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Chapter 23 : A Taste of Their Own Medicine
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A Taste of Their Own Medicine
"I wonder where Rowena hid the clue that leads to the Grimoire?" Lily asked, frowning at the huge tree. She began to walk around it, tapping at various parts of the trunk, then putting her ear to the trunk, trying to see if there was an echo, which would indicate a hollow spot. "Nothing!" she groused, disappointed.
Severus cocked an eyebrow at her. "Uh, Lil, what were you doing? Trying to test for dry rot or something?"
"I was listening for echoes," she replied. "In all the detective stories I've read, whenever someone hides something in a tree there's a knothole or an echo that indicates a hollow place inside."
"Hmm. But we can't see the whole tree from here. What if the knothole is further up the trunk?"
"Oh. I didn't think of that." Lily sighed.
"We might have to climb the trunk," Severus mused. "But I know you don't have a head for heights and I'm taller than I used to be, and those branches won't hold my weight. We could fly up on brooms, but the branches are thicker up higher and we wouldn't be able to see the trunk properly. We need someone who's small and agile."
"What about Peter?" Lily suggested. "He's the smallest boy in our year. He could scamper up this tree easily."
"Smart thinking, Lily!" Severus grinned. "You know the way back to the tree, right?"
"Yes, but I think we should mark the trail somehow. So we don't forget."
"Another brilliant idea," Severus approved. "How about we set up a pattern of stones? Three stones, in a triangle, like an arrow pointing the way?"
"Excellent, Sev!" Lily beamed. "I love it when a plan comes together."
Together they gathered some smooth pebbles and arranged them at intervals alongside the trail leading to the tree. They didn't put them in obvious view, but if you knew where to look, you could find them. Then they headed back to the castle.
Peter looked thrilled when Lily told him that they needed him to climb the black oak to see if there were any knotholes or hollow spaces inside it. No one had ever really needed him for anything before, and he sometimes felt as if he was useless and Remus and the others were friends with him because they felt sorry for him. He eagerly followed Lily and Severus back to the tree.
When they reached the oak, Peter stared up at it, dumbfounded. "Merlin's hat, but that is one huge tree!" he squeaked.
"You can climb it, can't you, Pete?" asked Severus anxiously.
"Sure I can. I might not be any good at sports, but one thing I can do well is climb trees," Peter stated.
"Maybe you'd better take a few sniffs of your Breath Ease potion first though," Lily reminded him. "I don't want you getting an asthma attack twenty feet off the ground."
"Right." Peter uncapped the small vial that always hung on a chain around his neck. He took a few deep sniffs of the smoking potion, feeling it clear his sinus and nasal passages all the way down to his lungs. "What should I do if I find a knothole or a hollow spot?"
"Don't get so excited you forget to hold on," Severus teased gently.
"Ha, very funny, Snape," Pettigrew snorted.
"You know how to do a Scriberius Charm?" asked Lily.
"The one where you can write messages on any substance?" Peter clarified. "Yeah, I know that. Sirius used to use that charm all the time to write insulting messages on his little brother's wall at Grimmauld Place."
"Figures," Severus rolled his eyes. He knelt down at the base of the tree and cupped his hands, as he would do to help a rider mount a horse. "Here, I'll give you a boost."
Peter stepped up on Severus's cupped hands and let the taller boy boost him up the tree trunk. It took him no time at all to find hand and foot holds, the oak was ideal for climbing with its rough bark. He began climbing quickly, as nimble as a squirrel. Within moments, he had vanished from sight among the thick branches.
The black oak provided plenty of thick limbs for Peter to balance on and move about the trunk, searching for anything unusual on the trunk. He carefully banged on the trunk, listening intently for echoes. When he was certain there was nothing, he moved upward.
He was around twenty-four feet high when he found an odd protuberance. It was a burl growing out of the left side of the trunk, half-concealed by several leafy branches. Peter carefully broke off the smaller branches and banged on the burl, which sort of looked like an old man's nose.
A sudden echo came back and Peter smirked. Am I good or what? I think I hit the jackpot! He carefully drew his wand and inscribed a large bright green circle on the knot. It could be seen clearly by anyone climbing the tree but not obvious from the ground. He tried pushing and tapping the knot and the trunk around it with no success.
"Hey, Lily! Severus! I think I found it!" he yelled down to them.
"Good work, Pete!" Lily applauded.
"I'm coming back down." Peter said, sliding almost all the way back down. He told them about the burl and the echo he heard. He was beaming from ear to ear.
