Disclaimer: You know the drill. I don't own Harry Potter.
Author's Note: I got a bit of writer's block for this one, so I'll just try my best.
Chapter 15: A Very Harry Christmas
“Hermione, what do you say we play another prank on Dumbledore?” Harry asked quietly, coming up behind her. She jumped, and then turned.
“Harry! You startled me.”
“Sorry,” Harry said, taking the seat next to hers and kissing her quickly. “Anyway, what about the prank?”
“He is about due for a good one,” Hermione admitted. “We haven't gotten him since October, really.”
“Yeah,” Harry said, twiddling his thumbs nervously.
“What's wrong?” Hermione asked.
“Is it wrong to prank him on Christmas day?” Harry suddenly asked. Hermione giggled, and then shook her head.
“Oh Harry! If it's wrong to prank him for Christmas, then we'd have gone to prison for it by now. This is our third year here, and we've pranked him at Christmas for two years running,” Hermione explained calmly. “What do you have in mind?”
“Just an illusion spell,” Harry said, waving it off as insignificant. “I'll cast my Patronus, and you can cast the illusion on it to make it look like Snape after Neville's accidental magic, complete with his expression.”
“What happens after he tries to transfigure what he thinks is Snape back?” Hermione asked. Harry looked around, and pulled a small bundle of fireworks out of his pocket. Hermione grinned. “Let's get started. Christmas is tomorrow.”
Harry looked like the cat that got the canary as they put their heads together to work out the details.
“Oh, clever,” Chronos muttered, peeking in the bowl. “I never would have thought of that.”
“No, you would have put on your Angel of Death costume and done the robot at the foot of his bed until he either passed out or poured various liquors down the drain,” Odin quipped.
“You know me so well,” Chronos said smugly. “Can I help it if I'm flamboyant?”
“Flamboyant? You're nearly flaming, old friend.”
“Please don't say the word 'old'. It makes me feel old,” Chronos whined.
“You've been old since the dawn of time,” Odin said. “Come to think of it, so have I.”
“I feel your pain,” Chronos said as he sat back, patting his friend's shoulder. “But at least we can feel young by watching these children.”
Odin peeked in the pool, and promptly covered it up. “I think Harry and Hermione want some privacy.”
“Oh great, I'm feeling old again,” Chronos complained.
“They're feeling a bit old, too, I would guess. At least she doesn't seem to mind where he's putting his hands,” Odin said. Chronos' eyes widened, and then he grinned.
“Merry Christmas, Harry and Hermione,” he whispered.
Harry and Hermione both felt like someone had been watching them make out, and they felt more than heard a divine acceptance of their actions. They shrugged, and continued kissing. When Madam Pince, the school librarian found them, she chased them out of the library. “Out! Out! Don't you dare defile the books with your iniquity!”
“Oops,” Harry muttered, separating from Hermione so he could help her grab her books. Madam Pince solved that for them by making Hermione's books chase them out, hitting them both after every few steps. “Sorry about that Hermione.”
“No problem, I didn't mind what we were doing before-Ow!- she caught us!” Hermione squealed right behind him.
“Oh, and what were you doing?” McGonagall asked, stopping in front of them. Both teens jumped and clutched their butts before trying to speak. McGonagall raised her eyebrows and canceled the spell on the books. “Well?”
“Something we don't want our parents finding out about,” Hermione finally answered.
“At least until we're twenty,” Harry added.
“Twenty-five, and have a couple of kids,” Hermione corrected. “I'm an only child, and my dad is extremely overprotective.”
“I get it,” McGonagall said, staring at both of them over the rims of her glasses. She could tell that they hadn't actually gone that far, so there was no harm done, really. “They won't find out anything from me,” she promised.
“Thank you,” the both chorused, their faces flaming. She grinned and walked on, presumably to tell Madam Pince not to attack students with their own books again.
“Did we ever finish planning our prank?” Harry suddenly asked.
“No,” Hermione answered, a blush rising to her cheeks. “We focused more on...other...pursuits.”
“That's what I thought,” Harry said, nodding. “What do you think? Want to wing it?”
“Sure, what the hell,” Hermione said. “It's the thought that counts, right?”
“I don't think he'll much like the thought behind this particular present,” Neville cautioned them, he and Colin coming upon them just in time to overhear the last statement.
“No, but we will,” Harry said, grinning mischievously. “Come on, he's not in his room right now. We might not get another opportunity.”
The four kids snuck into Dumbledore and McGonagall's bedroom, intent on setting up their prank. As Colin kept watch, Harry started working out where to place the fireworks. While he was working that out, he glanced at the rumpled bed one too many times. “You know what, this location isn't going to work for anyone other than a eunuch,” he suddenly said.
“Yeah, how are we going to lie in wait here, watching them do...that..., and then be able to cast a Patronus?” Hermione asked, amused and more than slightly disturbed.
“Simple,” Neville said. “We don't!”
