Chapter 14

Table Top Brawls

Agatha Swales had the doorways to the Great Hall opened for her and she lingered a moment on the threshold for effect. Then, leading Avery Berke by the hand, she stepped boldly in, chin in the air. It was the first time the two had really been seen in public together and Agatha desperately hoped that she looked her usual cool, composed, and poised self.

Avery followed Agatha, no longer self-conscious about being in public with her. If any one cared to mock, may they enjoy their icy coma.

Agatha was already having an effect on him. Though never the friendliest of people, Avery could now see a definite change in himself. He no longer cared about ridicule, nor did he loose his temper as readily. Agatha’s refined mannerisms were beginning to rub off on him, and he rather liked the change.

Shoulders back, he entered the Hall and walked quickly till he was standing next to Agatha. Standing behind one’s girlfriend did not make for a good impression. His head was moving back and forth, glaring at everyone and daring them to raise so much as an eyebrow at them.

So what if people thought the pairing was odd? They could keep their opinions to themselves, unless, of course, they wanted to find themselves in a nice block of ice or, perhaps, a fire bubble.

Agatha headed toward the Gryffindor table either to speak with Donal or to mock someone. Avery had not been sure which. He nodded as she stopped near a Huthleputh first year.

Of course she was there to mock. What else?

But when the first year said something very insulting to Agatha, something that should not be repeated (the girl was a first year! Where had she learned that word?) Avery felt that he had to act.

“Hey,” he said, stepping forward, fingers still laced with Agatha’s. “Who might you be talking about? Certainly not Agatha, correct?” He cocked his head to one side and raised his eyebrows, daring the boy to admit that he had been.

One frozen Huth coming right up.

“I meant Agatha,” the girl said reaffirmed, and Avery raised his eyebrows, wondering who she was.

“I suggest,” he began, leaning closer to her and dropping Agatha’s hand, “that you show her some more respect.”

He lowered his gaze then returned to his upright position. “Unless, of course, you would like to be a Popsicle? I do not take kindly to people who insult my girlfriend.”

“Leave me alone!” The first year shouted, bursting into tears and throwing a glass of red punch at Agatha and Avery. It soaked them both in sweet, sticky liquid.

“Dear me, what a performance.” Agatha sighed and with a quick swish of her wand dispelled the vile liquid mess from herself and Avery.

“Still what can you expect from one of her low descent,” she smirked, then looked at Avery and hastily corrected herself, “I mean from someone who is unwilling to act civilized.”

The violent commotion could hardly escape the notice of most of the hall. Vivienne looked up from the Hufflepuff table, blinking. She had missed most of the commotion, but she was quickly able to jump to two conclusions. One, Avery Berke was looking at Agatha like a love sick puppy, so they must be going out. That in itself was disgusting. Two, obviously Avery had hurt someone badly.

Agatha must have already corrupted him.

Ya saw it coming. Don’t be so surprised.

Vivi had seen this coming. After the love potion, Agatha had always seemed to follow Avery around everywhere. With Vivi dealing with her own crush, she had recognized most of the signs of both. She was not stupid. So, while disturbing, this was nearly expected.

Except I thought I had to be wrong. Bird Brain Berke and Agatha Swales Her Evilness. Ugh.

Vivi shook her head slowly, walking up behind the group of people. “Avery?” She asked, uncertain. He was soaking wet, but she decided he probably deserved it. “What’ve you done?”

Vivi was asking for it, coming over when Agatha was sure to be in a most foul mood. Avery had no intention of standing up for the sniveling brat. He was ticked, obviously, and was not up to being nice.

Not that being around Agatha would allow for a kind word toward the Huthleputh.

“Ask that freak.” He paused, “Actually, don’t. I don’t know what her problem is.” He threw his shirt on the ground and kicked it a few feet away. “I mean, how mean is it to tell her off for insulting Agatha? Don’t answer that.”

Sighing, he looked back up at her and folded his arms. “So, what do you want?”

“Oh, whatever next,” said Agatha and rolled her eyes. If it was not one freaky Puth it was another. From crazy, hormonal first year to the sniveling brat in one fell swoop. Well she would not, could not, tolerate this.

“He’s fine now, as you can see,” Agatha said in her most superior and frosty tone. “No, we don’t need anything and yes, you can leave us. I was just talking to my boyfriend if you don’t mind.” She waved one diamond ringed hand, “Erm Veruca, or whatever your name is, thank you.”

It was a definite dismissal. Agatha had her own reasons for this, but Avery Berke and the sniveling brat would be staying as far away from each other as possible from now on if she had anything to do with it.

But the ridiculous child had not moved.

“Oh please get a grip and stop making those pathetic cow eyes at my boyfriend, Veruca,” she said with a painfully false smile. “He’s with me, deal with it and go away,” she reiterated firmly, tucked one strand of perfectly styled blonde hair behind her ear and crossing her legs elegantly.

“Her name is Vivienne,” Aiko offered, moving from her place at the Hufflepuff table to join the conversation. She had had no desire to join the squabbling preps and the in their pointless arguing. The sight of Agatha and Berke together was nauseating, but truly none of her business.

At least it was not until Agatha insulted Aiko’s friend.

Aiko could deal with insults and death threats when they were directed towards her. Goodness knows Avery had tried her patience with both many times. But when her friend was insulted…that was inexcusable.

