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Chapter 2 : And then I became a pranking mastermind...
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Previously: A series of different events lead towards the accidental acquiring of an invisibility cloak.
Along with being extraordinarily un-funny I have also never pulled a prank. Well, once when I was little I put a muggle whoopee cushion under my aunts seat, if that counts as a prank. Apparently it wasn’t funny because she has this bowel syndrome which means, in her words, ‘she has bad flatulence.’ So when she sat down on this seat with a whoopee cushion underneath all those years ago she took it as a personal insult to her character, burst into tears, ran out the house and didn’t come back until the following Christmas.
Neither of my parents saw the humour either, and lectured me for hours about how I was an ‘insolent brat’ ‘audacious’ and, my personal favourite – ‘a malicious and unpleasant creature’ until I started crying so hard that I threw up. The only relative who seemed to see the funny side of things was my grandfather who patted me on the back, winked, and slipped me a couple of galleons. I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t not approve of his daughter in-law and my aunt Flo (her name should be funny in itself considering her unfortunate bowel issues, but I decided it was best not to point this out to anyone as my jokes occasionally end in death) and was only appreciative of my poor attempt at humour because he enjoyed seeing Flo cry.
Thus, when I was safely back in the Ravenclaw dorm with my new loot – James Potter’s invisibility cloak – I was surprised that my first thoughts of how to use it were pull a prank.
I’d half expected myself to come up with something lame and bookish to put under the heading of ‘adventurous’ before dutifully handing James his cloak back. Like... sneaking into the restricted section (which I was totally going to do, anyway) or swapping some potions ingredients round in the dungeons so that cauldrons exploded on people I didn’t like. Instead I’d come up with something that was relatively mischievous – pull a prank.
James Potter. I was again surprised by the speed of my own brain. Not that I’m slow, or anything, because when it comes to knowledge and stuff I’m actually pretty fast – I can identify veritiserum easily and can tell you the exact incantation used to make heavy things float on water. I couldn’t tell you how to get a boy to fancy you though, or why your best friend is ignoring you. If I was to ever have a problem page – which I never would, but this is a hypothetical situation – I’d only be able to answer the questions about how to remove that nasty ink stain off your white skirt, or the exact definition of the word ‘fatuous’ and how to use it in a sentence. I’m also not known for my creative ideas.
My creativity stretches to drawing circles on the edges of my parchment when the teacher starts talking about things I already know, and the only brushes I’ve ever used are for applying makeup (not that I wear a lot of makeup, just some) and the last time Dom asked me whether I thought her beret was artistic she nearly ended up leaving for her date dressed in full French attire.
So, to have a genuine and original idea was quite... amazing.
Not that it was much of an idea yet...I could do it thought. I could.
Dom’s mantra was always positive thinking, preaching that the reason why I was so socially awkward was a lack of confidence in myself. Positive mental attitude, she’d declare whilst applying her crimson lipstick and asking if it was possible if I could please, maybe, just go and grab my mascara for her from where she left it in the boy’s dormitory... Which I would, obviously. I was lucky that someone like Dom – who was popular, clever and beautiful – actually talked to me. Positive mental attitude, indeed.
“Birds,” I said sitting up suddenly and narrowly missing knocking myself out on my four poster (like I said – I’m really tall) and snapped my fingers because it felt situation-appropriate and then sat down again and resumed biting my nails. I needed to come up with something so fantastically wonderful that... well.... it wasn’t like I was trying to impress James Potter, because like Dom’s always said – I would never be able to deal with people like him, but, it was exciting.
Hogwarts, in theory, should be an exciting place, and it is... for some people. I’m more of the boring standing in the sidelines type person who’s never really involved with all the pranking, discovering and Quidditch stuff. I just do magic and study – not because I’m boring, although I suppose I am a bit, but because I just never around people who pull stunts like that. Dom’s primary interest is breaking her sister’s heartbreaking record, with a lot less class – naturally – and being Hogwarts most wanted. My only other contact to the world is my little brother who I hardly ever see because he was claimed and taken away from me by Gryffindor. It’s not like no one else knows who I am, they do, they just don’t, well... socialise with me.
This was the most exciting thing that had happened for ages and I was going to make the most of it.
