Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Chapter 5: Witches, Wizards, Magical Beasts, Goblins, Ghosts and Magical Feasts

I love Cornish pasties. I always have, and always will.
I am in love with this Cornish pasty.” I announced to the Ravenclaw table. Every single person on it ignored me. “I want to marry this Cornish pasty.” Ari gave me a look that clearly told me to shut up, but I never pay any attention to those looks. I see them as a challenge; how far can I push her before she confiscates my profiteroles again? “I want to have little pasty babies with this Cornish pasty.”
“Yes Miss Gardenia?”
“Please be quiet now.”
“Of course Miss Gardenia.” I sat and twiddled my thumbs for a minute, contemplating how much trouble I would get into if I broke into the kitchens and create a profiterole pasty. I concluded it would taste absolutely fabulous and that I would probably get a week’s worth of detentions, but that it would so be worth it. The new fish had been sorted into their houses now, so the important part of the feast was over now. It was the only entertaining part; Ari and I played a little game we liked to call “Dork, Dweeb, Hufflepuff”, where we judged the dorkiness of the new students. You can guess which end of the spectrum Hufflepuff was on.
And speaking of Ari, I was on a mission to irritate her. I had to get revenge somehow for the whole ball debacle.  
I searched through my robes, magically altered to contain many hidden pockets with TARDIS-like proportions, until I found a quill, some ink and a piece of parchment. Scribbling down a quick message, I blew on the ink until it was dry and then waved it in front of her face. She grabbed it, scanned it, scrunched it up into a ball and threw it at me.
I have named the pasty Severus.
“Really Gwen?”
I nodded.
“That’s it. I forbid you to communicate with anyone in any way at all.”  
I widened my eyes, trying to make myself look as innocent as possible, and fixed my gaze on Ari. She shifted uncomfortably, but determinedly ignored me. I gave her ten minutes.
After six minutes she kept glancing nervously my way.
Eight minutes and her eye started to twitch.
Ten minutes. She was holding out incredibly well. It seemed that her willpower was stronger than my attention span was long, so I changed tack.
“Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me!” This sudden outburst of song attracted some attention from people sat nearby. I’d always thought that life would be so much better if it was one giant musical, but Hogwarts was no East High. “We're rascals and scoundrels, we're villians and knaves. Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.” Some Slytherins at the next table looked up and snickered. I imagined I was frying their brains with the Force. Something about the look in my eyes made them look away nervously, so while (unfortunately) no brain frying actually happened, it was a rather successful gesture. “We're devils and black sheep, we're really bad eggs.”
Ari continued to ignore me, but she looked slightly bemused.
 “Yo…ho…yo…ho…a pirate’s life for me.”
“I thought I said ‘no communicating’.” Ari turned to a timid second year next to her. “I did say that, didn’t I?”
I wasn’t allowed to communicate, so I mouthed random words and gestured wildly.
“I give you permission to speak.”
“Don’t drag the poor firstie into it!”
“I’m a second year…”
“Don’t care. You’re short, so you’re a firstie. And anyway, singing isn’t technically communicating.”
“Is too!  You can sing words.”
“That is generally what you sing.”
“No, I mean…like…” She turned to the firstie-who-wasn’t-a-firstie.  “Like this! Please can you pass me the sweetcorn?
I blinked. “What tune was that? And what did I say about dragging the firstie into it?”
“I’m not a firstie.”
“Are too.”
“Am not.”
“Are too.”
“Am not.”
“Are too.”
“Don’t encourage her. And my singing skills aren’t up for discussion. You get the idea!”
“I get what you mean, but I’m going to have to say that you are incredibly, unbelievably, exceedingly, amazingly, extraordinarily, exceptionally, really, really incorrect.”
Ari blinked. “Are you hiding a thesaurus under the table?”
“Don’t be silly. I don’t own a thesaurus. I do, however, own a book that tells you different words you can say instead of a word.” I could tell Ari was about to correct me, but I cut across her and turned to Firstie. “Hey, Firstie, who do you think is right?”
“What happened to not getting the firstie involved?”
“Can it Gardenia! I’m talking to Firstie.”
Ari gasped. “You did not just Last Name me!”
“I did Gardenia, and I will do it again if you don’t stop interrupting Firstie.”
“That is not my name!” Firstie scowled.
“It’s called a nickname dear. Deal with it and answer the question.” I was losing my patience. I don’t think it had ever taken this long for me to win an argument.
“I agree with that girl,” he said, pointing at a smug Ari. “because she doesn’t call me Firstie.”
“Thank you Firstie!” Ari exclaimed, clapping her hands. Scowling, Firstie grabbed his plate and moved to a free space far away at the end of the table.
“Such a nice boy.”
“I won the argument! This is a historic event!” Ari was extatic. “Gwen McKee lost an argument!” she squealed.
“Ah-ah-ah! Technically not.”
“Huh? But Firstie agreed with me!” she pouted. “Don’t ruin this for me McKee.”
“Yes, but only because he was biased.” I pointed out. “And you’re not allowed to Last Name me. That right is specifically reserved for me, teachers and my mother.”
“He was biased because you were mean to him. And that’s completely unfair!”
“I wasn’t being mean. I was being extremely nice to him. I even gave him a nickname. He should be honoured by my attention. And the world’s not fair dearie, get used to it.”
“I would hardly call naming him ‘Firstie’ nice. And did you just call me ‘dearie’?”
