Another awesome chapter image by Lake @ TDA!
I am awoken the morning of Halloween by a heavy weight at the end of the bed, the yearly burden which appears without fail. Grabbing a pillow, I launch it at Amaris' bed in our usual wake up call.
She looks up groggily. "Wha?"
"Well, I need someone to be an audience as I open up this haul," I roll my eyes. Immediately, she jumps up and throws herself at me.
"Happy birthday, love!"
"Yeah yeah," I groan, patting her on the back, but secretly I am pleased. Everyone wants a little attention on their birthday after all.
The first-and most glamorous- gifts are from Mum and Father, who have gotten me a brand new party dress-undoubtedly for the annual New Years ball at Malfoy Manor, and a pair of matching set of necklace and earrings: dripping silver and set by little stones of green. I gasp a little, opening the package.
Amaris seizes the jewels from my hands jealously.
"You are so wretchedly spoiled," she moans, running her hands tenderly over the little earrings. "These are surely spelled with some incredible magic, as well-I can sense it."
"Yeah, anti-thievery charms most likely, and dirt and infection resistant," I predict. "Oh, and lightness charms as well." Heavy bejeweled earrings like these can be very uncomfortable to wear, and my rather picky mother is very careful about only purchasing specifically charmed jewels.
My next present from the parents is a rare manuscript of early Ancient Runes translations, which I very carefully place on the shelf next to my other books. A speculative book about the existence of the Deathly Hallows quickly joins it: I'm a bit of a fanatic. Perhaps Pyxis has been wearing off on me.
From Theo I receive a professional wand maintenance kit, with careful notes outlined by the boy himself on how to best preserve my wand for ultimate appearance and skilled spell-casting. Again, I feel with a small pang how I wish that Theo could follow his dream of becoming a wand maker without hindrance, before remembering that he'll be subjected to the much nobler career of Death Eater and probably forget all about wandlore.
Pyxis, Phin and Taurus have pooled together to buy me an extensive supply of products from Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes. Amaris and I are happy to ignore the fact that these things were produced by blood traitors and to appreciate the mischief and use we'll get out of them. Pyxis has also smuggled in a picture of Blaise Zabini and his mother talking in what appears to be hushed tones and examining a wedding wing on her finger: it's taken from an awkward, secretive angle, and the little moving images of Blaise and his mother are glancing around suspiciously. On the back Pyxis has scrawled: Sketchy, right? Oh and HAPPY BIRTHDAY A.G.Y!!!!
"Nutter, that one," I say fondly to Amaris, tucking the photo into my new Ancient Runes manuscript.
She snorts. "There's a part of me that wants to know how he obtained that picture, and a part of me that never, ever wants to find out." She hands me her present: some magical makeup charmed to last for hours and to attune itself to my natural skin color, as well as a copy of Broads on Brooms: A History of Women in Quidditch.
"Brilliant! Thanks!" I peer at it. "Although I'm not sure if the title is offensive or not..."
"Just go with it," she advises.
I mock-shudder. "I'm with you, although my mum wouldn’t be too impressed." I cast aside a pair of high heels from Daphne which hurt my eyes just looking at them and reach for the last gift, which is unmarked. Ripping at the paper, I uncover a collection of beautiful books, including all of the Chronicles of Narnia books, and others I've never heard of, with strange titles like Great Expectations, Pride and Prejudice, and a play called Macbeth. I open one of the books at random, called Frankenstein. Immediately, words appear in the margins of the page, scrawled in Terry's familiar hand.
This passage makes me think about being created vs. being born. Are we born good or evil, or is this taught to us by society? Is it nature or nurture that defines us, and defines the monster? Should-
"Who's it from?" Amaris asks, clawing through the wreckage of the wrapping paper. I close the book with a sharp snap and smile angelically at her.
"My secret admirer.”
"That's wonderful," she says wistfully, glancing through the copy of Hamlet. I've never heard of these books before. It's so mysterious and romantic."
She looks so longing that I am momentarily filled with a burning excitement to tell her all about Terry Boot and how happy he makes me, how much we've learned from spending time together. But then I remember who I am, and who I share a dormitory with, and who is resting and probably eavesdropping only a few feet away, and so I turn away from her.
