Chapter 10

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Once Upon A Midnight Marathon

“Calvin, over here!” called Harry as Calvin entered the Great Hall the next morning. He went over to sit down, yawning. “Glad you’re back,” Harry smiled at him.

“And my front, too,” Calvin said, pouring himself some pumpkin juice. “Oh, Hermione, is there any chance that last night you…”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Your homework’s ready to be handed in, yes – though I had Ron do the actual writing, to make it more believable.”

“You said it was because we all had to help out!” Ron sputtered, spewing bits of food across the table. “My handwriting’s nowhere near as bad as Calvin’s!”

Calvin patted the redheaded boy on the back consolingly. “With time, Ron, yours too can be as unreadable as mine. It just takes dedicated practice.”

“Oh, Calvin, I found the ‘lockpicking’ spell you were talking about – it’s actually only for unlocking magically locked things. I’ll show it to you later, but it’s supposed to be fairly high-level. And you really should try to improve your penmanship,” Hermione said. “Both of you – it’s absolutely atrocious.”

“Never mind that,” Ron said, taking a large bite of his trademark sandwich and glancing over his shoulder. “Has anyone else noticed how Malfoy’s been staring at us ever since we sat down?”

“Very subtle, Ron,” Harry chuckled, spearing a clump of scrambled eggs with his fork.

“No, I noticed it too,” Hermione said thoughtfully – though, not being Ron, she didn’t instantly turn around to try and spot the blond-haired Slytherin.

Calvin – not being Ron but still being himself – surreptitiously looked over at the Slytherin table, and caught Draco’s eye a second before the other boy ducked his head. That’s strange, Calvin thought, noticing the way Draco moved and held himself. He seems…afraid of something.

“He’s probably wondering why you didn’t get expelled,” Ron gloated through a mouthful of hashbrowns, nudging Harry. “Wait till he hears you’re seeker!”

“Wood wants to keep it a secret, at least until the first match,” Harry said. “So don’t go around telling everybody you see.”

Just then the twins walked up to them, sticking their heads around either side of Harry’s.

“We heard you made the team as seeker!” the one on the left exclaimed.

“Wood told us!” said the other.

“Keep your voices down!” Harry said urgently, but it was too late; the rumour wave was already rippling out, as students who had overheard turned to whisper to their friends.

Watching the whispers quickly expand to include the other house tables, Calvin shifted in his seat until he had a better view of the Slytherins. Whisper followed whisper, nudging the next along like one of those office desk toys with the shiny silver balls hitting each other. Soon the news reached Draco. The boy peeked around, not even aware of Calvin’s gaze as his own settled on Harry for a moment.

There it was, I’m sure of it. That was a sigh of relief.

“Hey there, Destiny Boy-o,” one of the twins greeted, sliding into the seat beside him.

“We heard about your little show during flying lessons-”

“-and were wondering if you’d be interested in helping a friend of ours out with a little something.”

“You guys have friends? I thought you only had victims and accomplices,” Calvin said.

The two redheaded third-years held their hands to their heart and did their best to look offended.

“So harsh,” one complained.

“True, though. Anyway, an accomplice of ours, Lee Jordan, usually does the announcing for the Quidditch matches.”

“He’s brilliant at it, really. But sadly we’ve kidnapped him for one of our…projects.”

“So we had to promise him we’d find him a good replacement, at least for the first match.”

“And by good, we mean entertaining, of course.”

“Preferably someone who has never watched a game of Quidditch.”

Calvin raised an eyebrow. “Wouldn’t you want someone who has watched many Quidditch games?”

They shook their heads, grinning. “We want a refreshing view of the game.”

“Which can really only come from someone who has no idea what’s flying.”

“Pun totally intended.”

“So, how about it?” They leaned in hopefully.

“Sure, why not,” Calvin shrugged.

“Wonderful! Can’t wait to hear your commentary on the pitch.”

“Just try to make us look good.”

“Not that that should be difficult.” They headed off, discussing how fantastic they were at Quidditch.

“Anybody have any experience announcing sporting events?” Calvin asked his table.