“Hello Agatha,” she said, her voice portraying polite disdain for not the individuals, but the couple. “Hello Berke.”

“Yes well, whatever, Vivithing, Veruca,” Agatha said glancing disdainfully at this new arrival. “And who might you be?” she enquired, although it was absolutely clear she did not care. “A Huthleputh by the looks of it,” she sneered casting her insolent green eyes over the length of the latest arrival.

Aiko raised an eyebrow. “That’s funny, I wasn’t aware I had my house tattooed on my forehead.” The small oriental second year withheld a grimace. The prospect of tattooing anything on her forehead sounded both foolish and frightening.

“You however, don’t need a tattoo. You practically define the word snake.”

“Well of course I am a Slytherin. My goodness, I consider it an honor that you can so clearly see my superior lineage.” Agatha smirked, “And as for you my dear child,” she said patronizingly, “You may as well have it tattooed on your forehead yes, for trust me, you could never be anything but a Huthleputh.” And the way in which she said the word did not mirror her disdain in any way.

Aiko smoothed her black robes with one hand as she stared nonchalantly at the older prep. “Is your memory as bad as your pronunciation?” she asked.

“We’ve already met. Though last time I do believe you were attempting to frame Berke for assault.” Aiko sighed in mock disappointment. “It’s quite obvious your loyalties change as often as your nail polish.”

Agatha raised one perfectly shaped eyebrow in amazement at the foreign looking child.

Vivi glanced at Aiko, a silent thanks written on her face. It was always nice to have one of the Dark Lord’s former servants, not to mention your best friend, there for support.

“Learn my name, Agatha Swales.” Vivi said, not bothering to hide the cold edge to her voice. “Vivienne Moor. Not Vivithing, not Veruca, and for you not Vivi. I don’t need ya butchering my nickname.” She took a breath then, staring at Avery. Agatha she ignored as too bothersome to worry about now, or ever. Vivi looked a bit like a deer caught in a head light but her fists were clenched.

“I agree with Aiko, Avery,” she said softly. “Agatha’s loyalties change as often as her nail polish. Obviously, so do yours.” For a moment it was possible to see the hurt in her eyes, but then she covered that with the cold exterior. Avery’s tone, Agatha’s evil looks: everything was clear enough. With Aggie as his girlfriend, Avery no longer had the time or want for friends. If he hurt Donal for Aggie, it would not be long before he hurt her.

I should’ve known, she thought bitterly. By now there were marks where her nails were biting into the flesh of her hands.

“Berke, I don’t know who ya are now, and I don’t care ta find out. You’re gonna need ta find some new friends. And take me off your current list.” She stood still for a moment, wondering what she had done. Then she shook her head. Turning, she walked away towards her common room.

Later she would cry, moan, and kill pillows for the unfairness of it all. Yet maybe this way she would inflict a little pain too. It was better than waiting for Agatha to totally brain wash Avery and turn him into a worse monster than herself.

Donal, Aiko, me…maybe we can start the Avery Berke Haters club,she thought sardonically.

“Veruca, sweetie,” Agatha called after her with a smile, “I don’t doubt that you too are a loyal hard working little Huthleputh. Neither do I doubt that you shall stick with the same dull group of acquaintances for the majority of your sad little life. Some of us are more…shall we say flexible… adaptable and for that I make no apology to you or to anyone else. No wait…”

Agatha held up a finger, and the corner of her mouth twitched in amusement at her own line of thought, “Scratch that… to anyone else I should have said, as clearly,” she pulled an expressive face at Avery, “I would never apologize to the likes of you under any circumstances.”

Agatha re-crossed her legs and leaned back becomingly into Avery’s arms. “Now my dear,” she said in a deeply patronizing manner, “We both understand your disappointment at this turn of events. I know that you yourself have been stalking my boyfriend for many months now. But here me now Veruca,” and Agatha sat up and for the first time her insolent green eyes flashed dangerously, “Do not cross me. You will find it…to be a most unwise course of action.”

Agatha gave her one final sly look, then, turning to Avery, just to reinforce her point, she kissed him long and lingeringly on the lips and Avery kissed her right back.

Had not it been Vivi, Avery would have rather enjoyed watching Agatha insult someone. Aiko would have been fine; that freak who tossed him out the window deserved to get her just dues.

But it was Vivi, one girl in his extremely small circle of friends. One in the circle that had gotten remarkably smaller as two had left because of his relationship with Agatha. Donal because he was ticked, obviously; Herdomine because she thought, for some reason, that Avery had deserted her; and Vivi, as she thought he was as Agatha and completely against Hufflepuffs.

But despite his feelings being completely obliterated, he maintained his air of dignity and simply stared at the girls as Agatha insulted them further. He did not want to say anything and destroy his already annihilated friendships further, but not saying anything would make the Huffs think he was completely taking Agatha’s side.

He was not entirely. He agreed with her to some degree, yes, as she was his girlfriend. But not entirely. He doubted that he could ever fully turn into an Agatha.

After kissing Agatha, Avery turned to Vivi and stared at her as she walked away, not entirely sure of what to say. Taking Agatha’s side would mean losing Vivi; taking Vivi’s, the same with Agatha. It was a no-win situation, and, though silence made it worse, it was a far cry from the hell that would erupt should he utter anything in anyone’s defense.

Aiko watched silently as Vivi left the Great Hall. It was not hard to see that her friend was heartbroken, and it was quite obvious whose fault it was. All the blame would be laid on that brain dead, hypocritical, preppy boy toy of Agatha’s.

