OH OH OH PLEASE TELL US A BOARDING SCHOOL STORY PRETTY PLEASE
so my school had this thing called “senior skip day,” except that senior skip day didn’t exist and every year the administration sent out emails in the spring that were like DON’T FUCKIN SKIP CLASS OR YOU WILL RECEIVE RESTRICTION (restriction was like, my boarding school’s equivalent of detention where instead of staying after school you had to go to bed early and help stuff envelopes advertising the summer program until your hands were BLOODIED AND CRIPPLED BY CARPAL TUNNEL) and every year the seniors were like YOLO THEY CAN’T PUNISH ALL OF US!!!!!
spoiler alert: yes they can? THEY ALWAYS CAN.
200 years of american high school and teenagers still think that there is a cap limit on kids in detention and that you can leave after 15 minutes if the teacher doesn’t show up.
anyway, my senior year, we all got together and nattered at each other until some brave soldier (i feel like it was my friend paula but WHO KNOWS) was like “OK SENIOR SKIP DAY IS THIS THURSDAY!!!! NOBODY GO TO CLASS OR UR A SCAB.”
she didn’t say scab because she’s not from the 1920s and we aren’t newsies, though this story would be way more interesting if we were
what she said was “YOLO THEY CAN’T PUNISH ALL OF US!!!!!”
except not yolo because it was 2009 and drake hadn’t been invented yet except as a dear sweet boy in a wheelchair.
we also used this email system to communicate with one another that has very deeply informed the way i understand email and which probably makes it very frustrating to be my friend and receive emails that have subject lines like “URGENT” and then just 42 links to the same florida georgia line youtube video.
I’M NOT ASHAMED, but in that way where like i kind of AM ashamed so i’m really aggressively NOT ashamed?
so the day of reckoning rolls around and my alarm goes off at 8 (class started at 8:05 but i liked to PLAY WITH FIRE when it came to being late; my mom actually asked the school to stop emailing her when i was a sophomore because i was late so often that their rote “Mrs. Ofgeography we are emailing you to say—” was CLOGGING UP HER INBOX and she was like “i GET IT MY CHILD IS THE MOST BORING MISCREANT OF ALL TIME.”) and i looked at my roommate elle and she looked at me and went, “you going?”
"hell no," i said. "YOLO. they can’t punish all of us."
elle, who was far prettier and far cooler than i was with the notable exception of her obsession with tswift’s “love story” and her tendency to look at the endangered species list and cry sometimes during study hall, quickly bizounced across the street to this shopping center thing where all the cool kids smoked in secret where huge trucks dropped off clothes for the Dress Barn. i think there were also tennis courts nearby. more importantly there was this chinese food delivery place and a lil restaurant that made HELLA BAGELS.
WHAT KIND OF BAGELS?
off goes elle! meanwhile i’m like, “yessssss i’m gonna use senior skip day to watch 14 hours of tv shows and eat frozen peanut butter bars that i stole from the dining hall! I’M GONNA LIVE LIKE I’M 23 ALONE IN CHICAGO ON A WEEKEND WHEN MY ONLY PLAN IS TAKEOUT AND CUDDLING WITH THE FAUX-SNOW-LEOPARD BLANKET I WILL ONE DAY SURELY OWN.”
of course, during this time the administration was continuing to send out emails that reminded us with increasing urgency that senior skip day was NOT A THING and that we were ALL GETTING RESTRICTION if we didn’t get our STUPID ASSES TO CLASS, GODDAMNIT, WE ARE NOT RUNNING A CIRCUS HERE.
but i was like! yolo, motherfuckers!!! i already got into college, YOU CAN’T TOUCH ME.
at some point during the day elle and our friend ginna came back to the room with takeout from the chinese delivery place and we sat on our floor eating it and probably watching veronica mars or looking at the endangered species list and crying.
all of a sudden, elle said, “guys shut up, guys shut up, GUYS SHUT UP,” and ginna and i were like, “WHAT we have a LOT to SAY about FRIED FUCKING DUMPLINGS, ELLE," and elle said, "did you hear that?"
