Chapter 3 : Let Them Call It Mischief
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No being, other than the wind, dared to make a sound and break the unearthly silence.
I heard some branches creaking and I looked up to see a small, brown tree dweller. It had two long sharp fingers on each hand and brown eyes that seemed oblivious to my existence.
A small smile graced my lips. The creature looked like a little stickman. A stickman made of twigs and barks with a flat face. For camouflage, of course. This was a bowtruckle, a tree-guardian and this beech was its home tree.
I got up, moving very slowly. One should never disturb a bowtruckle, guarding its home tree. The twig-like fingers of the creatures may be used at making the tree a home, but they were also good weapon against the intruder’s eyes and these seemingly-harmless creatures are vicious when it comes to their home.
Very much like Madam Pince and her books, really. I still didn’t forget our encounter at the library, last week. That Pepper-up Potion Madam Pomfrey gave me made steam come out of my ears for the rest of the evening and it wasn’t amusing. I mean, it wasn’t for me. Jerome seemed to find the longer-than-normal lasting effects of the potion hilarious.
Some dry leaves rustled under my shoes and the bowtruckle turned his brown eyes to me. We stared at each other for a moment, while I was worried about the no more than eight inches tall creature attacking me. I took a step back and it watched me for another moment before turning away, convinced that I wasn’t trying to chop down branches from its home.
To be honest, if some creature a million times bigger than me tried to take some parts of my home, I would attack their eyes with all my might too. I was just happy that the bowtruckle didn’t think it was necessary to make me blind.
“Aren’ they jus’ amazin’ creatures?”
I almost shrieked when I heard a thick voice filled with admiration. I turned my head to meet Hagrid’s coal coloured eyes, glinting like black beetles.
My insides were filled with a warm feeling as I saw the big man was wearing his exceptionally large moleskin overcoat with several pockets. I amused myself by guessing the things in those pockets, probably the copper kettle I saw at his hut, some mouldy dog biscuits, a fire poker and some knuts.
Hagrid was a friend, he was familiar. He was a part of home even tough he looked out of place in this graceful quietness.
After I got over the surprise of seeing him, I got confused since he usually didn’t think that the small creatures like bowtruckles were amazing.
Then I gasped when I saw where he was actually staring. Many branches above the bowtruckle, a three-headed, easily six or seven feet long snake covered in livid orange coloured scales was clinging to a thick branch. Over the vibrant colour of the snake were black bands, creating an elegant pattern.
“A runespoor!” I exclaimed, gaping.
If I weren’t gobsmacked, I would scowl at my own ability to get stuck on the details and miss the much bigger thing. I wanted to kick myself for having a staring contest with a bowtruckle, a creature we studied in second grade.
The left head of the Runespoor was hissing continually and it was irritating, both for us and the other two heads. Hagrid and I watched in awe as the other two heads, for the lack of a better word, ganged up on the left head and bit him off. The head with the now wounded ego, hissed once more, showing its extremely venomous teeth.
After watching the Runespoor for a little while, Hagrid offered a cuppa tea to me. I was eagerly accepted since I missed his company.
The sunlight was fading, creating new shadows around us. While I was used to walking on the uneven ground of the forest, the twigs and small rocks getting stuck in my shoes were still annoying me.
I remembered the first time in my third year, when Hagrid and I had a trip to the inner parts of the forest. I was having a hard time walking around, tripping over knobbly roots.
Hagrid was one of the first friends I made in Hogwarts. As a curious and adventurous first year, I predictably got in the Forbidden Forest, ignoring the fact that it was forbidden. Despite my shyness, I can be a typical Gryffindor sometimes, providing proof to the prejudiced.
When Hagrid found me, I was arguing with a Jarvey. How could my first year self could know that the overgrown ferret was actually a magical creature with a foul mouth? Jerome was worried sick after I didn’t return for a long time. Hagrid interrupted our fight just in time. He still makes fun of my unnaturally red face caused by an hour of endless shouting at the Jarvey because it kept calling me crude names.
I got back before curfew thanks to Hagrid, Jerome gave me a lecture, calling me an impulsive, irresponsible Gryffindor.
The next day, I took Jer to have a cuppa tea in Hagrid’s hut. Jer forgave me instantly as we both became friends with the man who had a heart as big as his body. That’s something since we’re talking about Hagrid, he’s as big as a baby giant.
