Chapter 38 : Stupid
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Like, okay, fine, maybe there was that one time when he tried to start an underground cage-fighting league for first-years. Which is, unfortunately, exactly what it sounds like – a bunch of first-years in speedo’s, battling each other for sport while everyone else watches and places bets. (It was ruthless. They’d actually use chairs to fight each other.)
And, yes, alright, Fred is still convinced that legwarmers are actually little outfits designed for pet snakes to wear when they get cold.
And fine, I will admit that a couple weeks ago, Fred tried the Cinnamon Challenge, despite the fact that he’s allergic to cinnamon. When we pointed this out to him, Fred just puffed his chest out and said, “I’m not going to stop destiny because of a tiny complication.’
(Afterwards, when this tiny complication turned out to be anaphylactic shock, Fred’s last words before he was carted out by the St. Mungo’s paramedics were: “Tell them my story. Tell them the story of the Cinnamon King... Also, YOLO.”)
However. Despite what I may have said (or screamed, or implied, or written on his forehead) in the past, Fred isn’t stupid. He’s actually got quite a knack for Charms, when he applies himself, and he’s probably, if you think about it, the least fucked-up out of all of us. I mean, Potter’s a raging sociopath who spews ice and snark. I’m pretty much the same. Aidan is an industrial magnet for comas, roofies, and Death Eaters. Dom is in a secret relationship with a frat bro and cries hysterically whenever she sees elderly couples holding hands.
Fred, meanwhile, is just Fred. Happy, innocent, and surprisingly insightful when he wants to be.
Fred Weasley isn’t stupid.
He is, however, an idiot.
And, being well-studied—as well as having hands on experience—in the field of idiocy, trust me when I say there’s a fine line.
See, an idiot is not the same as ‘stupid.’ In fact, idiots are often well-disguised, contributing citizens of society. They blend in perfectly well with the rest of us. They know how to function in everyday life, they get the same grades as you, play the same sports as you... An idiot could be anyone. Your neighbor, your teacher, your local politician. They’re everywhere.
I mean, you can easily notice a stupid person. They’re the ones who explode your potions classroom because they can’t tell the difference between number four and number five on the instruction sheet.
An idiot, however, is the one who explodes your potions classroom because he thinks it’s funny to “make things go bang” and “see all the pretty colours.”
Those are the idiots.
The best way to describe it is this:
A girl fawns over James Potter, calls him a dreamboat, and think it’s cute when he hexes the Slytherin dungeons pink, or fills the Prefect’s baths with Firewhiskey. She doesn’t mind when he stands her up on a date, or gets a detention for throwing a blow-out party in the Astronomy Tower.
She thinks his total lack of consideration for anyone but himself, as well as his swollen ego, is... hot. Spelled H-A-W-T. Hawt.
This girl is stupid.
A different girl, however, recognizes Potter for the arrogant, sarcastic, self-serving bastard he is. She stands up to him when he’s on his narcissism sprees. She isn’t naive - she fights with him, because everyone else is too scared to. She’s the one who notices the arsehole tendencies behind the facade of rich Pretty Boy.
She does, however, make the mistake of also noticing his very sexy eyes. Which is why she occasionally snogs him.
That girl is an idiot.
See? There’s a difference.
And I was witnessing this ‘difference,’ live and in action, as I stood behind Fred Weasley and watched, anxiously, while he tried to break into the Hogwarts Greenhouses.
“I can’t believe we’re doing this,” I moaned for what was probably the fiftieth time.
“Ah, denial,” Fred tutted as he fiddled with the enormous, gleaming padlock over the door. He glanced at me, green eyes sparkling with mischief. “Not good for you.”
“Neither is the Hepatitis C we’ll catch in Azkaban when the professors find out what we did,” I hissed back, hopping from one foot to the other to shake off the cold.
“Relax, Aggy,” Fred rolled his eyes goodnaturedly. “We’re not going to get caught. And even if we do, the professors aren’t going to send us to Azkaban. You know McGonagall can’t resist The Sugarlips.”
He was, disturbingly, referring to himself.
“You know who else won’t be able to resist your sugarlips, Fred?” I leaned in close, making my eyes go wide and crazy. “Your fellow inmates.”
Fred gave a hearty laugh. “Bugger off and help me figure out this lock.”
Now might be a good time to explain why, exactly, we’re trying to break into the Hogwart’s Greenhouses. And no, it’s not because Freddy is stalking Professor Sprout. Neither is it because we’re trying to set up an underground marijuana farm and build an illegal weed empire, making Fred and I druglords who wield guns and have henchmen with names like ‘Jesús’ and ‘Brock.’
Rather, all of this is because of one simple reason:
Fred doesn’t feel like attending the Welcome Back Feast.
That’s right. We’ve only just arrived back at Hogwarts, and we’re already breaking rules.
The Welcome Back Feast is kind of a tradition for all the students who’ve returned from Christmas Break. Headmistress Vespertine usually gives some sort of winded, desperately boring speech in The Great Hall, and then we all destroy ourselves on chicken pot pies and Treacle Tarts.
However, tonight also happened to be the night of some big meteor shower. Aidan is, weirdly enough, really interested astronomy. He knows not only the names of planets, but their moons - and he can rattle off your daily horoscope on command. Now, because Aidan just had to mention this meteor shower, we’re all skiving off the Feast to go see it. And apparently, the Greenhouses are at just the right calculated position to see the sky.
