Chapter image by Lady Asphodel @ TDA!
Finally, on Monday morning I’m released from the hospital wing, under strict orders from Madame Pomfrey to take it easy and watch my head. The injustice of Griz Goyle getting off scot free still bothers me, but Amaris and I have our prank to plan. Not to mention the scads of homework which have been building up over the weekend.
“One would assume that a girl who was hit in the head by a Bludger directed by a madman would get an extension,” I grumble to Amaris as she helps me finish up my Transfiguration essay. She says nothing but smiles sympathetically. McGonagall is ruthless when it comes to deadlines.
Although I’ve been keeping out a keen eye, there’s been no sign of Terry Boot all day.
I’m especially dreading moving back into the dorm. Pyxis and Phin spend lunch filling my head with defensive spells as well as booby traps to put up around my bed before going to sleep. They even offer to camp out around my bed.
“I didn’t even know she hated me that much,” I confide in them, signing my name at the top of my Transfiguration homework with a flourish. “Well, we were never exactly friends, but not enemies on the maiming, causing injury or death degree. Could this be about me rescuing Guinevere from her, because that was years ago…”
“I think she’s mad about you rejecting her brother,” Phin says darkly.
“Did what? What any self-respecting witch would do?”
“It’s a family pride thing,” Pyxis cuts in. “They look out for each other. Its lucky Crabbe actually likes Griz, because if he hurt or used her it might definitely lead to a rift between Crabbe and Goyle. Not that I care about who my brother dates,” he adds hastily, “but you know.”
I scowl. “At least if one good thing has come of this, Goyle has been leaving me alone.”
“Maybe he’s learned how to take a hint,” Amaris says generously.
“I wouldn’t put money on it,” Phin shoots back. I give him my best Daphne-ice-princess glare.
We’re distracted as a couple red-headed Gryffindors pass by, and Phin and Pyxis whip out their wands. Cats ready to tease the mice.
“Filthy blood traitors,” Phin hisses at the siblings. They turn and glance at him, surprised. The lanky boy makes a jerk towards his pocket but the girl shakes her head and tugs on his arm.
“Come on, Ron, they’re not worth it,” she says loudly, drawing the attention of Professors Flitwick and Sprout. The girl gives me a cool, loathing look. Go ahead, but I’m still stronger than you,
it seems to say.
Pyxis leans over and spits on the floor in front of their feet.
“You disgust me, Weasley,” he says coolly, “running around with scum, dirty blood, stupid slag for a sister-”
Ron Weasley turns a deep red but his sister rolls her eyes. “Honestly, Ron, don’t let them get to you.”
I realize she’s the same girl I collided with in the Entrance Hall a few days ago, and can’t help but feel glad that I was too upset to stay and bicker with her. There’s something underneath the girl’s cold, calm exterior that makes me think she would be a fierce opponent.
The girl succeeds in dragging Ron away and they walk up towards the Gryffindor table.
“Blood traitors will be the next to go,” Phin whispers under his breath.
After the incident at lunch, all of us have sobered. We go through the motions of the day without laughing about Mudbloods, without discussing the upcoming prank on Griz. The encounter reminded us that the war is real: that next time, the teachers won’t be watching and ready to intervene, that next time, it could be us and our wands and our wits against our enemies.
Later that night, I’m walking back from my meeting with Professor Snape to discuss my detention. Curfew starts in 10 minutes, and the only people I’ve passed in the hall were a couple Hufflepuffs locked in a furious snog and a pair of patrolling prefects.
Unfortunately, a large form blocks out the light dramatically at the end of the corridor.
“Hey! Tor!” Its Goyle, the male, advancing towards me. I shrink back a little: I can smell alcohol on his breath, and its not very appealing.
“Hi, look, sorry I can’t really stay and talk, I’ve got to, er, meet up with Amaris-”
He’s standing too close to me. Merlin and crap.
