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Year 1: Director's Cut

Chapter Text

Your Journey Begins


 

It finally hit him. How real this magic around him was, how incredibly important and influential the world around him would be to his future. He would be learning magic.

Incredible.

Crazy Numnums strolled through Flourish and Blotts, his hands dragging lightly against the polished covers. He was enthralled. He loved to read, always had, even with the energy and magic coursing around him at home. He had always been the quieter of the two siblings. While Jacob enjoyed reading, it never quite captivated his interest as long as it did Crazy.

That thought saddened him, as he thought of his brother's disappearance.

He quickly looked at the list. The boy he'd met, Rowan, suggested he come here to Flourish and Blotts. Crazy had smiled gratefully, not wanting to weird someone out about his thoughts on the name 'Flourish' and why it made him think that the owner had put too much of the ingredient into his dough. It wasn't important, after all.

The owner wasn't particularly interested in a conversation with the young wizard, but he could live with that.

Returning to the place he'd started, he found Rowan again.

"Hey, I forgot to ask before, what's your name?" Rowan asked him, and Crazy supplied the answer. "Well, nice to meet you. Did you find the books?"

"Yes. They look... a little boring, to be honest."

"Boring? Really? I thought they looked very enjoyable."

"Each to their own."

"Hey, I've got some spare change, and I want to buy something. Maybe some clothes. What do you think I should get?"

"Well, you're bookish, aren't you? You're smart, maybe something that matches that. Try a scarf, maybe?"

"That's a great idea, Crazy! Listen, that's the last thing I need to get, so while I go and do that, maybe you could head to Ollivander's and get your wand!"

Crazy grinned. A wand was, simply put, the item on the list he had been most excited to find. Also, he wanted to meet Ollivander. His parents had told him their stories of the wand-seller, and he wanted to find out what the man was like. That was, if he was still there. "Sounds fun, Rowan. Meet back here?"

"Sure, Crazy. See you soon!"

Ollivander's was right next to him, so he waved goodbye to Rowan as he entered the store. The brightness of the outside world was immediately dulled, but Crazy still liked the place, which felt homely. He wondered if Ollivander lived in the bookshop or if he had somewhere else to go.

"What are you thinking about, young man?" Ollivander wasn't loud or abrasive. In fact, Crazy got the feeling he'd never been particularly loud in his life, but Crazy still felt on edge in his presence.

"Do you live here?"

"Yes. I have a room upstairs." 'There's an upstairs?' Crazy wondered, but before he could ask, Ollivander continued. "I think I have just the thing for you. Applewood wand, dragon heartstring core, nine inches, and rigid. Give it a whirl."

Crazy hadn't studied on wand wood, and had no idea what different wands could do, but he knew that this one was not for him after he twirled it and was subsequently attacked by envelopes. "Ouch!"

"Yes, apparently that one was not right for you. It's okay. I remember the trouble I had finding your brother's first wand. Nearly took my head off with an inkpot!"

Crazy was not ready for that bombshell. "You knew my brother?!"

"I remember every wand I've ever sold."

"How many is that?"

"Too many. But your brother's wand is still fresh in my memory. Maple wood, dragon heartstring core, ten inches. Of course, it was snapped in two when they expelled him. A shame, not just for him, but for you too. I understand that he ran away from home after his expulsion. Tell me, how did you feel about that?"

Crazy wasn't at all happy with the interrogation, and considered biting back. But that would have been rude and unwarranted, and he sensed that Ollivander truly wanted to know his answer.

"...I was-- I am determined. I know that people are going to hate me, but I just need to prove my ability as a wizard. Even if I can't change their minds... at least I can prove something to myself."

"Hmm... Try this wand. It may match your own personality. Hornbeam, eleven inches, dragon heartstring core, and inflexible. Hornbeam is the wood of my own wand."

For a moment, Crazy allowed himself the fantasy of one day being able to tell Jacob that his wand was smaller than Crazy's, which would have made them both laugh. Admittedly a little immature, but he couldn't help it. He twirled the wand in the air, and immediately knew that this was the wand for him. He had the power in his hands.

"Fantastic!" Ollivander clapped his hands a little. "Well, hurry along then. I can't wait to see what sort of person you can become..."

And with that ominous statement hanging over his head, Crazy exited the store.

Rowan was already there waiting, scarf around his neck. "Hey, Crazy! What do you think of the scarf?"

Truth be told, it was an awful scarf, and Rowan clearly didn't have any fashion sense whatsoever, but Crazy wasn't about to tell him that. "It suits you really well, Rowan!"

"Thanks! I'll definitely come to you for all my future fashion advice." That would be a mistake, given how Crazy's advice turned out this time. Maybe he should've suggested a hat, instead.

"Ollivander's was... intense."

"Yeah, he can be a little odd, but he means well. I think. Hey, I recognise that wood! You're using hornbeam!"

"How the hell did you figure that out?"

"My family owns a tree farm, and we supply wood for wands and brooms and etc. I much prefer staying inside and reading though, which suits me. Well, another reason for that is that I don't have any friends."

"I'll be your friend, Rowan!"

"You don't think I'm too weird? People say that about me."

"... You do remember my name, right? People think I'm weird too."

"Oh that's right! Your name was Numnums! Is Jacob Numnums your brother? That was a massive story, everyone will know about that!"

Crazy was actually referring to his first name, but Rowan gave a painful reminder. "Yes, just what I wanted. Everyone's eyes on me. Fantastic."

"Chin up, Crazy. You'll be fine. Everyone will forget about it in time."

"I sure hope so."

"Look, if someone gives you trouble over your brother, what would you like me to do?"

"Just keep quiet. If you don't, then you'll just be given grief too."

"Are you sure?"

"Positive. Come on, we're done now, let's head off to Hogwarts."

The grin on Rowan's face was the widest that Crazy had ever seen on a person.


Welcome to Hogwarts


"We're rowing across the water?"

"Rowan, you live on a farm, and these are magical boats. How on earth are you afraid of a lake?"

"Because there's a Giant Squid in the lake, that's how!"

Crazy hadn't known that piece of information, but it didn't change anything. "They wouldn't let us do it if it was dangerous, would they?"

"You clearly haven't read about Hogwarts." Crazy tried not to let the snark get to him, as he knew it was just Rowan's worries showing.

"We'll be fine. Hey, what house are you hoping to be sorted into?"

Crazy's distraction tactic worked, and Rowan's face instantly softened. "I'm not sure. I mean, there's merits to every house, isn't there?"

"Yeah, okay. What I meant was what house do you think you'll be sorted into?"

"Judging by this display, probably not Gryffindor," said Rowan, climbing into the boat, and Crazy had to agree. "But I have ambitions, and I'm smart, and I'd like to think that I am kind--"

"I think you're kind."

"--so any of the other three wouldn't surprise me." They held silence for a while, before Crazy nudged Rowan.

"Hey, Rowan."

"Yeah?"

"We're here." Rowan looked up in shock, about to speak, but the two were completely taken in by the magnificence of the castle. "Holy shit."

"I second that."

The first-years, led by Hagrid, walked up to the large doors at the entrance to the castle. Rowan and Crazy each took a deep breath, ready to enter the castle, before the doors opened.

The stunning beauty of the castle once again took the young wizards in. They watched as a rather large ghost flew over their heads, and a rather stern-looking teacher followed behind them. Other, older students looked on as the first years walked in between the rows of tables. They came to a stop at the end of the room, in front of the steps that led to the large table that seated all of the teachers.

"Students..." began the teacher, who had walked around the group to stand in front of them. "Today is the day that you will be sorted into your houses. This is very important, as during your time at Hogwarts, your house will be something like your family. We have Gryffindor, the brave and chivalrous."

Crazy zoned out. He knew all of this, but knew that some students had come from Muggle families, and wouldn't have known. He watched a blond boy listen intently, and rather timidly.

"We will start the Sorting now. You will be read out in no particular order whatsoever. The first student is... Snyde, Merula." Crazy watched a brunette girl get up on stage. She certainly looked like her namesake, and sneered at the group of first years in front of her. The disdain was palpable, and Crazy had an instant dislike. No sooner had the hat touched her head than... "Slytherin!"

"Right, so we know what house not to aim for, right?"

"Definitely," Rowan agreed.

"Tonks, Nymphadora!" It may have been a little hypocritical of Crazy, but all he could think of at that moment was another word beginning with 'nympho' that Jacob had introduced him to shortly before his disappearance. He chuckled, which earned him a nudge and shushing from Rowan.

The hat took a little longer on this girl's head, but eventually the hat called out, "Hufflepuff!"

"Kim, Jae." This boy looked again different. He looked supremely disinterested, though not unfriendly.

The hat was quick with this one too. "Gryffindor!"

"Numnums, Crazy!"

The whispers began. Crazy had been mentally preparing himself for the looks and stares, but still wasn't equipped to deal with them the way he thought he was. As he got up on the stage and sat on the stool, he could see the whispers moving from person to person, and his face grew hot. Oh how desperately he wanted to be off that stage. The hat touched his head, and Crazy felt it, not just externally. He could feel the hat worming its way around inside his brain, which made him shiver.

"Hmm, very interesting. I haven't seen one like this in a long time..." Crazy wasn't sure whether the hat was speaking out loud to the group of students or just to him through his mind.

Gee, thanks, thought Crazy, before regretting his sarcasm instantly. "Ooh, you're going to have a mouth on you, maybe Slytherin is the right choice!" Crazy internally cringed. "No, just kidding, I knew you wouldn't want to go there. Thought I'd have a bit of fun though. No, with that witty humour, and considerable intelligence, there's only one place for you... Ravenclaw!" The last word was screamed to the rest of the room, and hurt Crazy's ears a little, but that couldn't have stopped his grin from forming at the sound. Ravenclaw! He was ecstatic with that decision, and ignored the stares from his fellow students.

However, he couldn't help but notice the lack of back-slapping or thumbs-up. Every other student so far had gotten it.

The rest of the names were called out quickly, with Rowan being the last. An immediate 'Ravenclaw!' rang out from the hat, and Crazy cheered the loudest of all, as his new friend made his way over to the seat next to him. Once again, Crazy noticed the grins that Rowan received, and was a little hurt.

As soon as Rowan sat down, the Headmaster stood up.

"Welcome! Welcome to another year at Hogwarts! The past few years have seen a great weight lifted from our world, as The Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter, is safe. But for now, let us focus on your education, and what your futures may bring to the school. Now, a little information for the first years. While here at Hogwarts, good behaviours earn House Points, and rule breaking will lose you House Points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points will be awarded the House Cup!"

The House Cup wasn't there, a disappointment to Crazy, but he hoped he'd be able to see it at the end of the year. "And so begins our Feast!"

Food sprouted in the middle of the table, giving Crazy and Rowan further amusement.

"I was hoping I could get to be in Ravenclaw with you, Crazy."

"I knew you'd be in Ravenclaw, anyway. I just wouldn't want to spoil the surprise for you. I was more worried about where I'd be. I didn't know where I'd be sorted, and the Hat took a while. I thought it might sort me into Ravenclaw, because of my brother, and it did."

