I ran into the kitchen triumphantly, cheering along with Hugo as he opened the fridge to raid. I felt like nothing could bring down my euphoric mood right now!
Hugo and I slapped high fives as we made our way around the kitchen, gathering food to take to our woods for a celebratory picnic-and-planning-session. Now that we’d provoked the Finnigans and gotten our wish, I was determined to make the best of it.
“What are you two so happy about, then?” Aunt Hermione asked curiously, wandering into the kitchen with a mug of tea. The air was really quite crisp these days, and she was ‘enjoying her last year of working part-time before us scamps get to Hogwarts’. At least, that’s what she said; Mum was working today.
“In fact, do we even want to know?”
I grinned at her. “Probably not!”
Hugo shouted with his head in the breadbin, “Definitely not!”
He re-emerged, grinning at me, and we grabbed the bags to run out the back door when Aunt Hermione shouted one last thing at us. “Hey, does this mean your Mum will get an angry visit from Lavendar Finnigan this evening?”
I grimaced, Hugo stumbled and looked back, but we kept on running towards the treehouse. It was all going to come down on us too hard, too soon anyway.
“Okay… Just let me write that down…” The faint sounds of pen on paper filled the treehouse.
“I’m thinking Hallowe’en. And the weeks up to it, of course, but we pretend we’re weak and everything with a couple of decent pranks up until then. Trick or treat!” Hugo cackled madly.
“Good idea. Okay, Hallowe’en it is.” I scribbled that down on our WAR AGENDA sheet too. “What?... okay, that one will have to wait a while. We need to figure out the finer details of our smaller pranks first.”
I raised my eyebrows at Hugo’s blankness. “We’re going to talk to Uncle George, of course. Who else can we ask for great minor pranks?!”
“Oh, yeah. And he can help us for the Ultimate Move too.”
I processed what Hugo had said. It would definitely be a good idea to enlist the help of our I-play-pranks-for-a-living Uncle for the (hopefully) ending move, but how far did we want to go with the help of adults?
“Yeah, maybe. We need his help, but I think we should keep the details to ourselves in case the ‘rents come snooping. I mean, we do need his help and I’m sure he wouldn’t give away pranking details to them deliberately… but my mum can be scary with her brothers when she’s angry.”
“Ok. Well, when can we get to him?”
I smiled. “I think Wednesday. That’s the only day we can be sure he’ll be at the shop; all the shipments arrive then. It’s unfortunate we have to wait two days, but if we keep coming and going our parents will notice.”
“Wednesday it is!”
And we stuck the pin in the paper that was on our fast-filling noticeboard.
By Wednesday, we were racing home the second the bell went. We were taking Hugo’s floo, because Aunt Hermione was working today, but we didn’t know if she’d be back at 3’o’clock or 10’o’clock; we were running the risk of bumping into her, and Mum had taken today off because she was teaching some haphazard maths at school this morning.
We were also trying to get home before her, but had no idea if she had taught this afternoon or not, PLUS we had to sneak into my house beforehand to retrieve the Swag Bag (or, my old rucksack).
It was a risky plan with too many variables, but there was just no other way about it.
We barged into my house fast, not bothering to call or anything. If Mum was home, she wouldn’t hear us if we didn’t announce our presence. I quickly scampered upstairs, grabbed my rucksack, and scuttled down again as fast as I could without being noisy.
Then we were out of the garden and running down the lane to Hugo’s.
“Hello-oh?” he called out loudly, before I could clamp a hand over his mouth. Shoot! I gave him a dirty look and he glared back. Translation: we need to find out if anyone’s home.
I sighed and rolled my eyes, accepting that he was probably right, although I didn’t much like it. I preferred to things unannounced and off my own back, where no-one could tell me if I wasn’t meant to do it.
We waited with baited breath, and just as everything seemed clear again –
“Hugo, is that you?”
“Er… yeah. Hi mum!” Hugo licked his lips nervously, and I put my head in my hands.
