Four whole years at this school, and, so far, my opinion on humankind had not budged one bit. A few examples of why? Of course. The easiest one would be of my situation right now. My lockpicker was most likely just outside of this broom cupboard (which smelled like hippogriff dung, by the way, and had the stuffiness of a whale’s belly), and Peeves was off cackling at the despicable third years who laughed while I was placed in this predicament, I would imagine. If I could somehow unlock this door with my hair, then I would be joining him. Or maybe I would be off chasing whoever actually did lock me in here.
That, evidently, was not about to happen.
But anyway. Instead of thinking my current sadistic thoughts, perhaps mentally strangling everybody who appeared on my first day of this magic school would help.
Because, after I got Sorted, my whole world took a pummeling on the most treacherous road ever. First off, even the Headmistress didn’t know about my “delicate condition,” as she oh-so-quaintly phrased it afterwards. It was almost as if I hadn’t managed to survive my entire life without this advantage of “sight” because, obviously, I had needed help finding the Sorting Hat and the Slytherin table. Such idiots.
My ears worked perfectly fine, thank you very much. So did my sense of touch. Anybody with one millionth of a brain could figure that out, so that left me incredibly concerned for the well-being of these Hogwarts students.
And, as much as they tried to hide it, these poor kids at this school couldn’t help but feel a stab of fear every time I graced them with my presence. How could I tell? Well, the fact that they simply refused to come within a ten-foot radius from me confirmed it. Every time I made my way towards a classroom door, everyone around it shuffled hastily backwards as though I was holding a wand that had the Killing Curse on hold.
That would be hilarious. I didn’t even have a wand. “Oh, no, Miss M -- Bràigheach,” as Professor Flitwick would squeak with his endearing stuttering. “You don’t have m -- as you can see, you’re a bit different from the others, so we can’t give you a wand just yet. We must find a way to e -- figure this out.” Like that was ever going to happen. It had been a grand total of four terms, and my Gaelic was beginning to droop (so I ensured to only speak Gaelic from now on, whether or not they could understand me), and nothing had been “fixed.” Utter hippogriff dung.
And, last but definitely not least, Slytherin was, apparently, the House with the Taboo. Speak its name, and students would shun you for weeks. The ironic thing was, all of this was after the Second Wizarding War, after all of the silly fusses about equality and rights and other stupid ideals. Needless to say, being a part of Slytherin made life difficult. It made me want to strangle everybody.
Which brought me back to my current situation.
I was stuck in a broom cupboard. A very nasty, disgusting, hateful broom cupboard. And while my mate, Peeves, was having a whale of a time out there torturing the younger students, I was left alone to my own devices in here. Delightful.
Who knew? Maybe I could braid my hair into a lockpick.
At that idea, my fingers began to deftly twist thin strands of hair together, looping, weaving, knotting, until there was a slim length of fairly tough hair, composed of dozens of tiny braids. Then, running my fingers over the door until I found the lock, I leaned my head in close and inserted the makeshift lockpick.
Oh, for the love of Merlin. There were voices outside, high and giggling, and they were coming closer. My fingers worked faster.
Seconds later, I was strolling out of the cupboard, satisfied to hear a few shrieks of surprise, but that was where my advantage ended -- they had wands, and I did not. After a quick bow, I ran down the empty hallway, attempting to remember how I had ended up here. Had it been a left or a right? Did I even run down the correct hallway in the first place?
“Immobulus!” cried one of the girls just as I felt a breath of air from my left. Another hallway. Thankful for the excellent timing of its appearance, I darted into it, this time making sure to keep my left hand on the wall. Running was always stressful because, for all I knew, I could run into anyone any moment --
Of all the moments someone decided to be in my way…he had to choose now? While I was running from a pack of rabid beasts? Actually, that was incorrect on my part. The girls didn’t make up a pack -- there were only two of them, after all.
Speaking of “he,” English really needed a pronoun that wasn’t gender-specific. Calling whoever it was an “it” would be jumping to conclusions.