"It doesn't always stick in families, though. Unless you and your brother were very similar people, the Hat wouldn't have put you in the same house."

"We loved each other, but we're different people. Anyway, enough of this chatter. Let's eat, my stomach is killing me." They dug in.

After Crazy was full to the brim and ready to burst, the Headmaster stood once again. "Now the Feast is over, you may return to your common rooms! Ravenclaws, if you would follow Professor Flitwick..."

Everybody at the Ravenclaw table stood, and followed the short teacher out of the Great Hall. As they travelled up the stairs, Rowan and Crazy had fantastic fun laughing at the antics of the paintings. They'd both seen this specific type of magical portrait before, of course, but the interactions between different characters left them laughing and completely distracted until they reached the room.

Ravenclaw Common Room was cozy, and Crazy loved it. He laughed at Rowan's excitement, as his friend walked about the room, marvelling at the wondrous walls and interesting decor. "Hey, Crazy, there's so much to learn here! Would you like to hear about the--"

Crazy cut Rowan off. He'd only known the other boy for a little while, but it was already clear to see that he could get very excited about things. "Let's just enjoy ourselves while we're here, okay?" Rowan nodded, smiling, and even perhaps a little grateful that Crazy cut him off when he did.

They heard a distinct 'tut'. Turning towards the sound, they came face to face with an older boy.

"I can't believe they let you in here, after what happened with your brother! You know how much shit Ravenclaw were put through because of him?"

"I didn't choose to be here."

"Nobody chose you, or your mental brother."

Crazy shook his head, and smiled slightly at Rowan, letting him him know that he was okay. "I know that people are going to hate me for a while. But if I can fly under the radar, hopefully they'll forget about me."

"Hopefully." Rowan echoed, but he looked extremely skeptical.

"Hey, have you been able to see your timetable yet?"

"Yes! It's great! Herbology, Transfiguration... What are you most looking forward to, Crazy?"

He nearly, out of instinct, answered truthfully: finding his brother. Truth be told, everything else could wait. But he didn't want to ruin Rowan's good mood. "Charms, definitely. It seems like there's the largest variety of spells to learn there, so many useful things to learn..."

"Charms... I think it'll be fun, but I'm particularly looking forward to Transfiguration."

"Well, hopefully you enjoy charms, because it's what we've got first." They walked out of the common room, Crazy feeling the burning glare of the older boy on the back of his neck.

"Rowan, you've read every book on Hogwarts known to man, right?"

"Essentially."

"Soooo... what's the first spell we'll be learning?"

"I don't know. And that's a shame, because I know a lot of things. However, Charms seems to be one of the more loved subjects, so hopefully the teacher is okay." Rowan's voice echoed down the corridor, as they made their way towards the classroom door.

Students were just getting seated when the duo walked in, and Crazy instantly felt discreet eyes lingering on his skin. He'd never been a massive fan of attention, but knowing that they were staring because of his brother made it so much worse. Crazy simply hoped the professor was fair, and walked up to the man who had led them to their common room.

"Hello, Professor Flitwick. I can't wait to get started, I'm really looking forward to Charms."

The professor's smile relaxed Crazy. "You're Mister Numnums!" Crazy tensed up again, preparing for a reprimand. "Well, if you're anything like him, you'll be okay. He was one of the most skilled students I've ever taught!"

Crazy was in shock. He never thought he'd hear a kind word said about his brother in the school, never mind in the first five minutes of class!

"However, he was also rather rebellious... Are you a rebel too?"

"I hope that I can follow the rules. But I also need to find my brother."

"Your plight is very much understandable. Please take your seat, for your first step in Hogwarts education, Mister Numnums!" Crazy complied, taking up the empty chair next to Rowan. The boy to his right shifted over a little.

"Class, today, for your first lesson, we will be learning one of the most important spells in a witch or wizard's arsenal: Lumos!"

"The Wand-Lighting Charm!" whispered Rowan excitedly.

The next hour was spent reviewing information given to them, as they practiced the swish necessary to complete the spell. Finally, Flitwick called out, "Time's almost up, so I want you to have a go at completing the spell, but don't worry if you don't get it first time. It takes practise."

Crazy picked up his wand, and breathed in deeply. He prepared to cast the spell. "Lumos."

It didn't work.

Crazy repeated the spell, giving his wording a little more force. "Lumos!" This time it worked. Crazy squinted against the light it provided in the already colourful classroom.

"Fantastic! Well done, Mister Numnums, that's one of the best wand-lighting charms I've seen!" Crazy glowed with pride. However, the more important thing to him was that the other classmates could learn to like him as well. He analysed the group opposite him. Certainly some looked unhappy with his accomplishment, as they struggled to complete the spell themselves, but others looked on with a little more respect. Good, thought Crazy, I'm getting to them.

Or at least he hoped.

"Ten points to Ravenclaw."

Well, that couldn't have made him grin more. At least the Ravenclaws would be tolerant of him now. He half-expected Rowan to be jealous of the aptitude that Crazy was showing for magic, but his friend was as ecstatic as Crazy. "Ten points, on your first lesson! They'll write books about you, Crazy, that was amazing."

"It was our first lesson, okay, so don't get too wrapped up in publishing deals just yet. We have Potions next, with the Slytherins, which should be fun."

"Was that sarcastic?"

"Yes."

Crazy was right. He'd taken a quick detour to the bathroom, and when he'd continued walking to the dungeons, he spotted Rowan. Talking to a girl in green robes, and Rowan didn't look too pleased about things.

"Admit it!" Crazy heard from the girl opposite.

"I can't!" Rowan replied, and Crazy admired his bravery, considering the short fuse this girl appeared to have.

"Say it!"

"I can't because it's not true!" Rowan saw Crazy walk up, but continued talking. "You're in first year, chances are you're one of the least powerful witches! I've made lists based on--"

"Fuck you and your lists!"

"--the professors, the seventh-years... you're a first year like me!"

"I'm not, in any way, like you!"

Crazy had had enough, but without a proper judge of this girl's abilities, he wasn't sure of standing up to her. Instead, he opted to distract her from bullying Rowan. "I'm sensing some rampaging insecurity here."

"You're the one who should be feeling insecure, Crazy Numnums." She spat the last word like it was venom. "Your brother was insane!"

"Hey, his Wand-Lighting charm was the best that Flitwick had seen this year! He's better than you!" Rowan piped up, unhelpfully, as Crazy was attempting to defuse the situation.

"Really? Care to put that to the test?"

"I don't want a fight, or a duel, or whatever you have in mind, whatever your name is."

"Too bad. And it's Merula Snyde." Now she said that, Crazy recognised her as the girl he'd seen in the Sorting ceremony.

"You're just afraid that maybe I could be more powerful than you. Rampaging insecurity, after all."

"Let's put it to the test right now." Unfortunately, none of the three had heard Snape walking up behind them.

"Numnums. I knew you would be trouble."

Crazy glanced at Rowan, wordlessly asking, 'is he serious?' "Sir, Merula was bullying Rowan."

"Get in the classroom. Next time it'll be detention."

Merula walked inside at once. Crazy asked Rowan quietly, "Head of Slytherin?"

"Yep."

"Today," drawled Snape loudly, effectively cutting off all conversation, "you will be making a simple cure for boils. You have the recipe. Get started."

"You're guaranteed to fail, Numnums, you've got no chance."

"What are you talking about?" Crazy didn't wait for an answer, as he didn't really care. All he wanted to do was perfectly brew the potion so Snape didn't have a reason to be disappointed.

As Crazy deposited the last ingredients into the cauldron, Snape walked over. "Perhaps you aren't completely incompetent, Numnums."

Crazy smiled broadly, a sense of achievement at completely his first potion.

Then it began to bubble.

"This looks like the explosive reaction created by adding Bulbadox powder," mentioned Rowan, crushing Crazy's heart.

"Oh. Fun."

The cauldron split completely down the middle. Crazy ducked to avoid being hit by cauldron shards, while Rowan just continued working.

"Congrats, Numnums. The table is now completely free of those horrible boils."

"You did this, bitch."

Merula adopted a 'who, me' expression as Snape sauntered up behind her. "You should never have been allowed to step foot inside my classroom, Numnums." Once again, the name was said in disgust. "Ten points from Ravenclaw."

And there were his points flushed down the toilet.

"Anything to add to this atrocity, Numnums?" Snape asked.

"Merula sabotaged my cauldron."

"What?! That's ridiculous, sir!"

"Numnums, if you want to avoid losing further house points, I suggest not making unfounded accusations against your classmates. Class dismissed."

"What? But... I..."

Snape walked away, leaving a dumbstruck Crazy.

"Shouldn't have coated your cauldron in Bulbadox Powder, should you?"

Crazy's eyes narrowed. He had a feeling that he and Merula would have an interesting time around each other...

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: Dealing With Trouble


Crazy exited the Potions classroom, feeling despondent. He had no chance of getting anybody to like him if he lost Points during his second lesson. Rowan had stayed behind, wanting to complete his potion perfectly, as he hadn't managed to do so in time, and in a somewhat benevolent decision, Snape allowed him.

"Hey." Crazy whipped around to see a dark blond-haired Gryffindor, clutching the side of his robes in one hand. "You're Crazy Numnums, right?"

"Jacob Numnums' brother, yes."

"...Okay. Don't really care about that, but um..."

"You don't? Wow, thanks!" Crazy smiled brightly, and the other boy appeared more at ease.

With a small smile, he continued. "I'm, uh, Ben Copper. Gryffindor."

"Yes, I can see that."

"I just wanted to tell you... thanks for standing up to Merula Snyde. It's really great that there's someone here who's brave enough to do it."

"How did you find out about that? Oh, Merlin's beard, half the school probably knows now." Crazy rolled his eyes, and began to walk away.

"No, no, no, I was watching from the end of the corridor. I think it's really great that you did that."

"Why were you at the end of the corridor?"

"I was hiding from Merula, so that she couldn't bully me."

"That seems a little bit counter-intuitive."

"Well, I was hoping that if I stay close to her, she wouldn't keep bullying me. Also I'll see her coming and be able to run away. She was awful to me on the entire trip to Hogwarts. She followed me around and told me I didn't belong here, and called me a Mudblood!" Wow. Crazy didn't expect that kind of torment from the Slytherin girl. That was outright evil. "Maybe she's right. I'm Muggle-born, I don't know anythin--"

"Hey, I'll not have any of that talk, thank you! You belong here far more than that bitch does. I'm sure you'll become a fantastic wizard, Ben."

"I'm so not magic that they put me in Gryffindor, even though I'm the most fearful person I know."

"Everyone has fears."

"Mine's panophobia - fear of everything. This is all so scary, it'd be much easier for you..."

"You'd be surprised. My mum was fairly strict on us using magic, I've barely seen any. I spent more time hanging out with my brother, but he couldn't perform magic outside of school either, and obviously I can't now..." Crazy began to think about the time he had gotten to spend with his brother, but fortunately realised how insensitive that was to Ben's struggles. "Look, if you need anything, just come over and talk to me and Rowan, okay?"