“Hi sweetie. Audrey’s here to see you, if Lily’s there?” There was note off in Aunt Hermione’s voice, and I frowned. She knew perfectly well that I was here with Hugo.
“No, Lily’s doing something with her mum at school,” Hugo called, his voice a little higher than normal as he attempted to sound nonchalant.
It wasn’t really working. But I knew now why Aunt Hermione had pretended I might not be here; so I could escape.
Hugo made cutting motions across his throat as the sounds of the two of my aunts coming round the corner, and I looked around terrifiedly for a place to hide. The bathroom? No, too open. The garden? Could be seen from the house. The kitchen? No, THEY WERE IN IT.
I was starting to panic, when Hugo flung open the closet door that was directly behind me and shoved me in.
I stood very still, having being shoved unceremoniously into the hanging coats and messily piled shoes in here, and tried to not breathe loudly. After all, we’d just done a lot of running and I was quite hot.
“Hi honey,” Audrey said in her ‘clingy voice’ (she has loads, and Hugo and I named them all. This was one of the funniest), “how are you? Gosh, did you just put your coat in that closet – isn’t it a little early for coats?” She laughed, and I cursed my most boring and least favourite auntie.
“Um, no,” Hugo squeaked. “I mean, yes, it’s too early for coats, but I wasn’t putting my coat in there, I was just putting away my… quidditch jersey. Yes, we had quidditch today.”
I could almost feel Aunt Hermione’s frown, then her eyes travelling upwards, and realising straight away that it was me, not a quidditch jersey, that Hugo had dumped in here. I mean, since when did we have quidditch on a Wednesday? But it was that fact that had alerted Aunt Hermione to my presence, and so she didn’t make Hugo take off his shoes immediately like she normally did.
I love my family. They go out of their way to help me avoid deathly-boring people.
But. “Hugo, aren’t you going to take off your shoes? You’ll walk mud all over your poor mum’s carpet!”
“Uh…oh-okay, auntie…” Hugo sounded positively terrified and I rolled my eyes. He could do this fine if they played it right.
“So, Audrey, would you like another cup of tea?” Aunt Hermione tried to lead her back to the kitchen as Hugo took off his shoes as slowly as possible.
“Ooh, I’m alright thanks, this one’s done me well.” She was officially waiting for Hugo to put his shoes back in this cupboard. Dragon-woman.
I could hear Hugo as he slowly crouched to the floor and pulled off his shoes with as much care and solemnity as is humanely possible (and then some). There were no sounds of movement from Aunt Audrey, though.
“Uh… I’m just going to put these away, then,” Hugo muttered. Then, louder, he said, “so you can go now.”
Audrey didn’t bother replying, nor could I hear her moving away. Damn. Hugo sighed in a sassy manner and opened the door carefully just a crack, shoved his shoes in at the bottom of the shoerack (he was learning) and slammed the door shut.
“Better?” he asked in a sarcastic tone.
I could almost hear Audrey’s Dragon Tone to go with her acidic, “Much.”
A long, long time later, Hugo came to retrieve ‘his shoes’ (me) to go and ‘meet Lily’ (escape) on orders from Aunt Hermione. I was deathly bored out of my skull at this point, and had considered making my escape earlier, but I couldn’t hear when they were moving around or not in there, so I’d had to stay.
I was going absolutely stir-crazy, and bombarded Hugo with whispered questions for most of the run to my house. He gave terse, yet relieved, answers back; turns out Audrey had just questioned him for two hours about school.
We were just entering the front door, sighing, when mum came in behind us. She looked kind of surprised to see us here and an hour early for tea, and told us so.
“Ugh… Aunt Audrey had me trapped in the coat closet because Hugo and Aunt Hermione were nice enough to give me an escape,” I moaned. Mum’s eyes widened.
“Good thing you told me, then. I was just off to see your mum, Hugh… ugh, I definitely won’t. She was round here only last week giving orders to me!”
I shot a look at Hugo. My mum had her pensive tone seeping in, and we decided to make our escape.
