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My Not-So-Imaginary Fiend by The Quiet Girl
Chapter 5 : V: Always an Interesting Halloween
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 7

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V: Always an Interesting Halloween

Happy Halloween! Happy Halloween, Happy Halloween, Happy Halloween!

I cracked open my eyes. Somehow I’d forgotten to close the curtains around my bed. This gave me the perfect opportunity to see Benjamin rushing around the room, calling ‘Happy Halloween’ to the occupant of each bed before moving onto the next one.

Happy Halloween, Sally-Anne!” Benjamin smiled broadly, waved, then dashed over to the next bed. “Happy Halloween, Parvati!

My roommate remained asleep.

In fact, Lavender also seemed to still be sleeping. “At least someone is already awake for Halloween. Happy Halloween, Hermione!

It took about five more visits from Benjamin for me to realize that I wasn’t going to be able to sleep in today, despite it being the weekend. I sat up and rubbed at my eyes with my palms, trying to get the gunk out of my eyes.

Hey, Hermione, look who finally decided to wake up!

I looked over to Benjamin. He sat on Hermione’s bed, leaning next to her and reading her Ancient Runes book over her shoulder.

Hermione, obviously, remained unaware of the company she kept. She must have been up for a while- she was already dressed for Hogsmeade.

“Morning, Hermione,” I called, yawning.

Happy Halloween!

“Happy Halloween,” I echoed a moment later. I felt reluctant to leave my warm, comfortable bed. I still felt a bit under the weather. Ever since retrieving my permission form two weeks ago, I’ve suffered through a mild but persistent cold. Benjamin told me to go to the Hospital Wing, but I didn’t want Madam Pomfrey to ask how I came to this. I couldn’t tell her that I went to Hogsmeade and the effects of the Dementors chilled me so much that I got sick over it. It would be even more pathetic if McGonagall found out and banned me from going to Hogsmeade for my stupidity.

Hermione looked up from her book. “Happy Halloween, Sally-Anne. Feeling better I hope?”

I nodded slightly. So far, so good. I didn’t get a headache from the small gesture. “Sore throat is gone. I’ll be able to make it to Hogsmeade, definitely.”

“That’s good.” Hermione then went back to reading.

Benjamin got off Hermione’s bed and approached me, his gleeful smile fading. “You sure you’re fit to go to Hogsmeade today?” He pressed the back of his hand to my forehead. “I can’t feel a fever anymore.” His hand moved down to my throat. “I can’t feel any inflammation either.” He leaned down to look at my face from below. “And it seems that your runny nose has stopped. Honestly, if you’d have just gone to Pomfrey for help, you wouldn’t have had to suffer through all these symptoms.

“Yes, I’m definitely feeling better,” I said, pretending that I was talking to myself for Hermione’s benefit. Okay, fine, I actually was talking to myself, but that’s beside the point. “But a warm shower wouldn’t-” I paused, looking at my trunk. Or rather, what was on top of it. “Hurt.” I gulped.

Crookshanks was sleeping on the top of my trunk. He, unlike Hermione, was not an early riser.

I looked up to Hermione. She was still studying. I wondered if she would take a book with her to Hogsmeade judging by the way she’s been glued to her book bag this year.

I then looked back to my two other friends, but they were still sleeping. I couldn’t ask them to move Crookshanks for me. Lavender especially had a problem with Hermione’s pet after what she said about Lavender’s.

Okay, so it was up to me.

Me, Sally-Anne, versus the cat Crookshanks.

This was just between the two of us.

Benjamin walked up to stand beside me, his arms crossed. “You know,” he said slowly, “no matter how much I love you, my imaginary money’s on the cat.

“That’s not helping,” I muttered.

Benjamin just shrugged a shoulder.

And Hermione didn’t seem to notice that not only was I not moving, but I was continuing my conversation with myself. Then again, that second part happens on nearly a daily basis.

So, what were my options? Let’s see, I could take my shower without my bath things. But then I wouldn’t have a towel to dry off with or clean clothes to wear. I could try moving the cat myself. But then my arms would look like I made many painful tic-tac-toe grids. I could track down Ron’s rat Scabbers and use him as bait to get Crookshanks to move. But then Ron would kill me because Scabbers would probably have a heart attack and die if I even tried to grab him.

By the look on your face, it seems like you should use the toilet instead of the shower. Just saying.

“You’re still not helping.”

Fine. Um, why not just skip the shower?

I looked up at Benjamin.