"Brilliant, Pettigrew!" Severus said, clapping him on the shoulder. "Now we just have to figure out how to open the knothole."
Peter was practically bursting with pride. So much so that he abandoned his usually shyness and volunteered a suggestion. "Err . . . maybe you can only open the knothole at a certain time? Like at midnight? Or during a certain phase of the moon or conjunction of planets? I read that Rowena was a great astronomer and she also loved numerology."
"That's a very good suggestion," Severus nodded. "Let's go and ask Irene and Caddaric if they've found anything about Rowena's love of those subjects in their research."
"You . . . you really think it's a good idea?" Peter asked, wide-eyed.
"I wouldn't say so unless I did," answered the young Slytherin.
"Maybe I'm not as hopeless as Sirius used to think I was," Peter mused happily. He admired Severus for his intelligence and having the other boy take his suggestions to heart filled him with newfound confidence.
"Don't listen to anything that toerag says, Peter," Lily asserted. "He's the one who's hopeless! Hopelessly full of himself and hopelessly idiotic. All he knows how to do is play pranks and kiss the Headmaster's ass."
Peter gaped at her.
"Lily!" Severus mock-scolded.
"What?" she grinned at them impishly. "It's true! And don't tell me you never heard a girl swear, Severus Snape. Because your grandma swore a blue streak the time she spilled hot armadillo bile on her hand this summer when she was showing us how to brew a potion."
"Ouch! That must've really hurt," Peter winced.
"It did. My grandmother almost never swears," Severus said. He quickened his pace.
They were passing the Quidditch pitch, where the Gryffindor team was practicing. James spotted them and swooped down and hovered over them. "Oi! Look who it is! Silly Lily, Snivellus, and Pissing Pettigrew! What are you three up to, rejects?"
There were several sniggers from some of the other Quidditch players, mainly because they had all heard about Peter's humiliation in Defense.
There came a giggle from the stands too, as Mary saw them and smirked.
Lily turned and glared at her. "What's so funny, MacDonald?"
"The fact that you're hanging around that bedwetter Pettigrew. Don't you have any taste?" She tossed her head and sniffed. "I'd be ashamed to be seen with the likes of him, who still acts like a baby at age eleven. Hey Petey, maybe you ought to write home to mummy and ask her to send you a nappy?"
"And a binkie and a blankie too!" added Sirius cruelly.
James, Mary, and Sirius, plus a few others, started cracking up.
Peter felt himself go beet red with humiliation and he suddenly started running towards the castle.
"Shut up, you immature cow!" Lily yelled.
"Come on, Lily," Severus tugged on her arm. "Save your breath, she's not worth getting angry over."
"She just makes me so mad!" Lily declared angrily. "All of them do! I wish for once we could prank them back and let them see how it feels!"
"Who says we can't?" Severus queried, a devilish gleam in his eyes.
"Because it's more trouble than it's worth," sighed Lily.
When they reached the castle, they found Peter in the Entrance Hall, looking downcast. But he perked up when he saw Remus, Dorian, and Tav coming towards them.
"So . . . how'd it go?" asked Remus.
"Great!" Peter said, managing a smile. They entered the small room next to the Great Hall and he told them about finding the knothole and marking it. All of them congratulated him, but then he remembered Mary and Sirius' cruel taunts and his face fell.
"What's wrong, Pete? You look like your best friend died," remarked Remus, concerned.
"Potter, Black, and MacDonald started with him again, the gits!" Lily began, her eyes flashing.
"What'd they do this time?" groaned Tav.
Severus and Lily told them.
Both Slytherins and Remus scowled. "Those three really need a taste of their own medicine," Dorian growled.
"They sure do," agreed Remus. "So why don't we give them some?"
"What do you have in mind, Lupin?" Tav inquired slyly.
"Well, James and Sirius are always boasting that they're the best pranksters in the school," Remus said. "So I say let's prove them wrong. They can dish it out, but I'll bet my last Galleon they can't take it."
"I'll say! I'm sick and tired of them thinking they can just humiliate people and get away with it," Lily said.
"If we're going to do anything, we had better make sure nobody finds out," Severus cautioned. "Otherwise we'll be in serious trouble with the Headmaster for pranking his favorite students."
"That's where Slytherin cunning comes in, Sev," Dorian chuckled. "We can discuss this more tonight, when we meet in the Room of Requirement. As well as how to open the knothole."
