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One Step Ahead by quicksilver
Chapter 3: Quietly creating waves
Nobody had noticed yet.
It was Monday, 8 o'clock, and still nobody had noticed that the Ravenclaws were missing, even though their table was completely empty.
What was wrong with these people? Even the teachers hadn't noticed yet- or, if they had, they hadn't shown it.
Honestly, an entire house is missing. Wouldn't you think it would be a reason to worry?
If you didn't know what happened, that is. I know perfectly well what has happened to the Ravenclaws. So do Laurel and Roxanne.
But we're not going to be the first ones to call attention to the missing 'Claws. Why call attention to ourselves?
"Hasn't anybody noticed yet?" Laurel grumbled, stabbing a bit of caramel roll with her fork. She really isn't the best at waiting. But I had to admit, the wait was starting to get to me, too.
"I could ask one of my cousins..." Roxy murmured quietly. "Then the question of who noticed first would just get lost, there's so many of them-"
She did have a point- even though not the entire Weasley clan was there, she had a great many cousins who were. Who exactly had asked the first question would, more likely than not, get lost in the ensuing uproar.
Just then, the decision was taken out of our hands by none other than Albus Potter.
The question was somehow heard by one of the older cousins- Victorie, I think- and she immediately took up the cry, getting the attention of the entire Great Hall.
"HEY! Has anyone seen Rose Weasley?"
Dead silence. I held back a snigger.
"Where are the Ravenclaws?" someone finally asked. Finally somebody notices. Finally.
More silence. The teachers were paying attention now, looking slightly worried.
"...Anybody?" Victorie said uncertainly. This is priceless.
Professor Flitwick returned ten minutes later, leading a line of soggy, swamp mud-covered Ravenclaws. Apparently they had finally decided to run for it across their common room- which Laurel, Roxy, and I had turned into one big swamp with the aid of almost a dozen Portable Swamps and a spell for temporarily Vanishing their furniture. Among the muddy Ravenclaws was one very angry Rose Weasley, who had apparently fallen into one of the deeper parts of the swamp. She was completely covered in mud, reeds, and water. This is completely hilarious.
"Wow, look at Rose," Laurel giggled, pointing in Rose's general direction. Rose had become our mortal enemy- her choice, not ours- after several weeks of us getting spells to work before she did. Apparently, in Rose Weasley World, that's taboo. We also answered questions before she could (we're not nerds- it's just so hilarious to watch her reaction when we beat her to the punch that we just keep doing it) and made better potions (thanks to Laurel's mad skills around a cauldron). Every time we beat her at something, she turns bright red, frustrated, and redoubles her efforts, usually doing worse instead because she lets her emotions get in the way.
Roxy thought it was hilarious and joined us in our efforts to bug Rose after she became friends with us. She said that she wasn't the supportive cousin- that was Albus, who she said had no backbone- "Honestly, she's a nightmare, he just doesn't want to upset her-" - and said that Rose needed to lighten up anyway.
I watched with amusement as Albus and Sam rushed over to Rose. Their questions about what had happened were easily audible from where we were sitting.
"Some idiot thought it would be funny to turn our entire common room into a swamp!" Rose's whiny, complaining voice cut through the noise. "Then they made all of our furniture vanish, too, and none of the older students could fix either one!" So Rose didn't know about the switched wands yet? We were going to be in for some serious amusement when she does.
Hey, it's funny watching Rose Weasley freak out. She just totally flies off the handle, but tries not to, because she doesn't want to have the teachers think she's anything less than perfect.
"So we waited and waited, but nobody came to help us, so we just had to go through the mud, and then my foot got caught in the mud and I fell in!" Rose's voice spiraled up to a wail. "And now all my books are damp because of it, and Mum will think I wasn't taking care of my books, but it's not my fault!"
Wow, someone's a bit uptight.
There was a snort of laughter behind us. Roxy, Laurel, and I whipped around as one to see none other than James Potter, second year Gryffindor and our team's new Chaser, collapse laughing on the bench next to Roxy, a camera in his hand.
"Seriously, this is pure gold," James chortled, snapping another picture of the Ravenclaws. What was he doing? He was going to get blamed for this, I'd bet, if the teachers spotted him.
