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 “Um, Veronica?” I timid voice came from the other side of my dormitory. I looked up to see a third year standing next to the door frame, knuckles in mid-knock. “There’s a boy downstairs who wants to see you.”

            I swear, if it’s James Potter I will hexed him into the next century. “Tell him to go away,” I groaned angrily, my voice muffled from the pillow I currently had my face shoved onto. I stop trying to sleep about five minutes after I started. I was too shaken up by my fall into the lake and too filled with anger at James for dropping me in. So I settled for rolling around on my bed and groaning about my life. I’d been currently doing this for about half an hour or so and to be honest, it was getting a bit boring. I can’t swim, I can’t go to sleep, I can’t even wallow in self-pity correctly!

            The messenger girl, who had previously scampered off after hearing my complaint, returned, this time bearing worse news than before. “He says he’s not leaving until you come down.” This caused me to groan and roll right off of my bed. The ground was uncarpeted and rock solid, sending aches up and down my body

            I pulled myself off of the floor and surveyed the room surrounding me. No one was there, which meant the other seventh year girls were hanging out in the common room, since dinner ended not too long ago. When I returned to the castle after my fall, I briefly considered going down to the Great Hall and grabbing a quick bite to eat (smores, while delicious, are not a substantial dinner), but I was soaking wet and didn’t want to create a scene. Plus, the Marauders might of gone there looking for me, and I did not want to see any of them.

            But, of course that didn’t stop James from seeking me out. I studied my reflection in the bathroom mirror, stalling for as long as I could. I dried myself off, but unfortunately that anti frizz charm wore out and I was back to having the home of a family of birds on my head. Now all I needed were a flock of owls and I’d become one of those crazy owl ladies you see wandering the streets.

            I trudged down the stair leading from the girl’s dormitories to the common room, going at about the pace of a turtle or snail. Near the bottom step, I started grumbling, half to myself, half in the hopes that James would hear. “At least give me the allotted 24 hour period to get over you almost drowning me, Potter.” I looked up, not to see James, but Remus standing awkwardly, hands in his pockets. “Oh, you’re not Potter,” I exclaimed in surprise.

            “He was going to come, but decided to give you some space so that you didn’t rip his head off or anything,” Remus explained, staring at me in an expression I couldn’t quite name.

“Smart boy,” I rolled my eyes. Suddenly, I became conscious of my attire, which included my fluffiest pair of socks, dark blue flannel pajama pants, and just my luck, the sweater Remus had given to me outside only a few hours ago. I hadn’t been fully aware that the jumper was Remus’s, all I had acknowledged was that it was cream colored, completely over-sized, and comfy, which was something I so desperately needed. My cheeks began to fill with a deep red blush. “Oh, I suppose you want this back.”

            “No, no, you can keep it.” Remus insisted, developing a blush that almost out did mine. “It looks better on you anyway.”

            I had no idea what he meant by that, seeing as the jumper fit me like a potato sack. It hung loosely on my smallish frame, the sleeves reaching the tips of my fingers and the neckline almost falling off my shoulders, revealing bare skin and my collar bone. “Thanks,” I muttered, looking down at my polka dot socks in embarrassment. Right then my stomach let out a long, loud growl due to the lack of food I have eat today, only adding on to the humiliation.

            Unfortunately, Remus heard the noise, and instead of ignoring it like a polite person, he chuckled a bit before saying, “Come on, let’s go down to the kitchens and get you some food.” He turned towards the door and against my better instincts to just run back to my bed and lie there for the rest of the night, I followed him.

            “I have this philosophy,” Remus started, handing me a mug and then sipping from his own, “that chocolate makes everything better.” I took a sip of the hot chocolate which truly lived up to its name and was scalding. But the heat was a nice contrast to the unusually cold and drafty air in the castle. I nodded enthusiastically to his theory, nursing my mug in my chilled hands. A swarm of miniature marshmallows bobbed up and down, sloshing from side to side and leaving behind trails of powdery white.

I looked up to see Remus staring at me again, in an analytical way, almost as if he was trying to solve a puzzle or code. “Are you sure you’re okay? Physically, I mean. Because we can go to the Hospital Wing if you need to.”

“I’m fine,” I sighed, trying not to make a big deal out of things. Maybe if I downplayed it, Remus wouldn’t ask anymore questions. He decided not to push it and instead asked a passing house elf for leftovers from tonight’s dinner. I gave him a questioning look and he explained that he noticed I hadn’t been down for dinner and didn’t want me to miss another meal. I smiled slightly at his thoughtful gesture, glad that I had him as a friend, if we were friends. That whole part was still a bit foggy to me. “I’ve just never been good with water, you know, the whole swimming part. I’ve never been given a proper lesson, so I usually try to avoid the lake,” I explained, feeling the heat rushing to my cheeks. Who’s heard of an almost eighteen year old girl not knowing how to swim?

