Stupid, Stupid List
Over the next few days Skylar had avoided Fred and George. The more she thought about it, the more she realised how completely stupid she had been to agree with them over that stupid list and she hoped that by ignoring them, they would forget about it or give her up as a bad job. They continued with their shenanigans, the pranks they had pulled in barely six days were outstanding. They had somehow managed to tie Mrs. Norris to one of the school's broomstick and sent her racing around the Astronomy Tower for a good half hour before Professor McGonagall could get her down. Then they transfigured several of the Slytherin's breakfast into maggots (which had caused which a ruckus) and then charmed Alicia Spinnet's shoes so that they wheeled about for an entire Charms lesson.
Skylar was immersed in her Alchemy spell book, Alchemy: Book of Shadows. Skylar had been one of the very few students who had been chosen for the subject, the other students were mostly Ravenclaws but it was one of her favourite lessons. The library was quiet as it was a Saturday and most of the castle's occupants were enjoying lunch in the Great Hall. That was until…
"So then I told him that I would give her homework to Professor Snape," said Malcom Grimstone's cold and malicious voice from behind the bookshelf that Skylar was sitting behind.
She froze in her spot, not daring to make a sound.
"And did you give Snape his essay?" Lisette asked as their voices became louder and louder every step they took.
"No!" Malcom said laughing and his laughter was echoed by his friends.
Skylar was wishing upon her wand that Malcom, Lisette or any other of the Slytherins who followed them around would not notice her, but…
"Cry Baby! What a pleasant surprise!"
The Alchemy book was ripped from her hands. Skylar was rather unimpressed by his complete lack of originality when it came to tormenting her, tacking away her books was becoming rather old.
"What do you want?" Skylar asked in a bored voice.
Malcom's cold icy eyes narrowed as he looked from her face to her book.
"Now what do we have here?" His thin lips grew into a wide and unpleasant smile as he skimmed through the pages of the book. "Alchemy… how very interesting…" His tone made her feel uneasy and her eyes flickered around to the rest of the Slytherins. "Do you mind if I borrow a few pages?" And he began to tear page after page out of her book.
"Don't!" She squealed as she jumped to her feet and tried to prise her book from Malcom's hands, but Lisette and Teresa had grabbed her arms and held her back.
"This is really interesting," Malcom continued to rip the pages from her book, smiling wickedly.
"Please!" Skylar squeaked, feeling completely and utterly embarrassed by the situation. It was times like this that she questioned why she was even in Gryffindor. Surely she would just stand up for herself? She felt her eyes begin to fill with tears and Malcom grabbed her bag and pulled out several more books and she prayed that Madam Pince would at least put a stop to this, but the vulture-like Liberian was nowhere to be seen. "Don't Malcom, please!"
"She's crying!" Lisette shrieked gleefully. "Look at her blubber!"
"I'll do anything!" Skylar begged. "Please don't!"
"She's actually begging Malcom," Adriano Morrigan laughed derisively.
"You'll do anything?" Malcom asked and his icy eyes seemed to darken as Skylar nodded without hesitation. "Anything?" He dropped her book on the floor and before she could grab it, Malcom's hand enclosed itself around her wrist and pulled her towards him so that they were face-to-face.
"Anything?" He said in a voice so sinister that is chilled her bones.
"Hey! Grim Face!"
Malcom turned just as two flashes of blue light hit him directly in the face.
Skylar screamed and jumped back several feet as several large centipedes snorted out of Malcom's nose and landed on the floor.
Fred and George Weasley roared with laughter as Malcom continued to spontaneously snort out centipedes from his nose, the other Slytherins all shouted and screamed and ran from the library. Malcom, still snorting centipedes, followed suit.
Skylar stared disgustedly at the centipedes as they crawled over her ripped up textbook, her heart still racing from the shock of what had just happened.
"What the ruddy hell was that?" She breathed as the twins strutted towards her, twiddling their wands in their hands.
"Well, being the inventors we are," said George as he gave his wand a complicated little flick as the centipedes disappeared in a wisp of bluish smoke.
"We invented a new spell," said Fred airily. "We needed somebody to practise on and Grim Face fits the agenda for being the first victim of what we call the Centipede Hex."