The ten friends all gathered in the secret room after dinner that evening. First they discussed the finding of Rowena's tree and the knothole, as that brought them even closer to finding the clue leading to the Grimoire. Irene agreed with Peter about the Ravenclaw Founder's love of Astronomy and Numerology. "Professor Flitwick always said that Lady Rowena had a fondness for all things magical, especially stargazing. He said she used to spend many a night watching the stars, and she also enjoyed logic puzzles and using numbers to predict certain things."
"Maybe I could question Helga's portrait again," Caddaric said. "She might let me know if we're on the right track, at least."
"And while you two are researching that, the rest of us could start thinking of ways to give Potter and his friends a good dose of his own medicine," Frank said. He had been at the Quidditch practice when Potter had started with Peter and it had irritated him to no end.
"Right on, Frank!" Alice agreed. "I've been wanting to take that cow MacDonald down a peg ever since she made fun of Lily the first night for bringing Belinda to school. Now that she's best mates with the Bloody Bragging Brats she thinks she's Queen of Gryffindor and all the rest of us should curtsy and kiss the floor when we see her coming."
"That'll be the day," snorted Lily. "I'd hang myself from the tower first."
"After Potter and Black cast that hex on me in Defense, she had the nerve to say that I had no sense of humor cause I didn't think it was funny," Peter said indignantly. "Who would find that hex funny but the ones that cast it?"
"Immature idiots," Remus said.
"I think maybe I should cast that hex on MacDonald tomorrow morning," Peter said. "See how she likes peeing her pants in front of the whole school during breakfast."
"That's the spirit, Peter," said Remus. "Teach her a good lesson."
"But how do you know the incantation?" queried Frank.
"I heard James chanting it just before I . . . you know," Peter stated, blushing. "He wasn't exactly mumbling it."
"How will you know you've got it right?" asked Alice.
"Uh . . . I'll need a volunteer," Peter said diffidently.
"I'll help you," Remus said. "We can practice in the boys room."
"Right. So if it does work . . ." Peter said.
"You won't have a mess to clean up," Remus finished. "I'll make sure I'm standing over the urinal."
"Eww! Let's change the subject, please!" Alice said, wrinkling her nose. "That's Mary taken care of. I vote we prank Pottyhead and Blackhead more than once, like they kept doing to Lily and Sev."
"Seconded," Tav agreed. "And I have just the prank for the first round. It's a Wardrobe Jinx."
"A what? Never heard of that one," Caddaric frowned.
Tav snickered. "It's a good one. One of my brothers learned about it from my older cousin, and he cast it on my little sister Sofia when she was being a really annoying little snob, saying she was the best looking one in the family and making fun of my other sister, Angela, for being overweight. Michael made Sofie's clothes look like beggar's rags, all dirty and torn up, for three hours, everything she owned looked like rubbish and she almost had a nervous breakdown. Nobody felt sorry for her except Mama and Papa. Of course, they made Michael take it off and he got yelled at and smacked with Mama's spoon, but it sure was worth it, and Sofie learned her lesson."
"That sounds perfect!" Dorian cried. "Can you make the clothes look like anything you want?"
"Pretty much. What did you have in mind?"
"Well, we all know how much they hate us snakes, and can't resist sneering at us and saying how Gryffindors are so much better than us lying, cheating, dark sorcerers." Dorian mocked. "So . . . why don't we change all their clothes to Slytherin green and silver and put the saying "I Love Slytherins" in flashing letters on the back of all their robes and shirts? They won't be able to remove it without knowing the countercharm and they'll have to walk around like that until we cancel the spell, right?"
"The charm does wear off in six hours," Tav answered. "But in the meantime . . ."
"That'd really kill Potter and Black," giggled Irene. "The only way they could get around it would be to walk around starkers, and that's against the rules."
"Plus it would make any girl with taste run screaming from the castle," Alice said, chuckling.
"I've got an idea," Frank said. "Remember last year in Defense with Hardarse Hardbroom, Alice? You conjured that ruler in class and spanked Black's arse. I think he's overdue for a repeat lesson. Him and Potter both."
"Definitely." Severus agreed, recalling how Sirius had hexed him into the wall and caused him to be seriously injured. "You could chase them from the hall during dinner."
"I think we also need a charm to defend against their hexes," Irene spoke up. "Because you know they're going to try and get us back."
Caddaric looked thoughtful. "I'm not one for pranks, but I do know a spell that my Uncle Tim showed me. He always said it was a good spell to know in a duel. It's called the Boomerang Hex, and it will reflect any hex aimed at you back on the one who cast it. Its incantation is, "Reversario"!"
