Chapter 11 : In The Dark Of The Night Howls The Undead
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Later that night, when everyone was in bed, even the patrolling teachers and the prefects, James, Sirius, Remus and Peter crept out of the Common Room. As they exited the portrait hole, they made sure that they didn’t wake up the Fat Lady. Then, James pulled out the invisibility cloak from under his robes and swung it over him and his friend’s shoulders. They had to all crouch together for it to fit now, but it was still working.
Creeping slowly and not saying a word, the four of them kept their eyes peeled for Peeves the ghoul or any sign of Mrs. Norris, the filthy caretaker’s patrolling cat. In the end, having them all together was becoming more of a liability than an asset, so James pulled the cloak off.
“We’re not getting anywhere like this, let’s split up. Peter, Remus, you take the cloak. Sirius and I will use a Disillusionment charm.” He whispered as he handed the silky fabric of the cloak to Remus.
“But it’s yours.” Remus complained, handing it back. James didn’t take it.
“That’s because we’ve got the bloomin’ stones to do it with the risk of getting caught,” Sirius chuckled as he grabbed the cloak from Remus’ grip and shoved it around his neck, “Now get gone before we’re effing caught.”
Complying with an exhausted sigh, Remus pushed the cloak over himself and Peter and took off. Sirius and James pointed their wands at each other and muttered under their breaths.
A cold trickling like water crept down their backs, and they realised that it had worked. Part of the spell allowed them to see each other so they knew where they were going without communicating, so they nodded to each other, and took off down the dark corridors.
Meanwhile, on the third floor, Remus and Peter went prowling. It was always forbidden to all students so they thought that would be the best place to find Mrs. Norris sneaking around while Filch was asleep. They stepped up the stairs slowly, not even daring to breathe out of fear of drawing the cat to their presence. The idea was to find the cat and stun her before she knew what was what. Remus on the left and Peter on the right, they tip-toed through the corridor. After looking in all the nooks and crannies, they checked the last crevice that lead to the most guarded room in the castle. Not having much luck, they backed out, and then Peter gasped as he trod on something, which gave out a loud yelp.
Remus’ eyes widened in shock and anger when he saw the oh-so-recognisable cat screaming at the top of her lungs at them. They heard a door open and close and fast footfalls approaching which meant surely that Filch was coming to the aid of his pet demon. Remus, acting quickly as his friend froze, whipped out his wand.
The cat stopped yelping immediately and froze, mouth still hanging open. Peter, coming to his senses, grabbed the animal and pulled her in with them as they backed back towards the guarded door, which wasn’t so guarded anymore. They sucked in their breath and froze up as the footsteps came closer and closer. Both of their hearts skipped as they saw Filch appear with a lantern from one wall. Peter flinched and Filch reacted, shining the light into the darkness. Even though they knew that there was no possibility that he could see them, he was looking right at them. He called out to his feline companion, but there was no answer. Then the boys relaxed as he left the doorframe, and then exited the corridor, the light and footsteps fading as he left the floor.
Elsewhere, James and Sirius weren’t having any luck finding Peeves. They had checked five floors and come up with zip. As they scowered the sixth floor, unaware that Filch was on the loose, they heard a wheezing and a crackling from the girls bathroom. James signalled for Sirius to be quiet, and they made their way to the door. They backed up quickly to each side of the door as it opened, a ghostly figure unveiling himself to them and cackling quietly to himself as water leaked from under the bathroom door. Sirius whipped out his wand, James strongly protesting silently.
“Oh, no you don’t.” he whispered, muttering a jinx that sent the water back into the room. James gave him a warning look, but Sirius just smirked and held his wand to his throat. James squinted, not sure if his eyes were worse than he thought. He had no idea what Sirius was doing, that is, until he spoke.
“Peeves…” an eerie voice, foreign to Sirius’, but still coming from his neck whispered. Peeves turned, not scared, but intrigued.
“’Oo’s tha’?” he asked in his usual cockney accent. A smirk glistened on Sirius’ handsome face, James’ too when he caught on.
“This is none of your business, but I suggest you do exactly as I say or I will blast you right out of purgatory myself!” the voice spoke again. James and Sirius were both fighting back laughter at this point. Peeves now looked a little intimidated.
“Oi! No one towks ta may liyk tha’!” Peeves screeched, turning around and around but seeing no one.
“I think I just did.” Sirius said coolly in his new voice as Peeves turned his back to them. “Now turn around exactly 180 degrees. That’s it.” He commentated as Peeves complied to his wishes cautiously.
“That’s it, that’s it.”
James was astonished at his friend’s brains and initiative. He thought that if he applied this to his school work, he may just give Lily and Marion a run for their money. But he wouldn’t do that.
“Now, float slowly forward.” Sirius ordered. Peeves almost did as he was told, but then stopped himself.
“No. No way!” he cried, this agitated Sirius.