Skylar nodded and wiped her cheeks, which were still wet with the tears she had shed. She kneeled on the floor and began to gather her books, not wanting them to bring up the subject of that stupid list. George also kneeled down, picking up her now demolished Alchemy textbook.
"Did he do this?" George asked.
"No," Skylar said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "I enjoy wrecking my own possessions." George raised an eyebrow at her and she shook her head apologetically. "I'm sorry…" She murmured, grabbing the ripped pages from her book and staring at them as though they had morally offended her.
"This is exactly why we pursued this list in the first place!" said Fred; he too was on his knees and helping Skylar gather up the ripped pieces of paper.
"I've been thinking–"
"No, no, no Miss Harrison–" said Fred, waggling his finger at her.
"Don't you back out now," said George.
She flushed red and busied herself with stacking the pages of her book. "I'm not backing out!"
"Oh really?" George's eyebrow rose. Skylar stared back at him testily; George stared back with equal determination.
"Okay maybe I've been thinking about backing out," she admitted, looking away from George and trying desperately to find her spare roll of spello-tape in her bag.
"You can't back out!" Fred said as George pulled from his pocket, the familiar list that Phoenix had so regretted. "This list will put a stop to all this,"
"How?" Skylar asked, she had given up searching for her spello-tape and was now forced to look up at the twins, who both looked very disappointed, "How is getting drunk or being kissed supposed to make the Slytherins stop pestering me? Where is the logic in that?"
"That is for us to know and for you to find out," George said broodily, picking up her wrecked Alchemy book and the pages that Malcom had ripped up and tapping them both with his wand so that the pages shuffled around in order and sealed itself to the spine of the book. He stuffed it, rather unceremoniously, back into her bag.
"But I don't–"
"Come on Sky," said Fred in an encouraging sort of voice, giving her shoulder a nudge as they all got to their feet, "Aren't you tired of being pushed around?"
Under their gazes, Skylar hesitated. "I'm used to it," she said in forced sort of voice.
George gave her a sympathetic look; he clapped a hand on her shoulder and she looked away, biting her lip. "Just because you're used to it doesn't mean you have to go through with it,"
"But I can't do it!" Skylar said in a hoarse voice, her eyes burning as tears swam in them, "I don't have the nerve like anyone else in Gryffindor! I'm not confident or brave in any way, shape or form. How am I supposed to skive off a lesson or get a detention when I'm too scared to let my parents down?" She stared at the twins helplessly; a small sob shook her body and she covered her face, leaning back against one of the many shelves.
Fred looked at George, who had put a comforting arm around her shoulder. Evidently, George seemed to be more sensitive and grasping of people's feelings than Fred, who looked rather unsure of what to do as several tears slipped down her cheeks.
"You can do it," George said encouragingly, "Forget about what your parents will think–"
"Forget about what your parents will think," George repeated, fixing Skylar with an uncharacteristic stern gaze, "This isn't about them, it's about you. This list isn't to make fun of you in any way. It will – we both promise you – it will make a huge difference."
"Stupid list," Skylar mumbled, rubbing her wet cheeks and sniffing as George released her from their small, yet comforting embrace.
"Listen Miss Harrison," Fred said in a hushed voice, "We've been told rather top secret information that we both believe will help you to break out of your shell as they say,"
"And what exactly is this 'top secret information'?" Her fingers sketched quotation marks through the air and she looked from Fred to George, waiting.
"Well," began George, taking a seat in one of the vacant seats around the table Skylar had been sitting at, "We all know about Umbridge's rather, not at all very helpful, teaching,"
"So, our rule-abiding friend, Hermione Granger, told us about a sort of study group that will be forming in order for us to all pass Defence Against the Dark Art with gusto," Fred continued, also sitting down at the table beside his twin.
"I thought that your futures lay outside the world of academic achievement," said Skylar, who couldn't help but smile.
"They do," confirmed Fred brightly, "But for us, this 'study group' will teach us a lot more than that."
"Do you or do you not believe that You-Know-Who has returned?" Fred asked her, eyeing her as he waited for an answer.
"Well yeah I do," Skylar nodded, rather uncertainly, "I mean if Dumbledore says it true then I believe him… I don't particularly want to imagine him being back but…"
"Don't you think that learning real defensive magic will help to protect us from what is inevitability going to happen?" Skylar gulped a little before she nodded and Fred continued, "We're all going to need a little bit of bravery if You-Know-Who's ideas of living is anything to go by."