“His office would probably be better,” Colin suggested. “But it'll be too hard to get in there without him knowing.”
“Not the office,” Hermione said, suddenly panicky. Harry looked over at her curiously.
“Hermione, you okay?” he asked.
“Yeah, it's just... His office, or hers, will be the most likely place for... You know, besides their bedroom...” She trailed off, looking horrified and terrified at the same time.
“Well now, I think there's something wrong here,” Chronos muttered, sitting up straighter. Odin glanced over and shrugged.
“It's really not rare for kids to see more than they're supposed to,” he answered.
“I have a hunch...” Chronos muttered, looking back in the file and referencing Hermione Jean Granger's childhood.
“Then the Great Hall,” Colin said. “But we'll be lucky if we're not caught...or killed.”
“Then we'll have to keep Snape from walking in on us,” Harry said determinedly. “That's going to be the hard part.”
“Why?” Neville asked.
“Because he seems immune to sleeping potions and bewitched sleep,” Harry said.
“We could try the Draught of Living Death,” Hermione suggested. “Or we could...”
“What, kill him?” Colin squeaked. “I'm not killing anyone!”
“No, not kill, not yet,” Harry said soothingly. “We'll just wait until it's necessary before we kill him.”
“Then what?” Neville asked.
“Either the Draught of Living Death like Hermione suggested, or I call my parents and ask them to take Snape in for questioning,” Harry said.
“Knowing him, he's probably immune to any form if induced sleep,” Neville said. “So your parents are our best bet.”
“That's all I needed to hear,” Remus Lupin suddenly said from the shadows. He stepped into full view, grinning like a Cheshire cat. “Dora, honey,” he called.
“Right here, love,” Dora Lupin said.
“Let's go fetch Snape now. We can keep him in holding until he's questioned tomorrow.”
The two Aurors walked off and Hermione said, “Harry, your family is the best!”
“I agree,” he said, grinning.
“Fireworks here, and here, and here...” Harry murmured as they strategically planted homemade fireworks in the Great Hall at Hogwarts. “Just wait until he tries to transfigure my Patronus,” he grinned. “No one will know what hit him.”
“Mission accomplished,” Remus and Dora announced, coming into the Great Hall, followed by James and Lily Potter, as well as Sirius Black.
“So, what's this we're hearing about a massive prank you're playing, Harry?” Lily said sternly, though her emerald eyes were glinting and dancing with amusement.
“We're just wishing Dumbledore a Merry Christmas in style, Mum,” Harry said innocently. “It's not even really a prank, per se.”
“Yeah, it's not really a prank, though you're borrowing those fireworks your father made,” Lily said, beginning to tick things off on her fingers. “You managed to finagle Remus into dragging Snape off to the Ministry for a day.” Another finger. “And most telling of all, you're the son of a Marauder. How could you not prank someone?” The last finger went down, and she leveled her steeliest glare at her thirteen year old son, though the effect was ruined by the shaking of her shoulders as she fought down a grin and giggles.
“But I'm also your son, Mum,” Harry said, employing his best puppy-dog eyes that James had taught him to use when he was two.
“Yes, you are my son, and that's why we're all here,” Lily admitted. “We're going to be your diversion. Dumbledore may be lacking several important memories of our more memorable exploits during school, but he's still sharp as a tack. We'll distract him so he doesn't find the fireworks, or look at you.”
“You guys are the best,” Harry said with feeling. He hugged his parents, his uncles, and his aunt, while his friends hung back. As he hugged his parents, he grinned against his mother's belly and discretely aimed his wand at his father's back. Lily didn't feel his lips move with his whispered incantation, and neither noticed the feel of their son's magic.
“We're sorry to barge in you like this, but we're conducting an investigation into the extracurricular activities of Severus Snape,” James said importantly. All Dumbledore noticed was that they were all Aurors, and they were wearing their uniforms. He didn't put it together that they were all related to Harry Potter in some way.
“Of course,” he mumbled, rubbing sleep out of his eyes. They had caught him in bed, on Christmas Day, giving him no chance to go to the Great Hall, where Harry was making sure that Filch hadn't found the fireworks. “What happened to Severus? Where is he?”
“In a holding cell, awaiting questioning into Death Eater activities,” Lily said.
“Why did you arrest him at Christmas? Have a heart!” Dumbledore said.
“Why not? It's not like he even celebrates Christmas anyway,” Sirius said reasonably. “Not unless he's tortured some little kids.” Dumbledore sent him a withering glare.
Dumbledore escorts them to Snape's office and quarters, and pauses when he sees the Oriental rug. “Odd...” he muttered. “I get the strange feeling there's something important about that rug.” Almost mechanically he moved to the rug and pulled it up, exposing a few loose stones. Sirius pried up the stones, and discovered that they had been hollowed out.
“I remember finding something under those stones, but for the life of me I can't figure out what it might have been,” Dumbledore said. “I also seem to remember that I wasn't alone; there was a child with me...a little boy...”