Sorry, sorry. But in my defense, I’m a wizard.

“And I’m a witch.”

Wait! I’m a witch! I ran back to my nightstand, grabbed my wand, and returned to the end of my bed.

And yet, my sudden movements hadn’t attracted any attention. No one moved.

“Glad to know everyone cares about what I’m doing at all times,” I muttered. I pointed my wand at Crookshanks. “Eh-hem! Wingardium Leviosa!”

Crookshanks’s eyes snapped open as soon as he realized that he was floating in midair. They turned on me instantly. A moment later, he started screaming. I didn’t know cats could do anything but meow, purr, and hiss.

Benjamin slapped his hands over ears. “Get him to stop that howling!

“Sally-Anne!” Hermione slapped her book closed and ran to me in an instant. She reached up and plucked Crookshanks out of thin air as I let the spell die. “What are you thinking?!”

A moment later, I heard a sound behind me. It seemed that Lavender and Parvati had woken up.

“He was on my trunk,” I said, but it sounded like a whine rather than a defense.

“Then you could have moved him or asked me to do it. You didn’t have to use magic!”

“Hey, she didn’t want to get attacked again!” Lavender got out of bed to stand beside me (forcing Benjamin to move before she stepped through him). “It’s been two months. Can’t you teach your cat to not sleep anywhere near Sally-Anne or her things?”

Hermione held her cat close to her, frowning. “Crookshanks lives up here too. He-”

“Can we please not fight so early in the morning?” Parvati shuffled over to us, yawning. “What’s going on again?”

“Sally-Anne used the levitation charm to move Crookshanks! If she dropped him-”

“He would have landed on his feet like all cats do,” Lavender finished hotly.

“I just wanted my bath things,” I moaned.

Parvati sighed. “Did anyone get hurt?”

The three of us shook our heads.

“Then we can just move on. Sally-Anne, don’t enchant Crookshanks again. Hermione, teach your cat to stay away from Sally-Anne. Lavender?” Parvati pulled at her long hair. “Can you braid my hair this morning? I’m still too sleepy to do it right.”

Hermione was the first one to move. With one arm, she put her Ancient Runes book back in her bag and took it and Crookshanks with her down to the common room.

Lavender moved next. She smiled weakly at me before going over to Parvati’s bed. “I’m still sleepy myself, you know . . .”

And so that meant that I was the last one to move. I looked down at my trunk, now cat-less. Maybe I should have listened to Benjamin and skipped the shower. Or, at the very least, I should have just pulled Hermione out of her world of studying. I’d rather have had her yell at me for distracting her than have her yell at me for endangering the life of her cat.

You know, you’re not going to get any cleaner by just standing there.

I looked up to Benjamin, who had returned to my side after Lavender left. “Maybe I should keep a spare set of bath things in my nightstand.” However, I had a hard time imagining how I could get a towel in the small drawer.

“Don’t rearrange your life because of one animal that isn’t yours,” Lavender called to me. Looking back at her, she was still brushing out Parvati’s impressive hair. “Hermione should know better. Honestly, she’s not the only one who’s ever owned a pet-” She stopped talking. Even from this distance, I could still see her eyes welling up with tears.

I took my cue to gather my things and head for the bathroom. Benjamin walked with me to the door.

Hey,” he whispered, waiting until I turned to face him, “this day has to get better, right? I mean, it can’t get any worse.

I looked up at him for a moment. Then, “Happy Halloween.” I closed the bathroom door as my friends echoed the phrase, unaware that I wasn’t talking to them.

The hot shower helped me get over what happened with Crookshanks and Hermione. The dormitory was actually empty when I emerged from the bathroom. With total privacy, I chatted freely with Benjamin. By the time I was dressed warmly for my first ‘official’ trip home, I was back up to my energetic, upbeat, outgoing ways. Benjamin wished me a good visit before disappearing right outside the Great Hall.

“You missed the mail this morning,” Lavender said as I joined her and Parvati for breakfast.

“I missed the mail? YES!” I got several odd looks from people nearest to us. “No owl attacks this morning!”

“I see someone has started living up to her name again,” Parvati commented.

“Ooh, speaking of names,” I said quickly, pointing my fork at my friend, “tell me, where are you going first this morning?”

“Perks-You-Up Pastries,” she and Lavender said in a monotone unison.

“You’ve been telling us about it for weeks,” Lavender said.

“Just making sure my two best friends remember,” I said brightly. “Mum loves Hogwarts students in her shop.”