"Oh, I bet it’s only Pyxis playing a joke," I pretend to speculate.
Amaris giggles. "Or Goyle, trying to anonymously win your love."
"Yes," I say with forced lightness. "Yes, that's certainly it. Although I can’t imagine he reads, much less these strange titles."
As Amaris leaves to shower, I open the final book in the set that Terry's sent me: a blank notebook, covered in beautiful moleskin, and attached by a ribbon to a splendid quill with intertwined green and blue strands, like some sort of peacock feather. As I run my fingers over the creamy yellow pages, words suddenly appear in black ink on the page.
How do you like your presents, Feisty?
Confused, I stare at the page. The dark ink continues it's scrawl, and it’s in Terry's hand.
Sorry, I should explain; I can just imagine how cute your confused look is right now. I've Charmed this notebook so we can communicate back and forth: it's an idea I developed from, well, a variety of sources.
I pick up the quill and move it across the page, needing no ink.
I must say, you and your inventions are very impressive. I loved the gifts, by the way. Good to know I'll have something to read over Christmas without you to distract me.
His reply is swift.
Glad to hear it. Oh, and, I heard it's a pretty special day today. Happy Halloween, Astoria ;)
I roll my eyes at the strange sideways winky face.
Exactly what I wanted to hear, good sir.
I guess I could wish you a happy birthday as well, if you're going to be so formal.
That's more like it... Hyperion, I scribble back, smirking.
Well that's me being put in my place, comes the quick answer. "Now, I'll see you tonight, alright?"
I add an "OK" as Amaris emerges from the bathroom, clutching a towel to her hair.
"Your turn, birthday girl. As a special gift to you, my best friend, on her special day, I checked the shower for any specially designed booby traps, such as scalding water and that strange gel that turns your skin transparent. That's how much I love you."
"I appreciate it," I say, casting a mindful glance in the direction of Griz, who is still a bit shell-shocked over the success of our vengeful prank against her. I doubt the extensive detentions the rest of us have been assigned qualifies as suitable justice in her piggy little eyes.
As I close the new notebook, a few more words flash across the page, words that make me both want to dance and cry.
Also, you are beautiful.
After my shower, Amaris and I gather our things and head over to the boys' dorm to start preparing our costumes, Halloween has mercifully fallen on a Saturday this year, and thus the Slytherins-including a handful of prefects- are busy getting the common room ready for the party, for which everyone plans to start drinking at noon.
"Well hello, ladies," Wendell Skin, younger brother of the infamous Slytherin Quidditch captain and known wannabe-womanizer, drawls as we stroll through the common room. "Coming to the party, I hope?"
Judging by the slight slurring in his words, Wendell has started the festivities early. He clumsily Levitates a full-size skeleton onto the wall but his wand is too shaky, and the skeleton falls, landing with a clink and a clatter on the green carpets.
"Oi, watch it, Skin!" Pansy Parkinson snaps from across the common room, where she is making black cloths drape themselves across the walls. "Do you know how hard it was to smuggle that thing past Filch?"
Wendell shrugs lazily and turns back to us, looking us up and down approvingly. I see Amaris' hand go self-consciously to her hair, which is still wet, and her face, which is awaiting makeup.
"We'll be there," I tell him calmly, and drag Amaris towards the boys' stairs, stepping gingerly over the fallen skeleton.
"Don't get any ideas," I tell her sternly once we are out of earshot. "He's creepy."
"I also heard he's a really good kisser," Amaris says dreamily. I roll my eyes and perform the secret knock on the door to the boys' dorms. Rap-tap-a-rap.
"Oi, are you lot decent? Well, we're coming in either way!" I cover my eyes and walk into the dorm, smiling as I feel my cat Guinevere rubbing against my shins. I scoop her up and smile as her rough tongue licks my cheek. Sometimes she acts like a dog trapped in a cat’s furry body. "Seriously, it's my birthday, so please protect me from the dreadful sights of your bare arses or worse..."
"We're all decent," Phin says grouchily. I uncover my eyes: all three boys are sitting upright in their beds, Taurus admiring his broom, Pyxis bent over a series of posters of the Weird Sisters, and Phin looking still half-asleep, head tilted back against the headboard.
