Chapter 3 : Stockholm Syndrome
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“Do you want some oxygen?” offers King helpfully. “Mouth-to-mouth is always an option.”
Maybe not as helpful as he could be.
Jack and Alfie are doing what they do best: displaying stunning amounts of passive hostility towards each other, and not knowing how to deal with females and their emotions.
Wedged between Georgie and the window, opposite from Roxy and her panic-attack, is Edge. Jack and I decided that the best course of action was to kidnap him and stage an interrogation back in our compartment, after the poor third-year who emerged from the toilet thought we were actually going to kill him.
We nearly had to knock her out, too.
It was unanimously decided that as I possess ovaries and Georgie is a drunk bitch, my responsibility was to calm Roxy down after our announcement of Ivanovitch’s impending arrival gave her palpitations. The boys and Georgie immediately sprung into action, and fearing the Slytherins would attempt to storm our fortress to rescue their misplaced captain, they’ve tried to keep them at bay by putting up a few protective spells.
Edge however, is being less than cooperative.
I pat Roxy on the back, and mouth ‘paper bag’ to Alfie, who is preoccupied by the sight of Georgie’s low-cut top and ultimately doesn’t notice my attempts at ensuring our captain doesn’t asphyxiate.
“Rox,” I murmur soothingly, sounding creepily like an actual therapist. Because with the excellent mental state my mind is in, I should definitely be offering help to other people. “It’s not a disaster-”
“YES – IT – IS!”
I look to the others for help. Naturally, they just stare back tactlessly.
“Ivanovitch is good-”
My pats on Roxy’s back get marginally firmer. “But there’s only a one in four chance he’ll end up in Gryffindor.”
She shoots me a poisonous glare and pants with wheezing grace. The sound is getting pretty annoying now, and I understand why Georgie’s taken to conjuring up a pair of earplugs.
“Regardless of which house he joins,” drawls Edge, who seem to take great delight in watching Roxy’s breakdown, “they’ll drop their Keeper for him if they want to win. I would.”
I try not to roll my eyes. “I’m sure McLaggen’s thrilled about that. Boyfriend of the year, you are. And what about Hufflepuff? They don’t need to drop anyone, they’ve already got a void in that position.”
Edge just laughs, in as flippant a fashion that anyone body-bound in a plank position can whilst leant up against the seat. “Do you think he’d really be a Hufflepuff?”
We all laugh then, which is a nice thing to do at team meetings. In general, we should really kidnap a rival more often – it boosts your morale incredibly.
Roxy takes two deep breaths, holding them in long enough that her wheezing lessens. “Ivanovitch,” she says to me, “you saw him at the European cup this summer, you know what he can do.”
I did. And it hurt my pride to see a guy who was only a year older than me do things like that on a broomstick. I can’t even make a sexual joke about doing things on a broomstick, I’m still in that much awe.
Sergei Ivanovitch is incredible. A professional player before he’s even finished his education, which must explain why he’s ended up here to finish his seventh year; all that time training with the Mariinsky Molnii last year must have really put a dent in the amount of studying he could get done.
Georgie doesn’t fully understand the situation, though.
“He’s only one Quidditch player – no offence Edge, but your team is shit,” she adds helpfully.
“How dare you-”
“I mean, McSlaggen is the only person who is halfway decent,” continues Georgie, ignoring the murderous Slytherin. “Your Beaters are average at best, and Higgs couldn’t catch a Snitch if it tried to fly up his-”
“Thanks for the image.”
She raises her hands mockingly to Roxy and grins. “I didn’t even finish – ‘nose’ is what I was going to say. Pervert.”
Roxy scowls. She doesn’t fully appreciate Georgie’s position as team-pet, which my friend rises to pretty well; she eats our food, falls asleep on us, and has vomited on three fifths of the team.
That’s three members out of five, not the fraction of our bodies that have been covered in Georgie’s sick.
“Georgie has a point.” Roxy’s eyebrows shoot into her hairline as I speak. “One good Keeper doesn’t define a match. And even if Ivanovitch ended up as a Gryffindor, we could just stick him on Chaser duty. A guy that talented has to be good at scoring goals. As for the other teams, Georgie was very right when she said Higgs couldn’t catch a Snitch if it flew up his arse-”
“I said ‘nose’.”