'that' was the sound of one of our dorm moms, mrs. f, knocking on doors and saying things like, “IF YOU DON'T GET YOUR BUTTS TO CLASS IN 5 MINUTES YOU'RE ON CATEGORY 4 RESTRICTION FOREVER.” elle quickly scampered up our raised beds to hide in the corner, where a tiny human like elle could actually hide from view; i leapt immediately into what we called a closet but was basically a cubby with a flap that was DEFINITELY not meant for a 5'8” individual with knobby as hell knees.
our door, which was never locked because we both hated the effort of typing in the lock code, opened. mrs. f said, “mollyhall?”
i held my breath.
i should add here that i seemed to be operating on like a scooby-doo level of logic where basically i thought that she was somehow NOT ALLOWED to investigate?
like, if she can’t see me, there is NO POSSIBLE WAY that she could prove i’m in here, right?
she’ll just poke her head in and be like oH GOSH NO KIDS HERE and leave!!
you can see the flaw in my logic.
mrs. f sighed. “mollyhall, i know you’re in here, i literally heard your voice ten seconds ago.”
there’s no WAY she guesses i’m in the closet!!!
"mollyhall, i know you’re in the closet."
NO YOU DON’T
I AM SCHRÖDINGER’S SENIOR
there was a creak. mrs. f stopped. it wasn’t actually a “creak,” so much as this like, prolonged groan? like it’s the sound an elephant would make if it sat on a really large accordion.
i poked my head out of the closet. mrs. f looked at me. elle sat up.
i said, “where’s ginna?”
YOU KNOW WHERE GINNA WAS.
"um," said elle, "she’s in the—"
i really wish i could describe the sound the ceiling made when it collapsed. it sounded a lot like the way losing your breath feels. i sort of remember ginna falling in like, really slow motion, like i could see the expression on her face. i didn’t really think about how i would describe this in words. ginna’s face said:
what have i done?
this was a mistake.
i regret a series of decisions that i have made.
is there a way out of this?
are those oreos under mollyhall’s pillow?
why are there oreos under mollyhall’s pillow?
mollyhall, you HAVE a food cupboard, what good is a food cupboard if you don’t—
she belly flopped onto the floor. i mean, the girl bounced. and then she just laid there. mrs. f looked at her. elle looked at her. i looked at her, still mostly in the closet. we were all going to get category 4 restriction forever.
ginna said, “hi, mrs. f. i feel like i should explain.”
(There was a call to make an LJ post today, so since I was thinking about how Hufflepuff gets absolutely no love the other day, you get my sorry attempts at fic.)
“Help!” cried the very junior wizard, falling down on the doorstep of the medium-sized cottage that would someday be Hogwarts. “Help! The giants are invading!” “Giants?” asked Godric Gryffindor, sticking his head out of the window. “I thought we beat those last week.” “These are different giants,” said the junior wizard. “Also wolves. And basilisks.” “Wolves and basilisks?” “The wolves are riding the basilisks,” said the wizard. “Look, it’s a bit of a mess, all right?” He rubbed his forehead. “Are they werewolves?” called Helga Hufflepuff, from inside the cottage. “I firmly believe that werewolves should be judged by their actions as individuals. This anti-lycanthropic discrimination has got to stop.” “They’re riding basilisks,” said Godric. “They’re probably not upstanding members of the werewolf community.” “Wouldn’t they have turned to stone?” asked Rowena Ravenclaw, who was sitting in an armchair with a book. She turned a page. “Smoked goggles,” said the junior wizard shortly. “Incidentally, I’m bleeding rather a lot.” “Oh, you poor dear,” said Helga, wiping her hands on her apron. “Come in and we’ll get you fixed up.” The junior wizard sat at the dining room table and was given cookies and a very large brandy, while the four great wizards planned their next move. Unfortunately, they were still not very good at working together. Godric wanted a straight charge up the middle, death-or-glory style. Rowena wanted an elaborate battle plan involving perfect timing and the movement of a great many troops they didn’t actually have. Salazar suggested they just seed the enemy’s supplies with botulism and canine distemper. “Cowardly!” cried Godric. But Rowena looked thoughtful. Helga tapped a fingernail on her teeth. In the end, it was agreed that they would simply all meet on the field of battle tomorrow, ready to fight, and see what the future held.