“You’ve never been swimming before?” He asked, surprised, as if I was testing his credulity, not pouring out one of my deepest secrets. I felt myself blushing even more. He was going to laugh, tell me what a loser I was. I barely knew Remus, after all, and he could secretly be even more of an asshole than his stupid friends. “I don’t know how to ride a bicycle.” He said this suddenly, taking me completely by surprise. I looked up to see him grinning like an idiot, which made me smile slightly.

“It’s true!” He insisted, laughing a bit. “The one time my dad tried to me when I was seven, I ran the bike into a stop sign! It was scarring moment and I’ve never attempted to ride again.” I tried to imagine little Remus, crashing into a pole, and a giggle escaped my lips.

“There’s really nothing to be embarrassed about,” he said, smiling at me while I laughed. I have to admit, I did feel better about not being able to swim. It was a bit stupid, now that I think about it.

The house elf returned with a rather unappetizing lump of cold Shepard’s Pie, which I accepted, wearing a forced grin on my face. When he left, I turned towards the leftovers, unable to hide the disgust I felt. Remus saw my expression and started to laugh. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t taste much better.” I picked up my fork and poked the almost unidentifiable mass and it jiggled in response. I’m pretty sure mashed potatoes aren’t supposed to be gelatinous life forms.

“I am actually not that hungry, now that I think about it,” I lied, keeping a cautious eye on the food. In Hogwarts you learn to expect inanimate objects to move randomly.  Remus nodded and handed the plate to a passing house elf. We had both finished up our mugs of hot chocolate so it was about time we headed back to our respective common rooms. Once outside the kitchens, the Hufflepuff and Gryffindor dorms were in the opposite directions, but Remus didn’t seem to have the intention of leaving my side.

“I’ll walk you to your common room,” he offered, despite my protests of being fully capable of walking back alone. I was a bit offended that Remus thought I couldn’t make it without being attacked by a group of Slytherins or something and I voiced my opinion, but he only laughed. “Oh, I’m positive you could teach them a lesson, rough ‘em up a bit. But if you get caught by a patrolling prefect or Filch, and I’m not there to get detention with you, I wouldn’t be a gentleman, would I? Then you’d have to polish trophies without any company.”

“More likely, I’d whine and moan about my detention and make you feel guilty about abandoning me,” I responded, a slight smile gracing my lips. I’ve done detentions in the trophy room before, and my arms always ached afterwards.

We headed off to the Hufflepuff common room, our footsteps synchronizing until it sounded like one person, not two, was walking down the corridors. Since it was after hours, I made an attempt to tread lightly so that no one would hear, imagining myself as a spy. Remus, though, with those boyish feet of his, clomped along as most boys did without even realizing it. I’m probably being too harsh on him, because I’m sure that his footsteps aren’t that loud, but in the silent corridors it’s about equivalent to knocking over a display case of blowing a fog horn.

Unfortunately, Filch thought so too, because we were just about to round the bend when we heard him talking to his cat. What a pathetic guy. “What’s that, Ms. Norris? Students roaming around MY corridor after curfew?!”

When I heard this, I was positive I’d faint right there on the spot. I go on about being a bad-ass spy who breaks the rules and sneaks around at night, but that’s all in my head. I’m a Hufflepuff for Merlin’s sake! The only time I get detentions is when I do stupid things, like not doing homework or being late to class, which I never do on purpose, so I can’t claim that I’m a rule breaker to the core. Plus, Filch kind of scares me in a greasy old man way.

“C’mon, this way,” Remus whispered, pull my arm as he backtracked down the corridor. Filch’s footsteps increased, growing louder and louder as he made his way towards us. Lucky for us, there was a broom cupboard close by, and Remus opened the door and pushed me in.

“Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit,” I whispered as the footsteps progressed, growing closer and closer until he was almost at the closet. Remus put his hand over my mouth to muffle the miniature freak out I was currently having. Filch stopped right in front of the door and I could hear him breathing heavily on the other side. My eyes widened in fear and I glanced at Remus, who had a panicked expression on his face, but much less panicked than I felt.

There was a pause of silence and I was positive that Filch would swing open the broom cupboard door and bust us. But that didn’t happen. Instead, we waited, and Ms. Norris meowed. “You said they went this way, Ms. Norris? Okay, let’s go.” Then, they continued walking, and I couldn’t help but let out a huge sigh in relief. Thank Merlin for Filch’s delusional ability to communicate with his cat.

