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Claude Burke for Beatrix Burke.
She loves him not.
"I'll bleed wherever I damn well please!" She shouted, scowling at him. As if to prove it, she uncovered her nose and shook her head back and forth like a dog attempting to dry its fur of water. Little droplets of blood rained on the sidewalk all willy-nilly. Billie Farrow in A Good Dusting
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A Good Dusting
#1
Private 
“28th” February, 1890 — Pennyworth Streets
@Billie Farrow
This day seemed to be lasting foreeeeeever. Which would be all well and good if Great-Granny Fletcher hadn’t made him do chores about the house all morning, when instead of dusting (her eyes were so bad she couldn’t see any of the gazillion cobwebs anyway, what was the point?) he could be practising his pick-pocketing to show Hestia or delivering messages at the speed of light!

But no, here he was like a dippy housemaid attacking the house with a feather duster. He had done the stairs already, swishing the thing about more like it was a sword than a cleaning implement, and had just made a start on (wrecking) his bedroom windowsill when he spotted a familiar face - well, mop of hair - outside on the street below.

“OI!” He roared at the top of his lungs, pushing up the sash window and leaning out. “BILLIE! WHAT’CHA DOING?” It was an attempted ambush as much as it was a lively greeting, but Jimmy followed it up - just to be sure to get Farrow’s attention - by sending the feather duster sailing towards Billie’s head.

It wasn’t his fault that time chose that moment to speed up again. Intensely. Not his fault, he swore! The duster was already out of his hands!
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   Amelia Evans, Billie Farrow


#2
Billie trudged along as if she were wading through molasses. For a girl who always giant stepped through life, it felt as if something were physically holding her back. It didn't help that the boots upon her feet were about ten sizes too big. It wasn't yet warm enough to skitter about Hogsmeade barefoot.

Of all the strange happenings she'd already encountered, the most perplexing had been the sudden three inches of growth she'd woken up to. Her clothes looked as if they had shrunk, sleeves and pant legs much shorter than she remembered. She couldn't even cram her feet into her boots without her toes being painfully squashed. She'd found a dejected pair of Gideon's collecting dust in the shop and decided to toss them on her feet. Assuming someone had played some sort of joke on her, she'd set off to confront just the person she thought responsible. Surely, she hadn't actually grown.

However, the further she traveled from the shop, the more she realized that, perhaps, she really was taller. And that something else was amiss. She'd gathered, from eavesdropping, that some man from Florida had screwed with time and now they were all paying the price. Billie wasn't even sure where Florida was, but, after being nearly hurtled into a wall after time sped up, she vowed to never visit such a terrible place.

"I'm never going to get there," she grumbled to herself. She could turn back, but she was nearly to her destination. Even though she no longer thought Jimmy Fletcher responsible for her clothing, curiosity had driven her onward to see what might have happened to him. It was more fun to share weird experiences with other people, of course.

Billie squinted up and down the street, hoping to catch sight of Fletcher skulking about Pennyworth. She didn't particularly want to rap upon his door. They weren't those kind of friends.

Jimmy's voice drew her out of her thoughts, and she glanced up, about to shout some sort of obscenity at him, but time had its own agenda. Before she could even process the fact a feather duster was headed straight for her face, its handle clocked her directly between the eyes. The momentum slammed her backwards, clear out of her boots, knocking the air and every curse word right out of her.

Well, she'd found him.


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#3
The only downside of the super-speed feather duster was, Jimmy would admit, the problem that he just didn’t have enough time to revel in it. If only he’d seen it clock Farrow on the head in slow motion! He’d have been laughing for days!

Which was not to say he wasn’t laughing now, because he was. His hoots of laughter rang out right down the street. Whoever thought a feather duster could knock the stuffing out of someone?! Billie Farrow might as well have been as light as a feather. (Which was odd because Jimmy could’ve sworn that he - while he’d been upright - had looked a little bit... taller.)

