Chapter 15

Cruel Concoctions

Vivienne Moor stormed into the common room, burning with anger. Normally calm tempered and forgiving, she looked capable of murder. Her fists were clenched tightly, her steps sounded loudly as she stomped up the stairs to her dorm, and though her hair hid her face she might, just might have been crying.

Only two words could explain why she would be acting like this. In essence, it seemed to be the name of all of her problems, or at least the un-Quidditch related ones.

Avery Berke.

Collapsing onto her bed she buried her face into a pillow, taking deep, stifled breaths. After a moment she stopped shaking and lay silent. She heard the door open and assumed Aiko was there as well. Grabbing a tissue, she wiped her face off. What little bit of make-up she had taken to wearing smeared.

Why do I have to care so much? Vivi wondered furiously. Never again. Gads, I hate him.

Under control now, though her skin still felt tight with anger, she sighed. That friendship was over. She could accept it and get over it. Agatha was a Barbie, and if Avery wanted to play Ken that was just fine with her. He was an idiot. Plain and simple. She looked up, hoping to see that it was Aiko who was watching her, and not someone else.

Aiko crossed the distance between the two friends hesitantly, as if unsure if the other girl’s anger at Avery would carry over. It was not an uncommon feat: when Aiko’s father was upset he usually directed his anger to the first person who breathed. It made for a few stuffy dinner parties, to say the least. And as Vivi almost never got mad, Aiko had no idea what to expect.

Approaching her heartbroken friend carefully, Aiko extracted a soft, white handkerchief. It had her initials embroidered on the border along with small, pale yellow flowers. Despite the episode last year, her nanny still expected her to cry at the drop of a hat. Aiko sat down next to Vivi and pressed the cloth into her clenched fists.

Without a word Aiko waited patiently for Vivi to wipe the mascara from under her eyes, which were stained with tear streaks. “Thanks, Aiko.” Vivi said, though mostly she succeeded in smearing the mascara further with the handkerchief. She sniffed, brushing her hair away, straightening her shoulders. Agatha was worse than a prep; there was no shame in preppiness. Agatha was heartless and concerned only for herself. She held the title snake better than perhaps any of the other Slytherins, simply because she was as cold-blooded as one.

Yet it was not Agatha that had Vivienne in tears. She knew better than to expect anything softer than mockery from the Slytherin. Agatha had continued to insult her even after she had left the room, for crying out loud. No, that bothered her very little. Most of the school hated Swales as much as she did, excepting Donal and a very few other Snakes.

It was Avery, who she might have thought would say a word, even if she had denounced the friendship. She had expected him to at least react, not let Agatha do all of the talking. Obviously he would spend their relationship at her beck and call. The thought struck Vivi as funny, imagining the over six foot Berke waiting on Swales. She let out a sudden, unexpected laugh.

“I’m okay. A day and some chocolate. It’s not liked I’ve talked to Avie in six months without that Snake hanging all over him.” She said, unconsciously wringing the handkerchief between her hands. “Yah. Gosh I’d like to see the Poltergeist get her. It’d make my day.”

It took a moment for Aiko to gather herself together again. First Berke turned into a displaced snake, now Vivi was coming dangerously close to threatening an older student—small, peace making Vivienne who had kept Aiko from tearing out Berke’s throat many times.

“It’d be the only decent thing Puck would ever do,” Aiko agreed. The poltergeist’s antics were well known around the school, but Aiko doubted if even the troublemaker could think up something painful enough for the likes of Agatha and Berke.

Aiko put a hand on Vivi’s wrist, trying to calm her anxious hands. She was worried Vivi would scratch herself in the process of wringing the handkerchief. Plus, the handkerchief looked dangerously close to ripping.

“Sorry Aiko,” Vivi said. She carefully folded the now wrinkled and stained piece of cloth, and set it aside. “I’ll wash it and give it back to ya.” She stilled her hands in her lap, trying hard not to fidget, or even bite her lip. Instead she let herself calm down until coolness washed through her.

It was odd, Aiko being the one to comfort her. Vivi was used to her role as peacemaker. A friendship broke, an argument happened, and she always tried to fix it. Even after Aiko came back from being a minion of the Dark Lord, Vivi listened to her story before setting her mind. Yet this time the situation would not be mended.

“Fits him, doesn’t it? Snakes are his worst fear, yet he becomes one,” Vivi observed darkly. She saw red at the thought, but pushed it away more readily this time. She tried to concentrate on something else, yet in changing the subject it would be obvious what she was avoiding. Instead she lapsed into silence, staring idly at the yellow Hufflepuff comforter.

Beside her, Aiko sighed softly.

Vivi ignored Avery over the next few months. She pretended that she did not see him in the hall ways. She was careful never to wander near the Gryffindor commons. More so, she stayed away from Slytherin and Agatha, a double combination of agony. In her mind, she decided that she had never been friends with Avery.

In her heart, she hated him.

It was not a violent, self-destructive hate, but it was there. As a Hufflepuff, Vivienne took friendship and loyalty seriously. She felt betrayed by Berke, back-stabbed. A sense of self-righteousness prevailed, and she resolved, slowly, that she wanted to see him pay. Such were not thoughts that were common to Miss Let’s All Be Friends Vivi. She wanted to see him suffer. She wanted the satisfaction of that.

She wanted revenge.

So one day shortly after Vivi collapsed onto the bed, staring at the ceiling for a moment. There came a noise, and she looked up to see Aiko enter the dorm. Grimly she smiled, a wicked and unexpected light shining in her eyes.

“Aiko. Do you feel like getting back at Berke?”

Aiko snorted and sat primly on her own bed. What a ridiculous question! She did not hate Berke the Jerk, but someone needed to give him a good blow to the head. He needed to be punished for his backstabbing…not to mention his stupidity.

“Of course I do,” she said, eyeing Vivi curiously. Though Aiko was generally quiet, she did tend to get into a few spats and Vivs the Peacemaker was there to bail her out.

She gave the wall a glare as a new thought hit her. Berke had corrupted Vivi: driven her to his own evil ways. Still, a little spice was not bad for the character. “You have a plan?”

Between the two of them they would be able to find some way to him back. And she would enjoy every minute of it.

Vivienne answered with a simple, bone-chilling “Yes.” She had decided that Berke had to pay, and if Agatha Swales got dragged into the revenge, so much the better.

Reaching into her bag, Vivienne pulled out a copy of a book on potions, flipping through it. “I ran across this potion before midterm,” she explained, “But the thought didn’t occur to me at first. Then, I was trying to think of something good to do to him…and remembered it.” She flicked coal black hair out of her face, turning the book to where Aiko could see the potion’s use and ingredients clearly.

For Berke it fit. The potion made anyone who drank it experience their worst fears for at least two hours, possibly a week if it was made to be potent. Vivi would spare no pity or ingredients. She knew his worst fears, snakes and heights, and amused herself by imagining him on a broomstick with snakes for hair. It was a potion made for revenge, slightly complicated, but not far beyond their skill. “That’s the plan.” She said, as Aiko finished reading the page. “I think Donal will help, if we need him. What do you think? Any ideas?”

“Geeze Vivs,” she said, scanning the page for a second time. “This seems kind of…harsh.”

It was true. She would never have expected Vivi to read this type of book (Cruel Concoctions) much less put it into use.

“Donal will help,” Aiko decided, smiling. “If there is something in it for him.”

Somehow she doubted that the torture of the boy who stole his girlfriend would be enough for Donal. And money seemed a bit inappropriate for this type of thing. “What if we…”

Aiko told Vivi of her idea, and once more thanked Merlin that they were the only second year Hufflepuff girls. The privacy was a useful tool, especially when pulling off a stunt like this. Judging from the amount of time it would take to make the potion, not to mention how many ingredients they would need to acquire (by hopefully legal means) and prepare, they would use every inch and more of their dorm.

“Emotional and mental torture, and sweet, sweet revenge,” Aiko laughed. The shy second year had been transformed by experience, and now found herself looking forward to causing Berke misery. It was frightening, but at the same time…exciting.

Vivi nodded decisively, slamming the book shut and shoving it under her pillow. She sighed as a cloud of dust billowed up.

“Harsh and cruel.” She agreed. “But doesn’t Berke deserve it? How many times has he threatened to kill ya? Half the people I know’ve been cursed by him. What about what he did ta Donal? He deserves it.”

Aiko’s smile obviously meant consent, and Vivi returned it with a sly one of her own. The dorm provided the most secluded spot in the school, the potion ingredients they could obtain one way or the other, and Donal’s help would cinch it.

“Sweet sweet revenge.” She echoed, standing. “We just have ta talk ta Donal.”

Avery would be ruined, and she would be there to see it. On paper anyway. There was still a long way to go before the finale came.

Aiko stood soon after, the potions book still clasped under her arm. The plan was secure enough for the moment and no further planning could take place until Donal gave his input.

“I’m off to the owlery,” she said, slipping the book into her bag. “I can probably get most of the ingredients from my father. You’ll talk to Donal, then?”

“I’ve got Donal.” Vivi said, glad Aiko could secure the ingredients. Her own plan had included raiding the potions stores, and it was doubtful that any Professor would like that.

She followed Aiko out of the door, then changed her path to head to the Great Hall, while Aiko went up to the owlery. From now on secrecy would be crucial; neither Avery, Agatha, nor anyone else could suspect what was up, or the entire plot would be foiled. In all, she wanted it to be impossible to find out what possessed Avery when the time came, and that meant being careful to cover her tracks.

Entering the Great Hall, Vivi strode towards the one table she had been avoiding for the past several weeks: Gryffindor. She bit her lip, nervous. With her worried expression, black robes, and pale skin she looked almost gothic. At the moment she was not concerned with looks, however. She was concerned with finding Donal Talmorra.

Vivi sighed with relief upon spotting him sitting at the end of the infamous Lion’s table, with no Avery or Agatha in sight. Probably the Barbie and Berke were off snogging somewhere. She sat down beside him, clearing her throat so that he would notice her presence.

“Hi Donal. I’m Vivi, I don’t know if we’ve formally met.” She stopped biting her lip, casting a glance around to make sure no one watched. She was pleased to see the Hall was nearly deserted, and no curious first years lurked nearby.

“I need to talk to ya—in private, if that’s all right.” Holding her hands together, to keep them from fidgeting she waited. Almost as an after thought, she then added, “I think you might be interested.”

Donal had thrown himself into his studies for the several months or so, mostly ignoring the people around him, except when he couldn’t avoid speaking to them. So he did not look up from his books as a girl sat down next to him. He did not really care. Caring hurt too much.

