Chapter 3 : Day 3
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Beautiful chapter image of Sherri by Charme. @ tda :D
Sunday, 3 October 2021: Day 3
Being a prefect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Actually, as long as we’re being honest here, I’ll go as far as saying that it’s bloody awful – absolutely torturous. You’d think that the school would be less keen on punishing their brightest and most well behaved, but that’s Hogwarts for you. Ask any prefect from any House; I swear to you they’d be willing to hand in their badge for an actual soul faster than you can say Accio Self-Respect. And you know what? I’ll take that even a step further: my utter and complete loathing for being a prefect runs so deep that if I was to die and come back in the next life as a mindless Hufflepuff that would be quite alright by me.
Don’t get me wrong though, the bathroom privileges are pretty ace; I just don’t quite fancy being a glorified Muggle Hall Monitor, if you know what I mean.
Which brings me to rounds. Merlin knows that this job wouldn’t be half bad if it weren’t for rounds. And if I got paid, but that’s beside the point. Rounds. They fucking rank. The only people who actually enjoy rounds – aside from our soulless Head Girl, Gwyneth Ross – are those who are romantically attached to the person that they’re assigned to roam the castle with. They’re alone together past curfew; you do the math.
And let’s just say that for the rest of us chaps, rounds aren’t quite as much fun.
So to cut to the chase, I think I need a break – plain and simple. I’ve endured far too many late night shifts and weekly patrols for anyone to stomach, never mind a Ravenclaw Hipster on a mission. So fuck it; I play by my own rules now. And that does not, by any circumstances, include rounds.
So that’s basically it. Sherri is doing some investigating for me in Ravenclaw Tower. And me? I’ve got my own agenda; and as I saunter alone through the grounds instead of rounding it up in the castle, I begin to revel in the feeling of excitement that’s building up in my chest. I’ve never been out this late after curfew before without a note from a professor or the excuse of prefect’s duties. It’s exhilarating. It’s the knowledge of being about to fuck shit up and not caring a whit about it.
I’m just passing the Black Lake, on my way to the pumpkin patch, the sky a deep blue, when a voice calls out my name.
It’s almost funny how quickly you can go from being a self-proclaimed badass to a complete nervous wreck.
I freeze midstride – absolutely panic stricken – and I know I’m in trouble. The voice is familiar to me but not the one I have been waiting for since I left the castle; it takes me a moment to place it. But once the voice fully registers, I realize that I’m more annoyed than anything.
“Fuck me,” I hiss under my breath as I turn around.
Standing in front of me, wearing a smile big enough to cure Spattergroit, is Gwyneth Ross: Head Girl, Walking Hufflepuff Stereotype, Charms Club President, Resident Pain-in-the-Arse, and Reason I will Someday be in Azkaban for Murder.
As I wait for her to finish her prance towards me, it dawns on me that this conversation I’m about to have the misfortune of partaking in can go either one of two ways: detention and being escorted back to the castle or leaving scot-free but being roped into an hour long discussion on her latest horoscope. I think it goes without saying that I’m hoping for the former.
“Oh hello there, Millie, I’ve been looking all over for you,” Gwyneth gushes as she closes the distance between us with an extra pep in her step. Actually, she always has an extra pep in her step. Which is actually really annoying. Like really.
But this is likely due to the fact that she’s probably four and a half feet tall; she needs to literally bounce in order to travel long distances in record time.
Or she’s just a peppy arsehole. Your pick.
“Gwyneth,” I return politely with a severe lack of enthusiasm. I’m really not looking forward to this as it is and her Christmas-in-October Cheer isn’t really helping my already low tolerance for her presence. I know I would never actually do anything to make sure that this conversation never happens but the headline “Rogue Prefect Hexes Vertically Challenged Head Girl into Oblivion,” immediately comes to mind and I almost laugh.
If only Hogwarts had a school newspaper.
“Gwen,” she corrects me happily, grinning widely in a way that makes me think that her cheeks are going to crack.
Our conversations always begin this way and yet I don’t think I’ll ever start calling her Gwen. And no matter how many times she corrects me, I don’t think she’ll ever get mad about it.
Neither of us has said anything since my lackluster response and it’s kind of getting awkward. I clear my throat and start to shift my feet as I wait for her to tell me whatever it is that she’s about to burst out – most likely in song, no doubt – but she’s suddenly quiet. Which is unusual for her. I look up to see that her brown eyes are wide in a way that’s too big for her face and I take a step back because Merlin, it’s scary, and she cries out “How are you holding up?”