"Any hex?' repeated Irene. "Even an Unforgivable?"
"Uh, probably not the Killing Curse," Caddaric amended. "But other than that . . ."
"We can practice that," Irene said.
"How about you, Lily?" asked Dorian. "You and Sev always get the worst of their stupid pranks. What are you going to do?"
"I'm . . . not sure yet. I wish we could get them in trouble with a teacher. Or Dumbledore."
"Me too," Severus agreed. "It would serve him right, the way he always sticks up for them. But I have something in mind for the arrogant little snots."
"Like what?" asked Lily curiously.
"Come here and I'll tell you," Severus beckoned her over to sit beside him on a large armchair.
Lily came and sat on the chair arm, leaning over so Severus could whisper his idea in her ear.
She started laughing hard afterwards. "Sev, that's brilliant! I never would have thought of that."
"What is it, Evans?" asked Frank.
"It's a surprise," Lily answered. "You'll see."
"Come on, Snape! Tell!" urged Tav.
But Severus just shook his head. The jinx wasn't fully invented yet, and he still had to work on the incantation and wand movements with Lily. He just hoped it worked, since normally he wasn't good at pranks. But this once . . . he would show the two gloating gits what a Prince was capable of.
That morning in the Great Hall, everything started out perfectly ordinary, like every other day. Lily, Alice, Frank, Peter, and Remus filed into the hall and sat down in a row at the Gryffindor table. Across from them, Severus and his friends did the same. Breakfast appeared on the table and they all began to eat.
Peter reached for the plate of bacon and the sleeve of his robe caught the top of his goblet of juice and it spilled all over him, including his lap.
Mary started to snigger while Lily helped Peter mop up the mess with a napkin and Alice cast a charm to dry his clothing. "Aww, did itty-bitty Petey mess himself again?" she mocked. "Hope you wrote home to mummy, baby boy, and asked her to send you some more undies in case you have more accidents!"
Peter flushed and tried to ignore her.
"Piss off, MacDonald!" Lily snarled, glaring at her Housemate.
But Mary continued giggling, making a noise like an allergic hyena. Potter, Black, and a few others joined her.
Peter suddenly lost it, pulled out his wand and hexed Mary under the table with the Pee Your Pants hex. Now we'll see how funny you find it! he thought in satisfaction.
Abruptly Mary gasped and looked horrified. "No!" she cried, her face flaming. "What did you do to me, you stupid little reject?" She jumped up from her seat, her robes soaked with urine.
Alice wrinkled her nose. "Peeyew! Something sure stinks in here!"
"Hey, MacDonald! Why's there a big puddle underneath your seat?" asked Frank innocently.
At that precise moment, Jane and Emily, the two Slytherin girls who were friends with Lily and Severus, glanced over and proclaimed loudly, "Oi! Looks like MacDonald has a problem with bladder control! Gross!"
Within seconds, the entire Slytherin table was howling and pointing at the mortified MacDonald, who was frozen, her hands covering her face.
"What's wrong, Mary? Can't you take a little joke?" asked Peter, snickering.
"Shut up, you bloody arse!" MacDonald screamed. "How dare you!"
"Aww, where's your sense of humor, MacDonald?" demanded Pettigrew sharply. "Guess it's not so funny when it's you getting hexed, huh?"
By then the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs and even several Gryffindors who didn't care for Mary haughty ways were also laughing.
With a sharp sob, Mary fled the hall, the back of her robes displaying a telltale wet stain.
James glared at Peter. "What did you do that for, you little rat? Didn't anyone tell you it isn't nice to hex girls, Pettigrew?"
"She had it coming," Peter declared, his small chin jutting out stubbornly.
"Like you can talk, Potter," Remus snapped. "You and Sirius sure don't have a problem hexing Lily Evans and she's a girl."
"That's different," Sirius objected. "She's a dolt."
"She's smarter than you, Blackhead!" Alice piped up.
"You're nothing but a hypocrite, Potter!" Frank growled. "You and Black both."
"Who asked you, Longboob?" sneered James.
"Ready?" asked Severus from behind his hand, gesturing to Dorian and Tav.
The other two Slytherins nodded and Tav made a small series of wand movements and spoke the incantation softly while pointing his wand at Sirius. Dorian did the same with James.
Suddenly, the two Gryffindors' black robes with red trim transformed themselves into green robes with classic silver trim about the cuffs, collar, and hem. Across the back were sparkling flashing silver letters that spelled out "I Love Slytherins!"