The three of us ate breakfast and chatted about Hogsmeade. With the visit actually happening today, my friends were more inclined to ask me questions about where to go as well as places they’ve heard about.

In no time, breakfast was over and everyone in third year and above stood to make their way to the entrance hall. I raised my voice as I told Parvati and Lavender about what kinds of pastries my mum sold. Hopefully others would get the hint of where to go.

Sadly, it took forever to get by Filch. It might have been my imagination, or my slightly impatient temperament, but the evil caretaker seemed to take more time than usual to let me get past him. He must have looked down at his list five times and back up to my face, frowning. I could tell that he was trying to think of something that might be wrong with me, but I’d turned in my permission form over a week ago.

Honestly, I got tired of all the odd looks I got from the teachers and staff members back in first year. I hated to think about how people will look at me when I’m in seventh year.

At long last, I was cleared to go to Hogsmeade. And while I brag all the time about living there, I felt a rush of excitement for the Hogsmeade visit. Finally, I was visiting as a Hogwarts student, just like everyone else!

“This is so exciting!” I sang. “I’m finally on the other side of these visits! I’m actually allowed out while Hogwarts students are out because I’m a student too!”

“We got that,” Parvati said.

“Sorry, this is just a special moment for me!” I clapped, then started humming an upbeat song to myself.

The path to the village was quite longer than I expected. Ahead of my friends and me, however, I saw the other students move over to the side. Incredible. Someone was actually walking away from Hogsmeade?

A few moments later, it made more sense. Professor Lupin was traveling back up to the castle with a large box in his arms. Even though that professor was quite tall, he seemed to have some difficulty seeing exactly what was in front of him. He constantly called “excuse me” and “thank you” to students in his path.

“I wonder what’s in the box,” I said.

“Probably the topic for our next lesson,” Parvati said. “That must mean we’re done with kappas.”

“Oh,” I groaned. “I liked drawing kappas too!”

Just as Professor Lupin was about to pass us, however, something happened. Part of Lupin’s robes fluttered forward and in the way of his foot. I was right next to him as I sensed before I saw him start to stumble forward. The large box flew up, but it was already starting to fall down.

Wingardium Leviosa!” My wand was in my hands and the words were out of my mouth before I could think.

The large box froze in midair, hovering a few feet in front of me at a height just above my head.

The crowd behind me gasped. A majority of them shuffled around the fallen teacher, casting him curious looks.

“Are you okay, Professor Lupin?” I called. With care, I directed my spell to set the box on the ground gently. In that moment, I heard water sloshing around slowly. We must be studying another water creature soon.

Lavender and Parvati had moved to either side of Professor Lupin and offered to help him up. He accepted and was soon on his feet again.

“Yes, I’m fine. Sorry about that.” Lupin looked down at the hem of his robes. There was a long rip near the bottom and the hint of a shoe print from where he had stepped on it moments before. “Thank you for your help.”

“Not a problem,” I said. I pointed my wand towards the box. “Whatever’s in there isn’t broken, I don’t think.”

“That’s good,” Lupin said. He looked around. Many other students were still moving, some giving Lupin curious looks. Only one or two asked if he was okay, to which he replied with affirmative answers. “You have fast reflexes, Sally-Anne.”

I grinned, proud of the praise. “I’ve got superb hand-eye coordination! One of the countless examples of my awesomeness!”

“Sorry about her, Professor,” Lavender said, taking my left arm before I could think of a pose worthy of such awesomeness which is me. “She’s just really excited about this weekend. Let’s go, Sally-Anne, aren’t you going to show us where Perks-You-Up Pastries is?”

“Oh yeah! I can’t wait to introduce you to Mum!” I grabbed Parvati with my free arm and walked between my two best friends for the rest of the way to the village.

I couldn’t get over the fact that I was finally allowed to walk the streets with other Hogwarts students. I mean, when I was little, I had always been confined to my room while my mum ran the shop downstairs. She didn’t want me getting hurt from the bigger kids. And now, here I was! And even in third year, I was taller than some of the fourth years.

Perks-You-Up Pastries was busy by the time we got there. It was probably my mum’s promise about her product that drew in such a large crowd.

“Guaranteed to perk you up or half your money back?” Ron stood in front of the counter with Hermione. It looked odd to see the two of them without Harry. Ron turned to Hermione, a puzzled look on his face. “What do they mean about that?”

I left Lavender and Parvati to stand directly behind Ron. “You’re still going to eat the pastry,” I explained.

