Chapter 4 : Welcome back
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I woke the next morning, as always after a night drinking, with a splitting headache. I looked around the room and counted the bottles, then mentally kicked myself and looked over to the back of the door. I counted 8 scorch marks burnt into the back of it. As we kept refilling the bottles that night before, we had made a tally on the door so we knew how much we had drunken. We had almost beaten our group record of 10 bottles, though after that night, we all had thrown up. Luckily last night only Remus had. He was the lightest drunk in our group and couldn’t hold his liquor as well. Even Peter could survive at least two more shots than he could. I fumbled round in the semi-dark for my wand. I found it only after knocking my bedside clock of the table and waking Remus.
‘Bloody hell James!’ He groaned chucking his pillow at me. ‘You know that I need to sleep it off!’
I chucked his pillow back. ‘I’ll find Sirius’s miracle hangover potion for you. Anyway, we need to get down to the kitchens.’ I started to rummage in Sirius trunk until I pulled out a rather large bottle labelled AWESOMENESS.
‘Fuck it! You do it yourself if you care so much!’
I took a swig of the potion and my headache disappeared almost completely. I poured some in a cup for Remus, knowing he would think it unhygienic to drink from the bottle, and offered it too him. He drank it as I started to pull on my school uniform.
Fumbling around I felt in the pockets and pulled out a letter. The letter from my father. Shit! I thought and opened it.
My dear Jay,
I can hardly believe that you are entering your last year of schooling. I know I say this every time but hopefully when you become a parent you will see the truth in these words, but you have grown and matured so much. I know how important this last year is. Make it your own. Don’t follow the crowd, although I know you never have. Stand out. Make a difference. But most importantly have the time of your life. You will never look back on your years here and think that was a waste of time. You will never forget the friendships you have made. However you will regret the things you never did. As your father I should be forbidding you to break rules, but as you know I never could tell you off for it like your mother could. So I just want to let you know that you have my blessing no matter what you do. I have also enclosed something in this letter that made my last year extra special. Something that I don’t think I ever told you about me. I hope that you will carry on the legacy if you haven’t, don’t be ashamed or disappointed, your day is still to come.
Your loving father.
P.S. The East Tower is a brilliant place at dawn.
I tipped the envelope upside down and out fell a small golden badge exactly like the one I was wearing. My father had been Head Boy. He had guarded that secret extremely well. And what did he mean about the East Tower. It was one of the most boring places in the castle. All we had found there was an empty Astronomy classroom and a broom cupboard. Oh well, I could investigate later. Right now it was prank time. I pulled out an ornate wooden box from my trunk and put the letter inside with all the others he had written me so far.
By the time I had found another bottled labelled 2nd Sep. 1977 in Sirius’s trunk, Remus had also dressed. Using the date was how we labelled all our pranks. We had a book where we wrote down what they were.
‘Sorry about before Prongs,’ he whispered.
‘Don’t worry about it, mate. We all handle hangovers differently. Hopefully those two will make it to breakfast.’
‘I’ll set an alarm for them,’ Remus replied as he reached for my clock that I had knocked off, before setting it and placing it by Sirius’s ear. I wrote a quick note to tell them we were in going to be in the Great Hall before we left the others to sleep.
It was later than I had anticipated but we still made it into the kitchens before the food was sent up to the Great Hall for breakfast. Once inside we were greeted by many house elves running around.
‘What would Masters Lupin and Potter like today, sirs?’ squeaked Flurry our usual helper. We had visited the kitchens enough for all of the elves to know our names and we could recognise and name about half of them.
‘Hey Flurry. We were just wanting to ask you a favour.’
‘Oh no sirs, Professor McGonagall made us promise that we wouldn’t help Mr Potter or Mr Black perform any tricks this year.’
‘Come on Flurry! Just one more, please.’ I pleaded. How dare Minnie wreak our plans!
‘No sirs. We promised. Professor said she would go to Headmaster, if we didn’t promise.’
I opened my mouth to try and persuade them to carry out our plans when Remus stopped me.
‘Hang on a minute. Did she ban you from taking orders from me or Peter?’
‘No sir. Flurry is allowed to do whatever Mr Lupin or Mr Pettigrew wants.’ Lupin winced and muttered out of the corner of his mouth, ‘I hate incorrect grammar. Why can’t they just use first person?’
‘No idea mate. But we need this potion in the food before it leaves. So work your magic for a Marauder victory.’
He sighed. ‘Okay Flurry. We need you to place this potion over all the sausages on all the tables, even the teachers’ one. Okay?’
‘Sure Master Lupin. Flurry will do it.’ He took the bottle from my hands and left to do as we bid.
‘Thanks Flurry!’ both Remus and I called as we left the kitchen to head to the Great Hall.
‘Why do you think Minnie didn’t put Moony’s name on the list?’ asked Sirius after we had relayed the story to him and Peter in the Great Hall. The food was yet to yet to come up although the hall was half-filled with hungry students.
‘Who knows? Maybe she’s going senile?’ I suggested. We all looked over at the staff table where she sat surveying the student body with her piercing glare.