“Aunt Ginny, can we go to the treehouse now?”
“What?” Mum blinked, then frowned. “Can’t they see you from the house when you cross the fields?”
I groaned with Hugo. “Okay. We’ll just go to my room, then. Thanks, Mum.”
Hugo muttered under his breath all the way up, but I just rolled my eyes.
When we eventually flopped on my bed, we lay there for a moment, thinking. Then I couldn’t stand not talking any longer.
“Okay, Hughie. I had a load of ideas when I was sitting in that flipping cloakroom, and blimey, it’s going to take me forever to explain them all…”
Hugo rolled onto his side. “It’s okay. We have an hour and a half, though no access to the treehouse, so you’d better get explaining.”
I grinned happily. “Okay! Well, us and the Finnigans are going to take it in turns to prank, but we should probably let them think they have the upper hand by going first while we use that time to plan. Then, we should each have a turn or two a week; that makes it easier. Agreed?”
“Well, seeing as we now can’t get to Uncle George until tomorrow - ”
“Actually, he’s out on some stock thing until next Thursday,” Hugo interrupted. My eyes widened.
“Holy mother of Merlin, what are we going to do!”
“Calm down, Lilster,” Hugo instructed, sitting up and pulling me up to face him. “We can just use what we already have. It’ll all be fine; we can use our much-favoured muggle methods, yeah?”
I took a huge breath. “Okay then. October 3rd it is… oh gosh. That gives us eight days of pranks and stuff to counter… I have a couple of ideas, but no idea how to pull them off.”
“That’s what I’m here for. Fire away.”
“So… piracy. We tie them up and mess with them by throwing quaffles near their heads. Or just make them walk the plank when they’re tied up. Maybe some firework stuff. I’m not sure. Hmm… and night raids! I love a good night raid,” I said triumphantly, sitting back on my heels.
Hugo grinned widely. “Ooh… that sure sounds good, lil’ Lil.”
I shoved him off the bed.
It was October 3rd… our big date with Uncle George had arrived at last!
Last Thursday, the Finnigans had put firewhiskey in our drinks so that we got sent home for being drunk.
Then on Sunday, we had snuck into their house (using brooms to get there, of course) and done your typical night raid with the last of our special Wheezes’ whipped cream on their faces (it doesn’t come off for 24 hours), tying Reagan’s hair to the bedposts, and putting green gel in the boys’, and drawn hilarious faces on them in muggle permanent marker. Thank heaven for Hugo’s Granny Jane.
Then yesterday, Wednesday, the Finnigans had somehow managed to drop worms down our shirts, mice in our bags, green sludge in our shoes and maggots in our hair.
On Saturday, it was our turn. And we were going to Uncle George for help with Hallowe’en, as well as our Saturday prank and further pranks in the future; we could only gather our Hogwarts supplies once we had finished this war, victorious!
But all our carefully-laid plans went without a hitch, for once. We sprinted home, sneaked into the fireplace, and positively exploded into Uncle George’s Diagon Alley shop before Mum even realised we had left school, although Uncle George didn’t half get a fright when his best niece and nephew burst into his fireplace and brought down half the mantelpiece.
I grinned at his shocked face while Hugo stuck his hand out from the ash we had sprayed everywhere; I took it and pulled him up. Uncle George grinned, a matching one to mine, as we stood before him absolutely covered from head-to-toe in dirt, and serenely bowed.
My favourite Uncle (ok, apart from Uncle Ron) moved out from behind the supremely cluttered and busy inventing desk he was sat at, and fist-bumped us both when he was close enough. His shocking scarlet robes clashed as much with his hair as they did mine and Hugo’s, but we still winked at him in return as he showed us to amazingly cool seats opposite his Inventing Throne and across the Busy Table.