"Sure. Thanks, Crazy."

"No problem, Ben. See you later!"

Ben walked away just as Rowan exited the potions classroom. "Who was that?"

"His name is Ben Copper. He's Muggle-born, so he's still assimilating to the climate. He might come over and talk to us later." Crazy was worried about how Rowan would act; after all, neither of them had seen a reason to be particularly hopeful of future friends, but Rowan nodded.

"Sounds good."

"How was Snape?"

"Irritable, but fair. He definitely just hates you."

"Leave it alone. Let's not draw any more attention to it, okay?"

"Crazy, it's not fair, and they both know it!"

"If I confront Merula, Snape will take more House Points from me. If I confront Snape... well, that's just suicide, to put it nicely." He was outraged, they both were, but Crazy was looking at it from a purely logical standpoint, and could see no benefit to raising any concerns about the House Points he'd lost. Technically, he was on a total of zero, given Flitwick had given him ten House Points the lesson before, so there shouldn't have been a reason for anyone to complain.

As they hurried up the East Towers, they walked past fellow Ravenclaws. Crazy brushed past them, and they shoved back lightly, causing Crazy to knock into Rowan.

"Hey!"

"You've already lost us House Points, arsehole. Turning out just like that brother of yours..." They walked away before Crazy could respond, and the encounter left the new Ravenclaws more despondent than ever.

"There's no hope arguing with anyone. They're already all against me." As they rounded the corner, they spotted a blonde Hufflepuff speaking animatedly with a couple of Gryffindors. As soon as she spotted them though, she quickly stopped talking, attempting to look innocent. Crazy shook his head and continued walking, Rowan right behind him.

"She's one of the popular ones, Crazy: they're all over any gossip there is, and Jacob Numnums' brother losing House Points would be pretty important to them."

"That's all I am!" Crazy whispered harshly as they entered the Common Room. "I'm not Crazy Numnums, I'm Jacob's brother, and that's all I'll ever be to anyone."

"Crazy, give it time. You can do this. You can convince them," said Rowan, sitting down. "Uh-oh."

"Oh, what now?" Crazy groaned, and turned to see what Rowan was looking at, only to see a Prefect's badge. "Uh-oh."

"I'm your Prefect, Chester. You're Crazy Numnums, and apparently you've already lost us ten House Points."

Crazy thought this a bit unfair. Was he not going to receive praise for earning ten House Points in Charms from anyone? Apparently not. "I earned ten points in Charms, though, so I'm on a total of zero."

"Knowing who your brother is, I really should've expected this smartassery. You're going to turn out just like your brother, aren't you?"

"No, I'm not. I'm a different person from my brother. Unfortunately, Snape and the Slytherins don't seem to have realised that." Crazy was done. Fortunately, he had enough sense of mind to keep from snapping out at his Prefect on their first meeting, but that was all the restraint the he could show.

"Snape and the Slytherins sounds like a band," commented Rowan. Chester and Crazy stared at him. "Sorry, carry on."

"Look, it's okay. Snape hates everyone. But you can't afford to lose too many points. He sent you a letter, and if you want to get back in his good graces, I would certainly do what it says."

Crazy felt a little invaded knowing that his Prefect read a letter addressed to him, but left the matter alone. "Numnums, I have discovered evidence that your potion may indeed have been tampered with. While it does not prove your innocence, it does cast some doubt on my belief that you are hopelessly incompetent. Bring me a jar of Pickled Slugs from the Potions storeroom, and I will consider restoring your House Points. Snape."

"Odd that he didn't sign with his title of Professor."

"I'm not sure that it really matters, Rowan."

"Hey, I can go with you. Except I don't know where the Potions storeroom is."

"There's directions on the bottom of the letter. And thanks, I'd appreciate having a witness."

"A witness?" asked Chester.

"For my murder, after I do something stupid like drop the jar."

"I don't think he'll murder you, but I'll happily come with."

"Can you hurry it up, then? If you take too long, he'll change his mind and you'll never earn the points back!" Chester urged them out of the Common Room, and the door shut behind them.

"That was harsh. I'm sure that Snape won't change his mind about it."

"Did you see him in Potions?" Crazy ignored Rowan's 'obviously'. "I wouldn't be surprised if this was his way of getting us to do his chores. But if it isn't, then Chester's right, and we'd better hurry along."

As they walked down the stairs, Crazy looked at the portraits on the walls. He and Rowan had noticed them on their first night in the Castle, but it never ceased to amaze Crazy how brilliant the interactions between the paintings could be. Sir Cadogan rode through frames, causing general uproar between the characters in the paintings, who were generally not liking his disturbance.

"These directions are odd... you'd think they'd place the Potions storeroom near the Potions classroom."

"Maybe they just didn't plan ahead. But you're right, that is unusual." They walked past a couple of Slytherins, a bespectacled black girl and a dense looking Caucasian. They looked at the pair, but didn't say anything. Crazy sighed. "I'd rather they look away from me than right at me."

"Everyone's still getting used to the idea of another Numnums sibling. Not that I'm saying that's a bad thing," Rowan added hastily, "but just remember what it looks like from the outside."

"Sometimes I really wish I didn't have to take the moral high road."

"Huh. It says the Potions storeroom is here, but I thought it was in the Tapestry corridor."

"There's probably more than one storeroom. Do you know how many potions must be made every day in that class? Too many to count. What do we need again?" Crazy asked.

"Pickled Slugs."

"Should be easy enough to find."

They entered the room. The door slammed behind them. "Shit! Rowan, why'd you do that?"

"I didn't! Why would I shut the door?"

"Lumos," Crazy muttered, and the spell worked first time. He froze. "Rowan, I don't think this is the potions storeroom."

"I think you're right, and I think that we can't get out, and that-- holy crap that's Devil's Snare. Don't move a muscle."

"Then how are we going to get out?"

"Scream really loudly."

They did so, but a voice made them stop. "Well, you at least got that right. It is Devil's Snare. Sensitive to light. If you're really as good as you say, Numnums, you should be able to get out."

"Couldn't face me yourself, Merula? Had to get the help of a plant?"

"No, I was just using my resources. Like a true Slytherin. Let's see if you're a true Ravenclaw."

"This is actual murder." Crazy thought that argument might have made Merula think twice, but she was already long gone. "What the hell is she thinkin-- ahhh!" A long, thin tendril grabbed Crazy around the ankle. Fortunately, he was able to fight it off, but he saw more coming.

"Don't move too much Crazy, it'll be more aware of your presence."

"I'd say it's already pretty damn aware! I'll fight it off, you call for help." Rowan's yelling filled the room, but all it seemed to do was make the Devil's Snare more excited. It came from behind Crazy and wrapped one tendril around his neck, while the other latched onto his wand arm. "R-Rowan... help me." The air started to leave Crazy's lungs, but Rowan's light shone just in time, and the plant around his neck loosened. "Thanks, now do my arm." Rowan obliged.

"This is insane! Help us! We're trapped in here!"

"Get outta tha way!"

Rowan quickly sidestepped, away from the door, and an extremely large, bearded man barged through. "Gulpin' gargoyles! Get away from it, you're scaring it!"

"I'm not sure that it's the one scared of me." Fortunately, the man was helpful enough, and gently pulled Crazy away from the snare. "Thank you so much, Mister..."

"I'm Rubeus Hagrid! Keeper of Key and Grounds at Hogwarts."

"Sounds like... an exciting job!"

"Hey, it's honest work, and most o' the students are quite nice to me."

"Well, I'm Crazy Numnums. Thanks again for helping me!"

"Numnums. You're the one everyone's been talking about."

"Yes, unfortunately, and I wish they'd stop."

"Yeh can't help some things. How'd yeh end up in there?"

"A Slytherin called Merula Snyde locked me in there."

"Ah. Yeh can't tell anyone I said this, but Slytherins definitely have the most potential for evil. However, most of 'em are okay."

"Believe me, we know not to judge a book by its cover," said Rowan.

"What are you two going to do?"

"Is there anything I can do? I don't have proof she did it; I certainly didn't record her saying that she'd trapped us in there. I think I'd better leave it for now. I won't let it get out of hand, though."

"A smart idea, I think. Why don't you change out of those robes while you're at it. You don't look in the best shape."

"I'll go and do that. Come on, Rowan." The two left the corridor, Rowan still furious.

"Crazy, she tried to kill us! We have to do something!"

"She's a bully, Rowan, that's all she is. We'll just have to figure out how to defend ourselves."

"Yeah, because we'll learn that in Charms." Crazy smiled at Ben, who had just walked up beside them.

"Hello, Crazy. What on earth happened to your robes?" Crazy simply raised an eyebrow. "Oh. Right, of course. Wow, that's pretty bad. Hello... Rowan?" Rowan nodded. "I-I'm Ben."

"Hi, Ben. Nice to meet you. I hope."

"Rowan, Ben's okay, I promise. I told you, he wasn't being horrible outside Potions."

"I can understand why you'd think I wanted to hurt you, though. I definitely hope you don't get expelled, Crazy."

"What a coincidence, I was hoping that as well. Look, we're heading out to our Common Room, but we'll catch up during flying class, okay?"

"Don't remind me, please."

"You'll be okay, Ben." Ben smiled, clearly unconvinced, and walked away from the two. Without the added distraction, Crazy became very aware of the attention he was receiving, and pinked slightly. "Come on, Rowan, let's hurry, please." Snickers ripped through the general atmosphere of the corridors as they ran through it, Crazy's patience wearing extremely thin.

"Bloody hell! What happened to your robes?"

"Devil's Snare happened. And that Slytherin, Merula Snyde."

"The love-hate relationship between them is blooming," joked Rowan, and surprisingly, Chester smirked.

"It's definitely not that. I noticed it the first time we met, it's rampaging insecurity, and a ridiculous need to prove herself as the best witch around by dragging everyone else around her down. And no proof, again, except for the fake letter. I should've listened to your suspicions more, Rowan, sorry."

"I didn't have a clue either, Crazy, I was just thinking aloud."

"I presume you came here to change?" They nodded. "Well, do that, before Professor Flitwick sees you, and then head off to Flying Class, before you get into more trouble."


"Hello, and welcome to your first Flying Class." Crazy wanted to reply, but managed to restrict himself to a grin. "I assume you all know what flying is, correct?" A general affirmative murmur rang through the grounds. "Perfect. You can start by simply observing, and then you'll learn to summon your broom."

Rowan cast his eyes upward, which was fortunately missed by Madam Hooch. "Summoning a broom? I knew I didn't want to do flying class, but this is ridiculous."

"You think you don't want to do this class? I've been worried about it ever since I got the owl."

"Look, Ben, you've got this. A lot of people are afraid of heights--"

"I'm not so much afraid of heights as I am of falling from heights."

"--but we have the necessary magic to help you if you do fall. There's no problem."