“Yah!” Ron jumped, eyes wide from surprise. He obviously wasn’t excepting me to talk into his ear.

I giggled. “Let’s face it, my mum doesn’t want the food back once you’ve eaten it. Half of the price is from cooking it.” I looked to Hermione. “What do you think?”

“I think I know where you got your sense of humor from,” Hermione said. She looked around, then quickly spotted my mum as she was helping a group of sixth years. “So what’s in these? I take it that they’re magical.”

“Of course,” I said. “We don’t get as busy as Honeydukes, obviously, but Mum gets orders from all over Britain. And I can’t tell you what’s in them exactly. Trade secret.” I waved my hand over the displays. “Trust me, I’ve eaten just about everything in here and they’re all excellent! But I recommend the muffins! In fact-” I took a banana nut muffin and placed it on the counter. “Hey Mum, I’m actually buying something!” I dug into my pockets, looking for my money.

I was hoping to ask Mum how business was, but she only had time to take my money, give me my change, say she loved me, and then go back to helping other customers. Except for the whole “love you” bit, it was rather routine.

“I can see why you’re so upbeat now,” Lavender said ten minutes later. She and Parvati were each carrying a bag of pastries. They had seemed rather reluctant to get so many, but after their first bite they regretted nothing.

“Yeah,” Parvati said, reluctantly rolling up the bag to save the rest for later. “Having access to your mum’s shop for eleven years must have been incredible.”

“Yup, the effects haven’t worn off yet.” But I found myself having to force my smile. Mum seemed to act like everything was normal, but I never knew the shop got that busy for Hogsmeade visits. “Okay, next visit is Honeydukes! We cannot come to the village without a stop there!”

But like Perks-You-Up Pastries, Honeydukes was packed with students. Lavender and Parvati entered the shop without hesitation, but I held back for a moment. I didn’t want to be in the small shop with so many people in my way. How could I shop without being able to get close to the goodies?

It was like that in practically every shop we entered. The crowds were too much for me, though. I couldn’t chat with shop keepers that I’ve known all my life. I didn’t like always bumping into people. And many of the students got too excited over things I thought were normal. I mean, the Post Office wasn’t worth that much attention.

Luckily, I got Lavender and Parvati into the Three Broomsticks before the main lunch crowd could arrive. Lavender had never tried butterbeer before. While the three of us ate at my favorite table in the back corner of the pub, positioned right next to the large front windows that gave a terrific view of the main path, Lavender and Parvati kept telling me about how lucky I was to live here. I just felt better watching my fellow schoolmates enjoy their Hogsmeade weekend from a safe distance.

After lunch, though, I told Lavender and Parvati to explore the village on their own.

“You don’t want to join us?” Parvati asked.

“I don’t want you to feel like I’m leading you everywhere one hundred percent of the time,” I said. “I’ve already shown you my favorite places anyway.”

The three of us left just as the Three Broomsticks started to get busy. Lavender and Parvati headed towards Gladrags Wizardwear while I moved away from the shops and towards the residential cottages.

Soon, I was the only Hogwarts student in view.

Hey, Sally-Anne, what’s wrong? Why are you all alone?

Benjamin appeared, walking to my left. His hazel eyes held only concern for me.

“This visit wasn’t what I was expecting,” I confessed, seeing the end of the street approach. The forest beyond was easily visible. “I’m used to the village being quiet. Quaint. But with the students all crowding everywhere I want to go . . .” I shrugged a shoulder.

Mum likes the visits,” Benjamin reminded me. “But this is probably why she kept you upstairs while the students were in the village while you were growing up.

I nodded. I then smiled. “At least you were there to keep me company when Mum couldn’t be there and Dad had to work.”

That’s why I exist.” Benjamin reached forward to straighten up my hair, tucking the black strands behind my ears. “Anything else bothering you?

“I’m fine.”

Benjamin patted my head, then took my hand as we walked down the street together. It felt so real to me. I could feel his warmth. If he hadn’t told me that he was imaginary the first time I saw him when I was three years old, I would have sworn that he was a real person. But I was the only thing he could interact with.

Except for the back door to Honeydukes. Benjamin had opened and then closed it for me two weeks ago. He hadn’t said anything about it, and something in the back corner of my mind told me not to question it.

Benjamin had only ever acted in my best interest. He would never hurt me.