“I’m your man!” yelled Dean, hopping up onto his seat and leaping across the table. He rushed over to Calvin.

“So, I’m sure it’s not that different from football,” Dean began. “Just focus on the player with the ball most of the time, narrating what he’s doing.”

“Got it,” replied Calvin, nodding. “But there are like four balls.”

“Oh. Well, I’ll help you out, if I’m allowed. We should be able to cover most of the exciting parts with two people announcing.” He smiled widely. “This is like a dream come true! I wonder who we’ll be playing in our first match. Ooh, I should make a banner! It’ll be a big lion’s head, roaring its superiority!”

“I’ll help! Let me know when you start on it.”

“Sure thing! I’ve got to go,” the tall boy said, peering over to where he’d been sitting previously. “It looks like Seamus has managed to ignite his pumpkin juice again.” He leapt back over to his side of the table.

He’s like Batman, without the whole ‘my parents were killed in front of me when I was a child and I smoke ten packs of cigarettes every day’ thing.

When they stood to leave the Great Hall, a certain Slytherin first-year walked hastily over to Calvin, who had arrived late to breakfast and so was still finishing up. Ron quickened his pace, pulling Harry out the doorway with him.

“I’d,” the Slytherin hesitated. “I’d like to talk with you,” he said through gritted teeth, eyes flicking up before returning to staring at the ground.

“Calvin, you’ll be late for Potions,” Hermione warned, eyeing Draco distrustfully.

“Why me?” Calvin asked the tense boy.

“I don’t think the others would really be open to conversation after…”

“After you stole Neville’s Remembrall and tried getting Harry expelled?” accused Hermione sharply.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about, Granger!” Draco shot back, eyes hard.

“Calvin…” Hermione pleaded with her eyes, nodding towards the exit.

He waved her off. “I’ll be fine – plus, I wonder what Snape will do when I walk into class late with his favorite Slytherin. I’ve gained too many points this week anyways.”

Draco looked at him in confusion, then shook his head. “No, I don’t mean right now. Meet me tonight, in the trophy room. Eleven o’clock, got it? Only you.” Calvin nodded, and the anxious boy headed back to his entourage at the Slytherin table.

“Calvin,” Hermione said to him as they walked to the dungeons. “You shouldn’t go wandering around after curfew – you could get caught! And then you’ll lose even more house points!”

“Here’s a thought,” Calvin said to her, holding up a finger. “Suppose I want something really badly, a certain item in a store, say. And suppose said item is expensive. I don’t currently have the funds to purchase this item, so I decide to work a few times a week to save up the money.”

Hermione was nodding along, though uncertain as to the point of this exercise.

“Now, after I’ve saved up enough, I go to the store and am about to buy the item, when my father arrives and tells me I shouldn’t waste my earnings on something like that.” He turned to the bushy-haired witch beside him. “Thoughts?”

“Well obviously you wouldn’t have the money if you hadn’t wanted the item in the first place – it was the sole incentive that caused you to decide to work.”

“And your conclusion is?”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “You should be allowed to buy whatever it is you were saving for – but this is different, Calvin!”

He shrugged. “I don’t see how. I only try to earn House points in other classes so I can blow them on annoying the confetti out of Snape. And it’s probably cathartic for the Terror of Reality to take points from me – it keeps him from going back to his apparent obsession with Harry, too.”

By then they’d arrived at the Potions classroom, and class began only a moment after they’d taken their seats.

At the end of a long explanation about the potion they’d be brewing that period, Snape paused.

“Are their any questions before I move on,” the Dread Herald asked blandly.

“Professor Snape, sir, I have a question,” said Calvin politely, raising his hand.

“One point from Gryffindor for talking out of turn,” replied the Potions master automatically. Then he squinted at the spiky-haired boy warily. “Yes, boy…?”

Calvin furrowed his brow and tilted his head to the side. “I was wondering, sir – what makes the red man red?”

“Another point off for not making any sense,” sneered Snape. “And now onto the potion – not you, boy, you still have yet to complete the first assignment.”

