Ben Fletcher

Chapter Ten (The Ancient Egyptian Goddess Heqet)

Alt text is not available on the Medium published version of this chapter. To read this chapter with alt text, please go to enchantedcelery.com.

Austin Hickinbottom, Billy was pleased to see, looked incredibly unhappy at breakfast the next morning. Clearly, he was annoyed to see his plan to ensure Billy and Ed were expelled hadn’t worked as well as he had hoped.

Far from being annoyed with Austin, Billy and Ed thought coming face to face with the giant two-headed duck was the most exciting thing that had happened all year, and they were eager to go out another night to discover what other secrets the castle was hiding. In the meantime, their conversation had been about whatever the duck might have been protecting. Billy was certain it had to be whatever was in the package Barry had taken from the vault at Sino Pauper Edo Recondo Mammonas.

“It’s got to be something really valuable,” said Ed. “If they’re going this far to protect it.”

“It could be dangerous,” said Billy.

But all they knew for certain about whatever the mysterious object was, is that it was small enough to fit inside of Barry’s pocket and had a strange ammonia-like smell to it.

Neither Josh nor Elahoraella had any interest in joining in with the speculation. The only thing Josh cared about was never going near the duck again, and Elahoraella was still so angry she refused to even talk to them. Not that Billy or Ed minded the silence, because Elahoraella was a girl, and so in this world her desire to do well in life apparently made her a bossy know-it-all, rather than an intelligent and ambitious person.

“The post is late again,” said Billy, looking up at the high pigeon-free ceiling. “It’s been getting later every morning.”

“Didn’t you hear?” said Patrick, reaching over for the toast rack. “They’re saying deliveries will be much later in the day now.”

“What?” said Ed.

“Why?” asked Billy.

“I don’t know, but I heard it’s something to do with this new postmaster that’s been appointed.”

“I heard that, and it will take twice as long to deliver parcels,” added Simon.

“It’s true,” said Josh, almost tearful. “My gran is sending me a new hamster, but… but it hasn’t arrived yet.”

Billy spent the morning wondering exactly when the post might show up, but it wasn’t until he was on his way to lunch that he got his answer.

As he and Ed came into the entrance hall from the staircase leading to the dungeons, there was a loud cooing that echoed above them. Billy looked up with the rest of the students and watched as what appeared to be a giant sphere wrapped in brown paper packaging came towards them. He was amazed to realise a moment later that the package was being carried by Yodel, but he felt confused when she ignored him and gave the parcel to Ed instead. Then she landed on the floor and began pecking at Billy’s foot. He looked down, and she dropped a small card in front of him before flying off again.

“What was that about?” asked Ed.

Billy picked up the card. “Sorry I missed you. I’ve left your parcel with a neighbour,” he read.

He took the parcel from Ed and noticed a letter taped to the top of it. It was a good thing he decided to open the letter first, because it read:

Billy was coming to learn that whenever people wished him luck at Frogsports, it was usually because something dangerous was about to happen, but he didn’t have time to worry about that right now.

They decided to go up to their dormitory and unwrap the space hopper in private, but just then a voice called after them. “What’s that you’ve got there, Smith?”

It was Austin.

“It’s none of your business,” said Billy.

Austin grabbed the parcel from Billy’s hand and felt it.

“That’s a space hopper,” he said, shoving it back at Billy with glee in his face. “You’ll be out for sure this time, first-years aren’t allowed their own.”

“It’s not just any space hopper,” said Ed. “It’s a BunnyRibbit Eleven. What did you say you’ve got at home, Hickinbottom, a HoppityClop Four?” Ed was enjoying this. He smiled at Billy. “The HoppityClop has a good bounce, but it doesn’t cushion the landing quite like the BunnyRibbit does.”

“What would you know about it? I bet you couldn’t even afford an old HopInTheToad.”

Professor Millbrook appeared.

“Not fighting are we, I hope?” he asked.

“Somebody’s sent Smith a space hopper, sir,” said Austin with a cruel smile.

“Ah, yes, I’m glad to hear it’s arrived,” said Professor Millbrook. “Professor McDouglass was starting to worry the postal service wouldn’t deliver it in time for your first match. What model did she get you?”

“It’s a BunnyRibbit Eleven, sir,” said Billy.

“Ah, the BunnyRibbit. Yes, I used to ride a BunnyRibbit Three when I was younger — bounced my way to victory in the Gambol National on one in fact.”

