned for me to continue.
“I’m trying to lose weight,” I blurted out honestly and Professor McGonagall looked alarmed.
“But what for!” she cried, looking positively bewildered.
“Don’t think there’s much to explain,” I grinned sheepishly and she shook her head at me. “What happened at Hogsmeade?”
She regained her old posture and pressed her lips together. “There have been strange things happening over the course of the week. We’re thinking that somebody is trying to teach a particular group of students some kind of a lesson.” She recounted the events at Hogsmeade with an unfathomable expression on her face.
I looked at Hugo, feigning surprise, and his expression matched mine. “I bet it was the same person behind the Howler!” he said and I nodded fervently in agreement.
“Because neither of you were present at the scene, we have reason to believe you were behind it,” McGonagall looked at us over her spectacles and I raised an eyebrow at Hugo, who burst out laughing.
“Best. Compliment. Ever!” he cried, between chortles.
“I don’t understand, Mr Weasley,” she said primly, looking at him with a rather annoyed expression.
“You’re probably the only person in the world to think either Audrey or I would be capable of doing something of that kind of genius. I mean, I’m kind of flattered to be honest,” he said, and I nodded my head. Damn, he was good. I made a mental note to suggest theatre to him as a future option.
“I think we all underestimate our capacities, Mr Weasley,” she replied, seeming unfazed. She waved her hands at us and we stood up. “One last question before you leave – what were you doing in the kitchens for so long?”
“Sleeping,” Hugo said, and it was his first honest reply. The professor’s eyebrows rose.
“We’re narcoleptics,” I said with a shrug and she sighed, waving us off one more time.
Once we were out of ear shot, Hugo slung his arm around my shoulder. “That was close.”
“I know. I might have to suggest to you a career in theatrics.”
“I’m already thinking about it. That was a bloody good show, wasn’t it?” he said with a grin and I rolled my eyes.
“Poor thing. She looked quite puzzled.”
“I bet she secretly knows, but she’s on our side,” Hugo said and I gave him a you-can’t-be-serious look, and he shrugged. “You know, I’m in the mood for some celebration tonight. It’s been a good week.”
“Aye!” I cried like a pirate. “Let’s douse ourselves in sugary treats and listen to some DJ Whizzbanger!”
“You still have to finish your second batch of ten rounds around the pitch though. And then we’ll get the elves to bring us some food to the Room of Requirement and we’ll finish our homework.”
“Party animal,” I grumbled unhappily.
“I have a party hat in my trunk somewhere,” he rationed and I glared at him.
A/N: Ohohoho so I finally updated. Feel free to pelt me with dungbombs for taking this long for something as dissatisfactory as this. I now have three more WIPs to update, no thank you, plot bunnies! As always, thanks for the reviews and favourites and to everybody who has been reading this, despite my continuous failed efforts to update this in a timely fashion. I’ve been reading PG Wodehouse so I just had to include some quaint, old-English phrases in there – which was convenient because the shrivelled head is completely bonkers and easy to make spew things like “you old top” and “you old bean”. And you know. Crumpets.
Anyway, as always, reviews are much appreciated, and I will shower you with sugary goods if you tell me that this has some amount of plot that’s worth reading. Also, if not the very next, the chapter after that might as well be the big Bloom-Weasley-Potter-Lupin Christmas Dinner chapter! :D Keep your eyes peeled. Like potatoes. Ha.
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