The Problem With A Tiger Is That
“Calvin, are you coming to breakfast?” asked Harry, halfway out of the dormitory.
The spiky-haired boy was sitting on the edge of the foot of his bed, staring hollow-eyed at his trunk on the floor in front of him.
“Where do we go when we die, Harry?”
Harry stepped back inside and raised an eyebrow at his friend. “This is purely hypothetical, right?”
“Do you think there’s an afterlife?” Calvin wet his lips.
“What are you talking about?”
“Is there a separate place for humans and animals, say, for instance, tigers?”
“…Okay, unless you want to finally tell me what this is about, I’m going to go to the Great Hall and eat.”
Calvin shifted his haunted gaze to Harry, who flinched a little as he met the boy’s eyes. “Have you ever forgotten someone’s birthday?”
“Uh, not someone that I wanted to do anything for, no.”
“Well, pretend you know what I’m talking about. Now pretend that person is a ferocious carnivore.” Calvin swallowed. “Now, pretend that instead of forgetting their birthday, you forgot that you locked them in your bedroom.”
“Are you sure this is still pretend?”
“For two and a half weeks.”
“You did what?”
“And while we’re pretending they were locked in a bedroom, let’s pretend that the bedroom is actually a pit, about six feet deep and oh, say three feet wide.”
Harry’s eyes were wide, and he was leaning away from Calvin even thought they were at opposite ends of the room. “What did you do, Calvin…”
Calvin reached out with a shaking hand and brushed the top of the trunk. “In such a situation, would it be better to release said being from said confinement? If release means the end of your life, is it better to leave the tiger in- I mean, the being, the person, inside?”
“I…I think I heard Ron owl me a telephone. I should go see what he wants. In the Great Hall. Bye.”
Calvin slipped down to the floor, crouching on his knees in front of the trunk. He reached out with both hands and grasped the sides, turning it so the back faced him. Taking a deep breath, he tried to steady himself. He grabbed the lid. Warning bells rang in his head like the time he’d pulled the fire alarm at school. A bead of sweat crawled down his back. Wind whistled through an open window somewhere, even though there were none in the room. His heart thumped an ancient tribal beat against his chest, heralding the imminent sacrifice. He opened the trunk.
“Oooawwwwhhhhhhh,” yawned Hobbes, stretching. He leaped up to grab the lip of the trunk, and pulled himself over. “Best nap ever.” His head turned, and he raised an eyebrow at Calvin. “Why are you…staring at me like that?”
“Staring? At you? Me? Like what? I’m not staring, am I? I’m not. I’m looking. Intensely. For good reason. I missed you. Yes,” Calvin said quickly, words running into each other.
Hobbes stretched again, flexing his claws, and Calvin whimpered. Hobbes smiled. “Yeah, I know you left me in there overnight. I’m not mad.”
“O-over-overnight, y-yes,” agreed Calvin hastily. “Th-that is exactly what happened. I left you in the trunk overnight, and forgot to let you out until this morning. The first morning at Hogwarts. That is a true thing that happened. I am so sorry!”
The tiger stopped mid-stretch to peer suspiciously at his best friend. “So, Calvin,” he said evenly.
“Yes, what, it wasn’t my fault what do you want?!” Calvin caught his breath. “I, yes, I mean, yes, what?”
“So how do you like it here?”
“Oh, that is a great question, I like that question very much, it is a question I would very much like to answer,” he answered, nodding enthusiastically. “Yes. I like it here.”
Hobbes leapt onto the bed, padding around in a tight circle before settling down with his head on his paws, eyes pointed at Calvin. “What kind of magic have you learned so far?”
“Magic! Yes, I have learned magic! I learned a spell, it is magical. Just magical. I will show you now, watch me, I will do it.” Calvin shakily pulled out his wand and said, “Accio dirty sock!” A lone sock jumped into the air, then dropped to the floor before it could get all the way to Calvin. “It is a work in progress, yes it is, I am working on it and progressing, mhmm.” He took a deep breath and sat down.
“You know, Calvin, I always thought that lying to one’s best friend is one of the worst possible things a person, or tiger, could do,” Hobbes said, eyes narrowing.
“L-lying? What ever g-gave you, that idea?” Calvin scooted backwards, bumping into the next bed over.
“If this was the first morning of Hogwarts, you wouldn’t have learned any spells yet,” Hobbes growled.
Calvin gave a strained smile. “Hehe.”
“How long. Was I in. That trunk.”
“…Two? And a half?”
Hobbes barred his teeth and leaned over the edge of the bed. “Two and a half days?”
“Um, if days were seven times longer than they actually are…then yes?” The tiger’s eyes narrowed to slits. A tumbleweed blew in from nowhere and rolled between them. “Listen, bud, pal, partner, I di-AH MY POOR DEFENSELESS LEG-FLESH!”
When Calvin limped into the Hospital Wing, scratched, bruised, and battered, the first thing Madam Pomfrey said to him was, “But there are no flying lessons today!”
Calvin mumbled something about a train wreck and a tiger.
“Excuse me, young man? What on Earth could have happened to you this early in the morning? Where were you?”
She squinted at him sternly. “Did you get into a fight with one of your housemates? I know how Gryffindors can be, but this is beyond even…”
He shook his head. “There were some complications with-”
“Yes, with what?”
Calvin bit his bottom lip. “With my trunk.”
The medi-witch looked at him blankly. “Your trunk,” she repeated.
Calvin nodded a few times in quick succession. “It was amazing, really! I was trying to get something from one of the magical compartments, when suddenly a horde of goblins burst into the dormitory and demanded that I hand over all of my belongings! I had to think quickly, and I came up with a clever plan to trap them inside, but not before two of them-”
“Never mind,” Madam Pomfrey interrupted, shaking her head and ushering him onto the nearest bed. “I’ve decided I no longer want to know how these things happen.” She checked him over and performed a few standard healing charms, then went to get a potion for the excessive bruising.