Gambol National?” Billy asked Ed as they made their way upstairs a few minutes later.

“My dad watches that. It’s an annual race where magicians bounce their way around a course. I never knew Millbrook had won it, though.”

Billy had difficulty trying to keep focus in lessons that afternoon. His mind kept leaping back to the package, waiting for him upstairs, or hopping off to the Frogsports stadium outside where he’d be learning the rules in a few hours. He skipped dinner that night and rushed straight up the dormitory with Ed as soon as their final lesson was over. At last, it was time to unwrap the BunnyRibbit Eleven.

“I’m going to need help unwrapping it,” said Billy, unable to contain his excitement.

“Right,” said Ed, “both of us together.”

“One each end and steady as we go.”

They ripped off the brown paper, and the scarlet red space hopper rolled across the bed.

“Wow,” said Ed. “You know they fill the BunnyRibbit with pure nitrogen because it’s so much better than air.”

Billy didn’t know the first thing about the different makes of space hopper, but he thought the BunnyRibbit Eleven looked magnificent. Unblemished with a shine all over, save for a rough path that offered superior grip on the handles. It even had an inbuilt pressure gauge measuring the air inside.

As six o’clock approached, Billy left the dormitory and made his way out of the castle to the Frogsports stadium in the grounds. He’d never been inside here before. Rows and rows of seats lined the pitch, which was as green as a shamrock in St Stephen’s Green, while the water surrounding the netball nets at each end was as still as unrequited love’s wilted flower trodden into the floor of a broken down lift at Heathrow Terminal 3.

Eager to bounce again, Billy mounted his space hopper and pushed up with his feet. What a feeling of complete freedom — two inches high, three inches high, four inches high — he felt a thrill of adrenaline each time he hit the ground before soaring upward once more.

“Hey, Smith, come over here!” Henry Plank had arrived. He was carrying a bulky crate under one arm. Billy bounced over to him.

“The BunnyRibbit Eleven, very nice,” said Plank. “I’m only going to teach you the basics tonight, and then you can start joining team practise sessions twice a week.’

He opened the crate and took out a rugby ball from inside.

“Now then,” said Plank, throwing the rugby ball between his hands. “The rules of Frogsports are easy enough to understand, even if the person who created them have no idea how they’d work in practise. Each team is made up of eight players.”

“Eight players.”

“Three of them are known as the Attackers.”

“Three Attackers, got it,” said Billy. “And they’ve got hockey sticks?”

“That’s right — I see you’ve been reading up. Each of the attackers has a hockey stick which they use to hit the ball between them, take shots at goal, and make sure the ball doesn’t hit the ground. The Attackers job is to get the ball through the other team’s netball hoop at the end of the pitch — they have to do it from a distance, though. They’re not allowed to touch the water. Five points are awarded for every goal scored.”

“What happens if they drop the ball?”

“Well, it depends on the circumstances. In most cases, it’s just a penalty and the other team gets possession of the ball. But things are different if the fifth Tuesday rule applies.”

“What’s the fifth Tuesday rule?”

“If the match is played in a month with five Tuesdays in it, every third foul awards the other team a bonus of ten points, and every sixth foul means the referee must inhale a balloon full of helium. Are you with me so far?”

“I think so — the Attackers pass the ball using hockey sticks. If they get it through the net, it’s five points. If they drop the ball, it’s a penalty and the other team takes possession.”

“Unless — ”

“Unless the fifth Tuesday rule applies.”

“Yes… unless the full moon rule applies, that is.”

“Full moon rule?”

“If in the week prior to the match any of the players eat poultry on a night when there’s a full moon, then all fouls become fowls, and any player who commits one must play the remainder of the match with a live chicken under one arm. For the second offence, the chicken is switched for a turkey.”

“What about if the player is a vegetarian?”

“Then for the first offence it’s a lettuce, and for the second the lettuce is swapped with a cashier who works at Whole Foods.”

“So dropping the ball is a penalty, unless either the fifth Tuesday or full moon rules apply?”

“Yes… unless the collided fates rule applies.”

“What’s the collided fates rule?”

“If the two team captains have star signs which compliment each other, then the whole match must be played in slow motion.”

Billy thought it best not to ask if there were any other rules. “What are those for?” he asked, pointing into the crate.

Plank placed the rugby ball down on the floor, and then took two long blowpipes out of the crate. He handed one to Billy.