“So, my favourite niece and nephew,” he said grandly, winking at us again, “what brings you both to my not-so-humble abode in Diagon Alley?” He picked up a fantastic tiny robot and started pushing it up ramps and along the table, fiddling with a tiny screwdriver as he did so. “After all, you two are the only fun ones left, now that all the other bores have left for Hogwarts and decided to get on with their studies. I mean, come on,” he rolled his eyes, “since when do you need to study at Hogwarts? Unless you’re your mother, Hugo,” he amended.
“Well, we’re actually here about a load of pranks we’d like to play…” I started.
“Oh, do tell. This is what we’re here for – making mischief. Even Freddie and James have been far too good this year…” Uncle George shook his head, then motioned for us to carry on.
“It’s against the Finnigans because - ”
“YES!” Uncle George leapt into the air and did some sort of silly victory dance. Hugo and I stared at him like he was quite mad, because although Uncle George is our most awesome yet insane uncle, that doesn’t mean that it was remotely normal.
Instead, Uncle George exclaimed, “I always hated Seamus, the git! So now our kids take it out on his kids!”
I gave him my steely look and he sat down fast.
“But every three days, we take it in turn to attack the others. That gives us six days each time to come up with a new prank. But we’re kind of running out of a load of pranking equipment and ideas… Plus we’d like to put in a giant move at Hallowe’en,” Hugo carried on for me.
Uncle George put on his Evil Expression. “Well, you know you’ve come to the right place, kids. Come this way!”
The words were hardly out of his mouth before we leapt up together and raced after him into the stock room. The Finnigans would never know what hit them.
Day 304 (going on 303)
Through all of October, the nights started to close in earlier, wrapping the darkness around the drooping trees. Their branches became more bare as leaves turned from green to yellow to orange to brown, often with splashed of red thrown in for good measure. Hugo and I steadily pulled on thicker jumpers, longer trousers and had a giant house-search for the family’s hats, gloves and scarves.
By the night of October 30th, autumn was nearly finished and giving way to winter rapidly, whilst the first frost fell… and Hugo and I were sat in the freezing winds of the north as they swept south to us, and we sat experiencing the full winteriness of the situation in the bushes of the Finnigans’ back garden.
Yes, even though he had a huge farm to take care of, Seamus had still made a back garden for his family. Frankly, it seems to defeat the object.
But considering it was the middle of the night, and we were here to inspect the Finnigans’ costumes and trick-or-treat bags, I was starting to lose all will to live.
“Hugo… remind me what we’re here for. I’ve lost all feeling in my hands, feet, and bum.”
Hugo’s teeth chattered. “Err… t-t-to s-sss-see what-t-t w-we c-can-n do with the-their cc-costumes-s-s,” he just about managed.
I slowly nodded. “Right… because already in the past month, we’ve managed to shove baked beans in all their clothing, set tiny birds about them wherever they go, write stuff about them all over the walls of the school toilets, superglue their hats to their heads, and tie them to trees and pretend to use their heads for target practice with the quaffle… ooh, we are good,” I said, marvelling at how amazing we were.
Uh, not to sound big-headed or anything…
I huddled closer to Hugo for warmth. “And, if you think about it, their forcing us to throw up, water balloons everywhere we go, hair dye and broomstick sabotaging was not very original. Although those exploding shoes were a stroke of genius,” I said thoughtfully. “Either way, I think we’re pretty even at the moment, but this last move of ours will be absolute GOLD!”
Hugo nodded enthusiastically, giving me a thumbs up, because he was beyond coherent speech. We sat huddled for a few more minutes while I tried to resist the urge to check my watch… and finally gave in.
“Uh… 12.34… YES! Hugo! We have one minute before we can break in. That’ll have given them half an hour to fall asleep, right? Well, we can start moving now!” Hugo looked alarmed as I pulled him out of the bush extremely hard and into the fence, where we crept along the edge, trying to see through my extremely windswept hair. It wasn’t doing well with all this ridiculous winter wind blustering horribly everywhere.