Hence, the breaking and entering.
“C’mon, Aggy, help!” Fred grunted, rattling the lock to no avail. “The others are going to be here any minute now!”
“No,” I said curtly. I crossed my arms, wedging my hands into my armpits for extra emphasis, and leaned my back against the frigid glass of the greenhouse. It was cold. “I refuse. This is terrible and illegal and whose idea was it anyway?”
“That would be me.”
And, of course, there was Potter, heading towards us with his backpack slung around his shoulder and a cocky smirk on his face. I could barely make out his features in the navy dusk, but that was okay. I could already feel his ego suffocating me from here.
“I should have known,” I said drily. I pushed myself off the greenhouse and stomped towards him in my No Funny Business Prefect Walk. “Potter.”
“Bennett.” Potter’s eyebrows lilted upwards with amusement. I stopped in front of him, popping my hip out.
“I hope you’re happy with yourself.”
He flashed his typical shit-eating grin. “I always am.”
I heaved a breath. This was getting frustrating. “Do you—do you have any idea how many rules you’re breaking right now?”
“I think the important question is if I care.” Potter said lightly with that same careless quirk of his mouth. “Which—yup, just checked—I don’t.”
“You are so—argh!” Ever since The Window Incident during Christmas break, Potter and I hadn’t exactly been on good terms. And seeing as our usual ‘good terms’ consist of snarking and throwing things at each other, you can just imagine how fun we were now.
“I’m so argh?” Potter cocked his head in mock-thoughtfulness. “Well, at least you tried, Bennett. Don’t worry. One day, you might finally get the English language.”
With that, he brushed past me. My body stiffened as I felt his skin graze mine for just the slightest second, and then I snapped back into reality.
“Come on, Potter, you can’t do this,” I barreled after him, the desperation oozing through my tone. “Let’s just all go back and enjoy the Welcome Back feast.”
“What’s your problem with this, Bennett?” Potter wheeled around languidly, his breath coming out in tiny puffs. The moonlight seemed to glaze over the sculpted planes of his face. “Oh, right, I forgot. You’re allergic to fun.”
My irritation was slowly climbing into fury. “Fun? You call breaking and entering fun?”
Potter didn’t even blink at my question. “You know, for someone who supposedly disapproves of this, you’re awfully curious. And still here.” He stepped forward, towering over me per usual. He was the picture of casual - chewing on a piece of gum, eyebrow raised in amused cockiness. “Couldn’t stay away, Bennett?”
I tried not to be fazed by his proximity, or the burn of his eyes on my skin, but it was overwhelming. My eyes fluttered shut as I felt myself growing flustered, felt the familiar smog of heat that settled whenever he was too near. “Sod off.”
Before Potter could respond, Fred was already hollering at us from back at the greenhouses.“Oi! You two! Stop flirting and get over here!”
My eyes snapped open in outrage. “I--Fred--We’re not flirting!” Oh my god, of course I just had to be born with a face that turns traffic-light-red whenever I’m the slightest bit rattled. If someone put their finger to my cheek right now, they’d probably get at least a second degree burn.
Potter’s lips twitched - he obviously thought this whole ordeal was funny, the bastard. Without another glance at me, he was walking away to meet Freddy.
I had no choice but to follow.
What is my life.
“It’s magic-proofed,” Freddy sighed tragically, eyebrows scrunched together in a frown. “I’ve tried every spell I could think of. Even made a few up.”
“Yeah, I was so surprised Lockus Openus didn’t work. Maybe you should try it again?” I snapped sarcastically.
Fred scoffed, holding out a sassy hand and looking away in obvious indignation. “I don’t see how you can hate outside the club, Agatha. You can’t even get in.”
“Leggo,” Potter added mildly.
“An-y-way,” Potter turned to Fred, dropping his backpack on a patch of ground that was relatively free of snow. “I got you covered mate.”
The backpack was unzipped, and out came a pair of what looked like giant weedwhackers.
At the incredulous expression on my face, Potter simply shrugged, his eyes sparking with a secretive, almost mischievous glint. “Friends in high places,” he said, by way of explanation.
“Excellent,” Fred breathed, looking like a kid who’d just been presented with a sugar-and-puppy-filled transformer. He grabbed the tools and held them reverently in his hands.
I was at a loss for words. “Those...are weapons, Potter. You can’t bring them to a school. Small children shouldn’t be near these!”
He quirked an eyebrow. “You could say the same about Freddy.” We turned to look at Fred, who was now cradling the weedwhackers and singing to them under his breath. Oh god. “But we’re here now. So let’s just move on, yeah?”
I pursed my lips. “Fine. If you want to act like sodding idiots, go ahead. I won’t stop you.”
“Shame. Would have been funny to see you try.” Potter said, making my eyebrows flatten with annoyance. He turned to Fred. “Go ahead, mate.”
With a very scary grin, Fred held the weedwhackers over the chain and snapped it in two. “Ah, Hogwart’s professors.” He sighed fondly. “It’s so cute when they try.”
“HOLLA!” My heart skipped a beat at the foreign voice, but the panic died when I realized Professor McGonagall most likely wouldn’t be greeting us like a 90’s gangster. The three of us turned around to see Evelyn and Dom running towards us in their puffy winter jackets - Aidan trailing grumpily behind them and carrying all their stuff like some sort of deranged sherpa.