“These are used by the Bouncers — there’s two on each team. Ours are Chad and Larry Beaversley.”

“What are they used for?”

“I’ll show you.”

Billy watched as Plank reached into the crate and pulled out a small dart. He loaded the dart into the top of the blowpipe, aimed it into the distance, and gave a sharp blow. The dart flew out the end of the pipe as a blur and disappeared into the darkness where — “Ha, you missed me,” came the voice of Professor Crumbleceiling.

“Now you have a go,” said Plank, handing Billy a dart.

Billy loaded the end of the blowpipe and aimed towards the same area Plank had. He gave a sharp blow and — “You hit me that time…” the voice faded out and was replaced by the dull thud of a body hitting the ground.

“What’s in these things?” asked Billy.

“Oh, it’s just a simple sleeping draught. You come around soon enough, but usually not until after the match is over.”

“So the Bouncers go around firing blow darts at the other team?”

“That’s right. Most often they aim for the other team’s Swatter because if they can take them out, it makes it impossible for the team to win.”

“And I’m our Swatter?”

“Yes — but don’t worry,” he said on Billy’s sudden change of expression. “The Beaversley twins are good playing Bouncer, and they can usually take out their opposite numbers early on in the game.”

“So what do you do?”

“Well, each team has two Keepers who work together as one horse,” Plank explained, “and I’m the front half of our Keeper. I wear the horse’s head.”

“How do you wear the costume while using a space hopper?”

“The Keepers don’t bounce around. It’s only the Attackers, Bouncers, and Swatter who have to move around on space hoppers — while dressed as frogs, of course. No, the Keepers guard the nets while using inflatable unicorns to float on the small pool that makes up each goal area.”

“The Keepers float, and the rest of the team bounces. I think I’ve got it.”

“And as captain, I also have another role. If there’s a draw — that is, if both teams’ Swatters are taken out by the Bouncers before the other comes around again — then it’s my job as captain to duel the other team’s captain to decide the outcome of the match.

“Erm — do people ever die during a match?” asked Billy, attempting to sound casual.

“Sometimes, yes. And there were a couple of serious injuries last year which required people to go to hospital. You don’t need to worry about any of that, though. There’s only one thing that should concern you.”

Billy thought he probably did need to worry about all that, but he watched as Plank lifted a small glass jar out of the crate.

“This,” said Plank, “is the platinum fly, and it’s the most important part of the game. It’s almost impossible to see because it’s so small and extremely fast. It’s your job as Swatter to swat the fly before the opposing team’s Swatter can do the same. If you swat the fly, you end the game, Smith. If you swat the fly, you win the game — I mean, it pretty much renders the entire rest of the match a complete waste of time for all involved, but those are the rules. So — any questions?”

“What happens if the fifth Tuesday, full moon, and collided fates rules all apply in the same match?”

“It’s rare, but it does happen. In that case, the sudden death rule would apply.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means sudden death. If any player gives away a penalty, the match is immediately halted so that player can be sacrificed to the Ancient Egyptian Goddess Heqet.”

Billy wasn’t sure if he wanted to play Frogsports anymore, but Plank wasn’t going to let him back out at this stage.

“Right, we won’t practise with the platinum fly tonight,” said Plank, putting the glass jar back into the crate. “It’s getting dark, and we don’t want to lose it. I’ve got some of these instead.”

He pulled a bag of pebbles out from his pocket, and a few minutes later, he was throwing them at Billy for him to swat as he bounced around the pitch on his BunnyRibbit Eleven, a fly swatter in one hand. After half an hour, during which Billy didn’t miss a single one, they called it a night.

“That Frogsports cup is ours this year,” said Plank confidently as they carried the crate back up to the castle. “You play like Issac Beaversley used to, and he could have gone international if he hadn’t started performing in variety shows on cruise lines.”

Maybe it was because he had so little free time, what with all his homework on top of Frogsports practise sessions twice a week, but Billy could hardly believe he was coming to the end of his second month at the castle. He felt more at home here than he ever had with the Moustaches, though, considering everything that went on at the school, he wasn’t entirely sure this was a good thing.

They woke on Wednesday to the smell of pumpkin pie floating through the whole castle. It was Halloween, and the teachers had gone all out to decorate the school for the occasion. Even better, at the start of their Domestic Sorcery lesson that morning, Professor Millbrook announced they were going to learn how to make objects fly. Professor Millbrook had paired them up. Billy was partnered with Patrick O’Connor, while Ed was put with Elahoraella Parker. This made the lesson very uncomfortable for both of them, because Elahoraella still hadn’t spoken to Ed or Billy since the night they had discovered the two-headed duck.

