Chapter 4 : Colds and Capers
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I wake up feeling like shit, which, as you can imagine, is not exactly the most pleasant of feelings to wake up to. My nose is stuffy, my head is spinning (though this probably also had to do with the lack of sleep last night), and I can’t even begin to describe how my throat feels. You guessed it; I had a cold.
I sit up, and I look around the dorm, but no one else is there, not even Lolly. I roll over to look at the clock. 10:34 gazes back at me. 10:34‽ Ten fucking thirty-four‽ Bloody hell... I missed Charms and part of Herbology! I mean, skiving class is fun... when you actually mean to do it.
I should probably get out of bed, but I don’t feel like it. If Lolly was here, she’d be threatening my biscuits to make me get out of bed. Why didn’t Lolly wake me up? Hell, why didn’t anyone wake me up? What happened to everyone? Perhaps Voldemort has risen out of his grave somehow and is coming back to murder everyone all over again... yeah, that's likely.
Why didn't anyone fucking wake me up? Surely someone must have thought of it, at least Lolly. To think I consider her my best friend.
10:45. I should get out of bed. Now would be a good time. I pull off the wonderfully warm, soft covers and hop out. My head starts spinning slightly, making me feel dizzy.
I feel like shit. Shitty shit. Shitty shit that’s been shitted on. In short, I feel like shit (if you didn’t get that the first time).
I manage to get dressed quickly and crawl down the stairs and out the Hufflepuff Common Room.
Then I manage to make it to the Hospital Wing somehow, though how I do, I don’t remember, since all I thought about the whole way there was feeling shittier than I did before.
When I get there, Madam Pomfrey immediately gives me a gobletful of Pepperup Potion. I leave the Hospital Wing feeling significantly less shitty than before, albeit with smoke coming out of my ears.
I look like a blithering idiot. Wonderful.
I enter Herbology more than halfway through the class. I hand a note from Madam Pomfrey to Professor Longbottom (I think I would die if I had a surname like that) and then stand next to Lolly and Phoebe at our usual station, where they’re busy tackling dark red, spiky, and generally freaky-looking plants – Venomous Tentacula, the bane of seventh year students.
“Sorry I’m late, you guys,” I say to Lolly and Phoebe.
They both look up from the Venomous Tentacula that they’re fighting to get into the dirt.
“Imogen!” Lolly exclaims, beaming.
“Where were you, and is that smoke coming out of your ears?” Phoebe asks, while trying to avoid the vines that are currently trying to kill her. I swear, at least one person has to have died in Herbology during the course of Hogwarts history. This class is bloody dangerous.
“I woke up with a cold very late this morning and then went to the Hospital Wing for some Pepperup Potion, which explains the smoking ears. Seriously, why do potions always have to have such weird side-effects?”
“Because my life would get no entertainment without any side-effects!” chirps Lolly from around the Tentacula.
“Hmph,” I mutter, crossing my arms across my chest. “By the way, why didn’t you wake me up in time? You didn’t seem to have a problem with it yesterday.” This was said in the direction of Lolly.
She looks surprised. “Oh. Well, you didn’t really look well – kind of pale and sweaty and sickly-looking – and also, you didn’t really have much sleep last night, so I thought that you would wake up on your own in time for classes.”
“Oh, thank Merlin,” I say. “I thought you had deserted me and – ” at that moment, I let out a bloodcurdling scream; blood is pouring out of my leg where the sharp, venomous (it’s not called the Venomous Tentacula for nothing) teeth of a plant has bitten into it.
Fucking hell, this hurts so much. I’m dying, I'm dying, I'm dying. I’m dying and nothing will be ever able to save me from this excruciating pain, and it fucking hurts so much. It takes all the effort I’ve got not to whimper pathetically in pain.
The entire class is staring at me in horror. May Finnigan gulps, Padmini Patil-Thomas empties the contents of her stomach out into the dirt at the sight of all that blood oozing from my leg, and Potter briefly catches my eye for a second and then looks down at my leg, wincing when he sees it. The plants have all shriveled up from my piercing scream (though some of them are beginning to return to normal). Professor Longbottom is at my side in an instant, swearing under his breath.
“Who wants to go with Miss Cadwallader to the Hospital Wing?”
Lolly raises her hand shakily.