When Dom reached me, she slung an arm around my shoulders, smacking cinnamon gum in my ear. She surveyed Fred’s handiwork, her breath coming out in miniature clouds in front of her. “Excellent.”
Evelyn, meanwhile, seemed to think that a more appropriate way of showing approval was to press Fred against the greenhouse and molest his mouth with her tongue. Yuck. They’d been over-the-top with PDA ever since we got back, seeing as they hadn’t seen each other basically all break. Their only date had consisted of fighting for their lives during a Death Eater Siege. So, yeah.
“Well,” Aidan remarked brightly, invisible behind the mountain of stuff he was carrying, “Now that I’m successfully scarred for life - shall we go inside?”
Evelyn detached herself from Fred with an unabashed smirk on her face. Fred, meanwhile, looked completely dazed, eyes fogged over and expression thoroughly stupefied. “Wha - Who - What year is it?”
“1850.” Dom responded drily, not batting a lash. “We just invented time-travel to go back and prevent that snog from ever happening, but we overshot.”
Amid all the fist-bumping and finger-snapping and cries of ‘Ouch,’‘Burn’ and ‘BAZINGA!’ from everyone else, Freddy just simply shrugged. “Fair enough.”
And with that, we all filtered into the hushed Greenhouse - Potter leading the way as he pushed through the myriad of leaves and branches obstructing us (not bothering to hold them back and causing them to smack the person behind him - which was me. The arrogant arse). It smelled like fresh earth inside. There was crumbly dirt underneath our feet, the glass walls cool and glossy with moonlight.
When we reached a clearing away from all the plants, we quickly started to set up. And by set up, I mean Aidan just dropped everything into an unceremonious pile on the floor and said, “I’m done. You fuckers can deal with this. Peace out.”
And then he walked away to calculate the exact angle and trajectory from which to watch a meteor shower.
My brother is a strange one.
Dom began unpacking all our things - candy and chips stolen from the Kitchens, as well as some illicit bottles of Firewhiskey that I steadily ignored. There were blankets and tiny jars of bluebell flames to keep us warm. There was also an old-school record player, which Dom soon commandeered, yelling ‘DJ DOMMY BEATS IN DA HOUSE!’ before everyone else in the room quickly shot her down.
I sat on a corner of a blanket and nibbled nervously on a treacle tart, observing quietly. It was cozy - outside of the glass, there was miles and miles of wet, glittering snow - and here we were, warm and protected and together. Despite the illegal-ness of it all, it was actually sort of... nice.
Behind me, Dom was dancing giddily with Fred, both of them drinking from the same Firewhiskey bottle as they swooned over-exaggeratedly to Celestina Warbeck on the record player.
Aidan was putting on a show for Potter as he tried to make a sulking Evelyn smile - in the most literal way. He was tugging the corners of her mouth up with his fingers, squishing her face so she looked like a manic-depressive chipmunk. Potter chuckled, lying back on a blanket and leaning on his elbows, eyes crinkled with laughter.
I had to look away, stare at something else. Seeing Potter so carefree and amiable...It was weird. I felt like I was intruding on something, like it was all just wrong.
There were ten more minutes until this meteor shower. Just get through this, Aggy, I told myself. And you’ll be home free. You can crawl into bed and finally have a panic attack in peace.
I twisted around to see Potter standing over me, grinning and rumpled and holding out a bottle of Firewhiskey. His eyebrows were raised in that secretive, mischievous way. Like he could already predict my every move, had already glimpsed the future. Like you couldn’t pay him a million dollars to care about a single thing.
It was dangerous.
Without waiting for my response, he plunked himself down next to me. His hair was tousled, dipped in moonlight, his eyes flickering and unreadable.
There was a pause. He looked away, staring out of the Greenhouse. He seemed amused by my shocked silence.
Not knowing what else to do, I grabbed the bottle from him. He turned to me in surprise - ha - and before he could say something sarcastic, I’d pressed it to my lips.
He watched me take a sip, his gaze trained boldly on my mouth, amber eyes darkening.
I barely noticed the burn of the alcohol down my throat. I was too busy watching him watch me. We locked eyes, and I felt a tingle zip down my spine. Never before had I felt so exposed. Never before had I felt so daring. Never before had I experienced something so...sexy.
I handed it back to him, conscious of the fact that his lips had been on the glass moments before mine. Potter took it back, looking satisfied, eyes not leaving my hot skin once.
“What are you doing here, Potter?” I murmured, lowering my voice so no one could hear.
“Getting you drunk, obviously.” One side of his lips hitched upwards, his eyes sparking with a challenge. “You mind?”
“Now why would you ever do that?” I asked innocently. Potter laughed, glancing away as he took a swig from the bottle.
“Well, one, I like you a lot better when you’re incapable of forming full sentences. And two,” he paused, and I had to catch my breath as he leaned in. He looked wicked. And sexy. And wicked. His eyes were on my shoulders; he was daring me to back away. “This is me taking advantage of you. Consider it a warning.”
I scoffed, trying to come off as unafraid when on the inside, I was burning. “I’d like to see you try.”
“Of course you would.” He smirked, taking another swig.
I was too flustered to be irritated by his smartarse mouth. For lack of anything to do, I leaned forward and grabbed my feet in a pretend stretch. “Men in glass houses shouldn’t hit on girls who throw rocks,” I rattled off, mock-wisely.
Potter actually laughed at his. He flopped down on his back, wiggling around and making himself comfortable. He was the opposite of me - casual, calm, a bottle of Firewhiskey always in hand. “Who said anything about hitting on you?”