I guess, I was always closer to Hagrid because we had so much to talk about when we were together. We could chat for hours about our shared interest in magical creatures. I used to listen to him tell me stories about his encounters with dangerous beasts and I was always late because we couldn’t keep track of time.
That was a good thing since that was how I learned sneaking around without getting caught. Not to brag but I am pretty good at not getting caught after curfew.
When we got out of the forest, the sun was already disappearing behind the horizon. As the warmth faded slowly, we hurried to get into the hut.
We talked about our summers. Hagrid’s summer was more exiting than mine, I decided when I listened to his stories about a Manticore, coming from Greece. Hagrid enthusiasm could be seen with just one look at his face, I suppose he didn’t get the chance to tell this story to someone until now. I listened to him with great interest, while I couldn’t keep the envy from my face.
Hagrid chuckled at my jealousy. He could laugh. He was the one who got to see the Manticore. All I did was to see Jer’s face all day. I would joke and tell you that he is as ugly as a Manticore, so it was alright but it wasn’t alright. Oh balls! I wanted to see that Manticore too. But it was already on its way to Greece, Hagrid told me grimly as he wanted me to see it too.
Another surprise, after running into Hagrid in the forest, was a noticeably small boarhound jumping on me. Fang, Hagrid’s new companion and friend, was surprisingly cuddly and simply adorable. If Hagrid didn’t tell me what it was, I would think he placed an Engorgement Charm on a black puppy.
“I didn’ realise how late it got, yeh bes’ be off. Tell yer friend to visit, won’ yeh?”
Hagrid eventually voiced what I already knew. I actually knew it was way past curfew for a long time, but didn’t want to leave. Reluctantly, I got up and hugged Hagrid which was hard since I couldn’t even reach up to his waist. After I let Fang lick my face one more time I got out.
Goodies! That dog, I’m not sure if it’s safe to call him a dog but anyway, slobbered a lot.
“See you Hagrid! Bye Fang!” I shouted while sprinting towards the castle.
Luckily, I got in without getting caught. The rest was a doss for me; I was already used to it. Not to jinx it but I would never get caught unless I got caught while entering the castle and that was only because getting in wasn’t about being used to it, it was pure luck.
I walked extremely cautious, wincing every time my shoes hit the flagstone floor. Moonlight reaching inside from the narrow-slit windows high on wall illuminated my path, making it easier not to walk into a suit of armour or tripping over my own feet.
It was all going well until on the sixth floor I stepped into a pool of water that sort of appeared out of the blue. It would be an understatement to say that I was surprised to see more puddles creating a path that seemed to come out of the boys’ bathroom.
Unfortunately the small splashing sound was like an explosion in the silence.
“What was that?” I heard someone whisper.
Doggone! I’m going to get caught!
I took the deepest breath I could take without making too much noise while trying to calm myself. At least it wasn’t Filch. I knew I would jinx it by saying I would never get caught inside the castle. I just never knew it would happen so fast.
I heard footsteps and that was all it took for me to leave my daft state and remember that I had to run, hide or do anything but standing there like a cane. I quickly dashed for the passage between the bathroom and the marble staircase leading up to the seventh floor, hiding myself in the shadows.
I waited impatiently for something to happen or someone to come to sight but all I heard was footsteps.
And suddenly they stopped. Then I heard someone whispering.
“There’s no one here.”
I couldn’t help but exhale a breath I have been holding in.
I wanted to just get a little closer and see if they were standing in front of the door since I could only see a part of the corridor from here. But it was too risky to even take a step since the noise could give me away. To be honest it was a wonder how they didn’t think of checking here. I would, if I were in their situation. I mean, they were students out of bed and I could be Peeves, waiting for the right moment to strike.
It was common knowledge that Peeves liked giving away students who are out after curfew. I remember having a nasty encounter with Filch, thanks to Peeves. I had to serve detention with Slughorn after that, he isn’t mean or harsh but sorting out the potion ingredients cabinet isn’t much fun. Especially when you get a little clumsy and manage to drop a jar of Bat Spleen on your own shoes, sweet Circe, it’s no fun at all.
“Check the map, Prongs.”
