Chapter 4 : Day 4
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Ladies and gents, meet Sebastian Turk, immortalized in chapter image form by !inthedeep @tda :D
I am in so much pain right now.
Under normal circumstances I would pay Madam Pomfrey a visit, and she would kindly rid me of my various aches and pains and my dodgy scars – courtesy of one Wren Berkley III – faster than you can say “pumpkin juice.” However, I am unable to indulge in this luxury because one simply does not enter the Hospital Wing without being accosted by our lovely Matron on the origin of their injuries and various ailments. And one simply does not reveal the origin of their injuries and various ailments when after curfew escapades are involved. Especially when that after curfew escapade involved harassing a Hippogriff. And then being head-butted, pecked, and clawed by said Hippogriff.
One simply does not.
Hence why I am lying in bed miserably, my head about ready to explode.
Not exactly my definition of a good morning.
A groan escapes from my lips as I roll over onto my side, the movement proving to be a tad bit too fast for my liking. The world goes out of focus, reduced to nothing but a mere multicolored smear and my fingers slide out from beneath the covers to rub continuous circles into my throbbing temple.
Ladies and gents, I officially know what Hell feels like – or at least what it’s really like to need glasses. I’m sad to report that it’s every bit as shitty as it’s cracked up to be.
Reveling in the cruelty of it all, I close my eyes miserably, letting out a sigh. And wait for death to take me.
A beat. A pause. Complete silence.
Still alive and breathing.
I sigh once more. Yesterday did not go as planned.
I can feel my heartbeat accelerate in the pounding of my head and I wince – from the memory or from the headache, I’m not so certain. Maybe it’s a mix of both. But one thing is for sure: I wasn’t supposed to play the damsel in distress last night. I wasn’t supposed to be rescued – and by a man, at that. I was supposed to be my own hero.
Before I can stop it, the events from last night replay in my head like a slideshow and fuck, just…fuck.
“Rise and shine, bitch.”
The blue hangings around my four-poster are suddenly yanked apart and Sherri is standing above me, the sun forming a blinding halo of light around her person. Kind of like God except for that I want to punch her in the face. Like, more than usual. In an act of self-preservation, I duck beneath the covers only to have them torn from my grasp seconds later.
“Sod off, Sherri, I’m dying,” I groan, placing the heel of my hands over my eyes to block out the glare.
“Oh no you don’t,” – she tears my hands away from my face so that we are seeing eye to eye – “Not after I spent all that time charming that bloody damned feather into a quill. You,” she says pointedly. “You are going to class.”
There is a moment where we are looking at each other and neither of us is moving so that there’s just a whole lot of looking and a whole lot of not moving. I swallow hard.
“What’s that smell?” I ask faintly, breaking the prolonged stillness that has allowed me to finally notice the accosting odor that surrounds us.
Smells like…sickeningly sweet flowers. Mixed with baby powder.
Not exactly helping my headache.
As soon as I say it, Sherri releases my wrists and sits on the edge of my bed, letting out a sigh and mumbling something rather inaudibly.
I sit up, raising an amused eyebrow. Everything starts to spin but I do my best to ignore it as my eyes readjust. “What’s that?”
“It’s Lavender’s Spell,” she bursts out, sounding on the verge of hysteria, shame written all over her face. “I ordered it from Witch Weekly ‘bout a week ago because I read on the loo wall that it’s Hunter’s Amortentia.”
I stare at her blankly as the beating in my head gives me a steady kick, not really sure what to make of this information. I mean, I can’t even imagine doing such a thing just to make a bloke momentarily sniff in my direction – and a bloke like Hunter Boot, for that matter – but really? Lavender’s Spell? How does one as intelligent as Sherri Thomas stoop so low?
Not entirely sure how to put this gently, I settle for telling her the plain and simple truth. “That is absolutely wretched.”
She runs a frustrated hand through her dark hair. “I know.”
“You smell like a baby prostitute.”
We stare at one another for a bit longer. “You should, like, do something about that. Shower or something.”
She waves me off. “Later. In the meantime I must use my repugnant odor to hunt a bloke. A certain bloke that is fit to boot-”
“Just stop there. The name puns aren’t funny, really Sherri.” With a scowl she takes off her shoe and throws it at me. I raise my hands to my face to protect myself, laughing. “Well it’s true,” I say as the rubber sole of her trainer contacts with my wrist. “Someone had to say it, honestly.”
“Just get up, Millie. You and your phony hipster arse are missing breakfast.”
I am sitting in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom on the third floor; class is about to start in just a few minutes. Berkley is on my right, the crease in between his eyebrows apparent as he furrows them together, and his lower lip jutting out in the brooding look I have come to know well. He won’t look at me, but it’s not like it’s the first time he’s been cross with me so I’m not too worried about it. Besides, I’m more than a bit cross with him as well so I guess we’re even.
I look across the sea of my fellow students and see Sherri on the other side of the room sitting in the front row with Hattie Garret. It takes me a moment to catch her eye, but once we’ve made eye contact she gives me the signal and I nod in understanding. My head still hurts, but well, it’s show time. I reach into my bag as she inconspicuously removes her wand from her robes. Though I cannot hear her, I am well aware of the Confringo she is about to cast.