I gesture for her to shut up. “Whatever,” my voice is a lot more confident than I feel, “the truth is that we’re a better team. You know that, don’t you?”
Jack pipes up from his position by the door. “What about us? There’s a seventy-five percent chance that I’m going to have to score against Ivanovitch, which won’t do me any favours if I want to get spotted by a scout.”
“He has a point,” adds Edge. “We Chasers have it worse.”
“Fuck off, Slytherin.”
I send Jack a sharp look. “Don’t be rude to the prisoner, he’s trying to sympathise.”
“Yeah,” say King, kicking his feet up onto the seat opposite. “What are we going to do with our hostage? Enslavement is tempting...”
“So is genocide,” Edge spits, scowling at us with best Spawn-O-Satan death-glare.
“I don’t know, murdering the entire of Slytherin House seems like a lot of effort.”
King rolls his eyes as our captive makes snarling noises again. The whole matter of barricading ourselves in the compartment with an unwilling Edge seems laughable to him. Then again, most things in life are laughable to him – he understand ‘serious’ as much as he understands ‘simulacrum’ and ‘pseudepigraphy’.
“How long does it take for Stockholm Syndrome to set in?” I ask Georgie, “Just out of curiosity.”
She shrugs and takes another swig of coffee (how has she not needed at toilet break yet?). “Sometimes days, could be weeks.” Edge looks concerned at this, as Georgie glances at her watch. “If you get a move on, we could manage it – quick, get him to open up about his childhood. Bond with him over that.”
“That’s plan B,” I decide. “Slytherin can have him back when we get bored – or when he gets useless, whichever’s last.”
Alfie, usually so silent in these situations (not that we’ve ever been in one like this before), raises his head. “We could just Stun him and tuck him under the seat until we arrive... I can’t think how productive four hours of interrogation will be. Plus, I’d like my seat back.”
“All in favour of knocking Edge out and being able to speak freely?”
“Aye,” went the chorus, except for the poor Slytherin in our midst, who began to swear as I drew my wand.
“Sorry Edge – Stupefy!”
The poor guy only has time to squeal his protests before unconsciousness drags him under. His face sags, and though Georgie hardly needs to check whether it worked, there's no response when she jabs him in the side.
"So," she says, turning from our victim and grinning like a Cheshire cat, "if I'm not mistaken, we're stuffing the statue under our seats, yes?"
Jack and King comply, hauling Edge about with little care for the welfare of his extremities. They knock his head on the wall once or twice, trying to angle his body so it actually fits underneath our legs.
Kicking him into place with his heel, Alfie scowls at us. "Now can I go rejoin my girlfriend? As much as I love team-time," he shoots a pointed look at Jack and his swinging feet, "I did promise her I was only going to be ten minutes or so."
"You’re not that late," says Roxy.
"It's been three quarters of an hour!"
Roxy shrugs and helps herself to Georgie's discarded magazine. "Well if you fancy losing a large volume of blood to the Slytherin team, who are probably gathered en masse outside that door, feel free to leave. Otherwise," she puts on her best captain face, "shut up."
We all glance around at each other uneasily. The prospect of spending the next four hours barricaded in this tiny compartment filled with one hostage, an increasingly hungover nutcase, and a Quidditch team who have a tendency to shout at each other given any excuse - well, that's not a fun prospect at all. It's a horrible one.
"Buckle up," grumbles Georgie as she slumps into her seat, "because this is going to be one long train ride."
Pulling in to Hogsmeade, I’m in a sprint-start by the door with my bags already floating behind me. The rest of the team are bearing arms, and Georgie has returned to the horizontal position that I’ve pulled her out of three times already.
“But I’m tired!” she whines. I smack her on the head with her magazine.
“You’re tired? What about me?!! I donated all my coffee to you and your hangover this morning!”
She shrugs and flops off the bench, onto the floor. “If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the sauna.” Great. She’s not making any sense now – and I highly doubt that she’s going to be getting off the floor either, not without my help.
King has Edge’s frozen form tucked under his arm, like a human surfboard trained to swear at us.