“Now, don’t forget the delicate movement we’ve been practicing!” said Professor Millbrook as the class pulled out their enchanted celeries. “Twist and jab, remember, twist and jab. And don’t forget to make sure you get the words right, too. Mistakes can be very costly in sorcery — never forget the person who thought I should tweet this instead of I should keep this to myself and inadvertently alienated a large part of their fan base.”

It wasn’t nearly as straightforward as Professor Millbrook made it appear. Try as they might, no matter how much twisting and jabbing they did, Billy and Patrick just couldn’t get the autographed photo of a well-known American daytime talk show host (Professor Millbrook had bought them as an investment before they became even less valuable than the show’s production crew in the eye’s of the titular star) they were supposed to be levitating to lift off the desk.

At the next table, Ed wasn’t having much more luck.

Hocus-Pocus,” he shouted, poking the autograph with the end of his celery.

“You’re not saying it right,” Elahoraella snapped at him. “It’s Ho-cus-Po-cus, you need to make the ho and po sound longer and clearer.”

“You should me how it’s done then, if you’re so good at it,” said Ed.

Elahoraella rolled up the sleeves of her dressing gown, twisted her celery, and said, “Hocus-Pocus!

Their autograph lifted off the desk at once and began spinning in midair.

“Aha,” cried Professor Millbrook excitedly. “Everybody look at this — Miss Parker has got it already!”

Even though he was able to practise on his own for the rest of the lesson, Ed still had no success. By the time the class ended, he was in an irritable mood. “She’s unbearable, honestly,” he said to Billy as they made their way down the crowded corridor. “No wonder no one likes her.”

Someone pushed through the middle of them. It was Elahoraella, and she looked as though she was about to cry.

“I think she heard you,” Billy said to Ed.

They didn’t see Elahoraella for the rest of the day, but on their way down to the Banquet Hall for the Halloween celebrations, they overheard Helen Harrison talking about how Elahoraella had been crying all afternoon and was skipping the feast to catch up on the work she’d missed.

Ed looked somewhat guilty at this, but that soon went away when they entered the Banquet Hall, and any thought of Elahoraella was put out of their minds by the sight that greeted them.

The lanterns which floated above the tables had been dimmed a little, and real cobwebs had been spun against the walls to give the whole hall a spooky feel. Most of the school ghosts were getting into the spirit of the occasion by making themselves invisible, gliding up the tables, and then reappearing suddenly to frighten a student. Baroness Thatcher wasn’t so high-spirited, however, and she stayed at the head of the Crocodilian table complaining that if children had enough time to celebrate Halloween, then they also had enough time to start working and building character for later life.

“Has anybody seen the headmaster anywhere?” Professor McDouglass was asking a group of Osphranters as Billy and Ed took their seats. “No one has seen him all day.”

This feast was the best yet. Billy was just reaching for a slice of steak pie he liked the look of when Professor Quigley ran in through the double doors, an expression of upmost fear on his face.

Silence fell across the hall as students stopped eating to watch as he sprinted up the hall between the Osphranter and Gluteal tables. There was an audible “Oooh, that must have hurt,” as he tripped up and slammed his face onto the solid stone floor, but he got back up again straight away.

Reaching the table where the teachers were sitting, Quigley went straight for Professor McDouglass and collapsed onto the table in front of her before gasping, “School inspector — downstairs in the dungeons — they’ve got a clipboard.”

And then he fell unconscious and sank to the floor without saying another word.

“Oh — bollocks,” said Professor McDouglass.

There was an immediate panic across the hall, most of all from the teacher’s table.

“Where is the headmaster?” asked Professor McDouglas in a panic to no one in particular. She looked around as though he might be hiding behind her chair, but Crumbleceiling was nowhere in sight.

“We need to stop them from talking to the students!” Professor Millbrook’s voice rang out from somewhere nearby.

“Yes, that. I’m on it.”

Professor McDouglass took her enchanted celery from her pocket, pointed it high at the ceiling, and said, “Abracadabra!

A firework shot out of the end of the celery and exploded into a flash of light above where the students were all fighting to get out of the hall. They fell still and turned to look at Professor McDouglass.