“Birds,” I said again leaning back on my bed and kicking my shoes off in one fluid movement. I swung my legs over the side of my bed and thought about it for a few minutes. What could I possibly do with birds?
Then I had it – it was brilliant in its simplicity, and not much else, but that was okay, I hadn’t been expecting this to become the prank of the year or anything. It was just a bit of fun – to put James in an awkward situation.
I’m a bit of Care of Magical Creatures nut and a bit of a teacher’s pet, so Hagrid would most definitely not be phased if I asked him to borrow a couple of chickens – which was a lot less messy than going through the effort of stealing them – then sneak into the NEWT level Herbology class where James and Professor Longbottom would be residing... Then, let lose chickens. Longbottom will instantly turn to James in horror over fear about his precious Quidditch team being sabotaged and naturally Potter will either have to scream like a girl or come up with some other way of getting out of the situation.
Simple, yet brilliant.
I stood up, spun around and waved my arms about in the form of a victory dance before slipping on my discarded shoes and shooting forwards onto the hard wood of the floorboards.
“Oh pants,” I muttered, trying to peal my slightly frustrated body of the floor and return to my casual and more comfortable position on my bed.
“Autumn,” Dom said from the doorway. “Please don’t tell me you were practicing dancing again?” She said strutting into the room and fluffing her Veela hair in the mirror, whilst watching my progress from floor to feet.
“Erm, yeah.” I said. I’d already decided I was going to keep my little... incident with her cousin a secret. She’s expressly told me never to talk to them, interact with them, or acknowledge their existence in any way. If she knew I’d planned a prank against James Potter – head of her family’s little posse, she’d probably have a fit. Or she’d take over my mediocre plan and turn it into something spectacular and very un-me... I wanted to do something for myself for once. Was that so bad?
“Autumn Olivia Pearce.” She said with a perfectly plucked eyebrow raised in distaste. “What am I going to do with you?”
“Please, enough with the name,” I complained, glancing over at my trunk to make sure that the invisibility cloak was safely hidden from her hawk-like gaze. “It’s unnecessary to torture me so,”
“Totally necessary.” She countered. “Anyway, I came to remind you that it’s dinner just in case you were so engrossed in reading about theastrals or something equally depressing.”
“They’re not depressing Dom,” I countered. “They’re interesting, and you do realise that Harry Potter once used theastrals too -”
“Yes.” She said with that familiar tone of finality that made me shut up. “Can I borrow that necklace?” She asked “Jack’s joining us for dinner,”
“Sure,” I answered flicking through the magazine on the side of her bed.
“Thanks,” She said distractedly, holding her hair up and then letting it fall again. “What do you...?”
“Down.” I answered knowing that it was exactly what she wanted me to say – it was a regular occurrence for her to ask my advice and I knew from experience which the right answer was. Any deviation from the correct answer was not, as she often told me, very helpful.
She nodded, smiled at her reflection, and then reached for my trunk to retrieve the necklace.
My trunk, which also happened to be containing her cousin’s invisibility cloak....
She’d undoubtedly recognise it. Even if she forbade me from talking to them, she definitely did. Every month they had a family gathering where they caused endless mischief by all working together. She always reported that it had been loud, busy and completely childish. Although she always seemed to be glowing and smiling afterwards.
The point was, she’d definitely recognise it, and I wouldn’t know how to explain to her how I had it. I didn’t want my whole planning session to be completely wasted just because of a stupid necklace...
“Wait!” I yelled. Dom looked over me with her eyes wide, clearly reading – what the hell? “Erm... that’s amazing!” I exclaimed. “This, er, charm actually makes your hair erm, wavy!” I said enthusiastically to cover up my spontaneous yelling.
“Okaaay.” Dom said, before turning back to my trunk and reaching to pull it open.
“No, look Dom!” I said thrusting the magazine in her face to give myself some thinking time. “Do you think it would work on my hair?” She looked back up me suspiciously.
“Who are you trying to impress?”
“Because you’ve never been interested in making your hair wavy before. I thought we decided you were more of a straight hair girl. ”
“I just think magic’s amazing, that’s all,” I said smiling overly brightly. “Anyway, speaking of impressing people, don’t you think that the necklace will make it look as if you’re making too much effort? Jacks only on stage one, after all...”