“I won’t have to stay here tonight, will I?” he asked after finishing the repulsive liquid. He shuddered and scraped his tongue against his teeth.
“No, as it is not yet noon, and you haven’t even been here for an hour yet, you may leave as soon as I see some of the swelling go down.”
Twenty minutes later, he was given permission to leave.
“So it was Hobbes you were so worried about?” asked Hermione dubiously, sitting at the table and finishing up the rest of her homework that wasn’t due until Wednesday.
“Worried? I was terrified! And rightfully so – if not for Madam Pomfrey there’d be scarring for sure.” Calvin sunk lower in his armchair. “I still can’t believe I forgot about him. I’m a horrible friend.”
“I’m going to agree with you their, mate,” said Ron from where he was taking Harry apart at chess. “Who forgets their friend in a trunk for two weeks?”
“Ron! Don’t say that, Calvin feels bad enough already,” Hermione scolded him.
“It was two and a half weeks,” mumbled Calvin, sinking even lower.
“So what kind of cat is he, anyway?” asked Harry.
“He’s not a cat, he’s a tiger!”
“Mate, I know you call him a tiger, but what is he? Kneazle? Wildcat mix?”
“More like a mix of terror, sarcasm, and claws sharper than the blades of a samurai.”
“Let’s just go see him,” Ron said, getting to his feet.
“NO!” Calvin rushed over and pushed Ron back into a sitting position. “I will not let you get yourself mauled. Wait until tonight.”
“I have to wait until tonight to go into the dormitory just because you’re afraid of your own cat?”
Calvin leaned in front of him and stared him in the eyes. “Trust me. You do not want. To go inside. Right now.”
“…Right, fine. Whetever. But you’ll show him to us tonight, yes?” Ron returned to concentrating on the chessboard.
“I too would like to meet ‘Hobbes’ tonight,” Hermione said with a dry smile.
“Hey, I heard those quotation marks!” shouted Calvin, pointing at her. “You don’t believe me, do you. You’ll see.”
“I’d like to see him too. Any ca- pet that can rough you up like you said, when falling off a broom at high speeds hasn’t even scratched you, is bound to be interesting,” said Harry, losing his second knight to Ron’s bishop.
At lunch a few hours later, an older Gryffindor walked up to them, smiling widely.
“Harry! I managed to book the pitch before the Slytherins today, so we’re heading out after dinner. It still doesn’t get dark till late – we’ll have a few hours.”
“Great, I can’t wait! See you there, Wood.” Harry turned to his friends as the Gryffindor walked away, almost skipping. “That’s Oliver Wood – he’s the Quidditch captain, and the team keeper.”
“D’you mind if I come watch your practice?” Ron said, swallowing a large bite of kidney steak.
“Sure,” answered Harry. “Just don’t distract me, I don’t want to make a fool of myself in front of the rest of the team.”
Ron took a large swig of pumpkin juice. “Mate, from what Fred and George told me Wood said about your flying, everybody’s going to be impressed.”
“Fantastic. Now I have to live up to the expectations Wood’s planted in everyone’s head.”
“Cheer up, Harry,” said Ron, elbowing him lightly. “You get to play Quidditch, at least. I’d kill – Malfoy, specifically – just for a chance to be on the team.”
“You can help me and Dean announce the first game, if you want,” offered Calvin, pouring some gravy into the mashed potato moat he’d molded around his ground beef fortress.
“We can all focus on narrating different parts, so we can cover everything!” Dean agreed, placing a gravy boat into the gravy moat and giving it a little push. Calvin took out his wand and pointed it at the gravy, using a charm the twins had shown him to keep it moving, essentially turning the moat into a lazy river.
As the gravy boat came around again, Ron leaned forward and dropped a forkful of kidney steak into it. “I guess that would be kinda cool.”
“Infiltration!” yelled Calvin, clambering onto the table and reaching into the middle of the fortress.
“Stop the invader!” shouted Dean, carving a hole in the side of it. Calvin threw a meatball down into the fortress, and a moment later it shot out the side, blasting the gravy boat out of the moat, and soaking Ron.
“Really?” complained Ron, dabbing uselessly at his robes with a napkin. “How did you even do that?”
Calvin smiled and said, “A combination of chicken sinew, forks, and good ol’ American ingenuity.” Dean coughed pointedly. “And magic. The twins showed us a spell that creates this sort of field that accelerates objects to one and a half times their current velocity when they enter the field. A bit of tweaking can allow for control of the direction they’re launched in, without even losing any speed. Dean’s the one who cast the field, I’m no to good at it – mine usually just catches the object and then starts spinning it, if it doesn’t drop it first.”
“You’re mad,” replied Ron. “And crazy, too. And insane, utterly insane, with a massive helping of loony thrown in there.”
“I don’t know,” Calvin said. “If I could pick one word to describe myself, it would probably be…”
“Malfoy and co. alert,” Harry whispered to them.
“No, I was thinking more along the line of fl-”
“Hello, Gryffindorks,” the blond-haired Slytherin sneered. Crabbe and Goyle loomed at his sides.
“It’s Mo!” Calvin blanched. “Ohhhh wait no, no, that’s what’s his name. Crabbe. Yeah.”
Draco’s eyes passed right over Calvin as if he wasn’t there. “I just wanted to wish you luck on your first Quidditch practice, Potter.” He glared at Harry. “Break a leg.” Then he pivoted and started back to his table.
The blond girl with the squashed face who followed him around everywhere, also hilariously known as Pansy, gave them a nasty grin, then turned and headed after Draco.