Calvin was told to copy down the complicated potion instruction that were back on the board, the same ones as last week. He sighed and began to write. I haven’t lost nearly enough points yet. Might as well come up with another bogus potion. He scribbled down some detailed steps on how to best steal cookies from a cookie jar.

Step 1: Who stole cookies from the cookie jar? It will be you.

He took his time explaining the preferred methods, the advanced methods, and even a few of his own creation that could only be done if one owned a hang glider, pom-poms, and an EMP device.

When he handed it in, Snape barely glanced at it before sighing and setting the parchment on fire with his wand. He said nothing as the parchment turned to ashes, merely collecting the vials of potion samples from the rest of the class.

“Alright,” Calvin told them as they headed out together. “Now comes the next part of the plan.”

“What plan?” asked Ron, looking slightly apprehensive.

“The plan to find out what was in vault seven-hundred-and-thirteen, of course! We’re going to see Hagrid again.”

“I didn’t get an invitation from him this morning,” interjected Harry. “Did you?”

“Oh he’ll be happy to see us – how many people do you think go down to his cabin to visit him?”

“I’ve got some studying to do,” Hermione said. “But do update me tonight if you find out anything more. See you guys at dinner,” she waved, turning into a hallway that – eventually – would lead to the Gryffindor common room.

Ron watched as she left. “I don’t think I’ll be coming either,” he told them in apology. “I’m going to go…study. Yeah, gonna go catch up on that studying, for those classes and subjects that we have. The studying of information about things, things that we have to know, for tests and quizzes and life in general. Studying, studying, studying, where would be without it. Would you look at the time, it’s already later than it used to be – I really must be going, got to do the studying thing, where I study…things. Just fascinating, the things that studying reveals about other things.” He hurried off.

“That was peculiar,” Calvin commented. “So, on to Hagrid’s!”

“Jus’ a second, hold your hippogriffs!” they heard from inside the cabin, Calvin having just knocked on the door to the beat of the American military wake-up call.

“Oh, hello, Harry, Calvin, come on in,” Hagrid waved them through the door. “I was jus’ putting on some tea, as a matter o’ fact.”

They sat there, sipping from mugs a quarter the size of Hagrid’s.

“So, Calvin, how’s the, uh, investigatin’ goin’.”

Calvin sighed dramatically. “Slowly, Hagrid, very slowly. It’s hard, working with such little information. It’s a shame I haven’t found out more – the Dark wizard who tried to steal it in the summer is bound to come back for a second round. If only you remembered the circumstances of the event in which you were cruelly tricked, we might be able to figure out the identity of the thief, and take further measures to ensure the safety of the,” he leaned in and cupped a hand around his mouth. “…artifact.”

The large, bearded man grunted noncommittally. “Tha’ sure is a shame, it is.”

“But it’s not your fault if you can’t seem to recall anything,” Calvin said, slumping low in his seat. “I do have an idea, though.”

“Yeah, wha’s that?”

“I think we should bring Harry on board. He’ll be a huge help, I’m sure,” Calvin told him.

“Ye’ haven’t told ‘im already?” Hagrid questioned, peering at Calvin from under his heavy brows.

“Oh, of course not – Dumbledore mentioned that he only trusted you enough to decide who else to tell about it, besides for himself. So it’s your choice.”

Hagrid practically beamed. “Yeah, well, I have proven myself to Dumbledore in the past, it’s true,” he said, smoothing out out his shirt. “All right, Harry, I might be tellin’ ye’, but only so ye’ can help Calvin here with the investigatin’. But there’d be no tellin’ anyone else, ye’ hear?”

Harry nodded seriously. “You got it, Hagrid, this is purely to help protect the package. It’s what Professor Dumbledore wants to do, and he trusts you to help get it done, right?”

“Ye’ got tha’ right. So,” he cleared his throat, glancing at Calvin.

“It’s yours to tell,” the spiky-haired boy said.