“What? He’s short! It’s the perfect name!” I indicated his height from the floor with my hand. I may have under-judged it a little, as he ended up being about the size of a leprechaun. “And yes, yes I did.”
“You’re not supposed to point it out though! That’s just mean. And why do we keep starting sentences with ‘and’?”
“Yes you are; just look at the seven dwarves. And it’s because we’re multi-talented mangoes who can have two conversations at the same time.” I glanced at my watch. “Oh snickerdoodles, I’m late!” And with that I slid under the table.
“What on earth is a snickerdoodle? What are you late for? Where are you going?” She let out a shriek as I grabbed her ankle and tugged. After a bit of a struggle, she soon joined me under the table. “Gwen, if this is part of one of your hair-brained schemes-”
I clapped a hand over her mouth. “Shhh…the headmaster is talking.” I whispered, starting to crawl along the floor.
Ari sighed and was about to pop back up into her seat, but I grabbed some of her hair and dragged her along behind me.
“Owowowowowowowowow!” she whispered, which rather defeated the point of her saying ow.
“Well, now that we are all digesting another magnificent feast, I beg a few moments of your attention for the usual start-of-term notices,” Dumbledore said, starting his usual start-of-year ramble. “First-years ought to know that the Forest in the grounds is out-of-bounds to students - and a few of our older students ought to know by now, too.” This warning was given every year, and every year I ignored it. The Forbidden Forest was just too fun to stay away from.
Some inconsiderate falafel had his legs stretched out across in front of us so we couldn’t get past. This was soon sorted out by a swift bite on the ankle. Leaving him to flail and try and catch the imaginary gnome he seemed to think was responsible, I continued on my journey. It felt rather like I was on a quest, and my Holy Grail was at the end of the Ravenclaw table.
“Ludicrous fool! Is that imbecile not aware that these creatures known as gnomes only make their homes outside the hallowed halls of this school?”
“Ludicrous…Gwen, why are you talking like you belong in the fifteenth century?”
“Yay verily, thou hast discovered my ruse. Thou shalt rue the day thou ever crossed thine blade with the Black Knight!”
“What? Just…what?”
“Fear not, m’lady, and hurry forth, for the end of our quest is near!”
I think Ari gave up trying to understand what I was saying after ‘verily’.
“Mr Filch, the caretaker, has asked me, for what he tells me is the four-hundred-and-sixty-second time, to remind you all that magic is not permitted in corridors between classes, nor are a number of other things, all of which can be checked on the extensive list now fastened to Mr Filch's office door.” I owned at least one of nearly everything on this list. I wasn’t Flich’s favourite student in the world after I managed to blow up a suit of armour last year, but I figured I’d just have to live with that, as much as it pained me to.
“We have had two changes in staffing this year. We are very pleased to welcome back Professor Grubbly-Plank, who will be taking Care of Magical Creatures lessons; we are also delighted to introduce Professor Umbridge, our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.”
We finally reached the end of the table where the house ghost was floating around.
“Pssst! Grey Lady! Pssst!”
The House Ghost turned around, looking for the source of the voice. Unable to find anything, she gave up. Eventually I was forced to stick my arm out through her ghostly skirts. It felt cold and actually slightly dirty, but not in the muddy sense.
“Guinevere?” I shuddered slightly at the ghost’s use of my full name, but this chick was from the 16th century or something, so I forgave her.
“It’s time. Tell the others.”
The Grey Lady nodded and sank slowly into the floor. One by one the other ghosts followed suit. I hurriedly crawled back to my seat, Ari following in a state of complete confusion. She looked adorable when she was confused, so I decided to keep her in the dark a little while longer. Sliding up into my seat I noted that no-one had noticed my absence. I concluded that I was a ninja and sat happily in a little ninja daze until it was time for the surprise.
“Tryouts for the house Quidditch teams will take place on the-”
I already had the wearing black down, so I dressed like a ninja.
“Thank you Headmaster, for those kind words of welcome.” a simpering voice replaced Dumbledore’s, but I was too busy debating how amazing I would be as a ninja.
Although ninjas never actually wore black; dark blue was as dark as they got.
“Well, it is lovely to be back at Hogwarts, I must say! And to see such happy little faces looking up at me.”
Maybe my dress sense was more befitting a funeral director.
“I am very much looking forward to getting to know you all and I'm sure we'll be very good friends!”
Or replacing Steve Jobs.
“The Ministry of Magic has always considered the education of young witches and wizards to be of vital importance. The rare gifts with which you were born may come to nothing if not nurtured and honed by careful instruction. The ancient skills unique to the wizarding community must be passed down the generations lest we lose them for ever. The treasure trove of magical knowledge amassed by our ancestors must be guarded, replenished and polished by those who have been called to the noble profession of teaching.”
Or a Death Eater…
“Every headmaster and headmistress of Hogwarts has brought something new to the weighty task of governing this historic school, and that is as it should be, for without progress there will be stagnation and decay. There again, progress for progress's sake must be discouraged, for our tried and tested traditions often require no tinkering. A balance, then, between old and new, between permanence and change, between tradition and innovation . . .”
Maybe my first victim could be the source of the irritatingly high pitched voice now talking.
 “. . . because some changes will be for the better, while others will come, in the fullness of time, to be recognised as errors of judgement. Meanwhile, some old habits will be retained, and rightly so, whereas others, outmoded and outworn, must be abandoned. Let us move forward, then, into a new era of openness, effectiveness and accountability, intent on preserving what ought to be preserved, perfecting what needs to be perfected, and pruning wherever we find practices that ought to be prohibited.”