“What was that all about?” Harry turned to Calvin. “Any clue?”
“I guess he just wanted to wish you luck? Break a leg means do well or something, right?” said Calvin, shrugging.
“The way he said it it sounded more like ‘break your neck,'” provided Ron.
“I’m sure Harry’s glad to hear that,” said Hermione, standing up. She turned to Harry. “I’ll be at your practice, but right now I’m going to the library for some…research. You guys are welcome to join me.”
“Oo, pick me, pick me!” Calvin exclaimed, jumping out of his seat and running after Hermione.
“Since when does he do research?” asked Ron, squeezing some gravy out of his robes and onto his plate, before dipping his steak in it.
“Okay, even I think that’s gross,” Harry commented, getting up.
“Wha’,” grunted Ron around a mouthful of gravied steak. “I’ sti’ goo’.”
“So I went through every book in the library, just about, and I still haven’t found anything mentioning the Philosopher’s Stone,” Hermione said, sitting down at a table. “So now you can stop asking about it.”
“You looked through every book in the library?” asked Calvin, eyebrow raised.
“Every book that was likely to mention a powerful magical object, yes.”
“Did you look in the back section? You know, where it’s really dimly lit – it’s practically a rule that dimly lit places are magical and mysterious.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “No, I did not go into the restricted section.”
“Well why not?”
“Because it’s restricted.”
“Well, so is the third-floor corridor,” countered Calvin, folding his arms.
“Yes, and you shouldn’t have gone there!” She inclined her head at him suspiciously. “You haven’t gone back, have you?”
Calvin scowled. “Filch is patrolling it nonstop – it’s like he’s always there, though he can’t be, because I’ve seen him around the halls all the way on the opposite side of the castle.”
“Well, anyway, now that you’re here you may as well finish up your homework. I’m going to do mine here too.”
“It’s not due for another three days! And besides, I didn’t bring-” He cut off as Hermione took two pieces of parchment from her bag and placed them on the table in front of her. “This is last week’s stuff!” Calvin groaned. “Why me?” he said, looking beyond the ceiling.
“Because you’re further behind on your work than either Harry or Ron, and your grades in both Potions and History of Magic are unbelievable.”
“I bet you thought magic was unbelievable before you got your letter.”
She got out a quill and pushed it towards him. “Now, a one foot essay on the second goblin wars. Go.”
“What goblin wars?”
“The ones you would have learned about if you were in class all of last week,” she said sternly. “Looks like you’ll just have to read about it. That’s right,” she continued when Calvin’s expression turned haunted. “Research.”
Then he shrugged and sat down, picking up the quill. “Or I can just make it up. I doubt he reads them all anyways.”
“You cannot make up history, Calvin!”
“I can if it’s more exciting than what actually happened. Hey, do you think the goblins ever used giant slingshots to fling themselves behind enemy lines?”
Hermione put her head in her hands and sighed. Calvin could hear a muffled, “Why me?” from her before he shut everything out to concentrate on the tactics that the goblins should have used for defeating the opposing army of giant scorpions.
Tunneling beneath them to create pit-traps? Ambushing them and drowning them in a valley? Enlisting the help of visiting alien dignitaries? So many possibilities, so little space…
“Wooo!” yelled Ron, watching Harry fly through some of the maneuvers Wood had the entire team doing.
“What’s this?” said one of the twins in mock surprise, gliding over to the stands.
He was quickly joined by the other. “Is Ickle Ronniekins here to cheer on his brothers in an astonishing show of family support?”
Ron scowled darkly.
Fred – please, let’s just assume he’s Fred – glanced behind him and brought a hand to his mouth. “Brother-mine, methinks that other-brother is here only to cheer for the famous Boy Who Lived!”
“Gasp! How it hurts us!”
“So deep in our hearts!”
“That we are disregarded so-”
“-in favor of someone not related to us!”
“Yet! At the same time, the warmth that-”
“Enough with the Shakespeare in the Pitch,” Hermione interjected.
“YOU GUYS GET BACK HERE,” screamed Wood from out in the middle of the Quidditch pitch.
The twins chuckled and barrel rolled away, coming up on either side of Wood and proceeding to start serenading him.
After half an hour of watching them practice, Calvin spoke up. “So you’re both telling me you’d rather watch Quidditch than Calvinball?”
“No, actually,” said Hermione at the same time Ron turned to him and said, “Of course.”
“I mean,” continued Ron, “Calvinball is great fun, but I can’t imagine watching other people play it.”
“I think it would be a lot more interesting than watching people play Quidditch,” Calvin responded, gesturing out at the pitch. The chasers were throwing the quaffle back and forth while weaving and diving.
Ron nodded. “It might be. I didn’t mean that it would be boring – I really just can’t imagine watching other people playing it, my head actually won’t let me imagine it.” He stood up, peering down to the end of the pitch. “Hey, is that the Slytherin team? What’re they doing here?”
The other team rose up into the air until they were level with the Gryffindor flyers.
“You can’t be here, Flint,” Wood shouted at the long-limbed Slytherin captain. “We booked the pitch until nightfall.”
“We just wanted to come welcome the new Seeker to the game,” Flint replied, grinning with a mouthful of crooked teeth.
“Sheesh, do wizards not know what dentists are?” said Calvin.
“What’s a dentist?” asked Ron.
“My parents are dentists,” Hermione told him. “They work on people’s teeth.”
“Great, now you’ve welcomed him. Get going,” said Wood evenly.
“I would, except it seems we’ve lost some of our equipment. Whoops,” said Flint, looking down. An open trunk lay on the sandy floor of the pitch. It was empty.