Better him than us, but he was one of Roxy's favorite cousins, and seemed pretty cool. Plus, he was a good chaser, and if he got kicked off the team for causing trouble, all of Gryffindor would be pretty upset. Thankfully, Roxy seemed to be thinking along the same lines.
"What are you thinking, you idiot?" she hissed, hitting James's arm. "The teachers are going to think you did this! Do you want to get detention?"
James looked taken aback. "Chill, little cuz," he said, putting the camera away. "They've got no proof, 'cause I didn't do this. I wish I had, though- it would be worth it. Look at the Ravenclaws' faces!" He snickered. "Besides, it took some serious magic, from what I heard- Flitwick was telling the other teachers that there was some spell on the swamp that kept him from lifting it, so the Ravenclaws had to wade through, and there were some spells on the walls that were pretty advanced, too- they think it's the same person who pranked the Hufflepuffs, and they think it's probably a sixth or seventh year. They're right- the Hufflepuff prank was seriously advanced." He shrugged and got up. "See you later."
Laurel burst into laughter as he left. "Perfect. We're totally in the clear." Her eyes sparkled purple, as they often did when she was amused.
Of course we were. We never let on in class that we could do spells besides the ones they taught us. Everybody thought we were just studious little Gryffindors, teacher's pets but not as uptight as Rose Weasley.
Nobody could be as uptight as Rose. It would be unnatural. More unnatural.
Our Hufflepuff prank had been a month ago. We had charmed their portrait door to make their clothes turn yellow-and-black striped when they left- spell courtesy of George Weasley's gift of a Pranking Spells book. Roxy's father rocks. He even gives us stuff from his shop- for free- which makes pranking so much easier.
I don't fancy being a broke prankster, thank you very much.
That's where we got the Portable Swamps and all the trick wands. George even promised that he wouldn't tell anybody that we were the ones doing the pranks, if anybody asked. It was possible, seeing that we had used a huge number of trick wands and the teachers wanted to know who was "tormenting" whole houses at a time.
We're not bullies. Bullying would be singling out a single person to pick on. We pick on whole houses. Most of the time. Bugging Rose doesn't count as bullying. It wouldn't bother anybody else.
"All right, class, now take out your wands and practice the spell. I will be coming around to help. You may begin."
Sweet. I grinned evilly at Laurel and Roxy as we pulled out our wands in our first class of the day, Charms. The Ravenclaws were going to be in for some shock if they hadn't already realized that their wands had been switched out.
Laurel was relaxed in her chair, waving her wand absently, the very definition of innocent. Roxy was sitting up straight, eyes flicking from side to side, waiting, tense, for the first Ravenclaw to freak.
We need to work with her on the whole "Something's going to happen? You don't say!" look. I think her father's endless tales of terrible detentions have gotten to her.
"Seriously, Roxy, chill," Laurel drawled lazily, sitting up enough to cast the spell we were supposed to be working on at the teapot in front of her. Half of it changed into a plate, while the other half shattered into pieces. Laurel didn't look fazed at all as she cast a "reparo" charm at it. Now her dish was half teapot, half plate. Nice.
A sudden shriek cut though the air. I whipped around, my hair flying, eager to see Rose's face.
She was sitting there, holding a neon purple teddy bear, her face turning a red to rival her hair. Albus was sitting next to her, his expression going between shocked and trying not to laugh. Sam Catly, sitting on her other side, had scooted his chair away and was giving Rose a wary look.
"How- dare-they-" Rose seemed to be at a loss for words as she waved the teddy bear around. "My wand!"
"Your dad is a genius," I muttered to Roxy out of the corner of my mouth. "Neon teddies?" Roxy let out a snort of laughter.
More gasps and sobs echoed around the room as the other Ravenclaws tried the spell as well and their wands turned into other things- I counted a dirty sock, a rubber chicken, a muggle lightbulb, something Roxy told me was called a kazoo, among several other assorted objects, each more random than the last. Flitwick's head was whipping back and forth as he tried to comfort several Ravenclaws at once. Several had abandoned all maturity and were throwing hissy fits. Almost everybody else in the room- meaning the Gryffindors- was watching the Ravenclaws with some degree of interest, though some had decided to ignore the freaking-out 'Claws and work on the spell we had been assigned instead.