“Maybe,” Dom conceded. “Excellent,” She said glancing at her watch. “We’re five minutes late – he’ll be getting nervous.”
“We going?” I questioned. She nodded. I pulled on my shoes, glanced at my reflection very briefly, before heading out of the dorm in Dom’s wake.
“Autumn,” Dom hissed, kicking me under the table and taking a couple of seconds breather away from simpering and giggling in Jack Slater’s general direction, to glare at me. “What are you doing?” She breathed. “You’re making me look like an idiot.” She was probably right, but nevertheless I found myself feeling equally irritated back at her.
I was terrified that James Potter would approach me demanding the invisibility cloak back off me and revealing my deadly sin (fraternising with the family) to Dom, who would inevitably throw a full sized Dom-diva-fit which could only be bad for everyone. I was very good at not causing Dom to have reason to lose her rag with me, but that didn’t mean I was exempt from it happening.
I may have been ducking every time one of the male sixth year Gryffindor walked into the great hall, and had on occasioned dropped my cutlery so I could retrieve it whenever the said Gryffindor happened to have dark hair... No sighting of James Potter yet though. Maybe he was still looking for me...
“Sorry,” I hissed back, using my hair as a shield and instead fulfilling the desire to eat by filling up my plate for more food.
“Wow,” Jack Slater said glancing at my overfull plate. “For such a skinny girl, you don’t half eat a lot,” He commented in a nice, friendly way that made me feel a little uncomfortable.
“Thanks,” I said awkwardly. Dom raised her eyebrows, giggled as if what he said was funny, before turning back to face him and fluttering her mascara-lengthened-eyelashes like her life depended on it. “So, Jack,” She said. “What are your plans for after Hogwarts?”
Oh dear. Generic question for Jack Sloper – obviously he wasn’t doing well. Dom, naturally, has developed a point system over the years to decide how much interest/energy a guy is worth. First, in stage one, she chats, flirts, and invites them to eat dinner with us. Stage two begins the second Dom turns up at least five minutes late for their dinner. Once a guy wasn’t waiting for her at the specified time (he’d waited four minutes and then given up), he was never asked to return. During stage two you have to pick up at least twenty points.
You get so many points for looks. Jack Sloper was casually attractive but had obviously put in no extra effort today. I reckoned he scored about a four (out of seven).
Then there were points for how nervous the guy looked before he saw Dom approaching. Jack had been too casual and laid back – he’d probably seen Dom’s tried and tested routine before – and hadn’t even been glancing around in anguish. That’s a one (given he was still there).
He hadn’t questioned Dom on her lateness though, which brought him four points.
He’d addressed me in an almost friendly inclusive manner, which was another two points.
He didn’t appear to be responding to Dom’s ridiculous flirting too much, which was one point, and seemed to think that it was a social requirement for them to share out the conversation equally, which was minus one. He’d complimented her though, which was two points, and he’d asked a couple of unoriginal questions about herself – two points.
That meant, overall, he was averaging out as a fifteen.
I’d had high hopes for him as well; maybe he’d earn a couple of extra for his career aspirations.
“I want to be a writer,” He said with a smile. Zilch. (Four points for potential Healers, three for Quidditch players, two for anything interesting or original, one for musicians and minus four for any future ministry workers). If it were me I’d have given him at least three points for his smile, but alas my opinion of the matter didn’t matter.
“That’s nice,” Dom said, and although I recognised the pained note in her voice I doubted he would have noticed anything wrong. “Look,” she said. “I have to go to Charms now,”
“I’ve got Care of Magical Creatures,” Jack said, “Otherwise I would have walked you there.” Plus one for gentlemanly conduct, minus two for putting himself before Dom.
“Autumn has Care of Magical Creatures, too,” Dom said with a smile. “So I guess I’ll be seeing you later,” She said brightly. She glanced back at me and pulled a face after she’d left. I mouthed fourteen after her. She shuddered.
“Ready to go?” Jack asked.
“Sure,” I answered cursing him for not committing properly and carrying Dom’s bags all the way to her charms classroom, pulling out her seat for her, ensuring someone was sat next to her and becoming her personal house elf before heading down to Care of Magical Creatures. He was attractive, and now I was expected to socialise with him.
