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One Step Ahead by quicksilver
Chapter 6 : Bone-tired
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 0


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"I hate you, James," I grumbled as I stretched to catch the curving Quaffle, wobbling dangerously on my broom from the high winds.  "We've been practicing for ages now, can we stop?"

 

"No, of course not!"  James exclaimed with an astonished look on his face.  "The conditions are perfect for this move!  We've got to grab the opportunity by the horns and make the most of it!  Now come on, it's your turn to pass the ball to Laurel."

 

Right.  These so-called "perfect conditions"?  Fifty mile-an-hour winds, huge dark clouds, tons of rain, and flashes of lightning every couple minutes to keep it interesting.

 

Sound familiar?

 

The weather had been terrible these past couple days, and James had been thrilled, booking the Quidditch pitch every single day for at least three hours each day just so us Chasers could practice new moves that he had made up for bad weather.

 

Thing was, these moves were pretty much the same as ones we had done before, but they took into account poor weather.  The chance that we would ever seriously use them in a game was about a million to one.

 

Still James wouldn't listen, insisting that the whole team show up, do warm-ups, and play our hardest.

 

"I think this is because I took his chocolate-covered doughnut," Laurel said mournfully as she threw the quaffle back at me.  I caught it and threw it at James- or, rather, at where James should have been, if he hadn't stopped in his tracks mid-air when he heard Laurel's comment.

 

"That was you?"

 

I shot into a dive to catch the quaffle, as James seemed incapable of retrieving it himself.  The wind blew me into a curving path, and I struggled to straighten my broom so I wouldn't be hanging under it at an angle.

 

"Has James mentioned when practice will end?"

 

I looked up from trying (in vain) to figure out where the quaffle had gone.  Albus Potter hovered near me, struggling to hold his broom steady, the snitch held tight in one hand and the quaffle under his arm.  His hair had gotten, if possible, even messier than usual, part of it plastered to his head in windblown knots, the other part all over the place.  His eyebrow quirked upwards as he waited for my answer.

 

I shook my head.  "Not yet, no."  Al tossed me the quaffle and I grabbed it.  "I was thinking that the team needs to drag him out of the air, tie him up, and go do whatever they haven't been able to do for the past few days- I still have that Transfig essay to do, because I didn't want to stay up until after midnight to do it when I was half-asleep in the first place."

 

(Not to mention that Roxy, Laurel and I still had lots of planning to do for the Hufflepuff prank.)

 

"Seconded."  Albus glared over at his brother, who seemed to currently be having a rather passionate argument with Laurel, most likely about the chocolate doughnut.

 

My friends are weird.

 

"What's going on?"  Roxy asked, swooping over.  She looked absolutely exhausted.  Brandon, the other Beater, followed close behind her, pausing to whack a bludger away from our merry little group.  The Keeper, fourth year Julian Burns, started drifting our way as well, watching James warily until he was sure that he wouldn't get yelled at for deserting his post, then he powered over to us.

 

Poor kid.  His first year on the team, and not only does he rarely get to play because us Chasers are so intense, he had to go to crazy intense practices, get yelled at by James, and try to not get knocked off his broom when we pelt the quaffle at him.

 

We do some really intense quaffle-pelting.

 

"Right, our plan."  I slapped my hand against my broomstick.  "We are going to drag James out of the air, tie him up- we're going to need rope, does anybody know where we can get some?- stick him in a broom closet in the entrance hall, then go about our merry day and do the homework that's been piling up.  We might want to gag James too, so that he isn't found right away."

 

"I think Hagrid might have some rope, if somebody could fly down there and get it from him without making Hagrid wonder what we need it for," Roxy said, immediately latching onto my plan while the rest of the team looked confused and Albus gave me a look that clearly said that he thought I had been joking when I presented my plan to him.

 

Silly boy.

 

Fine, I was being sarcastic at first, but once I thought about it- why not? I really need to finish my homework and have a Wizard's Chess rematch with Roxy.  I still think her winning last time was just a fluke.

 

"Right.  Albus, could you do that?  Hagrid loves you," I begged.  "Besides, James is less likely to notice if you're gone than if I vanished suddenly."

