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I gasped – we’d been caught. Mandy was staring at Filch, wide-eyed, mouth hanging open, while Filch had a hideous grin on his face; he looked almost insane with glee at catching us. He cackled upon seeing our faces and looked down at his mangy cat, Mrs. Woodhouse. “Excellent, my sweet, we caught them,” he said in that creepy voice he always used when talking to his cat. Filch and Mrs. Woodhouse were like an inseparable, unpleasant duo of rule-enforcement.

When I whirled around to see what the Gryffindors were doing now that they had been caught, I was astounded; they were nowhere to be seen. How could they have got away so fast? Unless they had brought their Invisibility Cloak with them, just in case? They had probably thrown it on just as they glimpsed Filch, but he hadn’t seen them because they had been near the wall and Mandy and I were in the doorway in front of him.

I reached out with an arm, waving it around to see if it hit something solid, then moved farther out into the corridor, until Filch growled, “This way!”

“But the Gryffindors were there too,” I insisted, pointing where I’d last seen them. “They were just there!”

But Filch ignored me, after a quick sweep of the area and not seeing anyone. “She’s delusional, too,” he said to Mrs. Woodhouse, ignoring me. He returned to his usual cantankerous tone for students. “Come with me, someday you’ll learn to follow the rules.”

“You are SO not getting away with this!” I yelled once more down the empty corridor, and marched off in the other direction, behind Filch. Mandy walked alongside me, fuming.

“Where did they go?”

I sighed. “I’ll bet anything they were there the whole time, hiding in their Invisibility Cloak.”

Filch dragged us along until we came to his office, where he looked lovingly at the chains and manacles in a corner, which he had in case he was ever allowed to use them on students, something he’d probably always wanted to do. He then opened a drawer of a cabinet and eagerly got out a card and began writing all over it. “You need a detention, definitely,” he said. “Crime: wreaking havoc, damaging the school property…” He still had the same leering expression. “How about 8:00 on Friday. You’ll go to the Trophy Room, and shine up every single trophy. Without magic, of course.”

“We didn’t—” Mandy began, but was cut off by Filch.

“What’s that?” he demanded, his eyes bugging out again, and pointing at Mandy’s pocket. A bit of parchment was sticking out. Mandy clapped her hand over her pocket and stole a glance at me. It was my letter.

“If you must know, it’s a letter from my brother,” I said, calmly. I sounded a lot calmer than I felt, because I certainly didn’t want Filch reading any of that Dark Lord stuff.

“It’s a piece of evidence of your conspiring, it is. You’re lying! Hand it over!” He reached out a hand to take it.

“It’s not!” insisted Mandy. “We had nothing to do with—”

“All right, sorry,” I lied, “we did it, we’ll serve our detention at 8:00, can we go now?” The sooner we left, the better.

Filch looked at his collection of manacles again, muttering to himself about how we’d be expelled, and then dismissed us.

“We won’t be expelled,” Mandy whispered to me. “James and Sirius are still in school, and I’m sure they know this office like the back of their hand by now.”

We ran back to the Great Hall corridor to see if anyone was there. People had to be awake by now. All we saw, however, was Professors McGonagall and Flitwick standing inside, getting rid of all the invasive vines. A few students were clustered in the doorway, but not many.

Suddenly I laughed aloud. The results of the competition had been entirely the opposite of what I had anticipated. Our prank had received all the attention, and theirs hadn’t – it was being removed (with difficulty), and most students hadn’t seen it yet. And, they had escaped Filch while we got caught. I would never have seen that coming.

Breakfast would probably be delayed, so Mandy and I headed back to the common room. I wondered what Charlotte would think when she learned of our mishap.

The tale of us getting caught spread like wildfire – partially due to Filch muttering gleefully about it all day, and partly due to the Gryffindors, I was certain. Charlotte had thought it was awful, and I knew she felt bad for us, but was glad it wasn’t her. In the hallway between classes, Mandy and I were often stopped by random people from every House who wanted to find out what other pranks we had done, and I got very annoyed of the attention after a while. We did notice that the Gryffindor boys avoided us as much as was humanly possible.