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOR!" Pyxis shouts. Phin covers his ears and gives his friend a look of pure loathing. Taurus extends his arms and I hop into them, pulling myself onto his bed and snuggling into his waking-up warmth. Carefully depositing his broom on the floor, Taurus presents me with a red rose that's nourishing itself from a vase of water on his bedside table. He’s such a lovely friend.
"Happy birthday, little one," he grins down at me. I shuffle him over so I'm perched on top of the blankets and lean my head against his shoulder.
"I'm only a month younger than you, you do realize," I point out. "And older than this lot."
"Older and wiser," Taurus says with distaste, looking at the mess around Phin's four poster.
"Pardon me, Mother," Phin sneers back at him, and I am filled again with that overwhelming love for my friends, who are kind and funny and good and who I can utterly be myself around. I hug Taurus' arm to me a little, and he looks down at me, a little bemused.
"Should I tell Goyle he has some competition?" He jokes, and chuckles as I scowl and hop away, nearly tripping over his broom in the process.
"Don't flatter yourself!" I tell him, and he wiggles his eyebrows at me.
Now that they're all out of bed, Amaris, Taurus and I set ourselves to the task of becoming the Weird Sisters. With a combination of hair-growth charms, some very heavy makeup, nearly setting Pyxis' head on fire and some clothes Amaris conned off her brother, who works in an upscale thrift shop down Knockturn Alley way, we have been transformed into-rather stylish and slightly feminine-versions of the iconic band.
"It would have been less effort for you guys to use Polyjuice Potion," Pyxis growls, stroking his newly repaired hair. He guards that thing like he's Samson on the lookout for Delilah. To be fair, the smell of charred hair is still floating throughout the room.
I shudder visibly, remembering the disgusting experience of consuming Polyjuice Potion and turning into Terry.
"I'd take a burnt head over that any day," I inform him.
Pyxis looks up and narrows his eyes at me, smelling a rat. "Wait, have you taken Polyjuice Potion before? When?"
I cool the sense of dread building in my stomach by coming up with the first lie I can think of. "Er, my Father was brewing some, for his old job at the Ministry, and I accidentally sampled it out of curiosity. I wanted to see the potion in action."
Amaris looks at me curiously. "And?"
"Oh, it was awful," I grimace. "I used some of, er, Daph's hairs because I wanted to see what would happen. She tasted like overly sweet perfume and sawdust, and trust me, folks, that does not taste nice at all. I puked a lot, grew a little, and it wore off pretty quick. Definitely not recommended, however."
Taurus shudders. "It gives me the creeps, that does." His strong Northern accent is so sweet, I sometimes forget that he's a vicious Quidditch player. “Imagine become someone else, not knowing you own self.”
Deciding to change the subject, I squeeze Amaris' arm lightly. "Shall we head down for Halloween brunch? I wouldn't want to miss all my adoring birthday cards arriving in the post."
After a delicious breakfast of pumpkin pasties and amassing a huge collection of birthday cards from everyone from my great-aunt Lucretia, who keeps bats as pets, to Narcissa Malfoy, we agreed that it was time to celebrate my fifteenth birthday in true Slytherin style. And we’ve been drinking in the common room for the past countless hours: I’m currently working on some mysterious purple drink that is so sweet it burns my tongue, and playing games of Broom Pong with Pyxis and Phin as my teammates.
Hanging upside down from my broom, I whoop as I score a perfect shot from upside-down.
"Foul! She opened her eyes!" A fifth year shouts, but my team just chants, "Greengrass! Greengrass!"
I slap high-fives with Pyxis, curling my legs around the broom and pulling myself up to an upright position. My head rushes a little and I steady it before descending clumsily onto the carpet.
"Maybe enough pong for me, at least for now," I inform my friends. Taurus has long since disappeared, presumably off with some girl, and Amaris is chatting up Wendell Skin, his thin hand creepily positioned on her leg. I notice Pyxis watching them as well and we simultaneously mime puking to one another. Despite mocking the public displays of affection, I can't help but feel a longing pang for Terry. Being drunk, apparently, just makes me even more enthusiastic to snog him.
"That… that’s just pathetic," I slur, hating how intoxicated I feel and how I'm unable to stop it. Usually, I'm not really one for drinking. I Summon a glass of water and slurp it down noisily.
