Chapter 8: Manhandled by a Drunken Chili Enthusiast

"I think we might have overdone it." Hermione sounded nervous as she paced the room, not even a book to keep her company.

"Yes, well, I've got hallway duty, so I can't get all that worked up about my prat brother. He'll be fine." Ginny finished lacing up her robe and then took a firm grip of her wand. Seeing her words had had no effect, she grabbed her friend by the shoulders and shook. "Hermione. Calm down."

Hermione growled in frustration and tossed herself onto her bed. "I don't see how you can be so... So... Calm! He's your brother, and he's been missing since dinnertime!"

Ginny rolled her eyes. "Honestly! Send in the Unspeakables, Ronniekins is off in a sulk!" The red haired girl went to a pile of books and picked one out at random. "Here. Reading about the development of the textile industry should keep you occupied for a while. And I promise to keep an eye out for my darling brother while I roam the deserted and frigid hallways, all right?"

Hermione muttered something obscene and Ginny laughed. "Best not let my mum hear, she'll know who corrupted you and I'll be washing soap taste out of my mouth for days."

"Oh, like you won’t find a way to turn it against whatever brother’s convenient." Hermione threw a pillow that landed against the door seconds after it closed behind Ginny. The illustrious Head Girl then sighed and turned back to the pile of iridescent fabric on her lap.

She’d turned out to have no aptitude whatsoever for using the sewing machine, but she’d found a spell that embroidered beautifully, and she set it to work. She still wasn’t sure she’d have the nerve to pull off that costume, but they’d decided to switch styles for the Halloween masquerade ball, which was being held after the feast. Ginny’s costume had been simple and was already done, but Hermione wanted to research something for a piece de resistance, and now that she had the room to herself she could… As long as the dratted embroidery got done and she at least practiced the dancing just enough to be able to say she had.

Ginny, meanwhile, was cursing whatever gene in the Weasley makeup predisposed them to turn out prefects. Thousands upon thousands of others managed to go through their entire educational careers without once seeking to distinguish themselves, but not Weasleys. No, just like they had to use the good china when Mum had someone over for tea, or write thank you notes for the grottiest of presents, they had to work hard and do really well in school. The twins had only escaped because Filch had threatened to go on strike if they were selected. It was enough to make you want to dye your hair black and join the crowd smoking in the empty classroom behind Myrtle’s bathroom.

She’d already hauled two trembling first years back to their dormitories, interrupted a couple doing something extremely complex looking in a broom closet, although lack of space probably accounted for a lot of how they were folded up, and scolded Harry and Dean for sneaking to the kitchens until they gave up some of the goods. She’d been pondering whether or not to go have a cuppa with Filch, who’d been on friendly terms with her ever since she developed a charm to rebound kicks to Mrs. Norris on the would-be kicker, when she heard the most god-awful noise known to man or beast.

She might have a détente with the man, but he was still pure hell for the last of the male Weasleys. "Ron! Shut it, Ron, Filch is NOT deaf!" Ginny was hissing as loudly as she dared as she ran through the corridor. The thought that someone else could make that kind of noise that attempted to resemble singing was too horrifying to be possible. She was muttering prayers as she skidded around a corner, if something as incoherent as "ohgodohgodohgoddon’tletFilchcomeoutnow" could be counted as such.

Her prayers were answered, affirming her long standing belief that even the almighty had a sadistic streak. It wasn’t Filch she crashed into as she rounded the last bend. It was Snape.

She was still on the ground, rubbing her forehead, when Ron chortled and then caroled out, "Giiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinger-peaches, diddums knock a teacher down? Bad form, bad form, Gin-ginny-gin-gin."

"Ronald Weasley, you're sotted!" Ginny scrambled to her feet and rubbed her sore backside, ignoring the hair that had fallen in her face and completely forgetting the other occupants of the hallway in her preoccupation.

He cackled. "Yeah, innit great? Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, with a snail if you slow to a crawl, but--"

"That's got to be the most interesting and educational song I've heard in ages, Weasley, but perhaps now is not the time." Ginny paused in her rubbing as Malfoy's drawl brought her attention back to current realities. Unfortunately Malfoy was leaning against the wall, his hair tousled, and the dishevelment was short circuiting her brain. Plausible excuses were well beyond her current mental capacity.

"I suppose this charming scene is going to be explained as some form of prefect's meeting?" If sneering was an Olympic sport, Severus Snape would definitely be in serious contention for the gold.

Ginny's overworked mind seized on this like a dieter with a forbidden Twinkie. "Yes! Only the meeting was cancelled, but they didn't know, so I had to come tell them, but I got distracted, what with Cousin Lulu from Texas sending an owl because she just won a cookoff and the peach cobbler recipe sounded really good, and--"

"Am I to understand you are roaming the hallways due to a dessert recipe?" The potions master sounded neutral, and Ginny wished she could ignore Malfoy producing a noise that sounded suspiciously like a giggle.

"Um, well, she did also send her latest chili recipe." Yup, definitely a giggle. If they got out of this alive, she was never letting Malfoy live it down.

"Brilliant! You'll make some for us, right? Pleeeeeeeeease, Ginger-snap? Ginnikins? Ginger-ale?" Ron frowned at the last one, but still wobbled over to his sister. "With the special cornbread?"

Snape was less than amused. "Mister Weasley, I do not believe that this is the time for you to be discussing culinary matters with your sister."

"But it's absolutely brutal chili! Kicks you in the nadgers and makes you want to go back for more." Ginny looked on in horror as her brother grabbed onto Snape's robe-front to convince him of the glories of real Texas chili.

"Ron! I think Hermione needs some help, why don't you go see her? We'll talk about making chili tomorrow." Ginny dragged him away from Snape, trying not to concentrate on the desire to kill a certain laughing Malfoy. Once she had disengaged her brother and given him a push in the right direction, she cleared her throat and peeked up at Snape to gauge just how bad the situation was.

Very bad. "Miss Weasley... Words fail me."

Taking a deep breath, Ginny tried out her very best oh-I-am-so-cute-you-can't-stay-mad look. "Perhaps I can make up for my, er, irresponsibility in taking charge by serving detention? My gumbo is superb." She smiled hopefully.

Snape grunted. "Detention. Once a week, every week, until you leave Hogwarts or until I can manage to erase the memory of being manhandled by a chili enthusiast." He looked Ginny over and said, "I believe Sunday evenings should suffice for this arrangement."

"She should study Sundays. Friday or Saturday night would be better." Draco showed his impeccable sense of timing, speaking up when Ginny would least want him to.

She whirled on him, hissing, "What if I wanted to have dates on Friday and Saturday nights, like normal people? Stop being a total Slytherin prat, would you?"

"I fail to see why your social life should take precedence over serving your detentions, Miss Weasley. I do believe that Saturday evenings would be more convenient for me, after all." The head of Slytherin house smirked and Ginny cursed her impulsive tongue. With a flutter of black robes, Snape turned and walked away, his voice floating back. "Do take care of Mister Malfoy, Miss Weasley, as I will hold you responsible if he should come to any harm due to your negligence. And I believe that this Saturday, I would like the main course to be coq au vin."

(AN: The song Ron is singing so enthusiastically is "The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered At All", which is shamelessly swiped from Terry Pratchett.)
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