Chapter 2 : The One in Which Pompous Percy Takes the Blame
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I muttered something incoherent and continued on with the Potions essay that Snape had set our N.E.W.T. class. Somehow, I'd gotten an O in Potions in our O.W.Ls and so he'd begrudgingly let me study in his NEWT class. I was the only Gryffindor among ten other students, four of which were scary-looking Slytherins and six of which were insanely brainy Ravenclaws. Being pretty much alone in Potions did have its benefits - I actually got some work done.
Marney, on the other hand, liked Divination, mostly because she could drink tea in class when they were using tea leaves and this triviality excited her far more than it should. I was much more inclined in the logical side of things and gladly let it go after my miserable P in O.W.Ls. All I'd ever done in those lessons was sleep or roll around crystal balls so that I could watch and laugh as Trelawney's face crumpled up in bewilderment as she stopped mid-sentence and had to chase after them.
Marney punched me on the arm. "Audrey! Come on, quit being boring with your homework!"
She pulled away the parchment from under my nose and stuffed it down her top (which was quite a feat, since it was about three feet long).
"Snape's gonna murder me," I grumbled, attempting to grab it back. "You know, Mar, maybe I just don't want to seduce Weasley."
"Audrey! You have to! The prefects have secrets and you need to find them out!"
"I'm okay going along with your little schemes for the most part, but this one's just sort of... ridiculous." She looked a little upset at this, blinking up at me with those large brown eyes of hers, and I bit my lip, trying to remember that of course her mental age wasn't on par with mine (not that either of our mental ages were particularly high). "Okay, Marney, I didn't mean that," I said, letting out a sigh. "What do you want me to do?"
She jumped up, suddenly excited. "You need to get into trouble!" she said. "You told me you wanted to wait for it to happen, but I think we should take action!"
"Um, okay," I said, trying (and failing) to jump on board the Marney-is-super-excited train. "Any ideas?"
"Well, I may or may not have done a deal with the biggest twin pranksters in the history of Hogwarts and got us some dung bombs..."
"You didn't?! Marney! But the Weasley twins are his brothers! What did you tell them that you needed them for?"
She shrugged. "Irrelevant. All that matters is that I have them."
"I swear to Merlin, if you just blabbed all of our plans to them - "
"IRRELEVANT!" She said it so loud that most of the common room went quiet and turned around to look at us.
After deliberating for a moment what to do, I smiled and shrugged in a 'Well, what can you do?' kind of way and eventually people turned back to whatever they were doing and the sounds of conversation and laughter started up again.
"That means you did tell them, doesn't it?!" I hissed. "We have no idea what they could do with that information!"
"Well, maybe that's some incentive for you to get off your backside and go plant those dungbombs somewhere," Marney said, a little smug. She'd probably told them just for that purpose, the little poo face.
Later that evening Marney and I crept down the girl's dormitory stairs into the common room. It was about half past ten, and from our research we knew that Pompous Percy would be patrolling the corridors around the Gryffindor tower before heading to bed at around eleven o'clock.
"Just go out there and drop the dung bombs. Make sure he sees you," Marney whispered.
I nodded. My robe pockets were so heavily filled with the bombs that by the end of the night I was going to be about two inches shorter because their weight was pulling me down so much. "See you soon," I murmured, climbing out of the portrait hole.
The corridors were dark, and I had to light up my wand to be able to see. Various portraits moaned and groaned as the brilliant beam of white light shone past them. Apart from the portraits, the only sound I could hear was the frantic beating of my heart.
And then there was the sound of footsteps.
"Nox," I muttered, holding my wand between my teeth as I emptied my pockets of dung bombs. The sound of footsteps continued to get closer and louder.
"Who's there?" I heard him call out. I had no qualms that it was him, because his voice sounded all posh and pompous-y. "It's past curfew!"
And then a light appeared from around the corner. It got more and more concentrated as his footsteps got closer, and then suddenly he was standing there, several feet away from me.
"What are you doing, Harold?" he asked. He was probably confused since I had my wand in my mouth. But then he caught sight of the dung bombs. "Are those... Are those dung bombs?"
"Yep," I said.
His face turned from one of bewilderment to one of anger.
I made a run for it.
I kept running and running until I could hardly breathe anymore and the light of his wand was long behind me. Reaching for my own wand, I realised that it wasn't in either of my pockets.
I must have dropped it when I spoke to him.
So now I was in some random corridor somewhere and I couldn't see a thing. Plus there was a spare dung bomb in my pocket that I guess I missed and it must have gone off because it smelt really bad.
I almost jumped out of my skin. Pompous Percy's call was quite far off, but at least he was looking for me. I pulled the dung bomb out of my pocket (yep, it had most definitely gone off) and then started walking back in the direction that I'd come.
"I'm here!" I yelled. There was a brief silence and then,
"That doesn't help!"
"I'm in a corridor!"
"That still doesn't help!"
I sighed. This really wasn't working.
"What do you think you're doing up at this time and yelling around the castle, Miss Harold?"
Oh, shit of all shits.
I turned on the spot to come face to face with Professor Snape, who had just lit up his wand and was glaring down at me like I was the spawn of Satan.
I bit my lip. "Um..."