She could also be my first customer as a funeral director!
My train (choo choo!) of thought was interrupted by a stream of ghostly bodies bursting forth from the floor like a fountain. The students nearby screamed, but I clapped my hands with glee and did my best impression of an evil two year old on LSD. The ghosts swooped down in and arrow head formation and took their places several feet above the tables. The Fat Friar grinned down at me and I drew my wand, finally getting to perform the piece of magic I’d been practicing all holiday; I turned my plate into a CD player. Beaming like I’d just pooped a rainbow, I pressed play.
Change your mind
Like a girl
Changes clothes
“Gwen! What are you doing?” Ari protested, but I just excreted more imaginary rainbows as the ghosts launched into the dance routine I’d spent so many hours imagining.
Yeah you
Like a-
“GUINEVERE MCKEE!” my Sevvy-poo bellowed, sweeping down the Great Hall dramatically.
And you
Always speak
I should know
That you’re no good for me!
Snape reached our table just as we reached the chorus and grabbed me by the collar, hauling me to my feet.
“Miss McKee.” He hissed. “I had a feeling you would be up to something this year, though I never imagined that you would dare-”
“OOOOH! WATCH THIS! THIS IS THE BEST BIT!” I squealed. The sight of the Bloody Baron dancing to Katy Perry was just too good to miss, even if it was for Snookums Snape.
‘Cos you’re hot then you’re cold
“Miss McKee!”
You’re yes then you’re no
“I demand you stop this foolishness. Right. Now.
You’re in then you’re out
I glanced at Ari, who was sat agape at the sight of Nearly Headless Nick doing the splits, caught her eye and winked.
You’re up then you’re down
Luckily, my telepathic powers proved true and she understood, reached over and surreptitiously turned up the music.
You’re wrong when it’s right
“MISS MCKEE!” Snape was having to bellow to be heard now. “TURN THIS MUSIC OFF THIS INSTANT!”
It’s black and it’s white
I glanced over at Dumbledore. He was having a whale of a time, clapping along and…singing? I wasn’t sure whether I should be worried that he knew the words or just accept it.
We fight
We break up
The Fat Friar did a cartwheel past us down the aisle.
We kiss
We make up
Snape pulled out his wand and blew the CD player into dust. The ghosts looked a little confused; they’d just been forming an ex-human pyramid and didn’t appreciate the loss of music. They floated away, grumbling among themselves.
I felt my collar being tugged as I was dragged out of the haul by an extremely furious and extremely attractive Professor Snape. I loved it when he was angry. He smouldered when he was angry.
I was hauled into his office, which had become even more like home to me over the years than the Ravenclaw common room, and shoved into a chair. The Professor paced, muttering words like “outrageous”, “complete disregard for the rules” and “cartwheels”. I felt left out of the muttering, so I began whispering to myself phrases like “spontaneous combustion”, “hamburger” and “Chinese water torture”.
It was in this situation that we were found by Professor Dumbledore and Professor Flitwick. I noticed that Dumbledore was still humming, which bode well for me. Unfortunately he was then followed by what looked like a blob of pink on legs, which took its position in the corner of the room to observe. I’d been too excited about the dance routine to take much notice of her, but Ari later told me she was Dolores Umbridge, the new DADA teacher, and she was from the Ministry of Magic. She looked highly disapproving, but from what I’d seen of her so far that seemed to be her general facial expression.
“Headmaster! This girl needs to be punished; she has disrespected some of the most important traditions of Hogwarts-”
“My dear Severus.” Dumbledore smiled. “I do believe that this is simply down to high spirits at the beginning of the year. And what’s wrong with a little song? Music is one of the greatest forms of magic.”
“Professor Dumbledore sir?” I piped up. “I organised this with the ghosts last year. I gave them the music and told them to choreograph the routine over the holidays. I heard the Fat Friar complaining about how bored they got over the holidays, all alone in the castle, see, and I felt so sorry for them I had to do something.”
“See Severus? Miss McKee here was simply keeping our ghosts entertained. That’s no mean feat either; I do believe I saw even Peeves joining in. That is quite an achievement. I think this young lady ought to be rewarded, not punished. Twenty points to Ravenclaw!”
Snape did an accurate impression of a goldfish. An extremely attractive goldfish.
“You see, she has succeeded in not only providing entertainment for our ghost, but also for the entire school. That has certainly started the school year in high spirits, do you not agree Filius?”
“Oh yes!” Flitwick squeaked. “In fact, it has got me thinking; I really ought to teach our school choir more muggle music! Would you mind writing down the name of the song the ghosts were dancing too Miss McKee?” I nodded and scribbled down the song on a piece of parchment I found in my pocket.
“Now Miss McKee, you’d better make your way to your common room. And thank you.” Dumbledore smiled and swept out of the office, followed by Flitwick and the pink blob.
The blob gave me what was supposed to be a fierce look, but looked more like she was slightly constipated.
It looked like I’d made a new friend.

What delights does the next morning hold for Ari and Gwen? Will Firstie ever be rid of his new nickname? (Hint: no.) What on earth is a snickerdoodle? Find out all this and more in the next instalment of…Two Girls, One Snail!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Chapter 4: Just Because You Have the Emotional Range of a Teaspoon(pot) Doesn't Mean We All Do!