"What if nobody sees me until it's too late? What if Madam Hooch accidentally fires the wrong spell at me? What if--"

"Woah, woah, Ben, hold on a second." Rowan looked at Ben, scrutinising him. "It is highly unlikely that any of these things will happen. The number of flying accidents at Hogwarts is tiny."

"Then I'll be the exception to the rule."

"Ben, you heard her before. We aren't flying today, so you have nothing to worry about. But when you do fly, I promise that there'll always be someone to catch you."

"Well, I suppose that I can't fall if there's nowhere to fall down from..."

"Exactly, that's the spirit," grinned Crazy. "Or, maybe not, but fixing that mentality might be a slow process, I'll take whatever victory I can get."

"Alright, enough with the chatter." The entire class stood to attention again, including Merula, which Crazy thought was a bit odd. "All you'll be doing today is observing me, so that you can learn how to successfully fly your brooms."

Crazy quickly moved a little closer to Rowan, not feeling particularly enthusiastic about standing near anybody else. As he watched, however, his worries slowly slipped from his mind, and he became enthralled with the movements that Madam Hooch was making about in the air. He'd never been hugely enthusiastic about flying, but the elegant way that she was controlling her broom made him start to reconsider his preconceived notion.

"That's it, class dismissed." Madam Hooch waved the group off, and Crazy blinked, surprised. The class had gone by so quickly, and he hadn't even noticed.

"Thanks for your help, Crazy. I'm still completely terrified of flying, but I definitely appreciate your help."

"Well, I tried."

"Indeed you did, Mr. Numnums. You seem to have a way about you... I don't know what it is, but you've been fantastic so far when it comes to helping your classmates with their problems. Ten Points to Ravenclaw." At least Chester would be happy with his progress this lesson, even if nobody else was. She walked away, leaving the young wizards to their devices.

"Wow, I'm surprised how much I was enjoying that class."

"Eh, I wasn't as entertained. I'd much rather be actually doing something that requires the use of my brain," complained Rowan.

"Well, me too, but it doesn't mean I don't enjoy other things from time to time. How about you, Ben? I mean, obviously, you hate flying, but do you hate it slightly less yet?"

"Slightly less. Only slightly."

"I've got some books on flying that could help you to overcome your fear, Ben," Rowan said helpfully.

"I might just look at those later. That is, if you'll let me."

"Of course! Hey, Crazy, why don't we go off for a game of Gobstones? I'll get the books for you after that, Ben." That sounded like a plan, and the three wizards agreed on it. As Crazy and Rowan walked away, Rowan began talking again. "You've played Gobstones, right?"

"Once or twice. Nobody else in my family was a massive fan of it, and it's obviously better when you play with someone else."

"Yeah, definitely, although I play it all the time. I have to find something to do with myself, since I'm certainly not strong enough to help on the farm. I'd like to think of it as a game for those who prefer to think while doing things, although I realistically know that I play it usually because I'm bored. Anyway, it should be fun."

"What do you think of Ben?"

"Timid, scared, friendly..."

"Rowan, you're just listing off adjectives. Come on, what do you really think of him? Do you like him?"

"I think so. He seemed nice, and he's the only person we've met so far that hasn't treated you like shit. Even the Hufflepuffs and other Ravenclaws were gossiping about you, in the hallways and such." They entered the Courtyard, which was mercifully empty. "At this point, I think you need to take whatever friendships you can get, and Ben might be one of the few you can have."

"That's sort of what I was thinking too. Besides, I think he needs help as much as we do."

"Yeah, that too. I found something interesting about Gobstones. Apparently, Muggles play a similar game called Marbles. We should ask Ben about that. I want to know what it's like."

"Hmm, yeah, maybe we can ask him later. It might make him a bit happier to think of something familiar. Anything else interesting?"

"Well, the one topic I was really feverishly reading about was Merula Snyde. I was trying to figure out her motivations for being... well, a bitch." Rowan grimaced slightly, clearly wishing for a more specific term, but Crazy knew what he was getting at.

"Why don't we chat over Gobstones?" Crazy grinned, looking at Rowan.

"Okay, sounds good. Okay, well, Merula Snyde's parents are Death Eaters, which I'm sure comes as a surprise to nobody who's ever talked to her."

"People can be horrible without being Death Eaters, Rowan. Although you're right, I'm not surprised in the slightest given that she genuinely attempted to murder us."

"They're locked up in Azkaban. For being loyal to You-Know-Who during the Wizarding War. Serves them right, of course, but maybe also helps to explain why she acts the way she does."

"I've said this so many times recently, but rampaging insecurity. And now we know why."

"I stopped after that. It felt cruel to keep reading about her secrets, even after all she's done to us. I couldn't do it."

"That was probably a good idea, Rowan. Probably earned you a few moral points on the karma scale." Crazy shut his eyes as he was squirted with the disgusting liquid. "If you went any further, you'd probably be too much like her."

"Ha! I take offense to that stat-statement." Rowan ploughed through his sentence despite the fact that it was his turn to get sprayed. "I hope I could never get that bad."

"Well, you never know, Rowan. One day you might just decide that I'm simply not worth it to you and join the Death Eaters." Crazy grinned; distracting Rowan with distinctly insulting talk had worked, and Crazy had won the game.

"Fair enough, Crazy, I might just turn on you after those unsportsmanlike tactics." They shared a laugh, but sobered up quickly. "Seriously though, thanks for sticking with me so far. I guess we're weird enough to have found each other."

"Ooh, who's being insulting now? Oh, boy." Crazy groaned, rolling his eyes. "Hello, Merula."

"Oh, no, don't let me interrupt whatever bromance moment you had going on there, please."

"What do you want?"

"For you to get out of Hogwarts. Unfortunately, the Devil's Snare didn't work, but at least I could do some research about your brother while you were in there."

"Uh-huh. Sure," said Rowan, missing Crazy's shakes of the head. "Then what was it?"

"Jacob Numnums wasn't just expelled... he went missing, and the next time he was seen, he was working for Voldemort!"

"You can't say his name!" Rowan half-yelled. "Also, I already know this. Not really shocked."

"Uh, hello? How is that not shocking? Working for Voldemort?"

"What, like your parents, Merula?" Merula blanched. "Turns out that you're not the only one who enjoys research; Rowan here is quite a fan as well. And, well... I mean, I'm surprised they let you in here at all."

"Crazy, that's enough." Crazy knew Rowan was right. He would've stopped sooner, but Merula didn't seem to be that devastated by the blow. Maybe a little shocked that he'd found that out about her, but not that devastated. Could she be a You-Know-Who sympathiser?

"Do I agree with my parents? Not in the slightest." Thank the heavens. "Am I ashamed of them? Also no. Look, Numnums, I'm going to get rid of you, one way or another. Why don't you just save yourself, Rowan Khanna, and the entire house of Ravenclaw the embarrassment of being associated with you."

"Don't be too afraid of me, Merula. I promise that I'll only be a little bit better at everything than you."

"Better than me? I'll duel you right now!"

"Lumos!" Instinctively, and caught in the moment, Crazy blurted the only spell he knew, which did no damage to Merula in the slightest.

"Flipendo!" Unfortunately, it seemed that Merula knew a spell or two, and Crazy was thrown to the ground. "The Wand-Lighting Charm? Really? Come on, I thought you were at least smarter than that, Numnums." She walked off, leaving Rowan and a very bruised and battered Crazy behind her.

"Crazy, if you keep tormenting her, she'll never leave us alone."

"Or maybe we just need to learn how to duel. How on earth did she know that spell?"

"She's a Slytherin, some older students probably showed her. Who do you think could teach us to duel?"

"I don't know Rowan, but we need to find someone, and fast."

Chapter Text

Insane... his brother was...

Crazy could hear the whispers around him. Students looked at him out of the corners of their eyes, clearly not over the fact that he was Jacob Numnums' brother. He felt a rush of irrational hatred for his brother then, for putting him in this situation, but it went as quickly as it came.

Rowan and Ben weren't with him. Rowan was in the library, because apparently 'you can never study too early for your O.W.L.S.' Crazy laughed at this. He had a feeling that Rowan had been born with a textbook in his hand. That must've been painful for his mum. Crazy nearly snorted, but fortunately remembered that people already considered him mental, and he didn't want to arouse further suspicion.

Ben, on the other hand... Crazy didn't know where he got off to, and this worried him a little. Had Merula caught up with Ben?

Will he be expelled?... How long do you think...

The whispers were louder without his friends around, a combination of a lack of distractions and the other students being emboldened when he didn't have reinforcements. One particular group was staring pretty openly at him; finally, he couldn't take it anymore, and looked back at them. He was a pretty conflict-avoidant person, but there was only so much one wizard could take. He watched one boy stand up from the group and leave, his seat immediately taken by Penny Haywood.

Crazy rolled his eyes and went back to his work. She was the girl who he'd caught spreading rumours about him on day one, and ever since then he'd seen her constantly whispering with other students, mostly about him, from what he could gather. He couldn't help but feel a little self-conscious that he was a large topic for discussion for the most popular girl in his year.

I hope he leaves... gonna kill us all.

He couldn't take it any more. Standing up, his sandwich only half finished, he quickly departed the Great Hall, whispers following him as he walked down. He ran up the steps quickly, trying but failing to ignore the dirty looks from a pair of Ravenclaws who were on their way down. He practically sprinted through the Common Room, and ran straight to his dorm, which was thankfully empty. His only solace from the cruel whispers of the school.

He hated it.

Not the magic. That, certainly, was a fantastic part of his life now, and he was really enjoying the classes that were being put on. Other than Snape, the teachers treated him fairly, and he excelled in many areas.

But his social life, on the other hand, was up in flames before he'd even gotten to Hogwarts.

Maybe that was a little harsh. He did, after all, have Rowan and Ben. But while he would never have traded them up, and they were completely loyal to him, even they would have admitted that it was very unlikely that they would have been friends if they weren't also bullied in some form.

And with Merula's fixation on him, Crazy wasn't sure how to shake the public perception of him. He said that he would do so by proving himself a great wizard, but that was under the assumption that people would give him a chance. But they wouldn't. No matter how hard he tried, they couldn't seem to be able to let him prove himself.

"Hey, Crazy." Rowan had returned from studying. "Thought I'd find you in here." Crazy didn't say anything, just stayed on his bed. "They're brutal."

"I can't do anything."

Even hearing his own voice, he knew he sounded pathetic. Rowan looked at him as if he was made of glass. Crazy felt like that wasn't too far from the truth.

"It's just constant, Rowan. The whispers in the hallways, the dirty looks. I'd much prefer it if they just let me fade into the upholstery, but they won't even let me do that. Everyone has to notice me. I can always feel their eyes on me, and the only times that I can bear it is when I'm around you and Ben. But on my own, trying to study or eat a meal with that constant buzzing in your head? The knowledge that people already hate you for something you had no control over? I was nine, Rowan. I... I don't know how long I can do this."

"I'll tell you how long you can do this. You can do this for seven more years."

"Huh?"

"Maybe the whispers won't ever stop. Maybe. But there will always be people, somewhere, who are willing to give you a chance. You've already found me and Ben. Let's give everybody a little more credit, huh?"