In the morning, three wizards gathered on the field of battle. It was a broad, grassy bowl, bordered by hills. Giants and basilisks and werewolves wearing glasses lurked on the far side, although the werewolves were looking a little strung out by the lack of moonlight. Rowena was surrounded by a swirling cloud of ravens. They flapped and shrieked in harsh voices. “Nice,” said Salazar. “Bit goth, though.” “Says a man wearing a giant snake as a bandolier.” “That’s not goth, that’s metal. It’s different.” Godric was riding a griffin and was a bit annoyed that no one had mentioned how cool it was. “You know that thing’ll go to sleep if somebody throws a coat over its head,” said Salazar nastily. “Shut up,” said Godric. “You can’t ride your snake.” “A snake big enough to ride would need a redesigned nervous system,” said Rowena absently. “You couldn’t get the messages to the tail fast enough. Not sure the circulatory system would hold up, either, to be honest—“ “I notice somebody hasn’t shown up,” said Salazar. “I’m sure Helga will be here in a minute,” said Rowena. “What’s she going to do, bake cookies at them?” “She can be the healer,” said Godric. “Healers are important.” Salazar rolled his eyes. They waited. The griffin crapped and everybody had to move upwind. “We should never have invited her,” said Salazar. “She can’t found a wizarding school. Her greatest ambition is to get the garden weeded before company comes over.” “I’ve seen some pretty lethal plant wizards,” said Godric loyally. “With…um…you know, big thorn hedge things…” He made hand gestures. Salazar looked at him like he was an idiot. The ravens were getting bored. They ceased swirling and landed on the grass, grumbling to each other. “Ark. Ark Ark? Ark.” Godric ran a hand through his hair. “Okay,” he admitted. “Maybe this isn’t really playing to Helga’s strengths. We could…errr…” The ground rumbled. The ravens took flight. The griffin squawked. Salazar’s snake constricted in a panic, and Rowena had to help him get it unwound from around his neck. The grassy hillside split open. Claws as long as a man’s thigh emerged from the earth. Clods of dirt flew as a gigantic beast emerged, shaking its head. A cloud of wet air belched over the three wizards, smelling of worms and turned earth. “Sorry!” called a voice from inside the cloud. “Sorry! Monty, you came up too close! You’ll trample the wrong people!”” “Oh dear god, it’s a badger,” said Godric. “Dire badger, I believe,” said Rowena. “Meles dirus. I thought they were extinct…” Salazar put a hand over his eyes. It was the size of a house. Helga’s saddle was halfway up the creature’s back, nearly lost on that vast curve of spine. She was still wearing her apron and her gardening gloves. The badger shook itself again, spattering them all with dirt. The black and white stripes were visible now, along with tiny reins that ran to the base of the creature’s whiskers. It was wearing goggles that appeared to have been cobbled together from ship’s portholes. “Good badger!” said Helga. “Who’s a good boy, then?” “She named the badger Monty,” said Salazar to no one in particular. “Sorry I’m late,” said Helga. “It was hard to get the goggles on him. But he’s such a good badger! Does a good badger want to stomp the mean giants for Mommy?” The dire badger gave another belching roar and waved its claws. “Kill me,” said Salazar to Rowena. “Godric would love to.” “I don’t want to give him the satisfaction.” “All right,” said Godric, feeling that his authority was somewhat diminished by the fact that his very cool griffin was only about a tenth the size of Helga’s badger. “All right. Um. It’s not the size of the—“ “Keep telling yourself that, Godric,” said Rowena. Monty began lumbering toward the enemy. “Would it be okay if we charged now?” called Helga. “I hope it’s okay! Monty’s not very good at waiting…” The dire badger broke into a waddling run. Godric spurred the griffin, because there was absolutely no glory in being left behind by a badger. Rowena and Salazar walked, rather more sedately, toward the enemy. “So, about letting her help found the school…” said Rowena. “I can admit when I’m wrong,” said Salazar, once Godric was out of earshot. “Yes, but you never do.” “This is me admitting that I am possibly wrong.” He adjusted his snake. “But you have to admit, you didn’t see the badger coming either.” “No,” said Rowena Ravenclaw, “no, the giant badger was a surprise.” She considered. “Hard work and loyalty aren’t bad principles.” “They’re a lot better when you’ve got a giant goddamn war-badger to back them up.” And none of the other founders ever questioned Helga Hufflepuff’s right to found a wizarding house ever again.