Jo answered in the negative, and Anssi shrugged. “Hey, don’t worry about it. The way to defeat a boggart is to turn it into something funny, so if you don’t know what to expect, you can instead think of things that you will laugh at and prepare that way.” Of course, the form of the boggart might affect how easily you could turn it into something funny. His old fire ant phobia couldn’t logically take the shape of a circus elephant, for example, but he had turned the ants into rubber balls and sent them bouncing around the room without too much effort. “The spell might be too hard for you to get right on the first try, but even if you turn it into something slightly less scary, that will help.”
In his case, if the boggart did indeed turn into some physical manifestation of his unknown future, he guessed it would probably include his own body in some way. If so, his plan was to change its clothes into something that he would never wear, maybe a Disney-princess style gown. He was pretty sure that would cause some laughs from himself and anyone watching, whether out of genuine humour or just due to surprise seeing him in such an outfit; aside from his robes and the Head Student pin always on his chest, Anssi was a pretty casual dresser most days and rarely seen in men’s formal, let alone women’s.
Despite her offer to go first, Jo seemed hesitant, and he smiled at her reassuringly. “I can go first. The baby will be fine; it’s not real, so it can’t be traumatized, and boggarts don’t attack physically.” Now that he had said that out loud, though.... could the enchanted babies be emotionally traumatized? He knew that Professor Blair had charms on them to monitor physical well-being, but he hadn’t considered the possibility it might go beyond that. Huh. Glancing down at hen again, Anssi mouthed a silent spell. “I guess that can’t hurt,” he muttered to himself, head cocked as he watched a cloth unfold itself out of the air and wrap around the baby’s head like a little blindfold.
Stepping ahead of Jo, Anssi approached the ottoman and drew his wand - his wandless magic was pretty good, but he had never tried a wandless Riddikulus before, and didn’t want his first attempt to be in a room of beginner-level students and the first-year he was responsible for. As he took another step forwards, there was a shift in the air and a large box sprang up to block his path. Or not a box, it was… a coffin? He frowned, more confused than fearful as the lid creaked open, and took a couple wary steps closer until he could see inside.
It was Ruben.
For a moment, Anssi felt like he couldn’t breathe. His brother was lying there, pale skin stretched tight over his face, long blond hair pulled limply forward over his shoulders. He was dressed in a black suit, grey collar matching the coffin lining and silver inlay, and the sight of Ruben of all people in a suit was neither humorous nor surprising but so unexpected that it could be nothing but undeniably real. Ruben was dead. They had grown apart, and now he had lost his brother forever.
Then there was movement against his chest, and Anssi remembered the baby, the project, the classroom, and his grip on his wand tightened. “Riddikulus!”
Drawing inspiration from his previous idea, the black roses lining the coffin turned into giant sunflowers and the body that was not Ruben became dressed in an absurdly frilly pink ballgown. Anssi forced a laugh, more out of spite towards the creature than anything else, and took a step back to make room for Jo. “Go on,” he waved her over. “I’ll be right behind you.”