“I really like you, Tor,” he slurs as I wrinkle my nose in disgust. “Don’t you like me, too? I’m a pure blood…”
“Sorry,” I say, putting politeness into my voice. “Look, I need to get going…”
But he’s trapped me against the wall, and his huge hands come up and fit themselves around my waist. He smells like booze and sweat, and I resist the urge to throw up all over his robes.
“Get off me, please,” I say steadily, looking intently at a spot right behind his head. But he’s coming down, about to touch me with his horrible wet mouth. I wriggle furiously. “No! Get away from me!”
I can’t reach my wand, and I’m so disgusted that I want to cry and scream at the same time. Help, Merlin, please someone come, Amaris, Theo, Snape, anyone-
Then I’m gloriously free, and I realize Goyle is writhing on the floor in pain. Huge bats are squeezing their ways out of his nose: panicking, clutching at his face, he runs away in terror from the figure standing with their wand pointed right at his face. A trail of live, screeching bats flies after him. Its quite gross.
“That’s right, run!” The figure screams, “Or next time they’ll be coming out of your-”
Satisfied that Goyle is sufficiently frightened, the figure turns to me. I realize that I’ve shrunk down to the floor, clutching my knees to my chest, my hair wet against my face. I realize that I’m crying, and that my head is aching.
“Poor girl,” the figure says gently, all viciousness gone. She – and it’s a she, I realize as she steps into the light- settles down next to me, patting my arm soothingly.
With a jolt I realize it’s the Weasley girl, the redhead that Phin called a blood traitor. I know I should be flinching away from her touch but I’m too weak, in need of care, of my savior. She rubs my arm and strokes my hair as I sob into her arms.
“I’m Ginny,” she says kindly. “What’s your name? You’re in the year below, aren’t you.”
“T-t-tor Greengrass,” I whisper. “Why did you help me? You didn’t have to… I know you recognize me from lunch.”
“Yeah, and don’t get me wrong, I still think you’re a bigoted Slytherin bitch,” Ginny says. “But I’m no fan of Goyle and what he was trying to do was wrong.
I hate guys like that, who think they’re entitled to whatever-and whomever they want.”
“I hate him, too,” I say, hating the shakiness in my own voice.
We sit in silence for a minute or two, Ginny Weasley’s shoulder resting against my own in comfort and warm radiating from her small frame. Although my head reminds me that this is an enemy, that I’d be better suited to seek out Amaris or Daphne for female comfort, there’s something reassuring about her presence and I can’t bear the thought of being alone just yet.
I stretch out my mind a little, towards hers. I peek in the keyhole, and its like there’s a fire crackling merrily inside, surrounded by plush armchairs and laughter. The sound of fiddle music. I withdraw, soothed, and try to emulate the same idea in my own head.
“What are you doing out at this time of night?” I ask her, trying to make my voice return to its regular haughtiness (or so I’d like to imagine).
“Er, well I am a prefect,” she says, twirling a strand of orange hair through her fingers. “And, er, I was meeting my boyfriend.” She blushes a shade to rival her hair. “We don’t get to spend a lot of alone time in the common room so… you know.”
I nod, hoping I look wise and worldly.
“Can I ask you a question? In confidence?”
“Shoot,” she says, raising her eyebrows suspiciously.
“Are you friends with Terry Boot?”
Ginny shrugs. “Well, by association. I was, um, involved with one of his dorm mates last year, but we had a rough break. And we were in, uh…a club, yeah, a club together last year, but I haven’t seen much of him since. Nice guy, though.”
“Do you know if he has a girlfriend?”
“Not at the moment, but he dated my friend Wilma Bones on and off for a couple years. They’re split for good now, I think.”
I nod. “Oh, okay. I was just, you know, wondering.”
“Wait, I actually think he has something going on with Leanne Briar in Ravenclaw,” Ginny adds, chewing a nail pensively. “But who knows where anybody’s relationship stands these days?”
“Right,” I admit duly, trying to ignore the sinking pit that my stomach has turned in to.
“You fancy Boot?”