The rest of the class is about to find out as well.
Not a moment later, the hum of voices in the room soon comes to a sudden halt when a glass bottle explodes from the shelf behind me, attracting the attention of the entire room. The yelps of surprise and momentary panic die down almost immediately as my classmates take notice of me in the back row.
“Merlin’s Beard, Walker, what’s that you got there?” Sherri gasps her scripted line in a way that’s a bit too theatrical for my tastes, but it’ll have to do. When her statement is met with collective silence, she then elbows her best mate heftily in the ribs, cueing Hattie to exclaim, “Blimey!”
They are, of course, referring to the quill I am holding firmly in my left hand, its gray feather seeming a bit ostentatious now that the entire class has their eyes on me. Being from the mane of a full-grown Hippogriff, it is as grand and oversized as one would expect and come to think of it, it’s the perfect writing instrument for someone who wishes to tickle their throat for a cheap laugh while composing an exceedingly dull essay.
Not very Hipster, I’ll admit.
But this is just a technicality and it’s too late to back out now.
“Oh, well, you know,” I say smoothly, leaning back in my chair and waving the quill in a counter-clockwise motion with just the slightest movement of my wrist. “Just a quill I made with a Hippogriff feather.” I say this with ease, as if the bit of charm work was nothing – which it was, for me at least, considering I had no part in its manufacturing.
I can feel rather than see Berkley roll his eyes from beside me but I keep my focus trained on Sherri who is looking at me right now as if to say, “Really? You made that quill? Funny, because I remember doing that at the crack-arse of dawn and yet you were the one to sleep in this morning.”
I hold back a smirk and remind her to shut the bloody eff up and say her next line. You know, with my eyes and all. Because we’re totally capable of doing such a thing.
Whether she received my act of telepathy or not, Sherri continues with Part II of our Master Plan of Trendy Hipster Proportions. Her acting isn’t getting any better, but beggers can’t be choosers. Or so they say.
“That’s so brill, Walker, wherever can I get such a priceless and trendy item? Did you make your purchase in Diagon Alley? Hogsmeade?”
I am acutely aware of the fact that we’re losing people’s attention. Out of the corner of my eye I can see the two Slytherin girls on my left chatting it up, giggling and pointing at something they’ve got written on a piece of parchment. And it’s not just them; the room’s volume is beginning to steadily rise as students one by one swivel in their seats so that they are facing front once more.
My plans – ruined. All that hard work: the skipping rounds, sneaking out of the castle, the scars, and the concussion – all for nothing. I am desperate. I raise my voice for my rehearsed response to Sherri, a panicked edge to my words.
“Glad you asked, Thomas. It was neither. Actually, I –”
“Oi! Who in here finished the Ancient Runes translation? I need to copy it before class later.” Before I can take control of the situation, Sebastian Turk has swiftly cut me off and from then on, all hell breaks loose and I’ve lost my audience. Sherri gives me a smile that’s so full of pity before she turns back around that I’m about ready to lose it.
I so badly want to hit Turk with the most powerful Bat Bogie Hex he’s ever seen, to set the entire classroom on fire, to straggle that bloody smirk off of Fer – I mean, Nott’s face, to send a Stinging Hex in Honoriah Smith’s direction just for being there, to start a riot, anything, but I remain in my seat. Silent. Restrained. And above all, embarrassed. But no one is looking at me anymore – and I’m not sure whether that is the best or worst part of this whole mess.
I am startled when a warm, cautious hand rests on my shoulder. It’s Berkley. He’s giving me a sad smile and I don’t know what to make of it.
“I’m sorry,” he murmurs, tugging on his collar with his other hand.
Frustrated, I wipe away a runaway tear. “Why? Now’s your perfect opportunity to say that you told me so.”
His hand moves from my right shoulder to my left so that his arm is around me and he pulls me closer. I reluctantly rest my head on his shoulder – because, well, it’s there. “Well you and I both know that I did. And Thomas knows as well, I suppose, but she doesn’t really count because she’s not a real person.”
A weak laugh escapes from my lips. I don’t say anything. Just sit there, defeated, until Professor Falk sweeps into the room with a hearty apology for his tardiness.
Once he’s started I can barely concentrate on his lecture; the words he has written on the board are almost codes and symbols in which I am unable to decipher. We’re learning the theory part to Nonverbal Spells before we can jump into the application and I know I should be paying attention because next lesson will be a practical where we will be splitting into pairs to try it out. But I can’t, I can’t process anything he’s saying. This isn’t normal for me; I’m a diligent student.
Right now, however, I am anything but. I am miserable.
The class is over before I know it and the students around me are stuffing their quills and notes into their bags, the room’s noise level at its peak.
“We have an essay due next lesson,” Berkley says from beside me, looking down rather than at me as he is putting his own belongings away. “Two rolls of parchment. On the notes we just took today and its advantages to real life defense. I’ll explain everything you missed during lunch; you can copy my notes then.”