“Do it now or risk the extermination of your existence!” he demanded. Peeves, who now looked slightly worried, sighed and did what was asked of him. He slowly floated towards James and Sirius, although he didn’t know that they were there.
“That’s it, steady now.” Sirius cooed as Peeves drifted. He was gliding almost right between them by this point.
“Very good. That’s good. Petrificus Totalus!” Sirius shouted in his own voice as he removed it from his throat and pointed it at Peeves, who was right between he and James. He collapsed in a slightly transparent heap before them. James grinned and patted Sirius’ back gleefully. As they were picking him up, they heard someone fast approaching.
“Uh oh.” James muttered as a warm trickling feeling came over his back. Before he knew it, both he and Sirius were visible again. Suddenly, their heads snapped up as someone else entered the corridor.
“Oi, you! Potter, Black? Ha ha I knew I’d get you before the year was- ugh!” he flew back as Sirius whispered ‘obliviate’ with his wand tucked under the safety of his sleeve. James looked at him with an open mouth as Remus and Peter burst in, Remus with the cat under one arm. They saw Filch and looked straight at Sirius.
“You see how they just fucking assume it was me?” Sirius complained to James.
“Was it you?” asked Remus.
“Well he was gonna catch us otherwise.” Sirius pouted as they tied up Peeves and Remus sighed deeply.
While James and Remus set up things in the entrance hall, Sirius and Peter jogged down to meet them.
“Filch?” asked James.
“Back in his bed, sleeping like a log.” Remus assured him.
“Yeah, and snoring like a fucking chainsaw!” Sirius huffed as he helped finish off the last flourish to the trick. Then the four boys stood back, arms around each other’s shoulders as they admired their work.
Sirius then grabbed his wand and pointed it at the bundle before them.
Peeves rose silently, still in a daze with his ghostly eyes glazed over. There was a rope linking him to Mrs. Norris, who was hanging upside down about a foot off of the floor. The boys hid from view of the two stunned creatures behind a cold stone pillar and James raised his wand to them.
The two subjects burst back to life. Mrs. Norris screeched at the top of her little cat lungs and Peeves howled. Not knowing what else to do about the thing attached to his rear end, he cried out and flew around in circles.
“Louder, louder…” Sirius urged under his breath, hoping with all his might Peeves and Mrs. Norris would really raise the volume and wake up the entire school. His prayers were answered as he heard thunderous footsteps coming from all angles. He looked at his comrades, exchanged grins, and stepped under the cloak with them as the room began to fill with angry and sleepy students and teachers. They stood out in the middle of the room, swerving around with practiced skill as Peeves angrily yelped and whizzed about. As the Gryffindor students swarmed from their common room and stood in their pyjamas behind Professor McGonagall, the marauders gathered amongst them and whipped off the cloak. James shoved it into his pocket and they pushed to the front, pretending to be confused by the display. Marion appeared behind them, wrapping her robe tight around her as all she had on was one of her usual short night dresses. Sirius leaned into her and whispered into her ear.
“Nice dress, honey.” He smirked. She smiled bitterly and returned.
“I see that you haven’t changed at all… honey.” She chuckled. Sirius’ face fell.
“Look…” he started but Marion cut across him.
“Save it, I know that it was you guys. Nice job. The entire school is here.” She observed. Sirius looked at her nervously.
“Relax, I’m not going to tell on you.” She assured him.
“Thanks, love.” He sighed, throwing a mock punch on her shoulder.
“Don’t mention it- ever. And if you call me honey or love again, I will personally tie you to Peeves by your underwear and parade you around the school.” She snarled with a cheeky smirk, punching his shoulder and re-joining Lily, Alice and Mary who had no idea who had pulled it off. Sirius look after her, not quite resting his eyes on her back like a gentleman would have…
“Attention!” a stern voice called out. The mutters of the students hushed and the focussed on professor McGonagall. She was about to undo the spell, when a panting Filch came running in. as his beady little eyes fell on his pet, he gasped and chased her, only succeeding in wearing himself out further and coaxing hysterical laughter from all the students.
“Laxo Explico!” McGonagall cried and blue light spurted from the end of her wand. The rope tying the cat to Peeves evaporated into thin air and the ghoul flew away into the night air of the castle. Filch scooped up the spoilt cat into his arms and cuddled her close, retreating into the crowd as McGonagall faced the now silent students with a look that couldn’t made Lord Voldemort himself curl up in fear.
“Now, who did this?!” she boomed crossly. The students murmured amongst themselves, trying to find the culprits for this amazing stunt. McGonagall was frustrated with the long wait and threw her hands in the air.
“Enough!” she called causing the students to hush once more. “I want confessions in 24 hours. Denounce the culprits if they do not come forward but if I don’t get the offenders by tomorrow, all houses will be docked 300 points! Now go back to bed, all of you.”
And with that, everyone again dispersed back to their common rooms and to bed.