Mandy and I walked to our seats on the far side of the Transfiguration classroom, and at every chance possible we glared across the room at James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter – of course, they never happened to be looking. But I was forced to stop my pursuit when Professor McGonagall asked me a few questions in front of the class, and I had to rely on Mandy whispering answers in my ear.

I returned my focus to the task at hand, which was to turn a rabbit into a vase, and although my vase had ears, it was passable, I thought. After class, Mandy and I followed James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter to confront them at last. They were walking very quickly and we hurried to catch up with them; we ran around them and then stopped, whirling around to face them so they could no longer avoid us.

“Thanks loads for that this morning,” I said to the four of them. “It was really sweet of you to disappear and let us get caught for your stupid prank.”

James grinned. “Yeah, all right, glad you enjoyed it,” he said airily. “We sure did.”

“My favourite bit was you swinging your arm like you thought you’d find us that way,” said Sirius. “It was a great show for us.” He raised his arm and flopped it around in what I assumed was some imitation of myself. He had that arrogant expression on his face again – like he was just so confident in his own charm that he could get away with saying anything.

I scowled, thoroughly unamused. But Mandy snorted. “Laugh it up. You do realise that this all means that we Slytherins won the contest? Because after catching us for your prank, Filch has been nothing but cheerful! You lose.”

As realisation dawned on me, I turned to Mandy and grinned too. “Yeah, we did!” I exclaimed, and gave her an enthusiastic high-five. Our victory raised my spirits, and all the excitement made the boys laugh; we all parted agreeing that our prank competition had been the best idea ever.

Mandy and I were passing the time in detention with her wireless, which was broadcasting a show entitled “A Mix of Magical and Muggle Music”, currently a Muggle group called The Who. Shining up all the trophies was taking ages, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected. Filch wasn’t there; he had left after making sure we showed up and then taking our wands from us, so we were relatively free to do whatever we wanted while we cleaned the trophies.

As Mandy and I were singing along to a song called “The Seeker,” which, as it was by a Muggle band, was unfortunately not about Quidditch, we heard the door creak loudly. Mandy turned the music down, because if it was Filch he would probably yell at us for having too much fun. Instead, when I turned around, I saw Remus Lupin standing in the doorway.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“I felt bad for leaving you out in the hall for Filch to find, so… I don’t know, I guess I just needed to say I’m sorry.”

I smiled. “Thanks, that’s nice of you,” I said. “You know, we probably would have done the same thing to you, in your situation, so it’s really all right. Since you’re here though, you can help us clean these trophies.” I thrust a rag and a particularly grimy silver trophy into his hand.

“Cheers.” He rolled his eyes and started scrubbing the trophy, leaning against the wall.

“So, Remus,” said Mandy, “where are your cohorts? I can’t believe they didn’t want to join us in this supremely entertaining chore.”

“They’re playing chess, I believe,” he said. “James and Sirius are. Last I checked, Peter was doing his homework, although I doubt he’s getting anything done with all the excitement in the common room.”

“Speaking of excitement,” I said, and cranked the wireless again, filling the room with music as Mandy and I continued through our detention, with the welcome assistance of Remus.

By eleven o’ clock, we were almost done; there were just a few more trophies on one last shelf. I was currently shining up one silver trophy to perfection. It was so shiny now it was a perfect mirror. Reflected on it I could see a tired, frowning face surrounded by a wild mess of brown curly hair. The several hours spent cleaning trophies in the room hadn’t helped it much either. Behind the reflection of my face I saw another appear.

“Hi Remus,” I said.

“It should only be about fifteen more minutes,” said Remus. “Don’t fall asleep yet, look, we’re almost done!”

He walked over to the shelf, and I turned to Mandy, who was still scrubbing away faithfully at an old tarnished silver figurine. “It’s been five hours,” she said.

Remus looked at his watch. “Well, three actually – but it does feel like five.”

“I’m hungry,” I said. “Do you think Filch would notice if I Transfigured this Special Award into a pie or something?”

Not that I’d actually be able to. Charms I could handle, but I wasn’t the best at Transfiguration. I’d probably get lead poisoning from eating the pie.

“Let’s just leave,” Mandy suggested. “This has been the stupidest detention ever. But you’re right Mel – how often do you think he checks to make sure all the trophies are clean?”