“Leaders of your houses, take your students back to your common rooms immediately. Do not talk to anybody on the way.”

“You’re on fire, Professor,” said Professor Millbrook.

Professor McDouglass examined at the end of her celery, which was indeed on fire. “So I am.” She blew the fire out and continued, “Teachers, follow me — and don’t forget to bring your fake lesson plans — except for, where is he? Ah, Professor Grape, please hide yourself in a cupboard and if anybody asks, tell them you’re a mature-aged exchange student from Bristol.”

For Jacob, Ed’s older brother and the leader of Osphranter house, it was as though Christmas had come early. While he might have felt relaxed enough to sit back and fall asleep while those around him suffered, he loved telling those same people what to do even more.

“All of you, follow behind me! Stick together and don’t leave any gaps! There’s no need to panic if you listen to what I say — I know what’s best for you! Excuse me, I’m leader of the house!”

“Why are we having an inspection now?” Billy asked as they began climbing the stairs.

“Don’t ask me. Frogsports is a private school, they hardly ever get inspected,” said Ed. “Maybe Professor Crumbleceiling forgot to make a donation to the government this month.”

As they passed a group of terrified Gluteals going the other way, Billy grabbed Ed’s arm and held him back.

“What is it?”

“Elahoraella,” said Billy. “She doesn’t know there’s an inspector here.”

Ed looked hesitant.

“Oh, fine,” he said. “But Jacob mustn’t see us.”

They detached themselves from the Osphranters and merged with the passing Gluteals until they were back at the bottom of the staircase and could slip down an empty corridor. They had just turned the corner at the end of the corridor when they heard footsteps behind them.

“Quick,” said Ed, pulling Billy behind a giant stone statue.

Peering around it, they saw Grape glancing around as though checking to see if anyone was watching. Believing no one was there, he crossed the corridor and disappeared from view.

“Why’s he here?” Billy whispered. “I thought he was supposed to be locking himself in a cupboard?”

But before Ed could reply, he took a few short sniffs and said, “Can you smell something?”

Billy sniffed too, and a strong aroma hit the inside of his nostrils. It was a mix of cheap flowery perfume and the sort of air fresher an honest friend might buy you if they were trying to tell you something.

And then they heard it — the tapping of high heels on stone. There was a voice too. “The school has a questionable approach to the welfare of students.” Ed pointed — at the end of the corridor, they could see a shadow coming towards the light. They stepped back behind the statue and watched as it emerged.

It was a frightening sight. Five foot five, she was wearing a long skirt and patterned blouse under her jacket. On her face, she wore circular spectacles, and in her hand was a bright acrylic clipboard on which she kept scribbling notes.

The inspector stopped near the open door to the Transformation classroom and stuck her head through. “Well, access is certainly better than in some other classrooms,” she said, and she went inside.

“Look,” said Billy. “Professor McDouglass has left the keys in the lock. We could lock the inspector in.”

“Great idea,” said Ed nervously.

As quietly as they could, the edged towards the door, their hearts pounding with every step. “Some of the posters on these walls don’t look very inclusive,” they heard the inspector say. Holding his breath, Billy reached for the handle and slammed the door shut.

“Come on!” he said triumphantly as he turned the key. But a moment later, he wished he hadn’t.

A high, petrified scream came from inside the classroom.

They looked each other in the face, both as white as the school roll.

“Elahoraella!” they said together.

Facing the inspector head on was the last thing they wanted to do, but what choice did they have? Billy unlocked the door, and together they ran inside the classroom.

Elahoraella Parker was crouched in the corner of the room, looking as if she was about to faint. The inspector was advancing on her, asking questions as she went. “Do you think you get enough support from your teachers? Do you find your lessons fascinating and engaging? Are you provided with useful feedback from your teachers after you hand in a piece of work?”

“Confuse it!” said Billy. He picked up a thick leather bound book from a desk and slammed it onto the floor.

The inspector stopped and turned around to look at Billy. “Oh,” she said, and then she made for him instead, scribbling notes on her clipboard as she advanced. “Do you feel challenged at school?”

Billy did something that was either very brave or very stupid; He ran towards the inspector, wrestled the clipboard from her hands, and threw it across the room. The inspector seemed to stall for a moment, but then she rounded on Billy again. “Do you think the school’s discipline procedure is fair?” she asked, glaring at him.