"So… why are you telling me this?" Skylar asked, perplexed.
"Isn't it obvious?" said Fred.
"We want you to come along and join!" George beamed down at her.
"But nothing," Fred interrupted, clasping a hand over Skylar's mouth and winking at her, "You could learn a hex or two."
"You're actually coming along to this?" Angelina asked for what felt like the hundredth time. "You're not just pulling a prank on me are you?"
"No of course she's not!" Fred exclaimed indignitedly. "Prank pulling is mine and George's occupation,"
"I thought both your occupations were being the biggest pair of prats ever to walk this earth."
Skylar giggled from behind her copy of Great Wizarding Events of the Twenty-First Century. She was sat at the Gryffindor table at Lunch before History of Magic alongside Angelina and Alicia, talking to Fred, George, and Lee Jordan about the upcoming Hogsmeade trip where they would be having their meeting with the 'study group'.
"Girls, girls," Lee said in a soothing voice. "Put your handbags away."
"So…" Angelina now turned to Skylar, beaming. "You're really coming along?"
She could feel Fred and George's eyes practically burning into his head as she hesitated for a fraction of a second. "The troublesome twins managed to convince me,"
"How?" asks Alicia, looking gobsmacked.
"Our irresistible charm," George said jovially.
Angelina gave a derisive laugh. "Oh yeah, that's definitely the reason!"
Skylar's mouth twitched into a small smile as she shared a swift glance with the twins before she glanced down at her small wristwatch. "We should get going to History of Magic Lee; Umbridge is apparently inspecting Professor Binns today."
"Ugh," Lee wacked his head painfully against the table, his dreadlocks flying about his head before he got to his feet as if he was heading towards the gallows.
Professor Binns' lessons were, for most students, the perfect time to catch up on sleep. His dry and dreary voice was enough to put anybody to sleep. Skylar however was one student who listened attentively to his long lectures; she loved History of Magic, even if Professor Binns' voice droned on and on like an old record player.
Unfortunately however, when she and Lee entered Classroom 4F that afternoon, they caught sight of Hogwarts's High Inquisitor sitting in one of the far corners of the room, pink clipboard and with a matching quill at the ready. Skylar had a nagging feeling that this particular lesson would not to be enjoyable.
Skylar and Lee immediately took seats as far away from Umbridge as it was humanly possible. Professor Binns, being a ghost, floated, looking indifferent, shrivelled and ancient to the rather unwelcome guest. He began talking about current Wizarding relations between countries. For the first time in Binns' lesson, Skylar was not the only student to be paying attention, scribbling away on pieces of parchment. The entire class were staring at Binns with great interest; even Lee was looking at him, rather than taking his usual afternoon nap on his desk. But Skylar knew that they were only now suddenly interested in Wizarding relations because Umbridge was sat in the room and nobody wanted a single teacher in Hogwarts on probation.
"Bloody hell; is it possible to be any more pinker?"" Lee suddenly exclaimed in a whisper, casting a look over at Umbridge who was rummaging through a pink, sickly floral pattern handbag. "Fred and George told me she has hundreds of plates with kittens on in her office."
Skylar dropped her quill and turned to Lee, looking amused. "Really?" she replied in a hushed giggle. "That's kind of freaky."
Lee grinned. "She's kind of like some crazy 'old cat lady then?"
"I suggest," both Skylar and Lee jumped in their skins at the sickly, simpering voice that belonged to Professor Umbridge. "That you listen to your teacher before I give the both of you a detention this evening," she smiled, her mouth stretching horribly so that her resemblance to a toad increased.
"Sorry Professor Umbridge," Skylar and Lee both murmured, before they hastily returned to listening to Binns' drones.
Suddenly, Skylar remembered something. The list, number two. 'I have never received a detention'. Skylar's hands suddenly became clammy, should she do it? But what if Professor McGonagall found out? Her parents? It felt as though she was having a battle with her mind, as though she had the devil, which resembled the Weasley twins, on one shoulder and on the other had an angel, who resembled herself. She could practically hear George's voice reverberating around her head 'forget about what your parents will think'. But what if they found out? Forget about what your parents will think. It's just one detention. It can't be that bad. It's just one detention.