He glanced up as she spoke, vaguely acknowledging her presence, but continued to write while she talked.

A private conversation? That could be bad…best find out a little more first.

He sighed and turned, all of his attention now focused on her. “I’m not too sure that I want any surprises right now, especially in private conversations, so how about giving me a hint of what it’s about, even if you don’t want to divulge the details here?” He raised his eyebrows a little, giving Vivi a look that said “This had better be worth my time,” and waited for her response.

Vivi sighed; this was not the place for a lengthy explanation. Still, she could not expect Donal to trust her off of those few words. Obviously a short explanation was in order.

Flatly, she replied. “First, a question. Who do you and I equally hate right now? Come to think of it, it’s probably two people.” She waited for a flicker of recognition in his eyes, and then nodded slowly. Lowering her voice she finished, “I’m talking revenge Donal, and I think you may want to help.”

Though she certainly did not want to tell him more in the Hall, she was resigned to it if she must. Donal held a vital piece of the plan Aiko and herself had concocted, as only he had access to Avery. If he refused, they would run into a dead end.

Donal’s eyes narrowed a little, slightly surprised. From what he knew of Vivi, she had always been the ‘Lets be Friends’ type with everyone. Now she was talking about revenge? That, by itself, piqued Donal’s interest. And she also thought he would be interested…

“Okay,” he replied, a little cautiously, “You’ve got my interest. When and where do you suggest we talk further?” Mind you, he wasn’t going to be completely defenseless and unprepared, just in case this was a trap by Avery…

“How is now and the library?” She asked, not really wanting to have to hunt down Donal yet again. He was very elusive, avoiding most of human kind recently. While she wondered if the letter he was writing was important, he didn’t look busy so much as bored. So, perhaps he would agree.

“I know that’s not very private either, but it’s better than here.” She said, ticking the virtues off on her fingers. “I assume you can cast a secrecy spell, if not I can. Oh, and it’s common ground.” She grinned a little at that, having noticed that Donal was as cautious about this as she was inexperienced at it.

“So. Coming?”

Donal grinned a little in return. She had some idea of his caution, so at least she knew he was on his guard. “Okay. Let’s go.” He stood up, closing his books, and stuffing them quickly into his bag, and followed Vivi.

Vivi stepped into the library, Donal behind her. Thankfully the library seemed even more deserted that the Hall. Heading over to one of far corners, Vivi sat down in a chair, motioning for Donal to sit in the one beside her.

Taking out her wand, she cast a spell that would shield anything and everything they said from listening ears. As she was still a second year, the spell was detectable by those who looked for it, but otherwise it seemed as though she and Donal were carrying on a mild conversation, though the details were not audible.

“All right,” Vivi said, ready to outline her plan. “Aiko and I are planning revenge against Avery and Agatha, as ya already know,” she paused. “I hate Avery, and I think he needs to be taught something. We need your help ta do it without being caught, and ta work out some of the details.”

She let that sink in, and then sat back. “I know you’ll have a price, but I think that if we stretch the revenge to include Agatha, that should cover it,” she finished, planning to tell him the actual plan if his final decision was to help them.

Though at first it had seemed Donal thought Agatha an innocent hurt through Avery’s evil ways, by now he had probably realized that was far from the truth. She had cheated on him with his best friend, and unless Vivi had mistaken Donal’s personality, he would want to hurt Agatha like she had hurt him.

Donal sat down beside her, his wand hidden up his sleeve, but in easy reach if needed. He nodded absently as she cast a privacy charm. Simple, but effective. Whilst he knew that almost any of the third years could penetrate the spell, he doubted that the breach would pass unnoticed by either Vivi or himself, and that was if anyone was actually bothering to eavesdrop anyway. It was discrete.

Donal leaned back in the chair, his elbows on its arms with his fingertips together, index fingers on his lips, eyes nearly closed, as he pondered what she had said for a moment.

They needed his help. Whatever their plan was, it probably could be done without his help, but it might well be harder. They needed to be able to get to either Agatha or Avery, and he could get to Avery far easier than they could. They also thought that he would reduce the risk of being caught.

A faint upward curling at the corners of his mouth held the suggestion of a grin or smile. That was probably true, even if he was not being big headed about it. They needed some help on the details, and realized that Donal was good at scheming. That appealed to him. Mind you, flattery was always nice. And they also knew that he would have a price. Nice of them to be realistic as well. Revenge on Agatha?

Hmm…that was an interesting proposal…

This proposition certainly had a lot going for it. And, he had to admit, it would be enjoyable to scheme.

Who was he kidding? He knew he was already in, had been since the moment he had agreed to talk to her. But what did he really want out of it? Satisfaction, that’s what. Satisfaction that both Agatha and Avery knew, really knew, how much they had hurt him.

His hands dropped into his lap as he leaned forward. “I’m in,” he said with a slight nod. “What’s the plan you have so far?” A gleam in his eyes showed that he looked forward to this.

Vivi smiled a true smile this time, though it was lanced through with evil intent. She was going to enjoy this, revel in the sheer cruelty of it. The second year girl had changed, and so far it looked like a change for the better. No more innocent Miss Vivs.

Studying Donal with careful intensity, she believed that he wanted this as much as she did. He seemed flattered, meaning she had gone about this the right way, and his devious mind was already at work. Yes, she felt, they had made the right choice in asking for Donal’s help. He was a business partner she would be careful to never underestimate.

“It’s a potion I found in Cruel Concoctions.” Vivi told him, launching into the details of their plan so far. “Its use is ta show the drinker his or her worst fears. The amount of time such torture goes on depends on how strong it’s made. Avery’s worst fears are snakes and heights. I want him to experience both. And I’d like ta know what Agatha fears most.” She permitted herself another small grin at that thought of the heartless Agatha scared out of her wits and mind.

Her motives were much the same as Donal’s. Satisfaction for wrongs done was something she felt she had to gain. Also, the harsher side of herself simply wanted Avery to be hurt like he had hurt others. Like he had hurt her. She wanted Berke to have a taste of his own medicine, to feel pain.

“Aiko can gain most of the ingredients from her father,” she told him. “For the others we can raid Blacknight’s cabinets. We have the Hufflepuff second year dorm all to ourselves. That’s where we can brew it.” She wished for a copy of the potion to show him, but Aiko had taken the book. It really was not all that important though.

“For your part, we need ta be able to get it to Avery and Agatha, in a place where we can watch it happen. The potion will be ready in possibly two weeks, depending how long it takes us ta get all the ingredients. What do ya think?”

Donal nodded as she spoke, a small frown appearing when she mentioned raiding Professor Blacknight’s stores. Things could go very wrong there, and that needed good planning, or preferably an alternative.

They had quite a good place to brew the potion, and even house elves wouldn’t disturb a students “work” in their dormitory. Certainly Donal could not brew it in his dormitory.

So his part was to arrange delivery of the potion. That should be fairly straight forward. A little planning, yes, but not overly difficult.

When she had finished, he spoke. “I’m not too keen on the idea of stealing ingredients. Too many things have the possibility of going wrong there, and if that fails the potion can’t be made, and the whole plan falls down. Let me know what you need. I might be able to arrange some supplies of our own.”

Simply asking his own father may be enough, but if it was not, well there were other means outside Hogwarts of getting things. “We might want to see about getting a Hogsmeade trip organized. That would allow us some…er…alternatives if necessary.”

“All right.” Vivi said, “That would work better; stealing is more of a last resort, though Hogsmeade might be difficult. Anyway, I’ll get you a list soon.”

The most preferable thing would be to gain supplies from sources that were not traceable, such as Aiko’s or Donal’s father. Organizing a trip to Hogsmeade would take time, to begin with, and there were always sales records.

Apothecaries were sure to be suspicious of students needing potions supplies that were not standard. Having heard a first hand account of Danuliete’s wrath before, Vivi planned to avoid it at all costs.

Donal stroked his chin with his right hand, a sign that he was thinking intently. “I have some ideas of how to get the potion to them, but let me think things through a bit, and I’ll get back to you on that one.” Donal wanted to see them when they took the potion, up close and personal, but he knew that might well jeopardize the whole thing. He would need to think of the right approach to that one. “Where did you have in mind for the grand finale? Or do you want to leave that to me for now?”

“I’ll leave it more ta ya,” Vivi replied hesitantly. She trusted Donal to think of the most conniving, under-handed way to sneak them the potion. Yet she really wanted to be there when it happened, even if that was risky. The entire plan was risky. They would have to be smart.

“All right. You’ll figure out how to get it to them while we brew it. I want to be there when they take it, if possible.”

There was something more. Vivienne wanted Avery to know that she had done it, but she also wanted him to have no proof. How that could be accomplished she had no idea, but maybe…

She brushed the thought aside. There was no possible way, and they had to be practical about this.

Avery Berke sat down against a tree and looked out at the lake, hoping the squid would swallow him. He was miserable. Only Agatha was talking to him and he had not seen her around much. He had hoped to find her on the pitch, but she was not there. Well, not that he could tell. And Vivi probably was up there somewhere with a bomb ready to drop on his head.

“Oy,” he muttered, banging his head against the tree. He shifted, staring into space, when suddenly Agatha appeared beside him. Just like that. Out of nowhere.

She looked immensely self-satisfied.

“Did that work totally?” she asked a startled Avery, in a scientific manner. “My dear, I believe I may have a plan,” she said her almond eyes sliding sideways to look at him.

“Oy!” Avery said again, leaning back. “Where’d you come from?” He had forgotten all manners Agatha surely expected him to have, but he was depressed and Agatha had just confused him more.

“So I take it that was a yes then,” Agatha said, and pulling a little gold notebook out of her Gucci handbag, she made a few short notes before replacing the item with a satisfied nod.

“This could be just what we are looking for,” she said and with a neat flick and twist of her wand the ground beneath her feet was enveloped in a soft white rug. Agatha sat down, tucking her feet beneath her and leaning back on the Berke.

“It does to be prepared,” she said in a matter of fact manner. “Such a lucky find of mine,” she smirked.

“I’m sorry, but what’s a lucky find? Are you talking about that appearing thing you did?” Avery did not look at Agatha as she leaned against him. He was interested in whatever she was talking about, but he was also (for some reason) interested in the giant squid. “‘Cause if you are, that was brilliant,” he finished.

“Yes, I thought so,” Agatha returned modestly. “You do know the snivelers are preparing something fiendishly nasty for us,” she said, turning to look at him.

“I have seen them darting sly glances and whispering in huddled corners. Pathetic, really,” she added disdainfully, “As if they could do anything to us.” she laughed and dismissed such a notion with a wave of her hand.