And Berke would pay.

“She’d better be worth it,” Aiko warned, flapping a hand at Agatha. “Cause as far as I can see, you just blew off everyone who considered themselves your friend.”

Aiko turned on her heel and stalked out of the Great Hall. She needed to go repair some of the damage Berke had caused, starting in the Hufflepuff common room.

As Aiko exited, Donal stormed into the Great Hall, anger written all over his face. Quickly glancing around, and noting that no staff members were present, he smiled a nasty kind of smile. Avery was going to pay. Now.

Spotting Avery, he strode over and tapped him on the shoulder.

Avery sat thinking about his row with Vivi, when someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned, expecting to see Aiko, wand pointed between his eyes; Vivi, crying her eyes out; or Agatha.

But it was Donal. Perhaps the person he least wanted an audience with.

He was not sure whether his friend wanted to talk civilly about their predicament, or kill him for stealing his girlfriend. As he would not put anything past Donal, he shoved his hand in his pocket, fingering his wand.

“Hi Donal,” he muttered, lacking his newly-found confident attitude.

Donal grinned nastily in Avery’s face.

“Hi Ave,” his left fist came up and around, smacking Avery in the side of the jaw, sprawling Avery back across the table. “No wands, no magic. You and me. Now.” He spat the words at Avery, his anger unveiling itself.

Avery brought his hand to his jaw and rubbed it gently, looking up at Donal in disbelief.

He has got to be kidding!

But Donal was not, Avery was sure of it. The boy was approaching him, face beet red, most certainly aiming for large amounts of bloodshed…

Avery stood up, mouth hanging open, and approached Donal.

“Fine then…” he muttered, not wanting to go against Donal, but somewhat confident in his own strength. Though after feeling Donal’s fist, he realized that he had grossly underestimated Donal’s ability to pack a punch.

Donal squared off against Avery, watching how the other boy moved, the way he positioned his hands and feet. Although not particularly skilled at boxing, he had been taught the basics by his father; Lord Borric would not want his son to be easily beaten in a fight. And Donal had added a few tricks of his own, that were not supposed to be used in boxing. Queensbury Rules, that was for a competition match. But this…this was different. This was for real.

Suddenly Donal stepped in towards Avery, swinging round with his left, and at the same time stepping past where Avery was in order to get behind him. But his left fist missed its mark, as Avery nimbly dodged out of the way. Avery, it seemed, had the edge on speed, whereas Donal seemed to have the edge on strength.

“You really wanna kill me don’t you?” Avery asked. He had narrowly missed Donal’s fist due to the confusion of the sudden attack and he resolved not to doze off again. Donal was stronger and if he was not on his toes, Donal would bloody him up quite bad.

Avery did not want to hit his friend- ex-friend- but Donal most certainly would nearly kill Avery should he be allowed to throw multiple punches. And as Avery did not want to die…

He reasoned that for every punch Donal got he should get one. Only fair that way, right? Avery was not used to fighting and was unsure of how effective his punches would be. But he was not exactly weak, so a carefully thought out punch might do some damage, he hoped… He took a deep breath and charged at Donal, landing his fist in his stomach.

Please let that not have been a crap shot.

Donal attempted to side step as Avery charged him, but he was still slightly off balance from his previous maneuver. He mistimed it and Avery hit him full in the stomach, pushing Donal backwards a few steps and winding him.

Donal winced as he gasped for breath. That had hurt, mostly because Avery’s shoulder and body had been behind his fist. Keeping his guard up so that Avery would not be tempted to follow up on his charge, Donal paused to catch his breath and wait for the pain in his stomach to subside a little.

Still, it had been a valuable lesson. Never underestimate your opponent, and do not overestimate your own abilities. More cautious now, Donal circled Avery, watching carefully as Avery kept turning to face him.

Donal lashed out, leading with his right, hitting Avery squarely in his right eye, and followed up with another left to Avery’s mouth. Stepping back to avoid being grappled, he allowed himself a small smile as he saw blood from Avery’s lip.

Avery ignored the blood and the bruise forming on his eye. He was both somewhat used to it and too set on killing Donal to care.

Avery walked calmly up to Donal and smiled evilly before jamming his left fist into his ribcage and his right into Donal’s right shoulder. Avery was sure at least a rib was broken; the fracture would explain the pained look on Donal’s face. Donal had grabbed his shoulder, so he knew he had caused some damage, though Avery was unsure of exactly how much. Either way, it was sadistically funny to see Donal in what was most certainly excruciating pain.

Donal winced in agony as he felt something give in his ribs. Grabbing Avery’s shoulder, partly for support, he grinned a little, and with a gasp, slammed his forehead into Avery’s.

The world spun around in circles as Donal reeled from the impact, and dropped to the floor. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Avery fall as well, before the pain of his injuries demanded attention from his brain.

The entrance of a Professor to the Hall caused the curious on-lookers to break up, moving back to their respective tables. Professor Elionwy, writing a letter in the Ravenclaw common room, had received word from one of the house elves that she might be interested in the events here. She had been avoiding social situations for a while now, preferring the security of her plants and her office, but the house elf had been plainly terrified.

She observed the situation, striding forward with decided steps. Solemn black robes swished around her, convincing most of the students to move out of her way. She noticed two bloody boys, neither standing. It took a moment for her to recognize the first as Donal, one of her students. She knew Donal rather well from an encounter last year.