"What?" James sputtered, staring down at his green and silver sleeve in disbelief. "Oi, Sirius! What just happened, mate? You're . . . wearing Slytherin colors!"
Sirius looked horrified. "No, I'm not! You are!"
"Hey, Sirius! Nice robe! Mum will be really proud of you that you love all of us snakes and can admit finally!" Regulus called, laughing.
"What are you talking about, you little creep?" Sirius shouted. "I can't stand you!"
"Really? Not according to your robes, brother dearest," his brother replied gloatingly.
"James, what's he talking about?"
James peered at Sirius, it seemed as if they'd been victims of a clever hex. He paled. "Merlin's bloody backside! Sirius—it says I Love Slytherins on the back of your robes. In great flashing sparkly letters!"
"What?" Sirius exploded.
"Is it on mine as well?" James asked, turning about.
"Yes!" Sirius wailed. He tried to remove the hex, but nothing happened. He tried to rip off the robe, but it was sturdy and did not tear.
"What's the matter Potty and Blackie?" asked Lily softly, but with an edge in her tone. "Can't you take a joke? It's all in fun."
"Joke!" Sirius bellowed, "You call this a joke?"
The other Gryffindors began chanting, "Oi, Snake brats, go home to the dungeon!"
James clenched his fists, looking like he wanted to spit on certain people. The unfamiliar sensation of embarrassment and shame filled him. "Shut up, Flint! You too, Andrews! You Slytherins are a boil on the backside of the wizarding world. I hate you all!"
But that declaration only brought more jeers and laughter.
"You disagreeing with your own fashion sense?" hooted Lily.
"It's not like that!" James argued, struggling to get out of his horrendous robes. "Why isn't Uncle Al doing something about it?" he muttered.
Up at the staff table, Albus and the teachers were observing the prank.
"Oh dear!" exclaimed the Headmaster. "It would seem like poor James and Sirius are the victims of a prankster." He frowned and turned to Slughorn. "It looks like someone from your House, Horace."
"It would seem so, Albus," Horace said, unable to keep the satisfaction from his voice. "Well, you know what they say, don't you? What goes around comes around."
"And about time too!" Minerva said smugly.
"Why, Minerva! I would have thought you disapproved heartily of any pranks, considering how often you protested when James and Sirius pranked Severus and Lily," Albus protested. He eyed the students again, noticing how red-faced his godson and fiend were getting as the catcalls and laughter mounted. "Perhaps I ought to . . ." He drew his wand, only to have Minerva forcefully grab his sleeve.
"Albus Dumbledore, don't you dare!" she cried angrily. "All those times those two pranked other children, you never lifted a finger in defense of them and now you're going to interfere? Poor James, Albus? Poor James! I'd say Potter and Black are getting just what they deserve, a taste of their own medicine! Let's see how they enjoy being the object of ridicule for once, it won't kill them and it's certainly better than some of the pranks they pulled on Mr. Snape and Miss Evans, to name a few!"
There were mutters of agreement from the other House Heads, for their students had all been victims of James and Sirius' "humor" and they didn't feel the least bit sympathetic towards the boys.
Albus slumped in his chair, reluctant to admit that maybe his teachers were right.
James glanced helplessly about, then finally, unable to bear the mocking jeers any longer, bolted from the hall.
"James, where are you going, mate?" yelled Sirius.
"To get different clothes!" he called over his shoulder just before throwing open the doors.
Tav, Dorian, and Severus exchanged gleeful glances. They knew just how futile that was!
Some five minutes later there came a loud howl of dismay from the seventh floor as Potter and Black realized their entire wardrobe consisted of Slytherin colored garments with that bloody flashing message.
Score one for our side! Lily thought, and slapped palms with Alice in a high five.
James was having the worst day he could remember. Not only was his entire wardrobe colored green and silver, but when he went to find his godfather to remove the bloody hex, Dumbledore was not in his office. James waited and waited, but in the end had to leave and go to Herbology and History of Magic. Sirius trailed behind him like a whipped puppy.
"James, how can we go around wearing these?" he whined.
"What do you want to do, Sirius? I have no more clothes that aren't Slytherin colors. And we can't go around in our underwear." James groaned.
"Maybe we could. It would sure make a statement," Sirius said, attempting to grin.
"Uh huh, and then McGonagall would expel us for indecent exposure. No thanks!" James groused.