On the upside, James Potter was nowhere to be seen and now Dom was out of sight I was pretty much home and dry. Plus, only four people took Care of Magical Creatures to N.E.W.T. level, and James Potter sure as hell wasn’t one of them.
“Erm, what subjects do you take?” Jack asked, desperately clinging at the straws of conversation by asking possible the most boring question of all. Minus four Autumn points.
“Care of Magical Creatures, obviously, then, Herbology, Potions, transfiguration, DADA and Arithmancy.”
“Bloody hell.” Jack said, “That’s a lot of subjects,” and him processing that there were a whole six subjects seemed to take up all of his brains capacity for the walk down to Hagrid’s hut for which I was only thankful.
Still, no wonder he hadn’t met Dom’s requirements. He’d probably only just meet mine.
“I mean, come on – a fourteen pointer!” Dom complained throwing herself down on her bed and staring up at the ceiling. “I honestly thought he had potential,”
“I cannot believe,” I said half-listening half-reading. “That he genuinely asked you about your family.”
“Eurgh.” Dom agreed crossing her legs and looking in my direction. “It was a complete embarrassment. Absolute shambles.” She said pulling her hair up into a messy ponytail. She’d changed into her pyjamas but still looked as glamorous as ever in grey sweat pants and a plain white t-shirt. I couldn’t look that glamorous in a ball gown. “Who needs men, anyway?” Dom asked looking at me with her bright blue eyes.
“Precisely,” I said distractedly, reading the same line several times over to try and concentrate properly...
“So,” She said smiling. “How’s about we celebrate singledom with a girls night?”
“Go on Autumn,” She said, “I’ll do your nails?” She suggested.
“Fine,” I agreed, flinging my book aside and throwing myself onto Dom’s bed with a smile.
“What colour?” Dom grinned, throwing her trunk open and pulling out her two dozen nail varnish bottles and lining them up in a row on the blue bed covers. “How’s about a lovely shade of brown to go with your name?” She suggested with a raised eyebrow.
“No,” I complained. “If we had things your way I’d spend my whole life wearing brown, red and orange.”
“And Gold,” Dom said approvingly.
“Crimson, please,” I said pointing out the red-pink colour that contrasted so beautifully with Dom’s skin, and looked quite nice with mine too. Although my nail varnish wouldn’t make it through the night without being chipped beyond recognition, and just look messy. Dom’s nail varnish would also end up chipped by tomorrow, but hers would look like it was meant to be lithe that. It was sickeningly unfair. I stretched my fingers out in front of her ready to be painted and smiled absently. Right now it was so temping to blurt the whole plan out to her, but I would resist.
“Do you think I’ll be single forever?” Dom asked and she brushed the varnish over my nails, and looked up at me through her lashes.
“No,” I answered truthfully. “I’d give it about a week,”
“You’re so beautiful Autumn,” She said looking straight at me. I blushed awkwardly. “You’re all tall and leggy – with your reddish-brown hair and your huge eyes...”
“Erm,” I said, “Thanks?”
“Honestly, you’re over six freaking foot – you should become a model or something.”
“Alright, enough of the sucking up – what do you want, Dom?”
“Nothing,” Dom laughed in her sing song voice. “I just don’t feel like appreciate you enough.”
“Damn straight,” I said waving my hand complete with crimson finger nails around in attempt to dry it. Dom grinned in return and finished my little finger nail on my left hand with a flourish. “Thank you very much, Miss Dominique.”
“Oh dear,” Dom said, “You sound like Richard.”
“Dicky!” We chorused in unison before bursting into laughter. Richard had been a seven-pointer (for looks only) who’d Dom met one summer, who’d called her... Miss Dominique. It lost him twenty whole points but he’d been so attractive she’d given him twenty five out of seven for looks, and had granted him with a second date before she realised she actually couldn’t deal with it.
Dom looked surprisingly thoughtful for a few minutes. “I need to find a real guy,” She said, lying back on her bed. “A proper boyfriend.”
“I’ll be praying for the population of Hogwarts,” I replied, feeling quite pleased with my line – that had almost being funny, hadn’t it? Almost?
“You won’t ‘arm them?” Hagrid asked, watching me attempt to catch one of his chickens (they were to feed some other animal).