Good thing it was a Friday evening, and we didn’t have to be up too early tomorrow… although we couldn’t come down too late, or the parents would get suspicious. Neither could we be too tired. Fortunately, the Finnigans had gone to bed earlier than they normally did on Fridays, in favour of extreme lateness tomorrow (ok, more like today now), with all the Hallowe’en parties.
Within moments, we were pulled up against the back wall of the house, and attempting to mount our brooms while keeping as close to the bricks as we could. It took a bit of manoeuvring and whispered curses, but eventually Hugo and I rose unsteadily into the air, bashing our brooms against the walls a bit as we were batted by the wind. When we reached the windowsill, Hugo and I perched on the edge, half balancing on our toes and half supported by our brooms.
Just as we were peering in, Hugo got caught by a particularly powerful torrent of wind, and slammed into the window, causing a huge BANG to echo through the house. The unknown Finnigans we were watching starting moving, half-awake, and together Hugo and I screamed, “SHOOT!” into the howling wind about us. Straight away, Hugo jumped backwards off the ledge, and I cast a quick glance about the room before grinning devilishly and leaping the same way as him.
“Lily, come on!” Hugo shouted, as the parents’ light came on. I zoomed towards him, leaning down low over my broom, both of us not caring about staying in the shadows any longer.
When we finally reached the back fence, we touched down, laughing hard. The hard winds had whipped us up beyond belief, and I had never felt so alive in doing something so unprecedentedly dangerous. We couldn’t help just staying where we were and laughing so hard our stomachs hurt.
“Oh gosh, Hugo… your face when you hit the window…” I gasped. He burst into fresh peals of laughter at that, and I joined him. We didn’t need to worry about being heard out here.
But after a long while, when we had both just finished laughing, Hugo asked in a more serious tone, “But Lily… we failed. We didn’t even get to see what they’re wearing!”
He sounded so upset I chuckled. “Don’t worry, Hugo. I saw – and I have to say, it’s pretty darn original. They’re going as the Golden Trio!”
Hugo’s mouth fell open. “What, my parents and your dad? Are you serious?”
I hit him on the arm. “Of course I’m serious, dimwit! Why would I joke? Still, everyone knows that our dragon is going to be the scariest in the town.”
Hugo grinned wickedly, a grin to match mine, and we high-fived each other before splitting to go to our separate gardens.
Fourteen hours later, at a quarter to five in the evening, it didn’t seem quite so funny. Mum had given Hugo two lectures already about ‘not starting any funny business with the Finnigans’ because she had been visited by Seamus three times already, and she had only had to visit him twice.
I had then said, “Doesn’t that tell you something about how bad his kids are at practical joking?” but Mum didn’t find it funny.
Instead, we had been urged to ‘be the better people’ and make peace. Hugo and I hadn’t been able to stop our sniggers at that, and so had been forced to put on our amazing Hungarian Horntail outfit without help. It had been difficult to say at the least, not to mention the fact that we had had a lot of help from Uncle Charlie for it, and because the parts that Hugo and I were supposed to fit in only just fit us.
Nonetheless, we managed to force it on somehow, and looked pretty cool too.
Hang on, let me rephrase: we looked absolutely amazing.
Uncle George had come around about half an hour ago and admired the outfit, as well as slyly providing us with the necessary equipment we needed for this evening. He had only just managed it as well, ‘cause Mum was angry when he interrupted her second lecture, and had tried to get rid of him.
Needless to say that he had then been as controversial as possible and decided to invite himself round for dinner with Aunt Angelina too. Mum had not been happy.
But at precisely 5’o’clock, we shot out the door as fast as our black scaly legs could carry us (not very) and waved to Mum from the window.
For a few hours, we went around the streets of Godric’s Hollow, trick-or-treating and scaring plenty of residents whilst gathering pepper imps, ice mice, chocolate frogs, Every-Flavour Beans, sugar quills, liquorice wands, and he amounts of pumpkin pasties and cockroach cluster. Someone even gave us some funny teeth mints that we decided to give to Hugo’s granny, who loved magical things, being a dentist.