Brow furrowed, she walked toward the three, and then gasped as she nearly tripped over another student she knew well. It was Avery Berke, the comic relief of her greenhouse, with a strange obsession for burning plants (which he claimed she bewitched for some ludicrous reason). Now he looked a far cry from funny with a broken nose and other injuries. Seemingly a tooth of his had been knocked out.

“Sakes and Glory both,” Professor Mayvero breathed, guessing what had happened. She looked around, wondering where the other professors were. What had they been doing during this? Yet that was a problem for later. Currently, she had two bloodied boys to escort to the Hospital Wing. Brian Limey was already stepping in to levitate Donal.

Wingardium Leviosa,” Elionwy commanded, shaking her head. The unconscious Berke floated up. “Really Avery,” she told him, “I hope whatever happened was worth it, and that Medic Connor can fix that tooth. Silly child.”

Donal awoke in the morning, but did not move. His eyes stayed closed and his breathing regular; it was like he was still asleep. He listened carefully.

The room’s quiet, so it must be early, he thought. He opened one eye, just a little, to see what was going on in the room around him. He still owed Avery one, and he would take his chance when he could get it. That rib had really hurt.

He felt somewhat better. His ribs, whilst still sore, did not hurt that much, and his other bruises, well, they probably looked worse than they really were.

He saw Avery, directly opposite him in the next bed, still asleep, or so he thought. Avery’s eye was puffing up nicely into a wonderful shiner. Donal suppressed a grin. He looked around a little farther, careful not to move his head. Brian was sitting in a chair between the feet of the two beds. His chin was resting on his chest, an open book fallen into his lap. Obviously the Ravenclaw boy had fallen asleep.

Donal could see no signs of the medic, but she could be out of his vision. Yet there were no sounds in the Hospital Wing, other than the breathing of three people.

Taking an extra long breath in, he suddenly leaped out of his bed, and landed a punch right on Avery’s nose. A satisfying crunch accompanied Avery’s shout of pain as he woke up. Donal grinned again. One each.

He leaped back onto and over his own bed, so as to put some distance between him and Avery, just in case Avery had some tricks up his sleeve.

“Morning Avie pie,” he said sarcastically. “Sleep well?” He laughed a short, nasty laugh.

Again. Avery’s nose had been broken again. Once before he came to Hogwarts, once by Megan, and now by Donal. The blood was once more flowing freely and his nose hung in an awkward position. But as it was his third broken nose he had learned to ignore it. So what if it hurt? Donal was going to hurt a lot more. Avery was in no mood for physical attacks.

Eronia exolae!” Avery exclaimed, pointing his wand (which was oh-so-conveniently located on his night side stand) at Donal. It was hastily cast, but he was sure it was going in the right direction.

Donal ducked behind the bed as Avery grabbed his wand, and the spell hit Donal’s pillow. The pillow went flying across the room, bursting as it hit the far wall, scattering feathers all over the far end of the infirmary. Donal reached a hand up over his bed, and felt for his wand underneath his pillow. If Avery wanted to use magic this time, then fair enough. Donal knew some nasty curses he was just waiting to try out.

He edged away from his bed, wand in hand, keeping low until he could nearly see Avery on his bed.

Winexolae Leviasta!” Donal cried, flicking his wand in a moderately complex pattern, aiming at Avery’s bed.

The bed began moving fast, headed towards the wall.

Not good, Avery thought.

The bed hit the wall, and Avery fell into a mangled heap on the floor. Thank goodness the Medic was not in there. She probably had the same powers as a professor…Oh well. She was not, so Avery had free reign to kill Donal.

Avery stood up, ignoring the sharp pain the metal bars of the bed caused when they fell on top of him.

Congrego medius finis…” he muttered, smirking. He had just remembered the spell he had used at the ball to aid in gathering the armor pieces.

Everything— beds, chairs, utensils— was attracted to his wand, flying quickly towards him.

Eronia exolae…” Avery muttered, sending everything that could move toward Donal.

Donal suddenly found himself being bombarded, first by small things, vases, glasses, that sort of thing, but he could see bigger things starting to move slowly towards him.

Suddenly realizing just how much damage that could do to him, he cried “Procendez Physicalus!” swirling his wand in a circle around him. The objects now bounced harmlessly away, not causing him any problem at all.

He needed to disarm Avery, so that the other boy could not cast more spells at him. “Expelliamus!” he shouted, trying to target Avery’s wand.

“Crap…” Avery muttered, sighing. He had known Donal would pull something like that.

He tried to hold onto his wand, but could not. It was shaking violently and he was flying backwards. Trying to aim, hoping to properly execute the spell before he lost his wand, he muttered, “Retrorsum agitatius.” Perhaps if it hit, the reverse motion would give him back his wand. He was not sure on that one.

Avery’s wand flew out of his hand as he hit a cabinet and winced in pain. “Oh great.”

Donal, unable to tell exactly where Avery was aiming due to the shaking wand, hurriedly muttered “Incantati Deflectus“, a weak attempt to deflect whatever spell Avery was trying to cast. The trouble was, that spell was fine if it met the incoming spell directly, but if you missed, then it did not really do much— nothing in fact.

Avery’s spell hit Donal lower than he had expected, impacting Donal’s knees. Expecting to be blown backwards, Donal braced as best he could against the impact. Suddenly Donal found himself being dragged along the floor, feet first, towards Avery, not away from him.