“Right. Harry, the thing I picked up during our trip to Gringotts was,” he licked his lips. “It’s called the Philosopher’s Stone. Now, I’m not sure exactly wha’ it does, but it’s extremely important, a very powerful magical object. Dumbledore’s real serious about keepin’ it safe – tha’s why he chose to bring it to Hogwarts, and asked me to borrow Fluffy ter help guard it.” Hagrid looked at Calvin. “You’ll know all about Fluffy of course, right?” He inclined his head at them, question hanging in the air.

Harry froze, then quickly glanced at Calvin, who had paused with a rock-cake halfway to his mouth.

“Yes, yes, of course I do,” Calvin covered, scoffing at the query.

Hagrid nodded and then saw the clock above their heads. “You lot should be headin’ back now, I’ve got to start on my patrol. Ye’ can tell Harry about it all when ye’ get back to the castle.”

“I will,” Calvin agreed, standing. I hope it’s not self-explanatory… “I have a question, though, Hagrid – why’d you name it Fluffy?”

“Oh, tha’s simple. Everyone assumes a giant three-headed dog-” Calvin choked on his tea “-is goin’ to be ferocious and mean. But if they hear his name’s Fluffy, they’ll know he’s really jus’ a sweet, lovin’ creature. I do hate it when animals are misunderstood.” The hairy man unhooked a gigantic lantern from its place on the wall, and opened the door. “I’ll see you guys next week, then?” he asked hopefully.

Harry gulped before saying, “Yeah, you bet, Hagrid.” They walked out into the night, glancing at each other and mouthing ‘giant three-headed dog!’

“Where in the world are they keeping a giant three-headed dog in a school?!” exclaimed Ron incredulously, when they told him about their meeting with Hagrid back in the common room. “One of the classrooms?”

Hermione looked at them sternly. “I can guess, but I can also guess that if you go looking for it, you’re going to get yourselves killed.”

“Wait, you know where it is?!” Harry asked her.

“I said I can guess, I don’t know for sure, and no I am not going to tell you. Now if you can stop yelling, I’d like to finish up this essay for History of Magic, as it is due on Monday.”

“I was never assigned an essay,” Calvin said curiously, peering over at her parchment.

She glared at him crossly. “You would have been if you decided to show up for class at all.”

Calvin shrugged helplessly. “I tried, really – but I don’t need to sit in a classroom to daydream, I can do it more comfortably here.”

Their first History of Magic Class, Hermione had spend ten minutes trying to convince Calvin to attend, and she had eventually succeeded. History of anything sounded way too much like old-school school to Calvin, and he told her he hadn’t come to Hogwarts only to learn about ‘that stuff’ again. Still, he’d gone along with them as they found seats in the lecture-hall oriented classroom, and waited for their teacher to show up.

Professor Binns, it turned out, was a ghost. Calvin got excited when he saw him float through the board at the front of the room and over to the teacher’s desk. Then Professor Binns had opened his mouth, and Calvin’s attention span had changed channels faster than a speeding toboggan over ice-slicked mud.

We join our hero on the distant planet Zcholla, where the vile Nequazm live in deep tunnels beneath the planet’s surface. A single, white star burns hot in the sky, sucking the will to live from any being ignorant enough to be caught under its harsh gaze. ‘Must…escape…’ gasps Spiff, crawling along the barren rock on his hands and knees, uniform tearing with each movement of his limbs. “Must…leave…before I am left…a husk of…my former self….’

Then Calvin had stood up, slid his History of Magic books back into his back, and walked out. Hermione gave him the evil eye as he passed her, but the professor didn’t seem to notice. And that was the last time Calvin had ever attended a History of Magic class.

Another odd teacher was Professor Quirrell. While walking into the classroom the first time, he’d stopped, turned, and started walking in the other direction – five times. Once he finally got to the front of the classroom, he’d greeted the students kindly, then scowled at them. His movements were always jerky, as if he couldn’t quite decide what he wanted to do. At least the material was interesting enough, if sometimes hard to understand through his constant stuttering.

Calvin remembered one such period when Professor Quirrell hadn’t even been able to complete his first sentence.

