Story Summary:
A rowdy poltergeist, two female Hogwarts students in the prefects' bath, house rivalry and a quietly amused Rowena Ravenclaw... featuring harsh words, not quite so harsh words, and a distinct lack of clothing.

Chapter Summary:
A rowdy poltergeist, two female Hogwarts students in the prefects' bath, house rivalry and a quietly amused Rowena Ravenclaw... featuring harsh words, not quite so harsh words, and a distinct lack of clothing ;-)
Author's Note:
I have to apologise here - after complaining that a lot of femmeslash is not intense and dark enough, I went right ahead and wrote a piece that isn't, either. I owe humble thanks to Chthonia for the amazing speed and precision of her beta-ing, and this particular plot bunny would probably never have jumped out of the woodwork if I hadn't eavesdropped on switchknife and Eilan.

"You bloody undead piece of shite!"

Millicent shook her fist at the cackling poltergeist, as trails of muddy water dripped from her drenched hair into the collar of her robes.

"Language, Miss Bulstrode," a stern voice admonished from behind.

She was sorely tempted to add another expletive, but reconsidered quickly. It was too early in the school year to lose points from Slytherin, and Transfiguration was bad enough without pissing off the Gryffindor head of house.

She swallowed the retort and turned just in time to watch Peeves pitch another bucket-full of dirty mopping water at a group of students entering the great hall. They screamed and darted out of the way frantically, but without success. Peeves chucked the empty bucket at McGonagall and sped off when she pulled out her wand to hex him, eyes glittering furiously behind her spectacles.

Millicent sighed when she recognised her fellow sufferers: Gryffindor's unbearable trio. Leave it to Peeves to add insult to injury. Potter was his normal messy self, only a little bit more wet than usual. The Weasel's face was red as a Howler, and he was crouching on the floor as if he were searching for lost change. Finally, he found something silvery and handed it to Granger - a prefect's badge. She took it, sniffling and rubbing her eyes furiously. She looked just about as bedraggled as Millicent herself, with a mass of normally bushy hair plastered around her head and shoulders.

McGonagall walked over to Granger, wand in hand, and performed a cleaning spell on her eyes.

"You should all get cleaned up quickly," the deputy headmistress advised. Some tendrils of dark hair had escaped her severe bun. "There was diluted Mrs. Skower's Magical Mess Remover in the water, and you don't want to end up with discoloured skin or hair." Her lips thinned in anger. "Mr. Filch is right, we have to do something about that poltergeist..." Grumbling, she strode off.

The Boy Who Didn't Know When To Die and his sidekick sped out of the hall, murmuring something about Quidditch showers. Millicent gave Granger a customary glare before preparing to descend, dripping water and Mess Remover, to the dungeons. She was only too well aware that the bloody house-elves would still be busy with the welcome feast and were unlikely to have heated the bathrooms or put out towels yet.

Granger cleared her throat, and was treated to another dark look for her pains.

"The prefect girls' bathroom is closer," she said hesitantly. The battle which Gryffindor chivalry was fighting against better judgement was reflected on her face quite vividly. "Since this is an emergency, you might want to use it, too..."

Millicent was sorely tempted to refuse with a searing comment about the filthying effect of bathing with Mudbloods, but she was wet and itching, and didn't really feel like explaining to Pansy - or Merlin forbid, Malfoy! - why she looked like Longbottom after a particularly vigorous Potions session. So she just nodded curtly and gestured to the Gryffindor prefect to lead the way.

Nice going, Bulstrode, she scolded herself. Restraint, twice in a row. You're going to ruin your reputation.

The prefect's bathroom was located just under the main staircase to the Ravenclaw common room, and hidden behind a painting of a lake with ducks and water lilies. Granger tapped it with her wand and murmured, "Rowena's Retreat".

The room itself was rather small, filled almost in its entirety by what was either a large, submerged tub or quite a small swimming pool, done in greenish-blue mosaic tiles showing more ducks and lilies. Rows of candles and small crystal bottles floated along the walls, and a stack of fluffy towels was placed on top of a small cabinet. The wall opposite the door was dominated by a huge painting of Rowena Ravenclaw reclining in the grass next to the lake of Hogwarts, covered by a strategically placed curtain of black hair and not much else. Millicent's mouth quirked up at the sight, while Granger's ears turned a light shade of red. The painting gave them a haughty glance before closing its eyes.