“You let out the bludgers!?” cried Wood angrily. “Are you mad!? We don’t have any beaters bats up here! Everyone down!” he yelled to the Gryffindor team, descending quickly. He veered hastily to the right as a dark brown ball shot up through the space he had previously occupied.
Harry flew over to the opposite side of the pitch, hovering right in front of the stands.
“We’ll do our best to protect you,” smirked Flint, drawing an arm-length, gnarled club from inside his robes. A bludger came at him from the left, and he swung, knocking it away with a crack.
One of the Gryffindor chasers yelped as the bludger glanced off her side, almost knocking her from her broom.
“Angelina!” yelled one of the twins. Fred. Definitely Fred.
“My apologies,” Flint said blandly.
“You’re dead, Flint!” said the other twin. Totally George.
“Next time there’s an unidentified meat for lunch, it’s going to be you!”
“In many pieces, if you catch our drift!”
They shot up into the air from where they’d been about to touch down, heading for the Slytherin captain. Flint dropped like a rock, then swerved to the left as the twins followed. The rest of the Slytherin team had pulled out bats of their own, and were redirecting the crazed bludgers towards the Gryffindors while simultaneously apologizing for their aim and grinning wickedly.
“HARRY, WATCH OUT!” screamed Hermione.
Harry had just ducked to avoid a bludger when a cloaked figure stepped out from the shadows of the stands with a beaters bat and swung it hard, connecting with the bludger and launching it right back at Harry. If not for Hermione’s warning, it would have collided with his head for sure. As it was, the bludger slammed into his leg while he quickly brought his broom higher, twisting him around and making him cry out in pain. He dropped from his broom, landing in the stands a few feet below.
“That was Draco!” Calvin exclaimed, as the three of them hurried down to the pitch, so they could get to the side Harry was on. “That was the same cloak he wore to our meeting at the trophy room, I’m sure of it!”
“That slimy, cheating, arrogant, no-good, rotten, evil little-”
“Ron, shut up and concentrate on getting to Harry,” Hermione huffed as they ran across the field.
When they reached Harry, he was struggling to his feet, leaning heavily on one of the seats. Ron ducked under his shoulder to support him.
Calvin looked out at the people still out on the pitch. The twins had inexplicably, miraculously, wrestled both of the bludgers back into the trunk; next to the trunk sat a dazed Flint, trying to staunch the stream blood flowing from his nose. The other Slytherins were beating a hasty retreat, helped along by a raging Oliver Wood behind them.
“We have to get you to the Hospital Wing, Harry,” Hermione said frantically. Harry nodded, gritting his teeth.
Ron and Hermione accompanied him to Madam Pomfrey, while Calvin headed down to talk to the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
By the time he’d gotten down to the pitch, they were all in the locker room, collectively hating on the Slytherins.
“Wood, you have to let us get back at them!” the twins complained.
“That would make us no better than them,” Wood replied while grinding his teeth.
“I’m with the twins on this,” Angelina said, massaging her side. “Flint’s a bastard.”
The other two girls nodded in agreement. “Let us know if we can help,” one of them – Katie, Calvin had heard Wood call her – whispered to the twins.
“No!” yelled Wood. “We’ll get them back on the pitch. By murdering them with Quidditch. By beating their hides and making them look like fools.”
“Why can’t you go to the teachers about this?” Calvin piped up.
Wood scowled. One of the twi- Fred. It’s always just going to be Fred from now on. Fred snorted and said, “Snape was the one in charge of scheduling for practices today, he’s the one who we had to go to to book the pitch.”
“He’ll just deny we scheduled it for tonight,” George continued. “And that would mean we were intruding on their practice time. Which makes it completely plausible that they had the bludgers out for practice.”
“And would make us look like idiots for entering the pitch without bats.”
“Therefore any injuries sustained would be our own fault.”
“Thus, Snape is a greasy git.”
“Amen!” echoed everyone but Wood.
“Yes, he is,” their furious team captain agreed after everyone had quieted. “But there’s nothing we can do about that. We just have to train harder.” Everyone but Wood groaned. “Train longer.” Everyone but Wood groaned. “Train more often.” Everyone but Wood groaned. “We will do whatever it takes to show them that the Gryffindor Quidditch team cannot be messed with! Who’s with me!” Silence. “Well come on now – I said WHO’S WITH ME!” Everyone but Wood groaned.
Later that night, Calvin and the twins sat in a huddle by the unlit fireplace in the common room.
“Calvin,” said one of the- said Fred solemnly. “Do you remember the idea you proposed during our first brainstorming session?”
“What? Who told you that! They’re lying, I didn’t propose to any- Oh. The idea. That I- ah, yes. Yes I do.” Calvin raised both eyebrows. “I remember you saying something about the integrity of Quidditch, too. And that it was too risky.”
George clenched his fists. “The wind has spoken to us, Destiny Boy.”
“It has asked us to throw something to it.”
“Do you know what the wind asked for?”
“Do you know what we were asked to throw to the wind?”
Calvin eyed them warily. “What?”
Both of them slammed their right fists into the open palms of their left hands and then cracked their knuckles. “Caution,” they snarled.
“Harry’s still in the Hospital Wing?” Calvin asked Ron on Monday morning, pulling on his robe.
“Yeah, the bone was pretty much shattered. He’ll be there for a few days at least.”
“Is he going to be able to play in the first Quidditch game?” said Dean
“Probably,” Ron answered, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“We should go visit him,” Neville said. “All together.”
“Neville!” exclaimed Calvin. “Where’ve you been? It’s been so long!”
“Umm, nowhere. Except when I was in the Hospital Wing with you.”
“Let’s go at lunch,” Seamus suggested.
“We’ll bring him food,” Ron added, heading out of the dormitory.