Around 8’o’clock, we met up with Violet Grey and Harry Greengrass, with some of their little siblings too. Violet was dressed as ‘Dangerous’ Dai Llewellyn, with Caerphilly Caterpaults robes, the appropriate scars, broomstick and ridiculous hairstyle all-inclusive. Harry was dressed as Coach Wood, and a very good likeness it was too.
So we told them part of our plan, and brought them along with us to find the Finnigans.
Within half an hour, we had them.
Reagan was dressed as Aunt Hermione, with her hair bushed-out, and sweaters and jeans. Sean, Reagan’s lump of a twin, was dressed as Uncle Ron with his hair dyed orange and splatters of paint as freckles across his nose… but Fergal looked the best. With his already-black hair spiked up like Dad’s, small round glasses on his nose, and green-coloured eyes with the Slytherin locket bouncing on his chest, he certainly looked like Dad. Damn, they had done the costumes well.
“What are you meant to be then, Reagan? A silly Irish idiot – oh wait…” I called.
She narrowed her eyes. “Actually, I came as an annoying dog I know from around the corner – oh wait,” she said, mimicking me really badly at the end. I felt Hugo slip out from behind me, his black costume invisible against the night.
“Oh, it’s a good one,” I said conversationally. “And Fergal makes a good Voldemort, you know. Although I think Sean’s come as a lump of pork… I mean, it’s hard to tell he’s different from normal, because usually he just looks like a lump of ham. Ah well, I’m sure you lot at his home can tell the difference.”
“Huh? I’m Ron, Ron Weasley, not pork,” Sean said. Reagan rolled her eyes and hit him. I tried not to follow Hugo’s actions as he fiddled with their trick-or-treat baskets and his Wheezes bag.
Sean reached down right then for a handful of sweets and shoved them into his mouth, and I twitched as Hugo only moved his hand out of the way in time. Reagan gave her twin an irritated glance, and told him off for being such a pig. Sean just shrugged, then froze.
My eyes flicked to Hugo, who was just finishing with Reagan’s treats, but Reagan watched me through narrow eyes as I gave a shifty smile.
She whipped around just as Sean started puking his guts out and Fergal held his torrentially bleeding nose as his forehead erupted into horrible boils. Reagan shrieked as Sean nearly got her feet, and leapt backwards. Hugo was cracking up behind her, like me in front (only he wasn’t restricted by the dragon costume), but Reagan whipped around and grabbed Hugo by the ear.
She opened her mouth to scream at him, but then her own skin started seizing up, burning horribly and going a nasty shade of irritated red. She screamed and let go of him, then turned to me and screamed, “You horrid cow! When did we ever do anything to you like this?!”
Fergal was trying to herd his puking brother backwards, and Reagan walked backwards with them, but I simply said, “Concede defeat now and you can go in peace.”
“NEVER!” she screamed, tears running from her eyes.
I smirked. “Then I have no choice but to make you.”
And Hugo came to my side, and together we pressed the huge red button that set off all the fireworks in their baskets and clothes.
Only, it turned out that the fireworks weren’t the compact, tiny, heat-free ones we had asked Uncle George for… they were the giant, dangerous types that we weren’t even allowed to buy.
The world exploded around us in a chaos of blinding lights, burning heat, and deafening bangs and whizzes.
Screams and shouts filled the air, not least Hugo’s “VIOLET! GET HELP, NOW!” that scared the crying girl into stumbling across the few streets to someone’s house.
I stood, frozen, at the horrors of what we’d done by accident and at the shouts and shrieks and screams of our enemies across the road.
*A/N:… dun dun duuun! Pretty drastic ending, I know, but you’ll have to read on to find out what happens ;)
So I’m about halfway through this story now… but I think it may turn into a novella. It depends on how much description and fluff I indulge in. Anyhow, the next chapter will almost certainly be called Gathering Goods, this may change whilst being written.
So yeah. If you like this, please R&R… if you don’t, please tell me what I could do to make it better!
(also… please don’t hit me for making it so late! *ducks*)