“However,” she moved closer to him, so she was speaking in a whisper which tickled his ear, “Even with such lowly adversaries one must be on one’s guard. I happened to…” she paused, “Let’s say… make a most fortunate discovery in Slytherin last week. A most interesting find. It really does work well, doesn’t it?” she asked rhetorically.

Avery nodded as she spoke. It would make sense, the Huthleputh brats trying to get revenge. By now Avery would not put anything past Vivi (even his earlier thought of her on her broom with bombs in hand). But Agatha was right. Avery and she were third years against two second years. Agatha was a pureblood and Avery was particularly nasty when he wanted to be.

Agatha had also brought up another good point: never underestimate an opponent. Sure they were only second years and probably not a concern, but just when you let your guard down, they surprise you with something you didn’t expect.

“Yes, but what exactly is it you discovered?” he asked quietly, still staring out to the lake.

“Well,” said Agatha as delicately as possible not wishing to use vulgar words for her act, “I discovered, well, found…well, let’s say I borrowed a potion from a fellow Slytherin. She had been behaving rather oddly, even for such a freak of nature as she, and well, I took to observing her erratic behavior and saw a great deal which interested me. All I had to work out then was the appropriate dosage and how to use it.”

Agatha took out her notebook again and showed Berke her workings out and calculations.

“So you see its not time, but speech which effects it,” she explained.

Avery nodded, though he clearly did not understand any of what Agatha was talking about. He just shrugged. “I trust you know what you’re doing, ’cause I sure don’t.”

“Well,” she replied slowly as if explaining something to a very small and rather stupid child, “We can drink the potion you see Avie, go and spy on them and listen to their stupid schemes. As long as we keep absolutely quiet the potion will not wear off, I have tested it thoroughly this week. Then we can pre-empt them and put a stop to this nonsense. I am sure the sniveling Veruca is behind all this. She’s at that age,” said Agatha from the lofty age of one year older, “Where she can’t handle rejection well. One could almost feel sorry for her if she wasn’t such a brat.”

Agatha smiled. “Want to give it a go Avery?” she asked.

Avery finally had a neatly-fool-proof chance to spy on Vivi and put a stop to her evil plots. Agatha was a genius. He would have to make sure to tell her that later. But now he was thinking on ways to annoy Vivi further, ways in which the invisibility potion could be used…

Avery turned to look at Agatha, a crooked, evil smile forming on his lips. “Oh yeah,” he said simply, standing up and extending his hand for Agatha.

Agatha put her small hand into his and graciously accepted his aid to arise. Sometimes this muggle surprised her by his gentleman-like actions. She smiled at him graciously.

“First perhaps,” she said coyly, “A kiss to seal the bargain?”

Her green eyes were wicked as she smiled, pulling him towards her.

Agatha sometimes surprised him. She was entirely too forceful for his own good. But Avery did not mind. She was intending to kiss him after all.

He leaned down, back hunched somewhat uncomfortably, and kissed her, trying to not think about how silly Agatha must have looked. She was, after all, almost a foot shorter than him.

Vivi slipped into the Hufflepuff second year dorms, slinging her heavier-than-normal bag down onto the floor. A dull clatter issued from it, and she sighed, bending to unpack the objects. Almost as an after-thought, she pointed her wand at the door and muttered a locking charm. It was simple enough to be broken, but would at least slow someone trying to enter down enough to give her a moment to hide her activities.

Sliding a medium-sized cauldron out of the bag, Vivi set it up right. Next she pulled out the potions ingredients she had managed to obtain from her ordinary stores and an Apothecary magazine. The rest would have to come from Aiko, she thought, hoping no other measures would be needed. Both Hogsmeade and Blacknight were risky ways to gain ingredients, and one mishap could ruin the entire plan.

Vivi pulled out the list of ingredients they needed, planning to copy it for Donal. “Henbane?” She muttered, looking at it. “Where will we get that?”

A clatter outside the door alarmed her, and she shoved the supplies between two beds, yanking a blanket down over it. She grabbed a Quidditch magazine and started pretending to read it, not noticing that it was upside down. After a moment she recognized the voice however.

“Aiko?” She asked, unlocking the door. “That you?”

“Yeah,” Aiko called in, kicking the door open. She had no other option; her arms were full.

She used her foot to shove the door shut again and unloaded the ingredients onto the bed. As she sorted through them to attempt to put them in some sort of order, she heard Vivi relock the door.

“Good idea,” she commented, taking a root of Calville to the window and shaking the dirt from it. “You never know.”

“Hey gal,” Vivi greeted, kneeling to grab the supplies she had shoved under the bed. “Yah, I think we’re pretty safe, even the house elves avoid us.” she trailed off, hating too mention the reason why. “And no one else has a reason to be here-but it doesn’t hurt to be careful.” It was true. If someone found out about what they were planning, well, the prospects would not be good. Yet that was the reason for bringing Donal into the deal, and besides, who would suspect the two perfect Hufflepuffs of brewing such a potion?

The Calville Root dirt free, Aiko returned to the bed. “My dad sent everything I asked, except the Henbane.”

She made a face. The Henbane had the strongest affects. He had refused to send it to her, saying it was much too dangerous to simply hand out.

Not too mention it was expensive.

“At least it’s the last thing we add,” she said. “If we start this potion today, we have a week to get some before we’ll need it.”

Vivi bit her lip. The Henbane was the most important part; without it the potion was useless. If worst came to worst they might have to steal. Racking her brain for another option, Vivi remembered Brian.

“Doesn’t Brian’s mum work in Herbs?” She asked speculatively. Though not sure she trusted Brian as thoroughly as Donal and Aiko, he seemed to want justice brought to Avery and Agatha. Besides that, they were a little short-manned for the job they had planned. An extra brain would be welcome, as well as an extra pair of hands.

“Do ya wanna talk to him, Aiko?” She asked. “I think we can trust him.”

Aiko nodded. Her only contact with the third year had been in Herbology the year before, but one of the first things he had asked her was if she liked pranks. And she had seen the way Avery had treated him after that Slytherin sunk her talons into him, and she had a feeling Brian would go along with it.

“I’ll go right now,” Aiko offered, and stood again. “You start brewing the potion and I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

With that she sped down to the Great Hall.

Vivi nodded, shutting the door with a flick of her wand after Aiko left. She glanced around the room, nervous for some reason. Sunlight filtered through a few windows, highlighting the bright yellow walls. She could see the grounds through that window, as well as a bird trilling in a nearby tree. Despite the peaceful quality of the room, she was nervous. Perhaps it was the potency of the potion, the idea of Avery taking it, or just exams. Whatever the case, she felt uneasy. “The window.” She muttered, staring suspiciously at it. If she could look out, someone could look in. Shivering slightly, she gathered the ingredients again and ducked into the huge closest provided to the Hufflepuff girls. Meant for many more people, the few garments of Vivienne and Aiko that hung in it seemed lonely almost. Leaving the door open for light (later she could bring a light globe) she began the process of brewing the potion.

After lighting a smokeless fire she set the cauldron on it, letting four cups of water simmer. Searching through her ingredients bag she pulled out the instructions. In an attempt to be discrete she had returned the library book, and only now carried the directions for the potion, though they were not titled.

“Crushed black beetle eyes,” Vivi read aloud, getting out a mortar and pestle to crush the beetle eyes. As the water began to froth she dumped them in, careful to stick to the precise amount. While the beetle eyes dissolved Vivi split open a cup worth of frog intestines, slicing them finely. Once she added those she put ten minutes on a timer and began preparing a mash of rat spleen and fly wings. When the time was up she could add it.

Ten minutes passed and the timer went off. Vivienne emptied the mass into the cauldron, wrinkling her nose as it formed a lump at the bottom and foul fumes filled the closest. She quickly added the catnip, dispelling some of the smell. She hoped that no one would notice the dreadful fumes wafting out of the closet; what she did not know was that two people already had.

Agatha motioned to Avery to be quiet. She knew how he felt. She too wished to question, to discuss or to downright shout at or to attack this bumbling, bungling Huthleputh. But she could not and nor could he. One word would give them away. One word and the potion which bound them in a mask of invisibility would break and they would be discovered.

It had been pitifully easy to get into the common room, following an ickle firstie from the Great Hall and through the entrance to the Huthleputh room. And a sight it was too, thought Agatha, gazing around in disgust. Homely, she guessed it could be called. cozy, perhaps. It mirrored the insipid Hufflepuff personality perfectly.

She returned her interest to what the girls were attempting to accomplish.

The Veruca child seemed restless, nervous, and Agatha’s eyes flicked down her as she held her breath. Was any part of her showing? But all was well and Veruca returned to the cauldron. So they were making a potion. Agatha wondered how she could manage to get them into trouble for illegal use of potion making without revealing what her role in it had been. But that could be left for later…

Agatha watched closely the ingredients being used, but as yet could not identify what it was and indeed before she had arrived the cauldron had already been simmering. She doubted that the Huthlepuths could make anything properly anyway, but it was clear that their design on herself and Avery was being implemented in some way or another.

She raised her eyebrow at Avery and smiled. As long as they stayed one step ahead Agatha was pleased.

At that moment Aiko’s familiar voice rang through the dorm, and Vivi stuck her head out the door.

“I’m in here, and it smells.” Vivi quipped, motioning to Aiko.

Avery stared at Vivi, no, Veruca, trying dreadfully hard not to laugh or lunge at her throat with a sharp knife. It was comical, her trying to ignore that horrid smell. But it was sad, really. She had been one of his closest friends and now she was brewing a potion to do anything short of killing him and Agatha.

If it would not cost them their cover, Avery would have hit Veruca over the head with a large mallet…or force fed her the potion…or just fed her the raw ingredients…or attacked her with some rather nasty spells…

But he could not do anything but watch. Agatha apparently knew he wanted to kill the sniveling brat, for she had her hand on his arm and was shaking her head occasionally.

As Agatha smiled, Brat entered the room. For Avery, the temptation to throw Aiko out the window was greater than the temptation to knock Veruca unconscious, though both would be sadistically satisfying.

Aiko grinned, oblivious to the danger she was in. She felt like a criminal, having as much fun as she was with this. If her parents, especially her father, ever found out about her less than friendly exploits, she would have body guards following her around until she was eighty.

The smell of the potion was enough to make her decide that she did not like it so much, when she found herself having to breathe with her handkerchief pressed against her mouth.

“You could have warned me it would smell like this,” she accused light-heartedly as she sat on the bed across from the potion. Aiko would have been stuck for a year in a closet with dozens of cauldrons full of the stuff, just to see the look on The Jerks face when he drank the stuff.