We started chattering away as we approached the end of the street. I recalled to him the fond memory of our first meeting, back when I was stuck in my room and watched the older kids walk the streets with their friends, wishing I had a friend too. Benjamin hoped this Halloween feast would be better than the last two. I mean, there was troll back in first year and no ghost entertainment last year for some odd reason.

We turned the corner, about the walk with the village to our left and the forest to our right. But I only went forward two steps before stopping.

A large animal blocked our way.

At first, I thought it might have been a small bear. But then I realized that it was a large, shaggy black dog. And he was standing no more than five feet away from us. There was no question on whether or not he saw me. His grey eyes locked with mine.

Uh-oh,” Benjamin groaned, his fingers tightening their hold around my hand.

I would have voiced my agreement if my throat hadn’t decided to constrict. This morning’s events with Crookshanks were still fresh in my mind. That tabby cat could scratch me up at the worst. What was this canine capable of?

I saw Benjamin look around though the corner of my eye. “Look, let’s just retrace our steps. The dog won’t attack if we back down, but don’t run. Move slowly. Otherwise we’ll look like prey and he’ll get you.

I tried, but my feet refused to move. I was convinced that any motion, sudden or not, would signal this large creature to charge. I wanted to go to the Halloween feast tonight, yes, but not as the newest ghost to haunt the school.

Listent to me, Sally-Anne, we'll be okay." He leaned backwards to peek around the corner from which we came. “Just back away and retrace your steps. The dog won’t follow us once we’re among other people. We can circle around Hogsmeade next time.

But my feet refused to move. I was convinced that any motion, sudden or not, would signal this large creature to charge. I wanted to be at the Halloween feast, yes, but not as the newest ghost to haunt the school.

What are you waiting for? Let’s go!

But I still didn’t move. I couldn’t.

The dog continued to look at me. Was it trying to figure out if I was a threat? Or if I was food?

The standoff continued.

Until the dog ended it.

I braced myself for a fight, or at least to be mauled, but I didn’t expect this action. The dog trotted up to me and placed his head under my right palm.

“He’s not attacking me,” I whispered, astonished. My fingers curled as I started to scratch his head. His eyes closed as he undoubtedly enjoyed the attention. “Oh my gosh, this animal isn’t trying to kill me!” Squealing in glee, I dropped to my knees and scratched the dog behind both ears, feeling just as happy as the canine for the positive attention.

Sally-Anne, he might have flees,” Benjamin said warily. He walked to stand to my right, the dog’s left, and leaned forward to examine him. “Ugh, when was the last time this thing had a bath? And is it a boy?” Benjamin checked. “Yup, it’s a boy dog.

“Awe, you’re so sweet,” I said. I didn’t care if this dog smelled a bit unpleasant. The cold chill of a late October evening made my nose practically useless. No, I was more amused about how the dog’s tongue rolled out of his mouth as his eyes rolled up into his head. “I wonder who got a dog.”

I removed my left hand from the dog’s head and felt around his neck. The shaggy fur felt a bit off (okay, so maybe he really did need a bath), but my fingers never came across a collar. That didn’t mean anything though- pets don’t need to have a collar. Crookshanks sure didn’t.

Sally-Anne.” Benjamin crossed his arms and took a step away from the dog. “Look, you just got over a cold. Are you going to let this mutt give you something worse? He’s not the healthiest animal I’ve ever seen.

I checked it out. Rubbing my hand over the dog’s back, I could actually feel the ribs beneath his skin. “You’re starved!” I yelled, shocked I didn’t notice it either. No owner would let his dog starve or go around in this state.

And then, to further prove Benjamin’s point, the dog sneezed.

“Gross,” I groaned, wiping the dog snots and slobber off my face with my sleeve. “Definitely have to take a shower before the feast tonight.”

The dog whimpered. His tail, which had been wagging, tucked itself between his legs as his ears fell flat against his skull.

“No, don’t worry!” I smiled. “It’s okay. I’m not mad at you.”

The dog seemed to understand. He perked back up a bit, though still looked up warily at me.

Yeah, well I a bit miffed. Come on, Sally-Anne! I didn’t plan on spending my Halloween watching you play with the only animal on the planet that likes you.

“I’m not forcing you to stick around,” I called back to him.

The dog tilted his head to the side. I must have been confusing him by ‘talking to myself.’

It’s my duty to look after you. And to tell you what anyone with common sense would say- it’s not safe to hang around with a stray dog that’s been who-knows-where.

I groaned loudly. “No one ordered you to look after me, Benjamin. I can-”

I stopped.

