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Chapter 2 : An Abundance of Darlenes
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Author’s Note: Because I didn’t mention this in Chapter One, I’ll do it now: As you can plainly tell, I am not J.K. Rowling, and I do not own this wonderful world that I like to play in. Speaking of things that I do not own, the chapter title, “An Abundance of Darlenes,” is a play on the book An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. As for what I own, well… Nope. Not a thing!
But I hope you enjoy this highly strange chapter, anyway!
“Just go in there and show her who’s boss,” Lysander chuckled gleefully, shoving his brother into the lion’s den.
The door slammed behind Lorcan with a bang. Wincing at the sound, he surveyed the empty classroom. It was a standard-issue, abandoned room, complete with moth-eaten books and decaying desks. The place stank of rotting, which, no doubt, was caused by the slow leak in one of the corners of the room. He shivered in disgust at the dismal conditions, but the mold on the walls was far from the worst of his problems.
In the very center of the room, ready to strike and kill, sat any man’s worst nightmare. Whether it was the piercing gaze or the sharp tongue that struck fear into the hearts of the bravest of souls, no one could tell. It was hypothesized that the red hair might have something to do with it.
Even now, in the gloomiest of lights, the shining mane glinted like a blinking caution sign. It was not auburn, nor orange, nor even a friendly ginger. No, it was red, like the red of stop signs, the red of warning labels, the red of blood…
Gulping, Lorcan backed up slowly until his back was against the (dirty, slimy) wall. How could he have let Lysander sign him up for such torture? What was he thinking?
The sinister figure chuckled, sending a chill of ice through Lorcan’s veins. “Don’t be afraid of me,” she said, but her words were far from reassuring. There was not a soul in the entirety of Hogwarts who was not afraid of such a menacing, evil, soulless… Girl.
Lorcan found that he suddenly could not speak, letting out a timid squeak in reply. In that fleeting moment, he cursed his cowardice, but at the same time, felt justified by it. After all, he wouldn’t have such a fear of women if the women around him weren’t so scary to begin with.
The girl’s creepy chuckle developed into a full witch’s cackle. At the rate things were going, she would give Lorcan a coronary before he could even say a word. “Lorcan Scamander. I have been waiting for you.”
“Wh-why have you been d-doing that?” Ah, his voice returned. He cringed at the pre-pubescent soprano pitches that he seemed to have acquired.
“Because,” she grinned. “You’ve been in need of my services.”
Lucy Weasley, cold-blooded Slytherin, rose from her rotting throne and stepped towards her timid client. “Yes, Lorcan. My services. Your brother—that bumbling Freudian—brought you here because he knew that you were beyond his help. Your dismal condition,” with this, she cackled again. “Is in need of more… Persuasive techniques than psychoanalysis could offer you.”
Lorcan’s breath caught in his throat. This could never end well. “Wh-what did you have in mind?” he queried, trying to sound calm.
Lucy saw through his weak façade. Taking a step closer, her eyes flashing dangerously, she tilted her head to one side. A cute move on a puppy, this action performed by a teenage girl was nothing short of terrifying. “We’re going to face your biggest fear,” One step closer, enough to scramble his internal organs. “And we’re going to face it…” Closing the distance between them, she sneered as he shrank away. “Head-on.”
Cornered by a rabid female for the second time in two days, Lorcan could not control his quivering chin and watery eyes (he refused to admit, however, that he was scared enough to cry). He was shivering like a defenseless house-elf confronted by a Dementor, but her breath on his skin felt like blasts of fire from the hottest furnaces of hell. So this is what it feels like, he thought wildly. Death by ginger, that’ll be one to write home about. If he still knew how to write when he was dead, of course.
Sensing his utter discomfort, Lucy backed away. Her eyes rolled in her head like a madwoman’s. “Lorcan Scamander,” she sighed dramatically. “I’m not usually this nice to my clients, but for you, I will make an exception. You see, my dear child, today we are going to rid you of all of your fears in the most effective way known to man. Today, you will be treated to the most intensive of therapies, the most late-breaking, cutting-edge concept that psychology has to offer. Today is the day that you will be the test subje—“
Summoning up as much courage as he could, Lorcan interrupted her spiel. “I thought you said that psychoanalysis couldn’t help me.”
“Ah, but I am no psychoanalyst,” Lucy said with a strong hint of disgust in her voice. “Those fools would not know science if it waltzed in, sat on the therapist’s couch, and starting talking about its problems. No, I am no psychoanalyst. I am a behaviorist. I care not for your feelings, I could care less about love, and your stupid prat of a brother should just give up on his whole emotions crusade. No, I am not here to be your friend, or even your mild acquaintance. I am here to condition you so that you might begin to behave like a sane person. That is the beauty of my work.” Her emphasis on every other word showed her utter disdain for all things that weren’t her own work, and she made it quite plain what her intentions were. She wanted results, and to her, Lorcan was nothing more than a particularly interesting test subject.
