Chapter 23

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Raise Your Swords And Shield Charms

“…I was what?” The crimson bedspread beneath them seemed to stretch, growing vast and incomprehensible, taking up all of existence.

“Memory-charmed,” Hobbes repeated, still grooming himself between breaths. “Your memories were–”

“Charmed?” interrupted Calvin.

“Erased,” Hobbes finished. “Replaced.”

Calvin scowled. “Disgraced. I knew I was in an alternate reality–or something similar.”

“I have to tell you what actually happened–what you remember is what was artificially placed in your head.”

Calvin’s fist gripped the sheets, twisting them. “That’s some seriously powerful magic.” Then he gave a roguish smile. “Guess they didn’t count on you, huh, buddy?”

Hobbes smiled back. “Fortunately. So,” he said, licking flat one last patch of unruly fur. “Ready to hear what really happened?”

“Hit me.”

“Ow! I didn’t mean actually–”

“Shh, this is important,” said Hobbes, settling comfortably onto his haunches. “Listen carefully.”

As it turned out, Draco had shown up at The Game. Hobbes recounted the events, and as he spoke, Calvin remembered. He didn’t see it in his mind’s eye, like a story imagined–he remembered it. Crystal clear, as though it had happened only a few days before. Because it had.

What’s he doing here?” said Ron, grimacing. “The twins said they’d owled him an invitation as a joke, but I never thought he’d actually show up. Now what do we do?”

It’s too late to put him into The Game,” said Calvin. “He’ll have to wait for the next round.”

The Great Hall had just emptied of students, all those participating in The Game running off to their various starting points throughout the castle. The Ballyhoo Brigade (plus Hermione), having been the ones to help the twins organize it just that morning, were the only ones left, about to head out themselves.

What’s this?” exclaimed Fred, approaching from the front of the Hall, rolling over in his magical hamster ball.

George rolled up beside him, cradling what looked to be an actual hamster in its own hamster ball. The furry creature was staring suspiciously at Draco. “Has the Scion of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Killjoy come to join the fun?”

I don’t believe the Noble and Most Ancient House of Killjoy believes in ‘fun’, brother-mine. Nor do his two frowning symbiotes.”

It’s not Mo,” Seamus whispered reassuringly to Calvin, as Draco approached framed by Crabbe and Goyle.”

How can you suuuuure,” Calvin whispered back.

Well, Draco?” said Dean, stepping forward. “What do you want?”

Draco hesitated, biting his lower lip. “I’m…not sure.”

Ah, the troubles of adolescence,” sighed Fred, laying the back of a hand against his forehead. Then he pulled his hands behind his back and leaned forward, slowly rolling his hamster ball around the Slytherin trio. George joined him, and they both circled repeatedly, eyes peering sharply out.

Why are you really here, young Draco?” said George, stroking the hamster ball like it was the hamster itself.

Yeah, Draco, I thought you haaaaaated me,” Calvin said. “I thought you despiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiised us. I thought you looooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaathed our very existence. “I thought you abhoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo–“

I get it!” Draco seethed, teeth bared. “Okay! I know how I was! I was being as stupid as I thought you were.”

Ouch,” said Calvin, feigning a gunshot to the heart. “Is this how the Noble and Most Ancient House of Killjoy apologizes?”

Why are you apologizing?” Hermione cut in. “If that is indeed what you are doing. I’ve yet to hear an actual apology.”

Draco’s eyes flicked to the large fireplace behind them for a moment, his eyes almost distant. “I…I learned something, yesterday. I came here to talk to you, but you everything was chaos, snowballs flying everywhere, silver platters being–” He stopped, bit his bottom lip again, and took a deep breath, not quite meeting any of their eyes. “My father…”

Is a horrible man,” said Hermione, eyes hard. “But that doesn’t excuse any of your behavior. If you’re going to apologize, you have to take responsibility for the things you did and the way you acted.”

Sheesh, Hermione, ease up on the parent-talk a little, will you?” said Calvin.

No, she’s right.”

They all turned to Draco in surprise.

The blond Slytherin scowled. “What, you think I don’t know how to behave like a decent human being?”

The evidence is certainly against it, yeah,” said Harry, raising both eyebrows. Calvin resolved to teach him how to do one at a time.

I was acting on false information,” Draco said darkly.

Only because you refused to see the truth.”

I- yes. Yes, I may have been blinding myself. If I’d only- but that’s done, and I…I’m sorry.”

The eight Gryffindors stood silent, facing Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle. Facing Draco facing his mistakes, water in his eyes, brave as any Gryffindor. No one knew what to say, after that. What could be said, except for–

So how’d you find out you’re dad’s an evil git?”

“RONALD!” cried Hermione, aghast. Calvin had seen her about to respond, probably with something along the lines of ‘We accept your apology.’

What, it’s what everyone was thinking!” the redhead shot back, defensive.

I’d love to see your dictionary’s definition of ‘everyone,’ Ron. And come on, even I have more tact than that. That being said…” Calvin turned to Draco. “How did you find out the truth?”

My father is not an ‘evil git.'” Draco said vehemently. “He may be wrong about some things, but he’s a good man. Being wrong doesn’t make you evil.”

But being evil does,” said Ron. “So your dad’s evil.”

You’re really going to have to show me your personal dictionary one of these days, Ron,” said Calvin. “If we merge it with mine, we can have a dictionary that’s twice as large and makes half as much sense!”