“Well that was extremely close,” Remus whispered, and enough though the cupboard was pitch black, I could tell there was a smile on his face. I nodded in agreement, quickly realizing afterward that he couldn’t see me. “I think they’ll be gone by now. Let’s get out of here.” I was closest to the door, so I reached for the handle and slowly opened it. It opened only wide enough to stick a hand through before it hit something. I pushed harder, but the door wouldn’t budge. What the hell? “What’s wrong?” Remus asked, obviously hearing my struggle.

“I don’t know! It’s stuck!” I exclaimed, continuing to violently shake the door. I peered through the crack, hoping to see what was barricading the door shut, but instead of seeing furniture blocking the exit, I saw Hogwarts’ very own poltergeist.

“Ickle students want to romp in the cupboards? Then you’ll stay here till dawn!” Peeves laughed, before closing the cupboard door completely and locking us in. I sat in a stunned silence, my mind processing the events that just happened.

“What? What’s going on?” Remus questioned frantically, obviously not enjoying being out of the loop. I didn’t answer, instead taking out my wand and hopelessly trying to open the door with “alohamora,” which didn’t work. This was too frustrating.

            I hated being the bearer of bad news, so I purposely avoided telling him that we were stuck in here until tomorrow. Instead, I made a light with my wand and surveyed where we would we residing for the night. “Wow, broom cupboards are really cramped.” We were both sitting on the ground, knees bent, and there still wasn’t enough space unless our sides were pressed to each other.

            “I’m guessing you’ve never been in one before?” Remus questioned, shifting slightly so in a desperate attempt to be more comfortable, but to no avail.

            “All the time,” I answered, my voice etched with sarcasm. “Couldn’t you tell by the long line of potential suitors that follow me around on a daily basis? It’s a bit annoying at times, but I make them do my homework for me, so it’s not a total loss. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why I get horrible grades in all of my classes!” I wasn’t particularly angry, but there was a moment of silence after my mocking reply. “Come here often?”

            By the light of my wand, I could see his face was full of confusion by my question. I meant it in a funny ice breaker sort of way, but I realized that it could be taken as me inquiring on the number of girls he traffics through various cupboards. It would only be common sense to correct myself, make it clearer on my intentions when saying that, but he opened his mouth, ready to respond, and curiosity overcame me.

            “Oh, I’m not in here for ‘recreational’ purposes,” he mumbled, using air quotes and everything. His embarrassment was obvious and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a bit cute, but that’s from a totally non-subjective, third party point of view. “Usually it’s just hiding from Filch, like now. You’d be surprised how much I break the rules. I blame my friends; they’re a bad influence on me.”

            “Oh wow, a bad boy,” I laughed, feeling slightly relieved. Why was I relieved? I definitely wasn’t worried about Remus snogging girls. James even said he never dated anyone. I wasn’t relieved. I didn’t care, just passing the time.

            “Come to think of it,” Remus started, “I was locked in a broom closet with McKenna Collins in fifth year by James and Sirius. They have this weird obsession with finding me a girlfriend. The actually seek out girls and try to get them to go out with me! Isn’t that ridiculous?”

             I looked at him, trying to contain the guilt rising up my throat. I should have told him right then and there what had happened that week. We’d laugh it off, share stories about how immature his friends were, and get over the whole set up thing. That’s what Hufflepuffs do. But, instead of honoring my house, I lied. “So ridiculous.” More like obstruction of the truth.

            “Finally someone agrees with me!” he sighed, slumping against the wall. Well now I couldn’t tell him! It’d break his cute little heart.

            As the hours passed, we both grew weary and ceased our attempts to break out of the closet. Instead, we conversed mindlessly about everything from our favorite subject to which Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans is the worst. I argued earthworm, but Remus hates the soap flacor with a burning passion. We passed the time and it was about 1 am give or take an hour, when I truly felt tired enough to go to sleep sitting up. I could barely keep my eyes open, and my mouth wasn’t exactly attached to my mouth. Staying up late had the same effect that laughing gas did when the dentists give it to you so they could take out your wisdom teeth. Everything was kind of blurry and very funny.

            “You should probably go to sleep now,” Remus spoke up, sounding an awful like my responsible mum. But I couldn’t protest due to my exhaustion.

            “Remus,” I yawned tiredly, causing it to sound more like Remahhhhus. “We’re friends, right?”

            “Of course,” he replied, sounding about confused on where this was going.

            “And friends tell each other things, right?” I continued, my eyelids drooping slightly. He made a conformational noise, so I went on. “You should really smile more. It suits you.”

            Remus kind of laughed. “Goodnight Veronica.” I half responded before drifting off into a deep sleep.

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