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Days Gone (Y4 - Pt. 1)

BIFnon Jun 18th, 2018 (edited) 249 Never
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  1. "We all know how this ends, don't do this!" Anon called out to his opponent, clutching his wounds. "Just walk aw-"
  2. "CONFRINGO"
  3.  
  4.  
  5. --
  6.  
  7. Though it was still early morning, the fuzziness in Anon's head quickly gave way to planning his joint venture with Charlie into the Forbidden Forest. The promises of a Vault hidden in its depths had gripped his mind for weeks, and only recently did he obtain the information necessary to breach the foreboding wilds.
  8.  
  9. "...really need to make a list..." Anon thought aloud, climbing the stairs from his dorm to the common room.
  10.  
  11. "What are you on about now?" Red-eyed and stifling a yawn from late night studying, Rowan wondered what his friend could be thinking about so deeply and so early.
  12.  
  13. "The Vault, Rowan! Come on, keep up, there's still a lot to be done. We still need some supplies."
  14.  
  15. "You really don't take a break, do you? Even I wait until I've got some grub in me before I dive into studying. Come on, no more thinking about it until we get breakfast." Rowan had been quite surprised at how studious Anon had become in regards to this latest Vault, rivaling his own efforts with classes. 'Maybe this clue was the closest he's been to Jacob since they started.'
  16.  
  17. "Yeah, fine, whatever. I just can't get it out of my head. Though, I'm stuck on one thing-"
  18.  
  19. "Stop. Seriously, you have to learn to take a breather. We'll work out the details later on."
  20.  
  21. And so the two wearily made their way to the Grand Hall, where another delicious feast was sure to be waiting. Finding themselves a place next to Barnaby, already gorging himself on more than a normal share of food, the pair began building their own meals quietly. The lug wordlessly acknowledged their presence, smiling quickly before the next bite. Anon's own quaking belly and desire to discuss the Vaults further caused him to follow his friend's lead.
  22.  
  23. "You know, there was something that bothered me about the forest business. I don't think just walking about the place is going to let us cover enough ground." Anon's voice was nearly drowned out by the surrounding conversations.
  24.  
  25. "And you don't want to get caught flat-footed with all the beasts out there. Things that'd kill you before you even see 'em." A hand patted his shoulder, as a familiar red-headed Gryffindor took a spot next to Anon.
  26.  
  27. "Yeah, thanks. Buut, that's what you're there for, right Charlie?" Anon clasped the new arrival's shoulder and shook it.
  28.  
  29. "And here I thought it was because I was your friend." A fake pout spread across Charlie's face. "But honestly, do you think I can just whip out a charming smile and spout some lines to soothe everything out there? That only works on one type of beast." The pout gave way to a wink.
  30.  
  31. Anon knew the 'beast' his friend was referring too, and was confused at the sudden discomfort that washed over him. It was true that Charlie had completely disarmed Merula by appeasing her ego; was he just jealous that he didn't think of that tactic first? "Right, right. Well I was thinking that we've got some supplies to take with us, and that's just going to weigh us down if we're on foot, so what if we-"
  32.  
  33. "Took your brooms?" Rowan piped up, clearly recharged from finishing most of his plate. "It'd at least give you a quick way out of any trouble. And according to the books about the Forbidden Forest's 'residents', not a whole lot would be able or willing to catch a flying target."
  34.  
  35. "You'd make a great seeker Rowan, always swooping in at the right moment to take my moment of brilliance away." Anon tilted his head and frowned at his best friend, but laughed it off. "Exactly what I was thinking. Gives us a way in, out, avoids a lot of obstacles and trouble, and will speed travel up by a ton."
  36.  
  37. "It'd be brilliance, if you hadn't forgotten what happened to your broom last week." Rowan shot back.
  38.  
  39. Anon's face went flush. "You and I both know that wasn't my fault. She practically forced me into the ground with that stunt of hers."
  40.  
  41. "And you think that loaner you've got is going to save your ass in the forest? Or do really plan on waiting until yours is all fixed up? Excuse me for caring for your safety, but I don't think either of you should head into that death trap without the best of rides." Rowan's genuine care defused Anon, whose memories of the incident were unpleasant.