“Good going, gibface!” He called down, though he was loath to stay up here and only get to mock Farrow from a distance, nice vantage point that his bedroom was. Without hesitation, then, he shoved the sash window up as high as it went, then sprang up onto the sill to haul himself outside, making a practised leap to the drainpipe he had long since learnt to shimmy down.

He’d swung right, of course. Like he always did.

But today right was wrong, apparently, because in that terrible moment as Jimmy leapt for the drainpipe, he was faced with the fact that the drainpipe was not there.

No, the drainpipe was (and had always been) on the other side of the window. Left, he should’ve swung. Left.

But since he hadn’t, and since the bloody drainpipe had moved, Jimmy was left thumping into the flat brick wall and tumbling the rest of the way down onto the street in a bungled mess, no better off than Billie. “Oof,” he said.
[-] The following 1 user Likes James Fletcher's post:
   Billie Farrow


#4
The speeding up of time meant that the blood that had started to seep out of her nose appeared to be almost gushing. She clapped her hands over it, tears blinking in the corners of her eyes from the sheer force of it all, but she wouldn't allow herself to cry. Especially not in front of Jimmy 'Shit-For-Brains' Fletcher. She wasn't some sniffly baby who became upset just because of an ouch. She'd had worse, after all.

The laughter that drifted down toward her only made her ears start to burn in anger. She scowled up at him, about to shout at Fletcher to come down and laugh where she could reach him, but he'd already made the leap.

What the Hell did he think he was doing? There was nothing to grab onto!

Scuttling out of the way, she stared on as he smashed into the wall and tumbled into the street. A small flash of concern briefly blinked across her face, but it soon faded when Jimmy made a noise to announce that he was, indeed, alive.

Crossing the few steps that remained between them, Billie stood and glared down at him, though her lips had formed a smirk, glad that karma had immediately caught up to him.

"Flippin heck, Jimmy!" She paused long enough to deliver a swift kick at one of his legs. Though, it should be noted, she didn't put as much oomph into it as she normally would have. "Are ya daft? What ya doin' throwin' shit and jumpin' out a flippin' window for, ya bird brain! Don't ya know time ain't workin' right?" Any attempt at speaking properly went out the window when she was faced with the Fletcher boy.

Billie tried to tug at her sleeve, but ended up giving up and instead used the crook of her arm to push on her nose. She might have dripped on poor Jimmy in the meantime, but she sure as heck didn't notice. To think, she was planning on being nice today. Well, now that wasn't freaking happening.

"You idiot."
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   James Fletcher


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#5
Jimmy lay dazed on the street, cursing his existence. And the brick wall. And mostly cursing Billie Farrow for being here to witness him.

And he got a lecture for it, and all! The cheek of it! “I know about time, thanks. I’m not an idiot,” he repeated, groaning. “I done that jump a hundred times before -” he mumbled, his head dizzy from the firmer collision than usual, “but the - drainpipe’s not where it’s s’posed to be.” He said this in a slow, breathless drawl, as if Billie was the stupid one for not realising where the drainpipes on his own house were supposed to go.

And the other boy was kicking him when he was down, and all! Jimmy moaned and refused to get up from where he was sprawled, except now that Billie was closer something kept dripping in his face. Oi! He shrieked, springing up as soon as he touched his cheek and realised what that was. “Stop bleedin’ on me!”

Woah. Farrow was really bleeding. Like a lot.


#6
The look Billie gave him was one of derision. Jimmy claimed he wasn't an idiot, yet he didn't know where his own drainpipe was? She couldn't believe it! Then again, strange things were happening. Not that she would give him the benefit of the doubt, either way. The world might be falling apart, but she still had standards.

She did, however, give him a very subtle once over to be sure he wasn't seriously injured.

"I'll bleed wherever I damn well please!" She shouted, scowling at him. As if to prove it, she uncovered her nose and shook her head back and forth like a dog attempting to dry its fur of water. Little droplets of blood rained on the sidewalk all willy-nilly. Instead of the dramatic laugh she'd hoped for, Billie groaned, realizing jerking movements weren't the best idea for her throbbing sniffer.