Deciding to take this sitting down, I fall down on a sofa, nursing my water and placidly watching the scene unfolding around me. Zelda is snogging someone in the corner. Naughty, I’ll have to give her a talking to. In fact, there are various couples wrapped around each other sloppily in all corners of the common room.
Dignified bunch, we Slytherins.
Pyxis plops down beside me and swings an arm around my shoulder.
"And Odo the hero-" He trills.
"Not now," I mumble. "I really can't handle that song. Find another drinking buddy, okay, buddy?"
Pyxis nods pertly and springs up, presumably to find someone to match his off-tune drunken ramblings. I laugh at his swaying back as he finds Phin and gives him a huge brotherly hug.
“AND HIS WAND SNAPPED IN TWO-”
"Fancy another water?" A voice says from my side. I turn around to see a hooded figure in a large brown cloth cloak offering me a glass of clear liquid.
"If that's vodka, I'll never forgive you. I'll hunt you down," I inform the hooded figure, taking the proffered glass and knocking it down. It's water, thank Salazar. "What are you meant to be, anyway? A Dementor?"
The chuckle is muffled beneath his hood. "I'm a friar. I was dressed as something else earlier, but I changed. Can't you tell?"
I narrow my eyes at him. "No, you're not. You're..." I reach out to remove his hood, but he dodges nimbly out of the way.
"Not so fast, Orsino the Weird Sister. Come with me." He grabs my wrist gently, pulling me to my feet.
"Er, okay," I say, amused. The grip is familiar as he pulls me into an alcove, away from the main sightline of the party.
"Happy birthday," he tells me, a hand reaching up to touch my cheek. But I recoil: up close, this hand is unfamiliar, foreign.
"Who-" I yank back the hood to see the puzzled and concerned (probably an expression I've never seen across those features before) Draco Malfoy.
"Malfoy? Is this some sick joke? I thought you were...what the hell!"
"Tor! Shhh!" he hushes, putting a hand over my mouth. I resist the temptation to bite it. "It's me!"
"Yes, I can see that," I reply, angrily pushing his hands away from me. "And why are you trying to accost me, exactly? So your sweet little Pansy will come and beat me up, and you and your mates can have a laugh?"
"No, no, I'm not Malfoy," Malfoy says impatiently. "Sorry, I thought the potion would have worn off by now-I was testing it on myself, you see, and it's working flawlessly!" He grins despite himself.
"Wait…Boot?" And now I see it: the familiar gleam of mischief and intelligence, and of course-
"My first entirely successful Polyjuice Potion brew," Boot-disguised-as-Malfoy says proudly, and sure enough his hair is lengthening and turning back to dark, his face distorting as it finds the familiar features, and his eyes from ice to the lovely deep blue. The shoulders rise by a couple inches, the skin darkens, and his mischievous, crooked-toothed grin and dimple are shining down on me.
"But why disguise yourself as Malfoy?" I ask. But I can't help but wrap my arms around him and rest my head on his chest, feeling the rough canvas of the monk's garb he's found. In his warmth, the world stops spinning.
He bares his teeth wickedly. "To get myself into your common room, mostly. What if somebody pulled off this hood? And I had to make sure the potion worked. You'll see in a minute or so. It's quite brilliant: I told Mike and the others that we were playing a huge prank on the Slytherins, but the best part is that I get to steal you away."
"And what exactly are you going to execute on all of my poor, innocent housemates?"
"Not on all of them," he chides. "Only the ones who fell for the free punch that Mike's been doling out."
He points across the common room. Sure enough, another hooded figure is pouring generous portions of a delicious looking amber liquid to a large assembly of Slytherins. Terry chuckles. "This is going to be good."
I glance up at him. "Shouldn't you be disguising yourself?" In response he pulls his hood up, once again the anonymous friar.
"Now watch," his voice says from beneath the hood. Fascinated, I look out at the common room.
"Er, Terry, just looks like a load of drunk baboons to m-" Then, Vincent Crabbe, who had been manning the poker table, doubles over in pain and is sick on the floor. Griz, who had been standing close to him, screams in disgust, but soon she as well is throwing up. Suddenly, every student who’d had a drink of punch starts seizing up, clutching at their throats in confusion and pain. Several people make a beeline for the bathrooms to deposit their guts in the toilet bowls.