  42.  
  43. "I'm not exactly made of money, and anything I could buy would require just as much waiting as getting my old broom fixed up." Anon's head slumped in defeat, supported only by one hand on his forehead. "Back to square one, I guess."
  44.  
  45. "Merula's got a really nice broom." The unexpected interjection came from Barnaby this time, working his way through his second plate. It was his second, wasn't it?
  46.  
  47. "Wha- Snyde? Your head on straight Barn?" Confusion once again struck Anon, evident by the raised eyebrow and tilted head.
  48.  
  49. "You never heard her going on and on about it? That thing's some new model, think she got it from what her folks left her, before they... you know." Barnaby continued on, but was clearly dividing his attention between the conversation and what to put on his plate next.
  50.  
  51. "The one she claims was signed by some Quidditch superstar, but won't ever let anyone see? You should know better than us that sometimes she just talks herself up." Anon's interest was definitely piqued, but his experience with Merula's boasts had told him to doubt anything she said.
  52.  
  53. "I mean, she doesn't lie all the time. She showed me once during practice, I don't know what's so special about it though, just that it's nice. Could ask her to borrow it."
  54.  
  55. "Barnaby, come on." Confusion turned to disbelief at his friend's suggestion. "You know exactly how that'll go down."
  56.  
  57. "Don't knock it until you try it, Anon." Now Charlie was agreeing with Barnaby? What was going on? "I'm sure if you piled on some compliments, you could do it. Besides, it sounds like she owes you for what happened to your broom."
  58.  
  59. "You like the idea so much, you do it, Charlie." He was beginning to believe his friends were just goading him into making a fool of himself.
  60.  
  61. "Not this time, buddy. At some point, a man's gotta learn to speak for himself. Plus, I've already got my broom, and I'm not keen on doubling up on it."
  62.  
  63. "Okay, fine. Yeah , I'll do just that. Just walk on up to her and say 'Oh Merula, you're the greatest witch with the cutest nose in the school. Won't you please let me borrow your amazing broom so I can beat you to the next Vault?'" Anon was giving up; there was no approach he could think of that would work out well for him.
  64.  
  65. Barnaby, Charlie, and Rowan all shared a look of concern, dropping their focus on their meals and staring at Anon. "That almost sounded genuine, and where'd the nose part come from?" Charlie was the first to break the shared silence, putting a cap on Anon's growing unease, who had become equally as confused at his own comment. "Couldn't hurt, but I think you've got to work on your acting, but maybe keep the blushing cheeks. And don't mention the Vault, of course."
  66.  
  67. Anon's discomfort returned, but the focus quickly changed as Rowan asked "Speaking of 'greatest witch', I haven't seen her even enter the Hall today. Think she's already got a head start on us?"
  68.  
  69. "There's no way," Anon scanned the room with his friends, finding no sign of his rival, "We've got the only clues there were."
  70.  
  71. As if to distract the bunch from their conversation, the windows to the Great Hall opened, giving way to a flock of owls carrying parcels of varying sizes. The group's own owls carried little more than letters with regular updates from their families, though Barnaby was left out, aside from a copy of the Daily Prophet. He quickly turned to the section on Quidditch, but paused to look at the occasional moving picture.
  72.  
  73. The dull murmur emanating throughout the Great Hall slowly gave way to assorted jeers, laughs, and fearful chattering. The friends low interest in their own mail allowed them to catch on to this development, and they quickly asked their neighbors what the buzz was about. "You'll never guess who made the front page of the Prophet! And a piece by Rita Skeeter herself, what an honor!" The student snickered and returned to his own conversation.
  74.  
  75. The group collectively perked up at this hint, and grabbed at the discarded pages of Barnaby's copy of the Daily Prophet. For some reason, a pit developed in Anon's stomach, and he could feel himself go pale as dread replaced his curiosity.
  76.  
  77. As Rowan turned over the page, Anon realized the source of this strange feeling, immediately recognizing the fidgety movement and tussled hair of a familiar witch. The headline read:
  78.  
  79. "Fated for Fame, or Doomed to Darkness?"
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