Ok. Let me get one thing straight here- Draco Malfoy is a twat. An idiot. An imbecile. A juvenile delinquent. A miscreant. A bumbling fool. A pompous, self-centred jerk with no regard for anyone but himself. But, the thing is, I think someone like Gwen could sort him out- y’know. Level him off a bit. I mean, she’s a little bit crazy and rebellious, sure. But Draco might dig that.

Well I don’t know.

I don’t try and get inside Draco Malfoy’s head.


Anyhoo, the remainder of the train journey was amusing, to say the least- Fred and Georgeʼs plots to destroy Malfoy were so unbelievably hilarious that it was a struggle to stay on my seat. I was almost disappointed when the train pulled into Hogwarts... But I did say almost- because at Hogwarts things could only get better. Or so I thought, until I heard Gwen practically yelling, "Where's Phyllis?" and I felt a strange wet substance on my forehead. The source of the strange wet substance, inevitably, was Phyllis. And by inevitably, I mean completely evitably.
“Gotcha,” said Fred as he plucked the snail from my forehead, “whoʼs a good little snail?”
“MINE!” Gwen grabbed Phyllis, “Bad Fred! You should not touch other peopleʼs snails. Especially not mine. Hmph.”
I wiped the snail goo onto my finger, and held it to the light. Inside, swirled a spectrum of colours, glistening and shining. Pausing for a moment, I dripped the rest into a small glass phial, thinking it could come in use later perhaps.
“And whatcha doing there, now Ari?” Gwen watched me stuff the phial back into my bag, “always the one for experimenting, werenʼt you? No wonder Snape likes you so much. And by you, I do mean me. Because Iʼm awesome. And we always get the potions right.”
“We?” I looked at her, slightly bemused.
“Yes. We.” I didnʼt dare argue with her, partially because of the stern look on her face, but mainly because of the fact that she had a giant poisonous snail sat on her head, itʼs antennae looking around, as if it were inspecting us to see if we were worthy of itʼs presence and whether we were to live or die. I glanced at George, who was straightening his tie nervously whilst glancing at Phyllis, before trying to stuff the newly wrapped sweets into his bag.

Despite those sweets falling onto the platform beforehand, the carriage ride to Hogwarts was, as usual, thoroughly enjoyable. Coming back to Hogwarts is always a wonderful thing for me, and I’m not quite sure what it is. Perhaps it’s the people, the classes, the atmosphere, the scenery, the building, or a mixture of them all. All I know is that I love it- it’s like having Christmas before Christmas. There were a few sad faces, of course, as this was the first year starting without Cedric Diggory, the Hufflepuff who’d passed away last year in the Tri-Wizard tournament.
"Whatever. He was a pretentious twazzock," were Gwen's sentiments on the matter. However, the poor child never had a thing for timing, since Cho Chang promptly burst into tears as she was ascending the steps to our carriage. I reached out and helped her onto the velvet seats, proceeding then to comfort her. Gwen muttered a quick sorry, and the mood in our carriage soon cleared, aside from the odd sniffle from Cho within the first few minutes. I pulled out my cup and teapot (a birthday present from Gwen, it magically refilled itself with some gorgeous tasting tea) and poured everyone some tea. Gwen immediately threw hers out of the carriage, onto the ground and presented me with her empty teacup, ordering me to fill it up again.
“What happened to the rest of your tea?”
“I drank it.”
“No you didn’t!”
“I did.”
“I won’t fill it up.”
“Ahem. Do you see any tea? I am out of tea, Ari!”
“You will not waste my tea!”
“It doesn’t count as wasteful if you have an unlimited supply!”
“Yes it does!”
“No, it does not!”
“Does anyone come to any harm in the pouring of my tea?”
“Really, who?”
“The teapot.”
“That does not count.”
“Yes it does, teapots are people too.”
Gwen glared at me, with that unnerving glare or hers. I was fairly sure it could melt any substance on earth, if she glared at it hard enough. I would try with chocolate, but I doubt I could get her to glare at chocolate for long enough before she ate it. Last Christmas, I gave her a gigantic chocolate penguin that I’d constructed with the help of Dobby, the house elf. It stood at 20 feet tall, and we’d had to keep it wrapped up in the Forbidden (or not so, for the likes of us) Forest to stop it being found. She ate it within a couple of hours.

Our little carriage trundled along, and very soon Hogwarts was in sight, looking at us in a skeptical fashion, as though it was wondering why we’d come back, after last year. But, yes, it was pleased with us. And yes, I do realise that you may think that castles cannot express emotion, being objects. But I believe you’ve forgotten that this is Hogwarts, magic doesn’t stay inside the classrooms. I don’t think I can express my love for my school enough. Cho and Gwen, unfortunately, were not so positive.
“Welcome to one of the most terrifying years of your life!” Gwen looked at me mischievously, as though she was challenging me to respond, “I hope you enjoy your next 3 years in Hell.”
“I hate to admit it, but she’s right. O.W.L.s… Not looking forward to this year at all,” Cho sighed.
“I know, right,” Gwen smiled at her new partner in crime, and pulled out her stupid book and started reading it, holding the atrocity just out of my reach. Anything to spite me.
“What are you reading,” Cho looked at Gwen, wide-eyed.
“You don’t want to know, Cho,” I said, trying to protect her innocence.
“It’s this story where-”
“Seriously. You don’t want to know.”
“There are these-”
“Gwen. Shut up. She doesn’t want to know.”
“Actually,” Cho shot me a look, “I do want to know.”
“It’s a filthy piece of muggle literature, ok?” I snapped. So this was how Gwen would play it? Well, I had a few tricks up my own sleeve.