“Today we- we will- we’ll- we’ll be l-learning ab-ab-about a certain cr-cr-creature ca-called the- the bu-bu- the bu- the budda-bud-bud-bud- the bud-bud-buddabee-buddabee-buddabee-”

“That’s all, folks!” Calvin had yelled, throwing up his hands in exasperation.

They never did find out what the creature was called, as Professor Quirrell had then opted to just skip the introduction and get straight to the lesson itself, never again trying to say the name.

They’s started on the basic shield charm two days before, and it was one of the only actually useful spells Calvin felt they’d yet to hear about. After seeing the effects of the Hover Charm in Charms class, he’d thought he could use it to get himself things without having to move, but was disappointed to find out that it wasn’t really the equivalent of telekinesis.

So, as Hermione finished up her essay, and Ron goaded Harry into another game of wizarding chess, he flipped open a book he’d checked out from the library and got out his wand.

Accio Hermione’s essay,” he said, with the accompanying wand movements detailed on the page in front of him.

Hermione yelped as her parchment gave a little twitch, and her quill trailed across the surface, crossing through a few paragraphs. “Calvin! Honestly, if you’re going to practice spells, don’t do it on someone’s work!”

“Sorry,” he cringed.

“Especially not while they’re working on it. Inperium Zatus,” she declared, touching her wand to the parchment. The haphazard line of ink disappeared. She turned to Calvin. “Wait a minute, were you using Accio? That’s a fourth-year spell!”

“It’s the only one I found that let’s me summon things. It is called the Summoning Charm. Wonder if it works on demons…or would I need a blood pentagram for that?”

“Just stay away from my essay,” Hermione told him, eyes wide.

After dinner, Calvin attended an impromptu prank powwow held by the Weasley twins.

“We’ve gathered you here today-”

“-because we have nothing better to do. And we were bored.”

“Our current project won’t bear any fruit-”

“-or vegetables-”

“-for a while. Anyone have any ideas?”

Lee Jordan, sitting to Calvin’s left, leaned back and put his hand behind his head. “We could just put laxatives in the Slytherin’s water supply again.”

“We just did that the end of last year,” one of the twins said. Calvin decided he was Fred.

“I was thinking a prank involving a little more…panache. Something everyone will see,” said George.

Calvin wasn’t quite sure what was going on. They were all just sitting there, collaborating on ways to prank people. It was unreal. He didn’t think he’d ever felt so…at home. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so…at home, he thought.

“We could stage something,” he suggested.

“Like what?” asked Lee.

“A fight!” George exclaimed.

“We can’t use offensive spells in front of teachers, though.”

“And there are only four of us…”

“It could be like a flash mob,” Calvin said.

“What’s a flash mob?” asked Fred, intrigued.

“It’s where you get a bunch of people to enact some prearranged action – say, a dance – at a prearranged time, at a prearranged place.” He paused. “There’s lots of prearranging.”

The twins were looking thoughtful.

“You could be onto something, Destiny Boy,” George said with a grin.

“Something wondrous,” said Fred, a glimmer of an idea in his eyes. “Yes, this could do nicely.”

“Perhaps just the thing we’ve been looking for.” He turned to his brother, smiling mischievously. “This might take some time-”

“-but it’ll be worth it. Let’s go start on the preparations. Lee, coming? You too, Calvin.”

Calvin checked the clock above the fireplace. “Sure, I’ve got an hour or two before my mysterious meeting.”

They planned and discussed, discussed and planned, threw discuses and plants, and generally had a lot of crazy ideas.

“It’ll take some work to get everyone in their proper places,” George mused, looking at the Master Plant, a vine they’d charmed to branch out into words and pictures of what they were planning.

“I can call in some favors,” Lee told him.

“I’ll do whatever I can,” Calvin said.

“I don’t think anyone’s done this in the history of Hogwarts,” Fred said proudly.

“Or at least not in the capacity we’re trying for,” George added with a grin. “Though there’s no reason we can’t make a few galleons along the way.”

“Call it payment for the show.”

“A return on our investments.”

“And an investment in future returns.”

“The future returning our investments.”

“Investing our returns in the future.”

“Resting our ferns in the accoutrements,” Calvin agreed, nodding heartily.