“Er, excuse me?” I take another step back and hold out my arms to deflect any stranglehold hugs that might be thrown at me.
Mistaking my extended arms for some sort of sacrificial offering, she claims both of my hands in hers and gives them a squeeze. “I know it must be hard and we’re here for you, every one of us – I’m here for you.”
Her hands feel like they’ve been recently lubricated with a Muggle lotion of sorts and in theory that should make it easier to extract mine from her constricting grip but I don’t know how to do this without coming across as rude rather than a simple act of self-preservation. So I just stand there, hoping that she’ll take my silence as an invitation to continue with whatever rubbish she’s going on about. Because I really don’t know what she’s talking about.
No. No, she’s not talking about that. People finally stopped talking about that Friday when I told Clearwater off in class. It’s actually quite typical of human society: a new thing comes along and people forget, they move on. Compared to that, we’re old news.
When the silence carries on further, I realize that she’s waiting for me to say something. I clear my throat. “Er – thanks,” I say rather awkwardly, a beat of sweat forming on the back of my neck. It’s not exactly warm out but I feel like I’m overheating.
Gwyneth – Gwen – responds to my thanks in the only way she knows how: beaming like a raging psychopath. I allow her a small, but wary, smile. Because if I really think about it, while she’s very well capable of Avadaing me and getting away with it, she also means well; I don’t think she realizes exactly how overbearing/annoying she can be.
Giving my hands another love-filled squeeze, she adds, “Also, I talked it over with Warner,” – our Head Boy – “And we thought you might feel more comfortable if we switched your rounds from Sunday to Thursday nights so you don’t have to work with…You-Know-Who.” She whispers the last part like it’s a dirty word.
And I freeze. Because she isn’t talking about Voldemort; she means Ferris. Ferris Nott. My Sunday night rounds partner. The one I ditched tonight to play Hipster, the one I’ve been avoiding at all costs for exactly a week.
Like I said, rounds aren’t fun when you’re working with someone you aren’t romantically attached to; they’re even worse when that person is your ex-boyfriend.
I stare at Gwyneth Ross, completely in shock and then suddenly my whole body relaxes and I feel lighter – as if a heavy load has been taken off my chest.
I smile at her – and this time it’s genuine. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome!” Gwyneth squeals, releasing my hands to pull me into a bone crushing hug.
Merlin’s blood encrusted left nostril, my life sucks.
I sigh in discontent as quietly as possible. Gwyneth’s gesture – although, er…sweet – is pretty awkward considering the Wizard-to-Goblin type height difference between us. My own scrawn feels even more prominent to me against her plush, but I snake my stick arms around her shoulders to give her back a light pat. She did me a nice favor; it’s the least that I can do for her.
After several long minutes of uncomfortable touching on my part, Gwyneth releases me and takes a step back. I have to admit that I’m pretty grateful for this; I really need a breather after all of this space invading.
“So, um, who’s my new partner?” I ask, my mind already sifting through all of the prefects, trying to remember who patrols on Thursdays. Not only am I extremely curious as to who I’ll be working with for the rest of the year, I would like to find him or her during breakfast tomorrow and discuss where we’ll meet come Thursday.
“Alaric Wood, sixth year Gryffindor,” Gwyneth replies with her usual zeal before bidding me good night along with a friendly reminder that I should be in bed.
It is only when I am alone and she is halfway back to the castle that it occurs to me that Gwyneth has done Ferris a favor as well: the other sixth year Gryffindor prefect – the one I have been switched with – is none other than Honoria Smith.
Looks like Ferris will be having a lot of fun during his Sunday night rounds.
This doesn’t sit well with me.
I have only just begun to start walking again when I am accosted once more, a strong hand tightening around my wrist and pulling me to a halt. It’s almost too dark to see, but the ghostly outline of a chiseled jaw line and tall frame tells me that it’s Berkley – the one I’ve been waiting for all night. What is said next confirms this:
“Are you out of your fucking mind?”
The breeze suddenly picks up and slaps me across the face – almost as if he commanded it to do so.
I knew that she would tell him – which is why I knew he would come find me. It was only a matter of time; Berkley can be tragically predictable if he puts his mind to it.