“Well, whatever you found here isn't here now,” Sirius said, glancing quickly at James and Lily before standing up. “If I were you, I'd assume that the boy you were with got away with whatever it was, and maybe already passed it on to the proper authorities.”
“That's somewhat comforting, but I don't know who the child was,” Dumbledore said. “Anyway, it's past time for breakfast. Why don't you join me in the Great Hall?”
“Good idea,” James said, grinning. “Let's go.”
They reached the Great Hall to see that the entire student body and the faculty minus Snape had already congregated, and were enjoying a delicious meal. “The Hogwarts elves sure can cook,” Sirius said, his mouth starting to water at the smells wafting around the room. “Nothing against your cooking, Lily,” he hastily amended, glancing at James as though fearing reprisal. None was forthcoming, because James had already claimed a seat at the expanded Head table and was at that moment shoveling bacon and eggs on his plate.
The Marauders worked like a well-oiled machine. Harry surreptitiously signaled his father from the Gryffindor table, James nudged Lily, and she turned to Dumbledore to ask him a random question. Dumbledore, distracted by the “serious” discussion sparked by Lily's question, didn't notice the appearance of the Patronus, or the gasp as the illusion spell took effect. And he didn't notice when money changed hands, and McGonagall played her unrehearsed part to the hilt.
“Albus, something's happened to Snape again,” she pretended to moan. He looked up, and at the extremely murderous-looking mule that approached the Head table.
“Longbottom's got to stop intentionally using accidental magic,” he muttered as he pulled out his wand, stood up, and attempted to transfigure “Snape” back. The use of the spell activated the nearest set of fireworks, and a scene of Snape sneering at a Christmas tree that was being trimmed formed in colored sparks. The activation of one group set off the next one in a timed sequence, and a colored-spark scene of Snape pushing over a ladder that held a couple of children with big smiles on their faces formed.
Colin looked like the cat that got the canary as he cast a spell to simulate the screams of those children, intermingled with manic cackling that could only have come from Snape. Dumbledore fell backward.
Colin's spell activated the next set, and a Christmas tree on fire formed with colored sparks, complete with red and orange bursts representing real crackling flames and Snape looking on and laughing. There was another burst of green interposed over Snape, and he looked like the Grinch, then he had a Death Eater mask on and was holding a large wriggling sack. Even Lily looked amazed. Neville's spell simulated the sounds of the flames, and what sounded suspiciously like whimpering children.
The last set of fireworks in the sequence was activated; the grand finale was a reappearance of the mule, but it was upside down and showing graying underpants. Dumbledore gulped, and muttered, “No one tell Severus of this.”
Unfortunately, Harry's plan involved Snape returning just in time for the finale all along... He saw Dumbledore with his wand pointed openly at the spot where the last of the fireworks had faded away. “Decided to put on a little show for the students, Headmaster?” Snape snarled icily.
Dumbledore tried to vehemently deny the accusation, but he was too surprised to think straight. He ducked back behind James, and noticed there was something odd about the young Auror's robes. “You're hiding behind Potter, now? Shame on you,” he snarled. “You can't face me like a man.”
“Why would he need to face you like man?” Harry taunted, coming forward. “Wouldn't you have to be a man first for him to be obligated to treat you like one?”
Snape started snorting like a bull ready to charge, and advanced on Harry threateningly. Harry backed up, looking afraid, and causing Snape to follow him. James and Lily, as well as Sirius, Remus, and Dora followed Snape with their wands drawn.
McGonagall was the first to chuckle, but she quickly stifled it.
“Leave my son alone, Snivellus,” James snarled, closing the gap. Snape turned around, ready to retort, but James' fist collided with his nose.
“You broke by nobe!” Snape shouted, his hands holding his bloody nose.
“You're lucky that's all I'm going to break, Snivellus,” James snapped. Snape cast a glance all around the room, taking the hundreds of gleeful faces, and fled, blood from his broken nose splattering behind him. “Well, that takes care of that,” James said, satisfied. He grinned down at his son, and clapped him on the shoulder. “Next summer, we'll induct you into the Marauders. That was a masterful prank.”
“Ummm, James, I don't think you should be so hasty in praising him,” Dumbledore muttered. “Severus and I weren't his only targets.” He pointed vaguely at James' back, and Lily looked. After a second, her eyes started dancing in merriment.
James turned around in an effort to look at his back, and ended up taking off his outer robe to check it. He saw a Christmas tree on the back, and it zoomed in at regular intervals to focus on one of the baubles on the tree. The bauble had a picture of Harry, winking mischievously. He blinked, and burst out in laughter. There were tears in his eyes as he shook Harry's hand.
“Merlin bless you, Harry,” he said.
* * * *
EDITOR’S NOTE: Of course Dumbledore needed a prank to coincide with Christmas. That’s a given. And besides, he’s actually a rather easy target. At least for Harry. Anyhoo, how did you all like it? Review! And thanks for reading.
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