Rubbing my pounding head where his elbow had struck, I was about to skirt around him when a whiff of perfume hit my nose and a spell hit me square in the back. Today just was an unlucky day. And, as I felt cuts in my skin -- everywhere around my skin -- opening painfully, I covered my mouth in consternation and immediately regretted it. My shoulder felt as though it had been torn right through, and, groaning, I slumped against the wall, faintly hearing the girls exchange coins as their footsteps pattered away.
They had been placing wagers on whether they could hit me or not.
After today, I was going to find out who they were and make their lives incredibly difficult. Preferably with Peeves’ magical flying abilities.
“Are you going to give me another black eye if I help you again?” Oh, so he was a he. And his voice sounded incredibly familiar, as wary as it was, but the thing was, I never bothered to spend enough time around Hogwarts students to really match voices with names unless they’ve been antagonizing me and such. Because I couldn’t match his voice to a name, my mood brightened slightly, despite my soaked shirt.
“It’s your fault that I’m like this,” I told him, trying to stand up without the support of the wall but feeling a stab of pain beginning from the nape of my neck all the way down to the base of my back, like someone had just sliced me open with a dull knife. I winced. This pain was worse than most, but if I could get to Pomfrey on time, things would be fine. As long as I didn’t lose too much blood, everything would be alright.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” Nonetheless, he put one arm around my shoulders and the used the other to sweep my legs up. “Now, if you hold still, I’ll be able to get you to Pomfrey, save your life, et cetera, et cetera.” Though his tone was casual, he began to run before I was even completely off of the ground, and even though each step he took sent painful torrents of blood down my back, it was faster than what I could have done.
But I could already feel little tiny bits of my skin knitting themselves back together, so that was alright.
The next thing I knew, we arrived at the Infirmary, and Poppy -- er, Madame Pomfrey -- set me down carefully in a bed made specially for me (as if), drawing the curtain around us. Her words were always clipped, like McGonagall’s, but the difference was that she was motherly. Our lovely Headmistress rarely shined approval on anyone, let alone me.
“Hold still, you hyperactive child,” she scolded me. “It would be terribly unfortunate if you were to gain another few cuts in your skin from wriggling around while a knife was held at your shirt.”
I shifted about one more time to annoy her. “You could just use a wand,” I suggested helpfully.
“There is a very likely chance that the incantation will just result in a severed limb.” With that, the rhythmic sawing of the knife against the cotton threads began. At that moment, whoever brought me here (I would have to ask Poppy later who he was) began coughing violently and left the room quickly.
“This is my favorite shirt, and you’re destroying it,” I complained, wincing as the stickiness of the cloth clung to my figure before Poppy removed it. The bleeding had stopped, thankfully, but my body was taking the loss of blood quite harshly. If I had wanted to, I wouldn’t have been able to blow a feather a few feet.
“This is your only shirt.” A rubbish bin was opened, and I heard my shirt slide neatly to the bottom. Then she muttered a quick spell that spread a thin layer of water over my torso, clearing it off as she sent the water out the window, hopefully onto some unlucky soul’s head.
“Which makes the situation all the more dire,” I grumbled. “What am I meant to wear now?”
If bystanders had been there, they would have found it strange that I was paying so little attention to my wound, but I knew Poppy knew what she was doing. Plus, I always healed up quickly and was usually out of the Infirmary within an hour of entering it, and this wasn’t the worst scrape I had gotten myself into.
“Brittle Britta, Brittle Britta, where art thou, mine Brittle Britta?” Peeves sang raucously, slamming the Hospital Wing door open. As of late, he had been obsessed with the words “art,” “thou,” “thine,” “thee,” “thy,” and other words of that sort, but he rarely used them correctly.
So he would be hollering through the hallways, singing, “Wherefore happened to thine, you poor thirdsie with blimples?” (‘Blimples’ were bloated pimples, according to Peeves.) “Mine skin is perfectly clear and luscious, unlike thou’s!” And then he would proceed with pouring a bucketful of acne remover over the student.
Yeah. It was painful to listen to, but I assured myself that this was just a phase. A-few-centuries-years-old poltergeist’s phase.