As she swooped over to an ancient trunk that rotted against the wall, he took a deep breath, glad to be free of her overwhelming presence, immediately regretting it as the smell of dungeon-rot assaulted his delicate nostrils. “So, what kind of therapy do you… employ?” His attempt to sound casual was positively futile.
Again, that laugh. “I am a pioneer,” she paused for dramatic effect while tapping the trunk with her wand. “Of flooding. Using boggarts. Momentarily, your senses will be assaulted by that which you fear most, and you will come to enjoy it.”
“H-how many times have you tried this?!”
“D-did it work?!”
“You’ll have to ask yourself that tomorrow. You are my guinea pig, after all.”
At the sound of her ominous words, the trunk began to rattle uncontrollably. Lorcan felt his knees go weak. His head, which already felt a bit woozy, was caught in a muddled whirlwind of disorganized thought. He slumped against the wall once more, but Lucy flicked her wand idly at him before he could black out.
“Rennervate! Oh, no you don’t! There’s someone who wants to meet you, and it would be in terribly bad form if you weren’t awake to say hello. Alohomora!”
And with that, the trunk was unlocked, the boggart unleashed, except it wasn’t like any boggart that Lorcan had ever come into contact with. A red high heel rose lazily from the trunk, followed by the slender, graceful leg to which it was attached. It was soon followed by its twin, so that two glittering stilettos hung over the side of the trunk. At this point, Lorcan was desperate to escape. He grabbed blindly for the door handle, rattling it wildly, but had no success. Locked doors have an uncanny way of not opening.
The boggart-that-was-not-a-boggart continued its (her?!) ascent from the depths of the trunk. She (it?!) was wearing a short, tight, red dress, almost exactly the color of his evil new therapist’s hair. Said therapist giggled in delight as the blonde, buxom woman-thing approached a pallid Lorcan.
“Hey, Lorcan,” the monstrous creature cooed. “I’ve been dying to meet you. Come say hi to Darlene, sugar, don’t be shy!”
“R-r-rrriddikulus!!” Lorcan stammered, waving his wand haphazardly. Darlene-the-red-clad-boggart-woman only advanced closer towards him.
Lucy sighed happily, not at all surprised by her client’s reaction. After all, she had only seen about fifty other Hogwarts students react in a similar manner when confronted with other types of flooding, the most inhumane type of conditioning known to man. She was enjoying herself immensely with this new experiment, not in the least bothered by Lorcan’s overwrought brand of hysteria. “Oh, Lorcan, you little poof. It’s not going to be that easy for you! In fact, now that you’ve met Darlene, I think it’s time for you to meet her sisters!”
“Wh-what?!” Lorcan shouted, edging along the wall in an attempt to escape Darlene’s embrace. “R-riddikulus!!! Why hasn’t she disappeared yet? I CAN’T HANDLE THIS, LUCY!”
Lucy smirked as Darlene grabbed Lorcan’s hand, pumping it up and down enthusiastically. “Silly boy. Darlene works for me. She can’t be vanquished by any petty spell of yours, especially when you stumble over your words so delightfully. But don’t worry. Darlene only wants to have a pleasant chat with you, that’s all. You see, she doesn’t bite.”
Darlene grinned widely. Lorcan gulped. His mother had always told him never to look a gift Blibbering Humdinger in the mouth, but in this particular case, he found the she-boggart’s teeth to be rather… Pointy. “Are you sure about that?”
“Why, Lorcan Scamander! I’m surprised at you!” Darlene exclaimed. “We’re only here to have a little fun! See, watch this!” And with that, Darlene multiplied. Lorcan was now surrounded by carbon copies of Darlene in different colored dresses and heels. As they grinned at him in delight, a swirling sea of pinks, greens, blues, yellows, and garish oranges, he heard Lucy’s laughter faintly in the background.
“THIS IS NOT FUNNY!” he screamed. “LUCY, GET THEM AWAY FROM ME!! OH MY WIZARD GOD, DARLENE, DON’T—“
But it was too late. One of the Darlenes in green had already put her arm around him, leading him into the midst of the large pack. “Now, honey, don’t you fret. We’re just women, after all. You’re not scared of a little old girl, are you?”
“N-n-no…” he choked out, staring into her lamp-like eyes. “B-but—“
“Oh, hush, you,” said an impatient pink Darlene. “You’ve got to meet the family! I’m Jean, and this is my sister Maybelline, and then that one in the yellow is Christine, and that’s Irma Constantine and…”
By the end of all of the introductions, Lorcan’s head was spinning. The sheer amount of females in the room was enough to drive him into a coma under normal circumstances, but now he found that he did not feel the need to faint as strongly as he had before. In fact, he had nearly forgotten that these vibrant creatures were not human and could possibly harm him if they were so inclined. Smiling dazedly, he tuned into the conversation that was all around him. The girls—all of whose names rhymed—were chattering happily to him about living as a family in the musty old trunk.
“It’s really more comfortable than you’d think,” Jillybean, dressed in orange, told him. “We’ve got a kitchen and a washroom and fourteen bedrooms. We’ve even got a pool out back. In fact, there’s actually more than enough room for one more…” As she trailed off, hollow eyes glinting, Lorcan happened to remember exactly what kind of a creature she and her sisters were, and that everything Jillybean had just told him was a lie. Even the most magical of wizards can’t fit an entire swimming pool into a boggart’s trunk!