“My father,” snarls our previously comatose pet, “is a governor! On the school board!”
“No one cares.”
The train slows to a crawl, and Alfie’s hand tightens around the door handle. “Ready?” he asks.
There’s a chorus of nods, and one growl from Georgie as she forces herself to stand up.
The door slides open, and our battalion explode out, expecting to meet a hail of spells on our exit. The unfortunate discovery of nothing is quite a disappointment.
“Drop Edge!” cries Roxy, still brandishing her wand as if expecting the onslaught to come barrelling down the corridor. “To the carriages!”
King obliges, propping him up against the wall and pinching his cheek affectionately. We sprint past the other compartments, mostly still full though there are a few who are foolish enough to have stepped out into the corridor already.
Roxy and Georgie mow them down remorselessly. I whip my head around briefly to spy Edge, now lying on the floor after toppling over, and the compartment next to ours with its door open and a familiar head sticking out of it.
“THERE THEY ARE!” cries Lexie McLaggen, “GET THEM!”
“Shit,” I mutter, picking up the pace and overtaking Alfie. We round the corner and leap onto the platform, after a brief pile-up where Georgie had to unlock the door. The brakes hiss behind us, but our feet don’t stop. All the Quidditch training and laps that Lily would make us run last year have finally found a use: escaping a vengeful Slytherin team.
Piling into the first carriage, Jack has to lean out the door and haul Georgie in whilst the wheels are in motion – her lack of fitness becomes more pronounced over long distances.
“Well,” pants Roxy, her tanned skin flushed, “that went... well.”
Morag seems to be traumatised to the point of speechlessness – or meowlessness, seeing as her cage just flew through a corridor at my incredible sprinting pace. We nearly broke the sound barrier, so I’m not surprised that she’s a little tense.
“Anyone – fuck, my lungs – anyone left anything?” wheezes Georgie, collapsing into the seat beside me. Familiar clunking noises accommodate her words, as all the luggage we had pursuing us attaches itself to the exterior of our carriage.
There’s a collective ‘nah’ and silence until King punctuates it with “I left my Slytherin captain in the corridor – does that count?”
“God, you should have seen McLaggen’s face,” I say, leaning back and letting Georgie flop sideways onto my lap. “If I had a camera – and no regard for my personal safety – that image would be pasted above all Gryffindor victory parties for years to come."
Everyone looks relaxed, opposed to the tense expressions that we had fixed on our faces for the last half an hour. Naturally, the exception is...
“Alfie?” I say, noticing his creased brow, “will you please lighten up? We’re still alive, in case you hadn’t noticed – celebrate that at least.”
“How am I supposed to explain this to Chloe?”
“Should I care who Chloe is?”
He makes a noise like a baby rhino. “Chloe’s my girlfriend! She’s a prefect – and a Slytherin too!”
King, who’s wedged next to Alfie, suddenly looks overcome with disgust. He frantically crosses himself and mutters “Where’s holy water when I need it?”
Instead of trying to ward off any evil spirits or demonic STDs that Alfie may have picked up from his Slytherin mistress, Roxy rolls her eyes.
“It’s your own fault for picking a snake,” she says, with the wisdom of a girl who prides herself on never choosing a boyfriend outside of Gryffindor.
This starts an argument between the two of them that none of us can be bothered stopping. They bicker all the way up to the castle, as the rest of us sink into our chairs and try to block out their heated debate.
The wheels have barely stopped turning before King hurls himself out of the carriage and heads off towards the silent entrance hall. Roxy follows, claiming that she needs to talk to Coach Plumpton about arranging try-out times. Then Alfie storms off, his pride hurting after Roxy battered him with a list of reasons why his relationship is doomed. That just leaves me, Georgie, and – nope, Jack’s just disappears claiming that he’s “needed a piss since Edinburgh”. Just the two of us, then.
The Great Hall looks a lot smaller when it’s empty, and tonight with the only students in here being Alfie, King and Roxy (who’s cornered Coach at the teacher’s table), it feels a little off. Last time I’m ever going to return to Hogwarts after a long summer, and I’m technically a fugitive on the run from a battalion of Slytherins. How fun.