"I just wish I knew who did it, so we could get back at them."
"I know who did it," James snarled. "Bloody Snivellus, that's who!"
"I really hate him!" Sirius burst out. "I wish he'd fall into his cauldron and drown."
By the time lunch came around, both boys were heartily sick of all the jokes made at their expense. When little firstie Elena Markham made a comment about Sirius reminding her of a neon stop sign she'd seen in London, Sirius went to hex her.
"You watch your mouth, you little—ow!" he yelped as something hit him in the bum. Hard!
He spun around to see a ruler hovering in the air behind him.
"Next time don't hex little girls, Black!" Frank said, shaking his finger at Sirius. "Naughty boys who do that get spanked."
"Mind your own business, Longboob!" James cried, pointing his wand at Frank.
Crack! Another ruler popped out of the air and whacked James across the bottom.
"Ow! Knock it off, Starkey, you bloody bitch!" he shouted, knowing Alice was behind it.
"Language, Potter! What would your mother say?" Alice smirked.
The ruler delivered another smack and James yelped and tried to cover himself with his hands.
"Oh, Potter! Have you been a bad boy?" Severus called, and half the Slytherins giggled like mad. "Looks like instead of a Howler, your mum sent you a paddle! Tsk! Tsk!"
"Shut your face, Snivellus!" James shouted, and went to attack Snape, but the ruler followed, swatting him unmercifully. "Ow! Ow!" He whirled about, trying to avoid the sharp stinging smacks, while the other students jeered and cheered.
Sirius was also spinning about, yelping. He tried to crawl under the table to get away, but that only presented a bigger target for the enchanted ruler to smack and he soon ran from the hall, one hand covering his sore bum.
James followed, unwilling to make a spectacle of himself any longer.
He slammed the door shut on the ruler and leaned against the wall, panting. "Oohh! My aching bum!"
"Tell me about it," Sirius moaned. He rubbed his backside and winced, tears in his eyes. "James, how are we going to sit down for class? We have Transfiguration this afternoon."
"Don't ask me! This is all Starkey's fault!" James mumbled. He had never felt so embarrassed in his life. He looked at Sirius and could tell his best mate felt exactly the same way.
In Transfiguration, McGonagall was showing them how to transfigure sticks into caterpillars. Severus observed that both Potter and Black were having difficulty sitting in their chairs due to their public walloping and smirked. Served them right! He turned back to his stick.
"What are you looking at, Snivellus?" demanded James.
"A couple of baboons," replied Severus cheekily.
"What's a baboon?" asked Peter, playing dumb.
"It's a big monkey with big teeth, a nasty attitude, and a red ass," Severus answered.
"Sounds just like them," Lily remarked.
Sirius opened his mouth to reply, but then McGonagall said, "Enough talking! This is Transfiguration, not social hour. Concentrate on your exercise or else I shall take points."
Everyone subsided, though Sirius was still seething inwardly. He didn't like being laughed at . . . not at all.
As a result of his poor concentration, he failed to transfigure his stick and McGonagall assigned him extra homework.
Lily managed to Transfigure her stick and received five points for her speedy work.
Severus also managed to do so, and earned five points for Slytherin. He felt proud for having managed the spell by himself and figured all that practicing with Lily and Dorian was finally paying off.
After dinner, Lily and Severus met Irene and Caddaric in the library. "What did you find out? Anything?' queried Severus.
Irene nodded. "Yes, we found out that Rowena's lunar calendar helped her performed certain rituals. She usually preferred the half moon to do rituals, since the half moon was in ascendance on the night of her birth."
"She was born under the sign of Virgo," Caddaric said. "And her lucky numbers were three, five, and seven. So we figured that she might have combined those things when she hid the clue or whatever inside the tree."
Lily smiled. "Then we can assume that we need to try and open the knothole when the moon is half full. And maybe tap on it in a certain pattern using three, five, and seven. Does that make sense?"
"Very much," Irene said. "You have a logical mind, Lily. Like a Ravenclaw."
"The Hat almost put me there," Lily admitted.
"Too bad it didn't," said Irene. "Then you'd not be stuck with the Dunderhead Duo."
"I know." Lily sighed.
Irene laughed. "I have to admit, seeing my arrogant cousin and his putrid friend getting spanked like a couple of five-year-olds was the funniest thing ever! I wished I had a camera! They've been needing that for a long time!"
"But somehow I don't think they've learned their lesson yet." Caddaric warned.