“Sherri told you,” I say voicing what I already know. His silence confirms my thoughts but I’m not mad. When I want Berkley to know something, I tell Sherri; his many talents include – but are not limited to – goading her hot head into submission. It was only a matter of time that he’d break her down; I’m just surprised that it wasn’t sooner.
“Well,” I start when he doesn’t answer. “What do you think? Pretty brill, right?”
“I think it’s bloody stupid and dangerous, that’s what I think,” he growls, his grip tightening uncomfortably around my wrist.
“What’s so stupid about it?” I cry out, purposely leaving out the dangerous portion because, well, it’s pretty fucking dangerous.
“I don’t get you and this whole Hipster thing, Millie,” Berkley says in a low, barely controlled voice. We have to be careful or else we’ll wake up the whole castle. Or worse: Attract the attention of Ferris and Honoria – wouldn’t want to interrupt their snogging session in some broom closet. “What’s the point of all this? And why the hell do you need to start this stupid trend for? What are you trying to prove?”
I ignore most of his questions and answer the easiest, less soul searching one. “Sherri said that I should start a Hipster trend and I happen to think it’s a good idea!”
“Well what makes Thomas the authority on all things Hipster? I mean, she’s digging through every Ravenclaw’s trunk for corduroy pants as we speak! What the fuck, Millie?”
“Corduroy pants are Hipster!” I insist, stomping my foot.
“How would you even know anyway? You’re not a Muggle!”
“Sherri’s sister said so! She’s a Squib so she ought to know, don’t you think?”
It happens so quickly, I almost miss it but with Berkley so close to my face I can see the lines of frustration on his brow lighten up and before I know it, he’s smirking.
My jaw sets. I rip my wrist out of his grasp and scowl at him. “Oh shut up,” I snarl, my glare hard and my voice sharp.
Berkley’s smirk only becomes more pronounced. “I didn’t say anything,” he says innocently.
I roll my eyes. I know Berkley isn’t prejudiced or anything but I’m not foolish enough to believe that he wasn’t raised on some old-fashioned views. “I know you’re thinking it. And don’t you feel all high and mighty about Sherri’s sister because we both know that your pureblood family has had its fair share of Squibs. And not to mention a hell of a lot of inbreeding.”
This wipes the smirk right off his face and I don’t even wait for his reply as I begin to power walk towards the pumpkin patch, rage flowing through my veins. I hear Berkley sigh and soon his even-longer-than-mine legs bring him in step with me.
“What are you doing?” I bark, still fairly cross with him.
“What does it look like? I’m coming with you,” he replies smoothly, his hands deep in his pockets.
“I thought you said that this whole thing is stupid,” I say primly, sticking up my nose.
“Well of course it is, but it’s also dangerous. Someone has to make sure you don’t get yourself killed.”
We walk the rest of the way in silence and then there it is, nested among the vines of the orange monstrosities that are pumpkins. Hagrid’s Hut is to its left, unlived in since his death last year but well maintained out of respect.
Berkley holds out his arm to stop me in my tracks. “Maybe I should do it,” he murmurs, his eyes trained on the scene before us.
“Don’t be ridiculous, I’m sure I can manage myself; it’s not like I plan on insulting it or anything,” I laugh humorlessly, swallowing the lump that has suddenly formed in my throat. And Merlin, my hands are sweaty. I give them a quick wipe on the legs of my jeans, inwardly hating myself for allowing me to be so overcome with fright.
Hipster on a mission or not, we can’t all be fearless Gryffindors.
“Her,” he corrects, joining in on my laugh but his heart’s not in it. His eyes are firmly set on the creature before us and I know he’s scared – whether it’s for me or for himself, I can’t be sure. “You might not want to ignore her gender specification; I’m pretty sure that counts as an insult.”
I nod a bit too frantically for my taste. “Right.”
Before I can change my mind on what I’m about to do, I take a step forward.
I stop abruptly and turn my head to face him. “Yeah?”
His hands are deep in his pockets, giving me a sheepish, lopsided grin. It’s almost a funny sight to see Berkley in any condition other than immaculate with his hair sticking upwards and his shirt wrinkled and un-tucked. I send him a small smile partly because it’s endearing and partly because I know that I’m likely to never see it again.
“Are you sure that having a regular old feather quill isn’t good enough? I hear that owls do the job quite well,” he says, raising his eyebrows at me.
I sigh, shaking my head in amusement. “Berkley, regular feather quills are so mainstream – ever heard of someone with a Hippogriff quill?”