“I didn’t know it would smell so bad.” Vivi protested, grinning as she covered her nose with her hands. So long as no one in the commonroom, specifically the Head of House, smelled it, they were all right. A little odor was a small price to pay for the potency of the potion. It was, however, an annoyance.

“Hand me some of that dehydrated shrivel-fig,” Aiko said, pulling a mortar and pestle from beneath the bed. Placing the small ingredient in the bowl, she beat it until it was a fine powder. It took several more to fill the bowl entirely, however, and soon she was convinced that she would need some blister paste before the potion was finished.

“Here, Vivs,” Aiko said, handing the bowl over. “I think it’s time to add this now.”

“Okay.” Vivi said, grabbing the bowl. “Maybe I’ll get some perfume spray to cover up that smell, too.” Pausing, she glanced around the room, studying each object. Some sixth sense told her something definitely was wrong. The hairs on the back of her neck rose and she suppressed a shudder.

Everything had to be fine. Really. She stepped around the bed, heading for her bag. Unfortunately, she never quite made it. A pile of text books sat just around the bed corner and, as luck would have it, Vivienne tripped over them and stumbled. The powder went flying, coating everything in its path with white dust. She sneezed, and then looked up at a gasp from Aiko.

Standing quite visibly in the dorm were Agatha and Avery, looking like sinister ghosts with their new coating of white powder. Vivi echoed Aiko’s gasp, and stepped back from shock. For a moment no one said anything, then Vivi hissed, “Oh my stars. I don’t believe ya Berke.” She ignored Agatha as unimportant, refusing to address her. “Spying now? Haven’t ya stooped low enough?”

Agatha shook herself, brushing the powder out of her clothes and shaking her head, trying to maintain as much dignity as possible under such trying circumstances. It was typical, she thought, absolutely typical, for such a clumsy Huthleputh (and my but they were all so clumsy, tripping over their own feet at times she would imagine) to ruin everything. Still at least the powder had been white. If one had to have a powder dropped on one’s head, it was best that it matched one’s outfit after all.

Still all was not lost and Agatha ignored Veruca’s question to her boyfriend. Would the child never give up? He did not fancy her. Could they make it any plainer? But no, the sniveler clearly could not get the message. Well really, between Agatha and Veruca, who would ever choose Veruca? Quite.

Agatha walked over to the cauldron, Veruca being temporarily preoccupied with staring at Avery.

“Making something nice are we?” Agatha said in a sneering tone, deciding to take the moral high ground and ignore the fact that she and Avery were in the Huthleputh common room.

“Hmm, illegal potion making, very interesting. What could two goody-goody, ickle Hufflepuffs like you two be doing with an illegal potion in your room then?” Agatha took a dragon hide glove, dyed white to take away its ugliness, from her Gucci bag and stirred the cauldron with the large pewter spoon. The potion crackled and the stench really was vile. Agatha blanched and dropped the spoon.

“Trying to poison us were you Ruca? Had something terrible in mind for us did you Ache? Dear me, we are absolutely terrified I have to say,” she said archly, a small smile lingering on her lips.

“What will our respected Headmistress have to say about this when I tell her?” Agatha threatened.

Vivi suddenly found the situation almost comical, and would have laughed if it had been less serious, or she had been less infuriated. Here were two second years, brewing a foul smelling potion in their dorm, and fighting with perhaps the most hated set of people in the school, covered in white powder, and acting as though they had the upper edge.

Vivi shook her head, turning her attention to Agatha. “Illegal potion? Poison Avery and you?” She scoffed. “What, so I can be expelled and spend time in Azkaban? Ya’ll aren’t worth the effort.”

She followed Agatha with her eyes, watching through the open closest door as she stirred the potion and blanched at the smell. The list of ingredients was safely in Vivi’s buttoned pocket, though even if the third year had it, not much information could be gained. The most tell-tale ingredient, Henbane, was not listed. They had not even obtained it yet. The rest were fairly common, used in a variety of potions.

“I suppose ya heard me list the ingredients?” She questioned, motioning towards the cauldron. “Beetle’s eyes, frog intestines, rat spleen, fly’s wings? Oh, and catnip. All ingredients we’re ‘posed ta have in our potions stores.”

Vivi stared at the two, hating both with passion, though Berke more. Agatha was a Slytherin, she was expected to hate mudbloods, hate Hufflepuffs, to hate everything that Vivi was. Berke, on the other hand, had been her friend. Funny, once she had liked him. Now she wanted to lock him away to rot in some vile cell.

Interesting, how things turn out.

“In fact, all ingredients used for making a protective polish for a broom. So, I think our respected Headmistress will have less ta say about our potion, and more ta say about how Avery and ya are in another house. And you, Avery, are in a girl’s dorm, in case ya hadn’t noticed. Both pet peeves of the Faculty, I’ve heard.”

“Making a broomstick polish are we?” Agatha sneered. “A likely story, Veruca. Perhaps you would also like to explain why you felt the need to brew a potion, with such harmless contents in the confines of your dorm? Why you didn’t, like any normal person, instead brew it in a potions classroom where it could be properly supervised and monitored?”

Agatha moved away from the appallingly smelly cauldron and towards the sniveling brat. Agatha was not tall, yet she was sufficiently taller than the brat, who seemed indeed to have a rather stunted growth pattern, to look down upon her. The two inches kitten heels of her brown suede Choo boots helped also.

Agatha hissed. “You don’t fool me Veruca. Don’t play mind games with me, I know them all. This is not a harmless potion. Broom potions do not have such a pungent odour. I may not know what it is yet. But believe me I will find out. And as for the Headmistress, well we shall have to wait and see who she thinks is the guiltiest, the most to blame, shall we not Veruca my dear? Prepared to risk your precious Puth reputations are you? Points don’t concern me,” she said narrowing her eyes at the insolent child before her and fingering the wand in her pocket. “And I don’t do detentions, father wrote a letter to Danuliete. He knows her well, you see,” Agatha said with a smirk, which implied that her connections would be enough to put Danuliete on her side.

“Play mind games with ya Agatha?” Vivi asked, looking up at her. She refused to budge, though it meant that she had to tilt her head to look at the pureblood. Agatha could advance on her as much as she wanted; Vivi was in the Hufflepuff dorm, on her ground. Here the Slytherin and the Gryffindor were at a disadvantage.

“Why bother? You play enough for the both of us.” Vivi spat. “I don’t have to explain myself to ya. Why don’t you go crawl off to whatever hole you came from, and drag Berke along with you?” She motioned to the open door, stepping aside.

“Go, Agatha, Avery,” she suggested. “Before I yell for Professor Stone. I’m not the one who’s wrong here.” She smiled slightly, knowing what the other two did not.

Agatha could throw whatever poison around that she wanted to, it did not really concern Vivienne. Even if a Professor did come, the potion could be easily explained away. If he searched the closest, their dorm, the bag, nothing too incriminating could be found. Avery and Agatha had made one deadly mistake. They had come too early, before the plan was impossible to back out of. They had miscalculated and would pay for it.

The only concern Vivi had at the moment was how soon they could move the potion. She still wanted their plan to succeed, and Bird Brain and Barbie Doll would probably go directly to Danuliete. How they would explain gaining the information they had without incriminating themselves, Vivi did not know, but she would not put anything by them. This would take quick thought and even quicker actions. Yet Vivi was not too worried; they were not backed into a corner yet.

There was still room to maneuver.

“Fine,” Agatha said weighing up Veruca and looking almost for a moment as if she may comply with the request to leave. But that would have been far too easy and Agatha had confronted and beaten far tougher opponents than this little worm.

“Go whine to Professor Stone then, see if I care,” said Agatha with a haughty toss of her head and as she swiftly sidestepped into the area filled with noxious fumes from the still simmering cauldron. Agatha took out her wand and quickly pointing it at the cauldron said simply, “Comminuo!”

The cauldron shuddered horribly then a large crack split down the side of it, it shuddered again, further cracks split wildly around it and the potion at first leaked and then rushed out onto the surrounding carpet, books and wood.

Agatha stepped back out of the way, unable to take the look of satisfaction off her face. She still had her wand in her hand and raised one eyebrow languidly at Veruca.

“Shame the brooms won’t be getting cleaned this week,” she said dryly.

The potion was fizzing horribly and had gone a rather sickly shade of yellow upon contact with the floor. A nasty burning smell was also taking over from the previous nasty aroma.

“Oh look,” said Agatha gleefully, “Your harmless potion seems to be actually eating the floor. How odd that a broom potion should attack wood, don’t you think Avery?”

“Baka!”

Aiko up-righted the cauldron and pushed the overhanging sheets up onto the beds. Beds could be moved to cover the burnt wood, but acid eaten sheets would be a bit harder to cover up.

“It wasn’t finished yet,” she accused, thinking quickly. “Don’t you ever pay attention in potions? You have to add the acids before you add the anti-acids! The anti-acids have to recognize the full affects of the acids before they can counter it!”

Aiko shot the silent Berke a glare. He was every bit as incriminated, and he did not even have to sense to follow through and accuse them too. Or had Agatha turned him into a complete slave instead of the half-brained moron he was before?

Still, trying to explain the workings (or lack thereof) of Berke’s mind was a waste of her time. Sighing, she opened her suitcase and pulled out the handkerchiefs she had tucked away for embroidery. Deciding she could send for more, she draped them over the spilled potion and let them absorb it. They would suck up the mess, and then disintegrate. “Why don’t you just leave?” Aiko asked, quietly.

“With pleasure,” said Agatha holding out her hand for Avery.

“Come my dear,” she said, “I can’t stand this place,” and she cast another disparaging look round the Hufflepuff common room, “I fear we are being polluted by its environs.”

She cast one long hard look at Acorn trying to work her out. She found the quiet Japanese girl, harder to figure than love-lorn Veruca. When she had first observed her she had, she scornfully noted, been permanently weeping and Agatha had set her down as an easy target, facile prey.

However, she had been forced to grant her some respect as a servant to J…to Prince, and now her argument was almost…almost convincing. Agatha knew what she said about acids was true and the tiniest flicker of doubt crossed her mind. Had she been wrong? Was it, as Veruca had claimed, truly a broom polishing potion?

But she dismissed the thought as unworthy and besides, what did it matter. The mess it had made they deserved either way, the sniveling Puths.

Agatha clasped Avery’s hand in her own, slyly looked at Veruca out of the corner of her wicked green eyes, and kissed him full on the lips.

“Bye,” she said with a suggestive flicker of her eyes and a pout of her lips. And they were gone.