Georgie collapses at the table and groans. The wooden surface she’s refusing to remove her head from looks incredibly inviting... I think I might just-
Oh god. Who knew a table could be so comfortable?
My head remains firmly on the wood as everyone else starts filing in. Not just because I’m tired, but because I really don’t want to several hundred pairs of lips mouthing ‘slut’ as they look at me. Plus, I’m going to need my energy if this Ivanovitch shit turns out to be true – restraining myself from diving on him will take a lot more force than I can currently manage.
A hand slaps me on the back. “Alright, Lennox?” says a jovial, Irish voice (is there any other sort of Irish voice?). I look sideways as a seventeen year-old child takes the space next to me. Jack’s friend, I mentally grumble.
“Malachy,” I smile at the fair-haired boy as he sits down. His size would be intimidating if I didn’t remember him as a spotty, awkward second year, but the devilish grin on his face does worry me slightly – that smile generally means he has a plan which will result in bad things for me and my school record.
As Jack slots himself in between Georgie and the giggling battalion of sixth-year girls, I feel obliged to ask Malachy why he’s so cheery.
“Nice to see you, that’s all. You look splendid.”
I frown at him as he fights to pull something out of his robe pocket. “Don’t say splendid,” I mutter, “it’s creepy.”
“Lottie,” he manages to extract the furled magazine, “can you-”
Oh sweet Jesus, I thought we were past this...
I kick him in the shin. “Put it away. Put it away or I’ll render you infertile.”
He feigns shock. “But what’s wrong with ‘Cauldron Collectors’? It’s a very informative magazine, I’ll have you know...” and he slaps the non-offensive publication on the table. It’s definitely not Snitch Weekly; in the place of the topless image of Ivanovitch and his broom on the front cover, is a thick-bottomed, pewter specimen in all its raunchy glory.
I’ve never felt such joy at seeing a cauldron.
Relief floods through me, and I hear Jack laughing. “Where did you find it?” he asks, rubbing his buoyant hair into a particularly voluminous fashion.
Malachy tries to stretch, knocking the poor girl next to him into her boyfriend. “My gran’s a fan of potion-making. But I had you going there, didn’t I?” He winks at me. “You thought I was carrying around your pictures – well no. I fancy a nice, thick-bottomed cauldron over you any day.”
“Oh how you break my heart, Mal.” But before I can come back at him with another comment, the doors open and in stream the first-years. My eyes skim over the crowd about three times before I notice the lack of six-foot tall male. I try to point this out to Georgie, but she refuses to remove her head from the table.
Jack leans across her and mutters “Maybe Edge was lying.”
“Yeah, maybe. Bit of a stupid lie though, don’t you think?”
He nods, eyes still trained on the crowd progressing down the Hall. Suddenly, there’s a look of realisation on Jack’s face, and I spin around expecting to see Ivanovitch striding after the first-years.
But there’s nothing unusual.
Hovering over Georgie’s head on the table, I prod him and make a ‘what the fuck is wrong with you?’ face. As a response, he points to the stragglers at the back. “The brown-haired girl,” he whispers over my friend’s worryingly motionless body, “she’s McLaggen’s sister.”
“Shit, Lexie McLaggen? Slytherin harpy?”
“The very same.”
I shake my head and tut. “If they already spawned a devil child, why the fuck would her parents create another one?”
The kids organise themselves in front of the stool, and I’m still craning my neck to catch a glimpse of baby McLaggen as the Sorting Hat begins its song:
“Now there’s nothing just quite like it,
The Sorting Ceremony, see.
All Hogwarts’ witches and wizards,
Have had to go through me.
The great ones and the wicked,
The shy kind, or the strong,
Each one of them has paled before me,
As they listened to my song.
For those aspiring to Gryffindor,
Their courage must be supreme,
Though their iron-will may be seen as a symptom,
Of ridiculously high self-esteem.
And as for worldly Ravenclaw,
Whose hopefuls must be bright.
Please don’t think they’re merely bookworms,
Though that assumption’s usually right.
If you’re short of moral virtues,
Slytherin’s the place to go,
Ambition and cunning are all traits,
That we expect the serpent house to show.