Naturally, he freaked out, but tried to keep his shaking knees in check. He knew that if he didn’t get out of the room soon, he would probably wind up dead or at the very least, minus a few of his more important organs. Pushing defiantly through the crowd of girls, whose eyes now seemed to follow his every move, he fought his way over to where Lucy perched on her throne.
“Lucy! You’ve left me to the girls—boggarts for at least two hours! Isn’t that enough?!” he pleaded. Behind him, he felt the faux girls moving closer.
Lucy yawned in boredom. “Oh, of course it’s enough. You were cured of your gynophobia at least an hour ago.”
Lorcan gaped at her in disbelief. “Then how come I still feel scared of them?”
“It’s because these are boggarts, not real girls. They incite fear even when you shouldn’t feel scared. And they want to take you with them to live in their trunk. Isn’t that nice?” Lucy chuckled as hands grabbed Lorcan from behind. He struggled to shake them off as he glared at his therapist.
“How much is my brother paying you to torture me like this?”
“Oh, he’s not paying me,” Lucy grinned. “I told him that if he wouldn’t ask any questions, I’d give you therapy for free. You, dear boy, are no longer under his jurisdiction, and if I say that you’re going to visit the girls’ trunk, then you’re going to do it. Understood?”
With a rousing cry of joy at Lucy’s words, the girls pulled Lorcan over to the musty old trunk and shoved him inside. “Lorcan, you can massage our feet! You can give us manicures! You can cook and clean for us and braid our hair! Lorcan! Lorcan! Lorcan!”
The girls-that-were-not-really-girls continued to scream joyously, but Lorcan could not hear them, as he had fainted dead away.
The sun was shining brightly into the windows, reflecting off of the bleached white sheets. Lorcan opened his eyes only to have them be assaulted by the sight of so much light in one place. He was in the Hospital Wing for the second time that week, and it was again because of a dastardly female. Hearing him stir, Madame Coughlan poked her head out of her office reluctantly. Lorcan was interrupting her daily installment of The Life and Times of Harry Potter, a highly addicting and melodramatic soap opera based on the life of the Boy-Who-Lived and written by Rita Skeeter. Of course, it was all a pack of lies, which is why it got such high network ratings, and why middle-aged single women loved it so much.
“I’ll be out to take your blood pressure in just a moment!” she called impatiently. “I just need to finish up this, errr, paperwork!”
Lorcan, unfortunately, was in no mood to humor the vicarious whims of the school nurse. Mustering up all of his lung power, he boomed, “Forget blood pressure. WHERE is my brother?!”
Face coloring, the plump nurse snatched off her glasses to give him a matronly glare. “There’s absolutely no call to be rude, young sir! He left an hour ago, muttering about how he should’ve kept you on psychoanalytic therapy. Now, if you’ll excuse me for just one second…”
She slammed the door of her office, leaving Lorcan to wonder if a halfway pleasant member of the female species even existed. Having nothing better to do, he settled back under his covers to get some more rest, but was again thwarted by his renegade Freudian brother’s appearance in the doorway. The expression on Lysander’s face was similar to one that a small child would employ if told that he could have anything he wanted in Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.
“Lorcan!” Lysander squealed, running to jump on the hospital bed, only to land awkwardly on his invalid twin’s knees. “I’m so glad you’re all better!” He pulled Lorcan into a tight hug, ignoring the menacing growl that was rising from Lorcan’s throat.
“Get off me, you git!” Lorcan pushed Lysander off him so fiercely that the Hufflepuff rolled right off the bed. “Did you even KNOW what Lucy was going to do to me?!”
“Were you aware that I was physically assaulted by a boggart in the form of at least two dozen mindless women?”
“Well, Lucy told me that I couldn’t ask questions, but—“
“And so, you just threw me under the bus like that? Some twin you turned out to be!” Lorcan stuck his nose haughtily into the air, feeling righteous in his supreme anger towards his oddball brother.
Lysander picked himself up off the floor, smoothing his hair and straightening his tie. “Okay, Lorc. I’m really sorry that I did that to you, but Lucy said that it worked! Isn’t that awesome? Now you can go and sweep Cassiopeia off her feet like you should’ve done all along!”
The poor boy’s optimism only earned him another glare from his twin. “I am not interested in sweeping Cassiopeia off her feet,” he said indignantly. “I am only interested in sweeping the floor with her on the Gobstones board. That’s all that I’ve ever wanted to do. And after I win this match, trust me; I’m going to stay far away from the likes of her!”
Never one to be down for long, Lysander grinned goofily. “That’s the spirit, buddy! Now, come on. We’ve got to get you ready!”
For the first time since he had awakened, Lorcan was confused. “What do I need to get ready for?”
Lysander shook his head in mirth at Lorcan’s bemusement. “Lorc, you’ve been out for four days. The rematch is set to begin in…” Checking his watch, he grinned again. “An hour.”
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