“That’s not a bad tag-line,” noted George, rubbing his chin.

“I can see it now,” Fred said, eyes drifting up and to the left. “Trunk stickers, pins, t-shirts – The Hogwarts Ballyhoo Brigade: “Resting Our Ferns in the Accoutrements.”

“Since 1991.”

“We’ll write 1661, of course.”

“So when people ask about we can just say they’re upside-down.”

“And when they turn their heads and complain that the words are then upside-down-”

“-we tell them the shirt recalibrates gravity every time they turn their heads to read it.”

“Not that that’s a very good explanation.”

“But it will certainly confuse people.”

“And that’s the main goal, here.”

“The logo can be a sleeping fern growing out of an earmuff.”

“Or a golden monkey dancing on top of a fruit salad.”

“Holding a windmill over his head.”

“And screaming something insulting about politics.”

“So, anything at all about politics.”

“Or better yet, have the shirt charmed to scream insults at someone-”

“-whenever they turn their head upside-down!”

“Why aren’t you pitching in with anything, Calvin, we’d love to hear your ideas.”

“Right,” Calvin said, backing away. “I hate to leave so suddenly, but I have to go, um, meet some hair gel about a…souvenir place. You guys keep at it.” Then he turned and sprinted away as fast as his legs could carry him, only stopping once he was alone and far away, in an unfamiliar hallway, out of breath and most likely lost beyond all imagination.

“I’ve changed my mind,” he panted to the air. “I don’t want to be the strangest person everywhere I go.” He slid down along the wall, resting his against it. “Not if it means being weirder than those two. Whew, I am really out of shape.”

He looked around. “Hey! It’s this place!” To his left, a dead end. To his right, an upside-down view of the outside of Hogwarts seen through a window the size of a cereal box. “Do I just end up here whenever I’m not paying attention to where I’m going? In any event, I’d better find that false piece of wall and get to the meeting place – it was ten-thirty when I left, I think.”

Getting to his feet, he made his way toward the dead end, making sure to keep a hand in contact with the stone wall at all times. If I’d known I’d be back here, I would have memorized where that exit was. When he reached the dead end, he crossed to the other wall and started down the hallway again, this time in the direction of the confused window. He reached the window a minute or two later. Just my luck, the exit’s in the small piece of wall I’ve yet to check – ‘always the last place you look’ is right. And yet, while walking along the last section of wall, he did not find anything out of the ordinary about it. That is, it was definitely a regular, solid stone wall.

“Well that can’t be good.” He stood there for a good minute, thinking. “You’re not actually planning on eating me, are you, Hogwarts?” There was no answer. “Okay, just checking.” He looked around, biting his bottom lip. “Allllllllrighty then. How we gonna’ do this? You want to just spit me out, or what? Should I check the ceiling too? The floor? Hey, I actually should check the floor.” Calvin went to the middle of the hallway, width-wise, where he hadn’t yet walked because he’d been sticking close to the walls. “Okay, approaching the halfway point and still no exiting happening, that’s cool. Approaching two-thir-AHHHHH!”

“Ouch,” Calvin muttered, picking himself up from where he’d been deposited by the Malevolent Hallway of Unintentional Visits and the Shifting Exit. “Oh hey, the trophy room! Thanks for that,” he said, looking up at the Misunderstood Hallway of Sometimes Opportune Yet Unintentional Visits and the Shifting Exit.

He entered the trophy room, admiring all the shiny, shiny trophies and medals. They were just so shiny. So very shiny. He reached for one.

“Calvin!” hissed a voice from the hallway. Calvin stepped out, looking wistfully back at the almost tragically shiny trophies.

A small figure stood right outside the room, shrouded in a cloak far too big for whoever wore it, though it did do a good job of hiding the figure’s identity.

“Hi, Draco,” said Calvin, walking up to the hooded figure. He vaguely remembered someone telling him to never approach hooded figures, but knew that it didn’t apply here.

“Are you alone?” Draco hissed cautiously, drawing back his hood.