"You didn't poison all the Slytherins, did you?" I say with mild worry to Terry, raising an eyebrow as I turn to face him. "Because that might be hard to explain to the parents."
"Just watch." He is laughing beneath the hood: I can feel the vibrations of his ribs from where he stands behind me.
As people begin to re-emerge from their respective puking locations, their robes become too loose, the girls’ dresses tight against their flat chests. Each person reaches up to touch a head of white-blond hair. They pull up their heads, but their faces are not there own. Instead, they have narrow, pale features: their hair, each last Slytherin head, is blinding blond.
More than thirty Draco Malfoys stared about in confusion, then chaos ensued in a flurry of rushing to get to the mirror, clutching at their faces, and trying to find and curse the person responsible: or anyone who got in the way, for that matter.
It’s the best prank I’ve ever seen.
I turn to stare at Terry, who is doubling over in hysterical laughter. "You turned half the Slytherins into Malfoy?"
He can't even answer, and I can't even comment, because I'm laughing too, leaning my head against the stone wall as if it can no longer be supported on it’s own.
"This is your big prank?" I spit out finally. "It's... insane. But brilliant. Random, but brilliant."
He smirks, pleased with himself. "Well, that should hold them up for a little while. What would you like to do in the meantime?"
I glance out: the common room is in utter chaos. Those who have consumed the spiked punch with Polyjuice potion are catching onto their new appearances: throughout, Draco Malfoys are dressed as hula hoop dancers, vampires, Muggle rugby players, and black cats. There are at least five Gandalfs, long white beards dangling off Malfoy’s pale, pointed chin. People are screaming, crying, trying to rip at their own hair. Somehow, a fight has broken out, a pile of Malfoy fists flying. I do, however, see one Malfoy, dressed as a princess, giving her new body an approving once-over.
And Pyxis thought Zabini was a Narcissist, I think amusingly to myself.
"I wonder where the real Malfoy is," Terry wonders out loud. I shrug: I haven't seen him at all at the party. Goyle has also been mysteriously absent.
"Probably still gelling his hair in preparation for his big entrance," I reply absently, twirling my hand into Terry's. "Why did you pick him to turn everyone into, anyway?"
Terry shrugs. "I got a hold on some of his hairs during Potions, using some of my sneaky trickery."
"Always the sneaky trickery with you."
"Always. And I figured it would annoy him the most." I think of Draco Malfoy, so intent on being unique and special, so fiercely proud of being born as his own self.
"Definitely. But... shouldn't we be taking advantage of this chaos to go and celebrate my birthday somewhere?" I ask him, pulling him towards the stairs to the girls dormitories. Terry hesitates. "It's alright, I can piggy-back you up the stairs."
"That won't be necessary," he informs me. "We long figured out a way to trick those charms. Are you sure, though?"
"Well, where else are we going to go?" I tell him impatiently. While most of the Slytherins have been transformed into blond ferrets, the area around the exit wall is swarming with frantic students trying to sort out what has happened. Leaving would look rather suspicious, indeed. "Besides, you've never seen my dormitory before."
Terry nods, relenting, and I lead him up the stairs, which are deserted. "Are you ready for the grand unveiling?" I tease, lifting back his hood.
In response, he leans down to kiss me against the door of my dorm, body pressing against me with a certain urgency. I grin against him, not minding the hard surface of the door against my back or the rough cloth against my hands.
Finally, we break apart, just long enough for me to open the door of the dorm, fumbling, make sure that nobody else is there -because that would have been difficult to explain- and to fall together onto my four-poster, kissing furiously, his hands running up and down my sides as I pull him on top of me.
"Wait," I say, pulling away suddenly. "How exactly did you thwart the stairs into letting you climb up? Not that I’m complaining, of course."
Terry takes a deep breath, props himself up on his elbows and launches into a complicated and enthusiastic explanation involving an Absorbing Charm, house elves, the Restricted Section, the Bloody Baron and soaking his trainers in a Confunding and Deceit Potion, a combination of his own invention, and something about Peeves. I’m too busy kissing his neck to really pay attention.