Professor Longbottom surveys her critically. “I don’t think you’re strong enough to carry both her weight and your weight all the way to the Hospital Wing...”
Lolly opens her mouth indignantly. “I most certainly am–”
“I’ll go with her,” says Potter, glancing at me. I gape at him. Potter, of all people. I mean, he’s not exactly your typical Prince Charming, is he?
Longbottom takes a long look at Potter. “Very well, then, Albus, you may assist her to the Hospital Wing.”
Potter comes over and grabs my arm, slinging it around his shoulder and slinging his arm around my waist, and I almost blush. Almost. It's not my fault he's attractive.
We walk up the stairs and through the castle doors, blood gushing out of my wound, though much slower than before. It still hurts like hell, though, and the sting of the venom isn’t making it any better. Looking at the bright side, though, at least my other leg didn’t get bitten!
That was supposed to make me feel better. Apparently it’s not working.
“Does your leg hurt?” Potter asks as we walk through corridors and up staircases.
“Does your brain work?” I mimic, wincing with pain as we climb up a set of stairs.
“Now, now, Cadwallader, be nice... after all, you owe me for helping you,” he replies with a smirk.
I glare at him. We walk the rest of the way to the Hospital Wing in silence (and me in pain), and I feel as awkward and vulnerable as a flat-footed, fat duck with two right feet and all my feathers plucked off.
...And now would be a good time to disembark the bad simile train, especially since we’ve made it to our destination of the Hospital Wing.
“Is that you again Miss Cad – Oh my heavens!” gasps Madam Pomfrey when we walk in the door. I sit down on a bench, and she hurries to get some potion or the other. She returns with a flask of a vile-looking potion and a goblet. Pouring a generous amount of it into the goblet, she hands it to me. Potter smirks at me while I make a disgusted face at the horrible taste of the potion. Stupid Potter, I wonder how he’d like to have some of this disgusting stuff and see how it feels. After drinking the potion, the blood flow stops immediately, and Potter and I watch in wonder as the skin on my leg starts to grow back. In a few minutes, it looks almost the same as it did before the stupid plant bit it, if a little yellower and older-looking.
Madam Pomfrey shoos Potter out the door and off to lunch, but when I ask her if I can go, she just hands me another potion which makes me feel a bit less dizzy and faint, but more sleepy, and tells me to lie down on one of the beds and take a nap, because I’ve suffered from some severe blood loss or whatever.
I drift off and when I wake up, everything’s pitch black. This means either two things:
a) The sun has burned out.
b) It is the middle of the night.
The obvious answer is a, of course. (If you couldn’t detect the sarcasm there, you must be thicker than I thought. If the sun had burned out, you wouldn’t be reading this. You’d be dead).
I decide to crawl out of my bed in the Hospital Wing and stumble all the way to the Hufflepuff dorms. Everyone else is sleeping, so I climb into my bed and drift off into sleep again.
What a perfectly normal day this has been.
“We should get the ingredients for the Amortentia soon.”
“Why? We don’t even know if Scorpius is actually in love with Potter. Oh, and making Amortentia is against the school rules. In case you couldn’t figure that out.”
“So? When have the school rule ever stopped me? I have stuff to do. Things to cross off.”
“People to kill.”
“A person. Not people.”
“Whatever. You’re probably going to end up killing people by the time this is over. Including me. I won’t be sorry when you get sent to Azkaban.”
“You’re just sour because you can’t think of amazing ideas like me.”
“Sure, Lolly. That’s definitely it.”
“Whatever. I have more important stuff to do–” she waves her precious to-do list in my face and flails around a bit. “–than argue with the likes of you.”
I cross my arms and glower at her. “If you did, you wouldn’t be here talking to me. You’d be somewhere else, trying to pursue Malfoy like a sane, normal person.”
“I am pursuing him like a sane, normal person. I am perfectly sane and normal.”
Keep telling yourself that and it might come true. ‘Might’ being the key word here. Throwing my hands up exasperatedly, I say, “Then why don’t you just ask him out‽”
She looks horrified. “Girls don’t ask boys out! That’s just – that’s just so dreadfully unromantic! And besides, he already has a girlfriend.”
Partly out of frustration and partly because I can’t think of anything else, I reply,“Why don’t you tell him to break up with Rose and then ask him out?”