Smack!

Donal’s feet hit Avery in the stomach, badly winding Avery, and Donal winced as he felt the pain of an ankle turning. But having had a few seconds to think, he knew what he must do. He folded his knees up as he hit, a

nd using his momentum flung himself on top of Avery. Donal’s wand was mere inches from Avery’s face, and Avery could see an almost maniacal smile on Donal’s face.

Lacarnum Inflamarae,” Donal almost whispered, flicking his wand at Avery’s hair.

Donal quickly rolled off of Avery so that he too would not be burned. He stood, favoring his bad ankle, facing Avery lying on the floor with his hair on fire, wand at the ready, for what ever Avery would do next.

Agatha had been standing at the entrance to the Hospital Wing for some time now. A small flicker of a smile played round her lips as she watched the two boys laying into each other. Idly she wondered who would win and as she leaned her graceful figure on the door her wicked green eyes flicked back and forth between the competitors.

She knew what people had been saying about her, but Agatha had never cared much for the idle, common and vulgar opinion. They were jealous pure and simple. Just because they were not capable of getting a boy and she had two fighting over her, what problem was that of hers? She flicked back her white ash blonde hair and felt immensely self-satisfied.

Avery stood up, ready to charge at Donal, when he remembered the small problem of his hair being on fire.

“ACK!” he exclaimed, peeling off his shirt and using it to smother the growing flames. They eventually died, though they took a few fingertips with them.

“You will pay for that.”

Perhaps later, he thought, But all the same.

His hair extinguished, Avery ran toward Donal, landing his fist in the boy’s stomach.

“Now, my wand?” Avery snarled.

Donal tried to parry Avery’s fist as the boy charged at him, but his ribs were still a bit sore and that slowed Donal down just a little too much.

“Oh!” he exclaimed as Avery hit him in the stomach.

Donal looked over Avery’s shoulder at the wand lying on the floor. Smiley weakly at Avery, he replied, “I don’t have it. It’s over there,” and nodded in the wand’s direction.

But the nod wasn’t just a nod. Repeating what he had done in the last fight, Donal head butted Avery in the middle of the forehead, but this time he got the angle right, and did not concuss himself in the process. He grinned as Avery staggered away from him. It was time to end this, once and for all.

Donal leveled his wand at the boy, but before he could cast his spell, Agatha interrupted.

Amusement was amusement, but really this whole procedure was getting rather wearisome. Like immature children Avery and Donal appeared to have once more resorted to battering each other rather in the manner of filthy mudbloods. If they had to fight she would at least have liked to have seen a virtuoso display with magic. But this was boys’ games and Agatha, in the doorway, was increasingly annoyed by such a display.

So engrossed were they on inflicting damage on the other, neither combatant saw Agatha slide out her own wand, twelve inches of White Ash with a veela core, and cast an area spell.

Suspendo perversum!” Agatha said softly with a swish upwards of her flexible wand.

The effects were as immediate as they were hilarious.

Both boys were suddenly yanked like puppets on invisible strings up to the ceiling where both promptly were suspended upside down, their pajama tops hanging comically over their heads and flailing arms. Donal’s wand fell to the ground to join Avery’s in a heap and various other objects (which surely only boys would keep in their pockets whilst in bed!) fell out of their pockets onto the floor.

Agatha Swales laughed. Yet it was her turn to be surprised.

Expelliarmus!” Medic Connor roared, catching the three wands that flew into her hands. She reversed Agatha’s spell with another flick of her wand, fire burning in her eyes.

Adalligo.” she said. The three children found themselves bound to the far Hospital Wing wall, stuck as though held in fly paper. Collecting their wands, Medic Connor threw them into a cabinet, locking it with a spell too harsh to be undone by common lock picking spells.

Despite being unable to move, the children could certainly hear. Medic Connor was angry, more so than any of the Hogwarts children had ever seen her. Very rarely was she just plain mad.

“Stupid, idiot children, what were you thinking? I leave the room for five minutes to see the Headmistress about you—yes Avery and Donal, you—and come back to see you at it again! That first concussion should have put you both in a bed for a week, broken ribs, Donal, don’t you want them to heal? Are you brainless? Did your mothers not teach you anything about health matters? You could have killed yourselves; you’ve ruined this Wing, throwing around furniture. Look at the medicines! Some of those cost more than I care to name.” She was nearly spitting by the time she finished, looking like a large angry goose. Then she rounded on Agatha.

“And you Miss Swales, standing there enjoying it. I’m not deaf, I know what happens. You’re so vain and conceited that you, the only person who could have stopped this from happening, didn’t. You were flattered, wanted it to go on did you?” The question didn’t require an answer.

“I don’t want one word back, do you hear me? I’m going to have a very long chat with your Head of House, and if Professor Blacknight can’t think up something suitable for you, I will. Until then, get out.”

She undid the spell for Agatha, sending her flying out the door, though she sat her down softly. Eugene was not ever one to be physically rough in her anger. Behind Agatha the door closed tightly, locking itself. The prissy Slytherin girl taken care of, Medic Connor turned back to the boys.

Both looked bad. She released the spell that held them, setting each down on a bed. Yet golden bonds held them to it, so they had no freedom.

“There will be no more fighting in here. Do you hear me?” she threatened, adding quietly, “This room sees enough blood without your bringing it here. Now.”