“Right here, you unobservant bat. Follow the smell of blood,” I coaxed, my tone amused. Peeves was a good friend to have, and he never ceased to make me laugh, even if it was just his natural sense of troublemaking.
“Now, Peeves --” Poppy’s heels began clicking sternly towards the door, where Peeves presumably was.
“Two sixth year girls acting like doddy lovesick fools,” he informed me gleefully, cutting the Healer off entirely. A pastime of his was making up words that didn’t really make sense until he drilled the meaning into you. One wouldn’t think Peeves was capable of serious lectures, but he definitely was. Especially when it came to his words. “And guess what Peevesy took from them!” Before I could even open my mouth to answer, a series of clothes flew onto my face, successfully smothering anything I could possibly have said.
“You took their clothes,” I said flatly. “Brilliant.” The scents of perfume clinging to the fabrics filled my nose, and I stiffened. “Peeves. You hunted down the girls who locked me in the broom cupboard, and you took their clothes. Have you gone mad? Er, madder than you already are?” If these girls disliked me before, then they would despise me now.
“Well, you got your wish,” Poppy cut in primly. “You have a new set of outfits to wear.” She gripped my chin and pressed a flask to my lips. “You’ve lost enough blood in this room for me to paint my walls and floor,” she scolded as I resisted, “so hurry up and drink before it affects your mental health. More than it already has, at least.”
I grimaced as she forced the potion into my mouth, my throat unwilling to swallow the medicine. Finally, Poppy pinched my nose shut and threatened to treat me the muggle way. As much as I hated the wizarding world, I did have to admit that drinking disgusting potions was a lot better than being wrapped in bandages for months, especially since that would mean I’d be in bandages for life. Too many injuries.
“Poppy,” I croaked after I finished forcing the potion down. “First off, I don’t want these clothes. It has their stench on it. And, who brought me in here, again?”
Tutting her disapproval, Madame Pomfrey tapped me on the head with her wand. “You should have better auditory memory.” After a pause, she corrected herself. “Or, you would know if you actually bothered to speak to the students around Hogwarts. Not all of them are as high-strung as Rose and Dominique, you know --”
“Those stupid Weasleys.”
“PEEVESY WILL GO DOUSE THEM IN SLYTHERIN PAINT.” With that, the door slammed shut, making me jump, as he left the room, but I could still hear him singing, “Rosey and Doesy, both moronic -- erm, lowsies…”
“You’re a terrible influence, dear.” Poppy pulled the cork off of another flask with a satisfying “pop!” and sat me up on the bed. Leaning against the wall, I wrapped the warm blanket around my shoulders while also making sure that the Weasleys’ clothes were on the other end of the bed. “Have you noticed,” she continued, pouring the mud-like drink down my throat, “that you only use three adjectives when describing people? ‘Idiotic,’ ‘moronic,’ and ‘stupid.’ And now you’ve gotten Peeves to use those words.”
Though her reproving tone was clear, I felt pleased, and swallowed before answering. (Experience told me to avoid speaking with potion in my mouth.) “Good. The idiots around here could use some ego-shattering.”
“They’ll soon become immune to it, at the rate you and Peeves are going.”
“What are you planning on wearing now?” Madame Pomfrey asked, placing her empty flasks on a nearby shelf with a clink.
“You mean, after you unnecessarily cut up my shirt to make life difficult for me?” I groused. “Hm, let me think. Well, definitely not those disgusting articles of clothing that the two giggling ignorami wear.” That would show Poppy that I did know insults other than those three overused ones.
“Ignoramuses,” she corrected. “And don’t you think you should actually go and buy school robes for once, instead of washing and wearing the same non-uniform clothes over and over and over again?”
Any humorous response that might have come out of my mouth dissipated immediately. “No. That would actually mean I was a part of this bloody school, and I don’t think anybody would actually want that.”
There was a dense pause as Poppy got out a mop and whispered a spell that made it work itself, most likely to clean up the blood I had spilled all over her floors. “All right, dear. I’ll fix up your shirt.”
