Episode 4: Snakes on the Ground
Our two heroines walk along the downtrodden forest path discussing their trip. For once they left Melissa’s ever faithful dog behind.
“CC isn’t giving me enough hours. I may have to borrow money from my parents.” Ramona kicks a protruding root. She winces as the pain radiates in her big toe.
“I’ve figured out my spending money situation.” Melissa replies, a self-satisfied grin on her face. “If I weed the garden and mow the lawn for my grandparents every week, spend nothing, and factor in some birthday money I’m set. I’ll even be able to buy several pints of butterbeer in Hogsmeade on top of everything else.”
“Yeah, I need to save money for your birthday present too. And there’s so many things I need to buy before we go. I’m so excited but people don’t tell you how stressful going on vacation can be!”
Melissa pushes at her sleeve fingering the wand hidden beneath the fabric. “I need a giant suitcase. It’ll have to be almost empty on the way there so I can bring everything I want back. Maybe I could transfigure the inside to be bigger.”
Ramona rolls her eyes; Melissa has yet to master a single spell. “Or you could just bring an extra suitcase.”
“I suppose I could just owl the stuff that won’t fit home.”
Ramona squints at her slightly taller friend, “Are you listening to me or just having a conversation with yourself?”
Melissa’s quiet for a moment and then she shrieks. Her hands come together and she claps like a child, jumping up and down on the spot.
Ramona might be worried, if Melissa didn’t have one of these, seemingly random, outbursts daily.
“Look Mona! Look at the pretty snake. I’m going to talk to it. You stay back, it probably won’t like you and I can’t have you scaring it away.” Melissa runs forward to crouch beside a large red and brown snake.
Her grin makes her face look like it’s about to fall apart.
“Ugh Melissa, I really don’t think this is a good idea...”
“Quiet. Can’t you see we’re talking here?” Melissa’s eyes remain on the snake as she hisses what she thinks is a warm introduction. She can’t be sure as she’s never tried to use her Parseltongue ability before.
The snake remains indifferent.
Melissa keeps trying to talk to the snake, her hissing and tongue lolling is interspersed with several frustrated frowns. Ramona looks on in ever increasing horror.
The snake’s tongue flickers out; its long body contracts and one long hiss emerges.
Melissa giggles, “Fluffy! Ramona does not look like she’s been trampled by a herd of Hippogriffs!”
“It didn’t say that!” Ramona kicks a rock at Melissa, careful to avoid her big toe. “You can’t even talk to snakes. You’re just making weird noses and spitting a lot.”
Melissa stands, whirling to face Ramona. “There’s no need to be jealous just because you are unable to understand the intricacies of Parseltongue. You better apologize to both Fluffy and I.”
“Who names their snake Fluffy? It’s a nasty, ugly, poisonous, scaly ankle biter!”
“Don’t talk about him that way! I thought you of all people would understand. He’s just misunderstood.”
Ramona’s retort dies on her lips.
“Apologize to Fluffy first. His forgiveness needs to come before mine.”
“No. Melissa-” Ramona’s voice cracks, her throat is unbearably dry. She’s never been the reckless one but if she doesn’t act she’ll be going to Florida alone. She’ll have to find a new best friend.
The snake’s red and brown scales glint as it rears its hooded head backwards. Ramona needs to act before it’s too late – she’s run out of time.
“Well? Do you have anything to say for yourself?”
“Duck!” Ramona grabs a fairly large rock and hurdles it at the snake. Despite her confusion, Melissa reacts automatically.
The two friends stare at each other, the silence stretches for five heartbeats.
Melissa breaks the moment by turning to look behind her. Fluffy is on the ground, a rock crushing his skull. A horrified whisper escapes her, “What have you done?”