Taking a deep breath, Skylar turned to Lee and said in a whisper that no doubt carried across the silent classroom. "She is most definitely a crazy cat lady."
"Detention Miss Harrison!" Umbridge called in a shrill voice. The students in the classroom looked stunned. Lee's jaw could have touched the floor. Even Professor Binns' looked curiously over his thick glasses to peer at Umbridge. "My office, five o'clock."
Charms was a perfect lesson to have a private chat, it was always loud, either full of explosions, animals squawking, squeaking and squealing, students and sometimes Prfoessor Flitwick being thrown across the classroom along with various objects. Skylar never usually partook in any private conversations for more than five minutes, but she was anxious to tell Fred and George that she had her first ever detention and already she had crossed something from that bloody list.
Today, the classroom was full of the sound of water swooshing as students were expected the perfect the water fountain charm and nothing could interrupt Skylar and the twin's conversation at the back of the classroom.
"Why have you ventured to the back of the classroom?" George asked, drying his robes as Fred had accidentally sent a shield of water at him.
"I come bearing news!" Skylar announced. "Consider number two complete."
"What?" The twins looked astounded. They were staring at Skylar as though she had just expressed a desire to take up hula dancing classes.
"You've got a detention?" Fred gasped.
"What do you mean already?" Skylar's brows furrowed in confusion. "I thought you wanted me to complete this stupid list? It's one down nine to go!"
Fred and George beamed at one another, Skylar was clearly in the right mind set (at the moment anyway) to complete the list.
"Who is your detention with? What did you do?" George asked in a rush.
"I was talking in Binns' class and Umbridge gave me a deten–"
"Umbridge?" George almost bellowed.
Skylar had to quickly cast the water fountain charm to avoid a confrontation with Professor Flitwick. She then turned back to Fred and George, who both looked alarmed, almost worried.
"Why do you look so concerned?" Her arms crossed over her chest and she began to feel regret for making a stupid decision over the incredibly stupid list that two incredibly stupid people came up with. "You wanted me to get a detention. I'm not exactly looking forward to it."
"But you can't get a detention with Umbridge!" George exclaimed.
"Because her detention are more of a form of torture!" Fred replied.
"Isn't that what detentions are supposed to be?"
"I'm serious Sky," George said genteelly. "Look at our hands."
"I don't see why – Merlin pants! What the hell did she do?"
On George's right hand and on Fred's left, words were edged, scarred into their own skin on the back of their hands. I must not prank, were written in their own handwriting. Skylar recognised the use of a blood quill immediately and felt as though her heart was in her throat.
"She's using a blood quill in her detentions?" She asked in a small, quavering voice.
Fred and George both nodded and Skylar felt numb.
"But they're banned illegal dark objects! Even having them in procession is enough to give enough a three year sentence in Azkaban! And she's actually used them to discipline students! That's enough for seven years in Azkaban in front of the Wizengamot!" Skylar babbled, she felt as if her stomach was tightening horribly and she suddenly gasped. "What if… what if she uses it on me?"
Fred and George shared a concerned look before Fred spoke up. "Hermione Granger reckons that essence of Murtlap works well to heal them."
Skylar nodded, she knew that Murtlap would work – it helped made fresh skin grow over wounds – but Skylar was more concerned about that the only detention that she has ever received was going to be a literal form of torture and she could no means stop it without receiving another detention which was the very last thing that she wanted to do.
When the lesson ended, Skylar began to panic. She had no time to go to dinner because of her detention with Umbridge. With the information Fred and George had told her about Umbridge's idea of a detention and disclipine, she would have rather spent her evening cleaning cauldrons in Snape's classroom than head to Umbridge's office. Fred and George had promised her they would be waiting in the common room for her, with the essence of Murtlap and some food for her. But these small comforts didn't make her feel any better as she knocked on Umbridge's office door.
"Come in," said Umbridge in a falsely sweet, sugary voice.