Berkley gives the grass a kick. “S’pose not.”
I grin. “Well, you will tomorrow – all of Hogwarts will.”
I turn back around. The Hippogriff is sitting in the same position I saw it – her – in through the window last night on my way to the common room from detention. The third years are learning about them from what I heard this morning after asking around; and apparently this particular Hippogriff is still grieving from Hagrid’s death and refuses to leave the pumpkin patch so as to keep within view of his Hut. Professor Walsh, who doesn’t get on with the species too well in general, complies so as to not get a kick to the head, I presume. He’s only teaching them since, you know, they were kind of the highlight of the class when Hagrid taught it and I think the third years would be pretty put out if they missed out on something like that.
I personally never enjoyed the class, hence why I dropped it for this year, but I always found Hagrid to be a sweet man so I gritted my teeth through it. Also, I’m a Ravenclaw; we just don’t fail classes. Like, ever. So I tried really hard and despite for my lack of appreciation for Flobberworms, Blast-Ended Screwts, and the sorts, I always found the Hippogriffs to be very beautiful creatures. But despite their majestic qualities, they could still be very dangerous and I always kept my distance whenever around them during lessons. In fact, there was an incident that happened to someone in my mum’s year when she was still in school – dad having already graduated the year before – and Hippogriffs weren’t taught in Care for Magical Creatures for years but they were brought back into the curriculum soon after the end of the war.
So I basically have nothing to be afraid of; I mean, Hippogriffs are taught in school so they can’t be that dangerous. That is, unless you do something to set them off like that bloke did.
Something like plucking one of their feathers so you can fashion a quill out of it.
I am so fucking screwed.
Okay. It’s now or never. I have to remind myself of this otherwise I won’t move a centimeter. My feet feel especially heavy as I put one foot in front of the other, slowly making my way towards the seated Hippogriff. She’s eyeing me warily, calculating my every move just as I am hers; both of us contemplating the likelihood of the other attacking.
I’m making slow progress. This would normally be alright by me because like my dad always says, careful work is the best work but I’m getting anxious. And I don’t like being in positions that make me anxious. Being in the presence of a full-grown Hippogriff – even if she is chained and well restrained – makes me anxious. And believe it or not, it isn’t exactly where I want to be on a Sunday night (though it does beat rounds) and I’m worried about getting caught. I know it’s a bit too late for that as I am kind of past the point of no return, but I can’t help it, I wanna get the job done and then get the hell out of here.
So I swallow hard and take a daring two steps at a time instead of my usual one. This seems to get no reaction from…er, shit, what’s her name again? I know it’s something weird like Fellfeather or HeavyHooves. But whatever her name is, I take another two steps towards her. She’s still staring at me critically, her gray feathers looking a tad bit ruffled but it’s nothing to get my knickers in a twist about. Once she sees that I (essentially) mean her no harm, she won’t be so on edge; she’s just preparing herself for the worst. I get that. The only reason my wand is still tucked away in my pocket is so I don’t freak her out – because believe me, I would love to have the comfort and assurance of my wand right now. But she’s still sitting; it doesn’t look like she’ll be kicking me in the face anytime soon – so far, so good. So I take another two steps. And another until there’s only a few meters between us.
I extend my hand towards her, prepping to reach towards her mane of feathers.
I made the wrong move.
It seems that I’m too close for comfort. Clearly taking my movements as a serious threat, she rises on all fours in an instant, letting out a disgruntled screech as her chest puffs out to broaden her to her full height, stomping her front claws and hind hooves in the meantime. My breath catches; I’m completely frozen to the spot as if struck petrified, unable to obey her clear message of Step the fuck back.
Through my panic and her build-up of her line of defense, I hear Berkley shout in the background, “Get down, Millie, get down! Bow!”
The sound of his voice breaks me out of my immobile state and I obey without hesitation, my nose diving towards the dirt as I take a low, formal bow. I feel extremely vulnerable and my accelerated breathing is at an all-time high, but I hold my position, hoping to Merlin for the best.
It seems almost too good to be true but after a few lengthy moments, the screeching comes to a close and the stomping lessens until it stops all together. There is a heavy pause, the weight of the silence practically unbearable as I wait.
“Millie,” Berkley breathes from behind me. He sounds absolutely relieved. This relaxes me, but only slightly. “She’s bowing. Slowly – slowly stand up. I mean it, slowly or else I’ll kill you after she rips your face off.”