Crazy nodded. After all, they were only a few weeks in to the year. But it just constantly felt like walls of voices were closing in on him, threatening to crush him. Rowan just gave him hope that maybe he had the ability to weaken that wall, bit by bit, until he was the stronger entity.

"Okay, Rowan. And the first thing to do, is learn how to duel."

"Ah," Rowan said, "I believe I can help you there."

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: Revenge Is Best Served Magical


"What do you mean, you might be able to help?"

"Welllll..."

"Rowan." Crazy grinned, showing he wasn't really annoyed.

"Look, I don't know how far we could get with him, but Chester just asked to meet us on the training grounds, to talk about Merula Snyde, and your recent 'confrontation' with her. Confrontation meaning when you got your arse kicked."

"Thanks for the reminder."

"Hate me later, we don't want to keep Chester waiting!" Rowan grabbed Crazy off the bed, and tugged him along.

"Woah, woah, I'm coming! Let go of me!"

"No!" replied Rowan cheekily, but Crazy had already pulled free. "So, do you think that he wants to talk about training us in duelling? I bet that he would be amazing at duels. He is, after all, a Prefect."

"Doesn't mean that he can duel, although I don't think he'd teach us how to duel anyway. He's too much of a stickler for the rules. No, I think that he wants to discuss how I need to be careful not to annoy Merula Snyde, in case I lose more House Points." Crazy groaned in annoyance. He was tired of being blamed for everything, and his Prefect, at least so far, had been one of the main culprits.

"On a similar note, apparently we're learning the Wiggenweld Potion in Potions soon."

"Really, we're learning a potion in Potions? Surprising."

"Shut your smart-arse mouth and think about it for a second. Wiggenweld Potion? Ringing bells." Seeing the blank look on Crazy's face, Rowan continued. "It's a healing potion! Usable in duels..."

"Yes, but Merula will also be learning this potion."

"Doesn't matter. As long as you have something, I'm sure you can beat her. You're a far better wizard than she is."

"She isn't a wizard."

"Wow, you get snarky when you're annoyed. You know what I meant." The two passed the Great Hall, and as Crazy suspected, he felt a lot better standing next to a friend. The looks still came, particularly from that group he'd noticed earlier, but he continued smiling as if he hadn't noticed anything. Rowan had noticed, though, and it was evident on the young wizard's face.

"I can handle it."

"You just proved you can't, Crazy."

Crazy ignored the sting in that remark, the possible suggestion that he wasn't strong, mainly because he was worried it was true. "I'm fine with you or Ben around. I've said this before."

"And what happens when you're not with us? You get popular kids like Emily Tyler and Penny Haywood causing you to have breakdowns."

"Well, what do you want me to do? I can hardly say to a teacher, 'Oh please Sir, I don't like them talking about me!' I'm not a bloody five-year-old." Crazy was tired of the whole conversation topic. The last thing he wanted was for Rowan to draw more attention to the problem he was trying to ignore, and at long last Rowan appeared to get the hint.

“What do you think Chester wants to talk to us about?” Crazy asked.

“I’ve already implied what I think. I reckon that he is going to teach us how to duel. He’s seen how you get treated, and he’s also been one of the few people to treat us like human beings.”

“He’s our Prefect though, I doubt he’d let us just duel anyone we liked.”

“Five Knuts says he’s teaching us duelling.”

Crazy grinned. “You’re on.”

“Rowan and Crazy! Fantastic that you guys made it here!” Chester had a beaming grin on his face. Crazy was unused to seeing such a smile and concluded that it did not suit his Prefect’s facial features.

“Well, because you refused to tell Rowan about what was going on, I just had to find out.”

“…Sure. Anyway, I heard what happened between you and Merula.”

“I really wish I could go one day without having to hear that people are gossiping about me.” Crazy paused, realising he had interrupted his Prefect, and grinned sheepishly. “Sorry.”

“That’s alright. Anyway, as your Prefect, it is my job to teach you how to defend yourself. You need to learn how to duel.”

Crazy extracted the money from his robes and handed it to Rowan. He wasn’t disappointed though, not in the slightest. “That’s amazing!” He was thrilled, but looking over at Rowan, he realised his friend was less so.

“We don’t know any duelling spells, Chester.” Crazy had forgotten about that part.

“Ravenclaw has a secret duelling book hidden away in the Artefact Room. It can teach you all sorts of things, like spells, potions, jinxes, et cetera.”

“Never heard of et cetera. Sounds interesting.”

It looked as if Chester was finally growing used to Crazy’s, at some times, biting sarcasm. “Learn one of the spells in the book, and then come back and talk to me.”

“Shouldn’t you teach us the spell?”

“Hah! No, sorry. I’m not a teacher, nor do I ever wish to be one. I’ll gladly help you after you’ve learned though.”

“Thanks, Chester.” Rowan and Crazy walked off. “I can’t believe you won that bet. Ridiculous.”

“Get over it, Crazy,” Rowan chided, and Crazy let out a grin. “How is it only Ravenclaws know about this secret duelling book hidden away in the Artefact Room? How has nobody from another house found it yet?”

“Maybe they have. Maybe every house thinks the duelling book belongs to them, but in reality, everyone knows about it. It would help explain how Merula knows Flipendo already.”

“You’d think that she would’ve chosen a different spell, then. It’s powerful, but as far as duelling spells go, Flipendo is pretty basic.”

“Maybe she doesn’t have the confidence.”

“Merula doesn’t have the confidence? You must be shitting me, Crazy.” Rowan had practically stopped walking, and Crazy had to grab his arm and pull him along the corridor.

“I don’t think she has very much confidence at all. I think that she’s terrified that she won’t be good enough to be at Hogwarts, and she thinks that if she isn’t good enough, and she can’t make herself good enough, then she needs to drag everyone down to her level.”

“Psychology is a very interesting Muggle field of study, but we have another word for people who see into other’s minds. Legilimens, Crazy.”

“Ha ha. Brilliant. I’m not a Legilimens. But I appreciate the confidence in me.”

“Anytime. What do you think this book looks like?”

“A book?” They’d entered the Artefact Room with no difficulty, but it was a struggle to move around, never mind actually find a small object.

“No, I mean—"

“I know what you mean. But if you look closer at the books that are in here, I think it’ll be pretty easy to distinguish the duelling book. For example, I don’t think that the book that we’re looking for is an erotic novel by Lucida Cornwell.” Crazy held up a dog-eared book. It appeared to have been read so many times that the spine had collapsed.

“Hey, I might borrow that later.”

“For ‘research purposes?’” Crazy said in mild disgust. “Spare me any details, please.”

“Yes, for research purposes. Why’d you put it in quotation marks?” Crazy ignored him, his interest already lost. He thought that he might never find the book; he kept getting sucked in by the amazing things that were all around him.

Crazy…

“What the fuck?” Crazy said, dropping the small tiara he held.

“What’s wrong?’

“Someone just said my name. And it definitely wasn’t you. Merula, stop fucking with us.”

“Crazy, come on. Let’s find the book, so you can get out of here.”

Crazy stayed silent, straining his ears in an effort to listen for any further voices, but to no avail. He noticed Rowan twisting and turning. “What? What’s wrong?”

“I thought I saw a book on Apparition, but it disappeared.”

“What? Why are you looking for—oh. Yes, hilarious, Rowan. You are the Pun King.”

“Yes, thank you. Hey, look, I think this is it.”

“How do you know?”

“It says ‘Duelling Book’ on the front cover. I think that’s a fair indication.” Rowan opened the cover, and his smile grew as his eyes trailed down the pages…

But Crazy was no longer with him. Not mentally, at least.

Mist enshrouded his vision. He tried to gasp, but his throat constricted, allowing only air through. He saw ice and felt the cold on his body. It was as if he’d been transported to some unknown realm, and he had no idea how to get back to Rowan and Hogwarts.

Crazy.

It was there again. Crazy caught a flash of an image through the mist, a flight of stairs. A suit of armour clanked up the stairs, the groans of the metal resounding in Crazy’s mind.

Crazy.

It was still cold, so cold, and the mysterious voice that he heard did nothing to relieve his worries. His terror was still there. Had he been transported somewhere, somewhere they would never find him?

“Crazy!”

As Crazy blinked, he felt his body jolt. Rowan’s arm was on him, a firm grasp certainly eyeing the situation.

“Crazy, what the hell happened?”

He couldn’t speak for a while. He was shocked, that he’d seen things, and that he had no idea what they meant. “…I… had a vision.”

“Of what?” When Crazy didn’t respond immediately, Rowan persisted. “Crazy, you can tell me. Please. I know that you wouldn’t lie to me or something like that.”

“I saw a knight. Or at least a suit of armour. Walking up stairs. But then I heard that voice…” At this, Crazy’s voice broke. The hell that he’d been put through for his first few weeks at Hogwarts was too much for him to bear, almost.  “It was cold… so cold, Rowan.”

“What was the voice saying?”

The ice is here. The vault… will open.”


 

Crazy walked through the corridors, head down. He wasn’t happy with the whispers about him flying around, but felt that he could handle that. But the voices… if he was having visions, Crazy didn’t know how he would be able to cope.

He was off to meet with Rowan in the Great Hall, but something else caught his eye. Merula and Ben, engaged deep in conversation. Or rather, Merula, with a look of mirth, standing over a whimpering Ben. He rushed over.

“Merula… why are you bothering Ben?”

“I’m not.”

“He definitely looks bothered.” Crazy cast a look at Ben, who certainly seemed whiter than usual.

“I’m not bothering him. We’re negotiating a deal. I’ll leave him alone if he pays me.”

“That’s called extortion.”

“To-may-to, to-mah-to. Point is, I want the money, and we both know that you haven’t got the ‘tools’ to stop me, Numnums.”

“Wanna bet? I guarantee that the next time I duel you, I win. In fact, I’m so sure, I’m willing to up the stakes. If I win, you leave him alone. If you win, I pay you double what you wanted from Ben.”

“Done.” She pulled out her wand.

“Woah. You want to duel in front of not only students, but teachers as well? I never thought you were stupid, but this is downright idiotic, Merula.”

She growled and walked away without another word. Ben laughed a little. “Okay, well thanks, Crazy. You’re so going to win this.”

“I don’t know any duelling spells, Ben.”

“Oh. That’s a little bit of a problem then.”

“Don’t worry, I’m learning. I’m off to meet with Rowan right now.”

“I’ll see you later then Crazy.” Crazy nodded and Ben walked down the corridor. Crazy was aware that Ben wanted to sit with them, but he also didn’t want to overstep his bounds. Crazy wouldn’t have minded at all, but Ben needed time to get used to the idea of talking to them.

He entered the Great Hall with renewed purpose. Now he had actual stakes, and he was so focused on the need to learn spells that he almost didn’t notice how much quieter the Great Hall got when he walked in.

For fucks sake.

“Hey, Rowan. Quick, hit me with what you’ve found out.”

“What’s the rush? It’s not like Merula bound to attack us anytime soon. She won, that’s the least of her worries now.”