“All alone,” sighed Calvin dramatically, placing the back of his hand against his forehead. “With no one here besiiiiiiiiide me…”

“What?” hissed Draco, face screwing up in confusion.

“My problems have all gone, there’s no one here to DERIIIIIIII-”

“Shut up!” he hissed urgently. “No one followed you here, right?”

Calvin snorted. “The would have had a pretty hard time of it. Why are you hissing?”

“I’m not hissing!” hissed Draco. “Oh. That. Sorry.”

“What’s this all about, anyways?” asked Calvin. “And why’d you do that stealing-the-Remembrall-thing yesterday?”

Draco looked at him, then at the wall. “I didn’t have a choice,” he said uneasily.

“Uh, yes, I’m pretty sure you did.”

“You don’t understand.”

“I would if you explained it to me.”

The robed boy gritted his teeth and closed his eyes, leaning back against the wall. “The things I said in Madam Malkins…those were things I was supposed to say.”

“Supposed to say?”

“Just listen!” Draco let out a breath slowly, calming himself. “They were things I was told to say. Like reading off a script.”

“Why does someone tell you-”

“Shut up! Shut up for a second and let me talk!” he hissed, hands curling into fists.

“You’re hissing again,” Calvin commented.

“Agh!” Draco threw up his hands, large sleeves obscuring them completely. “This isn’t even worth it!” He turned away. “Forget all of this, I’m going to bed.”

Calvin got a bad feeling that started…well, somewhere in his spleen, actually. It soon made it’s way to his gut, though, and he stepped out in front of the blond Slytherin. “No, wait! Don’t go, really, I just…I have a hard time not talking over people. I’m working on it, but it’s still a problem.” Draco hesitated, then moved to brush past him. “Keep talking and I promise I’ll listen. I won’t interrupt you and I’ll listen to everything you say.” Draco stopped, his back to Calvin. If he walks away, something terrible is going to happen. I know it. “Draco, please.” He didn’t move. Not forwards, but not backwards either. “I’m sorry.” A moment ticked slowly past. And Draco Malfoy turned around.

“I am the Malfoy Heir,” he said mutely. His eyes were pointed in Calvin’s direction, but he wasn’t seeing him. He was looking directly at him, but what he was seeing was years removed from the current situation. “Anything I say or do reflects onto my family.” He swallowed, and blinked, and hesitated. “Onto my father.”

Calvin had questions – he always had questions, mountains of them – but he kept them to himself. To speak now would be to break a promise, and with it any chance he had of figuring out Draco Malfoy.

“When I go out in public, I am the avatar of the Malfoys. I am my father’s son, and I must act like it. I must speak like it. I must live like it. My first conversation with you began with reciting lines my father had drilled into me over the summer. The words I would say to anyone I met who was going to Hogwarts – what to say to others from Noble Houses; what to say to purebloods who had stood with Dumbledore in the war; what to say to mud-” he clamped his mouth shut. “To muggleborns.”

Then he looked at Calvin, actually looked at him, and saw him. “You weren’t anything like what my father told me about muggleborns. You shattered my illusions.” His gaze sharpened. “I hate you for that.”

Calvin didn’t say a word.

“But then you open your ridiculous mouth, and along with starting to worry about how contagious complete insanity is…” Draco looked away. “I start to worry about if what I know, if what I’ve been living my-”

Footsteps sounded, echoing from far off.

Draco whirled on Calvin, eyes narrowing. “You.”

The spiky-haired boy had a bewildered expression on his face. “Um, should we be running, or what?”

“Of course you wanted me to stay and talk,” Draco spat, looking up at the ceiling. “I must’ve been in the grasp of your idiocy to ever have believed it for a second – you just needed to buy time for someone you’d tipped off to come and find the Heir of the Noble and Ancient House of Malfoy out of bed after hours.” He glared at Calvin. “Father was right after all.”

“Draco, I have no ide-”

Shut up!” Draco seethed, shoving his face an inch from Calvin’s. “I was talking to you, I was telling you things. Things I have never told anyone! You worthless sack of filth, I was going to trust you!” he screamed at Calvin, shoving him back.