Vivienne Moor stormed into the common room, burning with anger. Normally calm tempered and forgiving, she looked capable of murder. Her fists were clenched tightly, her steps sounded loudly as she stomped up the stairs to her dorm, and though her hair hid her face she might, just might have been crying.

Only two words could explain why she would be acting like this. In essence, it seemed to be the name of all of her problems, or at least the un-Quidditch related ones.

Avery Berke.

Collapsing onto her bed she buried her face into a pillow, taking deep, stifled breaths. After a moment she stopped shaking and lay silent. She heard the door open and assumed Aiko was there as well. Grabbing a tissue, she wiped her face off. What little bit of make-up she had taken to wearing smeared.

Why do I have to care so much? Vivi wondered furiously. Never again. Gads, I hate him.

Under control now, though her skin still felt tight with anger, she sighed. That friendship was over. She could accept it and get over it. Agatha was a Barbie, and if Avery wanted to play Ken that was just fine with her. He was an idiot. Plain and simple. She looked up, hoping to see that it was Aiko who was watching her, and not someone else.

Aiko crossed the distance between the two friends hesitantly, as if unsure if the other girl’s anger at Avery would carry over. It was not an uncommon feat: when Aiko’s father was upset he usually directed his anger to the first person who breathed. It made for a few stuffy dinner parties, to say the least. And as Vivi almost never got mad, Aiko had no idea what to expect.

Approaching her heartbroken friend carefully, Aiko extracted a soft, white handkerchief. It had her initials embroidered on the border along with small, pale yellow flowers. Despite the episode last year, her nanny still expected her to cry at the drop of a hat. Aiko sat down next to Vivi and pressed the cloth into her clenched fists.

Without a word Aiko waited patiently for Vivi to wipe the mascara from under her eyes, which were stained with tear streaks. “Thanks, Aiko.” Vivi said, though mostly she succeeded in smearing the mascara further with the handkerchief. She sniffed, brushing her hair away, straightening her shoulders. Agatha was worse than a prep; there was no shame in preppiness. Agatha was heartless and concerned only for herself. She held the title snake better than perhaps any of the other Slytherins, simply because she was as cold-blooded as one.

Yet it was not Agatha that had Vivienne in tears. She knew better than to expect anything softer than mockery from the Slytherin. Agatha had continued to insult her even after she had left the room, for crying out loud. No, that bothered her very little. Most of the school hated Swales as much as she did, excepting Donal and a very few other Snakes.

It was Avery, who she might have thought would say a word, even if she had denounced the friendship. She had expected him to at least react, not let Agatha do all of the talking. Obviously he would spend their relationship at her beck and call. The thought struck Vivi as funny, imagining the over six foot Berke waiting on Swales. She let out a sudden, unexpected laugh.

“I’m okay. A day and some chocolate. It’s not liked I’ve talked to Avie in six months without that Snake hanging all over him.” She said, unconsciously wringing the handkerchief between her hands. “Yah. Gosh I’d like to see the Poltergeist get her. It’d make my day.”

It took a moment for Aiko to gather herself together again. First Berke turned into a displaced snake, now Vivi was coming dangerously close to threatening an older student—small, peace making Vivienne who had kept Aiko from tearing out Berke’s throat many times.

“It’d be the only decent thing Puck would ever do,” Aiko agreed. The poltergeist’s antics were well known around the school, but Aiko doubted if even the troublemaker could think up something painful enough for the likes of Agatha and Berke.

Aiko put a hand on Vivi’s wrist, trying to calm her anxious hands. She was worried Vivi would scratch herself in the process of wringing the handkerchief. Plus, the handkerchief looked dangerously close to ripping.

“Sorry Aiko,” Vivi said. She carefully folded the now wrinkled and stained piece of cloth, and set it aside. “I’ll wash it and give it back to ya.” She stilled her hands in her lap, trying hard not to fidget, or even bite her lip. Instead she let herself calm down until coolness washed through her.

It was odd, Aiko being the one to comfort her. Vivi was used to her role as peacemaker. A friendship broke, an argument happened, and she always tried to fix it. Even after Aiko came back from being a minion of the Dark Lord, Vivi listened to her story before setting her mind. Yet this time the situation would not be mended.

“Fits him, doesn’t it? Snakes are his worst fear, yet he becomes one,” Vivi observed darkly. She saw red at the thought, but pushed it away more readily this time. She tried to concentrate on something else, yet in changing the subject it would be obvious what she was avoiding. Instead she lapsed into silence, staring idly at the yellow Hufflepuff comforter.

Beside her, Aiko sighed softly.

Vivi ignored Avery over the next few months. She pretended that she did not see him in the hall ways. She was careful never to wander near the Gryffindor commons. More so, she stayed away from Slytherin and Agatha, a double combination of agony. In her mind, she decided that she had never been friends with Avery.

In her heart, she hated him.

It was not a violent, self-destructive hate, but it was there. As a Hufflepuff, Vivienne took friendship and loyalty seriously. She felt betrayed by Berke, back-stabbed. A sense of self-righteousness prevailed, and she resolved, slowly, that she wanted to see him pay. Such were not thoughts that were common to Miss Let’s All Be Friends Vivi. She wanted to see him suffer. She wanted the satisfaction of that.

She wanted revenge.

So one day shortly after Vivi collapsed onto the bed, staring at the ceiling for a moment. There came a noise, and she looked up to see Aiko enter the dorm. Grimly she smiled, a wicked and unexpected light shining in her eyes.

“Aiko. Do you feel like getting back at Berke?”

Aiko snorted and sat primly on her own bed. What a ridiculous question! She did not hate Berke the Jerk, but someone needed to give him a good blow to the head. He needed to be punished for his backstabbing…not to mention his stupidity.

“Of course I do,” she said, eyeing Vivi curiously. Though Aiko was generally quiet, she did tend to get into a few spats and Vivs the Peacemaker was there to bail her out.

She gave the wall a glare as a new thought hit her. Berke had corrupted Vivi: driven her to his own evil ways. Still, a little spice was not bad for the character. “You have a plan?”

Between the two of them they would be able to find some way to him back. And she would enjoy every minute of it.

Vivienne answered with a simple, bone-chilling “Yes.” She had decided that Berke had to pay, and if Agatha Swales got dragged into the revenge, so much the better.

Reaching into her bag, Vivienne pulled out a copy of a book on potions, flipping through it. “I ran across this potion before midterm,” she explained, “But the thought didn’t occur to me at first. Then, I was trying to think of something good to do to him…and remembered it.” She flicked coal black hair out of her face, turning the book to where Aiko could see the potion’s use and ingredients clearly.

For Berke it fit. The potion made anyone who drank it experience their worst fears for at least two hours, possibly a week if it was made to be potent. Vivi would spare no pity or ingredients. She knew his worst fears, snakes and heights, and amused herself by imagining him on a broomstick with snakes for hair. It was a potion made for revenge, slightly complicated, but not far beyond their skill. “That’s the plan.” She said, as Aiko finished reading the page. “I think Donal will help, if we need him. What do you think? Any ideas?”

“Geeze Vivs,” she said, scanning the page for a second time. “This seems kind of…harsh.”

It was true. She would never have expected Vivi to read this type of book (Cruel Concoctions) much less put it into use.

“Donal will help,” Aiko decided, smiling. “If there is something in it for him.”

Somehow she doubted that the torture of the boy who stole his girlfriend would be enough for Donal. And money seemed a bit inappropriate for this type of thing. “What if we…”

Aiko told Vivi of her idea, and once more thanked Merlin that they were the only second year Hufflepuff girls. The privacy was a useful tool, especially when pulling off a stunt like this. Judging from the amount of time it would take to make the potion, not to mention how many ingredients they would need to acquire (by hopefully legal means) and prepare, they would use every inch and more of their dorm.

“Emotional and mental torture, and sweet, sweet revenge,” Aiko laughed. The shy second year had been transformed by experience, and now found herself looking forward to causing Berke misery. It was frightening, but at the same time…exciting.

Vivi nodded decisively, slamming the book shut and shoving it under her pillow. She sighed as a cloud of dust billowed up.

“Harsh and cruel.” She agreed. “But doesn’t Berke deserve it? How many times has he threatened to kill ya? Half the people I know’ve been cursed by him. What about what he did ta Donal? He deserves it.”

Aiko’s smile obviously meant consent, and Vivi returned it with a sly one of her own. The dorm provided the most secluded spot in the school, the potion ingredients they could obtain one way or the other, and Donal’s help would cinch it.

“Sweet sweet revenge.” She echoed, standing. “We just have ta talk ta Donal.”

Avery would be ruined, and she would be there to see it. On paper anyway. There was still a long way to go before the finale came.

Aiko stood soon after, the potions book still clasped under her arm. The plan was secure enough for the moment and no further planning could take place until Donal gave his input.

“I’m off to the owlery,” she said, slipping the book into her bag. “I can probably get most of the ingredients from my father. You’ll talk to Donal, then?”

“I’ve got Donal.” Vivi said, glad Aiko could secure the ingredients. Her own plan had included raiding the potions stores, and it was doubtful that any Professor would like that.

She followed Aiko out of the door, then changed her path to head to the Great Hall, while Aiko went up to the owlery. From now on secrecy would be crucial; neither Avery, Agatha, nor anyone else could suspect what was up, or the entire plot would be foiled. In all, she wanted it to be impossible to find out what possessed Avery when the time came, and that meant being careful to cover her tracks.

Entering the Great Hall, Vivi strode towards the one table she had been avoiding for the past several weeks: Gryffindor. She bit her lip, nervous. With her worried expression, black robes, and pale skin she looked almost gothic. At the moment she was not concerned with looks, however. She was concerned with finding Donal Talmorra.

Vivi sighed with relief upon spotting him sitting at the end of the infamous Lion’s table, with no Avery or Agatha in sight. Probably the Barbie and Berke were off snogging somewhere. She sat down beside him, clearing her throat so that he would notice her presence.

“Hi Donal. I’m Vivi, I don’t know if we’ve formally met.” She stopped biting her lip, casting a glance around to make sure no one watched. She was pleased to see the Hall was nearly deserted, and no curious first years lurked nearby.

“I need to talk to ya—in private, if that’s all right.” Holding her hands together, to keep them from fidgeting she waited. Almost as an after thought, she then added, “I think you might be interested.”

Donal had thrown himself into his studies for the several months or so, mostly ignoring the people around him, except when he couldn’t avoid speaking to them. So he did not look up from his books as a girl sat down next to him. He did not really care. Caring hurt too much.