Both needed treatment, though at least Agatha had separated them in time to stop even more damage from being done. Avery had yet another broken nose and another concussion; Donal looked as though he had been the one under the furniture.

Sighing, the Medic went to the only undamaged cabinet, looking for her medicines. “Here.” she said as she poured a goblet for both boys. “Drink it all, I’m happy to say it tastes foul. It will heal anything you have that is broken. The bruises and cuts I will let you keep for a while, if only to remind you that fighting hurts more than it helps.”

She watched the boys down it, and then sat down on a chair in between them. “Explain.” she commanded. “Though I can guess much of it, I want to hear this story from your mouths.” She folded her hands in her lap, and waited.

Donal sighed a little, and chewed his lip. Where to start? How to explain it? The way that the medic had rounded on Agatha certainly had made him realize that it does take two to tango, as the saying went. Still, the medic was looking at them both for an explanation, and if Avery spoke first, that was only bound to land them both in more trouble.

Taking a breath, he started, in a quiet voice, “Well as you probably know, Agatha and I have been going out since our first year. Last year, Agatha, as a prank on Avery, slipped him a love potion. Avery became besotted with her, but only for a day, as the potion then wore off. I was a little troubled as I wasn’t sure what was going on, but afterwards Agatha told me she’d done it to humiliate Avery. Avery also said that he had no…er…intentions…towards Agatha.” He omitted the fact that he had used a truth spell on Avery to verify that fact.

Donal paused briefly, and wondered how to continue. Still he had started now, so it was best that he finish.

“Then Agatha started to be extra nice to Avery. I thought she was up to her usual games, so didn’t worry about it too much.” He glowered at Avery as he continued, a hint of anger in his voice.

“But then Avery started to, shall we say, return the favour?” He looked away from the boy, back to the medic. “And Agatha became rather pleasant with Avery. I thought he’d done the same as she had done to him, and given her a love potion, especially when I met them in the library…and…” a lump had formed in Donal’s throat at the memory, and he was blinking back the tears, the pain welling upside him again as he heard Agatha tell him, “Sorry Donal” and take Avery’s hand. He managed to finish his sentence, almost whispering, “Agatha said it was over.” The tears flowed down his face, unstoppable now, as he sat on the bed, crying silently, his shoulders shaking, unable to continue.

Had Avery not been so ticked, he might have had a small amount of sympathy for Donal. Might.

“You are pitiful!” Avery said, looking over at Donal and wanting to hit him again but not daring with the angry Medic hovering over them.

“I see you’re still on about Agatha not being in her right mind… denial, yes…” It was one of Avery’s favorite bad-mood pass times. He would make people feel even worse than they did before he jumped in. “Must be it. But, might I say in my defense, that I did in no way influence her. Use a truth spell, Medic, if you’d like. Donal, however, already did, so I don’t see the point.” He was smiling evilly by now, somehow getting a sick pleasure from seeing Donal so hurt.

It was almost laughable, seeing Donal, usually so composed, crying his eyes out like a little baby over Agatha, Avery’s girlfriend. He would have laughed, but Medic would definitely have something to say should he try it. “So I guess he’s trying to pin his own faults, the fact that he lost Agatha, for one, on me. Pathetic.” Avery finished.

Donal looked up at Avery, the hurt showing in his eyes. “I am not trying to pin my faults on you!” he shouted through his tears. Anger, he could use that.

Blinking back the tears, Donal allowed his anger to come out a little once more. He lowered his voice a little, a hard menacing edge to it. “You have taken her from me. I don’t know how you have done it, but I will find out. And when I do…” he paused, the threat hanging in the air. But on its heels, in his mind, came another question. Why?

Trying to keep his voice calm, he asked Avery the question that kept coming back to him. “But Why, Avery? Why have you done this? That’s the piece that I can’t understand.” He looked the other boy in the eye, some of the old Donal showing in his own face, hoping that Avery might at least understand what he, Donal, was feeling.

“Why?” Avery repeated, shaking his head. “Why what? I didn’t take her from you and you know it. She decided of her own free will.” The boy was unbelievable really, he really thought Avery would stoop so low as to steal Agatha from Donal. She did not matter enough to him to cause him to steal her.

“So how can you keep going back to ‘why’. I did nothing and you know it, so get off it.” Avery spat.

Donal was really beginning to irritate him. Perhaps later they would have to go at it again, courtesy of one, Avery Berke.

“Enough.” Medic Connor commanded. She looked between the two boys and back again. What she had heard was obscene, the blame for the Donal’s hurt easily laid on Avery and Agatha, and she suspected, the blame for the fight on Donal’s head.

She glared for a second, looking around the Hospital Wing.

“So that’s how we got to this.” she said with a sigh. To Avery she asked, “You are a Gryffindor, are you not Mr. Berke? In the house of the brave hearted and the true, yet it didn’t occur to you that you had a choice in this matter? Perhaps it was not laid out clearly to you, as your head was full of thoughts of Miss Swales. However, why did she not break up with Donal first, and then wait say two weeks to a month to start dating you? Would that not have been the honorable thing to do?” Hazel eyes swept over his, wondering where the common courtesy evident in her own generation had disappeared to. “If you had done this, you might have lost Donal’s friendship, but you wouldn’t have betrayed him, or had your nose broken.”