“Fine, don’t wait for me,” Calvin said as everyone walked out.
“I’m still here,” said Neville.
“Oh, Neville. I didn’t notice you there. I was kidding, you don’t have to wait for me.”
“Okay. See you in the Great Hall.”
Calvin bent over his trunk. “Air horn.” He grabbed the canister as it appeared. “Permanent marker. Paper.”
“What are you doing?” asked Hobbes, peeking out from beneath the covers.
“Making sure Harry has visitors even when we’re in class.”
“So he gets visitors even though he’s only been there for less than a day, hm?”
Calvin closed the trunk and turned around. “I’m sorry! I even sang all the verses of Tigers Are the Greatest! What more do you want?”
Hobbes shrugged. “A little remorse. Maybe some suffering. Perhaps you would like to spend two and a half weeks inside the trunk?”
“I have classes. That I sometimes go to. I can’t go in the trunk.”
“Sure, sure,” said Hobbes, tail waving lazily. “You go do your important magic stuff. I’ll just stay here,” he sighed. “Alone. Whiling away the hours.” He sighed again. “Alone.”
“It’s the same as when I was going to school!” argued Calvin, throwing up his hands.
“Oh yeah? I don’t seem to remember you locking me in your backpack for the first two and a half weeks of school!”
“I’m not feeling it,” said Hobbes, shaking his head.
“I’M REALLY SORRY!”
“I’M SOOOOOO SORRY!”
“I’ll get you a tuna sandwich if you forgive me.”
Hobbes narrowed his eyes. “Maybe I’ve been too harsh. Perhaps a tuna sandwich will…help me change my mind.”
“That’s not the deal, I said-”
“It’s the best you’re going to get,” the tiger said through bared teeth.
“I’m being threatened by someone huddling beneath a pile of covers on my own bed,” Calvin commented wryly.
“There’ll be a pile of bones if I don’t get that sandwich.”
“Okay, okay! I’ll get you the sandwich. It better be worth it,” mumbled Calvin, grabbing his things and exiting the dormitory.
It took him almost an hour to go through the entire stack of papers he’d brought with him, and the marker he was using had started to dry out. He entered the Great Hall just as people began leaving. Pulling the small metal canister from his pocket, he held it up in the air and pressed down on the top.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE screeched the air horn. Everyone in the Great Hall who wasn’t bleeding out of their ears turned to stare at the source of the painful sound.
“ATTENTION EVERYONE WHO IS A GENUINELY NICE PERSON!” yelled Calvin, hands cupped around his mouth. He jumped onto the closest bench, and a few Hufflepuffs scooted out of the way as he then stepped onto the table. “MY FRIEND HARRY POTTER WAS INJURED ON SUNDAY NIGHT BY A JEALOUS, ANGRY, MISINFORMED, AND FRANKLY CONFUSED FIGURE IN A CLOAK. HARRY IS STILL IN THE HOSPITAL WING. IT WOULD BE AWESOME IF YOU WOULD GO PAY HIM A VISIT SOME TIME TODAY.” He looked around. A few groups of girls were already rushing out of the Great Hall, giggling. “AND NOW FOR THE WEATHER.” He turned to the Gryffindor table. “BACK TO YOU, GRED AND FORGE!”
“Yes, thank you!” the twins said, hopping up onto the table. “What a wonderful sentiment from our very own Boy of Destiny!”
Apparently they’d cast some sort of spell to make their voices louder without having to scream. Calvin resolved to ask them about it later.
“Early November, there is a one-hundred percent chance of the Slytherin Quidditch team having their behinds beaten handily by Gryffindor!”
“Look for a cold front of revenge, folks, because it’s sure to cause a storm!”
“Sorry to rain on your parade, Flint!”
“Watch out for tornadoes in the form of our brooms-”
“-Because they’ll definitely sweep you away!”
“That was terrible.”
“You’re telling me.”
“And now to Jee Lordan, for the morning’s music!”
“Take it away, Jee!”
Lee Jordan joined them on the table and mimed taking a mike from their hands as they descended. “It’s great to be here folks, really, just great. You know, the last time I was on a show like this, I remember the audience being a lot less accepting,” he said as he dodged a food projectile from the Slytherin table. “I’ll skip straight to the tunes, then,” he said, clearing his throat. “This one’s for our very own Harry Potter! Back me up, DJ Thomthom.”
Dean leaned over to Fred, who pointed his wand at the boy’s throat. Then he jumped up next to Lee Jordan and began to beatbox.
“I thought magic was only true in fairy tales!” sang Lee, and Calvin joined in as he ran up to the Gryffindor table.
“Meant for Cinderella, not for me!”
“It’s just special effects!”
Dean filled in the beat.
“That’s the way it seemed!”
“Realism tore apart my dreams…”
Silence covered the Great Hall.
“AND THEN I FOUND THIS PLACE!” bellowed Lee.
“BUM BUM BUM BUM!” sang Calvin, dancing now.
“Now I am a wizard!”
“BUM BUM BUM BUM!”
“Not a trace!”
“BUM BUM BUM BUM!”
“Of muggle in me!”
“BUM BUM BUM BUM!”
“I can flyyyyy!”
“I am a wizard, I can make lizards dance you see!”
The singers had to dodge a few more edible missiles from the Slytherin table, but there were no casualties. When the song ended, the entire Great Hall, sans the Slytherins, erupted in applause, with the Gryffindor table chanting for an encore.
From that meal on, it would become Hogwarts tradition to have a mock radio show during breakfast every Monday.