“Of course not,” I said lunging wildly. I frowned realising that all my tactics were doing was making the chickens run around like, well, headless chickens... I walked over to the side cornering them. I bent down so that they were nearly at my level. “Here chick...chick...chick...” I said softly before reaching out and slipping my hands around her stomach. She was surprisingly soft to the touch and warm. “I’ll bring them back to you very soon,” I said.
“Course ya will,” Hagrid said, leaning on his fence (which was bending dangerously) and watching my take another chicken up into my hands. “So it’s for a prank, you say?” Hagrid asked. In the end I’d just told him the flat out truth about why I wanted it, at that seemed to appease him. I nodded. “What kind of prank? You’ve never pulled a prank before...”
Dom introduced me to Hagrid in third year, and he instantly saw that I was a magical creature or just creatures in general, fanatic and took a liking to me. Now he’s always inviting me down to his hut to show me his new creatures and such, and sometimes I come down and talk to him about my day. He’s like a distant uncle, but much larger.
“Well, I came buy this...” I said pulling the cloak from out of my schoolbag and waving in front of his face.
“Harry’s cloak?” He asked. “Where did you get that?” He asked. I hadn’t really thought about it, but of course this was the cloak that had once belonged to Harry Potter, that had saved him from death.... I stared at the material and marvelled at its immense history.
“That’s for me to know, Hagrid,” I said cheerfully. “Anyway, I better be off or I’ll be late for Herbology,” I said throwing the cloak over me and clutching the two chickens to my chest.
“Make sure you bring them chickens back!” Hagrid said, talking in completely the wrong direction, before shaking his head and walking back to his hut.
“Shhsh chick, chick chick,” I said softly as the chicken started clucking loudly. “Oh sod it,” I muttered, pulling my wand out of my pocket and silencing the two chickens with a quick non verbal spell.
The walk across to the greenhouses felt much longer with two wriggling chickens held against my chest (the particularly fidgety one didn’t appreciate being silenced and was now pecking at my left breast). I pushed open the door and was thankful of two things – one that we weren’t doing mandrakes because I could have died under the cloak (which would not bode well for my amusingness rating) and no one would have known and, two – no one seemed to think a spontaneously opening door was anything to worry about.
Like I said, stranger things have happened at Hogwarts... one time this statue suddenly grabbed me and I screamed so loud that Dom swore I’d perforated her eardrum and she couldn’t hear properly for a week (which, let me tell you, was a source of complaint for much longer than the seven day span of over exaggerated and dramatised deafness). Although as it turned out it wasn’t a living statue, it was just Oliver – my little brother – and his pratty Gryffindor mates, who’d thought it would be quite funny to make me look more abnormal than normal. Although Dom was the only one to witness that incident, and she knows perfectly well how weird I am. Still, I reckon falling onto an invisible James Potter, feeling him up and stealing said cloak had to be the weirdest thing that had ever happened to me.... it was quite exciting actually.
Longbottom was at the front digging around in soil and talking about Puffapods. They were a pretty basic plant and wouldn’t kill anyone when they chaos started, so I decided that it was all go ahead (I’d had an awful reoccurring nightmare of me walking in with the two chickens, and discovering that we were doing Venomous Tentacula – which was vital for our NEWT course, and then in the dream I panicked and threw off the cloak and the chickens into the air, only to discover I was completely naked underneath. It had been a strange dream, which usually occurs at times of extreme stress... such was when I attempt to do something funny).
I crept forwards until I was standing right next to James Potter’s desk (carefully holding the two chickens so I didn’t accidently kill them or anything – I was hoping that no one would die this time). It was very hard to keep my breathing quite and it was still incredibly surreal to be, well... invisible. Every time I looked down at my feet I thought I was going crazy and had to resist the urge to embrace the crazy and start dancing again – at least no one would see me this time.
Focus, focus – prank. Put the Chickens on desk. Let hilarity ensue.
Except... it wasn’t that funny was it? The whole idea was stupid. I should have just given the cloak to my owl and told it to give it back to them, although that would have no doubt gone wrong – with someone intercepting it and the inevitable loss of the invisibility cloak. Sodding hell. How was I going to give it back to him? I couldn’t keep it, not when it was practically a historical artefact, but I could hardly go up and talk to him... I should have listened to Dom’s rules.