Done with Avery, and hoping she had given him something to think about, Eugene turned to Donal. “Dear, does not some of the blame here belong with your ex-girlfriend as well? No, don’t answer that. Simply know that fighting will not be tolerated here, no matter the wrong. If I must verify Avery’s story with a truth potion, I will.” A sharp look at Avery told him that she hoped, for his sake, he was telling the truth.

“I’m done lecturing.” she said, standing abruptly. “And I’ve no doubt the owls from Agatha’s father will start to pour in any second. So you two will be cleaning this room together. No magic, as I’ve got your wands. Repair all of the damage you did, clean up the spilt medicines, mend the furniture.” She released the spell that bound them to their beds.

“If I come back here to find you fighting again, Gryffindor will lose 50 points. I want no more of it. If you must work out your differences, find a way that doesn’t require a Hospital visit afterward. If I see either of you here again with anything broken, I’ll be sure to put a slow healing spell on you, and you’ll be bedridden for a week. Imagine-a week of me.” She readjusted her skirts, walking away to her office. With a second thought returned to take the three wands with her. Then she nodded crisply to Avery and Donal.

They were to begin their detention.

Arriving just in time to hear the punishment that the medic had awarded her two students, the Head of Gryffindor, Professor Gates, stepped into the Hospital Wing. She surveyed the mess with interest; it was quite impressive for the two of them to have accomplished by themselves. With a bit of training the two of them could be top duelists. Of course, this would have to wait.

“Medic Connor, may I have a word with you?” she asked as the two boys got to work. Medic Connor nodded and left the room, throwing a stern look over her shoulder at Donal and Avery.

Avery sighed, concerned over the damage his actions had done. He knew that really his only friend was Agatha and she would remain his only friend until he remedied the whole situation. An apology to Vivi for whatever he had done (he was still at a loss to see why she was mad); an apology to Donal for trying to kill him (though Donal had started both the fights); and an apology to Brian (or something) to fix the misunderstanding between them.

Then there was Aiko, who he could not have cared less about. No need to fix that horrid friendship. He would be nice to her when Vivi was around, maybe sometimes when she was not so Vivi would not kill him. Still, he really did not care about where his relationship with Aiko was going.

Trying not to lunge at Donal (and resolving to do it later) Avery squatted down and grabbed one side of a bed, looking over at Donal and daring him not to help. “Are you gonna help or what?”

Donal grabbed the other side of the bed, and roughly turned it back onto its feet, shoving towards Avery as he did so.

“Tell you what,” Donal said in an abrupt tone, “You do that side, I’ll do this one. That way we don’t have to look at each other.” Donal turned his back on Avery and walked to his side of the Hospital Wing. He started to gather some cleaning materials together when a small grin appeared on his face as he suddenly had an idea.

“I’ll be back in a minute, if the medic asks,” he called over his shoulder, and left through the doors of the medical wing.

Avery liked the idea, as cleaning one half meant that he did not have to set eyes on Donal. He nodded, turned away from the horrid boy, and began collecting various small items and setting them in a neat pile in the corner.

Then Donal said he was leaving? Dang him. If he didn’t come back, like heck Avery would clean his half of the Wing. Donal had established that they would each do half, had he not?

Donal left the Hospital Wing and hurried down the corridor to the nearest portrait. He had only have a minute or two before he was missed. Clearing his throat fairly loudly in order to get the painting’s attention, he spoke, addressing the painting politely in his cultured voice, “Excuse me, but would you be so kind as to pass a message to the house elves, that one of them is required in the Hospital Wing?”

The figure in the painting, a doctor in his late middle ages, looked up from what he was writing. “I’m sorry?” he replied.

Donal asked him again, now that he had the doctor’s attention, “Would you be so kind as to pass a message to the house elves, that one of them is required in the Hospital Wing?”

The doctor nodded absently. Turning to face one side of the painting, he called, “Nurse. See to that would you?” A nurse entered Donal’s view from that side, nodded at him, and left again.

Donal hurried back into the Hospital Wing, unable to suppress the grin on his face that was getting larger.

“Why are you grinning so?” Avery asked as he finally managed to tip up one of the five or so beds on his side. “And where did you go?”

Donal casually shrugged. “Oh, just needed to do something. Doesn’t matter, not important.” He turned away and continued to tidy up his half of the Wing. He darn well wasn’t going to tell Avery what he was hoping might work.

Tookey rushed breathlessly up the corridor towards the Hospital Wing. A message had been received that a house elf was wanted there, and it was Tookey’s turn to respond. Reaching the doors, he paused. He did not know why he was wanted, or anything about the situation, so he entered through the doors quietly, so as not to disturb anyone resting there. The sight that he saw inside made his eyes widen in alarm!

Tookey whispered to himself, “Tookey is not sure what happened here, but Tookey does not like what he sees. But Tookey sees why a house elf was called.” He looked around for the medic, but could only see the two boys cleaning up the mess. One matched the description of the boy who had asked for a house elf, although Tookey knew who they both were. After all, news of goings on did reach the ears of house elves.

Approaching Donal cautiously, Tookey gently tugged on Donal’s dressing gown. “Ex-cuse m-m-me s-s-sir,” he stammered, “b-b-but you requested a house elf? S-Sir?”

Donal turned as Tookey spoke. “Ah yes,” he replied. “Please help clean up the Hospital Wing. Start with this side,” he spoke in the voice of one used to commanding house elves, after all, there were plenty on his father’s estates. It had worked! He only hoped that the medic would not come back too soon and see Tookey.