“Cho,” I turned to her smiling, “do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Well, don’t you think that Gwen and Draco make a really cute couple?”
Gwen looked up from her book, expressionless.
“Because,” I continued, “Gwen has this massive crush on him, and I think that she should just go for it, and ask him out, but she won’t listen to me! So, I think a second opinion, especially from someone as awesome as you, would help her loads!”
“Omigod,” Cho prattled, “YES! You guys would look SO cute together! Gwen, you should definitely ask him out! I’d say the Yule Ball, but of course we don’t have a ball this year… Unless, we organise one! What do you say guys? Lets organise a ball… We could have it in Hogsmeade! It would be so much fun!”
Gwen looked so unimpressed that I almost felt like stopping. But I didn’t. “Yes! All three of us could do it!”
“I don’t think I can,” Gwen said, in a mock-sadness.
“Aw, why?”
“I will be cleaning my china cat collection.”
“You don’t have a china cat collection.”
“I do now. And I will clean it. Every day. For the rest of my life.”
“Aw, but you know that one of the house elves would be happy to help you! In fact, even better! We could get Draco to help you. It would be a fantastic bonding exercise!”
“Ari. No.”
“But yes, Gwen!”
She looked at Cho and I sulkily, before muttering, “Fine, I will help you with your stupid ball idea.”
“YES!” we shared a high five, and before we knew it, the gates of Hogwarts were upon us.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Chapter 3: Did Someone Say Draco Malfoy?


“Hey there little Phyllis! Who’s a good little Phyllis? You are! Yes you are!”
“Who’s a weird little goth girl? You are! Yes you are!”
I glared at Fred, who was sat with George wrapping up toffees in bright purple wrappers, then turned to Ari.
“Why are they even here?”
“Because the rest of the train was full,” she sighed “and because they said they’d help look after the snail-”
“-but someone is a being as obvious as humanly possible about said snail-”
“Phyllis.” I corrected.
“Said Phyllis, when it’s supposed to be a secret.”
“Incorrect.” George dropped another toffee onto the pile. “She could be more obvious by hiring a brass band to play a specially written piece called ‘Look! It’s a Poisonous Snail!’-”
“Named Phyllis.”
“-and painting a giant sign with huge red arrows pointing to it.”
“Then, when everyone comes to see what all the fuss is about, she could let off streamers and shout ‘Welcome to my Secret Snail Party!’” Fred added.
I snorted contemptuously.
“That’s stupid. Who has Snail Parties?” I scooped Phyllis up and slid him back into his jar. I’d managed to create a nice pocket in my bag for him among my socks.
Fred and George looked at each other, nodded, then chucked one of their sweets at my head.
“Try one of those. Toffees; made ‘em ourselves.” I ducked, caught the sweet, then sent it sailing back across the carriage.
“No ta. I heard all about you and Potter’s cousin.”
Fred opened his mouth to ask just how I knew about that when Ari interrupted.
“Don’t ask. She knows way too much for her own good.”
“I have my sources.” I slipped into a seat next to Ari and pulled a heavy book out of bag. Flipping to the page I’d marked, I curled my feet up underneath me and leant against the wall to get comfy. Ari nudged me until I showed her the cover. She pulled a face and shuffled away from me.
“What is it?” George leant forwards and stole the book from my hands, making me lose my place. “The Monk, by Matthew Gregory Lewis.” He looked at Fred, who shrugged.
“Means nothing to me.”
Ari cringed. “Put it down! It’s disgusting!”
“What’s wrong with it?”
“Nothing!” I sighed, snatching it back. “It’s a respected work of Gothic literature!”
“It’s filth; that’s what it is!” She grimaced when I opened it again.
“What’s it about?” Fred asked. Ari protested, but I grinned and leant forwards.
“Right. There’s this monk, Ambrosio, and he finds out that one of his pupil monks is actually a woman, Matilda. She seduces him, and then uses magic to help him seduce this other girl, Antonia. He steals into her chamber and-”
“Enough!” Ari grabbed the book and stuffed it back into my bag. “I don’t want to hear about this!”
“Prude.” I pouted. “Now I have nothing to read.”
“Well then. You’ll just have to be sociable and talk to us.”
“No way.” I curled up against the wall and glared at the twins. “I don’t do sociable.” I had been the kind of kid who would build forts out of cushions and wouldn’t come out for days. I would have to be coaxed out by promises of profiteroles. But my roommates at Hogwarts weren’t particularly impressed by my extremely intricate fort designs, especially when I stole their pillows to build the walls.
“I’ve noticed.” Fred went back to wrapping toffees, George stared at the book, debating on whether to try and steal it or not, and Ari sat there and stared at me, trying to force me to say something.
An awkward silence fell upon the compartment with a heavy thud. Then it had awkward babies. These awkward babies perched upon each of our heads, reminding us that this entire situation was extremely awkward and that if no-one did anything about it then it would just get even more awkward and that eventually the build-up of awkwardness would cause us to explode one by one, in a very awkward manner.
I knew that it would fall to me to do something about the awkwardness, but I really couldn’t be bothered. So I decided to leave and let the others sort it out. Maybe by the time I got back the awkward babies would have grown up and left home to get degrees and find jobs, and then maybe we could invite them all back for Christmas and have a nice party with paper hats and cake.
“Well.” I said, standing up and smiling at them. “Not that this isn’t fun, which it isn’t, but this is all extremely awkward turtles, so I’m going to the loo.” I skipped to the door and slid it open.