 

Albus sighed, rolled his eyes, and shot off, apparently deciding that he might as well go along with our plan, crazy as it may be.

 

"So, now we stall for time until Albus gets back," I said, nodding importantly and spitting out a couple hairs that had gotten into my mouth.  "If Laurel and James keep arguing about the chocolate doughnut for a while, we'll be fine.  If not, we should get her to bring up something else."

 

Once again, there was a look of confusion on everybody's faces except Roxy's. I held back a laugh.

 

Apparently most people don't actually remember stuff like that days after it happened.

 

We waited.  Laurel and James continued arguing.

 

"Why couldn't you get your own doughnut?"

 

"You took the last one and you weren't eating it!"

 

"I was so!  I had eaten almost a quarter of it; normal people would've figured it out that I was eating it!"

 

"They dry out if you leave them out in the air!  A perfectly good doughnut was going to waste and I couldn't let that happen!"

 

"It would've been fine!"

 

This had been going on for five minutes.  I have come to the conclusion that either both Laurel and James are crazy, or Laurel was stalling for time for some reason, even though she couldn't have known about our plan.  The rest of the team watched with amusement as they moved on from the chocolate doughnut to a slice of lemon cake that James had once snitched from under Laurel's nose when she had turned to grab a tissue from her bag and refused to give back.

 

That was probably a bad move.  James will probably try to avoid defending himself by ordering that we start up practice again.

 

"Well, you had taken my treacle tart the week before!"

 

Or he'll bring up yet another food-stealing incident.  I suppose that's more his style, after all.

 

"I got the rope and a gag," Albus said, zooming up towards our merry little group, a long length of rope looped around his arm and a wide strip of cloth tied around his wrist.  "Hagrid guessed that we were wanting then for James and he showed me how to tie a good knot."  A glimmer of an amused laugh hovered around Albus's mouth as he handed the rope to me. "I think he must've been watching our practices."

 

Roxy and I both smothered our laughter.  Good old Hagrid.  Of course he wouldn't mind helping us escape from our fanatical captain.

 

"Right, what do we do now?" Julian asked eagerly, eying the rope with glee.  He seemed unable to believe that we were actually going to go through with this.

 

Pity that he's so much younger.  He's really rather cute.

 

(He's also a bit immature, so that makes him more, like, six years younger.)

 

(Ew.  I'd never date a first-year.)

 

"We wrestle James down to the ground. Roxy, Brandon-could you do that?  You're the ones with the muscle."

 

Brandon nodded while Roxy stuck her tongue out at me.  They swooped off towards James while Albus, Julian, and I headed for the ground.  We would tie James up.

 

A few minutes, a bucketload of curses, and several dozen knots later, we had James tied up tightly (though not enough to actually hurt him), gag in mouth, and the rest of the team was in the showers, hot water running over our battered bodies.  James had kicked, screamed, threatened (apparently we were all kicked off the team), punched, and tried to bite Julian (the fourth year jumped out of the way and then tied the gag on).  Now he was sulking in the corner.

 

"Oh, lighten up, James," Laurel said cheerfully as she exited her shower stall with dry robes on and rubbing her hair dry. James growled in response.  She laughed, then came over to bang on my shower stall door, then on Roxy's.  "Come on, you guys, hurry up!  We still need to get James up to the school without anybody noticing!"

 

Roxy snarled something X-rated along with "Don't mess with my shower, Catly, if you know what's good for you."

 

"Agreed!"  I called out over the sound of running water.

 

Laurel sulked.  "Fine."

 

Sometimes, she can really act like a five-year-old.

 

---

 

Five minutes later, the whole team minus James was showered, dried, dressed, and we were heading up to the school in a close bunch, hiding the floating James from any prying eyes that happened to be out on the grounds when it was rainy, windy, cold, and generally unpleasant.

 

(Plus it added to the drama of the whole thing.)

 

Nobody was in the entrance hall when we came in.  Perfect.  Seconds later, we had arrived at a broom closet, opened the door, shoved the assorted brooms, mops, and buckets out of the way, put James in, cast a quick drying spell at him so he wouldn't get sick- though I supposed we would get a couple days off if he was- closed the door, and continued on our merry way, the whole team heading up to the Gryffindor common room.  Julian was torn between amusement at what we had just done and anxiety, and it was thoroughly apparent by the way that he was bouncing anxiously, even though he had to be bone-tired after the practice.