She looks a bit like McGonagall without the 'I'm a frustrated spinster who gets her kicks as a cat' sign on her forehead, Millicent thought.

Granger mumbled "Aqua!", and the tiled ducks opened their beaks and spewed forth water. Looking over her shoulder at Millicent, she nodded at the floating bottles.

"Choose your poison."

"What?" she snapped. Do I look like I speak Muggle, Mudblood?

"The bottles contain bubble bath and shampoo, Bulstrode. Pick some."

Curiously, Millicent Accio!-ed the nearest bottle. It was cut from amethyst, and 'Essence of Roses' was written on the label in florid letters. Ugh! She sent it spinning off again.

Finally, she settled on a combination of bergamot and lemongrass, while Granger poured a pale yellow fluid into the quickly-filling tub. A fresh scent of grapefruit wafted up. Not too bad, Granger.

Sighing, she chucked off her stained robes and performed a thorough cleaning charm on them. Her new robe! Filthy ghost! In quick succession, she threw off her cardigan, blouse and tie and stepped awkwardly out of her pleated skirt. She shot Granger a guarded look. The Gryffindor was still fiddling with the wrist buttons of her blouse on the other side of the pool, and blushed faintly when she noticed Millicent watching.

Dark amusement bubbled up in her, and she allowed her lips to curl into a nasty grin while throwing her bra on top of the pile of clothing. Granger made a point of looking away, which was slightly insulting. Millicent's chest had turned into the sole impressive part of her body during the last year - well, Crabbe and Goyle at least had stated so with candid admiration. She had even noticed Malfoy ogling once or twice, which had led to sharp words with Pansy in the Slytherin girls' dorm. Until Millicent had pointed out that Pansy had been looking, too. That had shut her up.

"You know, Granger, for the girl with the worst reputation in Hogwarts since Florence the Floozy, you blush an awful lot," Millicent called over to her.

Granger's face screwed up in anger, which really was a terrifying sight when combined with her tangled, Medusa-like hair.

"How dare you!" she shrieked. "Five points from Slytherin!"

"Merlin, Granger, you'll end up like that scrawny Weasley prefect! Are you going to take to haunting the dungeons next, taking points off Slytherins who walk in on you snogging one of your countless boyfriends?"

"I don't have any boyfriends," Granger hissed, eyes blazing furiously. "The nerve you've got, to say that after you Slytherins were feeding nasty rumours to that Skeeter person!"

"Well, none of us Slytherins has sordid details about her love life plastered all over the wizarding press," Millicent replied smugly, but then but then curiosity got the better of her. "So... did Krum really take you to meet his family in Bulgaria? A Mudblood?"

"You're disgusting," Granger muttered, sounding both angry and hurt. Millicent smirked more broadly.

"So you're together now."

The other girl blew up.

"We're friends, Bulstrode, not that it's any of your business!"

Millicent tutted and shook her head.

"How pitifully Gryffindor! What use are men if you can't get some serious power or an influential marriage out of them? I mean, Krum might be tongue-tied and duck-footed, but at least he's famous and powerful enough to protect you, unlike poor, dumb Weasel." She stared at Granger through half-closed eyes. "Honestly, I'd have expected you to be enjoying yourself while you still can."

"What's that supposed to mean? You sound like bloody Malfoy!"

"Come, do you want me to spell it out for you?" Millicent asked incredulously. "You're Potter's friend, and a Mudblood. If the Dark Lord is really back, and Dumbledore's not just senile or too deep into Moody's hip flask, how long do you think you'll survive?"

"That's just-"

"Realistic, Granger," Millicent interrupted calmly. "Not that I care either way, of course, but perhaps you should let your hair down a little. And I don't mean that literally!"

"Like Florence the Floozy, you mean?"

Millicent had to grin inwardly at that - perhaps the Mudblood wouldn't have made such a bad Slytherin after all.

"Why, Bulstrode," Granger retorted, "are you letting your hair down? With whom? Crabbe and Goyle? Malfoy?"

"I'll have you know that unlike other Slytherins my crush on Malfoy burned itself out by second year," Millicent said haughtily. It was nothing but the complete truth, after all.

"Ugh!" Granger shuddered at the thought.

"As for Crabbe and Goyle," Millicent continued, unperturbed, "they're good company, don't get me wrong, but while I may be ugly, I'm not desperate. I'll settle for sharing my bed with my cat, or Pansy if all else fails."

"Ugh!" the Gryffindor repeated emphatically.