I might as well carry out the plan now though. I had the chickens after all...
Then I realised something that I should have realised way previously given I’m a Ravenclaw (admittedly a very stupid one – for taking Potter’s invisibility cloak!) and all – there was no way of removing the chickens from under the cloak without their being a couple of seconds of my floating midriff, or a few seconds of floating chicken. It was too much to hope that those phenomenons would also go unmissed by the (admittedly small) class of Herbology students. I thought back to the only other time I’d been under the cloak; I’d used a distraction...
Impulsively (which is a rarity, let me tell you), I grabbed a handful of the Puffapods and threw them at the floor a few tables behind James’s desk. The seeds burst into red, gold and orange flowers, springing up out of the ground beautifully... Everyone’s eyes turned to the majestic display and I hurriedly placed both chickens on the desk and unsilenced them in one quick movement. James Potter turned to face his desk and saw the chickens.
For a second he froze. I stepped backwards hurriedly, just in time, as he lunged out to his left, presumably in an attempt to grab me before I disappeared. The chickens clucked loudly (I’d quickly un-silenced them for effect) and now all the attention was on James Potter and the chickens. Longbottom glanced over at James with a worried expression on his face. James, who had lunged in a desperate attempt to catch me, toppled sideways, off his chair and onto the floor.
“Potter?” Longbottom asked, apparently thinking that James had fainted. “Clear the way! He has a paralysing fear of birds!” Longbottom announced running over to James’s side. It seemed Longbottom cared much more about James’s health, rather than his Quidditch team... which was nice, I suppose. James seemed to consider this for a few seconds before slamming his eyes shut and lying completely still.
“James, James?” He said gently. James seemed to revive himself in a spectacularly convincing way, and had somehow turned very, very pale. He was a similar colour to a piece of cream parchment, and his eyes seemed to be swimming with confusion. I was impressed. Dom was right. James Potter wasn’t a prankster – he was the master.
“Wha...what?” James muttered sitting up suddenly and putting a hand to his head. His gaze was unfocused and unsteady. He swallowed. He was a spectacular shade of green. Woah...
“Don’t worry,” Longbottom said, “It was just a chicken,”
“A chicken!?” James asked in horror. He turned even paler which, as a bystander, I found totally alarming. Longbottom seemed to share my views.
“Someone take him to the hospital wing!” Longbottom hissed. “Go on, quickly.” I scooped the chickens back up and bit my lip. I should probably help, but... what would they do to me? Detention? Expulsion? Azkaban!?
Well, obviously not, but James was probably likely to be more annoyed at me revealing his cloak than getting away with a stupid prank unpunished...
Was James Potter genuinely that good of an actor? Or had he not being lying when he said he was afraid of birds...? If he hadn’t been lying then I was most definitely the bitchiest person in the world... What if he’d actually been that close to passing out? What if now people were going to bring birds on the Quidditch pitch and ruin Quidditch – which Dom had repeatedly told me made up half of her cousin’s life (the other half was boobs and blondes, apparently) – for him forever? It was just supposed to be funny! A joke!
I’d practically killed him.
People were going to start calling him James the guy who’s so chicken he’s scared of chickens – or something a little more creative and a little less lame. It was all my fault! I should have told Dom, and she would have put me straight and made sure I used something that didn’t practically makes James freaking Potter faint.
“Hagrid! Hagrid!” I yelling pulling off the cloak and shoving it in my bags. I put the chickens back in the coop and knocked on his door frantically.
The door was wretched open and I threw myself into the cabin. “Is James Potter really afraid of birds?”
“Well,” Hagrid began. “To tell yeh the truth – yeh,” Then he paused for a few seconds.” I shouldntv’e told yeh that.”
I swore loudly and buried my face in the table. I was such a failure at life it wasn’t even funny. Then again, I wasn’t funny. I shouldn’t be allowed in public – I should be confined to my bed so I don’t cause harm and perpetual embarrassment to anyone other than myself.
James Potter was going to kill me.
Note to self: do not tell jokes, or pull pranks – disaster and chaos will ensue, along with a high chance of accidental death or murder.
A/N - Please review, I'm loving writing this story right now. It really cheers me up, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be longer than I expected. Never mind eh! Reviews would be glorious :)
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