“Brilliant,” I said. “And I—”

I was cut off by a loud shriek from Mandy. She was looking directly behind me, eyes wide open, hands covering her mouth, the figurine fallen by her side. I followed her gaze and saw Remus lying on the floor, on his back, motionless. His eyes were open, but he was completely still.

Mandy and I walked cautiously over to where Remus was sprawled. His arm was stiff, and I saw that his right hand was clutched around something golden and blue. I reached out to take a look at it, but Mandy frantically said, “No! Don’t touch it! It could be that’s how he got this way!”

I walked around to Remus’s right side and sat down again. I lifted his right arm and carefully attempted to pry his fingers off the object. “Don’t worry, Mandy, I’m just looking,” I said. I soon realised the object was a wrist watch, very antique and very beautiful. It had a thin gold band studded with sapphires, and the face had intricately designed numbers and hands, which had probably not worked for centuries. I wondered why it had been hidden in the furthest corner of the trophy room, and whom it had once belonged to. I wanted to take it out of Remus’s hand, but it would probably only end up with me being unconscious. And this set me to wondering why this watch was even there in the first place.

I laid Remus’s arm back on the floor. “What do we do?” I asked Mandy. She was still staring at his hand.

“What is that thing? What did it do to him?”

“We have to go to Madame Pomfrey,” I said. The school matron would know what to do. Even though she was young and had just got the position a few years ago, we had seen that she was very capable.

“Only one of us should,” said Mandy, standing up. “You stay with him, I’ll go.” She paused when she saw my eyes dart over to the watch again. “On second thought, Melanie, maybe I should stay.”

“Okay.” I stood up and banged the door open, and ran down the hall, not bothering to be quiet. I sprinted to the hospital wing and burst in. “M – Madame Pomfrey,” I panted. “Help!”

A few moments later she appeared out of a room in the back, scowling, her frizzy hair undone and dark circles under her eyes. “What is it?” she asked kindly, and I was surprised she sounded so sincere after just having been noisily woken up.

“Remus,” I said, still getting my breath back as I began to walk back out again. Madame Pomfrey’s eyes widened slightly and her hand twitched, and she quickened her pace towards the door. “In the trophy room, come on!”

I ran back, Madame Pomfrey close behind me. I bashed the wooden door against the wall again when I raced into the trophy room, where Remus was still lying, Mandy kneeling over him. “Madame Pomfrey!” she blurted. “Look, I have no idea what happened but it has something to do with that wristwatch! He’s all stiff! He was fine until—”

Madame Pomfrey cut her off. “Let me see.” She took out her wand and started waving it and muttering, trying to determine what was wrong. After a while she said, “You ladies run up and tell Dumbledore. I’ll take care of this.”

Mandy and I hurried out of the room and up to a corridor with a large stone gargoyle on the wall. It led to Dumbledore’s office, but I had no idea how to get in.

“I don’t know the password!” I said. I looked to Mandy, who shrugged her shoulders, obviously having no idea either. I pounded on the wall as hard as I could, and shouted, “It’s important!”

We waited but there was no response. I looked around wildly; there was a portrait just down the hall from the door to the office, and in it were a sleeping knight and a lady in a fine purple dress. “Wake up,” I told them, touching the painting. The couple sat up; the startled woman ran out of the frame suddenly, flitting through other portraits down the hall, and the knight stared at me. “Are there portraits in Dumbledore’s office that you can access? Can you go tell him to come out?” I asked him frantically.

“At once, my lady,” said the knight, rubbing his head, and then vanished out the left side of the frame, opposite where the woman had left.

After a few moments the wall section split in two, opening to reveal a spiral staircase that was slowly revolving downward. The headmaster, Dumbledore, stepped off the staircase and into the hall. The normal twinkle was gone from his blue eyes, and he looked stern. “What is it?”

“A cursed watch,” said Mandy, “in the trophy room. Remus Lupin touched it, and, well, he’s unconscious right now…”

“Madame Pomfrey is in there,” I said.

Dumbledore followed us back to the trophy room. In the meantime, Filch had reappeared, and he stood by the side of the room looking nervous and jumpy. Remus was awake and sitting up, leaning against the wall as he pushed his sandy-coloured hair out of his eyes. The watch lay on the floor, a filthy rag on top of it.

