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Chapter 8 : Silly as it Sounds, I'm Happy to be Here
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"Please," he urged, dragging out the word. "We're running out of willing subjects."
"Do you realize how terribly unconvincing that is?" I asked laughing. "If a lot of second year boys won't eat that, then I'm definitely not coming anywhere near it."
"But I promised it won't make you sick. Would I lie to you?" Conviction was not something Fred Weasley lacked.
"Yes. I think you would. And I'm pretty sure you are now." I plucked the candy imposter from between his fingers. "And anyway, I should be confiscating this, so if I were you I would call it even and drop it all together."
"You won't," Fred challenged me. "You know I already have enough detentions and with all that studying I commit to, you don't want to lose any more precious time with me."
I snorted. "Fine, then I'll just be taking this." Slowly and dramatically, I began to move the candy toward my pocket on my side opposite to Fred.
"C'mon! That's a prototype!" He urged. He only seemed to be half joking.
I shrugged indifferently, and continued to move the candy, almost at my pocket now. Quickly, Fred lunged toward my hand, his body suddenly hovering mine and facing me. He kneeled over me, his legs on the outside of mine and simultaneously held both my hands on the ground with his own. Unfortunately for him, I'd managed to shove the small candy into my pocket just quickly enough. "Too slow," I taunted, though I knew I still didn't have the best vantage point.
"You don't think I could get that candy back if I wanted to?" He whispered at me. I wasn't sure if he was legitimately being competitive or if his intentions had shifted. "You're pretty small, Callaghan," he continued when I didn't respond. "You're about five foot, right?"
"I'm 5' 2"," I said defensively.
"Excuse me!" Came a shrill and upset voice. Umbridge. "Unless you wish to earn yourself another detention Mr. Weasley, I suggest you detach yourself. And Ms. Callaghan, I would've expected more. You are the company you keep you know." I felt myself blush, and not slightly, but a deep crimson red as my cheeks burned. Umbridge gave me a disapproving look before glancing once again at Fred, her nostrils flaring. Seemingly disgusted him but satisfied with herself, she turned on her heel, ready to torment some other innocent students.
Once she was out of ear shot Fred opened his mouth, clearly ready to have quite a bit of fun with the whole ordeal, but I cut him off before he had the chance to speak. "Shut it, Weasley. For some crazy reason she likes me. It's the most embarrassing thing in the world."
"Oh Ms. Callaghan," Fred began in a high voice, ignoring my groans of protest. "Another O! What lovely work! I do think you're following in my footsteps quite precisely. Maybe you can even move in with me and all of my cats!"
"I really hate you sometimes," I whined, somehow unable to keep from smiling. With Umbridge now out of sight completely, I scooted closer to Fred and leaned my head against his shoulder.
"Hmm, yeah, I'm really getting that, Callaghan," He laughed while wrapping his arm around my shoulders. "What are you going to be doing once I'm done practice?"
"Hall duty," I replied simply.
"So we might see you then?" He stated brightly.
"I really hope not. You know Umbridge already has it out for you. Do you really have to sneak around at night?" He did make me nervous, and I really didn't need to get roped into anything. Call me a square.
"Stop worrying, Callaghan," He stood up and offered a hand out to me. "I gotta go. Quidditch practice. Gonna root for me tomorrow?"
He pulled me up off the ground. "I'd root for anyone over the Slytherins, so I guess by default."
"I'll take it." He leaned in giving me a quick kiss, and then began to jog away.
The hall was quiet and empty. The flames of the lit torches flickered and danced, lighting the suits of armor that lined the corridor and casting strange distorted shadows on the walls and floor. Late night duties were the worst part of being a Prefect, especially when they placed you down in the dungeons all alone. It was dreadfully boring, and I was quite sure that if there was a place in the castle that something creepy was likely to attack me, it was down here. It made no real sense to place me here anyway, when one of the Hufflepuffs or Slytherins would have only had to come a short walk from their dormitory.
I had made the long descent from Ravenclaw tower a few hours ago, and as I checked my watched, I realized I only had about twenty minutes left to go. I slid down against the wall into a sitting position. I untied and retied my shoes a few times, desperate for something to entertain myself, before I heard footsteps around the corner.
Almost positive that no danger was present, I pulled out my wand anyway and tiptoed slowly to the corner. Surely it was just some student, out past curfew on the way back to their dormitory. As they came into view in the dimly lit hall though, I found no student. It was a professor, just about the worst professor possible.
"Good evening," Dolores Umbridge said so sweetly that I thought I might vomit.
"Evening, Professor," I faked a sweet voice in reply.
From here Umbridge began to interrogate me on how my duty had proceeded. She droned on and on, and my focus drifted in and out of the conversation. I was only vaguely aware of the answers my mouth seemed fully capable of producing. Had anyone been in the halls? No. Any funny noises? Not one. Any suspicions at all? Only that she may never stop talking.
"Alright Ms. Callaghan, you may go off to bed. I'm sure you're tired," She finally finished.
I nodded my head slowly, sticking my hands into the pockets of my robe. The dungeons were so cold and drafty that my fingers were starting to turn blue. I briefly wondered how some people actually lived down here when I felt something small, round and plastic. Fred's candy still lay there, forgotten by both of us.
"Well?" Umbridge said. Her eyes had narrowed slightly; clearly I was supposed to say something here.
"I'm sorry, Professor, I uh...just wanted to know if you'd like a piece of candy?" I produced the candy, holding it out in the palm of my hand.
"Oh, why yes! That's lovely, dear." She took it gratefully from my hand, and popped it into her mouth. Evidently, this was sufficient enough to distract her. "Well goodnight," She said now. "Off to bed with you."
She turned to leave, and I could hear her sucking on the little treat. Had I actually just given one of Fred and George Weasley's jokes to a professor? And not just any professor, but the toad herself? I had, and I was doomed for sure. I knew the next morning would be dramatically unpleasant, but there was nothing to be done for the time being. With a small sigh I began the long walk back up to Ravenclaw Tower, eager to snuggle into my bed.
A/N: Well, there's really no excuse for a filler-ish chapter after a two month drought, so I'm not even apologizing. I do promise though that this chapter was necessary to get me to where I want to be for the next one, which is already done in my head and just needs to be typed. Reviews would most likely facilitate such activities, not to mention fill my little heart with happiness. I'll shut it now.
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