“Me? Oh, no, no, er, my friend does. She’s too shy to ask.”
I’m worried that Ginny Weasley will make me explain myself, but she seems to be smiling at a secret joke and snorts to herself in a rather un-ladylike manner.
“Listen, I should probably get back to the common room before a teacher comes patrolling or your lot show up and try to pick a fight again. Although now you know who would win,” she grins at me. “Why don’t I walk you back to the entrance of the dungeons?”
“No, I’m fine,” I say, taking the hand she offers and pulling myself up. Weasley looks me up and down appraisingly, and although I’m the natural Legilimens, I feel like she’s looking into my soul itself.
“You’re alright,” she says thoughtfully. “You’re just a kid, really, all caught up in the wrong side. I guess its not your fault.” And with a flash of red hair and the smell of flowery shampoo, she’s flitted away down the corridor.
I brush off my robes carefully and whisper Lumos!
as the candles lining the corridors are dimmed for the night. Listening carefully before turning each corridor in case Filch is lurking, I let my feet lead me upstairs, and up more stairs, up to the seventh floor.
I know I’m going the right way when I pass Anne, the helpful woman in the portrait, snoozing gently in her frame. The background is of an old castle keep, possibly Norman. I momentarily consider waking her up for company but decide that would be too rude. She looks peaceful and unhurried, safe in her canvas where the outside forces can’t hurt her and all she has to fear is a crazed knight chasing his fat pony through her portrait and challenging her to a duel.
I tell the mournful suit of armor that guards the secret room. Stepping through the wall, I’m both relieved and disappointed to find it empty of human company. No Terry Boot tonight – maybe he’s too busy with Leanne Briar, whoever she is.
I try to ease the bitterness from my mind. Ginny could have been mis-informed. Besides, I’m supposed to fancy Theo, right?
I settle onto the window seat, which is conveniently stocked with a couple big squishy pillows. Wrapping my arms around myself, I feel hot tears stinging at my eyes. Great. Whenever I have a good cry I always get a headache for hours, not to mention blotchy circles all around my eyes. Crying makes me feel helpless and weak, but right now I’m too tired and cold inside to care.
“Miss Astoria, Young Master has sent me to find you, Young Master was told my Miss Amaris that you are not in the dormitory, Young Master is worried you are hurt?”
I blink and smile down at Selby, the Nott House Elf.
“Hi Selby, I’m fine really, say thanks to Pyxis though. Tell him I’m doing some last minute school work and won’t be back until late.”
Selby bows low, his large elf ears trembling slightly.
“Selby is most happy to do Miss Astoria’s bidding,” he squeaks. “Young Master Theodore will be glad to hear that Miss Astoria is well, kind and sensitive boy of the noble house of Nott that he is.”
I smile. “It was Theo who sent you?”
‘Yes Miss, for Young Master Theo is most fond of Miss Astoria, yes,” Selby’s huge eyes are luminous and earnest in the moonlight.
I briefly consider telling the boys how Goyle tried to force me to kiss him, but can’t see how it would lead to good. It would cause a rift in the sixth years’ dormitory and in Slytherin in general, not to mention ASS (not that I particularly care for Theo and Draco Malfoy’s little club). They would probably go after Goyle and then get expelled, and then, worst of all, my father might end up hearing about it, and that was the one embarrassment I couldn’t handle.
Instead, I ask Selby to bring me some blankets, which he delivers with two more loud Crack!
noises ringing through the secret room. How do House Elves do it? Selby also brings me a thermos of Hot Chocolate and some biscuits, then leaves me to my thoughts with a low bow.
I fall asleep stretched out on the window seat, looking out at the dimmed lights of the castle, at the Dark Forest’s shadowy treetops.
I dream of the Imperius Curse.
“You have to mean it,” my father tells me intently. “You have to need it. And the spell cannot be short of perfection.”
He points his wand directly at my head.