‘There is no way she is losing her marbles.’ Sirius said. ‘Just look at that gaze. You can’t do that when you’re half mad.’ Her gazed had reached us and if it were possible it was even more piercing.
‘We shouldn’t have come down so early!’ Remus hissed. ‘We’re never here this early. I think she knows something is about-‘ but he was cut off by the food arriving and us all reaching for our favourites. I was heaping food onto my plate.
I had already half a plate of scrambled eggs when I heard a startled noise, but not from the person I expect.
‘No Pete! Not the sausage!’ Remus hissed. I looked up to see Peter sliding his fork out of his mouth. ‘You dolt!’ Remus continued. ‘The potion is on them! How many times do I have to tell you?’
‘Hey Moony! Calm down, mate,’ I said whilst Sirius just started laughing. ‘Look on the bright side. If Wormtail’s affected, Minnie won’t suspect us right? She knows we wouldn’t jinx our-‘ but I was cut off by another few shrieks. I looked around. Two third years at the Hufflepuff table had started to levitate, as had Peter and six Slytherins, eight Ravenclaws and five other Gryffindors. Even Professor Warburton, who taught Herbology, was floating in the air. And as we watched more people started to rise out of their seats. I had to choke back a laugh. It was a very amusing sight.
I glanced over at the teachers’ table. Professor McGonagall was looking livid, and directly at us. Professor Dumbledore on the hand was slightly smiling. He wasn’t beaming but I could tell he thought it mildly amusing as he was thinking of a way to counter the spell, which I was sure he could. After all, we had only used a simple levitating draught, though admittedly it was double strength.
One first year over at the Ravenclaw table had begun to cry. She had obviously thought sausages would be a nice morning treat. I glanced down the table to where the first years we had shared a cabin with on the Hogwarts’ Express were seated. One of their friends was a good metre and a half off the ground.
Seeing Lily marching down the table towards me I whispered to Remus, ‘I’m just going to visit our first year chums, all right. Their friend might be a little scared.’
He glanced over to where they sat and nodded before looking in the other direction and saw the furious redhead. But before he could protest I slipped out of my seat and hurried down the table.
‘Hi there!’ I said cheerfully as I approached them. As I had thought, the suspended friend looked terrified.
Lachlan was trying to comfort his friend as I approached. ‘Listen Steve, I’m sure they’ll get you down in no time. Almost half the school is floating so it really isn’t a thing to be worried about.’
Samantha joined in. ‘Yeah. Don’t worry about it. I’m sure the teachers can get you down soon but why did you have to eat the sausage? We told you that the Head Boy warned us not to.’
The boy in the air, Steve, spoke. ‘Well, you couldn’t give me a proper reason and I do like sausages. And I still don’t get why the Head Boy would know something is wrong with the sausages and not the teachers.’ At this point I thought it pertinent to announce my arrival.
‘Well, the Head Boy knew it wasn’t going to be the scrambled eggs or the bacon this year, as last year the bacon was spelled to change the consumers hair colour although only after you had eaten a piece of toast, and the bacon was spelled the year before to make you sing everything you had to say for the day. This year he predicted the sausages because the masterminds behind this plan hate sausages, well at least three of them do. Hi Lachlan, Sammy.’
The first year in the air stared at me. ‘Hi I’m James Potter. Head Boy,’ I said holding out my hand.
‘Oh and the Head Boy wouldn’t tell the teachers because now they have to figure out how to unspell you all and hopefully it will delay classes.’ I looked up to see how the teachers were dealing with it. McGonagall still had a knowing glare in her eye and she was now heading towards the Gryffindor table to hand out timetables.
‘Well, I’m glad to see you heeded my advice from yesterday. But I’m going to have to run. Just if McGonagall ask anything about me, just say the Three Musketeers did it. Okay?’
Lachlan and Samantha nodded. Steve however didn’t.
‘See you later,’ I said as I heard the professor talking to the group of fourth years directly next to the first years. I then walked quickly back to the rest of the Marauders and my breakfast.
However, I had forgotten one thing. Lily Evans was seated in my spot, with her arms folded across her chest waiting for me.
‘Potter!’ I almost turned back to the first years but then remembered the reason why I had left. Facing Lily at least had the perk of her looking good.
‘What can I do for you on this fabulous Friday morning?’
‘Why is Sarah there?’ she said with distaste pointing to a 7th year Gryffindor floating in the air.
‘I imagine she ate something that had a spell on it, like the other half of the school that is suspended in the air. I wish I had thought of it. It seems like the perfect welcome back pre-‘
‘I know full well that you are behind this Potter! Put them all down this instant!’
‘Sorry Evans. It can’t have been me this time. Minnie decided to ban the house elves from doing what I say. So even if I did think up this amazing prank, I would have no way to execute it.’
‘Potter! Don’t pretend that you don’t know what is going on! You are the only pranksters in the school who would think it funny to keep half the school stranded in the air.’
‘I beg to differ Evans. There is a group of Hufflepuffs laughing over there. Maybe they did it. You should go yell at them for a bit.’
‘And I suppose,’ a cold voice said from behind me, ‘that they are also called the Three Musketeers?’