"You're right," Severus agreed. "Maybe we should all practice the Boomerang Charm?"
So they made their way to the Room of Requirement and did just that for an hour and a half.
When Lily got ready for bed that night, she heard Mary complaining to Brenda and Nancy about how much she hated Pettigrew, the little coward, for hexing her in front of the whole school.
"The little turd had no right! I never did anything to him." Mary sniffed, sounding like she was about to cry.
Alice rolled her eyes as she pulled on her sleep socks. "Please, MacDonald! Enough with the pity party. You were mocking and sneering at him for days. How does it feel, Mary, when the shoe's on the other foot?"
"My mum used to say, what's good for the gander is good for the goose," Lily offered. "Maybe now you'll be nicer to people."
"Quit preaching at me, Evans, you stupid Mudblood!" Mary raged.
All the other girls gasped.
Lily, who knew of the term, but had never been called it before, said angrily, "Or maybe not, you pathetic toerag! You'll probably be a nasty bigoted hag right up until the day you die, and only God Himself will ever be able to stand you. I hope you washed your pants, MacDonald!" With that, Lily turned and got into bed, drawing her curtains about her bed.
The other girls also retired and lights went out. Not long after, Lily was attempting to fall asleep, still angry at the slur, and her sharp ears caught the sound of Mary sniveling. She normally would have felt bad for making Mary cry, but this time she found herself quite cold and unforgiving.
The next night, according to Irene's lunar calendar, was the phase of the half-moon. The perfect time to test the theory she and Caddaric had come up with. There was only one problem. They would have to sneak out of bed to do it. An offense that was sure to bring the wrath of the teachers down upon their heads.
It was Peter who finally came up with a clever way to slip out of the castle unseen. "There's a secret passage behind the portrait of Barnabas the Barmy. I found it one day with James and Sirius. It'll let us leave without Filch spotting us."
"We can't all go," Caddaric objected.
"True." Lily said. "Peter and I will go, since I know the way to the tree and Peter can climb it."
"I'll go too," Severus said.
"Sev, you can't," she protested. "You just told me Slughorn issued more penalties for any Slytherin caught out of bed. You said he'd put you in detention for a week and owl your grandparents."
"I know, but you need a back up just in case," Severus argued. "It ought to be me, since I also know the way to the tree. And I'm better at sneaking about than you, Lil."
"I just don't want Professor Slughorn to be mad at you."
"You face the same risks with McGonagall," Alice reminded her. "She said anyone caught out of bed would be Transfiguring toothpicks into thread for five night running and writing a three and half foot essay. So both of you better watch your arse."
So it was decided.
"We'll meet you in front of the portrait, Sev," Lily said.
"I'll be there," he promised.
The three students all met in front of the portrait, and Peter showed them how to slide the portrait aside and tap the stone to make the secret passage slide open. Unfortunately for them, Peter had been seen by James and Sirius leaving the dorm, as they had been plotting a way to get back at Peter and Remus in the corner of the room, beneath James' invisibility cloak.
As Severus and his friends entered the passage, James and Sirius followed, delighted to catch the three doing something really forbidden for once.
"Now we can get those goody-goody prats back," Sirius whispered.
"Yeah, but right now we need to see what they're up to." James hissed back, holding the cloak over their heads.
Severus, Lily, and Peter made their way carefully into the Forbidden Forest, wands emitting a steady light to brighten the path before them. The half moon shone steadily down on them and though the forest was dark, the three were not afraid. They kept to the path they had marked and soon came to the huge oak.
Severus gave Peter a boost and he quickly scampered up the tree. Before leaving the castle, the three had discussed possible combinations of knocks on the knothole, and Peter was going to try at least six different ones before calling it a night. They could always return the next month.
Peter soon discovered that the light of the moon bathed the knothole and made it look strangely silver-colored. He carefully straddled the branch and began to rap on the knothole three times, then five, then seven.
Then he did the combination backwards.
He tried two more times, becoming discouraged.
But the last time he tapped out five, then three, then seven.
The knothole shimmered and suddenly it disappeared.
Peter bit his lip hard and reached into the hole. His fingers encountered a hard metal case and he pulled it out of the hole. "A scroll case!" he whispered in awe. He quickly tucked the case in a pocket and the knothole reappeared.
Then he climbed down.
"Well?" demanded Lily impatiently.
"What did you find?" asked Severus.
"This," Peter showed them the scroll case.