As the inspector cornered Billy, Ed pulled out his enchanted celery and pointed it at the back of the inspector’s head. Thinking fast and panicking, he said the first words that came into his head: “Hocus-Pocus!

The inspector’s glasses flew suddenly from her face and hovered above her head. “Oh,” she said, “I can’t see anything without my glasses.”

“Do it now, Billy,” Ed shouted.

Billy stood tall and screamed the words into the inspector’s face. “THAT-EVIL-ONE!”

It happened immediately. A grey cloud appeared above them both. First, the thunder startled the inspector, then the lightning made her jump back. Finally, as she gazed up at her glasses, still floating above her head, rain water fell from the cloud and obscured her vision.

“Does anybody have a towel?” she asked.

Her glasses dropped to the floor, and she got to her knees to find them. But unable to discern anything clearly, she crawled into the side of table and then fell unconscious as a vase of flowers fell from the tabletop and landed on top of her head.

Loud footsteps came from outside the classroom, and a moment later, Professor McDouglass entered, closely followed by Professor Millbrook, with Professor Quigley bringing up the rear. Quigley’s face was bruised and bloodied from when he’d tripped over in the Banquet Hall. He looked down at the inspector and jumped.

Millbrook bent over the inspector. “It’s okay, she’s still alive,” he said. “I expect we might lose a few marks for this, but I’m sure it’s nothing we can’t make up from our boarding facilities to avoid special measures.”

Professor McDouglass turned her focus to Billy and Ed. Billy had never seen her look so angry. Her lips looked as whitewashed as a government report into systematic racism.

“What on earth has gone on here?” she asked them, with fury in every syllable. Billy looked at Ed, who didn’t seem to know what to say either. “You’re both lucky you weren’t signed up to a focus group. Why aren’t you in your common room with the rest of Osphranter house?”

Then a small voice came from the corner of the room.

“Professor McDouglass, please — they came looking for me.”

“Miss Parker!”

Elahoraella had got to her feet.

“I went looking for the inspector because I — I thought I’d know the right things to say — you know, because I’m top of our class.”

Billy’s mouth fell open in shock. Elahoraella Parker, telling a lie to a teacher’s face? “If they hadn’t found me, the school would probably have been given a requires improvement rating, or maybe even inadequate.”

“Well — in that case then,” said Professor McDouglass, staring down at the three of them, “Miss Parker, you stupid girl. We don’t want the inspector to meet students like you — ”

“We get more money if they think every student is underperforming, see,” explained Professor Millbrook.

“That’s right,” said Professor McDouglass. “And we need to fix our pension deficit somehow.”

Elahoraella looked guiltily down at her feet. Billy was speechless. Elahoraella was the last person he’d expect to do anything that would upset the teachers, and here she was, admitting to doing precisely that, to get them out of trouble. It was as if Grape had gone cold turkey.

And then something that was even more of a surprise than Elahoraella telling a lie happened.

With a loud pop, Professor Crumbleceiling appeared in the middle of the room wearing moose antlers on his head and holding a bottle of vodka in his hand. “Okay, bitches, who’s up for beer pong?” He looked around the room at each of the faces staring at him, and then said, “Not the appropriate time. I’ve got it.”

“Miss Parker, ten credits will be taken from Osphranter house for this,” said Professor McDouglass, doing her best to ignore Crumbleceiling. “I’m most disappointed in you. If you’re feeling okay, you’d better get back to the common room. Students are continuing the Halloween celebrations in there.”

Elahoraella left.

Professor McDouglass turned to Billy and Ed.

“Well, I guess I should probably thank you both, you’ve saved us an awful lot of paperwork. You each win Osphranter house ten credits. You may go.”

As they left, Professor McDouglass went over to Crumbleceiling and whispered in his ear.

“Erm — Headmaster, I know it’s a personal question, but do you by any chance perhaps have a blow dart sticking out of your backside?”

As Billy and Ed entered the common room, the party was in full swing. Everyone was enjoying themselves and eating the food that had been sent up from the Banquet Hall. Elahoraella however, stood alone by the entrance, waiting for them. There was a very awkward pause. Then, without looking at each other, they all said, “That inspector did have a point about the lack of inclusivity, though,” and they hurried off to join the party.

But from that moment on, Elahoraella Parker was their friend. There are some things you can’t share without ending up as friends, and an epiphany about how little your school seems to care about equality is one of them.

________________________________________________________________

A Small Ask

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