What map? I immediately questioned. And why? Why would they want to check a map? It was so tempting to take a few steps further, just stretch out my neck a little and take a peak at who they were.
“Padfoot, come on, there is no one here.”
Then, suddenly, a silver cloth that seemed to be invisible a moment ago was lifted to reveal four blokes. Scratch that, four soaking wet boys. It took everything I could not to gasp. I was shocked but I guess the Marauders were the only chums in Hogwarts who would have an Invisibility Cloak. The reason they are soaking wet is beyond me, but I was absolutely sure that it was something mischievous.
Merlin, that’s three surprises so far. Please let me get to my comfortable bed without another.
Of course, Merlin didn’t grant my wish completely. When the Marauders finally went back to the bathroom to continue what ever they were doing, I fought the strong urge to sneak up on them. My unexplainable curiosity was a surprise to me. I was still thankful that the fourth surprise wasn’t my hiding place being discovered or Peeves deciding it was just the moment to crash the party.
Without making any sound at all, I congratulate myself for that, I climbed the staircase leading to the seventh floor and I made it to the Gryffindor tower without any unexpected events.
“Merlin’s dipstick!” I couldn’t help but exclaim when I finally got into my dorm.
I put my hand over my mouth quickly once I realised what I had done. Everyone was sleeping and that was way too loud for them not to hear. I just hope they don’t-
“What is your problem?” A muffled voice came from Vance’s bed.
I didn’t bother responding as that would only disturb her sleep further and I didn’t need her waking up completely right now. She probably didn’t even recognize my voice and hopefully she wouldn’t remember.
I quickly changed and got in my own bed for a sleep that wouldn’t be enough.
Just like I predicted last night, when I woke up in the morning I was too sleepy to get out of bed. All night I had an urge to go to the common room to see if the Marauders were there or even better I wanted to wait there to see them come in and maybe hide in the shadows to catch them talking.
“Frankie?” I heard the pleasant voice of Alice Pegg. “You’ll be late if you don’t get up.”
Was it ironic that of all the girls in my dorm, Alice Pegg was the only one who was never wearing an Alice Band? You should know by now that Alice Band is not just a hair band, it means much more to me.
I poked my head out of the curtains to see Alice in front of the door, smiling hesitantly.
“Thanks.” I murmured, still sleepy and a little confused.
Alice was always the nice one but she didn’t jump in joy to be my friend, just like the others. I had no idea why she was standing there, not moving. Figuring that she would eventually go and it had nothing to do with me, I got out of my bed and took a shower that lasted only two minutes. Wasn’t relaxing but it was refreshing and it woke me up.
When I got out of the shower, Alice was sitting on her bed, waiting. I raised an eyebrow but said nothing as I started rummaging through my trunk. I slipped into my uniform and pulled wet hair into a ponytail.
“If you don’t dry your hair, you’ll get ill like last week.” Alice said sweetly.
Then she offered to do a quick drying spell. I accepted, still puzzled.
We left the dorm without being late a minute, we weren’t even late to breakfast. When Alice complimented my quickness, I shook my head chuckling. Of course, she would be surprised. Living in a dorm with them made me realise that they took almost an hour to get ready, while I took mostly ten minutes.
I was amazed that she would be willing to wait for me while expecting me to take more than half an hour.
Alice and I started walking to the Great Hall together in uncomfortable silence. I kind of panicked, thinking that she was regretting her decision. I was happy that she was with me even tough I was never going to admit that because it would sound kind of pathetic. I wanted to say something smart but I couldn’t think of anything.
Luckily, Alice being the friendly and not awkward person she is started a conversation about Quidditch. It was all tosh talk and nothing really interesting but at least we both learned one thing about each other. We couldn’t fly.
I couldn’t help but grimace when she asked me about the encounter with the Marauders on the train. Merlin, did really everyone knew about it?
We met Jerome in front of the Great Hall who looked at Alice questioningly. Alice beamed and I suddenly knew she would be willing to wait for me two hours.
Should’ve known, I guess. She fancied Jerome and hanging out with me was just a plot to meet him. That was probably Mary McDonald’s idea. I kind of could imagine her making strategies for Alice.
But Alice was a nice girl so I wasn’t angry. I would ruin the plan if it was Emmeline Vance but I liked Alice. No harm would come from being a little helpful.