Lily took it and examined it before testing out a new charm she had learned from Flitwick. It was spell designed to reveal any kind of trap upon an object. When nothing glowed in warning, she opened the case. Inside was a piece of aged parchment.
"What does it say?" Severus wanted to know.
"It's a riddle. I don't have time to solve it now. We have to get back," Lily said, noticing that the moon was beginning to set. She tucked the scroll back into the case and stuffed it in her pocket. "I'd better keep this in my trunk. It has spells on it to reveal a thief."
"That's clever, Lily," said Peter.
"It's self preservation. Mary's a snoop." Lily said.
The three began running back to the castle.
They had almost made it back when they heard an odd scuffling sound and then James threw off the cloak and leered at them.
"Well, if it isn't the Rejects Three, Sirius. Breaking all the rules! You ought to be ashamed of yourselves!" James cackled.
"Speak for yourself, Potter!" Severus sneered.
"What's so important that you had to sneak out of bed and risk getting caught by a teacher?" asked Sirius.
"None of your business," Peter said.
"We're making it our business," Sirius snapped, glowering at the smaller boy. He hadn't been able to get close enough to see what Pettigrew had handed Lily without revealing himself. "Tell, Pettigrew!"
"Never!" Peter stated, though he was scared to death. Sirius was bigger, stronger, and knew more magic.
While the two Marauders were distracted, Severus and Lily aimed their wands at them and chanted the same jinx.
Greasy globs of mud mixed with foul-smelling manure shot out of their wands and struck the unsuspecting Sirius and James head on.
Lily and Severus twirled their wands and Potter and Black found themselves coated all over with nasty muck that stank to high heaven.
"What is this stuff?" cried James, frantically trying to brush it off his face.
"It smells like . . .manure!" Sirius cried, gagging.
"Correct, Blackhead. You and your best mate are now coated in slimy muck, just like the dirtbags you are," Severus said. "Come on, Lily, Peter. Hurry, before someone sees."
They quickly ran back inside the secret passage.
James and Sirius gave chase, but kept bumping into the walls since they could barely see through the muck all over them.
"See you tomorrow," Severus whispered as they reached the stairs to the dungeons.
"Bye, Sev!" Lily called, waving as Severus ran down the stairs.
Then she and Peter started up the stairs to Gryffindor Tower.
They moved quickly and quietly, but even so had to hide behind a statue as Peeves came zooming by.
Sirius and James were not so lucky. The poltergeist spotted them staggering about, leaving a trail of muck, and bgan screaming loudly, "FILCH! Students out of bed! They look like something the cat dragged in! What were you doing, boys? Swimming in swamp muck? FILCH!"
"Shut up, Peeves!" James cried, frantically trying to get up the stairs.
"Bloody poltergeist!" Sirius spat at the devilish spirit.
Soon they heard Filch's footsteps and Mrs. Norris meowing.
"Run, Sirius!" James urged, but it was too late.
Filch came striding down the hall and fixed the two with a sharp glare. "Well, well. Looks like we have two students out of bed." He wrinkled his nose. "Have you been playing in the mud? You stink?"
"Blame Snivellus and Evans and Pettigrew! They attacked us! They were out of bed too!" James told him.
"Now don't lie, Potter!" Filch snapped. "Lyin' won't help you out of detention."
"But I'm not lying! They really were out of bed!" James cried.
Filch grimaced and reached out a hand to grab the two by the ears. "I wasn't born yesterday, Potter. Come along now. We're going to see McGonagall and she can deal with you." He hauled the two off by their ears towards the Deputy's office.
Lily and Peter just looked at each other and breathed a sigh of relief. That had been a close one! For the first time ever, Lily and Peter were grateful for Peeves.
They raced up the rest of the stairs to Gryffindor Tower and slipped into the portrait hole.
"We did it!" Peter whispered.
"I think maybe Rowena's spirit was watching over us," Lily hissed. "Now, let's get upstairs to bed before McGonagall comes and checks for us."
"I can't believe it! They got caught by Filch and McGonagall too."
"It's karma," Lily chuckled. Then she tiptoed up the stairs, slipping inside her room. She lit up her wand a little, and opened her trunk and tucked the scroll case inside. Then she locked it. All of her dormmates were sound asleep. Tossing her robes over the foot of her bed, she pulled off her shoes and climbed in. She had been wearing her pajamas under her robes. Lily stretched out on her bed, tucked her wand beneath her pillow, and snuggled next to Belinda. Her last thought was of Severus, she hoped he had gotten back to his dorm safely. Then her eyes closed and she slept.
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