Owl Post

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It was two in the morning and Phil was, once again, in the library – engrossed in a book about Caribbean mer-people. Some of his classmates thought his dreamy state was brought on by the dirigible plums he kept on his windowsill, but in reality sleep deprivation played the biggest part. He glanced guiltily up at the hourglass on the wall.

He had been thrown out of the library two hours ago by Madam Pince (who ushered him angrily off to bed); but Phil had long since mastered the art of tiptoeing back in after hours, and his housemates liked him well enough not to spill on him. The library was peaceful at night. Some of the books snored gently, the dry air fluttering their pages. If he listened carefully he could hear the hoots from the owlery. The fire was burning low in the grate, warming his orange socks. He'd had to put them out twice already, too caught up in his book to notice when they caught alight until the black, acrid smoke reached his nose. The flames were a flickering turquoise that didn't burn his skin but scorched angry black holes in his less fortunate footwear.

He turned a page, enjoying the quiet crinkle of thick paper sliding over itself in the silence.

His tranquillity was broken abruptly however by a bang and a crash as the library door exploded inwards in a tumble of rubble. A dark haired Slytherin stood framed in the doorway, frozen in horror as a fine layer of grey dust settled on his pyjamas.

"I think someone may have heard that." Phil said conversationally.

The boy swore at him, jumping forward and spinning round to attempt with some success to clear up the mess and set the door back in its frame. After a moment of watching him struggle, Phil got up to help. Together, they stepped back to admire their handiwork.

"Ah." Phil said. "I think, possibly, it was supposed to go the other way up."

The boy swore again, flushing angrily. Phil sniggered. "Personally, I use the back door. It doesn't have any protection on it. But then again, I don't get quite the entrance you managed."

"Shut up." The boy mumbled, pushing his floppy brown fringe out of his eyes with a huff. "I was in a hurry okay? I have an essay due in tomorrow that I should have handed in last week and I completely forgot until just now. I had a nightmare that McGonagall turned me into a chicken and served me to first years coated in batter."

Phil laughed as the skinny boy shuddered.

"What year are you in?" Phil asked, taking pity on his lanky frame and baggy blue pyjamas.

"Third."

"I'm in fifth. Trust me, I know she seems pretty scary but she's not actually going to transfigure you into a table. More likely she'll just make you write lines or something. Seriously, sleep is more important. Also not blowing yourself up." Phil smiled.

Dan ignored the second remark. "I already have detention from Snape though!" His voice was high with anxiety. "He hates my guts. He'd love any excuse to get me into even more trouble than I'm already in. And anyway, I don't wanna piss McGonagall off. Preach what you practice, you're still awake too. I just need to get this finished. Thanks for helping with the door, I'll, er, leave you to sort that out."

Phil tsked. "Honestly. Hopeless Slytherins."

"Stupid Hufflepuffs. Sticking the door back on upside down."

"That was you!" Phil exclaimed.

"No, that was you trying to be helpful. I had it just fine until you had to butt in."

"Really? That's not what it looked like."

"Stop distracting me. I've got a foot to write by nine and I don't know anything about intra-species transfiguration. Go fix the door." A grin had slipped onto the boy's face despite himself, and he turned away – striding swiftly through the rows of books, his pyjamas billowing majestically in the wind behind him.

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