The next morning, the marauders were sitting awkwardly at the Gryffindor Table. They just pushed their food about their plates and felt guilty. Everyone was going to lose 300 points because of them. They couldn’t even look at each other. However, on the other hand the prank had been very successful. The whole school had been there to witness it. Unfortunately, they had taken it too far. They sat wrestling with their consciences when Professor McGonagall stood over then, and let out an abrupt cough which alerted the boy’s attention. She smirked down on them in superiority.
“Hello, boys.” She grinned. The boys eyed her suspiciously.
“My office.” She ordered. The boys complied with looks of horror. They knew that they were in trouble but they hadn’t told anyone. As they were paraded down the hall, people started to stare. There were whispers of children debating whether or not they were the prankers. The boys tried to block the mutterings from their ears and looked at their feet as they were led out of the hall, up the stairs and into McGonagall’s office. The locked and bolted the door behind them as she walked past the marauders and sat behind her desk. The boys edged nearer anxiously.
“Well then.” The Professor began, “Aren’t you going to try and tell me it wasn’t you?”
The boys looked down again.
“No, Professor.” They said in unison. McGonagall grinned.
“I didn’t think so. How dare you think that you have the right to do something like that in this school? Who do you think you are?” she ranted. James opened his mouth to say something, but she cut across him.
“No, don’t say anything. I am so disappointed that four members of my own house would do something as childish and precarious.” She continued. Sirius spoke.
“We didn’t think anyone got hurt, Professor.” He put forward cautiously. McGonagall stared him down.
“Oh, you didn’t, did you? Well Mr. Filch’s cat is now being treated for rope burns on her tail which you so honourably provided now does that sound like nobody got hurt?”
There was a silence for a while, before Sirius spoke again.
“If you don’t mind my asking, Professor, how did you know that it was us?” he whispered, almost afraid to know the answer. The Professor considered her answer for a moment, before raising her head and speaking.
“The denouncer wishes to remain anonymous, but they did express some concern as to what was going to happen to you. They said they heard you planning it and came forward after the fact.” She explained. Realisation and horror illuminated Sirius’ face as a truth he didn’t want to face dawned on him.
“Now, I must impress on all of you how serious this matter is. There will be letters going home to your families tonight, you shall receive a week’s detention and Gryffindor shall lose 100points.” McGonagall explained, though all the while Sirius wasn’t listening. He knew who had told on them.
“Relax; I’m not going to tell on you.”
She’d lied to him and told on them behind their backs. She wasn’t going to get away with this.
Later, when the boys returned to their Common Room, they saw Marion, Lily, Alice and Mary sitting on one of the bright scarlet sofas. Sirius scowled at the beautiful brunette and made a path straight for her. The others anxiously followed, not knowing what he was doing. He then stopped right in front of Marion, who looked up at him.
“You’re kind of in my light, Black.” She chuckled, then her face fell as she saw the harsh look he wore on his face.
“Well it looks like today everyone seems to be doing things they shouldn’t.” she snarled. The other marauders looked astonished. There was no way Marion could’ve been the one to tell, was there?
“What the hell are you on about?” Marion asked, standing up to Sirius with a confused look on her face.
“Oh, like you didn’t see this coming, Preston. You told Professor McGonagall it was us that pulled the prank- after you promised you wouldn’t!” Sirius cried, attracting the attention of others in the Common Room, who were all looking forward to witnessing the new Preston/ Black battle. Marion looked absolutely livid.
“I what?!” she screamed, “I told her nothing!”
“Likely story. She told us that someone heard us planning it and you and your douche bag boyfriend were right there!” Sirius bellowed. Marion suddenly looked hurt rather than angry.
“And you assume it was me?” she muttered. Her reaction surprised Sirius, but he remained hard faced. Marion turned to the other three marauders, who were all looking back at her with disappointed looks. She looked back to Sirius, pleading with him with her eyes.
“I didn’t-” she began again in a whisper.
“Don’t even.” Sirius said, stone faced. Marion gasped at him and ran out of the room. She stormed up the stairs and entered her dormitory and slammed the door behind her, the sound echoing in the Common Room. The furious marauders shook their heads and left for their dormitory, when Lily stood in front of James and Sirius.
“I think you owe her a serious apology.” The sneered before following the path her friend had taken. Remus looked a little bit remorseful, but the proof was right there, there was no other way for it to have happened. James and Sirius still couldn’t believe it. James had Marion all his life and had never known to anything like this, but it she had, there was no doubting that. Sirius thought that he and Marion might finally be done with the fighting, obviously not. It was her idea to be friends and here she was doing this. This girl was one complex character.
Marion sat on her balcony looking over at the school she so loved below her. How could they question her? She was a lot of things but not a rat. Even when she and Sirius didn’t get along, she wouldn’t tell on them. That would be just pathetic. She never got mad, she got even.
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