When Skylar entered her office, she had to reframe herself from laughing. The office was exactly how Lee had described it. Each and every surface was draped in various lacy covers and cloths. Vases of dried flowers were placed orderly around the room and on the walls there was a large collection of ornamental plates and each of these plates had a Technicolor kitten, all wearing different sorts of bows around its neck. Skylar thought that being in this room would be torture enough.
"Evening Miss Harrison."
"Evening, Professor Umbridge," Skylar said in her best friendly voice.
Umbridge, in her vividly pink robes that blended sickeningly with the drapes and walls around the room, was smiling a wide smile that made Skylar's stomach lurch.
"Well, sit down Miss Harrison," she was pointing a stubby finger at a small table that was draped in lace, where a blank piece of parchment lay. Skylar sat down in the straight-backed chair, her hands feeling clammy, trying her best not to show just how nervous that she was.
"You're going to be doing lines for me today, Miss Harrison." Skylar nodded, gulping as she leaned down for her bag to collect her quill, as a last final hope. "Not with your quill. You're going to be using a rather special one of mine."
She placed a quill onto the desk. It was black, long and thin with an usual sharp point. Skylar recognised it immediately, she had read about blood quills in her old Defence Against the Dark Arts books. Skylar picked it up with trembling fingers, the quill felt unfriendly and unwelcome in her hands.
"I want you to write, I must not talk during class."
Skylar gulped, she was scared to let the quill even touch the piece of parchment. If only she was brave, she thought as Umbridge stared at Skylar, waiting, if only she could tell Umbridge just how she was going to rot in Azkaban for using illegal objects in her detentions and exactly where she could stuff this quill. But as always, Skylar swallowed her pride and began to write: I must not talk during class.
She let out a loud gasp of pain. The ink came out shiny and crimson. Skylar stared at it for a moment before staring down at the back of her shaking right hand. I must not talk during class was written there, cut into her skin, shining with specks of blood. But then suddenly the skin healed over, though it was slightly red and smooth.
She dared not look at Umbridge because she knew that the toadlike Professor was smiling in a falsely sweet way. Skylar felt the way she did when the Slytherins tormented her, humiliated, inferior. But sadly, Skylar was used to this type of torment and remembered what she had taught herself – be polite and don't let her see you cry.
And so, she continued. She continued to cut her hand open, again and again. She continued to write I must not talk during class in her own blood. The words continued to cut, heal, and cut again until she felt until she felt as though the sharp point of the quill was cutting all the way to her bone.
Darkness had fallen outside hours ago. Skylar was beginning to feel dizzy as her blood spattered across the tablecloth. The back of her hand was stinging painfully. She gritted her teeth as for what felt the millionth time she wrote: I must not talk during class.
"Miss Harrison. Come here."
Skylar got to her feet. The back of her hand was throbbing so painful that Skylar's eyes were watering. She looked down at her hand; the words were now edged into it, still bleeding.
She obliged, extending her hand for Umbridge to take. Not wanting to catch Umbridge's cold and unpleasant eyes, Skylar looked around the office to stare at the ornamental plates where the kittens were. She saw one that looked exactly like Wilfred and she quickly looked away.
"Maybe one more detention will do it."
This time Skylar had no choice but to look down at Umbridge, her eyes wide. "But Professor–"
"I haven't made a good enough impression Miss Harrison," she said, smiling wickedly. "Tomorrow evening. Same time. You may go."
Be polite and don't let her see you cry, Skylar thought to herself as she nodded quickly and grabbed her bag. She left without protest. The school was now completely deserted, looking down at her wristwatch she realised with a jolt that it was one in morning. Fred and George surely had gone to bed by now and she would have to go to sleep, her stomach empty and the back of her hand throbbing.
When Skylar entered the common room however, it was not empty. Fred and George were sleeping on the armchairs in front of the fire, which was slowly burning out. Wilfred was curled up on George's lap. On the table in front of them was a small bowl full of yellowish liquid that she recognised to be the essence of Murtlap, beside it was something wrapped in tissue that she didn't doubt was the food the twins had promised her.
She smiled at their thoughtfulness before genteelly shoving Fred's shoulder.
"Mhmm…" he grumbled, his head lolling to the side before he gave a loud snore.
"Fred…" Skylar said in a hushed voice, shaking his shoulders softly. "Wake up…"
"Five more minutes…" He murmured, he then grabbed Skylar's injured hand and pulling it into his chest, almost making her topple over. Skylar let out an involuntary loud gasp of pain and pulled her hand forcibly away from him, accidentally slapping his face.