"What?" Millicent asked with a raised eyebrow. "Is that too experimental for a Gryffindor?"

"I didn't mean Pansy, I meant the cat," Granger mumbled.

"Huh? You have a problem with Cygnus? I thought you had a cat yourself!"

Granger flushed.

"Yes, but your cat... nevermind!"

"Please, spare me the explanation." Millicent shook her head. "I really don't want to be exposed to more Mudblood weirdness today." Noting Granger's angry glare and the way in which her hand started to close around her wand, she added, "And Granger?"

The Gryffindor shot her another very dirty look.


"I'd get in the water if I were you. Your hair is starting to discolour, and you'll end up looking like a skunk with its tail stuck in a Muggle eclecticity inlet."

Granger snorted, lips quirking upward despite her anger.

"Electricity outlet, Bulstrode."

"Whatever," Millicent replied without rancour and, shedding socks and knickers, stepped into the scented water. She winced slightly as the hot water stung the gash across her ribs. She had patched it up with 'If-It-Won't-Kill-You-It'll-Make-You-Better' healing paste, but it was still sore.

Granger, who had finally managed to shuck her uniform and was paddling at her side of the pool, noticed and her eyes widened at the sight.

"You're hurt! Was that Peeves? Shouldn't you go see Madam Pomfrey?"

Millicent waved her hand dismissively.

"Oh, that. No, we were practising Dark Curses over the holidays, and Pansy got lucky."

"What?" Granger's expression alternated between horror and disbelief.

Millicent rolled her eyes and let herself sink back into the water with a contented sigh.

"Really, Granger, you'd believe anything about Slytherin house, right? We were practising Quidditch at the Puceys, and I crashed in the Fighting Apidistra bush."

"Oh." Granger picked up a washcloth and set to work on a Mrs. Skower's spot on her hand. "I wasn't aware that you played Quidditch."

"I don't." Millicent grabbed one of her shampoo bottles and began washing her muddy hair. "But I'll try out for Beater this year."

Now why did you say that? She slapped herself mentally. Would you want the Gryffindors to know if you don't make it? Then again, Granger was about as interested in Quidditch as Narcissa Malfoy was in Muggles...

After thoroughly scrubbing her hair and the few spots the cleaning potion had left on her neck and hands, she leaned back and enjoyed watching Granger's protracted - and futile - struggle with the unmanageable mess of seaweed she called her hair. Finally, she took pity and paddled over.

"At this rate, we're not only going to miss the feast but breakfast and lunch as well," she growled. "Turn 'round."

A mistrustful stare from under narrowed lids.

"You expect me to trust you? You must be mental."

"No, Granger, I want to get a good grip on your neck so I can drown you in the bath, transfigure your corpse into a bottle of bath salts and so gain entry into the exclusive Brotherhood of Evil Slytherins."

The Gryffindor's lips actually twitched at that.

"Very funny, Bulstrode. But considering your propensity to violence..."

Millicent grinned.

"I beat you up once, Granger. We were twelve! And you could hardly have expected me to stand there and get hexed by the best charms student of the year. Slytherins are pragmatic."

"Slytherins are creepy gits!" Granger muttered, but turned obediently.

Millicent dunked the Gryffindor's head under the water’s surface just for propriety's sake before lathering shampoo through the mass of hair and working it into the spotty strands. It was a surprisingly nice feeling - like touching smooth, wet otter fur. Weird - she'd have expected it to be revolting to touch a Mudblood...

The other girl gradually relaxed under her massaging fingers, obviously encouraged by the lack of further hostilities. When Millicent was done, Granger was leaning back against the rim of the tub, eyes closed and with a peaceful look on her face. Wet tendrils clung to her flushed skin, and Millicent found the air of sheer vulnerability in her posture deeply unsettling. A Slytherin would never be so unguarded. Without thinking, acting completely on impulse, Millicent leaned forward to kiss her.

Granger's eyes flew open with a look of utter bewilderment, and started to fill with tears. The watery brown looked even more washed out like that, and a look at Granger's blotchy red face told Millicent that the Gryffindor was one of the people whom nature had not designed for blubbering in public. It gave her a horrible urge to kiss her again.

"Why did you do that?" the Gryffindor wailed.

Millicent paused, brows furrowed.

"No reason, really," she admitted. And then, impatiently, "Will you snap out of it, for Merlin's sake? I know I'm no beauty, but you could at least have the decency to yell at me, instead of bursting into tears!"