Harry got a seriously ridiculous amount of visitors that day, and every day after until he left the Hospital Wing. They tried showing up even after that, and Madam Pomfrey had to post a sign outside that said ‘Harry Potter is NOT here.’ The ‘NOT’ was removable, of course, in the event that he would end up in the Hospital wing again. The papers that Calvin had used a Sticking Charm to stick to the walls all around the school – which depicted arrows pointing toward the Hospital Wing and underneath was written, ‘The Boy Who Lived is still alive, but he was hit by a bludger; it doesn’t look good’ – survived in bulk for weeks, even with Filch actively seeking them out and tearing them down.
By the middle of October, only a few remained, but each time Filch found them, others appeared elsewhere around Hogwarts. They said different things, too, like ‘If it’s Thursday after three forty-five in the afternoon, go visit the Boy of Destiny in the Hospital Wing,’ and ‘If you have found and eaten from an unattended box of chocolates, make your way to the Hospital Wing as fast as humanly possible.’
Calvin and Harry, and sometimes Ron and Hermione, visited Hagrid every so often, to say hello, and also to try and get more information out of him. He didn’t know anything more about the Stone, however, though he did mention that Fluffy wasn’t the only thing guarding it. He told them offhandedly that a bunch of the teachers had done something to help with the security, each designed around their specialty.
The third-floor corridor itself seemed to be perpetually haunted by either Filch or Mrs. Norris, even with Filch often wandering the school trying to eradicate the Hospital Wing themed pamphlets. Neither Calvin and his friends nor the twins had any luck trying to get a peek at Fluffy. They enlisted Lee Jordan, Dean, and Seamus into their Fluffy Quest in the meantime, and once in a while one of them would sneak down to see if the corridor was, by some chance, unguarded. It never was.
Calvin resorted to using break times to practice spells that made him feel like a superhero, and was getting steadily better at the Summoning Charm. He told Harry and Ron that his goal was to be able to summon his clothes right onto the correct parts of his body without even leaving his bed in the morning. It would save him over twenty-three minutes a week, he assured them. Ron said he would stick to the old-fashioned way, and not risk being strangled or thrown across the room by his own pants. Calvin mourned the absence of the redhead’s spirit of innovation.
During a particularly boring weekend near the end of the month, Calvin found himself alone in the common room. Ron was watching Harry’s Quidditch practice, Fred and George were at said Quidditch practice, Hermione was in the library, and Dean and Seamus were in detention for – somehow – detonating a pitcher of pumpkin juice that had been, at the time, in the hands of a third-year Slytherin girl.
When asked why, and how, they had done this, their reply was, “Backwash. It’s disgusting, and she shouldn’t have been drinking from the pitcher in the first place.” When asked again to answer how they had made a the pitcher of harmless juice explode with enough force to embed pieces of the pitcher in a nearby wall, Seamus had repeated, quite certainly, “Backwash.”
He’d tried going to find Draco, who he took every opportunity to annoy incessantly by following him around repeating the sentence, “It wasn’t me I didn’t do it,” over and over again while Draco pretended like he wasn’t there, until the Slytherin boy would snap and have Crabbe and Goyle remove Calvin to the next hallway over. Today, however, Draco was not to be found. Which left him with nothing to do – making things zoom across the room into your hand wasn’t nearly as exciting when there was nobody to surprise with it. No quill to yank from someone’s grip. No book to pull magically from the hands of an unsuspecting Hermione. No card to snatch from the bottom of a carefully crafted house of cards, and watch it topple over as the builder’s face melted in despair.
“Hey, Calvin, do you know wh-”
“GAAAAHH!” Calvin toppled out of his chair. “Neville Eleanor Longbottom, what did I tell you about-” He paused. “Hey, wait, you’re here. Why aren’t you in detention or watching Quidditch practice or librarying or something?”
“Am I actually supposed to answer that?” replied Neville hesitantly.
Calvin shrugged. “I just thought I was the only one here.”
“Oh, well, I was actually going to ask you if you knew where Hermione was. She said she’d help me study for the astronomy test.”
“Library,” Calvin huffed. “Where d’you think.”
“Okay, thanks.” The round-faced boy climbed out of the portrait hole, tripping and almost slamming head first into the floor.
“Well this is boring. Why aren’t I doing anything. Today’s Saturday, I should have had something planned for- Oh. Oh righhhhht. Right. Right right. Hobbes.”
Calvin eased open the dormitory door to peek inside. And was instantly blasted out and down the stairs, tumbling in a chaotic tangle of bumps and bruises, intertwined with an ecstatic tiger.
“It’s SATURDAY!” cried Hobbes as they came to a rest at the bottom of the staircase. “That means no classes!”
“Oof. Head. Gravity. Stone. Not the greatest combination. Get off’a me, you sack of bricks.” Calvin stumbled to his feet, and almost instantly fell back down.
“Get a hold of yourself, Mr. Merry-go-round,” Hobbes said, leaping out of the way as Calvin’s body became once again parallel with the floor.
“You could’ve at least cushioned my fall,” Calvin told him angrily, sitting up.
“What, and risk permanent spinal injury from your thick skull? Not likely.”
Calvin rubbed the back of his head and winced. “Ouch. There’s a bump the size of a bowling ball on my head now, you psychotic feline. Thanks a bunch.”
“You’re very welcome,” replied Hobbes, sticking out his tongue. “Serves you right for locking me in your trunk for two and a half weeks.”
“Are you still bringing that up?”
“Two. And a half. Weeks.”
“Yeah, I know, I was there.”
“No you weren’t – that was the problem.”
“Yeesh, this really hurts.” Calvin hoisted himself up using the arm of the couch, and made his way unsteadily across the common room. “Excuse me while I try and take myself to the Hospital Wing without falling down any more stairs.”
Hobbes grunted. “That’s right, way to end the conversation when it’s not going your way. Now you’re just going to leave me here again. All alone. On a Saturday.”