This was weird. My head was spinning. What exactly were we doing here? It was almost like we were arguing...but without the hate. Like we were... flirting? Holy shit. Me and Potter flirting? The alcohol must be really getting to us.
I leaned back as well, settling into the blanket. I turned my head to look right at Potter. He was centimeters away, golden eyes roughish, glimmering with alcohol.
“Um, you,” I finally answered him. Potter’s lips curled upwards at my serious tone. “Seeing as you were doing it.”
“I don’t think so - that was all your idea Bennett.” He scooted closer, voice lowering. “Besides, I don’t see any rocks around.” His eyes were watching me, dark and sly. “Do you?”
Thankfully, Freddy interrupted us before I was forced to answer. And by answer, I mean make an incomprehensible noise like ‘blarghsherf’ or ‘mmmmurrrrfbala’ and run away.
“Oi! You lot - shut up! It’s starting!” With that, Fred flopped down on the blanket next to me, gesturing maniacally for everyone else to gather round. Aidan, Dom and Evelyn - who had all been playing a drinking game of some sort - shambled towards us, giggling and pushing each other.
When we were finally all settled, it started.
With a squeal, Dom pointed upwards, and we all followed her gaze to see a streak of blazing light drop through the sky. And then another. And another. Like dazzling, glittery arrows, they slashed towards the horizon.
I pulled my gaze away to look at my friends. They were all captivated by the sky. Evelyn had her mouth hanging open, giving us an attractive view of her uvula. Dom was leaning her head on Potter’s shoulder. Aidan looked like an excited kindergartner, his legs crossed like he was getting ready for story time, mumbling to himself about ‘meteroid streams’ and ‘orbital mechanics.’
I turned, locking gazes with Fred. He flashed me a wink. I couldn’t help but grin back.
So these were my friends, I guess. And they were the people who I was supposed to count on to get me through the year, to keep me grounded while my face was being printed on every newspaper in Wizardring Britain, and other people gossiped and stared. These guys were supposed to protect me and pick me up when I was down. They were going to be the ones who had my back.
...I was so screwed.
If I was really trusting my wellbeing, happiness and general sanity to these goons, then I might as well just throw in the towel now and bloody check myself into a loony bin. At least this way, I can maybe reserve myself a room with a view.
...Or, I guess I could sit back and enjoy the ride for now. Because I know that no matter how crazy life will get - and I happen to know it can get pretty crazy - at least I’ll have some entertainment.
“Okay, so the meteor particles all travel at parallel paths,” Aidan began excitedly, eyes lighting up, “Which is why, to the untrained eye, it appears that the meteoroids are all emitting from the same radiant point. But this is actually just a trick of perspective - “
My brother’s crash course lesson in meteoroids, however, was quickly rejected by just about everyone in the room.
“Shut up, Aidan - ”
“- Yeah, way to go and ruin the moment -”
“Unnecessary. That was so unnecessary - “
“Do our future generation a favor and never become an Astronomy teacher.”
“Well, excuse me for trying to impart some knowledge! Prats.” Aidan huffed, face quickly pulling into a sulk. He scooted further away from the group and, with a pointed look at us, crossed his arms and turned away.
Dom exchanged a secretive glance with Potter. They both seemed to be thinking the same thing.
Slowly, Dom grabbed one of the unopened Firewhiskey bottles and crawled over to Aidan. Oh dear. This cannot end well.
“Aidan,” she said sweetly. “We’re sorry for making fun of you and your nerdiness. Will you ever forgive us?”
“No,” Aidan pouted, determinedly ignoring the smirking Weasley.
“What about now?” Dom scooted closer, batting her eyelashes in typical Veela fashion. Freddy stifled a snort.
“Nuh-uh,” Aidan snapped petulantly.
Dom slowly shook the Firewhiskey bottle, turning to flash us a sneaky glance. It came across as slightly demonic more than anything. Evelyn whispered an ‘uh-oh’ under her breath.
“What about now?” With an ear-splitting crack, the Firewhiskey bottle was bursting open, dousing Aidan in spicy-smelling liquor. It sprayed everywhere, covering him from head to toe as he yelped in surprise (but manly surprise, of course). Yelling obscenities, he tried to block the stream with his hands, but that only made it worse, causing the bottle to spew foamy drink in every direction -- sprinkling the glass walls and plants (Professor Sprout is not going to be happy after she finds out we got her Devil’s Snare drunk).
When it was finished, and the rest of us had fallen down laughing, Aidan was the only one standing. He frantically wiped his face with his shirt. He was sputtering.
“Bloody fuck!” He yelled, uncannily serious, blue eyes blazing with anger. “That wasn’t funny, okay?”
Dom stopped in her hysterical giggling, lips clamping together in shock. The rest of us quieted. Aidan wrung his t-shirt out, breathing heavily. “Not cool, Dom,” he spat, storming off to where all our stuff was. “Jesus Christ.”
Dom’s eyes were round with guilt. “Aidan - I didn’t mean to - it was just a joke - I’m sorry,” she mumbled, uncharacteristically meek.
Aidan turned away and, in that split second, I knew something was up. The smallest of smiles flicked across his face, and before I could warn her, he was grabbing another bottle. “Apology accepted!” He grinned and cracked it open. Dom’s face registered just a hint of relief before it was doused in Firewhiskey.