Tripping over an uneven part of the floor, Calvin put his hands out to catch himself, but he had forgotten the wall was behind him. He slid down it, falling, and his hand hit the stone floor when he wasn’t ready for it. He felt pain shoot through his wrist as it bent farther back than it should have been able too.

“Wait, Draco!” The Slytherin had drawn his hood back up and was hurrying away. “Draco, I didn’t tell anyone about the meeting!” Calvin yelled after him. The robed figure turned a corner and disappeared. “Popsicle sticks,” Calvin muttered angrily, pushing himself to his feet using his good hand.

The footsteps echoed again, a lot closer – whoever it was had definitely heard their voices once they’d started shouting.

“Someone out in the hallways, I know it, I hear you!” Filch’s hoarse voice skittered around the corner at the far end of the hall, and Calvin knew the man – and his infernal cat – wouldn’t be far behind. “You won’t get away from us, it’s a whipping for you, yes it is!” the man croaked excitedly.

He’s mad, and incredibly creepy, Calvin thought as he cradled his injured wrist and hurried after Draco. The bipolar Slytherin was nowhere to be seen, but Filch sounded like he was catching up, so Calvin broke into a run.

“You hear that, Mrs. Norris? There he is!”

How is that spindly hobo so fast!?

“We’re getting closer, yes we are, we’ll catch them yet!”

Calvin rocketed down the hallway, turning, turning again, he had no clue where he was going but it didn’t matter because he could hear Filch behind getting closer still and he turned another corner and pounded through corridor after corridor and into a classroom and out into another, and down a passageway so narrow he had to squeeze in his stomach to get through which was difficult since he was breathing so hard and then he was through and hurtling down a wide hallway and he could still hear Filch behind him and he slammed into a door at the end and he twisted the doorknob but it was locked he tried to get a breath while he wracked his brains searching for the spell Hermione had shown him just earlier that day oh what was it, it was something flowy, something airy, something like-

Alohamora,” Calvin wheezed, knocking his wand desperately against the doorknob.


He scrambled to turn the knob and yanked open the door, slipping inside and then hastily shutting it as quickly as possible without making any noise. He pressed his eye against the keyhole and tried to silence his own heavy breathing.

Filch was just entering the hallway, squinting around in the near-darkness and whispering to Mrs. Norris, who padded ahead of him, eyes glowing. “We know you’re here, we know you’re hiding,” Filch said maliciously, peaking into a classroom. It was the only classroom in the hall besides the one Calvin was in, yet when Filch failed to find anyone inside, he wandered out, scratching his head. “Maybe they took the shortcut around the connecting hallway,” he grumbled, shuffling off.

Calvin felt his heart shudder and sigh in relief as the caretaker left. Then he realized that he could still hear his heavy breathing, and had indeed been listening to it for the past minute-and-a-half. Despite having been holding his breath for much of that time.

The spiky-haired boy slowly turned around, and stared. Six eyes stared back. Calvin gulped. “You must be Fluffy,” he said weakly. “Hagrid’s told me so much about you – all good things, of course,” he chuckled hoarsely, flinching as one of the dog’s great black heads lowered to sniff at him.

He grabbed the doorknob and quickly made his escape before he became a midnight snack for the canine guard of the Greek underworld. No wonder Filch didn’t bother checking behind that door. Tiptoeing down the hallway, he realized that the classroom Filch had checked was a familiar one. They’re keeping Cerberus – not to mention the powerful and magical ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ – next to the Charms classroom!? Dumbledore’s nuts. Well, more nuts than I thought he was. The bad kind of nuts. Also the good kind – but now also the bad kind.

By the time he get back to Gryffindor Tower, he was bone-tired and could barely keep his eyes opened. He stumbled over a body in the hallway and toppled onto the floor, right in front of the Fat Lady’s portrait.

“Hlnns urk,” he mumbled.

“You’re going to have to do better than that,” the Fat Lady told him, crossing her arms.

Calvin gave her the only reply he was capable of. The sound of his unconscious body hitting the floor.

Next Chapter >

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