“You know what, I’m not even going to cover for you this time,” Calvin said, wobbling over to the portrait hole. “You deserve the blame, and you’re going to get it. No stories about aggressive goblins this time, no siree.” He carefully put one foot over, then the other.
“You ratted on me three weeks ago, and last week too!”
“Yeah, but they didn’t believe me and I didn’t push it. This time, the truth is out. All of it.”
Hobbes raised an eyebrow. “Even the truth about the Noodle Incident?”
“THAT TRUTH IS SUBJECTIVE!” Calvin glared at his striped friend “If I’m not back in five minutes, the space-time continuum is malfunctioning and it would be extremely unsafe to try to utilize any time-traveling device or wormhole technology, at least until I return.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, Slinky.”
“See that you do.”
“Mr. Calvin, you have a concussion. I cannot simply simply stand by and allow such injuries to come to a student of this school!” Madam Pomfrey stood over him, hands on her hips, obligatory intimidating expression on her face. “You will tell me right now or I will contact your head of house: how did this happen?”
“Hobbes tackled me as I was entering the dormitory, and we fell down the stairs. I hit my head at the bottom. Maybe in the middle too. Probably at the top as well, now that I think about it.”
She looked at him suspiciously. “I don’t recall anyone named Hobbes in you dormitory.”
Calvin rolled his eyes. “Hobbes is a tiger.”
“Not this again – that excuse definitely won’t work a third time, so you’d better start talking the truth, young man.”
“I’m not kidding! Hobbes is my pet tiger and my best friend – he’s been with me since I was six! That first time I came in here – well, the first time that wasn’t because of flying lessons – was also his fault.” The spiky-haired boy gulped. “I’d left him in my trunk since right before the train ride here, and he was a little bit…miffed, when he found out.”
“Miffed? You were more purple than skin-colored, young man!” The medi-witch was looking quite angry now. “How did this tiger survive in a trunk for over two weeks, hmm? If you’re not telling me who did this because you’re afraid they’ll find out, you don’t need to worry about that, their head of house will take care of them.”
“It’s a magical trunk! The compartment he was in can support a full-grown man for an entire year! And I’m telling you who did this, it was Hobbes.” Calvin met her eyes and crossed his arms stubbornly. “It’s the truth.”
Madam Pomfrey sighed wearily and rubbed her eyes. “I’ll have to get Minerva to check into this.” She turned back to him, once again stern. “If I find out that you’ve been lying to me so that whoever did this can get away without any repercussions, you will have to find someone else to mend your numerous and sudden injuries.”
Calvin gave an exaggerated nod. “You got it.”
“All right, you’ll have to stay here overnight tonight, so I can keep an eye on you. Head trauma is serious, so don’t move around any more than is needed. If you need anything, just call me, I don’t want you getting up at all.”
He nodded again and she bustled off to the back of the room, frowning to herself.
Monday’s Defense Against the Dark Arts class was a lot more enjoyable than usual, as Professor Quirrel seemed to have almost complete control of his speech functions, and seemed far less indecisive as well. Because it was a double lesson with Ravenclaw, they were brought into a larger classroom by the turbaned Professor for a ‘practical lesson,’ and told to group off into twos.
Calvin ended up with Dean, and he saw Harry and Seamus pair off to their left. Hermione and Ron had both gotten paired with Ravenclaws.
“Today, we are g-going to learn the Disarming Charm. Yes, it is called a charm and thus you would expect it to be t-taught in Charms, but they seem willing to slap the word ‘charm’ onto any spell these d-days, regardless of whether or n-not it is actually a charm.” Professor Quirrel walked up and down the floor in front of them, rarely placing a foot backwards or turning around mid step.
“I want y-you to watch me as I demonstrate the w-wand m-motions, and then practice them yourselves.” He raised his wand in front him, making sure he was visible to the entire class, and performed the motion for the Disarming Charm, which Calvin still wasn’t sure whether or not was actually a charm. In fact, he wasn’t really sure what a charm was, or how it differed from any other type of spell.
Calvin tried the motion out himself, as Professor Quirrel strolled from one end of the room to the other, stopping every few feet to step in and correct someone’s movements. After a minute he returned to the front of the room to demonstrate the wand motions again, then resumed strolling.
“Very g-good, you all seem to have the wand m-motions down. Now, the incantation for this spell is as f-follows. Expelliarmus.” He said it again, slower, with an emphasis on each syllable. “Everyone g-got it?” Everyone nodded. “Mr. W-Weasley, what is the incantation for the D-Disarming Charm?”
“Tell me again, M-Mr. Weasley.”
“Correct. Ms. Patil, c-can you tell me the incantation f-for the Disarming Charm?” Professor Quirrel asked a Ravenclaw girl who Calvin was certain looked exactly like one of the first-years in Gryffindor.
“Expelliarmus,” the girl said, her expression bored.
“Exactly. Mr. Calvin, what is the incantation f-for the Disarming Ch-Charm, and w-why don’t you have a l-last name?”
“Expelliarmus and I used to have a last name but at recess this one time I was insisting that the swings were for everyone and the school bully punched me so hard he knocked it right out of me.” Calvin smiled brightly.
“Th-that is correct,” said Professor Quirrel. “And I’m t-terribly sorry to hear that.”
Calvin shrugged. “They’re overrated anyways. I feel less restrained without it, and I’ve got more room for dessert, too.”
“R-right then, moving on. If everybody is confident that they c-can both correctly pronounce the s-spell, and perform the motions? Fantastic. Face your p-partners, make sure there is some s-space around you, and at l-least ten f-feet between you. When everyone is r-ready to begin, please put y-your wand behind your back.”