I feel a dreadful lightness descend over me. How lovely it is, how terribly lovely. Father is so fine, so handsome and wise. He gestures with his wand and I know that I am to climb the old tree in the groove, and I skip over to do so. The rough bark chaps my hands, the laurel leaves scratch at my face, but it is of no matter.
A moment before the tree tumbles under my weight, Father releases me. I jump down, frightened, feeling rudely awakened from a marvelous dream.
“That is the Imperius Curse, Tor,” he says sternly. “Now you know how it feels. In the right hands, your subject is your complete and utter puppet. They will serve you, but when your concentration breaks, they may fool you. Great wizards have grown bold before, and been tricked that their puppet was still under the Curse, when in fact they were being played the fool.”
While I heed his warnings, I cannot help but think of, years later, the unexpected weightless existence of being under the Curse, of obeying without need for thought or question. What an uncomplicated thing, to obey and believe. How simple and beautiful it is, to put your autonomy and responsibility in the hands of another, and follow along, happily living, happy to die.
“Have you ever been under the Imperius curse, Father?” I ask daringly.
Father seems to deliberate within himself before answering.
“Once, yes, and I did a terribly thing. But we will never speak of that. Instead, you must learn how to master the Curse. This is your task for the summer.”
“Well, well, Greengrass, it seems as if I keep finding you in horizontal positions. Lucky September, huh?”
I awake to find the bright blue eyes of Terry Boot staring back at me, amused. As my eyes adjust to the daylight, I realize that he is sprawled out on the floor, gently stirring a small cauldron with his wand. A horrible, gurgling smell is coming from the cauldron.
“I guess I lost track of the time,” I say blurrily, wiping the sleep from my face and hoping I don’t look too horrendous. Bedhead, blotchy eyes, blushing face, day old clothes, and a touch of morning breath. Lovely.
“I’ll say,” Boot says, smirking slightly. “I came straight up and found your glorious self snoring away, and didn’t want to disturb your peaceful slumber. Unfortunately this potion isn’t exactly school-approved and I need to add the root of Saturn on the twelfth day at noon, so options were limited.”
“Can I have that?” I ask, pointed at a glass of water on the floor. He smirks again.
“Summoned just for you. Hey, I didn’t peg you as the type to go out drinking on a Monday night, especially since you’d just gotten out of the hospital wing, but who am I to judge, just a lowly Ravenclaw after all. Who needs to party when you have books
Suddenly the pieces click together. Tuesday… twelve o’clock… Uh oh.
So if its twelve, than I’ve missed Double History of Magic, which is fine because its unlikely Binns even knows my name, despite arranging that nasty detention with Snape for the spitball-throwing incident. Ancient Runes is fine, I’ll tell Professor Arnolds I had another appointment with Madam Pomfrey or something along those lines of lies. But wait.
Defense Against the Dark Arts with Snape is at noon.
Right now is noon.
I leap up from the window seat.
“I’ve got to go!” I shout at Boot, who is looking both perplexed and amused from his brewing station. “I’ll find you later and you can explain that foul, illegal concoction-”
Breathless and sweating, I arrive at DADA just as Amaris and Taurus are tailing the class inside.
“Where have you been?” Taurus hisses, while Amaris looks appalled at my appearance.
“You look like hell,” she whispers, pointing her wand at me and muttering something under her breath. My robes straighten themselves, my hair whips itself back into a tight bun, and Taurus holds out a pack of chewing mint gum and hastily rubs at the mascara smears under my eyes with his own thumb.
“Its fine guys, I’ll explain later,” I mutter. Snape’s gaze snaps up from the front of the class as we scuffle into the classroom, and I feel his cold stare take in everything.
“Tardy,” he says in that dry, chilly voice of his. “Don’t make… a habit
Taurus and Amaris exchange smirks as we slide into our seats: Snape rarely takes points from his own House. His cold voice drones on.
“Now, the vampire is a foul
creature which dwells in the darkest shrouds of humanity… prepared to feast on those who are… indisposed.” His mouth curls up unpleasantly.