“NO! AIDAN! STOP!” She shrieked hysterically, but my brother just roared and roared with laughter, and before I knew it, everyone else had grabbed a bottle and all hell was breaking loose.
It was absolute chaos. Under aged, illegal chaos. Everywhere you turned, you were likely to get drenched in the face. Bottle after bottle, they were cracked open like fountains. The air was sticky with Firewhiskey - the sweet but spicy smell lingered in the air, heady and exhilarating. It wasn’t long before we were all soaked to the bone, hair dripping with it, running down our faces, clothes sopping.
Evelyn was running around, barefoot, one spewing bottle in each hand. Fred had his head thrown back, laughing as he sprayed a shrieking Dom. I could barely register this before I felt arms wrapping roughly around my waist, and I was hoisted into the air.
“ACK! NO! POTTER!” I shrieked, kicking and wiggling around frantically like a spastic eel. Attractive. “PUT ME DOWN NOW!”
But he wasn’t listening.
Potter was laughing - the sound strange and unfamiliar - and my panic increased as I saw Freddy looming closer, shaking a Firewhiskey bottle in a very slow, deliberate manner. The prats had teamed up against me.
“No - let me go, Potter, or else! I swear!” I flailed haplessly. “This is mutiny, I tell you! MUTINY! MUTIN--GAAAARHHHRARRGLEFARRRRGLE!”
Cue: giant geyser of alcohol being sprayed into my face.
I hate my friends.
Potter dropped me, laughing even harder now. The sound was rich and heavy like dark chocolate, and it echoed against the walls - combining with the Firewhiskey to make my head spin. I stumbled forward into a satisfied Fred, trying to catch my footing.
“You,” I began, smacking Fred across the shoulder, blinking the drink out of my eyes. “Are a prat.”
I wheeled around to see Potter, who was practically keeled over at this point. His amber eyes were squinted with laughter, his smile wide and uncharacteristically carefree.
“And you,” I menaced. “Are dead.”
“Now, now,” Potter managed between breaths of laughter, holding his hands up and backing slowly away. “Let’s try and be reasonable here.”
“I don’t negotiate with terrorists!”
“T’was only a bit of fun, Aggy!” Fred chortled from behind.
“FUN? YOU THINK GETTING WATERBOARDED BY FIREWHISKEY IS FUN?”
“Maybe not fun, but definitely funny.”
“I’M GOING TO KILL YOU TWO.”
“Relax, Aggy, just take deep breaths--”
“Yeah, Bennett, no need to get worked up about thi--OW! JESUS CHRIST! OW!”
“Shit, she’s mad - RUN JAMES RUN, RUN LIKE THE WIND!”
I watched the two teenaged boys - who had a couple inches and several pounds on me, mind you - sprint away from me like scared little girl scouts. It was quite satisfying - my favorite part was Freddy slipped on a puddle of Firewhiskey and almost face-planted.
Yeah. Take that.
No one messes with Agatha Bennett and gets away with it.
(Sassy finger snap.)
“Ugh, I took, like, four showers last night and I still smell like a nightclub.” Dom whined as we stood by the Potions classroom the next day. She blatantly sniffed her own armpit - such a lady - and grimaced. “This shit ain’t cute.”
“Yeah, well,” Evelyn snapped sardonically, flicking her shiny sheet of hair behind her dainty shoulder. “That tends to happen when you go frolicking through puddles of alcohol. And Jesus Christ - will you stop sniffing yourself? We’re in public!”
Sheepishly, Dom removed her nostrils from her armpit and pouted. “If you’re trying to act like my mum, just so you know - you’re failing miserably. She’s much more supportive than that.”
“You always say your mum is a cow!”
“SHE’S A NICE LADY.”
“But you always call her - ”
“A. NICE. LADY.”
“Oi!” I stepped in between the two blondes before a full-out catfight could ensue. The last thing we needed was for the claws (and Freddy’s video camera) to come out. “Children, children,” I hushed in my most soothing yoga-teacher voice. “Quiet down. It’s way too early for this.”
Luckily, my peace-making seemed to do the trick. Evelyn huffed a few twirls of glimmering blonde hair out her eyes, clamping her glossed lips shut. Dom resumed sniffing herself like a monkey.
Honestly, I really can’t expect anything less.
We were currently dawdling outside the Potions classroom, waiting for Slughorn to emerge from his annual, Christmas Break Hibernation and let us in. Knowing his long history of falling asleep at his desk and being woken up three days later by a very nervous First-Year, this would probably take a while.
“HALLOOOO, MY FAVORITE BITCHESSSS!”
The three of us turned around, looking varying shades of offended, to see a bloke with crazy hair excitedly waving his arms at us. For a moment, I had trouble identifying him. But then I caught a whiff of green apple perfume and the memory came roaring back to me.
Martin. He was a German Exchange student - we’d met him at Potter’s birthday party where he had a) set a tiki bar on fire and b) scared the living crap out of me. Not necessarily in that order. (I mean, have you ever seen a seventeen-year-old boy wearing bell bottoms? You’d be frightened too.)
“Are you ready to go to the class of the Potions?” Martin slung an arm around a very startled Evelyn. His hair - a giant brown, Jimmy Neutron-esque wave - wiggled in the dim light.
“You take Potions, Martin?” Dom asked politely. Thank Merlin for her, seeing as I was a little too distracted by the giant diamond peace sign necklace swinging on Martin’s chest.