“But there are no loos on the train.” George frowned.
“Oh, I know.”

The luggage compartment was grey. That was all you could say about it. It was one giant compartment of greyness. I had considered snooping through some peoples’ bags, but then I realised that I might find some things that would mentally scar me for life. There may be some good blackmail material, but I really don’t want to find out what Draco Malfoy’s underpants look like.
And speak of the ferret…
“Krum and that Mudblood Granger last year…simply outrageous. I thought that at Durmstrung they were taught the importance of blood purity, but I suppose there’s always one who ends up a blood traitor, like Potter or the Weasel.”
His voice was right outside the door. I cursed silently, trying to harness my mystical powers of telepathy, willing him to leave. I hated people in general, but there was something about Ferret Boy that really, really irked me.
We were often forced into close proximity at my mother’s ridiculous gatherings, so I tried to avoid him like cholera at school to make up for lost non-Draco time. Our parents seemed to think that we would make a very good match, what with our families’ obsessions with keeping our bloodline ‘Pure’. I, however, had other ideas, which generally included turning him into a small rodent and feeding him to a large snake. Mad-Eye Moody (or whichever crazy he turned out to be) turning him into a ferret last year just provided me with more material for my fantasies.
“I didn’t think it would be Krum though; he was Karkaroff’s pet. You would think he would know better.”
A number of hexes ran through my mind, but none of them were good enough for Blondie.
“And with the chipmunk too!” shrieked the unmistakable voice of Pansy Parkinson. If it were physically possible for anyone to annoy me more than Malfoy himself, it was her. There was just something about her voice…it made me want to strangle something. Preferably her.
“Quite. Miss Know-It-All Granger. Still, now the Dark Lord’s back, I don’t suppose we’ll have to put up with Muggle-born filth like her for much longer.”
So the Ferret believed that You-Know-Who (possibly the most ridiculous and least threatening name for a dark wizard ever. It sounded like a bad knock knock joke. Knock knock. Who’s there? You Know. You-Know-Who? Exactly. Avada Kedavra!) was back. That didn’t surprise me. What did was that he had managed to go an entire conversation without uttering the words ‘My father’.
“My father says that Hogwarts will be the first place to be rid of Mudbloods and Blood Traitors.”
I spoke too soon. I thought, smiling to myself. Cracking the door open slightly, I saw that Malfoy was leaning against door of the compartment closest to me. I checked my watch; we would be arriving at Hogsmede station shortly, and my robes were on the other side of the train. I supposed I’d just have to grin and bear it. I yanked the door open and strode out past the Slytherin compartment.
“Look who it is.” The sneering voice rang out behind me and I stopped dead, clenching my fists. “McKee, what a surprise to see you being peculiar as usual. I’m not even going to ask why you were in there; I’m sure your reason will be too complex for us mere sane people to comprehend.”
“It’s nice to see that you haven’t changed at all Malfoy. I missed your stupid snarky responses; they make me feel so even smarter.”
If I could make it out of this alive, I could start planning Blondie's demise with Ari as soon as I got back to our compartment. Maybe Gred and Feorge could make themselves useful too…
“I was trying to be polite, but I suppose I shan’t bother now. It’s good manners though. Maybe you should try it some time.”
“I have perfectly adequate manners, I just don’t see the point in wasting them on a ferret.”  A vein pulsed in Malfoy’s forehead. I smirked and shot out my next remark. “Moody turned out to be a Death Eater, didn’t he? How does it feel knowing even ‘your people’ hate you? How d’you think Voldy’s going to like you, eh?”
“Don’t you dare talk about the Dark Lord like that.” Malfoy stepped forwards, his jaw twitching slightly. “When he cleanses our world, you Blood Traitors will die along with the rest of them.”
“You sound like you swallowed the Death Eater Bible. I’m sure I’ll have great fun being ‘cleansed’, but that will have to wait for another day. Now, this has been an utterly side-splittingly joyful experience, but I hope you get shot, fall off a bridge into a river, get raped by a shark and then eaten by it.”
I stalked off down the train. As soon as Draco was out of sight, I relaxed, only to be attacked from behind by an ecstatic Ari.  
“I heard everything! You have got to-”
“I know what you’re thinking. And no.” I growled.
“No?” she blinked innocently.
“No?” she wheedled.
“Can we stop saying no now?”
“No.” Ari grinned.
“No?” I sighed. Now she was started, she would go on forever.
She seemed to get the message, because she shut up. Temporarily, at least. Just as we reached the door of our compartment, she blinked at me with those large, profiterole stealing eyes, and smiled sweetly.
“You really ought to go out with him, you know. You’d make a great couple.” And then she ran.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Chapter 2: We could get killed! Or worse, expelled!


I watched Gwen lick her ice cream, mentally capturing the image of her with blobs of ice-cream on her nose, left cheek and chin.
“What?” she said, looking at me in a mock-irritated expression, “quit staring at me!”
“Fine, but only if we can go and finish the shopping after this!”
“Why? What could you possibly have left to buy?” she said, looking at the plethora of shopping bags I was carrying with me already.
“Robes, quill, ink, some sweets, potions set, broomstick” I reeled off the remainder of my shopping list.
“Do I have to?”
“You don’t, but I do.”
“Hmph,” she grunted, “fine, you go buy whatever you need to, and I’ll wait here.”
“Seriously? Are you sure you won’t burn the place down?”
“No promises.”