As we half-listen to Snape’s lecture on the mating habits of the vampire, Amaris slides a piece of parchment across the desk.
So where in Merlin’s name were you? Getting freaky with your lover boy?
I roll my eyes and look forward intently at Griz Goyle’s head. Of course, this just reminds me of her obnoxious brother, who is probably sporting a terrible hangover as well as some residual bats squeezing their way out his nostrils. Good. I hope he’s suffering.
Amaris can wait for an explanation. For now, I’ve got notes to take.
I skip lunch to have a quick shower, and am feeling magnanimously better about everything. After passing Goyle, accompanied by Crabbe and Malfoy as usual, and giving him my best scathing look and watching him squirm awkwardly, I feel reassured that everything will return to normal. When Terry Boot winks cheekily at me from across the corridor, his robes slightly stained from the mysterious potion of earlier, I feel even better. Even hearing Griz and Zelda talking loudly about Quidditch can’t get me down.
Unfortunately, on my way back to the Slytherin common room, I walk in on Demetria Avery, Pyxis Nott, and Phin Flix cornering a couple first years in the corridor leading to the dungeons.
Demetria sneers at the firsties, both of whom are wearing Ravenclaw ties and look quite terrified. I want to spin around and pretend I didn’t see anything, but Phin notices me and beckons me over, laughing.
“Hey Tor, the little Mudbloods are looking for ‘Professor Slughorn, sir.’” He chimes this last in a mock sing-songy voice. “Should we show them what we do to Mudbloods who trespass on Slytherin territory?”
I try to look away, but the small girl catches my eye.
“Please, miss,” she pipes up, “I’d only like to show Professor Slughorn my toad.” She holds up a fat brown creature. “He’s very interested in the giant Brazilian Spotted. Please, we’ll get out of your way.”
Her voice unnerves me, as do her huge, pale blue eyes. She’s tiny, pixie-like, even, with pale, translucent skin and a dark page-cut and a blue barrette in her hair.
“Er, you know what guys, maybe we should just head back to the common room, we’ve got that, er, History of Magic report.” The little girl with the toad nods enthusiastically, like this is the best idea she’s heard yet. Demetria has other ideas, however.
“Well well, squirt, what should we do with dear Toady?” She cackles, pointing her wand at the toad. Green sparks flit out of her wand as the toad is wrenched from the little Ravenclaw’s hands, hovering in mid-air. It croaks nervously as Demetria whispers a spell, and the toad slowly starts to swell.
“Milly! Milly!” The girl shouts, jumping and trying to reach the toad as her friend starts crying. “Please, just leave her alone!” She pleads, grabbing onto my wrist with her little hand.
Phin is watching me silently. Pyxis stares at me expectantly. Demetria is not so subtle.
“Do something, Tor! Be a Slytherin!” She bellows, brow furrowed in wicked concentration on Milly the toad, who is now swelling to the size of a balloon.
I look down at the little Ravenclaw Mudblood, grab hold of my wand, and think Levicorpus!
The spell, taught to me by Father who remembered it from his Hogwarts years, hoists up the Mudblood from her ankle and suspends her next to her toad. The spell doesn’t hurt, Daphne’s practiced it on me often enough, but the kid looks terrified.
As my fellow Slytherins hoot approvingly and Milly the toad’s eyes are about to bug out, I catch a flash of red from around the corner. Then several things happen at once.
The first year Ravenclaw falls elegantly to the floor, catching her quickly-deflating toad with the reflexes of a Seeker.
Demetria swears colorfully and points her wand at something behind my head.
That something shouts something and suddenly, a horrible feeling sends me crashing to my knees. My face feels as if its stretching, expanding: my nose is on fire, my head is screaming with pain. Then suddenly, it subsides, and I am staring down my nose at a very furry bat.
Ginny Weasley was indeed a skilled caster of the Bat Bogey Hex.
A/N: I own nothing. Review and let me know what you think of the story so far- pretty please!!!! Next chapter shall be up shortly.