“YES! I LOVE THE POTIONS! I AM A POTIONS SLUT!” Martin shouted, in the same way someone might declare they were an independent woman and proud of it. Evelyn’s eyebrows shot up to her hairline.
Luckily, we were saved from having to respond by Freddy, who was weaving through the crowded corridor with great difficulty.
“Excuse me - oof - sorry - have you seen my German? I lost my German... Oh! There you guys are!” Looking very relieved, he grabbed a giggling Martin by the elbow and wagged his finger sternly. “Don’t you do that to me again!”
Martin just shrugged, giving a smile that practically required it’s own ‘Ding!’ sound effect. Fred sighed, mopping his brow, and collapsed against the stone wall.
“Er,” Evelyn said slowly. She pointed to Martin, who had gone off and was now caressing the door to the Potion’s room. “Is he alright? You know, in the head?”
Fred shrugged. “I’m not really sure. He keeps wandering down here in the middle of the night. He just sits by the door, waiting. We don’t know why."
“He sure loves his Potions,” Dom nodded solemnly.
“Tell me about it. We’re a little worried that Slughorn’s going to file a sexual harassment suit. But, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
“What house did they sort him in?” I asked, chewing on my lip. Martin was now cooing at the doorknob like it was a baby bird. “Because this is a class for Slytherins and Ravenclaws...And he doesn’t seem like either.”
“He’s a Gryffie. Living in our dorm, actually. Nice bloke - a real party animal. I took a sip out of his water at breakfast and almost spat it all over the place. It was pure vodka.”
“So: loves potions, accessorises well, is possibly an alcoholic. I like him.” Dom nodded. “He will be in our group. It is law.”
Fred grinned, waggling his eyebrows, before suddenly turning serious. “Hey, did you guys hear? The Sword of Gryffindor... It’s being kept here. At Hogwarts.”
“What?” I blurted out. Fred darted his gaze to me, nodding enthusiastically, and I felt all the blood in my body rush to my face, shock closing my throat. My ears were ringing. Distantly, I could feel Evelyn give my elbow a squeeze - whether it was a reassuring or ‘oh snap you screwed, girlfriend’ squeeze, I couldn’t tell. I was too busy freaking the fuck out.
“You mean the sword I...saved? My sword?” I asked lamely, as if there were thousands of different swords just lying about. Fred nodded.
“Yup. After the Ministry, they decided to move it. I mean, no place safer than Hogwarts, am I right?”
“You know what that means,” Dom groaned. She wheeled around to look at me. “You’re going to be getting a lot of attention the next few days.”
“What?” My voice was reedy with hysteria. “No way! Like people care about that kind of stuff!”
“Are you kidding me? Look at them now!” Evelyn threw her hand out, gesturing to the rest of the students in the corridor. My gaze landed on a group of nearby Ravenclaws, chittering in a huddle.They quickly went silent when they saw us, along with two fourth-years boys who had obvious staring problems. Three girls who were whispering and pointing. A gaping second-year. The more I looked, the more people I saw.
And they were all staring at me.
“Mmhmm.” Fred pursed his lips. “You’re like that Hufflepuff kid who can eat a whole apple in two bites. You’re famous, Aggy.”
“There is no way I am on Apple Alfred’s level!” I shook my head, backing away and almost tripping into the stone wall. “He’s a legend!”
“And now, so are you,” Dom said gently, patting me on the shoulder. “Embrace it, Agatha.”
“I mean, why else do you think I’ve been undoing two extra buttons on my uniform? I have to if I even want to be noticed around you.” Evelyn informed us with utmost seriousness, like the issue of her shirt buttons was a top UN priority. “I’m about to go three, guys. This shit is getting real.”
Fred didn’t seemed perturbed by the fact that his girlfriend was contemplating stripping in the middle of the hallway. “Just relax, Aggs. The hype will die down eventually. In the meanwhile, just act as weird as possible to scare the gawkers away. Watch.”
With that, Fred wheeled around, turning on some of the blokes who’d been staring. “Hey boys! Like what you see?” He gestured to his body, doing several pelvic movements that I had to look away from, for fear of getting pregnant. He licked his lips, leering towards the scared boys with a rather aggressive look in his eye. “Seven galleons an hour! Eight if you’re kinky!”
Needless to say, they scurried away. Very quickly.
“You’re welcome,” Fred grinned proudly.
I sighed, my lips twitching into a smile. Could this day get any weirder?
“HELP! HELP! THERE’S A MONSTER IN THE DUNGEONS! A MONSTER!”
Apparently, it can.
“Is that - ?” Dom began.
“Fallon Cooper,” I finished for her.
The four of us watched in amazement as the boy in question - the very same boy who had put Aidan in a coma and threatened to kill me at Halloween party (which isn’t a fun experience at all, slutty librarian or not) - went sprinting down the corridor in sheer, absolute terror.
“IT’S COMING FOR ME! SOMEBODY! SAVE ME!” Cooper’s voice was girlish with hysteria, his features drawn into an expression that was Boggart-worthy. He looked very close to peeing his pants.
“What.” Evelyn said flatly, blank gaze glued to her ex-boyfriend as he hurtled down the hallway. Dom gave a breathless laugh, jade eyes shining with delight. The rest of the corridor erupted in titters, and I could finally breathe again now that I wasn’t the center of attention.
Then, something occurred to me.