I jumped around to see Professor McGonagall looking sourly at me.
‘Umm no Professor. I don’t know who the Three Musketeers are. Are they the ones that did this? Oh I should congratulate them. It’s a pretty clever trick, although I hope these musketeers aren’t planning on being the next Marauders. We haven’t even left yet and their trying to take over.’ She raised a hand to stop me.
‘I do not believe that this stunt was thought up by any musketeers. This looks suspiciously like the dying of hair and singing that have occurred for the past two years and we all know who was behind those pranks don’t we?’
‘But Professor!’ I protested. ‘Why would we jinx one of our own?’ I pointed at Peter.
‘I’m sure you have your own reasons. But I will give you until the end of breakfast to have everyone down or else you and your friends,’ she looked towards Remus, Sirius and Peter, ‘will receive a detention for every single student that is late to class. Here are your timetables for this year. And you all have transfiguration first, but if you are late, I will give you double detentions.’ She marched off up the table to hand out more timetables.
‘Well at least she’s giving us time to fix everything before giving us detention,’ Sirius said tucking back into his breakfast as I sat down.
‘Sirius!’ Remus scolded. ‘That means we only have half an hour.’
‘So? Just brew some gravity potion or something. We’ll be fine.’
‘Padfoot. We made this potion double strength so nothing would be able to reverse it. A normal gravity potion would be useless. And it takes at least 24 hours to brew.’
‘Okay…so potion is out. What about a spell?’
‘Didn’t you hear me James? Nothing is supposed to work against it. They’ll have to wait until the effects wear off which should be by period two.’
‘What about a spell that works with the potion? Like a locomotive spell or something.’
‘Well, I guess it would get them to class-‘
‘And we could ask them to pretend to be walking on the ground and sitting in their chairs. McGonagall won’t know the difference. And we won’t get detention.’
‘But that relies on the cooperation of the people we let down. Otherwise they’ll give us away.’
‘Whatever Moony. We’ll just make them promise not to give us away or we don’t let them down. No biggie,’ Sirius said finally finished his breakfast.
‘No buts Moony. Look. Locomotor Peter Pettigrew. Now try to move to the ground Pete.’ He did. Slowly he managed to get back into his seat.
‘Now Remus, take the first year Slytherins and Hufflepuffs. Padfoot take the Gryffindors and some of the Ravenclaws. I’ll take the older Slytherins and help with the Ravenclaws when I’m done. Somehow I don’t think many of the older Slytherins will be down by the end of breakfast.’
‘Don’t you think it would be better if-‘
‘NO Moony!’ Sirius and I interrupted. ‘The Slytherins hate you!’
‘And they don’t hate you?’
‘You know that’s not what we mean. But we now only have fifteen minutes to lower our detention count. Let’s go.’
Thirteen minutes later, we all met, including Peter, at the doors to the Great Hall.
‘Looks like we’ll be getting detention boys,’ I said, pointing to the single Hufflepuff, two Ravenclaws and about twenty-five Slytherins who were still floating in midair after refusing to cooperate with us. We had also left the two teachers, as without a doubt they would tell Professor McGonagall exactly how we managed to get people off to class.
‘Well come on,’ Remus said. ‘We don’t want to be late to transfiguration.’
To this we all agreed. McGonagall would probably skin us alive if we were late.
We claimed our traditional seats at the very back of the classroom when we arrived. However before we sat down a crisp voice stopped us.
‘Potter, Black, Pettigrew and Lupin! What do you think you are doing?’ We sighed. Very early on in first year McGonagall had decided that we should be separated for our own good and had enforced her rule all the way through our schooling. It’s not that we had forgotten; we were just hoping she had.
I picked up my books and moved to the front of the classroom, taking a seat on the right. Sirius was a row behind me but on the opposite side of the room. Peter was dead centre and Remus was allowed to stay in the back corner.
The class was just as boring as I had anticipated. This term we were starting on complex human transfiguration but to make sure we were still up to scratch today’s lesson was a revision lesson and we had to work in pairs. I was stuck working with the ditzy Hufflepuff girl who had chosen to sit next to me. I glanced over to see Lily working with Peter. Darn it! The worst part about being separated was that there seemed to be a roster of who sat next to me and Lily was never on it. My partners were constantly changing and you couldn’t have any decent discussions. It was slow going and when the bell rang I jumped up to avoid committing suicide. Sadly McGonagall called us Marauders over to her desk so we couldn’t escape yet.
‘Why is it that only Slytherin students were not present in my class today when all the others managed to make?’
‘I’m not sure Professor. Maybe they thought it would be good to ditch,’ Sirius said cheekily.
‘Mr Black, don’t think that I don’t know that this isn’t your prank. All four of you will be receiving a months worth of detentions for disrupting class time. As neither Professor Warburton nor Professor Flitwick could take their classes this morning, Mr Lupin will help in the greenhouse during his spares this week and Potter you will assist Professor Flitwick starting today. Mr Black and Mr Pettigrew will be doing some cleaning after dinner. Come find me. Next week you’ll all be cleaning. I have to say I am a little disappointed in you all. You are now leaders of the school. I expected a little more control. Now go to break.’
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