“This is all your fault, Fred,”
Angelina declared irritably as she stepped carefully through the undergrowth of
the Forbidden Forest,
doing her best not to trip over any stray roots yet maintaining her tirade
against her companion as she did so. “You’ve been a Beater for six years; I
would’ve thought you’d have been able to deal with a Bludger without breaking
the bloody thing.”
She paused for a moment to duck as the springy branch Fred had
pushed aside whipped back, almost hitting her in the face and interrupting her rant.
It also interrupted her attention to the undergrowth, so a weed eagerly wrapped
itself around her ankle and sent her sprawling forwards, tackling Fred to the
floor by his midriff.
He grunted as he found himself knocked down by his Quidditch
captain, and within seconds they were in a tangle in the undergrowth. “Hey! I
thought you wanted to look for the Bludger, not… busy yourself with… other
things!” he declared mock-indignantly as he sat up hurriedly.
Angelina merely gave him an evil look before pushing herself
back on her feet and brushing herself down. “If we don’t find that Bludger,
there’ll be hell to pay. It’s not a good idea to hack off the Quidditch teacher
the week before our first match.” She paused for a moment to listen intently to
the unnatural stillness of the Forbidden
Forest. “But it’s not a good idea
to get caught out of bounds when a detention could cost us practice sessions –
and the match,” she added, almost as an afterthought.
“You’ve been channelling Wood more and more this season, you
know?” Fred muttered, rubbing his forehead. “And you’re still saying
this is my fault! I’m not going to be responsible for your failing to dodge a
Bludger. Any Chaser worth their salt –“
“Any Beater worth their salt wouldn’t have broken the
Bludger. Honestly, Fred, just when I thought you couldn’t get any worse, you…”
Angelina’s voice trailed off as she searched for the word, gesturing vaguely.
“Achieve the impossible? I’m irrepressible, I know,” Fred
declared with a smirk, standing up.
“I was going to say that you hit rock bottom, but I suppose
you’re right.” She shook her head and quickly continued striding down the path.
“Come on; I don’t want to get caught out here.”
“Why not? It won’t be that bad. Sure, so the Forbidden
Forest can bring quite nasty
punishments, but it’s not as bad as sliming the corridors, like those
third-years did today,” Fred, resident expert on the disciplinary system of
Hogwarts School of Witches and Wizardry, commented solemnly.
“And if it’s Umbridge?” Angelina pointed out.
Fred looked disgusted. “We’ll be lucky if we play Quidditch
again. No, scratch that, we’ll be lucky if we’ll be able to play
Quidditch again. Miserable old bag.” He sniffed slightly. “I mean, have you
heard what she’s done to half of the people she’s given detention? Bloody
horrible, if you ask me…”
“Fred… shut up.” But Angelina’s voice had little sting in it as
she raised a hand to silence him. “Can you hear that?”
And then, he could. The scurrying of feet, and fairly solid
feet at that. It wasn’t the hoof beats of centaurs, nor
the scrabbling of rodents. It was a sound made by something very different
“D’you think that… maybe… we should
get off this path?” Angelina commented, glancing down at the route they had
been following from the Quidditch pitch and only now noticing that it was not
made by human foot-prints, but something quite different.
“Doesn’t sound like a bad idea,” Fred agreed, grabbing her by
the arm and yanking her towards the edge of the path in search of cover. This
did not altogether encourage Angelina, who had never seen Fred Weasley cower
before any force lesser to that of his mother.
But before they could reach cover, the scurrying increased in
speed and volume, and from around the corner emerged a large, scorpion-like
creature, with a giant sting curled over its carapace back and looking fairly
“What the hell…”
“Blast-Ended Skrewt,” Fred answered her simply, backing off hurriedly.
“They can move really rather fast, so we’d do well to run like hell before it
The Skrewt came to a sudden halt and turned towards them, its
tail twitching dangerously.
“– sees us.”
Without wasting time, they both whirled around on their heels
and sprinted down the path, oblivious to the direction they were headed in,
only aware of the fact that the Skrewt was gaining ground, rapidly.
Fred took a look ahead, then skidded
to a halt, Angelina almost crashing into him again. Even as she opened her
mouth to question, he grabbed her by the arm again and yanked her to the floor.
From around the corner, barrelling at a ferocious speed, came the rampaging Bludger. It barely brushed their
heads before flying forwards and colliding violently with the Skrewt that had
been pursuing them. The Skrewt made a high-pitched chatter of protest as the
Bludger whacked into it before turning tail and skittering down the path.
There was a long moment of silence as the pair tried to digest
these sudden occurrences, then Angelina stood. “Last
time I saw a Blast-Ended Skrewt, it was only about three feet big… not six feet!”
“I think some of them escaped,” Fred mumbled absently, edging
forwards and eyeing the Bludger, which lay twitching on the ground. “Harry
mentioned there was one in the maze on that last Tournament Trial.” He lunged
forwards, but before he could grab the Bludger it twitched to life and shot off
down the path again. “Damn!”
Angelina grabbed him by the arm and hauled him to his feet.
“Don’t just stand there; we’ve got to chase the bloody thing, or
Hooch will have us hanged!” she snapped, half-pulling, half-carrying him into a
sprint as the two of them hurtled further into the Forest, hot on the heels of
the rampaging Bludger.