That’ll go over well. Just imagine it:
ACT IV, SCENE II
LOLITA: Scorpius, oh my dear Scorpius! I love’st thee so much that I fear my heart will burst! Break up with that wretched girl thou art courting and shed thy love upon me instead!
SCORPIUS: Why are you talking like that?
LOLITA: Scorpius, my one and only Scorpius, my dear, dear love! I love thee! Break up with her! Swear you will! Fate has tried to keep us apart, but we are meant to be!
SCORPIUS: You speak in exclamation marks, and you are a lunatic; you belong in an insane asylum. Get away from me!
Obviously, I am the next Shakespeare. You may stop applauding my talent now.
“You know, Imogen, sometimes you can be a little ridiculous.”
“We need to sneak into the Restricted Section tonight and get Moste Potente Potions.”
“Or we could ask a teacher for permission and then get the book with a clear conscience, like any other normal student would do.”
“But what teacher would give us permission to get that book?”
“Ooh, I have an idea!” says Lolly, and that manic gleam she always gets when she has a new, exciting (to her, at least) idea comes into her vivid blue eyes.
“You always have an idea,” I grumble.
Lolly is giggling away at Scorpius, and stupid Potter has absolutely no idea how to make our Potion. I hate bloody Potions. I’m just counting off the minutes until this class ends.
“Are there any other Potions similar to a potion to make mustaches stop fluttering?” I inquire to Potter.
“Not as far as this damn textbook says.”
“I have an idea,” I say suddenly.
“Well, that’s certainly rare, isn’t it?” he says dryly.
I scowl at him. Stupid boy. “Why don’t we just mix random ingredients together and see what happens.”
“For one,” he says in a superior tone, “it would take a lot of testing, and there’s nothing to test on here–”
“I volunteer you.”
“–and secondly, if we did mix random ingredients together, this place would blow up into smithereens.”
Bloody Potter and his bloody logic.
It’s a relief when the (thoroughly unproductive) Potions class is over. Except not really. Because now it’s time to test Lolly’s utterly and completely brilliant idea. Joy.
After the rest of the class rushes out the door, Potter giving me a questioning glance, Lolly drags me to Professor Slughorn’s desk where he’s busy shuffling through papers and boxes of crystallized pineapple. Of course he would be.
From her bag, Lolly takes out a box of crystallized pineapple that she must have gotten in Hogsmeade during the last trip.
“Professor Slughorn,” she asks, offering him the box of crystallized pineapple. “I have a quick question about the project. I was wondering if I you would be able to give me a note for permission to take out Moste Potente Potions from the Restricted Section...”
“Well...” he strokes his beard and his mustache flutters comically.
“Please sir,” Lolly pleads, her eyes wide. “I really want to get a good grade on this project, and well... my partner and I are having a bit of trouble, so I thought that the best source of help would be Moste Potente Potions. But the thing is... the book is in the Restricted Section...”
“Well... I suppose it wouldn’t hurt... After all, you wouldn’t be doing anything against the school rules by using it to help you with your Potions project, and you do seem to be quite eager about the subject...” His mustache has a bit of Lolly’s crystallized pineapple in it, and it takes all my effort not to burst into laughter. He takes a bit of parchment and a quill from the clutter of his desk, signs the parchment, and hands it to Lolly.
“Thank you, sir. The book will be most helpful.” It will be helpful. Just not in the way Slughorn thinks it will be.
After we leave Sluggy’s classroom, our next stop is the library. I haven’t been to the library since the beginning of seventh year. Lolly probably hasn’t been there since the beginning of sixth.
Lolly hands Slughorn’s permission to Madam Pince, who scowls at us suspiciously but finally allows us to go to the Restricted Section and take out Moste Potente Potions. While Lolly chatters about her plans to get Scorpius to like her, I thumb through the heavy book, past grotesque illustrations (now I understand perfectly why this book was in the Restricted Section) to the pages on Amortentia.
One page has the instructions and shit, and the other page has an illustration of two people playing tonsil tennis. How lovely and, er... fitting. At least it’s better than those other illustrations of people with multiple legs or arms or eyeballs or other body parts. Or that guy who was half-human and half-Merlin-knows-what.
Once we’re back in our dorm, I set the book down on my bed and look at the list of ingredients.
“So we’ll need frozen Ashwinder eggs, dried billywig stings, three unicorn tail hairs, crushed beetles... Lolly, how in the world are we going to get all this stuff?”