There was a moment or two of shuffling, then silence as everybody situated their wand arms behind their backs.
“When I s-say a w-word that begins with the letter P, you m-may attempt to Disarm y-you opponent with the Disarming Charm only.” The entire room tensed. Professor Quirrel walked through the pairs, and said calmly, “Sacred.” He reached the opposite side of the room and turned around.
Calvin’s fingers tightened around his wand, and he focused on Deans own wand, ready to recite the spell at the drop of a hat, or a cat, or a bulldozer or anything else.
“C-carpet,” said Professor Quirrel. “Moonbeam. Peril.”
“EXPELLIARMUS!” yelled Calvin, and he would have drowned out anybody else except for the fact that it was over twenty anybody elses saying the same thing at the same time, and Dean had at least matched him for sheer volume. “Ow.”
Dean had let go of his wand, and it hit Calvin straight in the stomach. “Sorry, Calvin.”
“Why didn’t mine work?” Calvin asked, handing the wand back to his friend.
“I don’t think you did the motions at all.”
“Oh yeah. I was so focused on the incantation I totally forgot.”
“Back to y-your places,” Professor Quirrel told them. “Wands behind your b-backs when you’re r-ready and we’ll try it again.”
He paced along the edges of the room, hands clasped behind his back, head jerking to the left every so often. “Sacrosanct. R-rhinoceros.” He pivoted, walking the other way. “Bread. Hover. W-white. Filthy. Under, st-srong, ignorant, money, flapjack, pack rat-”
“EXPELLIARMUS!” yelled Calvin. Dean’s wand flew out of his hand and jabbed Calvin’s knuckle. “Ow. Stop doing that.”
“I didn’t throw it!”
Calvin’s eyes went wide. “You mean…I DID IT! WOOOOO, oh, sorry Dean, here’s your wand.”
“Stop gloating, you’ll be losing your wand next, you know,” Dean said with a smile.
Quirrel had them do it another dozen times, and Calvin and Dean ended up about even in their number of wins.
One of the Ravenclaws, an Anthony Goldstein, managed to lose his wand to his opponent only once the entire class, earning Ravenclaw House ten points. Hermione came in second place with a record of ten wins and two draws, where both her and her partner had been Disarmed. Ron reckoned that she should have gotten the same score as Anthony, given that she’d never actually lost at all.
The rest of the day’s classes went along as usual, with Calvin spending History of Magic in the common room, and Hermione getting mildly annoyed at him for doing so. She was slowly becoming accustomed to it, but brought it up every week or so when she realized that she should have more of a problem with him skipping class.
On Tuesday, they started learning a new spell in Charms, but were first required to write three paragraphs on creative uses for the spell in question. Calvin, for once, had a great time writing his paper, going above and beyond the requirement for ‘creative,’ and venturing well into the realm of ‘impossibly ludicrous.’
Professor Flitwick gave him extra points for writing five times more than the needed three paragraphs, but warned him that should he use nearly any of the ideas he had written, he would most likely find himself in detention.
At the end of Transfiguration class the next day, Professor McGonagall asked Calvin to stay behind.
“I was going to talk to you about this earlier in the week, but I was unusually busy.” She peered down at him from over her spectacles. “I was told by Madam Pomfrey that your…tiger, Hobbes, was responsible for many of your injuries these past months?” She ended it in a question, as though she didn’t want to act like there was even a chance that she might believe it.
“Yep, that’s what I told her,” nodded Calvin. “He’s pretty reckless, and he is a tiger.”
“I see,” responded the Scottish witch evenly. “Mr. Calvin, I know tomorrow is Halloween, but I must ask that you come to my office with this Hobbes, if that’s quite alright?” She raised an eyebrow, and Calvin knew that if it wasn’t quite alright he’d better have a grand explanation for why not.
“Sure, that’s fine. Can I come in costume? I don’t want to have to go all the way back to the dormitory after to get it, and then all the way down again, plus my costume is kinda unwieldy and I don’t know how it would hold up if I ran with it to save time, and I don’t even have it all put together yet so I need to do that tonight. Also I might not even wear that costume and just go with my first idea which would be a lot easier but maybe not as impressive. I should ask the twins for some help with the parts that-”
“Yes, Mr. Calvin,” interrupted Professor McGonagall. “You may come with your costume on. It will be only a short meeting, so please come by on your way to breakfast. Good luck with your costume.”
Relaxing in the common room later, Ron asked Calvin what he was going to dress up as. “I know it’s supposed to be something scary, but don’t go overboard, mate.”
“I’m going to as the scariest thing in the universe…” Calvin said, crouching low. “THE TRUTH.”
“That’s really deep, Calvin,” said Hermione approvingly.
Calvin tapped his chin. “Either that or a radioactive grizzly bear, I can’t decide.”
“Go as both,” Harry recommended. “The truth: that everyone, deep inside, has a bit of radioactive grizzly bear in them.”
“This Halloween…” Calvin declared, dropping his voice as low as it could go and narrowing his eyes. “Find out how much of you is you…and how much of you is really…” He jumped onto the nearest chair and growled, clawing at the air. “A RADIOACTIVE GRIZZLY BEAR!”
Ron moaned and put his head in his hands. “I already can’t wait for Halloween to be over.”
“Don’t be like that, Ron,” Harry said, grinning. “You just have to get in touch with your inner radioactive grizzly bear!”
“Starring: AN ACTUAL RADIOACTIVE GRIZZLY BEAR!” yelled Calvin, jumping onto Ron and knocking him over.
“AHH, GET OFF OF ME YOU RABID MANIAC!”
“You can’t run from the truth, Ron!”
“I don’t want to, I’m just trying to run from you!”
“That’s what I’m telling you, Ron… I AM the truth.”
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