“See you, Frankie.” Alice said shyly, looking at Jerome in a way she thought was subtle.
I refrained from smirking knowingly and smiled at Alice.
“Would you want to have breakfast with us?”
Alice almost gaped but her eyes shone with happiness. I looked at Jerome to see that he looked confused. Alice also looked at Jerome to make sure it was alright for her to come, he shrugged looking indifferent.
Did that mean he didn’t like her? Maybe he just didn’t know her. Or maybe he really didn’t like her and was going to throw me into the loo and then flush. I would go directly to the Black Lake and be the breakfast of the giant squid. Or maybe, I would be friends with the Merpeople and live with them for the rest of my life.
I wouldn’t go back to Jer, even if he begged me to come back. Merpeople were amazing creatures. Living with them would be sensational.
As I was in my own world, Jer and Alice just ignored me dazing off. We walked into the Great Hall and sat at the Ravenclaw table. Alice didn’t even protest; curious, very curious. She must like him a lot.
Alice tried to make conversation but Jerome was blatantly giving her the message, “I don’t like you back.” I felt sad for her, so I answered her questions and even made some effort starting some conversation. After a while she gave trying to catch the attention of Jerome with essay talk and Quidditch discussions, wrong approach since Jerome likes Potions better than Transfiguration and hates Quidditch.
She started gossiping with me. I guess she didn’t know that I didn’t like the tittle-tattle. Unless the tittle-tattle is about Merpeople, I would love to hear about their socialization.
“I heard that Sirius Black ran away from home.”
This was the only interesting she said throughout the whole breakfast.
What I knew about the Black family was limited. Sure, I knew the simple things that everyone knew. Regulus Black was in my year and I didn’t much about him either. He was Slytherin and seemed to have no problem with his parents’ beliefs. He seemed to accept them and that was all I needed to know. You would never see me speaking to him.
Ever since I got the chance to get to know, well actually not get to know but observe, Black I started wondering how it was for him home. He openly rejected the side he was supposed to stand by in this war looming outside these castle walls. I kind of divined that his parents weren’t all open minded and difference accepting.
He had every reason to run away if you ask me but still I felt bad talking about this. I’m sure if I ran away from my horrible parents I wouldn’t want people to be talking about it.
Alice misread something in my eyes as interest. Well, maybe she didn’t misread but she didn’t know that I didn’t want to be talking about this.
“He’s living with Potter now.”
Not unexpected at all, of course he would live with his best mate.
The Potter family must be really nice people if they accepted Black just like that.
“Um, I heard Hagrid got a boarhound!” I blurted out, because I felt the need to change the subject.
Alice gave me a weird look but when Jerome was interested in that and started participating in the conversation, she gave me a thankful smile.
“Thanks for.. You know.” Alice said when I got out of Transfiguration class.
She started walking with me. After breakfast, I thought she wasn’t going to bother speaking to me again. Jerome obviously didn’t like her and he didn’t even make an effort. Trying once more would be daft but voicing that wouldn’t be appropriate.
“He doesn’t like me, does he?” she broke the silence.
I tried to make up my mind between acting dumb to have some more time to think and just telling the truth. Finally I decided Alice was mature enough to handle the truth. Also she could be offended if I tried to gain time like that.
“I guess not.”
It was sad, seeing the devastated look on her face. I was almost angry at Jerome for not liking her. She was pretty. She had jet black pixie cut hair and cute petite features on an adorable round face. Her big eyes were the colour of muddy water. Her looks were enough to make me jealous.
She was a nice girl too. She was passionate and excitable. She was also smart, surely that meant a lot to Jerome.
I wasn’t saying that anyone would be instantly in love with her. Even if she was perfect, that wouldn’t happen. But she wasn’t repulsive and there was no reason not to give her a chance.
Jerome was really hard to understand sometimes.
At least, I thought, no lonely Hogsmeade weekends for me.
A/N: Hello there fellas, hope I didn't keep you waiting for too long. Well behaved writers don't keep their readers waiting for long, do they? Tough, I'm not sure if I have readers. Do I? I know the chapter's not much, it doesn't have much drama in it but I really like the chapter especially the Forbidden Forest part. I promise, just because of the uneventfullness of the chapter, I'll update faster. Please let me know what you think and keep reading, because a story isn't gonna read and review itself. :)
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