And if you don’t fit in those categories,
There’s one destination left for the listener:
The Ancient House of Hufflepuff!
Which excels at nothing in particular.
So sit beneath my leather,
And let me wrap my brim around your head,
Because even if you end up Hufflepuff,
Remember: this could be Muggle school instead.”
There’s an awkward silence at the end, where a few hundred, murderously proud, House-lovers seethe with rage.
The hat doesn’t usually call Gryffindors egotistical twats, brand Ravenclaw childishly with ‘Nerds!’, accuse Slytherin of being evil and then basically call Hufflepuff shit – I think it’s gone senile since it was set on fire.
Professor Edgecombe, our deputy headmistress, looks mortified beneath the two inches of foundation she has smeared over her persistent acne problem. “Aaronson, James!” she calls awkwardly.
He’s pale and has an unfortunate middle-parting. The hat sits on his head for a good twenty seconds, making ‘hmm’ noises and slipping further over the boy’s eyes.
Eventually, when the hat has reached a point where it looks like it’s almost entirely swallowed James Aaronson’s head, it yells “RAVENCLAW” with a manic zeal that sets the rest of the first-years on edge.
The sorting seems a bit – well, after the hat called out the houses on their bad traits, there’s a subdued atmosphere in the Great Hall. Hufflepuff are doing their best to buoy the moods of their new recruits by cheering them on like psychopaths as they sit down, though it’s not working; ‘Charleston, Hannah’ just burst into tears when the Hat said for her to sit with the yellows.
I take to analysing their names as they’re called out, to see if there’s anyone of interest in the haul this year. ‘Beadle, David’ and ‘Bundy, Kathryn’ don’t sound like they’re the offspring of anyone important, but by the time they’ve reached ‘Davies, Laura’ we have about ten people in open debate around us.
“Got to be related to Roger Davies-”
“-swear he was ‘Davis’ without the ‘e’, though...”
“How many Davies are there in the country though? Wales is crawling with them.”
The tiny girl who we’re so interested in ends up a Hufflepuff though, promptly ending that discussion; we don’t care unless they end up in our House.
I engage in a thumb war with Malachy during ‘Fenton, Honoria’, and let Georgie repaint my nails once we’re well in to the ‘J’ section. Jack has to actually rouse me from semi-unconsciousness for McLaggen’s sister.
She’s tiny, but her confidence surely isn’t. The midget strides towards the stool, tosses her hair in a manner horribly similar to that of her sister, and disappears beneath the Hat.
Silence. And it carries on for quite a while.
Malachy grins at me. “Hat-stall, do you reckon?”
I shake my head at him and scrutinise the girl, who’s now tapping her foot impatiently. “The founders are all playing rock-paper-scissors on who has to endure seven years of this one, that’s what’s happening.”
“I reckon a fiery pit’s going to open up at her feet, and she’ll join Satan’s house.”
Turning to Jack, I arrange my face in a disturbed expression. “That’s awfully morbid, even if it is McLaggen’s sister.”
He’s interrupted from his sentence that starts with “I’ll have you know, that-” by the Hat making its decision:
“GRYFFINDOR!” it roars.
“Fuck me,” says Georgie. “Lexie does not look happy.”
It’s true, I can almost feel the rage from this side of the hall. I’m surprised that there aren’t storm clouds gathering over the Slytherin table, as ‘McLaggen, Darcy’ takes a seat with the baby Gryffindors.
No one cares about the rest of the sorting, even when a little boy gets so excited over his new Ravenclaw status that he trips and tackles the rest of the waiting first-years. All they want to talk about is McLaggen’s sister and her future on the Gryffindor team.
If it turns out that she’s a crap player, we are so getting a refund for that child.
‘Zabini, Felix’ is the last one up, ending the sorting as he becomes a Slytherin. I’m glad, mainly because Jack’s been going on about jam tarts since we hit the ‘R’s and I’m starving.
But of course, our headmaster has to give a performance first.
Flitwick, doing his best to stay elevated behind the podium, squeaks out his usual greeting. “Welcome back! And an especially warm welcome to all of those just starting – I hope Hogwarts lives up to your expectations!”
He shouts a lot, for such a tiny person.