“I challenged her to another duel.”

“You’re retarded.”

“Thanks, Rowan, I realise that. She was harassing Ben, though, I had to do something.”

“Right, well, now with renewed urgency, I’ll talk to you. First things first, have you had any more visions?”

“No, not recently, at least. I’ve been pretty good for not having visions so far, I’d be surprised if I’d had another one since we last saw each other.”

“Well, that’s good. Now, onto the duelling.”

“Yes please.”

“The book contains everything you need to know about duelling. Seriously, it’s actually amazing the stuff in this book. Stuff about potions, stances… sorry, I’ll get to the point.” Rowan chuckled self-consciously at Crazy’s bemused look. “What do you need this spell to do?”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, do you want a spell that’ll hurt Merula, which is my personal favourite by the way—”

“You malicious bastard.”

“—or do you want to just embarrass her? Or do you want a spell that has a lot of uses?”

“It’s got to be many uses. If it can help me win a duel, and help with other things, then I’d like that one, thank you very much.”

“Are you sure that you don’t want—”

Yes, Rowan.”

“But you could—”

“I don’t want to hurt Merula.”

“Fine. But there was something else in the book. Apparently, our Head of House was a champion dueller back in the day. And still is, I guess. You should ask him for some tips.”

“Well, I guess I could see why he would win duels.”

“Why?”

“His opponents had so much less to aim at.”

“Crazy!” Rowan laughed hard, to Crazy’s delight.

“Look, I’ll meet Flitwick, and hopefully he’ll teach me something. I’ll have to learn this all really quick. Merula will be looking for a duel soon.”

“She’ll probably have to wait until tomorrow. I don’t think that she would want to duel at night-time, it’s probably too dark out.”

“But Flitwick won’t mind meeting with me at night.”

“According to the time, he’s finishing up a class now. If you catch him between classes, hopefully he’ll want to talk to you, at least later tonight. So… bye then.”

Crazy rushed away, only leaving Rowan with a quick wave, knowing that Rowan understood. He just needed to learn everything quickly, formalities weren’t important at that time. Rushing out the doors, he crashed into a Slytherin girl, knocking her to the floor.

“Sorry!” Crazy shouted, vaguely registering the violent and bloody threats that the dark-haired girl made towards him. He got the feeling that it wasn’t to do with him, however; he was pretty sure that she would have willing murdered anybody who looked at her weirdly.

There was no time to worry about her, however; he smiled when he saw the students leaving Flitwick’s classroom. He’d arrived just in time.

He knocked on the door, and heard Flitwick say, “Come in!” Crazy obliged.

“Ah, hello, Mister Numnums. What can I do for you this fine evening?”

“I was wondering if I could have a chat with you later. I needed to ask you something, but after all of your classes are done, of course.”

“Not to worry. My classes are finished now. What would you like to talk about?”

Crazy was not ready. He assumed he’d have time to prepare for what he was going to ask, and to know how to convince Flitwick to help him.

“I was talking with Rowan just now…”

“Yes, I’d seen you were getting along with Mr Khanna. He seems like a very enthusiastic student.”

Yeah, no kidding. “He said that you were a duelling champion before you started teaching.”

“Yes, I was, before I decided to pursue something that was a little more altruistic, in my opinion.” Flitwick sounded a little annoyed at his former profession, and Crazy almost snickered at the mental image of a more rebellious Flitwick casting more offensive spells such as Serpensortia and Stupefy.

“Do you think you could teach me some of what you know?”

Flitwick narrowed his eyes, considering Crazy. “Something other than the many defensive spells taught during your schooling?” he asked knowingly.

“Yes… I need advanced instruction.”

“Why do you want to duel?”

Crazy gulped. This was the question he had most been dreading. He couldn’t tell Flitwick that he’d challenged Merula to a duel. Instead he went with a safer, but still truthful, option. “I need to defend myself from… people.”

“Hmmm… well, I can see why you of all people might be more targeted than others, certainly. I know! I’ll teach you possibly the most essential spell for any wizard looking to defend themselves. Expelliarmus!”

“Expelliarmus?” Crazy knew what that spell did, and he realised that it ticked all the poxes. He didn’t want to hurt Merula too badly, and the Disarming Spell would certainly do the job.

“Yes.” They went through the basics of the charm; stance, wand movement, and incantation. Crazy looked at Flitwick and began to appreciate the pure love that the older wizard appeared to show. Flitwick truly loved magic.

“Okay, Mr. Numnums. Why don’t you try and cast the spell on myself?”

“On you?” Crazy asked, incredulous, and Flitwick nodded. Crazy shrugged. It wasn’t as if they were in an actual duel. “Expelliarmus!

To Crazy’s amazement and delight, Flitwick’s wand flew from his hand. “Oh! Well done. You seem to be able to complete whatever spell I assign to you.”

“You’ve only assigned two spells, Professor.”

“And you’ve completed both, with relative ease.” As soon as Flitwick said this, Crazy felt the mood grow cooler. He shuddered, as the warmth appeared to leave the classroom. “However, if I find that you’ve performed this spell unprovoked, I would be forced to recommend severe punishment.”

Crazy knew expulsion wasn’t on the cards, especially not for such minor duelling, but he was terrified of what potential punishments he could receive. Not to mention the disappointment that Flitwick would feel. But he needed to defend himself and his friends.

“I promise I’ll only perform the spell when necessary.” It wasn’t technically a lie; it was necessary. Merula had tried to kill both Crazy and Rowan.

Flitwick regarded him, then nodded, with a sort of finality. “Mr Copper is also one you should consider talking to. He has a gift with Charms that not many people truly appreciate.”

“I’ve seen him Professor. I know how good he is at Charms.” Crazy smiled, hesitantly. “Thanks a lot, Professor.”

Flitwick waved, cheerfully, any sombre mood forgotten. Crazy took that as his cue to leave.

He half walked, half ran to the Ravenclaw Common Room, knowing that he needed to learn that final spell in preparation for the duel with Merula. He just hoped that Rowan had lived up to his billing.

He rounded a corner, colliding with two boys. This time, however, he was the one knocked to the ground. The collision may have been unintentional, but it appeared to Crazy that the boys would take whatever excuse they could get.

“Oh. Hello, Numnums.”

The first boy to speak was a Gryffindor, spindly-armed and mean-faced. He wore a sinister grin, making Crazy gulp. Crazy stood, rubbing his backside and gracelessly avoiding the outstretched arms of the Gryffindor, who was attempting to push him back over.

Crazy said nothing, which somehow elicited a response from the older boy. At a guess, Crazy would’ve said they were in Year Three.

“Where are you going in such a hurry? I wanna talk.”

Crazy continued to say nothing, in an attempt to get them to let him pass without problems. “Fucking hell. You weren’t full of life before, but come on. Did you turn into one of those gargoyles?”

Crazy sighed audibly, which he immediately regretted. “You can hear me,” the older boy grinned, even wider than before.

“Yes. I can hear you. I just don’t want to talk to you.”

“Why not? I haven’t done anything to you. Not yet, at least.”

“I don’t want to talk to you because I’m on my way to meet a friend of mine.”

“What, I’m not a friend of yours? I’m hurt. Deeply hurt. If I’m not your friend, then I’m your enemy, right? Then I have to hurt you. So why aren’t I your friend?” Crazy watched his hand slowly slip inside his robes.

“You aren’t my friend because you’re the sort of pussy who needs backup to ambush a first-year who’s got less than ten lessons under his belt.”

The Gryffindor’s eyes widened, and the boy next to him backed off a little. “You know what? You’re right. Keep going, mate. I don’t need your help dealing with this dickhead.” He turned to watch his friend walk away and disappear behind a corner. Crazy slipped his wand out of his robes.

“Right. Can I—”

Expelliarmus!

The wand, in the Gryffindor’s right hand and hidden under his robes, went flying down the corridor. He was clearly caught in two minds about whether to attack Crazy without a wand, or go after his wand, and during the hesitation, Crazy sprinted away.

Up the stairs, which were thankfully empty, Crazy sprinted, the other boy hot on his heels, clearly having gotten his wand. No spells came after him; they probably wouldn’t have been needed, as Crazy’s stride length was not quite as large as the Gryffindor’s.

But Crazy heard the Gryffindor trip behind him. Not bothering to turn and look, Crazy leapt the final three stairs, clawing his way past two students standing in the door to the Ravenclaw tower. He breathlessly called the password, and slipped inside, staying on the other side of the door to listen to his pursuer’s foul-mouthedness.

His blood pumping with adrenaline, Crazy bounced to the other side of the Common Room, where Rowan looked at him, quizzically.

“What in the fresh hell was that about?” Rowan asked, without any real concern, seeing that Crazy seemed to be okay.

“Flitwick taught me the spell…” Crazy paused, trying to catch his breath.

“Yes?”

“And then afterwards two guys ambushed me. I got one of them to send the other away, then disarmed him and ran all the way here.”

“Wow.” Rowan’s eyes widened as he listened to Crazy’s tale. “Your learning of these spells could not have been delayed any longer. You learned Expelliarmus.

“Does that mean that you’ve found me a spell?”

Rictusempra.” Rowan, smirked, looking smug, as if he thought Crazy didn’t believe in him. In fairness, Crazy still wasn’t sure.

“The Tickling Charm?”

“Hey, don’t knock it. It’ll throw her off balance, and it can really get somebody to cheer up in a glum situation.”

“Alright, fine. You were right, it does have multiple uses. But can it be learned in a night? Because Merula’s going to want to duel tomorrow. Unless she’s somehow distracted by everything being planned for the Hallowe’en Feast.”

“I doubt that, highly. But it’s not too difficult, and given that you just learned the Disarming Charm…”

“That’s fair. Where do I start, O Wise Master?”

Rowan rolled his eyes as Crazy grinned, a little goofily. “You want to start by saying the spell, I guess? I don’t know, I just read about it.”

“Any specific hand movement, Rowan?”

“Oh! Of course, sorry.” Rowan showed Crazy the book and pointed out a symbol that looked almost like a hieroglyphic eye.

“See? That helps. A little,” Crazy said, ribbing his friend a little.

“Hey, I can stop helping if you want.”

“No, no, please don’t leave me.” Crazy laughed a little, and Rowan begrudgingly smiled as well.

Crazy tried the spell, again and again, but to no effect. He attempted different inflections, despite Rowan insisting that his pronunciation was not the problem. “I thought you said this could be learned in one night.”

“Well, yeah. For a competent wizard, maybe.”

“Oh, well then. Just for that… Rictusempra!” A stream of white exploded from Crazy’s wand and hit Rowan square in the chest. The boy began to giggle, which erupted into full blown laughter after a few seconds. Crazy joined in, partially because the joy was contagious, but partially because after all the struggles, he’d finally managed to perform the spell.

Rowan stopped laughing after a while and sat up from his position on the floor. “You’re all good now, I think. Hopefully, after we’ve learned the Wiggenweld Potion, you’ll be good to go for your duel.”