We didn't think people would actually cry when they found out their wands had been, er, replaced. Freak, yes, whine, yes, but apparently some Ravenclaws have really thin skin and can't stand it when they get their wands nicked. Honestly, you would think they had lost something important to them-
Right. Most people take their wands seriously. I need to remember that.
Doesn't keep this from being hilarious, though.
But still. They're taking this far too seriously. Don't they know they'll get their wands back at the end of the day?
Eh. They probably don't know. But pranksters aren't cruel. Crazy, yes. Creative, yes. But we're not cruel (much).
And Ravenclaw Prank Day isn't over yet. There's still more to come.
After a full day of pranks, the Ravenclaws were tired and jumpy by the time dinner came around. Most of the things we did were little- dancing chairs at lunch, specialized tripping jinxes in classroom doorways, the like- spells that were quite easy, even for Laurel and Roxy, just a bit difficult to find.
Have I mentioned that Roxy's dad rocks? Well, he does. That book he got us? Went out of print years ago; there just weren't enough pranksters to make printing the book worth it. He found it at an old bookstore and bought it straight off. Then he made a copy and sent it to us, along with several scraps of paper stuck in it with spells he'd made up and suggestions of pranks we could pull. It was pure gold.
Laurel was on edge as she scooped up mashed potatoes and gravy. The final portion of the prank would be in the middle of dinner, and would wrap up the Ravenclaw's Prank Day. It wasn't so much of a prank as a finale; there would, admittedly, be some explosions and fireworks, but honestly, they were harmless. Really.
Plus the Ravenclaws would be getting their wands back. So it's a finale, not a prank. Because it's not making their lives more difficult.
"Honestly, Laurel, now who's telling who to chill?" Roxy hissed, flicking a pea at Laurel.
Laurel sent a scowl and the pea back at Roxy. "I'm chilled. Really chilled. So chilled I'm shivering."
Sure, Laurel. You just keep telling yourself that.
"I'm just impatient," Laurel protested. "And I don't like waiting."
"Mmm-hm." Roxy was clearly not convinced. I couldn't blame her completely- Laurel had been mostly calm all day, and that included a lot of waiting. But then again, Laurel had had a lot of chocolate last class, History of Magic, so the sugar rush might have something to do with it, too.
"When are they supposed to go off?" Laurel asked anxiously, twisting around to look at me. What, am I supposed to know that?
O.K., yeah, probably. I did set up the charms, after all. So, theoretically, I should know. But it was, like, two in the morning when we set this part up. So sue me if I was a bit tired and now I don't remember exactly what time I set the charms for.
"Er, I don't know," I admitted, sighing as Laurel groaned. Fine, so perhaps I should've paid more attention than I had. But it doesn't really make a difference at this point, does it? "They'll go off in the middle of dinner, I don't remember exactly when, but it should be sometime soon."
Laurel went back to fidgeting as she devoured her potatoes.
"What's with her?" James Potter asked as he dropped into the seat next to Roxy. "What's up, little coz?"
Roxy shoved him just as Laurel frowned and flicked a spoonful of potatoes at him. The potatoes hit his cheek with a splat. "I'm not little. I'm just as tall as you and only a couple months younger. And Laurel had a bit too much sugar in our last class- Binns is boring."
James shoved Roxy back. Ah, cousin love. He opened his mouth to say something, but an explosion cut him off, just as the room went dark.
Ah. It would seem that I set the time for 7:03, for whatever reason.
My thinking isn't always....expected. One of my old Muggle teachers said I have some of the least linear thinking he's ever seen. The only thing he could predict about me was that I was always unpredictable.
Fireworks spread across the ceiling, crackling loudly. We had used a huge variety of fireworks- most from Roxy's dad's store, from simple one-explosion ones, like Muggle fireworks, to the complex, ever-growing variety, and everything in between. It caught the attention of everyone in the hall, as everybody twisted in their seats to watch the Ravenclaws flee from their fiery table. This was even better than I thought it would be.