“But,” he continues, throwing me off guard with a variation in his customary speech, “before you’re all distracted with the prospect of a feast, I have one announcement to make.”
Oh my god, they’re bringing the Triwizard Tournament back, aren’t they? AREN’T THEY?!!
“We have one more Sorting to do!”
NO! Wait a second, YES! Or NO! I’m so fucking confused! How am I supposed to feel about this?!!
Flitwick shuffles uncomfortable as a chorus of groans break out; Georgie actually head-butts the table in frustration, and Jack looks like he’s just swallowed a Knarl.
“Now now, settle down.” He frowns at the back of the hall where the majority of the starving teenagers reside, far away from our professors’ jurisdiction and the sea of pre-pubescent kids. “This young gentleman’s going to be a part-time student, finishing off the second half of his seventh year. Er,” Flitwick stretches onto his tiptoes and raises his voice to a painful bat-squeak. “Mr Ivanovitch?”
I snap my head around so quickly that a slightly concussed Georgie is flicked in the eyes with my hair.
But it’s true. For once, that bastard Edge wasn’t lying. Or maybe he was trying to double bluff us, make us think he was lying. That crafty bugger – I should have expected that from a Slytherin.
Ivanovitch strides forward purposefully, making his way between the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables without so much as batting an eyelash at the hysteria surrounding him. The robes are just plain black, but they make him look seductively serious. And like an executioner. A really hot executioner, which is something I’ve never pictured in my life.
Take me to the gallows, baby.
Yeah, excuse my mental break – it’s the only way I can deal with the sheer fuckery unfolding before me. An international Quidditch player at Hogwarts? Sweet Snidget, I have no idea whether this will end well.
Sergei Ivanovitch has a smoulder on his features, the exact same one he’s wearing on the front cover of Sni-
Oh no. Please god, no no no no no no no. If he’s on the cover, he might have turned the pages to a few back and stumbled across page eighteen, and-
Great. Another name to add to the long list of people who think I’m a whore. More specifically, a name belonging to the Appleby Arrows new Keeper, transferred from the Mariinsky Molnii for a season, and who is standing at the front of the Hall as Professor Edgecombe reaches up to place the Sorting Hat on his head.
Augustus Edge is at the Slytherin table, with his hands gripping the wood tightly. Attached to his arm is Lexie McLaggen – the team’s Keeper. If Ivanovitch ends up in there, he’s taking her spot and it’s goodnight Vienna on her chances at becoming captain next year.
No one at Hufflepuff’s table is showing any kind of worry over the prospect of a professional Keeper potentially joining their squad. They have a void in that position, anyway. I can see their captain Ken Boot practically drooling at the thought, his eyes glazed over as he fantasises about raising that cup.
Ken’s twin brother looks torn on the other hand: unfortunately for Cameron Boot the ‘Claw Captain, Lucian Nott is his best mate and the current Keeper, conveniently sat by his captain’s side as they watch the spectacle unfold before them.
And Roxy. Her hand is frozen by her mouth, fear paralysing her as she contemplates the thought of being ousted from her beloved role as Keeper, and the possibility of our cup being taken away from us.
Silence descends. Everyone holds their breath and waits for...
I’m confused. Should I be disappointed?
BECAUSE I SERIOUSLY AM!
There’s a roar as Ivanovitch’s new house proudly accepts him, leaping to their feet and punching the air as if he’d already won them the Quidditch cup. Cam Boot rises steadily whilst applauding, with his now defunct Keeper remaining in his seat.
Cam welcomes Sergei with one of those handshakes where guys team it with clapping them on the back. And then he turns his head to us.
Boot’s eyes don’t look for Roxy, and instead he finds me and Jack. The smug grin, the subtle gesture towards his new star player...
Oh, it’s on.
A/N: Well. Please excuse the awful Sorting Song – in a fit of giddiness, I thought it would be a good idea to have a bash at writing one... *ducks as literarily-skilled people throw rhyming dictionaries at my head, yelling ‘‘Listener’ and ‘particular’? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!!’*
NEXT TIME: Try-outs, bad flirting, and a baby rhino. Plus Roxy goes off at the deep end again (you'll notice this seems to have become a recurring theme).
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