He glanced up as she spoke, vaguely acknowledging her presence, but continued to write while she talked.

A private conversation? That could be bad…best find out a little more first.

He sighed and turned, all of his attention now focused on her. “I’m not too sure that I want any surprises right now, especially in private conversations, so how about giving me a hint of what it’s about, even if you don’t want to divulge the details here?” He raised his eyebrows a little, giving Vivi a look that said “This had better be worth my time,” and waited for her response.

Vivi sighed; this was not the place for a lengthy explanation. Still, she could not expect Donal to trust her off of those few words. Obviously a short explanation was in order.

Flatly, she replied. “First, a question. Who do you and I equally hate right now? Come to think of it, it’s probably two people.” She waited for a flicker of recognition in his eyes, and then nodded slowly. Lowering her voice she finished, “I’m talking revenge Donal, and I think you may want to help.”

Though she certainly did not want to tell him more in the Hall, she was resigned to it if she must. Donal held a vital piece of the plan Aiko and herself had concocted, as only he had access to Avery. If he refused, they would run into a dead end.

Donal’s eyes narrowed a little, slightly surprised. From what he knew of Vivi, she had always been the ‘Lets be Friends’ type with everyone. Now she was talking about revenge? That, by itself, piqued Donal’s interest. And she also thought he would be interested…

“Okay,” he replied, a little cautiously, “You’ve got my interest. When and where do you suggest we talk further?” Mind you, he wasn’t going to be completely defenseless and unprepared, just in case this was a trap by Avery…

“How is now and the library?” She asked, not really wanting to have to hunt down Donal yet again. He was very elusive, avoiding most of human kind recently. While she wondered if the letter he was writing was important, he didn’t look busy so much as bored. So, perhaps he would agree.

“I know that’s not very private either, but it’s better than here.” She said, ticking the virtues off on her fingers. “I assume you can cast a secrecy spell, if not I can. Oh, and it’s common ground.” She grinned a little at that, having noticed that Donal was as cautious about this as she was inexperienced at it.

“So. Coming?”

Donal grinned a little in return. She had some idea of his caution, so at least she knew he was on his guard. “Okay. Let’s go.” He stood up, closing his books, and stuffing them quickly into his bag, and followed Vivi.

Vivi stepped into the library, Donal behind her. Thankfully the library seemed even more deserted that the Hall. Heading over to one of far corners, Vivi sat down in a chair, motioning for Donal to sit in the one beside her.

Taking out her wand, she cast a spell that would shield anything and everything they said from listening ears. As she was still a second year, the spell was detectable by those who looked for it, but otherwise it seemed as though she and Donal were carrying on a mild conversation, though the details were not audible.

“All right,” Vivi said, ready to outline her plan. “Aiko and I are planning revenge against Avery and Agatha, as ya already know,” she paused. “I hate Avery, and I think he needs to be taught something. We need your help ta do it without being caught, and ta work out some of the details.”

She let that sink in, and then sat back. “I know you’ll have a price, but I think that if we stretch the revenge to include Agatha, that should cover it,” she finished, planning to tell him the actual plan if his final decision was to help them.

Though at first it had seemed Donal thought Agatha an innocent hurt through Avery’s evil ways, by now he had probably realized that was far from the truth. She had cheated on him with his best friend, and unless Vivi had mistaken Donal’s personality, he would want to hurt Agatha like she had hurt him.

Donal sat down beside her, his wand hidden up his sleeve, but in easy reach if needed. He nodded absently as she cast a privacy charm. Simple, but effective. Whilst he knew that almost any of the third years could penetrate the spell, he doubted that the breach would pass unnoticed by either Vivi or himself, and that was if anyone was actually bothering to eavesdrop anyway. It was discrete.

Donal leaned back in the chair, his elbows on its arms with his fingertips together, index fingers on his lips, eyes nearly closed, as he pondered what she had said for a moment.

They needed his help. Whatever their plan was, it probably could be done without his help, but it might well be harder. They needed to be able to get to either Agatha or Avery, and he could get to Avery far easier than they could. They also thought that he would reduce the risk of being caught.

A faint upward curling at the corners of his mouth held the suggestion of a grin or smile. That was probably true, even if he was not being big headed about it. They needed some help on the details, and realized that Donal was good at scheming. That appealed to him. Mind you, flattery was always nice. And they also knew that he would have a price. Nice of them to be realistic as well. Revenge on Agatha?

Hmm…that was an interesting proposal…

This proposition certainly had a lot going for it. And, he had to admit, it would be enjoyable to scheme.

Who was he kidding? He knew he was already in, had been since the moment he had agreed to talk to her. But what did he really want out of it? Satisfaction, that’s what. Satisfaction that both Agatha and Avery knew, really knew, how much they had hurt him.

His hands dropped into his lap as he leaned forward. “I’m in,” he said with a slight nod. “What’s the plan you have so far?” A gleam in his eyes showed that he looked forward to this.

Vivi smiled a true smile this time, though it was lanced through with evil intent. She was going to enjoy this, revel in the sheer cruelty of it. The second year girl had changed, and so far it looked like a change for the better. No more innocent Miss Vivs.

Studying Donal with careful intensity, she believed that he wanted this as much as she did. He seemed flattered, meaning she had gone about this the right way, and his devious mind was already at work. Yes, she felt, they had made the right choice in asking for Donal’s help. He was a business partner she would be careful to never underestimate.

“It’s a potion I found in Cruel Concoctions.” Vivi told him, launching into the details of their plan so far. “Its use is ta show the drinker his or her worst fears. The amount of time such torture goes on depends on how strong it’s made. Avery’s worst fears are snakes and heights. I want him to experience both. And I’d like ta know what Agatha fears most.” She permitted herself another small grin at that thought of the heartless Agatha scared out of her wits and mind.

Her motives were much the same as Donal’s. Satisfaction for wrongs done was something she felt she had to gain. Also, the harsher side of herself simply wanted Avery to be hurt like he had hurt others. Like he had hurt her. She wanted Berke to have a taste of his own medicine, to feel pain.

“Aiko can gain most of the ingredients from her father,” she told him. “For the others we can raid Blacknight’s cabinets. We have the Hufflepuff second year dorm all to ourselves. That’s where we can brew it.” She wished for a copy of the potion to show him, but Aiko had taken the book. It really was not all that important though.

“For your part, we need ta be able to get it to Avery and Agatha, in a place where we can watch it happen. The potion will be ready in possibly two weeks, depending how long it takes us ta get all the ingredients. What do ya think?”

Donal nodded as she spoke, a small frown appearing when she mentioned raiding Professor Blacknight’s stores. Things could go very wrong there, and that needed good planning, or preferably an alternative.

They had quite a good place to brew the potion, and even house elves wouldn’t disturb a students “work” in their dormitory. Certainly Donal could not brew it in his dormitory.

So his part was to arrange delivery of the potion. That should be fairly straight forward. A little planning, yes, but not overly difficult.

When she had finished, he spoke. “I’m not too keen on the idea of stealing ingredients. Too many things have the possibility of going wrong there, and if that fails the potion can’t be made, and the whole plan falls down. Let me know what you need. I might be able to arrange some supplies of our own.”

Simply asking his own father may be enough, but if it was not, well there were other means outside Hogwarts of getting things. “We might want to see about getting a Hogsmeade trip organized. That would allow us some…er…alternatives if necessary.”

“All right.” Vivi said, “That would work better; stealing is more of a last resort, though Hogsmeade might be difficult. Anyway, I’ll get you a list soon.”

The most preferable thing would be to gain supplies from sources that were not traceable, such as Aiko’s or Donal’s father. Organizing a trip to Hogsmeade would take time, to begin with, and there were always sales records.

Apothecaries were sure to be suspicious of students needing potions supplies that were not standard. Having heard a first hand account of Danuliete’s wrath before, Vivi planned to avoid it at all costs.

Donal stroked his chin with his right hand, a sign that he was thinking intently. “I have some ideas of how to get the potion to them, but let me think things through a bit, and I’ll get back to you on that one.” Donal wanted to see them when they took the potion, up close and personal, but he knew that might well jeopardize the whole thing. He would need to think of the right approach to that one. “Where did you have in mind for the grand finale? Or do you want to leave that to me for now?”

“I’ll leave it more ta ya,” Vivi replied hesitantly. She trusted Donal to think of the most conniving, under-handed way to sneak them the potion. Yet she really wanted to be there when it happened, even if that was risky. The entire plan was risky. They would have to be smart.

“All right. You’ll figure out how to get it to them while we brew it. I want to be there when they take it, if possible.”

There was something more. Vivienne wanted Avery to know that she had done it, but she also wanted him to have no proof. How that could be accomplished she had no idea, but maybe…

She brushed the thought aside. There was no possible way, and they had to be practical about this.

Avery Berke sat down against a tree and looked out at the lake, hoping the squid would swallow him. He was miserable. Only Agatha was talking to him and he had not seen her around much. He had hoped to find her on the pitch, but she was not there. Well, not that he could tell. And Vivi probably was up there somewhere with a bomb ready to drop on his head.

“Oy,” he muttered, banging his head against the tree. He shifted, staring into space, when suddenly Agatha appeared beside him. Just like that. Out of nowhere.

She looked immensely self-satisfied.

“Did that work totally?” she asked a startled Avery, in a scientific manner. “My dear, I believe I may have a plan,” she said her almond eyes sliding sideways to look at him.

“Oy!” Avery said again, leaning back. “Where’d you come from?” He had forgotten all manners Agatha surely expected him to have, but he was depressed and Agatha had just confused him more.

“So I take it that was a yes then,” Agatha said, and pulling a little gold notebook out of her Gucci handbag, she made a few short notes before replacing the item with a satisfied nod.

“This could be just what we are looking for,” she said and with a neat flick and twist of her wand the ground beneath her feet was enveloped in a soft white rug. Agatha sat down, tucking her feet beneath her and leaning back on the Berke.

“It does to be prepared,” she said in a matter of fact manner. “Such a lucky find of mine,” she smirked.

“I’m sorry, but what’s a lucky find? Are you talking about that appearing thing you did?” Avery did not look at Agatha as she leaned against him. He was interested in whatever she was talking about, but he was also (for some reason) interested in the giant squid. “‘Cause if you are, that was brilliant,” he finished.

“Yes, I thought so,” Agatha returned modestly. “You do know the snivelers are preparing something fiendishly nasty for us,” she said, turning to look at him.

“I have seen them darting sly glances and whispering in huddled corners. Pathetic, really,” she added disdainfully, “As if they could do anything to us.” she laughed and dismissed such a notion with a wave of her hand.