I send him a grateful smile and thank him, knowing that this is his own little way of making up for what had happened before the lesson.
We say our farewells and he is off to Care of Magical Creatures. I have Ancient Runes next but I stay behind, the room almost empty except for the presence of Turk, Wood, Potter, and Smith – who, not that I was staring or anything, had already said her more than enthusiastic good-bye to my boyfriend.
Determined not to look at her, slaggy boyfriend thief that she is, I rise from my seat in the back row and head to where the four Gryffindors are situated, chatting it up while putting their belongings away.
Turk is the first to notice me, sending me a grin. “Wotcher Walker. That was some quill you got there at the beginning of class.”
I readjust the strap of my bag on my shoulder, rolling my eyes. “I didn’t come for you to mock me, Turk – you did enough of that earlier. And I’m here for business only – nothing that concerns you.”
“Oh don’t be such a swot. You were tanking and I saved you.”
“How very noble of you,” I say sardonically with another roll of my eyes.
“So what is it that you want, Walker?” Potter cuts in dryly before Turk could bite back. “We’ve all got places to go, people to see. You know how it is.”
I turn to glare at him at the sound of his voice, what with him acting like I’m below him and his mates. Men and their arrogance. I almost scoff and I’m about to give him a piece of my mind when I see Smith out of the corner of my eye. And I stop. She is next Potter, to his left, and she isn’t quite facing me head on, looking determinedly at the floor instead; her hair being used as a curtain of sorts to shield her face. Hiding – she’s hiding from me. It suddenly occurs to me that this is her guilt. She was the one who came on top and yet she isn’t all high and mighty about it; I mean, she can’t even look me in the eye.
Suddenly feeling extremely awkward, I clear my throat and turn to Wood – the only one in the group I really had the intention of speaking to when I initially walked over. Unfortunately you cannot encounter one without the whole motley crew.
Making sure that my back – or at least my profile – is facing the other three, I say to Wood, “So I’m sure you’ve been told that we’re rounds partners now.”
A bit surprised that I am suddenly addressing him, he is a bit slow to respond. He clears his throat and shoves his hands into his trouser pockets. “Oh, yeah, Ross cornered me at dinner last night.”
I can feel the eyes of the others on me, which causes me to involuntarily shift my feet – especially since the reason for the switch is right beside me. I don’t even know how to respond to that. I try to breathe; it’s a work in progress. “Where do you want to meet? In front of the Fat Lady?”
He shrugs. “I’ll come to Ravenclaw Tower.”
“You don’t have to do that,” I say – and I mean it. Just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean that I need babying. “I’m fully capable of walking up two flights of stairs, you know.”
But I am ignored. “I’ll come to you; it’s no big deal.”
I roll my eyes. Fucking Gryffindor and they’re fucking chivalry. What a load of rubbish.
Out of the corner of my eye I can see Turk swoon dramatically into Potter, the pair bursting into laughter, flailing about and declaring things such as “Oh my hero,” and “How chivalrous,” and something else that is particularly vulgar. Smith remains still.
Flushing something fierce, I have to suppress the urge to hex the two boys into oblivion.
“Well then,” I say tightly, more than a bit piqued because of Turk and Potter’s idiocy and the ever-present shadow in my life: Miss Honoriah Smith. “I guess that’s settled. Cheers, Wood.” I give him a nod and turn on my heel, determined to leave the classroom as fast as possible. I do have my next class to consider, but, well, I just need to get the hell out of here.
“Oi, Walker!” Turk calls after me. “Could I maybe borrow that translation –?”
“Are you really that much of a narcissist or are you just daft? Either way you’re positively fucked because while I have many talents, Turk, I cannot fix stupid and I don’t think your arrogance is much of a better alternative.”
And I leave them with that, not even staying to revel in the sound of Potter’s laughter.
“Are you going to eat that?”
I shift my focus from determinedly staring at the table to Berkley who is sitting across from me. I nudge my bowl of soup forward. “Have at it,” I sigh.
“Oh don’t act all miserable,” he chided, pointing at me with his spoon. “No one even remembers what happened with you this morning – and you have Becca Sprang to thank for that. I mean, she fell down the stairs and flashed the whole corridor her knickers; if that is not heaven sent, I don’t know what is.”
I roll my eyes. “Who do you think pushed her? And besides, I’m completely over The Incident; it’s just that Turk decided to sit next to me in Ancient Runes today and now we’re partners for an assignment and it’s really stressing me out.”
Berkley nodded in understanding. “I’ll be sure to find you a grave plot in the shade when he drives you to off yourself.”
I let out a laugh. “How very considerate of you.”
He shrugs and the corner of his mouth tugs into a grin. “It’s what I do.”
“Oh yes, naturally. I mean when I first saw you on the train, I pegged you as the kind of bloke that would be sensitive to the conditions of his best mate’s resting place.”
“Really? Because I pegged you as a pain in the arse.”
I narrow my eyes. He starts to eat my soup.
And suddenly my day is starting to look up because Berkley is being a goddamn prat and that means that everything – and I mean everything – is right in the world.
For now, at least.
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