"I'm... no! I mean I didn't... it's not that. I just don't want to have to think about that, too!"

"You're babbling, Granger," Millicent stated, still more ruffled than she'd have liked to admit. Still, the Gryffindor's distress was palpable. She treaded water and decided to give her newfound diplomatic skills another go.

"Is it the Weasel, then, or just because things didn't work out with Krum?"

Granger shoved some strands of hair away from her face.

"It's Weasley, Bulstrode," she insisted sternly, then looked away. "I don't know, really.”

Millicent just shook her head.

"I'd never expected to hear the biggest Know-It-All this side of Tir-Nan-Og admit that there's something she doesn't know. Spill it, Granger. And no need to worry about embarrassment - you're talking to a girl who has only ever been courted by the Brute Squad. And I don't mean the head nasty, I mean the cronies. And make sure to take the term courted with a cauldron-load of salt.""

That provoked a small smile despite the barb. The Gryffindor looked down at her fingers and took a deep breath.

"It's not their fault, really. I like Victor. He's smart, and sweet, and quiet. But when it started getting the least bit serious, I ran like hell. And Ron... he's so intense it scares me sometimes. Maybe I'm too young. Maybe I'm not... never mind. And I-" she added so quietly that Millicent had strain her ears to hear, "I don't think I want to be the kind of woman Mrs. Weasley would want for a daughter-in-law."

Good for you! Millicent thought fiercely. She was quite surprised that the Gryffindor would spill all that to her, but then she didn't seem close to the other Gryffindor girls, and it wasn't the kind of thing you'd discuss with the Weasley sister, of all people.

She reached up to brush water from Granger's cheek, and the Gryffindor turned her head just a fraction, enough for her lips to ghost over Millicent's fingers. They stared at each other as if caught by a time-freezing spell and leaned in almost simultaneously. Millicent was almost sure that Granger had moved first, but Merlin, did it ever not matter!

It was a frightfully careful kiss, tasting of bath water and tears and grapefruit, with hands kept very determinedly above the neckline. When they broke apart, a pink flush crept all the way up into Granger's face from areas Millicent didn't dare to look at. The Gryffindor placed both hands against her shoulders and held her at distance.

"Enough of that," she pronounced firmly after a couple of deep, heaving breaths. "We definitely need more clothes!"

"Definitely!" Millicent agreed hoarsely. She reached for her wand at the rim of the pool and Accio!-ed some of the large fluffy towels. The mental images sparked by Granger's remark about a lack of clothing gave her a tingly feeling all over, one she was determined not to reveal to the other girl. Blushing might be all right for Gryffindors, but Slytherins were supposed to be made of sterner stuff.

They dried off and dressed quickly, back to back, and Millicent noticed that the portrait of Rowena Ravenclaw was grinning down at them rather suggestively. She glared, which only served to further amuse the painted woman.

"Don't worry, she won't gossip," Granger looked over her shoulder at the framed Hogwarts founder. "There are a few passages in 'Hogwarts, a History' implying that she wasn't too fond of men herself." She sniffed contemptuously. "Which probably isn't surprising if she had to listen to Slytherin whinging about Muggleborns and the Dark Arts all the time."

"Or Gryffindor waffling about chivalry and honour from morn 'til night," was Millicent's aloof response.

Granger drew herself up, tucking her red-golden tie under the collar of her blouse.

"If there are rumours from the dungeons about me getting seduced by a Slytherin, I'll hunt you down and show you exactly what I learned over the summer from one of Durmstrang's top students," she stated coolly.

"Oh, don't worry," Millicent replied with a dismissive gesture. "The last thing I need is for Slytherin house to find out I've been snogging Gryffindor's most infamous Mudblood naked in the prefect's bath."

Their eyes met in an almost-smile.

"Good luck with the Quidditch tryouts," Granger added before giving the password to the bathroom door, "Millicent."

"If I get in, I'll make sure your Potter will have Bludgers coming at him so hard he'll think he's been struck by lightning," Millicent replied cheerfully. "Granger."

"Dream on!" The Gryffindor grinned and ducked out of the exit. Millicent quickly followed, eager to make it to the welcome feast, and with fewer hard feelings towards Peeves than when they had entered the little bathroom.

Behind them, the portrait of Rowena Ravenclaw grinned broadly as she sank back into the grass, feet dangling in the painted lake. Perhaps there was hope for Godrics and Salazars houses yet.

~ ~ ~ finis ~ ~ ~

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