“However,” she moved closer to him, so she was speaking in a whisper which tickled his ear, “Even with such lowly adversaries one must be on one’s guard. I happened to…” she paused, “Let’s say… make a most fortunate discovery in Slytherin last week. A most interesting find. It really does work well, doesn’t it?” she asked rhetorically.

Avery nodded as she spoke. It would make sense, the Huthleputh brats trying to get revenge. By now Avery would not put anything past Vivi (even his earlier thought of her on her broom with bombs in hand). But Agatha was right. Avery and she were third years against two second years. Agatha was a pureblood and Avery was particularly nasty when he wanted to be.

Agatha had also brought up another good point: never underestimate an opponent. Sure they were only second years and probably not a concern, but just when you let your guard down, they surprise you with something you didn’t expect.

“Yes, but what exactly is it you discovered?” he asked quietly, still staring out to the lake.

“Well,” said Agatha as delicately as possible not wishing to use vulgar words for her act, “I discovered, well, found…well, let’s say I borrowed a potion from a fellow Slytherin. She had been behaving rather oddly, even for such a freak of nature as she, and well, I took to observing her erratic behavior and saw a great deal which interested me. All I had to work out then was the appropriate dosage and how to use it.”

Agatha took out her notebook again and showed Berke her workings out and calculations.

“So you see its not time, but speech which effects it,” she explained.

Avery nodded, though he clearly did not understand any of what Agatha was talking about. He just shrugged. “I trust you know what you’re doing, ’cause I sure don’t.”

“Well,” she replied slowly as if explaining something to a very small and rather stupid child, “We can drink the potion you see Avie, go and spy on them and listen to their stupid schemes. As long as we keep absolutely quiet the potion will not wear off, I have tested it thoroughly this week. Then we can pre-empt them and put a stop to this nonsense. I am sure the sniveling Veruca is behind all this. She’s at that age,” said Agatha from the lofty age of one year older, “Where she can’t handle rejection well. One could almost feel sorry for her if she wasn’t such a brat.”

Agatha smiled. “Want to give it a go Avery?” she asked.

Avery finally had a neatly-fool-proof chance to spy on Vivi and put a stop to her evil plots. Agatha was a genius. He would have to make sure to tell her that later. But now he was thinking on ways to annoy Vivi further, ways in which the invisibility potion could be used…

Avery turned to look at Agatha, a crooked, evil smile forming on his lips. “Oh yeah,” he said simply, standing up and extending his hand for Agatha.

Agatha put her small hand into his and graciously accepted his aid to arise. Sometimes this muggle surprised her by his gentleman-like actions. She smiled at him graciously.

“First perhaps,” she said coyly, “A kiss to seal the bargain?”

Her green eyes were wicked as she smiled, pulling him towards her.

Agatha sometimes surprised him. She was entirely too forceful for his own good. But Avery did not mind. She was intending to kiss him after all.

He leaned down, back hunched somewhat uncomfortably, and kissed her, trying to not think about how silly Agatha must have looked. She was, after all, almost a foot shorter than him.

Vivi slipped into the Hufflepuff second year dorms, slinging her heavier-than-normal bag down onto the floor. A dull clatter issued from it, and she sighed, bending to unpack the objects. Almost as an after-thought, she pointed her wand at the door and muttered a locking charm. It was simple enough to be broken, but would at least slow someone trying to enter down enough to give her a moment to hide her activities.

Sliding a medium-sized cauldron out of the bag, Vivi set it up right. Next she pulled out the potions ingredients she had managed to obtain from her ordinary stores and an Apothecary magazine. The rest would have to come from Aiko, she thought, hoping no other measures would be needed. Both Hogsmeade and Blacknight were risky ways to gain ingredients, and one mishap could ruin the entire plan.

Vivi pulled out the list of ingredients they needed, planning to copy it for Donal. “Henbane?” She muttered, looking at it. “Where will we get that?”

A clatter outside the door alarmed her, and she shoved the supplies between two beds, yanking a blanket down over it. She grabbed a Quidditch magazine and started pretending to read it, not noticing that it was upside down. After a moment she recognized the voice however.

“Aiko?” She asked, unlocking the door. “That you?”

“Yeah,” Aiko called in, kicking the door open. She had no other option; her arms were full.

She used her foot to shove the door shut again and unloaded the ingredients onto the bed. As she sorted through them to attempt to put them in some sort of order, she heard Vivi relock the door.

“Good idea,” she commented, taking a root of Calville to the window and shaking the dirt from it. “You never know.”

“Hey gal,” Vivi greeted, kneeling to grab the supplies she had shoved under the bed. “Yah, I think we’re pretty safe, even the house elves avoid us.” she trailed off, hating too mention the reason why. “And no one else has a reason to be here-but it doesn’t hurt to be careful.” It was true. If someone found out about what they were planning, well, the prospects would not be good. Yet that was the reason for bringing Donal into the deal, and besides, who would suspect the two perfect Hufflepuffs of brewing such a potion?

The Calville Root dirt free, Aiko returned to the bed. “My dad sent everything I asked, except the Henbane.”

She made a face. The Henbane had the strongest affects. He had refused to send it to her, saying it was much too dangerous to simply hand out.

Not too mention it was expensive.

“At least it’s the last thing we add,” she said. “If we start this potion today, we have a week to get some before we’ll need it.”

Vivi bit her lip. The Henbane was the most important part; without it the potion was useless. If worst came to worst they might have to steal. Racking her brain for another option, Vivi remembered Brian.

“Doesn’t Brian’s mum work in Herbs?” She asked speculatively. Though not sure she trusted Brian as thoroughly as Donal and Aiko, he seemed to want justice brought to Avery and Agatha. Besides that, they were a little short-manned for the job they had planned. An extra brain would be welcome, as well as an extra pair of hands.

“Do ya wanna talk to him, Aiko?” She asked. “I think we can trust him.”

Aiko nodded. Her only contact with the third year had been in Herbology the year before, but one of the first things he had asked her was if she liked pranks. And she had seen the way Avery had treated him after that Slytherin sunk her talons into him, and she had a feeling Brian would go along with it.

“I’ll go right now,” Aiko offered, and stood again. “You start brewing the potion and I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

With that she sped down to the Great Hall.

Vivi nodded, shutting the door with a flick of her wand after Aiko left. She glanced around the room, nervous for some reason. Sunlight filtered through a few windows, highlighting the bright yellow walls. She could see the grounds through that window, as well as a bird trilling in a nearby tree. Despite the peaceful quality of the room, she was nervous. Perhaps it was the potency of the potion, the idea of Avery taking it, or just exams. Whatever the case, she felt uneasy. “The window.” She muttered, staring suspiciously at it. If she could look out, someone could look in. Shivering slightly, she gathered the ingredients again and ducked into the huge closest provided to the Hufflepuff girls. Meant for many more people, the few garments of Vivienne and Aiko that hung in it seemed lonely almost. Leaving the door open for light (later she could bring a light globe) she began the process of brewing the potion.

After lighting a smokeless fire she set the cauldron on it, letting four cups of water simmer. Searching through her ingredients bag she pulled out the instructions. In an attempt to be discrete she had returned the library book, and only now carried the directions for the potion, though they were not titled.

“Crushed black beetle eyes,” Vivi read aloud, getting out a mortar and pestle to crush the beetle eyes. As the water began to froth she dumped them in, careful to stick to the precise amount. While the beetle eyes dissolved Vivi split open a cup worth of frog intestines, slicing them finely. Once she added those she put ten minutes on a timer and began preparing a mash of rat spleen and fly wings. When the time was up she could add it.

Ten minutes passed and the timer went off. Vivienne emptied the mass into the cauldron, wrinkling her nose as it formed a lump at the bottom and foul fumes filled the closest. She quickly added the catnip, dispelling some of the smell. She hoped that no one would notice the dreadful fumes wafting out of the closet; what she did not know was that two people already had.

Agatha motioned to Avery to be quiet. She knew how he felt. She too wished to question, to discuss or to downright shout at or to attack this bumbling, bungling Huthleputh. But she could not and nor could he. One word would give them away. One word and the potion which bound them in a mask of invisibility would break and they would be discovered.

It had been pitifully easy to get into the common room, following an ickle firstie from the Great Hall and through the entrance to the Huthleputh room. And a sight it was too, thought Agatha, gazing around in disgust. Homely, she guessed it could be called. cozy, perhaps. It mirrored the insipid Hufflepuff personality perfectly.

She returned her interest to what the girls were attempting to accomplish.

The Veruca child seemed restless, nervous, and Agatha’s eyes flicked down her as she held her breath. Was any part of her showing? But all was well and Veruca returned to the cauldron. So they were making a potion. Agatha wondered how she could manage to get them into trouble for illegal use of potion making without revealing what her role in it had been. But that could be left for later…

Agatha watched closely the ingredients being used, but as yet could not identify what it was and indeed before she had arrived the cauldron had already been simmering. She doubted that the Huthlepuths could make anything properly anyway, but it was clear that their design on herself and Avery was being implemented in some way or another.

She raised her eyebrow at Avery and smiled. As long as they stayed one step ahead Agatha was pleased.

At that moment Aiko’s familiar voice rang through the dorm, and Vivi stuck her head out the door.

“I’m in here, and it smells.” Vivi quipped, motioning to Aiko.

Avery stared at Vivi, no, Veruca, trying dreadfully hard not to laugh or lunge at her throat with a sharp knife. It was comical, her trying to ignore that horrid smell. But it was sad, really. She had been one of his closest friends and now she was brewing a potion to do anything short of killing him and Agatha.

If it would not cost them their cover, Avery would have hit Veruca over the head with a large mallet…or force fed her the potion…or just fed her the raw ingredients…or attacked her with some rather nasty spells…

But he could not do anything but watch. Agatha apparently knew he wanted to kill the sniveling brat, for she had her hand on his arm and was shaking her head occasionally.

As Agatha smiled, Brat entered the room. For Avery, the temptation to throw Aiko out the window was greater than the temptation to knock Veruca unconscious, though both would be sadistically satisfying.

Aiko grinned, oblivious to the danger she was in. She felt like a criminal, having as much fun as she was with this. If her parents, especially her father, ever found out about her less than friendly exploits, she would have body guards following her around until she was eighty.

The smell of the potion was enough to make her decide that she did not like it so much, when she found herself having to breathe with her handkerchief pressed against her mouth.

“You could have warned me it would smell like this,” she accused light-heartedly as she sat on the bed across from the potion. Aiko would have been stuck for a year in a closet with dozens of cauldrons full of the stuff, just to see the look on The Jerks face when he drank the stuff.