"I was coming here to tell ya 'bout all the strange stuff going on in town," she blurted out, once some of the pain subsided, "but now that ya vicious attacked me, I don't think I want to anymore!"
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#7
Jimmy read the look of derision as one of dumb disbelief, because Billie just didn’t know nothing, and couldn’t understand anything he said, probably.

And look at him now, raining drops of blood all over him like some demon creature! Alright, so they might not have caught him, but it was Jimmy’s excuse for launching himself backwards another step until he was pressed back against the wall of Great-Granny’s house, an expression of disgust pulled on his face.

“Nooo,” Jimmy blurted out next, suddenly settling into an imploring petulance. It was quite easy to forget Farrow was his worst enemy when there was strange stuff to investigate, and the odd truce meant nothing in pursuit of that, now did it? But Billie better not hold the duster-attack against him, the cad. “Nooo, Billie, you gotta tell me! I wanna know!!” He stepped forwards again with the best look of innocence he could muster, though it quickly turned to confusion. “Oi, whass happened to your clothes?” He’d meant to apologise, but he frowned at the other boy’s ankles. It looked like his shoes were clown shoes on him, but also that the rest of his clothes had shrunk. Or was... no. He couldn’t be that much taller. Not in a week!


#8
Somewhere in the span of her head waggling and Jimmy's next words, the blood suddenly ceased flowing. The one upside to sped up time was that she had experienced a fast, terrible nosebleed instead of an agonizingly long one. The pain hadn't subsided, though.

Of course, she didn't give it much thought that her nose was no longer leaking, for all of her concentration was on Jimmy once more. "I don't gotta do nothin'!" Billie shot back out of principle. She was going to tell him of all the strange Hogsmeade happenings. She couldn't resist spilling the beans, but she didn't want him to think he could just wheedle anything out of her.

The shaggy haired blondie glanced down at her ankles and then back up. "I thought it was you playin' tricks on me. I thought ya shrunk 'em. That's why I was coming over here in the first place, but no! Look!" Striding closer, she stood next to him, trying to measure herself next to him as a reference. She was still quite a bit shorter than him, but she was noticeably taller. "I grew. And that ain't even the start of it!"

She glanced up and down the street, as if she were about to spill quite a few juicy secrets. "I seen Arnie's mother with pink hair. Pink! And remember that old man who got all runned over by a carriage and died? I swear I seen him on High Street this morning. Alive as you an' me."


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#9
Jimmy narrowed his eyes at the idea that Farrow would be such a tease and not say anything - but quickly retracted this move when it sounded like he was going to get the story.

“Ha!” He interjected wickedly, at Billie’s brief crediting of the shrinkages to him. (Jimmy took this as clear acknowledgement of his mischievous genius.) “That woulda been a good one!” This smugness deteriorated rapidly as Billie marched up to his side and proved that the extra inches definitely hadn’t been his doing at all. Jimmy was not so impressed by this turn of events, no siree. He liked having the (not moral) high ground, thank you very much.

“Well how d’ya even do that in a day?” He pressed, terribly confused. Maybe it had nothing to do with all the weird things going on, and it was just something strange Farrow’d ate before bed.

Or it was something to do with the odd things going on, Jimmy reconsidered, as Billie reeled off a few. Pink hair paled next to the second bombshell. Alive? Jimmy scoffed, taking a step backwards to shake his head in an exaggerated show of I’m not falling for that, ya nitwit. “Now I know you’re a liar, Billie. D’ya hit your head -” (before the duster!) “- or something? ‘Cause you’re seein’ things. You’ve gone loony, you have. I saw that codger kick it with my own two eyes.”

(Although, now that he thought about it, proper consciously like, the memory did seem a bit... fuzzy.)


#10
"I don't know!" Billie exclaimed, moving away from his side and standing in front of him once more. "I even had to borrow Gideon's shoes 'cause I couldn't get my feet in my old ones." And she'd been entirely too wrapped up in her quest to make Jimmy pay for his prank that she hadn't even mentioned to the wandmaker what had occurred.