The dog had suddenly gone rigid. His ears perked up and he bared his teeth, growling as he turned away from me and spun around, surveying the street.

See what I mean?” Benjamin backed up a bit. “For no reason, he’s now aggressive!

“Don’t worry, boy, nothing’s wrong,” I reassured the dog. “No one else is here but us.” He had gotten this way after I said Benjamin’s name. Was that maybe the name of his previous owner and he had just run away from him?

But the dog continued to look around. He sniffed the air. Of course, I knew he wouldn’t smell anyone but me and himself.

He’s probably wondering if I’m hiding my scent somehow,” Benjamin guessed, rolling his eyes.

“Relax,” I told the dog, reaching around and pulling the dog to face me. “There’s no one but you and me here. ‘Benjamin’ is just the name of my imaginary friend. Nothing to worry about.”

At first, the dog resisted. But as soon as I said ‘my imaginary friend,’ he was on me. Literally. He pounced, forcing me onto my back without warning. With his front paws pressed against my stomach, he brought his face close to mine.

“Please don’t eat me,” I whispered, suddenly aware of my heart pounding in my chest. Maybe I should have listened to Benjamin and his better judgment in the first place.

He responded to my name and ‘imaginary friend’,” Benjamin whispered. He took a step closer and knelt by my side to study the dog. “He has a black coat. And his eyes- SWEET MOTHER OF MERLIN!” Benjamin lost his own balance and fell onto his butt. He then scooted himself away from me and the dog. “That’s what those names meant! How could I have missed that before?!

“Missed what before?” I whispered. I kept glancing between Benjamin and the dog. Both were freaking me out now.

The dog saw where I was directing my question to. His head snapped to the right. He leapt off me (nearly crushing my lungs) and rushed to the spot where Benjamin was shaking. The dog actually walked back and forth at that place, growling at where Benjamin was.

Tell him I’ve disappeared!” Benjamin directed me, getting to his feet. Benjamin looked ready to throw up each time he saw the canine pass through his legs. “Tell him that I’m gone and you’re safe now!

“Safe from what? Why is this dog reacting like this?!”

Benjamin opened his mouth to say something. But he stopped, shook his head, and said, “I’ll meet you inside the castle, okay? The dog won’t hurt you if he knows I’m gone.” Benjamin looked away from me. “At least dogs are color blind.

“What do you mean by that? And-”

Benjamin disappeared.

“Benjamin!” Why was everything so confusing here?

The dog continued to pace back and forth at the wall, barking at thin air.

“Benjamin’s gone,” I sighed, doing as Benjamin told me. “You’re just wasting your barks, doggie. I’m . . . I’m safe now.” But I didn’t feel safe.

Benjamin’s directions worked. The dog stopped acting psychotic and looked back at me. He trotted over, but I cringed away. With what just happened, I didn’t feel like I could trust him.

The dog must have sensed that. He stopped a few feet away from me. After a few seconds, he laid down, resting his head on his front paws and looked up at me with those eerie grey eyes.

“Stay,” I commanded, finally pushing myself back up to my feet. I looked around. No one had reacted to the dog’s barks or my yelling. Then again, we were too far away from main crowd of students.

“Just stay,” I repeated slowly, backing away from the dog with my hands open towards the dog, silently reinforcing my statement. “Stay away from me. I just want to get through Halloween. Just stay here. Bye!”

I spun and ran. Ran past the cottages and shops. Ran between shoppers and classmates. Ran up the path towards Filch. Getting a three times longer than usual inspection from him didn’t bother me. At least the creepy dog wouldn’t be able to follow me into the school.

Sally-Anne!” Benjamin greeted me at the entrance hall and wrapped his arms around me. “You’re okay! Did that dog bite you? Hurt you? You know I wouldn’t have left, but him knowing that you were still seeing me-

“I’m fine,” I said. Even back in the warmth of the school, my nose was starting to feel a bit stuffy again. “I just need a quick shower and a change of robes.”

Benjamin looked at my back and agreed instantly. After all, lying on the ground wasn’t the best way to stay clean in Hogsmeade.

“I just hope that’s the last bit of excitement today,” I told Benjamin as we walked up the stairs together. We passed several people on the way, but I didn’t care if they heard me talking to myself or not.

Agreed,” Benjamin whispered. “To be honest, I’ve had enough of surprises during this school year alone.

I was too tired to ask Benjamin what he meant about that. Then again, maybe I didn’t want to know.

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