A few minutes later, I was able to sit up on my own, wearing the new and improved cotton shirt; Madame Pomfrey had even added pockets, fixed up a few torn threads, and added another layer of warm, silky cloth over it in preparation for the winter days coming up. She treated me well. “Thanks for everything, Poppy,” I called, swinging my legs over the side of the bed and stretching. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I dearly hope not, and for the millionth time, it’s ‘Madame Pomfrey’ to you,” she said, sounding incredibly exasperated. Somehow, though, her voice managed to retain that lovely grandmotherly tone, and it made me feel warmer. With a lighter heart, I stepped out of the Infirmary.
Well, I knew that brief moment of a good mood was not to last. Why?
Before, Peeves had just been a poltergeist that everybody would prefer not meeting, and their source of relief had always been when the Bloody Baron drifted around to scare Peeves away, and in my first year, I made what was probably the smartest decision in my whole life.
I had just turned the corner, students whispering behind my back non-stop (and even though I was unfamiliar with the prospect of ‘rudeness,’ I knew some nasty personalities when I heard them), and I had heard a heart-jarring crash, the sound of glass shattering against the stone floors of Hogwarts. Immediately, I knew this had to do with the infamous Peeves, the terrorizer of all students, because of the high-pitched voice that rang through the air.
“HA!” he cackled as he commenced dropping dangerous missiles from what sounded like a unsafe height. “RUN, YOU MISERABLE LITTLE FIRSTIES!” As the crowd of students, not just first years, surged by, avoiding the shattered pieces of whatever he had dropped, I was shoved along, trying not to trip.
Then, a student had cried out in relief, “Thank Merlin, the Baron is here!” At that, the shatterings stopped, and Peeves could be heard muttering to himself, his voice traveling to and fro in a sort of panicked state as he flew to avoid the Baron.
And that hadn’t seemed fair. It really hadn’t. There I was, locked up in this miserable castle with these wretched students as company, and this was a free spirit, forced into obedience by a single ghost. What right did the students of Hogwarts have to do this?
“No! Tell me, why are you afraid of the Baron?” I had shouted, immediately gaining more dislike from the students for myself. “You --”
“Shut up,” someone hissed.
“You, of all people, should not be scared of a ghost. A ghost! That’s all he is! All ghosts are useful for is complaining when solid beings pass through them! You have the bloody choice to be invisible or visible, and so why do you feel so inferior to a single ghost who can’t even tolerate his own state?” If I couldn’t be free, then Peeves, at least, should be.
“No wonder why people hate her,” someone else muttered. “Now he’ll wreak havoc on us all.”
“SCORE!” Peeves shouted gleefully, and, that time, I didn’t flinch as something shattered against the wall. “FIFTY POINTS FOR PEEVES THROUGH THE BARON’S HEAD!” A murmur of discontent swept through the students, and I felt quite accomplished at what I had done -- until someone had given me a vicious shove.
From that point on, Peeves and I were first acquaintances, and then casual peers, and then friends, and then best mates. It was a process, but we looked out for each other.
Unfortunately (for my bodily health, at least), most students didn’t appreciate my way of thinking. When I was a naive eleven-year-old, I had woken up every morning, wondering whether it was possible for this particular day to be it, the day where everything all made sense and I could begin to like my life.
Because, they restricted everything -- the books I could read, the classes I could take, and other stupid rules like that. Any book I wanted to read had to be checked over by Headmistress McGonagall first, and then it had to be translated to Braille. (Peeves and I found a way around that, however.) Add that to the hatred I received from the students (which no one would tell me the reason for), and life was torturous.
It wasn’t long before my hopes turned to “Maybe today will be the day I won’t lose copious amounts of blood.”
Cheery, I know.
My point is (after attacking it in a roundabout way), the students here never liked me, and the whole Peeves incident made it worse. I would never go back and change it, of course -- Peeves was one of the better people to come into my life, but it still made life a bit difficult. Which brings me back to now.
Ever since the Room of Requirement had been destroyed in the Second Wizarding War by the Fiendfyre, nobody had bothered to fix it because, after all, how does one go about tinkering with something that vast? Especially something destroyed by Fiendfyre. Well. Since first year, my goal had been to at least get the room working for certain needs, such as going to the bathroom, by the end of seventh year. At least, the theoretical part. It took my mind off things, anyway.