Turning back to the house elf who had started to clean, Donal added, “If the medic, or any other staff member should appear, then you are to hide, and continue when they have gone.”

There, that should do it. And he would only have half as much work to do! Smiling to himself, he continued to tidy up, leaving the cleaning to Tookey, who could do a far better job than Donal, and with less effort.

“Well, well, well. What’s this?” A gentle voice floated from behind Donal, and he turned to see the assistant Medic, Echo, standing there, arms folded over her chest. No noise had been made as she arrived, so it was as if she appeared from thin air.

“Getting a house elf to do your dirty work?” she said with a smirk. She took a seat in one of the chairs and observed the scene slowly, taking in each tiny detail. “Must have been quite the battle.”

Donal turned to see Echo standing behind him, and he glanced briefly in the direction of Tookey. The house elf continued on with its work, as Echo was not staff…

That was an unforeseen loophole…

Donal smiled weakly at Echo. “I am cleaning up the mess we made, and without magic, being that the medic has locked up our wands. And for your information, yes it was ‘quite the battle’, as you put it. Although it was just starting to get interesting when people intervened.” He turned back to his tidying. “Is there anything else I can help you with, or is that it?” he asked dismissively.

Echo’s smile turned into a frown briefly, and she glared at Donal with steely blue eyes.

This kid has quite a nerve, Echo thought.

She shook away the frown and smiled again. “Well, when you put it that way, I guess you aren’t. I’ll go now. Adios.” And with a dismissive wave goodbye, she walked briskly out the door.

Avery had been staring at Donal in amazement. The boy actually got a house-elf to help do the grunt-work. Wasn’t it supposed to be a detention? A punishment? Wasn’t Donal supposed to clean up by himself, with no help from anyone but Avery?

“Hey, elf, scram.” Avery muttered, shooing the thing away with his hand. “Donal, you’re supposed to do it by yourself, ya idiot…”

Tookey ducked as Avery swiped at him. “But Sir,” Tookey protested, “Tookey is helping, sir. Helping you sir.” He moved a little further away from Avery, eyeing the boy nervously, and continued his work.

Donal smirked at Avery. “Well, she only said no magic, and its not magic is it? Go get your own house elf, if you want one.” H e continued straightening up the furniture, but as that was about done, he started some of the easier cleaning.

“You are unbelievable…Do you always try to find the easy way out?” Avery tipped over the third bed and gathered the linens to begin making it up, not really caring to hear Donal’s explanation, but curious nonetheless.

Donal grinned at Avery. “Well not always the easiest way out. More like, how much can I get away with. She did say no magic. She did say we had to do it. Which we are. She didn’t say that we couldn’t…ah…recruit…help. That might have been what she meant, but not what she told us. See what I mean?” Donal chuckled a little.

It was funny. Though he had tried to take Avery’s head off, Donal did not seem to be bitter. Sure, he was still mad, but he did not seem to be. It was more like the regular Donal (the easy-way-out Donal) had come back despite wanting to kill Avery.

“You always think that way.” Avery muttered, smiling. “Which isn’t necessarily bad.”

It was good-really good-that Donal was observant enough to realize that the Medic had not said that they could not recruit. Still, it was cheating.

Donal scrubbed at the side of a cabinet to remove the potion stains from it. Although he was still somewhat mad at Avery, he realized that the medic had been serious when she had said there would be no more fighting in the Hospital Wing, so he and Avery might as well make the best of it. And he also felt that he had gotten even, for the most part, with Avery.

As Donal scrubbed he answered Avery in a conversational tone, “I always try to think my way around or through a situation. I try to find an angle which is unexpected.” He paused while he changed the water in the bucket, and then continued, “Take the example of the Faerie Flowers. Teach them words. Okay…well, spell vocals are words. It might not be able to cast the spell, but why not try? They like milk to drink, so why not try something else? So let’s find something that might enhance their magical abilities. What’s available in the greenhouse? Not much in that line, but I’m full of wizard blood. So, combine the two effects, see what happens. I hadn’t thought of The International Code for the Use of Wands by Non-Wizards, but the professor liked my attempt and overlooked it.”

He finished cleaning the cabinet, and wondered what he could do about the dents without magic.

He turned to Avery. “And I also try to think of what might go wrong, and put damage limitation in place. For example, the medic comes back in, Tookey disappears. So she hopefully will never know he was here. Or not until it’s too late at any rate.” He grinned.

Turning back to the cabinet, he had an idea. “Another case. This cabinet has dents in it. We can’t use magic to fix it, and we are not strong enough to bend the metal so that it’s right. I thought about Tookey using magic to do it, but then the medic would know something was up. So how do we fix it?” He looked at Avery, a little bit like a professor would when tutoring a single student.

Avery sighed and stood up. “Same problem with the floor–some acid ate a hole right through it.” He paused while looking at it, digging his foot into it for a moment. “Great…that’s really fixable. At least the cabinet could be fixed if we tried hard enough. But this thing?” He shook his head. “Impossible.”

“Unless…” Avery looked over at Tookey. “He’s magical, but then again, that’s magic, right?”

Avery looked up and Donal for help, but Donal had asked for his opinion, so that would mean that he was out of ideas, right? “You’re the smart one here. Surely you can think of something.”

Donal’s devil-may-care grin returned, as he replied, “Yes. I’m sure I can.”

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