“Yeah. Sure,” Crazy agreed, but for some reason, he wasn’t feeling as assured. Instead, he was filled with a gnawing feeling of dread.

Why was he so scared?

Chapter Text

“Better not fuck this one up as well, Numnums. You’ve already lost Ravenclaw enough House Points.” The student was smart enough to only say this while Snape was out of earshot, and Crazy bit back any response.

Sometimes it’s hard taking the moral high ground.

“Professor Snape?”

“Yes, Numnums?” The disdain radiated from Snape and hit Crazy like a bullet.

“Are we learning the Wiggenwald Potion today?”

“Congratulations. You read the lesson plan.”

“So, this is useful for things like dueling, and—”

“I’m begging you to duel on school grounds, Numnums. I would love to personally be the one to provide you with your expulsion. Now sit down.” Snape cleared his throat, and the class had been at Hogwarts long enough to know when to fall silent. Even Merula.

“Instructions are on the board. Don’t drop the sloth brains. You may begin.” Snape’s introduction to the lesson, curt as always, was actually kind of relieving to Crazy, who was not willing to listen to anything that anyone had to say.

Not that Merula cared. “Hear that, Crazy? Don’t drop the sloth brains! It’s not like you can make up for it.”

Crazy rolled his eyes at the mild insult. Because right now, there was a determination within him. To impress Snape with whatever potion he was cooking up. Of course, he wasn’t expecting praise. He wasn’t delusional. But he was just hoping to leave the classroom without anything for Snape to criticise.

High hopes indeed.

“She didn’t mess with your potion this time, Crazy. Don’t worry, I made sure.”

“Thanks, Rowan.” But Crazy was just more focused on finishing the lesson so that he could go back to his room and sulk a little. Then he would feel better.

But, by the end of the lesson, he was feeling a little better. He hadn’t spilled any of the Salamander Blood. He’d listened to Merula’s advice and didn’t drop the Sloth Brains. And best of all, Snape came over to his cauldron and said, “Your potion is… passable, Numnums.”

Crazy thought he might die from shock.

That elation dimmed slightly, however, as Snape looked at Merula’s potion. “Miss Snyde, however, has brewed a truly perfect potion.”

“Thank you, Professor Snape.”

It was so, so tempting for Crazy to tease Merula over the way that she was sucking up to the Professor. He reasoned, however, that two could play at that game.

“You’re right, Sir. I’ll make sure to study Merula’s flawless technique to get better.”

“That would be impossible, Numnums. However, your dedication is admirable. Ten points to Ravenclaw.”

Outside the classroom, after the lesson, Rowan walked up to Crazy. “I’m so glad that you got those ten points back, but did you have to sacrifice your backbone to do it?”

“It’s called being diplomatic.”

“Arse-licker.”

“Twat bag.”

Rowan threw an arm over Crazy’s shoulder and walked with him along the corridor.


“Chester. Chesterchesterchester. You want me to what now?” Rowan was looking truly frantic at the idea that Chester had proposed, and Crazy wasn’t too far behind him.

“What’s wrong?”

“He’s really good.”

“Then prove it to me. Duel against Rowan.”

“But… but I haven’t had any training!”

“Pshhh.” Chester brushed him off. “Please. You’ve at least picked up some things. What better way to get some experience than against someone you know really well?”

“Against You-Know-Who instead? Because that seems like a better option.”

“Do it or I’m telling Snape you’ve been stealing his Bulbadox powder.”

Damn, that was a threat and a half. Crazy and Rowan turned to face each other without any further thought. “I’m no Merula, Crazy, but I’ll try my best.”

“I’ll try not to hurt you too much.”

“Thanks.”

Rowan tried his hardest, but in the end, Crazy’s Disarming Charm and a not-too-strong Tickling Charm put an end to the duel. “How was that, Chester?”

“It was good! You’ve got a certain speed in the duel that I haven’t seen in a first-year for a long time. Merula doesn’t know what’s about to hit her.”

“Thanks for the confidence boost. I hope you’re right, Ben’s life at Hogwarts depends on it. Not to mention my financial state.”

“Speaking of Ben, he was looking for you earlier, Crazy. Not sure what he wanted, but he looked pretty despondent about it.”

“I swear to the heavens. If Merula’s violated our agreement, I’m kicking her arse to Mercury and back.”

“Please don’t bring her back, she can stay on Mercury.”

Crazy said goodbye to Rowan at the Common Room, and headed to the Great Hall, where he’d seen Ben earlier. He spotted the blond-haired boy at the Gryffindor table and quickly made his way over to him.

“Hey Ben.” Ben merely grunted in his direction; he wasn’t being rude, but he was certainly being a little grumpy about it. “Rowan said you wanted to talk to me.”

“Don’t bother, Crazy. Just go train for your duel with Merula. Enough people are going to see it.”

“Wait, what? Do other people know?”

“Yeah, I think. I heard some kid called Barnaby Lee talking about it. He always seemed nice enough, but he’s on Merula’s side for this one, so maybe not.”

“Just what I wanted. An audience.” Crazy took a deep breath in, fighting back the annoyance. He was here to help Ben, everything else would have to wait. “Look, Ben, I won’t be able to train right unless I know that you’re okay. So please, tell me. What were you wanting to talk about?”

Ben sighed. “It’s stupid. But I’m feeling… homesick.”

Crazy almost laughed. Ben was feeling embarrassed about homesickness? “Ben, it’s fine. I think we all feel it to some degree. Not to take anything away from what you’re feeling,” he covered up quickly, and Ben took it in stride.

“I know. It’s just because of how different everything is here, you know? I’m so used to everything being so normal, so Muggle, and now it’s all magic, and fantasy, and… sometimes I wish that none of this was happening.”

“Do you really wish that?”

“No.”

“Exactly. Magic is awesome. And you know what, so is 90% of the student population. Sure, there’s bullies sometimes. But you had those in the Muggle world too, right? You’ll miss it sometimes. And that’s okay. But you’re going to love it so much here. All the stuff you’re doing now is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more for you to do here.”

Ben nodded in appreciation of the pep talk. Crazy remembered something else that he and Rowan had been talking about. “Hey Ben. Have you ever played marbles?”

“What?” Ben looked confused, understandably, at the shift in conversation.

“Rowan and I were playing Gobstones a little while ago, and he told me there’s a similar game called marbles. Have you ever played it?”

“Oh, right. Uh… no, I haven’t. Marbles doesn’t have the same popularity that Gobstones does.”

“Okay. Then what does? What is the Muggle world’s Quidditch? Or the Muggle world’s Gobstones?”

“There isn’t really anything similar to those sports. At least not in the way they’re played. The most popular sport in the world is football. Some other countries call it soccer, but whatever. That’s probably the closest.”

“Did you watch much football then?”

“No, I was never a huge sports fan.”

“Shock horror.”

“I’ve always respected it though, it’s an intelligent game for sure.”

“You’ve just made it my life’s mission to attend a Muggle football game. Thank you very much.”

“No worries, I’m here to help you out. You should come to my house in the summer holidays. I’ll see if I can get my dad to buy some tickets.”

“Sounds like a plan. Alright, I’ve got to get some last minute preparation in before the duel with Merula, but I’ll talk to you later, alright?”

“See you later.” Crazy left, but not before noticing the smile on Ben’s face. It brought him some joy that, even if he was about to get blown to smithereens by Merula, at least he had brought Ben some happiness before he would die.


Crazy was only able to get in thirty minutes of light preparation before Rowan came streaking into the dorm. “Crazy, what are you doing? You’ve got three minutes to get out there!”

“Shit, I lost track of time!” He took off, before realising that he’d left his wand behind and doubling back.

“That doesn’t exactly bode well for this duel.”

Crazy didn’t care enough to respond; it was now a race against the clock in order to get to the courtyard. The duo streaked in with no time to spare; the clock sounded as they ran in.

“Cutting it close, there, Numnums.”

“I just thought I’d offer you some hope that you’d win this duel.”

“Hah, I’ve got more than hope. I’ve got certainty. Flipendo!” However, Crazy was actually ready this time; he didn’t know how to shield against the spell, but he did know how to brace for impact with the ground. He looked up at Merula, who was grinning at the crowd gathered beside them. Crazy had hardly noticed them, he was so intent on ending this feud with Merula.

He chuckled wryly, and Merula glanced back towards him. “Is that all you have in your arsenal, Merula? Flipendo? Please. When you stop having to rely on sneak shots and the same spell to beat me, then maybe I’ll consider you on my level.”

“Fine, Numnums. No sneak shots. A proper duel.”

This was what Crazy wanted. He figured that Merula would attempt underhand tactics to beat him. And if he allowed Merula to do that, he had no chance. But by taunting her and attacking her ego enough, he’d turned this into a skills-based duel.

He just hoped he had the necessary skills. Nothing was ever assured, after all.

The duel began. Before Merula could say anything, Crazy cast his spell. “Expelliarmus!” The wand flew from Merula’s hand, and as she scrambled to get it, he cast again. “Rictusempra!” She fell to the ground with laughter, but not before managing to grab hold of her wand.

Crazy saw her movement coming, and ducked out of the way. “Flipendo!” Poor Rowan was hit with the blast; Crazy went to check that he was okay, but Rowan waved him away, unable to speak as the air left his lungs.

Flipendo!” Crazy mirrored what Merula’s trademark spell had become at this point, and she fell to the ground. “Expelliarmus!” Merula’s wand flew ten feet away from her, as she lay on the ground, inhaling deeply. Crazy walked over calmly and held his wand out at Merula. “Looks like I win this one. It was a good duel. Thanks, Merula.” In the interest of sportsmanship, he held out his hand to help her up, but she slapped him away. “Alright. Whatever.”

“Shut up, dickhead. I don’t care if you won this duel. I will get you back. You won’t win next—” Merula suddenly became very aware of the presence of Snape and Flitwick behind her. “Oh, hello, Professors.”

“Shut up, Snyde.” There was no aggression behind Snape’s voice, and Merula recognised this; her face reformed into the confident picture as she waited for the punishment to be given to Crazy. “Numnums, are you aware of the policy around starting duels on school grounds?”

“I am, Professor.”

Flitwick seemed to almost smile a little at Crazy. At least he gets it. Crazy didn’t know how he’d feel if his head of house hated him. “Crazy, did you cast the first spell?” Crazy answered in the negative. “Well, then, Professor Snape. He was not an instigator. He was defending himself.”

Flitwick’s arguments were clearly falling on deaf ears. “Indeed. Come with me to the West Towers, where we will decide on your punishment, Numnums. And you, Miss Snyde.” At this, her face morphed back into anger.

Crazy didn’t even bother arguing that Merula should be the only one punished and not him. At this point, he realised it wouldn’t matter.

Chapter Text

Crazy trudged up the stairs to the Towers. Merula was clearly terrified of expulsion, and had already tried lying her way out of trouble, blaming Crazy entirely. Crazy politely reminded her that if she wanted to successfully lie then she needed to dispose of all witnesses.