“Alright, I’m off then,” I span on my heels, and headed to the door.
“Okilee dokilee!”
I shot her a look, “don’t ever say that again.”
“Sure thing, butterfly wing,” she yelled through the door.
“Go away!”
“Bye bye, fruit fly!”
I groaned and speed-walked into Madame Malkin’s.
After half an hour of  admiring the various shops’ windows, standing in queues and mentally battling between the wood and silver finish on the broomstick, I was finally ready to head to Gambol and Japes. Gambol and Japes was my favourite shop in the entirety of Diagon Alley. It was the joke shop. Now, to everyone in Hogwarts, I was far from the practical joker. In fact, I was pretty much the clumsy girl with good intentions. But the joke shop was my favourite place to be. It was so wonderfully vibrant, in looks and atmosphere. When I walked in the room, my ears were filled with the various sounds of bells, whistles and animated chatter amongst a host of yet to be identified noises. I immediately zoned in on a jar of colourful looking sweets.
‘Tongue tiers,’ the jar said, ‘ just one sweet and the victim will be placed in a state of silence for upto 4 hours! Only 10 knuts a jar!’
“Nice,” I mused aloud.
“They are quite,” said a voice behind me, “but not as nice as you.”
I span around. It was Fred Weasley.
“Wha-? Arianna?”
“Hi Fred!” I grinned.
“Sorry,” he blushed, “I thought you were someone else.”
“Did you now?”
“He did,” George Weasley appeared, from behind some shelves, “he thought you were-”
“Shut up George!”
“Go away!”
“Angelina Johnson!”
I laughed.
“Anyway,” Fred turned to me, “what are you doing here, Arianna?”
“Yeah! Go away! Fred wants his Angie-boo-boo here!”
Fred replied with a hard punch on George’s shoulder.
“No, what I meant was, you’re hardly known as the prankster...”
“I like it here,” I shrugged, “what about you?”
“Ah, now we’re here for market research,” said George.
“Market research?”
“Yes, we’re opening up a business…”
“In Hogwarts. We’re calling it…”
“Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. It’s going to be…”
“Awesome. Way better than all…
“The junk they’ve got out here.”
“Can you stop doing that?” I looked at the two of them.
“Doing what?” they chorused.
“Finishing each other’s sentences. It’s slightly freaky,”
“Freaky?” they both grinned, giving a new definition to the word freaky.
“Whatever," I looked at my wristwatch, "I’ve got to go meet Gwen now.”
“Gwen? You mean the creepy goth chick?”
“Yes. Gwen, the creepy goth chick.”
“Shall we come? You know, to protect you from all her dark magic?”
“She’s my friend.”
“Really? Arianna is friends with the creepy goth chick?”
“Yes. Yes I am.”
“Well now, this has to be a mistake. We’ll have to see it to believe it, won’t we, Fred?”
“Indeed we will, George.”
“Let’s go then!” I smiled. This was going to be fun.
I didn’t end up finding Gwen at the ice cream parlour, actually far from it. We were walking towards Florean Fortescue’s, when we heard a terrible screeching noise come from the Magical Menagerie. Fred and George ran inside, almost instantly, with me following after. Inside was a dark, furry catastrophe. And at the centre of all of it, who other than Gwen?
“I’m ok!” she said, coughing and spluttering from under the large assortment of magical creatures piled on top of her.
“Gwen?” I asked.
“Yup!” she picked herself up and sprang onto her feet, “and I see you brought company.”
I nodded.
“So… Tweedle dum and tweedle dumber?”
“Fred and George.”
“Gred and Forge?”
“If you want.”
“Hey!” Fred said, interrupting me, “That was once! Four whole years ago!”
“So?” Gwen grinned. She had a funny habit of knowing things that she wasn’t supposed to, I’d noticed.
“Gwen…” I looked around, “what are you doing here?”
“I wanted to buy something!”
“What exactly?”
Gwen pulled out a little glass jar from her pocket, inside which I could make out a strange, fluorescent orange blob, “say hello to Phyllis.”
“Phyllis?” the twins chorused.
“She’s beautiful,” I said, “but you know Hogwarts will never let you keep her.”
“It’s a he,” Gwen looked at me gravely,
“A male snail called Phyllis!” George burst out laughing, “Pass him here, will you, I’ve got to have a look at this.”
“Yes,” she said, gently lifting the snail out of the jar and handing him over to George, “And you three are going to help me protect him.”
“What?” I said, “Gwen, I am not getting kicked out of Hogwarts for some snail.”
“It’s not just some snail! It’s Phyllis! Besides, you won’t get kicked out of Hogwarts, so long as we don’t get caught.”
I glanced at George playing with Phyllis, “he’s poisonous, you know. There’s no way we can keep him.”
“But he’s adorable!” George said.
“Isn’t he just,” Fred said, stroking the back of Phyllis’ shell.
“Look, even they agree!” Gwen widened her eyes.
“Fine," I said, "but don’t count on me to feed him."

Chapter 1: Together We're Totally Awesome


“Miss Gardenia. If you don’t turn around this instant I am going to hex your nose right off your pretty little face.”
Arianna looked up from the copy of The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 5 she was holding and wheeled around. 
“I swear Gwen, one of these days you’re going to give me a heart attack sneaking up on me like that, and then you’ll be left friendless and alone for the rest of your life.”
“And hello to you too!” I rolled my eyes and hugged Arianna tightly. “I haven’t seen you for six weeks, and the first thing you tell me is that I’m going to end up living alone with fifty cats. Honestly Ari, way to put a dampener on things.” 