“He was fine once I got that out of his hand,” said Madame Pomfrey, pointing to the watch.

“Thank you, Poppy,” said Dumbledore. “Do you have any idea how this happened?”

“Well, as you probably suspected, I think it’s been cursed, but I don’t know what it’s doing here. A thing like that in a school…”

I walked over to the watch, picked it up in the disgusting rag, and set it atop a small low shelf. Dumbledore pushed his half-moon glasses up on the bridge of his crooked nose, and bent over to examine the artefact. “Do you have any ideas where this might have come from?” he inquired.

“I’ve never seen it before,” said Filch, his shoulders twitching in a shrug; clearly he was out of his depth. Mandy and I looked at each other, and at Madame Pomfrey, then at Remus who was still sitting on the floor. I couldn’t even begin to guess about the watch. Mandy apparently could, though.

“Could it have once belonged to Ravenclaw? The colours, those are Ravenclaw colours.”

“Possibly,” said Dumbledore. “Although there are no known artefacts that belonged to Ravenclaw, I suppose we could have just found one… but do you think Rowena Ravenclaw’s own watch would be in a dusty trophy room?”

I was about to mention that the trophy room was not dusty anymore, it was spotless since we had just spent three hours cleaning it, but I decided that it wasn’t the time for that.

“Why would something like that be in the school anyway?” said Mandy. “Maybe it was recently put there, intended for someone to touch it? I don’t know who would have done that, though… none of Voldemort’s followers could have broken into the castle… Although we really don’t know how long it’s been there.”

“I should have made you a prefect, I like the way you’re thinking,” said Dumbledore, the twinkle returning to his eyes. Mandy beamed. “Well, I’ll take this and speculate,” he finished, wrapping the artefact in the rag. “Mr. Lupin, will you be fine?”

“Yes sir,” Remus answered. “I feel perfectly normal now.”

Dumbledore smiled slightly. “I’m glad. It looks like it wasn’t too severe, but I’ll still have a look at the watch.” He turned to Mandy and me. “You two don’t have to finish your detention, I’m sure Mr. Filch will understand.”

“Thank you, sir,” I said. Filch nodded, and withdrew from the corner to return our wands. He scowled at Remus, but perhaps due to the fact that Remus had potentially been hurt by a curse, Filch said nothing to him.

Dumbledore and Filch left; Madame Pomfrey fussed over Remus one last time and then also turned and walked out the door. I sank down on the floor and leaned against the low shelf across from Remus. “Eventful night,” said Mandy, also sitting down.

“You could say that,” Remus replied, laughing.

“Are you sure you’re all right?” I asked, worried.

“Yes. I don’t know what happened, it just made me fall asleep or something. Don’t worry about it.”

“Must have been a very deep sleep, because you got all stiff and your eyes were open too,” I said.

“I’m glad you’re all right,” said Mandy.

“Right then, let’s get out of here,” said Remus. He stood up, and offered a hand to both Mandy and me. We all left the trophy room together, leaving the rags and last few trophies on the floor. “You know, it’s all your fault,” Remus teased. “If you hadn’t made me stay, this wouldn’t have happened.”

“No, nothing would have happened to you, Remus, but it would have been either me or Melanie,” said Mandy, addressing Remus. “Probably Mel, she messes around with everything.”

I rolled my eyes. “Oh, thanks, Miss I-Never-Mess-Around-But-I-Play-Tricks-On-Sirius’s-Girlfriend.”

Remus raised an eyebrow. “So that was also you?”

“That was all Mandy, I assure you.”

Mandy slapped me lightly. “Thanks a lot, Mel,” she whispered. “That was supposed to be a secret…”

“Never stayed much of a secret since you acted like a fool whenever you got anywhere near him,” I said.

Mandy glared. “Remus, you never heard any of that, by the way.”

“Heard what?” Remus asked, looking up at the ceiling, smiling. “I didn’t hear anything.”

We parted in the hallway where Remus left for the Gryffindor common room and Mandy and I went down to the Slytherin room. As tired as I was, I lay awake and restless for hours that night.

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