“I didn’t know it would smell so bad.” Vivi protested, grinning as she covered her nose with her hands. So long as no one in the commonroom, specifically the Head of House, smelled it, they were all right. A little odor was a small price to pay for the potency of the potion. It was, however, an annoyance.

“Hand me some of that dehydrated shrivel-fig,” Aiko said, pulling a mortar and pestle from beneath the bed. Placing the small ingredient in the bowl, she beat it until it was a fine powder. It took several more to fill the bowl entirely, however, and soon she was convinced that she would need some blister paste before the potion was finished.

“Here, Vivs,” Aiko said, handing the bowl over. “I think it’s time to add this now.”

“Okay.” Vivi said, grabbing the bowl. “Maybe I’ll get some perfume spray to cover up that smell, too.” Pausing, she glanced around the room, studying each object. Some sixth sense told her something definitely was wrong. The hairs on the back of her neck rose and she suppressed a shudder.

Everything had to be fine. Really. She stepped around the bed, heading for her bag. Unfortunately, she never quite made it. A pile of text books sat just around the bed corner and, as luck would have it, Vivienne tripped over them and stumbled. The powder went flying, coating everything in its path with white dust. She sneezed, and then looked up at a gasp from Aiko.

Standing quite visibly in the dorm were Agatha and Avery, looking like sinister ghosts with their new coating of white powder. Vivi echoed Aiko’s gasp, and stepped back from shock. For a moment no one said anything, then Vivi hissed, “Oh my stars. I don’t believe ya Berke.” She ignored Agatha as unimportant, refusing to address her. “Spying now? Haven’t ya stooped low enough?”

Agatha shook herself, brushing the powder out of her clothes and shaking her head, trying to maintain as much dignity as possible under such trying circumstances. It was typical, she thought, absolutely typical, for such a clumsy Huthleputh (and my but they were all so clumsy, tripping over their own feet at times she would imagine) to ruin everything. Still at least the powder had been white. If one had to have a powder dropped on one’s head, it was best that it matched one’s outfit after all.

Still all was not lost and Agatha ignored Veruca’s question to her boyfriend. Would the child never give up? He did not fancy her. Could they make it any plainer? But no, the sniveler clearly could not get the message. Well really, between Agatha and Veruca, who would ever choose Veruca? Quite.

Agatha walked over to the cauldron, Veruca being temporarily preoccupied with staring at Avery.

“Making something nice are we?” Agatha said in a sneering tone, deciding to take the moral high ground and ignore the fact that she and Avery were in the Huthleputh common room.

“Hmm, illegal potion making, very interesting. What could two goody-goody, ickle Hufflepuffs like you two be doing with an illegal potion in your room then?” Agatha took a dragon hide glove, dyed white to take away its ugliness, from her Gucci bag and stirred the cauldron with the large pewter spoon. The potion crackled and the stench really was vile. Agatha blanched and dropped the spoon.

“Trying to poison us were you Ruca? Had something terrible in mind for us did you Ache? Dear me, we are absolutely terrified I have to say,” she said archly, a small smile lingering on her lips.

“What will our respected Headmistress have to say about this when I tell her?” Agatha threatened.

Vivi suddenly found the situation almost comical, and would have laughed if it had been less serious, or she had been less infuriated. Here were two second years, brewing a foul smelling potion in their dorm, and fighting with perhaps the most hated set of people in the school, covered in white powder, and acting as though they had the upper edge.

Vivi shook her head, turning her attention to Agatha. “Illegal potion? Poison Avery and you?” She scoffed. “What, so I can be expelled and spend time in Azkaban? Ya’ll aren’t worth the effort.”

She followed Agatha with her eyes, watching through the open closest door as she stirred the potion and blanched at the smell. The list of ingredients was safely in Vivi’s buttoned pocket, though even if the third year had it, not much information could be gained. The most tell-tale ingredient, Henbane, was not listed. They had not even obtained it yet. The rest were fairly common, used in a variety of potions.

“I suppose ya heard me list the ingredients?” She questioned, motioning towards the cauldron. “Beetle’s eyes, frog intestines, rat spleen, fly’s wings? Oh, and catnip. All ingredients we’re ‘posed ta have in our potions stores.”

Vivi stared at the two, hating both with passion, though Berke more. Agatha was a Slytherin, she was expected to hate mudbloods, hate Hufflepuffs, to hate everything that Vivi was. Berke, on the other hand, had been her friend. Funny, once she had liked him. Now she wanted to lock him away to rot in some vile cell.

Interesting, how things turn out.

“In fact, all ingredients used for making a protective polish for a broom. So, I think our respected Headmistress will have less ta say about our potion, and more ta say about how Avery and ya are in another house. And you, Avery, are in a girl’s dorm, in case ya hadn’t noticed. Both pet peeves of the Faculty, I’ve heard.”

“Making a broomstick polish are we?” Agatha sneered. “A likely story, Veruca. Perhaps you would also like to explain why you felt the need to brew a potion, with such harmless contents in the confines of your dorm? Why you didn’t, like any normal person, instead brew it in a potions classroom where it could be properly supervised and monitored?”

Agatha moved away from the appallingly smelly cauldron and towards the sniveling brat. Agatha was not tall, yet she was sufficiently taller than the brat, who seemed indeed to have a rather stunted growth pattern, to look down upon her. The two inches kitten heels of her brown suede Choo boots helped also.

Agatha hissed. “You don’t fool me Veruca. Don’t play mind games with me, I know them all. This is not a harmless potion. Broom potions do not have such a pungent odour. I may not know what it is yet. But believe me I will find out. And as for the Headmistress, well we shall have to wait and see who she thinks is the guiltiest, the most to blame, shall we not Veruca my dear? Prepared to risk your precious Puth reputations are you? Points don’t concern me,” she said narrowing her eyes at the insolent child before her and fingering the wand in her pocket. “And I don’t do detentions, father wrote a letter to Danuliete. He knows her well, you see,” Agatha said with a smirk, which implied that her connections would be enough to put Danuliete on her side.

“Play mind games with ya Agatha?” Vivi asked, looking up at her. She refused to budge, though it meant that she had to tilt her head to look at the pureblood. Agatha could advance on her as much as she wanted; Vivi was in the Hufflepuff dorm, on her ground. Here the Slytherin and the Gryffindor were at a disadvantage.

“Why bother? You play enough for the both of us.” Vivi spat. “I don’t have to explain myself to ya. Why don’t you go crawl off to whatever hole you came from, and drag Berke along with you?” She motioned to the open door, stepping aside.

“Go, Agatha, Avery,” she suggested. “Before I yell for Professor Stone. I’m not the one who’s wrong here.” She smiled slightly, knowing what the other two did not.

Agatha could throw whatever poison around that she wanted to, it did not really concern Vivienne. Even if a Professor did come, the potion could be easily explained away. If he searched the closest, their dorm, the bag, nothing too incriminating could be found. Avery and Agatha had made one deadly mistake. They had come too early, before the plan was impossible to back out of. They had miscalculated and would pay for it.

The only concern Vivi had at the moment was how soon they could move the potion. She still wanted their plan to succeed, and Bird Brain and Barbie Doll would probably go directly to Danuliete. How they would explain gaining the information they had without incriminating themselves, Vivi did not know, but she would not put anything by them. This would take quick thought and even quicker actions. Yet Vivi was not too worried; they were not backed into a corner yet.

There was still room to maneuver.

“Fine,” Agatha said weighing up Veruca and looking almost for a moment as if she may comply with the request to leave. But that would have been far too easy and Agatha had confronted and beaten far tougher opponents than this little worm.

“Go whine to Professor Stone then, see if I care,” said Agatha with a haughty toss of her head and as she swiftly sidestepped into the area filled with noxious fumes from the still simmering cauldron. Agatha took out her wand and quickly pointing it at the cauldron said simply, “Comminuo!”

The cauldron shuddered horribly then a large crack split down the side of it, it shuddered again, further cracks split wildly around it and the potion at first leaked and then rushed out onto the surrounding carpet, books and wood.

Agatha stepped back out of the way, unable to take the look of satisfaction off her face. She still had her wand in her hand and raised one eyebrow languidly at Veruca.

“Shame the brooms won’t be getting cleaned this week,” she said dryly.

The potion was fizzing horribly and had gone a rather sickly shade of yellow upon contact with the floor. A nasty burning smell was also taking over from the previous nasty aroma.

“Oh look,” said Agatha gleefully, “Your harmless potion seems to be actually eating the floor. How odd that a broom potion should attack wood, don’t you think Avery?”

“Baka!”

Aiko up-righted the cauldron and pushed the overhanging sheets up onto the beds. Beds could be moved to cover the burnt wood, but acid eaten sheets would be a bit harder to cover up.

“It wasn’t finished yet,” she accused, thinking quickly. “Don’t you ever pay attention in potions? You have to add the acids before you add the anti-acids! The anti-acids have to recognize the full affects of the acids before they can counter it!”

Aiko shot the silent Berke a glare. He was every bit as incriminated, and he did not even have to sense to follow through and accuse them too. Or had Agatha turned him into a complete slave instead of the half-brained moron he was before?

Still, trying to explain the workings (or lack thereof) of Berke’s mind was a waste of her time. Sighing, she opened her suitcase and pulled out the handkerchiefs she had tucked away for embroidery. Deciding she could send for more, she draped them over the spilled potion and let them absorb it. They would suck up the mess, and then disintegrate. “Why don’t you just leave?” Aiko asked, quietly.

“With pleasure,” said Agatha holding out her hand for Avery.

“Come my dear,” she said, “I can’t stand this place,” and she cast another disparaging look round the Hufflepuff common room, “I fear we are being polluted by its environs.”

She cast one long hard look at Acorn trying to work her out. She found the quiet Japanese girl, harder to figure than love-lorn Veruca. When she had first observed her she had, she scornfully noted, been permanently weeping and Agatha had set her down as an easy target, facile prey.

However, she had been forced to grant her some respect as a servant to J…to Prince, and now her argument was almost…almost convincing. Agatha knew what she said about acids was true and the tiniest flicker of doubt crossed her mind. Had she been wrong? Was it, as Veruca had claimed, truly a broom polishing potion?

But she dismissed the thought as unworthy and besides, what did it matter. The mess it had made they deserved either way, the sniveling Puths.

Agatha clasped Avery’s hand in her own, slyly looked at Veruca out of the corner of her wicked green eyes, and kissed him full on the lips.

“Bye,” she said with a suggestive flicker of her eyes and a pout of her lips. And they were gone.

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