She laughed and held me at arm’s length. “Let’s have a look at you…your hair is actually longer than your ears. What happened?” 
“Mummy dearest confiscated the scissors. Last time she gave a banshee a run for its money with her screeching.” I smiled fondly at the memory; last Summer I decided to cut all my hair off, and she walked in as I cut the last lock of those dark curls off. The house elves were sweeping hair off the kitchen floor for weeks.
“And it’s not green this year.” 
I shrugged. “She’s made sure the elves don’t take orders from me anymore, so I can’t send them out to get any dye. I would just magic it purple or whatever, but I don’t particularly want to be expelled just yet.”
Ari gave me a look that said she knew exactly what I was thinking. 
“No, you just don’t want to be separated from your precious Severus.” She wrinkled up her nose in disgust. “I honestly don’t know what you see in him. His hair is greasy, his nose is too big and he’s just plain mean. Oh, yeah; and he’s a teacher. What possibly possessed you to fall in love with him?”
“I’m not in love. I just want to have his babies.” I sighed wistfully.
“Isn’t that the same thing?”
“What an innocent world you live in.” I ruffled her black tresses. She flinched back and defended herself with the book. “Now c’mon. I’m hungry and I want ice cream. Now.” 
Ari rolled her eyes and gathered up the pile of books. 
“Fine. I’ll just buy these, then we can go.”
“You can buy these later! I want ice cream!” I pouted. 
“But we’re already here!”
“And I’m already hungry!” I tugged on her arm and all the books tumbled out of her arms. A wizard who may well have been a witch (I couldn’t quite tell) peered around the bookshelf and tutted at us. Ari blushed and bent to pick them up, but I put a finger on my lips and pointed to a ‘Quiet’ sign on the wall. 
“Shh!” I hissed at her. “No tutting.” The witchard started tutting again, frowned, then disappeared behind her bookshelf. Ari stood with the books and started slotting them back in their places on the shelves.
“You are incorrigible.” 
“I don’t know the meaning of the word.” There was a pause. “Seriously. I don’t. What does it mean?” 
Sighing, Ari grabbed my arm and dragged me through the shop. 
“Before you cause any more destruction.”  
“But destruction is fun!” I flicked her on the forehead. 
“I see you’re still as violent as ever.”
I replied with a flick to the ear. Ari looked at me for a second, trying to fight a smile, before flicking my nose. I flicked her chin. She flicked my left eyebrow. 
“Now you’re neglecting my right eyebrow.”
“Huh?” she frowned.
“It feels left out.”
“It’s an eyebrow Gwen.”
“Flick it. Flick it and apologise.”
“I am not apologising to your eyebrow.”
“Say sorry!”
“Just flick it already!” This was a rather disgruntled looking wizard with rather impressive eyebrows. “Some of us have books to buy y’know, and we would prefer to do it in peace.” 
I raised a hand to point to the ‘quiet’ sign again, but Ari picked this moment to flick my eyebrow and apologise to the man.
“Sorry sir. It won’t happen again.”
The wizard harrumphed and stalked past us. 
“Idiot.” I muttered. “We were having a perfectly good flicking fight. No-one interrupts my flicking fights! Someone should flick his eyebrows. There’s no way you could miss them. Maybe I’ll hex them off…”
“You should’ve been in Slytherin, you really should. Ravenclaw is wasted on you.”
“And I’m sure I would have been honoured to have had you in my house Miss McKee.” That voice…
I wheeled around and saw the future father of my children stood a few metres away. 
“Professor Snape! How nice to see you again.” 
Ari shot me a look and Snape remained impassive. He was always impassive. Other people may find it disconcerting and even rather scary, but I thought it was extremely endearing. I loved imagining what he was thinking, even if none of it could be repeated out loud.
“Quite. I suppose I’ll be seeing you in my office again very soon, if your past record is anything to go by. I do hope you’ll prove me wrong.” He swept past us, his dark robes swishing as he turned the corner. I grabbed Ari and pulled her out of Flourish and Blotts.
“I think he’s quite fond of me really.” I stated, quite seriously, but I was fighting back a smile.
“And I think you’re insane. But I suppose I’m stuck with you now.” Ari stuck her tongue out at me, then giggled and bounced up and down. “Gwen! It’s our fifth year! We’re going back to Hogwarts!” She started to sing sweetly. “Hogwarts, Hogwarts, hoggy warty Hogwarts, teach us something please.” A smile tugged at my lips. 
“I don’t sing.”
“Whether we be old and bald or young with scabby knees.”
“I don’t sing!”
“Our heads could do with filling with some interesting stuff. For now they’re bare and full of air…” 
I couldn’t resist the look she was giving me. I sighed reluctantly for show, then muttered “Dead flies and bits of fluff.” 
Ari laced her arm through mine and started skipping down Diagon Alley, much to the surprise of a group of unsuspecting first years.
“Oh no. No skipping.”
“So teach us things worth knowing…”
“I refuse to skip.”
“Bring back what we forgot…”
“Singing I will accept, but absolutely no skipping!”
“Just do your best…”
“No. I refuse.”
“We’ll do the rest…” Ari turned and gave me the puppy dog eyes she does so well. These were the eyes that forced me to give her my last profiterole in First Year. And I loved those profiteroles.  
I caved.
“And learn until our brains all rot!” 
We skipped arm in arm down Diagon Alley, and never have odder looks been given in the history of odd looks.