"I'm sorry!" she gasped as Fred's eyes opened immediately in alarm. "I didn't mean to hit you! I only meant to wake you up–"
"S'alright Sky," Fred said in tired voice. "Have fun waking up George."
She looked round at George, who was sleeping soundly, Wilfred still very much asleep in his lap. "Can't you wake him up?"
"Do it quietly though, it's one in the morning."
"One in the morning?" Fred said in an incredulous voice. "How much did that old brat make you write?"
Skylar shrugged, taking a seat upon the floor in front of the fire. She pointed her wand at it and immediately the fire reignited, casting warmth around the common room.
"Wake up you git," Fred was now shaking George. Skylar hoped that he wasn't shaking him too hard so that Wilfred tumbled off of his lap. "Skylar's back."
"What?" George's voice came as a grumble and Skylar turned on her sat upon the floor to flash him a smile. "How was your first detention?"
"Painful," she grimaced, wincing as she brought her hand up for George to inspect. Her eyes were slightly wet from the pain she had been experiencing and she wiped them away hastily.
"Soak your hand in the Murtlap," said Fred. "And here's your dinner! We had to go to the kitchens to get it; George had a bit of a nibble on the cake–"
"You had a nibble on the cake!" George said with a laugh. "And it wasn't a bloody nibble! It was more of a very large bite."
Skylar laughed, getting to her feet and sitting on Fred's now vacant armchair. Fred pushed the bowl towards her and sat down on the arm of her chair. Without a moment's hesitation she placed her bleeding, throbbing hand into the yellowish liquid and her hand experienced a feeling of relief, the pain had vanished and she relaxed in her seat.
"On the bright side," said Fred as Skylar hungrily dung into the turkey sandwich he was offering her, "You've already ticked something off the list!"
Skylar didn't smile, or grin however. She merely nodded her head and sighed.
"It was only one detention Sky," Fred said in an encouraging sort of voice, though it just made Skylar feel as though she wanted to be sick at the thought of the second detention Umbridge had given her for no apparent reason.
"But–But it wasn't! She's given me another one for tomorrow!"
"WHAT?" They roared so loudly and abruptly that the bowl of Murtlap smashed onto the floor, the feeling of relief in her hand vanished and the throbbing returned.
"What the bloody hell did you do to get another detention?" George asked.
"I didn't do anything!" Skylar replied in a small voice. "She just gave me one because she didn't make enough impression on me!"
"What a hag!" Fred said viscously. "She has no right to–"
But Skylar wasn't listening to Fred and George's rants about how much of a hag that Umbridge was. She was thinking about how much trouble that this list was causing. Was this a sign that this list was a stupid decision? In her mind it was, to her it wasn't a coincidence that the very first thing off that stupid list she had completed had resulted in her hand probably permanently scarred.
"Maybe this is a sign," she suddenly said and the twins both looked at her.
"A sign for what?" asks George, raising an eyebrow.
Skylar avoided eye contact with both Fred and George as she crossed her arms over her chest and sniffed. "That this list is a stupid idea! I mean… Don't you think it's a bit odd that the very first thing I complete from the list has ended up with me having a scar on the back of my hand?"
Fred and George shared an exasperated sort of look.
"Don't even think about backing out," said George, fixing Skylar with a stern sort of look.
"I'm not thinking of backing out," Skylar replied, pouting rather childishly.
"Good because every time you say that you're backing out…" said Fred, grinning mischievously, which made Skylar feel rather nervous. "You're going to complete a piece of homework for us."
"I'm not going to do your homework for you!" said Skylar indigently.
"Excellent!" George beamed and Fred gave a cheer which only made Skylar purse her lips in annoyance. "So to prove to us that you're not backing out–"
"You're going to come to the Quidditch pitch with us this Sunday and we can show you how to ride a broom."
"So you're backing then?" said Fred.
"No I'm not backing out!" Skylar exclaimed.
Fred and George shared identical grins and Skylar inwardly groaned. She had fallen right into their trap.
"Perfect!" George said broodily and clapping his hands together.
"I can't wait until the stupid list is over."