“I’m pretty sure Sluggy has it all in his special Potions cupboard.”
“Yes, but it’s not like we’re actually going to sneak in and steal the ingredients.”
“So what’s your plan, then?” Lolly smirks.
“We need a plan to get those ingredients for Amortentia.” Lolly is pacing back and forth while I’m sitting on the bed.
“You always need a plan! Why can’t we just sneak in the middle of the night and steal those ingredients from the cupboard? Or, I don’t know, make him fall in love with you in the normal way?” I cross my arms and glare at her.
She’s still pacing. “Because it needs to be well thought out. We need to find a good day to do it. We’ll need a lot of information and careful planning before we can actually do it.”
“And then, of course, I’ll need you to go spy on Scorpius and Albus to see if they are actually in love with each other or not.”
Bloody hell, my best friend’s going senile. And she’s not even that old yet.
“They’re best friends, Lolly. Just because you heard them talking about carpets and cats doesn’t mean that they’re in love with each other!”
“What other teenage boys do you know talk about carpets and cats? Teenage boys don’t talk about carpets and cats! They talk about girls they’d like to bang and shit like that.”
“I’m sure that–”
“Yes, I need you to spy on them soon. And as for the Amortentia ingredients–”
“Why can’t we just get them tonight and be done with it? Slughorn has a student for remedial Potions on Friday and that student always forgets to lock the storage cupboard.”
“How exactly do you know this?”
“I went to Slughorn last Friday because I couldn’t find my Potions essay in class, so I had to give it to him when I found it, and Slughorn had a student for remedial Potions that was cleaning up, and the student forgot to lock the cupboard.”
“You don’t know that the student always forgets.”
“First Years are forgetful.”
“They are... but not all of them...”
“Lolly, Amortentia takes a long time to make. If we don’t start now, then we’ll never finish all of your crazy plans!”
And that was how I found myself standing outside of the Hufflepuff Common Room with Lolly in the middle of the night on Friday.
“This is stupid,” I whisper as we creep along the dimly lit hallways.
“It was your idea to go today,” she replies.
“Well today is better than any other day.”
“Then you shouldn’t be complaining.”
“Hpmh,” I mutter, crossing my arms.
We creep along hallways and staircases quietly until we’re in front of the Potions classroom. The door is slightly ajar. Thank Merlin it isn’t locked.
Lolly walks over to the storage cupboard and pulls at the handle. The door opens.
“It’s unlocked!” she whispers excitedly and then proceeds to do a little celebratory dance.
“Lolly, stop that! We need the stuff!”
“Oh. Right. What do we need?”
“Er... frozen Ashwinder eggs, dried billywig stings, three unicorn tail hairs, crushed beetles, essence of hickory, vanilla extract...” I continue listing ingredients from the textbook as Lolly stands on some poor desk, trying to reach all the ingredients.
See, they put all the ingredients that students are allowed to have at the bottom and middle of the cupboard and all the stuff that students are absolutely forbidden to go near at the very top. Apparently it’s supposed to keep students away, but it wasn’t a very well thought out idea, because they only students that can’t reach the very top while standing on something are first and second years, and I’m sure even they could reach if they tried.
“... Antipodean Opaleye bile...”
“I can’t find it!” hisses Lolly frantically.
“Are you daft? I said I couldn’t–”
“Yeah, I heard you the first time. Are you sure you’ve looked carefully?”
“Yes!” she whispers furiously while burrowing through the countless number of vials and bottles and jars of strange-looking stuff that all looked various degrees of dangerous. About half of them don’t even have labels.
“Let me look!” I climb on the desk next to her and start looking, too.
“Maybe it’s on one of the lower shelves!” Lolly says. The pitch of her voice rises with every word until ‘shelves’ is a squeak.
I jump off the desk and start searching the bottom shelf.
“Some of these bottles aren’t labelled. It has to be one of those,” says Lolly, peering down at me from her desk. “Imogen, do you know what bile looks like?”
“Well, according to Moste Potente Potions, it’s supposed to be yellowish-brownish and it might be slightly green, too. And Antipodean Opaleye bile is supposed to stink. A lot.”