If the situation wasn’t so serious I probably would laugh.
Taking a deep breath, I start to stand ever so slightly, moving about a millimeter a second. Once I reach the halfway mark, I can see that the Hippogriff (seriously, what the hell is her name?) is already standing and seeing this as a good sign, I speed up the process a tad bit until my back is fully erect. We stare at each other for a moment. She no longer looks threatened – a little wary of me, perhaps – but she doesn’t look like she’s about to attack. I take the plunge and move a step forward and then stop to measure her reaction. She doesn’t move.
Gingerly, I raise my hand once again and this time she doesn’t shift in any way, remaining completely still. With my hand still extended, I close the distance between us, my fingers brushing against her soft mane of feathers. She sends me a playful snort and nuzzles her massive head into my hand. I smile and feeling pretty confident, I give her a pat and hum in appreciation of her beastly beauty. After a few minutes, it becomes clear to me: I’ve got her right where I want her; it’s now or never.
So my fingers take a hold of a single feather. I figure that I should pluck it like you would a plaster: quickly so as to minimize any pain.
Once pulled, nothing could have prepared me for what happens next.
I am head butted by a Hippogriff.
And everything goes black.
I am bobbing up and down. It’s kind of rhythmic in a way, my body giving a continuous pulse, and it needs to stop – like now. Its constant jerk is absolutely killing my sore head – actually my whole body feels heavy and sore. I have a faint, distant memory of getting my arse kicked by a bloody Hippogriff but I don’t give it too much thought; thinking hurts and the thought of thinking hurts even more.
A small groan escapes my lips and with much effort my eyes flutter open. The first thing I see is a chin. And then I see that the chin is attached to a face. And that face belongs to Berkley.
Berkley is carrying me. We’re heading back to the castle.
“Finally awake, huh, arsehole?” he says to me without glancing down. He’s angry; his jaw is tight.
“Miss me much?” I croak out, my eyes trained on the curve of his lower lip.
He ignores my question. “I got your stupid feather. And I saved your sorry arse. You’re bloody fucking welcome.” And then he calls me a word that I don’t think his mother would approve of him saying. Usually I wouldn’t tolerate being described with such a horrid remark but I’m in too much pain to do anything about it. I could always hex him in the morning.
“Thanks,” I murmur weakly. “How’d you do it?”
“After Buckbeak head butted you –”
“Who?” I interrupt, completely confused.
Berkley looks down at me for the first time, eyeing me critically. “Buckbeak,” he repeats slowly. “That’s the name of the sodding Hippogriff that attacked you. Merlin, how hard did she hit you?”
I ignore his jab, appalled by my former professor’s inability to be at least somewhat creative. “Her name’s Buckbeak? Oh, how bloody original.”
Berkley rolls his eyes. “Anyway, I had to hit her with at least four strong Confunding Charms before she stopped attacking you. She gave you a few good pecks in the meantime, but I healed them the best I could. You might have a couple dodgy scars on you but it wasn’t too bad of a job if I do say so myself.”
I may be dizzy and in a lot of pain, but my mind is still clear enough to understand the full meaning of his statement. And this scares me.
“Wait,” I squeak, my head pounding and panic seeping in. “You aren’t taking me to the Hospital Wing?”
Berkley’s features are suddenly marred by the most evil of expressions.
“Oh you know Hospital Wings,” he says. “They’re just so mainstream.”
A/N: I am SO sorry that this update took so long; I can't believe I left all of you hanging since May! I actually wouldn't be surprised if I had no readers or reviewers left, but if you're still with me, what did you think? Of Gwyneth? Millie's trend? Berkley?
I had a really hard time starting this chapter but once I did, I zoomed right through it and had a lot of fun, so I hope that you enjoyed it! Please, if it's not too much trouble, leave a review; I love the responses that I've gotten so far and I'd love to continue hearing them!
Thanks for reading!
PS: I have a James/Lily oneshot that I published in June or July that I'd love for you to read if you're interested. It's called "A Hundred Million Freckles" :D
PPS: Also, I really hate the title of this story but I can't think of anything else. But if I do think of something, how would you all feel about me changing it? Thanks! :)
PPPS: The Hippogriff "incident" referenced to in this chapter is from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling. It's when Malfoy insults Buckbeak. I do not own this.
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