"I ain't lyin' to ya, dummy. He was walking along all alive. Not a ghost or nothin'. I weren't the only one surprised. This woman shrieked so loud, I was gonna go deaf." She folded her arms across her chest. It was even more concerning that she couldn't quite remember when he'd been run over or anything else about the calamity of that day. Surely, she should have recalled. "You can go look for ya self. I bet you'll find him."

But she wasn't finished! There were more oddities to share.

"On my way here, I was walking so fast, I almost smashed into a wall. But the people over the other end of the street moved so slow, I thought they were all just statues. There's strange things happening, Jimmy. People say it's because of Florida. Wherever that is."

All throughout her ramblings, she flailed her arms around wildly, using them to exaggerate about the things she saw. She didn't seem to care if Fletcher thought she was losing her marbles. He just had to know.

"Have you not seen nothin' strange?!"

She finally inhaled some air.


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#11
Jimmy snorted at the fact Billie was wearing Mr. Ollivander’s shoes.

“I will go an’ look,” he humphed, folding his arms in answer. “And what the hell’s Florida?” Jimmy said, rolling his eyes, finding the stupidity of that name just as suspect as the dead man walking. “Don’t be daft, it’s gotta be someone messing with ya.”

But - but - it hadn’t just been happening to Billie, had it? The old man had nothin’ to do with Farrow, and nor did Arnie’s mam’s hair. Jimmy’s drainpipe - whether Billie believed it or not - hadn’t anything to do with Billie, or Billie wouldn’t have been as surprised as him. Besides, he’d have played that prank long ago if he’d thought of it; and Jimmy would have done the same with the shrunken clothes.

In the end, he only shrugged, not about to admit that he believed Billie Farrow’s loony fantasies aloud. He had to look a little skeptical here, until he saw more proof for himself.

Which he hadn’t, much, besides the duster and the drainpipe. Both of which were less than impressive. “No,” Jimmy said, with a sullen sniff. “Time’s been going slow as muck. I’ve been cleanin’.”

If Billie laughed, he’d get the duster in his face again, Jimmy swore.


#12
Billie shrugged her shoulders so dramatically at Fletcher's question about Florida that she nearly knocked herself off balance. "If they're messing with me, then they're messing with the whole damn village, too." She paused, remembering. "And I think there's somethin' in the Prophet about it 'cause that's why people were talking about Florida." In retrospect, she probably should have snatched a copy from somewhere as proof, but she'd been much too excited to tell Jimmy, at that point.

The former rat catcher's nose started to scrunch up, causing her to wince. Of course Jimmy wasn't about to believe her if he'd been cleaning all morning. Even on a normal day, cleaning always felt like an eternity. Ugh, she'd have to prove it to him in a different way, and that meant settling into one of their unofficial, temporary truces.

"Well, if ya done playin' housemaid, maybe we could investigate all secret like. Then, you'll know I'm tellin' the truth. Only if you're not scared or nothin'."


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#13
To be honest, Jimmy was hacked off that Farrow had gotten to this Florida news first, and had all the stories to tell. He didn’t like being out of the loop. Maybe he ought to get up extra early every morning and start reading the paper, like old men did. Except faster.

Faster than Billie Farrow, anyway.

He stuck his nose up at that maybe, like it involved Billie taking pity on him or something. If the other boy wanted to be proved right he had to prove it himself. “Scared?!” Jimmy exclaimed, tossing the (slightly bloodied, whoops) duster through the downstairs window to be done with it. “Pfft! I ain’t never been scared of nothing in my life.” That was the dumbest thing he’d ever heard. He was invincible. “And I’m better at investigating than you,” he countered, bouncing on the balls of his feet and ready to prove it while they untangled the rest of this time mystery. Next thing they knew, the Prophet would probably be wanting to talk to them. “Let’s go then!”




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