This wasn’t just another day at Hogwarts. I mean - sure, monsters and beasts we were used to. But a seventh year Slytherin screaming like a girl? Not so much. Something was up.
And I knew just who was behind it.
I slid my gaze to Freddy, who had a very satisfied, very evil look on his face.
“And so,” he murmured in a creepy voice that practically required him to rub his hands together like a mad scientist. “It has begun.”
He could only mean one thing by that:
The Cooper Prank.
I’d always assumed that The Cooper Prank wouldn’t actually happen. Like Inception or a stripper’s daddy issues, it was destined to have no resolution. It was supposed to just kind of slowly fade out until we’d all forgotten about it.
But I guess I was wrong. Because, see, when someone in our group gets hurt - we don’t just forget about it, I’ve learned. We don’t forgive, either. We begrudge.
“WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?” Oh shit. McGonagall alert.
Scottish accent on full power, Professor McGonagall was bustling down the hallway, her dressing gown flapping behind her, her hair coming loose from its bun in aggravated strands. Apparently, she’d been in the middle of her beauty sleep on her day off. And apparently, she didn’t like getting woken up by the sound of screaming students.
Her eyes were crackling with an anger that was positively electric, her lips pressed into a sharp line. She, needless to say, was in Beast Mode.
And it was terrifying.
Poor Cooper. If he thought he was going to get any relief up here, he was wrong. He’d run from the most terrifying thing in this castle straight into the second most terrifying thing in this castle.
What a dumbarse.
“Minerva? What in heaven’s name - Oh my!”
It’s like thunder and lightening. Where there’s a McGonagall, chances are a Flitwick is close behind. And this Flitwick was now stopped in the middle of the hallway, frozen from shock - be it from seeing Cooper close to tears, or McGonagall in her dressing gown, we’ll never know. Thankfully.
“This better be good.” And the cherry on top of the authority sundae - Professor Nott. He rounded the corner, coming up to stand by a still paralysed Flitwick. Rubbing the scruff on his face, he surveyed the scene - a hyperventilating Cooper, a wide-eyed Flitwick, and a huddle of gawking students... Oh, and of course, Martin, who was still molesting the Potions door.
I like how the one teacher who actually lives here, in the Dungeons - Slughorn - is nowhere to be found. Probably still snoring in his pineapple-patterned pajamas.
“Well,” Nott drawled. “It appears you have this all settled, Minerva, so if you don’t mind, I’ll be in my office poking my eye with a stick - or something equally less painful than being here. So, yeah. See you when I see you.”
Nott was just about to make his escape when, seething, McGonagall bit out a single word: “Theodore.”
Then, with a clenched hand, she gestured to a trembling Cooper. “Your house. Your student. You take care of this.”
The look on Nott’s face said, in plain words, ‘Fuck me, this sucks.’ And it seemed like he was about to wheel around and just walk away, but instead, he heaved a sigh and made his way to Cooper, who was now huddled into a ball on the floor.
Nott reached out a hand - possibly to pat Cooper on the shoulder and display the first sign of affection that the Nott Family has seen in centuries - when he stopped rather awkwardly. With a look of extreme distaste, he instead took out his wand and poked the hysterical Cooper in the shoulder.
In the shoulder.
Like Cooper was a scared animal, and Nott was trying to see whether he’d bite or not.
“Please oh please will you tell us what’s wrong,” Nott said in monotone, looking like he’d rather jump into a pit of fire and sharks than hear a single word out of Cooper’s mouth.
“Monster - in the dungeon - “ Cooper breathed shakily, as pale as a Cullen.
Nott sighed. “Monsters at Hogwarts. Original. Show me.”
Cooper slowly stumbled to a stand, still breathing heavily, and turned around. He started to do a kind of half-crawl, half-lumber down the hallway, and - mumbling something about ‘how the hell hasn’t the bleedin’ Health Department shut us down yet’ - Nott trailed behind him.
“Quick, follow, follow!” Freddy cried, nudging me forward. And in a kind of protective, penguin-like huddle, the four of us scurried behind Cooper and the three teachers.
This cannot end well.
It seemed to take hours as Cooper led us down, deeper and deeper into the dungeons. Dom had her hand around my wrist, squeezing it in excitement. Freddy was trying to hide a very obvious smile. Evelyn, on the other hand, was oddly silent, her gaze trained on the stone floor as we walked and walked.
“Trust me, Professors, I know exactly where it is.“ The further we got, the more confident Cooper seemed to grow. He was almost acting like his smug self again - all superior and holier-than-thou, like he’d done us a favor by finding this monster. Which I guess he had, but, whatever. I mean, I guess he'd done a good thing - but I don't like him as a person, so it doesn’t really count.
Finally, Cooper stopped outside a wooden door that seemed oddly familiar.
“It’s right in there,” Cooper declared proudly, gesturing to the mahogany. The professors all looked at each other, taking out their wands - and then, finally, McGonagall nodded at Cooper.
I was still squinting at the door in confusion - it was so familiar - but before I could figure out where I’d seen it before, Cooper was brandishing it open the way one might reveal the prize car at a game show.
“Ah - HA!”
The door swung open, and then I realized where we were. Filch’s office.
Which was, by the way, completely empty.
What I expected was for everyone to realize there was nothing inside, and Cooper to become extremely humiliated and lose all credibility with teachers. I mean, wasn’t that the prank?