What about these two,” said Harry, nodding at Crabbe and Goyle. “I haven’t heard a word out of them, and that definitely doesn’t count as an apology.”

They did what I told them to,” Draco said, gritting his teeth. “Anything they did is on me.”

Hermione shook her head. “‘I was just following orders’ is not in any way–“

He’s our friend.”

It took a few moments before they realized that Crabbe had been the one that said it.


We trust him,” Goyle added, face calm and controlled. “That is why we did what he said. But we, too, extend our apologies.”

Yeah,” said Crabbe. “We pretend to ‘pologize.”

That’s, umm…that’s good,” said Hermione, blinking.

What now?” said Calvin, checking his wrist. “It’s been at least a certain amount of time since The Game began, which amount I would actually know if I bothered wearing a watch.” He looked up, then around. “Hey, where’d Gred and Forge go?”

Ron scrunched his face, closed his eyes, and put his fingers to his temples. “Mmmmmmmmmmmm…”

Ron,” began Hermione. “Whatever are you–“

My twin-sensing powers tell me they’re probably off doing something like decorating Draco’s bedroom with ‘Welcome To The Family’ banners, or filling his trunks with sequins. Maybe both, if they’re feeling generous.”

“Wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute,” Calvin exclaimed, eyebrows drawn in. “Ron can think like a prankster!? He’s been holding out on me!”

“So you said,” replied Hobbes. “Now shush, let me finish.”

Calvin stared at him. “Wow. That’s pretty spot on, I bet.” Then he grabbed Ron by the shoulders. “Why didn’t you tell me you were awesome!?”

I’ve only lived with them my whole life,” said Ron dryly. “I just don’t usually like trying to think like them. Reckon it’ll make me go bonkers way faster than just being around them.”

But being bonkers is what it’s all about!”

Says you.”

Yes, says me!”

“Anyway,” Dean said, cutting off the coming tirade of ‘Yes, you,” and “Yes, me!”s before it began in earnest. “Are we going to join The Game, or what? I’ve waited too long to miss out now. Criceta Arma!” The Hamster Ball Charm sprang up around him like a quickly inflating balloon, perfectly spherical and slightly golden in color.

“Criceta Arma!” said Seamus, following Dean’s lead. “We’ll see you all on the battlefield.” The two of them saluted the rest of the Ballyhoo Brigade, then headed out of the Great Hall.

THEY SEE ME ROLLIN’,” yelled Dean as he turned into the hallway.

Ron turned to Calvin. “I don’t want to get left in the dust. Let’s go, we can figure out what to do about Draco afterwards.”

It’s impolite to talk about someone like they’re not present when they are, Ron,” said Hermione.

Hmmmmm,” Calvin said, mulling it over. “You’ll have to redeem yourself in the eyes of the group, it seems, beyond merely saying you’re sorry.”

I don’t–what could I do, to prove that I really mean it?” Draco seemed conflicted, like he was constantly trying not to snap at them. But he didn’t.

“I can’t believe Draco unbrainwashed himself,” Calvin mused, falling onto his back to stare at the ceiling. “I mean, I can, because I now remember him apologizing and everything. But still.”

“It doesn’t end there,” said Hobbes, paws kneading the bedspread, as he did when he was anxious.

“Right, I still don’t know how or why I was Memory-Charmed!”

“That part comes now.”

Calvin grinned, raising his wand. “Gentlemen,” he said, nodding to Harry and Ron. “You know what to do.” They followed suit, wands in hand.

This is not how one goes about–” Hermione was cut off by three screams of–

“Criceta Arma!” Hamster Shields ballooned into existence around the three baffled Slytherins, who were now stumbling about, trying to keep their balance.

Calvinbots!” shouted Calvin, heading for the doors. “Roll out!”

Oh fine,” Hermione muttered, casting her own Hamster Shield. “But after this is all over you’re all sitting down and letting me teach you how to apologize, and how to accept an apology, and then what to do after that.”


They rolled toward the giant doors of the Great Hall, Calvin trying–though not very hard–not to laugh at the Slytherin’s attempts at propelling their hamster balls.

He swiveled around in his as they neared the hallway.

Hey, guys, you think you could hurry it up a bit? My birthday’s going out of style.”

These blasted contraptions are not meant for wizards, Calvin,” said Draco, clearly frustrated that he was absolutely terrible at being a hamster.

Not with that attitude they aren’t,” Calvin answered. “Now let me see some hustle, soldier!”

It would be much easier to concentrate without your–“

He was interrupted by a furious crackle and flurry of sparks from the direction of the large fireplace at the opposite end of the room. They all turned to look, and Calvin saw the swish of a cloak and the shimmer of silver hair through the haze of greenish smoke that had spilled into the room.

What on Earth is–“

R-run,” stuttered Draco in barely more than a whisper, stumbling and pushing frantically at his Hamster Shield, rolling quickly into the hallway.

See, I knew you had it in you! Just keep–“

Run, Calvin!” He yelled it this time, terror warping his voice.

I think you mean ‘roll’. See, we’re clearly–“

A shimmering red bolt flew out of the smoke and scarred the gleaming marble floor behind them.

Draco bumped into him, knocking him forward. The rest of them were already ahead. “Shut up and RUN, DAMN YOU!”

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