"Oh, Harold, there you are - "
"Mr. Weasley, nice of you to join us."
I turned my head to see Pompous Percy standing there, looking quite ashamed of himself under Professor Snape's scrutinising gaze.
"Believe it or not, wandering around the castle at this time of night whilst yelling at the top of your lungs is not the wisest thing to do," the Professor said.
"Sir, it was my f - " I began, but then Pompous Percy interrupted me with something that still shocks and flabbergasts me to this day.
"It was my fault, Professor," he said. "I lost my wand and Harold was still up, so I asked her to help me find it."
Snape's gaze flickered between me and Weasley.
"So you knowingly and willingly let her out after curfew?"
Snape gave us both a look. I could tell he didn't believe a word that Percy had said.
"Detentions for you both. My office, tomorrow evening at 7 o'clock. Don't be late, or there will be consequences."
With a swish of his cloak, Snape disappeared into the darkness. I sagged with relief, and standing beside me, Pompous Percy lit up his wand. I turned to look at him.
"Why did you cover for me?" I demanded.
He handed me back my wand. "Get all those dung bombs cleaned up."
I followed him back up to the Gryffindor tower, cleaning up the dung bombs along the way. But no matter how much I questioned him, he didn't utter another word.
"Pompous Percy saved your arse?!" Marney whispered/exclaimed. "Why?!"
"I'm telling you, I don't know," I whispered back. We were sitting on my bed, the canopies drawn around us. "He was just silent the whole way back. What does it mean, Marney? What does it mean?"
"It can only mean one thing," she said. "He likes you, Aud."
I hit her on the arm. "That's not true. I mean, we hate each other. We're arch enemies."
"In your mind, maybe. But how do we know what's going on in his?"
The thought of Pompous Percy actually liking me made my throat close up a little. "Get some sleep, Marn," I said.
"He likes you!" she repeated, drawing open the canopies and jumping across to her bed.
"Shut up now."
"He likes you!" she sang.
I sent her the death glare, drawing my canopies closed with a sharp tug. He didn't like me.
I turned up to the detention about ten minutes late (which was practically miraculous for me, actually), careering into the classroom and knocking over a stack of cauldrons just inside the doorway as I did so. The death glare that Snape sent me made me tremble slightly despite my Gryffindor courage, and I quickly stacked them back up whilst he and Percy watched me.
"You will be extracting pus from these bubotubers," he said silkily, not getting up from his desk but instead staring pointedly across at the two massive bubotubers sitting upon desks. They looked like giant, squirming slugs and I put my hand to my mouth, feeling somewhat nauseous. "Get a move on," he hissed, shooing me away with his hands. I hurriedly complied, stumbling over to the desk next to Percy's and examining the big, heaving plant with disgust.
Looking across at Pompous Percy and watching what he was doing to extract the pus for a couple of moments, I got a bowl for myself and gingerly prodded one of the odd-looking boils with the tip of my finger. It squidged under my touch and I squirmed in my seat, wishing I'd never been out after curfew in the first place (or at least not been caught for it). Taking a deep breath, I prodded the boil even harder and winced as it flowed around my finger and down into the awaiting bowl. It was only once the boil was fully drained and I was moving onto the next one that a strange, horrible burning sensation started up on the skin of my finger. Crying out in pain, I clutched my hand to my chest.
"Why aren't you wearing gloves, silly girl?!" Snape exclaimed, actually rising from his seat to come and have a look. "Bubotuber pus is harmful, don't you know that?" I didn't reply, looking down at the plant wordlessly. Now that I thought about it, Percy was wearing gloves. At least one of us knew what they were doing. "Put some gloves on and continue."
"But, sir - " I began desperately, sure that I couldn't work with my finger burning like this, but the professor cut me off with another one of his deathly glares. Sentenced to silence, I pulled on the gloves, wincing at the contact of the rough fabric with my burning skin. Sitting back down, I glanced across at Pompous Percy, eyeing him with contempt. "Why didn't you tell me?" I hissed, shooting a glance at Snape, who was thankfully ignoring us, before looking back to Percy. "You must have seen me not wearing gloves!"
He shrugged, eyes flashing up to meet mine briefly before looking back down at his bubotuber as he artfully squeezed another boil. "We learnt about bubotuber pus in fourth year. I assumed you knew what you were getting into."
I laughed harshly, rolling my eyes. "As if, Weasley! Who in their right mind would do what I just did if they know what that pus does?!"
He sent me a sideways look, shrugging again. His face was impassive, showing nothing, but a small smirk curved at his lips as he spoke. "Well, we all know that you're not always in your right mind, Audrey."
I gasped slightly, wishing to God that I could reach out and slap him. But something about the way he'd said my first name (and that was something he never did) had left me feeling flustered and speechless. I could do nothing but let my hands flap around pathetically in my lap as I tried to think of something to say or do that wouldn't sound or look stupid.
He just shook his head, smiling oddly. "I'd make sure to go to Madam Pomfrey about that burn, if I were you." He didn't say another word to me for the rest of the detention. But I did do as he said, going to the hospital wing after Snape had dismissed us. She gave me some ointment which noticeably reduced the redness and the burning sensation. Maybe he was sometimes useless and practically always annoying, but he did know his stuff.