Chapter 12 : Brother dearest
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Walters' obsession with the artifact knew no boundaries. He even created a Search team, consisting mainly of students, to help him with his mission. Surprisingly, most of the students were thrilled to take part of whatever that was. Cornfoot, Stephen, Zander and Will joined the Team almost immediately. While Tessa knew that the first three did it purely because they were attention-seeking little gits, Will's decision caught her off-guard. Of course, he had his motives - he was hoping to find the casket before anyone else and hide it somewhere safer. Tessa seemed to be the only one to think William was out of his mind, no matter how good his plan was. She almost had to sit on Lexy to keep her from following Turner in his suicidal journey. The blonde's willingness to do everything to protect the ones she cared about was admirable, but one psycho was more than enough. And if Will's plan backfired...
Tessa shook her head to get rid of these thoughts and continued doodling. History of magic was never one of her favorite subjects, but it could prove itself as useful. If Binns didn't bore her to death, that is. She pulled Matthew's hand and laid her head down on it.
"I'm gonna need that", he said quietly.
He chuckled and shifted his quill to his other hand.
"I thought you were mad at me."
"I am", Tessa adjusted her position. "But you're comfortable and I'm sleepy."
"What are you drawing ?", he peeped at her parchment.
"Looks like a banana to me."
Tessa glared at him. Matthew tried to look as innocent as possible. She huffed and turned to her work of art.
"Will and I were thinking", Matt lowered his voice even more, "of ways to inform someone outside the school about our situation. Do you think you could write to your brother ?"
"They're reading all of our mail", Tessa whispered. "But I thought about it, too. I think I can try and use some sort of code, but I'm not sure it will work."
"It has to work. He's the only one who knows what's happening." Matthew paused."You know what ? Write the letter now."
She lifter her head to give him a pointed look.
"What ?", he rose his eyebrows."It's not like you're paying attention anyway."
"But I don't even know what to write ! I haven't planned it !"
"Try. You have your way with words."
She growled, but pulled another parchment out of her bag. Her letter needed to be causal enough to pass the check and obvious enough for her brother. Her eyes wandered around the classroom for good ten minutes, before she actually started writing.
I finally found time to write to the best brother in the world."
Hopefully, he'd get that Tessa complimented him, because she wanted something, not because she was in a good mood. Now how should she explain what was happening ?
She felt someone staring at her. It wasn't hard to find Zander's hypnotizing green eyes, glued to her. Tessa decided to ignore him and continue writing.
"I am, indeed, very busy. You never warned me that Seventh year required that much studying ! I'm going crazy here. Remember that History of Magic exam I was freaking out about ?"
She paused. Would Jason understand that "History of Magic exam" actually meant "magical artifact" ? Surely, he remembered that she was panicking because of Will's note and never mentioned any kind of exam.
"Zander is staring at me", Tessa said to Matt, barely moving her lips.
Matthew's head snapped to Zander and he cocked his eyebrow questioningly. The other boy abruptly turned around.
"Well, brother dearest, I had every right to be hysterical. It was far worse than I ever imagined. Every single hour me and the girls spent preparing turned out useless. How should I know why trolls hated wizards ?! It seems that being ugly and stupid isn't a valid enough reason to hate on smarter and more beautiful species.
But does Binns seriously think someone's taking notes in his class ? Well, except for Matthew and Kristie, but they're insane."
Matthew made a sound. Tessa looked at him.
"I am not insane."
"You really believe that ?"
"In fact I do, yes."
Tessa patted his head sympathetically.
"Your whole life has been a lie."
He made a face at her.
"I don't know how I'll survive this. How did you do it ? Do give your favorite sister some useful advices. The faster, the better.
Send my love to mum and dad. Tell them I'm doing fine.
She re-read the letter a few times.
"It's good", Matthew said reassuringly. "He'll understand the meaning behind it, he's not stupid."
The girl nodded, but she wanted to hear at least one more opinion, before she was completely sure it was safe to send the letter. Her eyes landed on Kristie, who was diligently writing down the dates Binns was mentioning. After a while she felt Tessa's stare and looked at her friend questioningly. Tessa folded the letter and threw it to Kristen.
Kristie took her time reading it. When she finally finished, she just nodded at Tessa and lifted her thumbs up. It was all the other girl needed.
"Who's this letter to ?", the man asked grumpily.
"My older brother."
The parchment was ripped from Tessa's hands quite rudely. She had to remind herself to stay calm and smile as sweetly as possible.
He pulled a file with her name on top of it. His finger traced the page and stopped on the "Siblings" column. He collated her brother's name with the one, written in the letter and carried on reading.
"History of Magic exam, huh ?", the man grunted.
"Yes, sir. Troll wars, 882 b.c. A truly terrible concurrence of circumstances, don't you think ? "
He didn't answer her. She continued smiling, fully enjoying the fact that he had no idea what she was talking about.
After he read the letter, he made her empty her bag and pockets. Tessa was close to suggesting him to use the Accio charm as a quicker way to find if she was hiding another letter, but decided against it. Giving this people good ideas was only going to get her in trouble.