James had whipped out his camera and was videotaping the whole thing with an amused expression, not even noticing that he still had potatoes still on his cheek. Where does he even get that camera? It's like he carries it around for the express purpose of catching these kinds of things on film. Which would be odd. Pranks big enough to take more than a couple seconds, not counting the after effects, were rare and far between.
I think that we'll all just have to accept that James Potter the second is a maniac.
I mean, wizarding cameras are heavy. It isn't easy to carry one around.
Wow. Even I hadn't expected the amazing display of fireworks now going on. The whole room is lit up, even though the candles lighting the hall all turned off just before the fireworks went off.
All the colors. All the shapes. Wow.
But the show's about to come to an end. We only had about five minutes of single-blast fireworks, and the other ones will fizzle out soon, too, ending with the dragon that is currently swooping around.
...and there it goes.
The hall faded into blackness for about ten seconds before the last seven fireworks went off, throwing their multicolored sparks into the air, along with seven small bags, which glowed eerily as they fell out of the air. Murmurs filled the Great Hall as the candles slowly relit and revealed the Ravenclaws standing, still shocked, in various areas around the room.
This is truly hilarious.
But aren't they even a bit curious about what is in the bags? They should be. Their wands are in those bags. They want their wands. Therefore, they should want the bags.
"What's with the bags?" James asked, leaning forward to try to see the still-glowing bags, his brow knit in confusion.
"I don't know," Roxy snapped back tensely. "But speaking of stuff I don't know- why are you over here, James? I know I'm your favorite cousin and all, but don't you have friends to hang out with?"
Hey, she's right. James never usually comes to sit with us. He passes by sometimes to steal food from Roxy's plate, but normally he's sitting with his rather large and loud group of friends.
"They got detention," James admitted, running his hand through his hair, making it stand up even more, like a black fire of some sort.
"All of them? And you didn't?"
"I was at Quidditch practice when they pulled a really great prank on Filch," James explained. "It included a lot of dungbombs and a couple things from your dad's shop. And they stuck around too long and got caught. Now they've gotten detention for a week." He grinned. "So- here I am!"
Roxy gave him one of her famous Looks. "Right. And you couldn't go bother your brother because...?"
"The queen of nerds and drama is with him," James responded. Apparently he doesn't like Rose, either. "Is it just me, or has she gotten worse?"
"She has," Roxy confirmed, shaking her head. "She's unbearable now."
I second that! I don't know how anybody can stand her presence. She's the worst definition of a nerd. And she hates anybody who she sees as competition.
Like me and Roxy and Laurel, and, more recently, Scorpius Malfoy. The boy may make a crappy Slytherin, but he's a good Ravenclaw- he's really smart, second in the class, behind me. And he was one of the only Ravenclaws who didn't freak out at the wand thing today- he just stared at the rubber chicken in his hand, shrugged, put it down, and resumed taking notes. Or writing an essay for a different class. It's hard to tell sometimes.
"She absolutely hates us," Laurel chipped in, finishing her potatoes.
"Our grades are almost as god as hers and we spend barely any time studying," Laurel explained. "And we almost always get our spells to work before her, so she glares at us for that, too."
James let out a barking laugh. "Nice." He looked away as another yell came from the Ravenclaw table.
It would seem that a Ravenclaw- a fifth year, by the looks of it- was actually brave enough to actually approach the bags and open one. He was holding up a fistful of wands, waving them around in delight. Looking through them, his face lit up as he found his own wand and tried it out, letting out a shout of delight when it worked. Immediately there was a rush for the bags as everybody tried to get their wands back.
Well, fine. See if we sort their wands into years next time. They're just making a mess of it. And I thought Ravenclaws were supposed to be smart. Obviously, that's not right. They may be bookworms, but being a bookworm and being smart are two different things, it seems.
The chaos from the wand-sorting died down five minutes later, after the discovery of "Oh! They're bagged by year!". Then something completely unexpected happened.
Another firework went off.
Whoops. Perhaps I shouldn't have stayed up so late setting those up.
A/N: I'm not totally happy with this chapter (despite having re-written it three or four times), but it's the best of all four versions.
Reviews are awesome! Please let me know what you think!