He had no fear of her now, especially since Snape was probably going to deliver them to Filch, and Filch looked like the sort of man who’d have no problems with castrating him.

As soon as they found some privacy, Snape suddenly stopped walking, and the two students nearly walked straight into him. He turned slowly. Probably for maximum terror effect, thought Crazy.

It was working.

“Miss Snyde and Mister Numnums. Where to begin. Snyde, you started a duel for no reason at all, according to many students. Numnums, you have done nothing but mess up everything you touch and get involved in fights constantly. Expulsion would be the most logical option.”

Crazy’s heart stopped.

“Especially after the damage that your brother did to the school.”

The blood in Crazy’s veins was replaced by fire.

“Give me one reason that you shouldn’t receive the harshest punishment for your actions.”

Where to start? That Merula has bullied me ever since I’ve been here, that people are constantly whispering about me in the hallways, that I’ve helped my friends in every way I could. That you seem to have a vendetta against me for no reason. Yes, you, Snape, can suck—

“I’m sorry for what I did, Sir. It won’t happen again.”

“Hmmm, yes, somehow, I don’t believe you,” Snape sneered, but Crazy was in agreement this time. “'I’m sorry' won’t cut it for something this severe. Twenty points from Ravenclaw.”

Crazy honestly wasn’t sure how he kept his temper in check.

“Twenty points from Slytherin, too, Miss Snyde.”

Surprisingly, that didn’t help his mood, but before Crazy could explode, Filch came running towards them. “Professor!”

“Yes, Mr. Filch?”

“You must come with me. Straight away. It’s about the vau—”

“Yes, alright. Shut up, there are students present. You two, return to your dormitories.” Snape and Filch walked briskly away.

Crazy and Merula looked at each other. They each raised their eyebrows.

Rivalries didn’t matter in this case.

“The vau—The Cursed Vaults!”

Crazy glared at her. “Could you say it any louder? I don’t think the kids at Beauxbatons heard you. And why do you care anyway?”

“Look, I’m following them. Are you coming with me or not?” It seemed that in the importance of the moment, Merula had forgotten to be unnecessarily aggressive towards Crazy.

“Fine.” Something wasn’t sitting right with Crazy. After all, she spent half her time ridiculing his brother for his antics during his time at Hogwarts, for his search for the Cursed Vaults. What, it turned out that she wanted to find them too, all this time?

Snape and Filch were stood outside a large wooden door. “Are they talking about the wooden vaults?”

“I can’t tell because of your big mouth. Shhh.”

“Who else knows about this?” Snape asked Filch.

“Just us three. I was on me way to report to the headmaster.”

“Don’t worry about that. I’ll report it to him. This may have something to do with the Numnums situation.”

“What, the daft boy who lost his mind looking for the gold and riches inside the vaults? Do the treasures actually exist?”

“Does it matter?” Filch actually bowed his head a little in shame; he didn’t want to be seen as some money-grabber. “Look, just make sure nobody else enters the vault.”

Snape turned back down the hall, and the two students were forced to run quickly around a corner.

As soon as they were sure that Snape wouldn’t find them, Crazy stopped. “What were they talking about? The ‘Numnums situation’?”

“Oh, who cares about that.”

“I do. I very firmly care about that.”

“Look, it’s another clue to the Cursed Vaults. That’s what matters.”

“You’re trying to find the Cursed Vaults why, exactly?” Crazy was still stuck on this point. “I mean, you’ve called my brother insane for doing literally the exact same thing.”

“Don’t you worry your pretty little head about that, Numnums. You just don’t understand some things.”

Merula flounced away from Crazy, and he clenched his fist in fury. All of these things happening… no one would tell him what the hell was going on. They treated him like… well, like he was a child, which he was. But that was no excuse for the patronising manner of everyone in the place, treating him either like he was made of porcelain or he was some weird attraction at a museum.

He stomped his way through the halls, back to his common room, and as he rounded a corner, he came face-to-face with Penny Haywood. Wonderful. Just the person he wanted to see.

“Numnums! I wanted to—”

“Look, please save it. I don’t need more people laughing at me, so leave it alone.”

“Ugh. No! I’m just trying to talk about Merula.”

“Fuck, can we leave that whole topic alone!” Penny took a step back at the expletive. “She’s done nothing but torment me the entire time I’ve been here. All I want is to have a day where I can be with my friends and not have to give any shits! And you’re not any better! Constantly whispering about me in hallways, as if I don’t notice that you stop when I come into view. Am I just that fascinating to you? Well, I’m here now. Take a big fat look at the latest sideshow attraction, and as soon as you’re done, go die in a hole.”

Penny blinked for a moment. “Wow. Just… wow. You know what? You’re right, you self-centred bastard. I’m firmly in Merula’s court, your brother was mental. And you’re worse. If you accidentally remove that stick from your arse, give it to me. I’ll be happy to stab it back in for you.”

Crazy was done. He was out. He stalked back to the Common Room, walked up the stairs to the dormitory, checked that nobody was there, and promptly jumped face down on the bed, almost attempting to smother himself.


Hours passed. Crazy sat on his bed, not wanting to move a muscle. He sensed someone enter the room, but only looked up when he heard Rowan’s voice. “Crazy? You coming down for dinner?”

“I don’t know. I enjoy being melodramatic.”

“Why are you being melodramatic?”

“Snape took twenty points from Ravenclaw, Merula is her regular snooty self, and as I was coming back here, I bumped into Penny Haywood. She wanted to talk about Merula, and I just blew up at her.”

Rowan tilted his head. “And you’re concerned about this why?”

“I feel bad. Yeah, I know. I’m feeling bad for her. And she definitely hit me back, so I’m not entirely in the wrong. But I still feel like I’m just… not a nice person.”

“You’re right. Not about the not nice thing. But you are being melodramatic. Come eat actual food and stop wallowing in self-pity.”

“Do I have to?”

“Yes.”

“Yeah, I figured. It’s alright. I need to talk to you about something else, as well.”

“Let’s walk and talk.”

So, as they made their way to the Great Hall, Crazy recounted everything that he and Merula had overheard, not to mention his arguments with Merula and Penny later. Crazy allowed Rowan time to think as they sat down at the table.

“Okay, first thing’s first. Apologise to Penny, you were a bit of a dick. But you know that already. Onto the juicy stuff. Are you sure they were talking about your brother and not about you?”

“No, Filch definitely mentioned my brother. And I don’t know why they’d be talking about me anyway; I haven’t done anything too terrible. Yet.”

“Okay then—”

An older boy came up to Crazy, wearing Hufflepuff robes. “Good job on your duel, there’s a lot of people who’ve been waiting for Merula to be put in her place.”

Crazy opened and closed his mouth, looking rather like a goldfish, and the boy gave him a look before walking away. He was a little shocked that somebody wanted to compliment him rather than attack him.

“See, Crazy? I told you that you’d get some people on your side.”

“Yeah, but I never believed you. Anyway, what were you going to say?”

“This seems awfully reminiscent of your vision when we were looking for the duelling book. Ice? Vaults? Curses?”

“That’s what I was terrified of.” Crazy shuddered a little. The prospect of being cursed was not one he was too pleased with. “Could I be cursed, in some way? Maybe it’s my entire family. Especially considering they didn’t specify a particular sibling when they mentioned the situation.” He breathed in a little. He had a feeling that Rowan wasn’t going to like what he had to say. “We need to go investigate.”

Rowan blew a stream of air out of his mouth. “And if we get caught?”

“We won’t. We’ll prepare. And if we get caught… I’ll take the blame.”

“Are you sure, Crazy? Look, you can’t afford to get into too much trouble. Not now. And what about the Cursed Vaults? Emphasis on ‘Cursed’. We could get seriously hurt. I’m on board, but…”

“We can break the curse. I think that’s what my brother was doing, or at least was trying to do, before he… before he went wherever he went. After classes today, we’ll investigate the corridor.”

“Sounds good to me.”


“Today, class, is where you learn to mount your broom.” It’s also the lesson where Ben looks like he will drop into a stress-induced coma. “But first, to your broom care stations. No complaints, please, Mr. Egwu. Proper maintenance is essential to properly understand how to ride it.”

Rowan and Crazy snickered quietly.

However, that snickering died down when they got to their stations. Situated across from them were Merula Snyde and Penny Haywood. Crazy looked up at them; they both returned death glares. He felt a nudge to his side. Rowan looked at him, then pointedly glanced at Penny. “Apologise.”

“Not until I’m sure she won’t jinx me.”

“She won’t.”

“Yeah, yeah. I’ll do it later.” The real reason he didn’t want to was because Merula was also there, and she definitely would have said something about whatever apology Crazy attempted to conjure. He thought it best to just leave it.

“Alright, that should be enough.” Madam Hooch called to the class, and Crazy heard a shout from the boy she had called out to earlier. Andre was his name, Crazy was pretty sure. “Once you have correctly summoned your broom, you may mount it. Grip it tight, lean back slightly to hover in the air, and lean forwards to touch back to the ground.”

Crazy and Rowan snickered again.

And, despite being kind of boring, this whole hovering idea really made Crazy happy. The thought that, in a few months, he would be flying around in the sky… it opened a world of possibilities. Rowan wasn’t as enthused about it, sure, but that was okay, he was allowed to be.

He would just have to deal with Crazy raving about it for a while. “Jeez, Crazy, should we start signing you up for Quidditch now?”

“Yes… no. Sorry, just got caught up in the moment.” Crazy laughed a little at his idiocy, before catching sight of Ben, hovering a few feet away. “Ben, you can just come over and talk to us, you know.”

“Sorry.”

“How did flying go? It was our first time. Did you actually get off the ground?”

“Yeah, I did. It was terrifying. But less terrifying than I expected. Maybe I’ll be a little better. I only stayed in the air for like a second and then I got down and dry-heaved into the grass.”

“There might be a little bit to work on there, but at least you hovered for a second.”


“Here we are.”

“It looks pretty innocuous.”

“Well, this is where they were talking. I assumed they were standing in front of the vault.” Crazy and Rowan were stood in front of the wall that he saw the teachers talking. “Look, we have to do this quickly, so—”

“Should we be doing this at all? Because Filch is bloody terrifying and he’ll be back pretty soon.”

Crazy looked at Rowan for a moment, allowing the silence and contemplation to fill the space. “Look, real talk time; I’m fucking terrified at the moment. I really am. But I don’t see another option. I need to look in there; I need to find my brother.”

“Well, unfortunately, Crazy, I don’t see a way in here, if there is even a way in. We can look, but…”

And look they did. Unfortunately, whatever they were looking for was hidden tight, because Crazy could see no reasonable way that the wall they were standing in front of could be concealing some sort of vault. “Crazy? I don’t think we’re going to find anything.”

“Uh, we need to get out of here anyway. It’s Mrs Norris.”

“Oh shit, Filch’ll be here soon.”

Crazy and Rowan departed with haste, Crazy sparing one last look behind him at the wall. And he saw a flicker of something. Something lining one of the cracks along the wall. Something small, but shiny enough to catch Crazy’s eye.

Ice.