"Fine, you may proceed", he moved out of her way.
"Thank you, kind sir."
She could swear she heard the guy call her some not so kind names under his breath, while she was entering the owlery. This only made her more amused.
Tessa looked around the cold room, searching for the familiar gray-brown feathers. Soon enough she spotted the barred owl, sleeping in one of the corners.
"Vesper", Tessa called.
The bird opened her black eyes lazily and flew to her owner. Tessa gave her some food, which the owl happily accepted. After she was fed and paid enough attention, Vesper outstretched her leg. Tessa attached the letter and stared after the bird, until she couldn't see it anymore.
After a long and exhausting day, the Slytherin crew finally managed to drag themselves to the Common room. They didn't even have the strength to go straight to bed.
"This is hopeless", Will dramatically threw himself in one of the leather armchairs.
Mona, Tessa and Matthew stared at him blankly.
"The artifact. I don't know who hid it, but he did a damn good job. I think Walters turned every stone in the bloody castle, and still - no trace of the casket."
"Try with the Chamber of secrets", Mona suggested.
"No way. I'm not going in there, that place is cursed."
"The bottom of the Black lake ?", Tessa asked. "Our mystery guy seems to think that there is something very important."
Will violently shook his head.
"Maybe someone is moving it." They turned to Matthew. "The castle has been thoroughly searched more than once, yet nothing was found. If I was the one with the casket, I'd be changing its hiding place every day."
"A very good idea indeed, White", Ian Cornfoot's drawl interrupted them. "I will make sure that Mr. Walters takes it into consideration. William," he nodded towards the very annoyed bloke, "I do not understand why you find in necessary to communicate with mudbloods, let alone share our plans with them."
Matthew gripped his wand so tight, that his knuckles turned white. Mona's glare could kill an elephant. Will was anxiously biting his lower lip. Tessa smiled widely.
"Because, Cornfoot, you don't actually have a plan. Having a plan would require thinking and you're, quite unfortunately, lacking the ability to do that."
His eyes turned to slits.
"Listen, wench, I..."
"Leave it", Zander cut him off.
There was a short, awkward silence, before Cornfoot and his lackeys left to the boys' dorms.
"What the hell ?", Mona breathed.
Tessa shrugged completely dumbstruck.
"Will", Matthew threw his wand on the table. "Befriend him."
"He knows something. Pretend to be really into the whole Search Team thing. Hell, even stop talking with us, if you think it'll work. Just do it."
"Why don't you just join the hunt ?", Mona asked.
Matthew's shoulder twitched slightly. Tessa's eyes narrowed, but he ignored her. He ignored Monica's question, too.
"But I don't wanna befriend that scum !", Will whined.
"Why ? You'll be part of the brotherhood, the coolest crew in school. It's an honor, William, really", Tessa was barely containing her laughter.
He started mumbling about how stupid Cornfoot and his friends were, how hypocritical, absurd and rude they were. When he moved to complaining about their lack of personal hygiene, Tessa turned him off. She really didn't need to know about Stephen's smelly armpits.
There was a noise, indicating that a door was opening and then closing. Zander was going straight to the exit of the Common room.
"Arscott !", he stopped at the sound of Tessa's voice. "It's curfew. You're not allowed to wander in the corridors."
He didn't even cast a glance in her direction, just left the room. However, one of Walters' men entered and went straight to Tessa.
"Theresa Davies ?"
"You have a letter."
The envelope was torn and almost completely ruined. There were traces of spells all over the parchment itself - small burnt spots, which showed that Walters' wasn't just fooling around, but carefully checking their mail.
"May I ask why are you receiving letters so late at night ?"
"Late ? It's ten o'clock !", Will protested.
"How should I know ?", Tessa asked the man. "You read the letter, you tell me."
"Sign here that you got your mail", he threw a piece of paper at her, which she absentmindedly signed.
When the man left, Tessa's friends gathered around her, as she read the letter out loud.
It was about damn time you wrote ! I though you died, or even worse, forgot about me ! What kind of a sister you are, driving your dear old brother up the wall with worry !
I clearly remember you panicking about that exam. Worse than you imagined, you're saying ? Well, that's... unfortunate. Look, I'll try to dig some of dad's History of Magic books and send them to you as soon as possible. I'll just have to corner him and force him to tell me where they are. You try and use the ones, available in the library and those, which you bought during the vacation, ok ? I'm sure they'll prove useful, until I find something better.
And try to stay of out trouble, sis. You don't want to end up with an awful school record, right ? I can sense you're stressed, but don't do anything too rash or too stupid. I know how you can get. Instead of landing detention, you can write to me more often. And that's not a request.
Mum and dad send their love, too. They said they'll write you the second they have some free time.
Oh, by the way, warn White to keep his dirty hands away from you. Just in case.
"Help is coming", Tessa breathed out.
"So what do we do now ?", Will asked.
"We wait and stay low on the radar", Matthew answered.
If only it was as easy as it sounded.
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