We kiss for a while, and then we lie for a while, his hands curling tendrils of my hair around his fingers, tickling my belly until I scream, giggling, for mercy. We kiss, play-fighting, him toppling me as I try with all my strength to hold him down beneath me in the bed. Finally, tired from wrestling and kissing, we lie side by side, my head tucked into his shoulder, his arm around me, stroking my back softly, my legs tucked over his.
"I really liked the presents," I tell him. "I asked you to get me something useful, and you delivered."
"I'm glad," he replies, kissing the top of my head. "I really like you, by the way."
Bliss. "I like you too," I inform him, leaning up to nuzzle my face into his neck. He smells like soap and warmth. "In case you couldn't tell."
He twines our hands together. "I'm not sure what you see in me, really. Especially considering that I'm Mudblood."
We let the word hang in the air, and it is as if it echoes slightly, clinging onto these most Slytherin of walls, nestling its ugly syllables in my sheets.
"I can't explain it either," I tell him. "But I just feel this connection with you. You understand me in a strange way. You're so smart, and caring, and wise-I can't see any way not to be with you." I nuzzle into his collarbone to prove my point.
He looks up intently, with purpose. "Tor, you must promise me... if we break up, even if we fight, no matter what happens we must never tell anyone if it will harm the other person. Do you promise? Even if it's the worst of offences: we must continue to protect each other."
I feel a small tightening inside of me. "Why, are you planning on breaking up with me sometime soon? Are you only staying with me so that I won't expose you to our Slytherin cronies? Do you really think I'd do something like that?"
His eyes flashes, irritated. "This is dangerous for me as well, being with you. It's dangerous for both of us. What if some Death Eater Daddy of one of your friends decides to come and take revenge?"
He still doesn't know that my father is a Death Eater himself, I suddenly remember. I force my nerves to relax, and put on a calm, and what I hope sounds genuine, voice.
"Terry, even if I hated you, I would never sell you out. It would just be wrong."
"Wrong," he echoes, and tightens his grip around me. "I'm sorry," he says.
"Please, don't be. I know what a risk being with you is, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't worry about it, about what could happen to both of us. We'll just have to be careful, that's all."
"Careful, like hanging out in your shared dorm?" He says ruefully. Suddenly recalling where we are, I snap the curtains around my bed shut, and cast a quick Silencing charm in the directions of Amaris, Demetria and Griz's beds, empty though they may be for now.
"There. Although I'm not sure how we'll smuggle you out."
"I have some Polyjuice Potion left," he offers, "It will just look like Malfoy is creeping out of your dorm wearing a hooded robe, that's all."
I grin. "There are innumerable candidates for who Malfoy could be, at this point. Although, if you stay ‘til morning, all the Polyjuice Potion you poisoned them with will have worn off."
"So it'll just look like Malfoy is creeping around the girls’ dorms," Terry grins wickedly. I join in, picturing Pansy Parkinson's wrathful face if she found out.
"And what pandemonium that will cause."
That night we sleep, entwined, my breath rising as his falls. We both awake once, when Amaris comes back into the dorm calling for me, but I merely call sleepily that I'm already in bed and that I'll talk to her tomorrow, thank you very much. Terry chuckles as I groan and bury my head into his chest. We sleep, peaceful as children, warm and safe.
Early in the morning, Terry takes the Polyjuice Potion, just in case someone spies him leaving. He kisses me goodbye, as Draco, but through his touch and his taste I can see him for who he truly is. The body of Draco Malfoy turns at the door to the dorm, and winks at me, with a most Terry Boot-like look upon his face.
If he could just forever disguise himself as someone like Malfoy to the public eye, I think furiously to myself, beginning to slip back into the realm between daydreaming and sleep. Then we could be together, and nobody would ever know. Then I chide myself.
What a ridiculous idea.
A/N: I do not own: The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S Lewis), Great Expectations (Charles Dickens), Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), Macbeth (Billy Shakespeare), Frankenstein (Mary Shelley), Gandalf (JRR Tolkien), or Harry Potter (JK Rowling). Phew, that over with, please review!!! If you’ve stuck with the story this far you must have something to say, even if it’s just a “this still sucks,” or “Tor+Theo 4eva.” So please, scroll down to that lovely gray box and say it!! :D