Plus, it would help all of those poor children who couldn’t find the bathroom in time.
So I was sitting in front of the wall that the Room was meant to appear in, brushing my fingers over an ancient text that spoke about wanting magic, and I was a hair from hurling the book at the wall. What stopped me was the fact that Peeves had gone through all that trouble to steal the book from the Restricted Section for me and to edit the text into Braille, and wasting all that effort was, well, a waste.
And then, lo and behold, my two lovely antagonists bumbled their way back into the tale, giggling in their rotten high-pitched voices. Were they wearing clothes, or were they just holding a sheet of some sort to cover their bodies? This was a question I did not want to find the answer to. It was disturbing enough as it was, just thinking about it.
“A bit heavy for the likes of you, isn’t it?” Who was this again? Rose, or Dominique? The two were interchangeable -- in fact, the world wouldn’t even notice if one of them decided to fall off the edge of the Earth.
Closing my lids, I leaned my head back against the wall but made sure to snap the book shut so that the cover was on the bottom. Even though there were those who always spoke about how “standing up for yourself” was key, I had learned that provoking the idiots with the wands was not a good idea. So, as much as I wanted to snap at them and give them a piece of my mind, remaining quiet was probably for the best.
After all, they could cast magic. Guess who the loser of the duel would be.
“Dumb as well as blind,” the other one said in a mocking tone. At least, it probably was the other one, unless the first of them had shifted a few feet to the right.
To keep things simpler for myself, I would call them Thingsie One and Thingsie Two. After all, it was fairly accurate, anyway -- the two mindless zombies did nothing besides act ditzy, idiotic, and everything in between. However, saying Thingsie One and Thingsie Two took too long, so maybe I could shorten it.
TO and TT it was, then.
“Care to explain why you’re subjugating me to these forms of mindless torture?” I asked casually (I couldn’t stop myself), though I was frantically calculating the amount of time it would take for me to get up and sprint against the length of time it would take for them to whip out their wands. Yeah, I didn’t stand a chance.
“I love how she thinks we’re stupid enough to fall for that,” TO scoffed.
And I loved how she actually thought she was more intelligent than stupid. As if.
“Exactly!” TT trilled, her shrill voice slicing painfully through my head. I had just lost what felt like gallons of blood, and so the least they could do was leave me alone for at least twelve hours so that the potions could take effect. They had only waited for forty-three minutes, not nearly enough time for me to take a break from their stupidity.
Hm. Forty-three minutes. The potion on the book that changed it to Braille would wear off in forty-five, and this was a book that was kept in the Restricted Section. So I lifted the book off the ground, and held it to my chest tightly, hoping for the best.
And it worked.
“Give that here!” TO, or TT, snatched it right out of my grasp (I needed to work on a stronger grip), and began attempting to read it, but, being the lowly beings they were, they couldn’t figure out Braille.
“Is this Braille?” TO asked, shock just seeping through in her tone. “You can read Braille?”
“Of course she can’t,” TT responded cheerfully, the cloyingly sweet tones dripping through her words. “It would require human intelligence, not the inhuman thoughts always running through her head.”
...They hadn’t yet figured out that I was blind? Holy moles of Merlin.
Even Peeves, who declared himself illiterate, could read Braille, and so it should have been a piece of cake for these airheads to notice that I had a bit more difficulty traveling around the school than others.
It had been as inaudible as a sigh could be, but the next thing I knew, one of the T’s had slapped me across the face for insolence. The other (the one with the book, I would imagine), ran off, presumably to babble the entire “true story” out to McGonagall before I had a chance to set things straight.
And, as the anger in me built up until I wanted to punch the Thingsie in front of me, I clenched my teeth. And then let loose a series of words that would make Mama pinch my lips together with clothespins and sit me in a pile of mud to stew.
The good thing was, she was scared away.
The not-so-good thing was, it may not have been me.
“How are you out of the Infirmary already? I took you there less than an hour ago.” Hm. That voice. Wait...
Was that Malfoy?
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