What I didn’t expect was for Cooper to fall on the floor at the sight of the empty room and start flapping his limbs about in hysteria, screaming, “AHHHH! STAND BACK! IT’LL KILL YOU! IT’S VICIOUS!”
Of course, what I didn’t expect was exactly what happened.
“Mr. Cooper!” McGonagall cried, scandalized. But there was nothing she could do. We all gaped in amazement as Cooper continued to write on the floor in terror, scrambling backwards in an exorcism-gone-wrong fashion. “KILL IT! KILL THE BEAST!”
And, with a shaky finger, Cooper raised his hand and pointed straight at this so-called Beast.
Mrs. Norris Jr.
“Mr. Cooper, what do you think you’re playing at?” Flitwick stepped inside the room, but this only caused Cooper to raise his screaming from ‘baby on a plane’ level to ‘howling monkey’ level.
It was not pretty.
Fred was shaking with silent laughter next to me. Mrs. Norris Jr. regarded us with unamused, amber eyes. She took a step forward.
And Cooper went apeshit.
“YIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! DEMON! DEMON!” Like a deranged koala, Cooper latched himself onto a very startled Professor Nott, practically climbing on his back in an effort to shield himself from Mrs. Norris Jr. Nott gave a yelp of surprise and tried to throw Cooper off, but the kid had a death grip.
It’s nice to know that, when confronted with a situation like this, our teacher’s first instinct is to hurl his student (at high speeds) onto a stone floor. Oh, Hogwarts.
By now, we had attracted a bit of a crowd. There was a ring of students surrounding us - a mishmash of different houses and ages, all too shocked to even whisper a single judgy comment. And when Hogwart’s students aren’t giving judgement, that’s when you know something’s wrong.
McGonagall, looking very offended and somewhat confused, stalked into Filch’s room and picked up Mrs. Norris. Cooper screamed, latching on even tighter to Nott, causing the Professor to make a few attractive strangulation sounds and stumble backwards.
“Oh, for Goodness sake!” McGonagall cried exasperatedly. “Cooper, it’s just a cat!”
By now, real tears were falling down Cooper’s chiseled cheeks. He was making pathetic little noises - which I thought were sobs, at first, but turned out to just be him choking on his own spit. He buried his face into Professor Nott’s shoulder - something the Professor looked none too happy about. “It’s after me! It’s coming for me!” He sounded like a petulant child. “GET IT AWAY!”
“Can someone please calm him down before he pees on me?” Nott asked flatly.
McGonagall paled at the thought. Sighing, she waved her hands at Flitwick. “Please, get Mr. Cooper to the Hospital Wing and have Poppy give him a calming draught. It seems Cooper is suffering from...over-exhaustion.”
Flitwick hobbled over to Cooper, who was still latched onto Professor Nott, and gently coaxed him down. Together, with a very impressive Flitwick carrying most of Cooper’s body weight, the two made their way down the corridor.
Nott leveled McGonagall with a piercing blue stare. “You so owe me for this, Minerva. You are teaching all of my classes, all of my days, for the next two weeks.”
“Yeah, yeah, save it for your diary, Nott. We all know you keep one under your pillow, and we all know there are butterflies on the cover.” McGonagall snapped with a roll of her eyes. The students around us tittered; Nott turned a nice shade of red and stomped off.
“What are you all looking at?” McGonagall snapped at us spectators. “Don’t you have classes?”
With a mix of grumbling, chattering, and laughing, students began to shamble away. Amidst the crowd, Fred, Evelyn, Dom and I put our heads together in a huddle and started walking.
“That was bleeding epic.” Dom was the first to regain skill of speech. “Freddy - how did you do it?”
“Well, we brewed a Unreasonable Fear potion, put some of Mrs. Norris’s cat hairs in it - which we got when we kidnapped her - and I bribed a house-elf to slip the drink into Cooper’s water at breakfast. Easy peasy. The potion needs a couple weeks to brew, though, which is why the whole prank took so long.” Fred shrugged casually, but his eyes were glimmering with triumph.
I, on the other hand, had an unsettling feeling in my stomach. Which was only magnified when Evelyn stopped in her tracks and turned to Freddy, eyes sharp and flashing.
“Wait a second, you were responsible for this? This was all just one of your pranks?” It was impossible to tell what Evelyn was feeling at the moment. Her face was closed off, her body language guarded.
Uh-oh. I’d forgotten that Evelyn hadn’t known about the Cooper prank. Stopping as well, Freddy whitened and then swallowed hard.
“Eve, I can explain - “
“Yes, please do, Mr. Weasley.” A familiar, Scottish voice sounded. Almost as if in slow-motion, we turned around to see McGonagall, apparently not having left, standing right behind us. She’d heard the whole thing. “Because it sounds like you were the one in charge of this little fiasco.”
“Oh. Bloody. Fuck,” Fred summed up all our thoughts pretty accurately. He turned to me and Dom, but we could only stare at him with round, panicked eyes.
“Weasley.” McGonagall smiled a smile that was not promising at all. “I’d like to see you in my office, please.”
A/N: There's the chapter! Cliffhanger - I know. You guys must hate me. But it was so much fun to write and I couldn't resist. Please review if you get the chance. Favorite quotes are the bomb dot com! Love you all! Oh, and I know this chapter is littered with spelling errors and general awkwardness, but I wanted to post this right now because I'm leaving for vacation in approximately...yup, one hour. Oh, and I don't own Inception. Or Harry Potter. Obviously.
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