Lolly gathers all the yellowish-brownish-and-might-be-greenish jars, bottles, and vials she can find and I gather all the yellowish-brownish-and-might-be-greenish jars, bottles, and vials I can find. In total, we have about fifteen of them. Since I am on the ground and Lolly is obviously not, I have the unfortunate task of opening all the yellowish-brownish-and-might-be-greenish jars, bottles, and vials we found and smelling them. Ten of them smell quite nasty, though not the level of nastiness that the book had described, two of them smell like flowers, which, quite frankly, was rather unexpected, one smells like something strong and unrecognizable, but not really unpleasant, and the other smells freaking peppermint. Peppermint. Like seriously, what the hell?
There is only one little vial left. I uncork it. I don’t even need to hold it up to my nose in order to catch a whiff of a disgusting stench that sends me reeling back in horror.” I quickly cork it back and stuff into the bag of ingredients.
“We’ve found it!” says Lolly in a muffled voice – she’s holding her nose in disgust. Then she does her little celebratory dance again, but she realizes only too late that she’s not on ground. It takes half a second for her to plummet to the ground with a large, resounding crash.
It will probably take less than half a second for Filch and his good-for-nothing furball to find us.
Horrified, I whisper-shout, “RUN!”
Lolly scrambles up, grabs the bag of ingredients with one hand, grabs my arm with the other, and we make a wild dash towards the door. We run all the way to the fifth floor, waking up some portraits in the process. Panting, we lean against the wall next to the portrait of some stuffy old lady who’s watching us with disdain, her ridiculously pointy nose upturned.
“Do you hear Filch anywhere?” I pant.
“No,” Lolly pants back. “I–”
“Now, now, look around my sweet kitty. They could be around any corner...”
Lolly and I stare at each other with wide, alarmed eyes. Then we dive behind the statue of Boris the Bewildered.
“Sniff around my darling... Aha! I’ve– oh, it’s you.”
Then comes the signature cackle of Peeves from just around the corner.
“Did you see them?”
“See who?” Peeves cackles.
“Those ragamuffins who were in the Potions classroom, you idiot ghost!”
“I saw them, those lunatics, I saw what they’ve done,” he sings. “They ran from your antics, it’s all in good fun!” Then he cackles wildly at his clever little song.
“Peeves, you bloody poltergeist!” roars Filch. “TELL ME WHERE THEY ARE!”
“I – get that stupid cat of yours to stop clawing at me! Well, I was wandering around the dungeons, enjoying the beautiful scenery–”
“–when I heard a loud crash from the direction of the Potions classroom. Then I saw two figures– at least fifth years–run through the hallways. The last I saw them, they were on the hidden third floor corridor behind the portrait of Rosaline the Radical.”
Filch curses loudly and stomps away until I can no long hear his footsteps echoing through the hallway.
Peeves cackles and then swoops through the corridor until he’s face to face with us. “Now, I think you owe me something.”
“Thanks Peeves, but go away,” I snap.
“Now, now,” he waggles a transparent finger at me. “I could easily call Filch back.”
I gulp. Bloody Peeves.
“I heard that you have a certain vial of essence of hickory. I think that should be payment enough.” His annoying smirk widens.
Lolly looks suspiciously at him for a moment. Then she takes the essence from our bag of ingredients and throws it at him. “There you go.”
Peeves cackles nastily and sweeps away.
When he’s gone, I turn to the blonde next to me. “Why in hell did you do that? Now we won’t be able to make your bloody potion! Then we have to go through this all over again just for one bloody–”
“I didn’t give him the essence of hickory,” smirks Lolly. “I gave him the vanilla extract. They look almost exactly the same, with a few slight differences that are unnoticeable in the dark. When he discovers what it really is, we’ll be long gone by then. And vanilla extract far easier to obtain than essence of hickory. We can always get some from the kitchens.”
I release a long breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding and lean against the wall of the corridor. “Wow. Lolly, sometimes you can be a bit daft–”
“-but sometimes you have your moments. This is one of them.”
“I know,” grins Lolly. “I’m awesome, aren’t I?”
Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to JKR.
A/N:I hope you all enjoyed this chapter! It's certainly longer than the others, that's for sure. Over the last few days, my plot bunnies have been breeding like, well, rabbits, so I'm excited to introduce all of these new plot-y things over the course of the story! I'd love to know your thoughts on this chapter or the story so far, so review, please?
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