 

"Can he really kick all of us off the team like that? James'll be all right, won't he?  Was he being serious when he said-"

 

Julian shut up after I Silencio-ed him.  Yes, the fourth year was cute, but he had waaaay too much energy for me to handle.

 

This was saying a lot, given that I do, after all, hang out with Laurel and Roxy.  Laurel especially had a ton of energy.

 

Maybe it's just because I'm not used to him.

 

Then again, I don't need any more crazy in my life.  If I really wanted more, I could just go chat with other members of Roxy's family. They're crazy.  And younger (mostly).  And they will grab the chance, if offered, to cause trouble.

 

Example A:  We used to think that Lily Potter, James and Albus's younger sister, was a complete rule-abiding angel who always followed the rules.  When Roxy, on a dare, offered Lily a box of Weasley's Wheezes Fireworks, Lily took them and blew up the Great Hall the next day.

 

Example B: We dared Hugo, the Evil One (aka Rose)'s brother, to set off Dung bombs in the Ravenclaw's Common room.  He took the dung bombs, persuaded some random Ravenclaw that he had to talk to his sister right away, got let into the common room by said Ravenclaw, and then he proceeded to set off all the dung bombs, one right after another, before fleeing the Ravenclaw tower, cackling wickedly.

 

Example C: Molly, Roxy's Uncle Percy's daughter, who one might expect to be as rule-abiding as the Evil One, once stole fireworks, dung bombs, and portable swamps that Rose had confiscated (with a small bit of help from Scorpius, who let her into the Ravenclaw common room) and then she transformed the Slytherin's hallway into a foul-smelling, giant swamp that had fireworks randomly bursting out of it and splattering the walls and anybody nearby with swamp juice.  Roxy, Laurel, and I died laughing.  Molly's father sent her a howler, which Molly proceeded to stick in the porridge before it went off.

 

Note for future use: if I ever get a howler, sticking it in porridge is an excellent way of silencing it.  I just have to make sure that I warn people not to eat the howler'ed food.  Luis was not pleased when he found the burned, twisted remains of Molly's letter in his breakfast.

 

"Are we going to let James out later?" Brandon asked as we stepped back into the common room after giving the Fat Lady the password ("Pixie dust").

 

"If some snogging couple doesn't let him out first," Roxy responded absently.  "So, if he doesn't show up by dinnertime, somebody lets him out.  I vote Julian."

 

"Seconded!" Laurel sang.  I snickered.

 

Julian waved his hands around in protest.  Albus un-silenced him.

 

"Why me?  But I'm the youngest!  He'll slay me!  Can't one of the Beaters do it?  Or you-" he pointed to Laurel "-James loves you!  He won't maim you for tying him up!"

 

"Don't worry, somebody'll probably let him out," Laurel said hastily. "If a student doesn't, Filtch'll probably find him."

 

Roxy and I, great friends that we were, almost died laughing. "See! Even a fourth year can tell there's a ton of unresolved sexual tension between you and James!"

 

Laurel scowled and stomped away after shooting us the finger.  Julian looked slightly worried and edged away from our group.  Albus had left as soon as he had un-silenced Julian.  Brandon, realizing that everybody else had left, gave us a wave and sauntered off.

 

Roxy and I shared a quick high-five.

 

"That was great," I snickered.  "Laurel's expression when Julian said that?  Priceless!"

 

 "Everyone but those two," Roxy said, shaking her head. "Everybody knows they fancy one another except for them."  She laughed, shaking her head.

 

----

 

"YOU GUYS!" James roared.

 

I looked up from my Transfiguration essay, saw James, then glanced at my watch.  We had gotten five hours of freedom from tying him up.

 

James looked ticked off, arms crossed, frown in place, foot tapping.  Faint red marks from the ropes encircled his wrists, and he was still in his Quidditch robes, which were stiff with mud.

 

Roxy ignored him, dipping her quill in her ink and writing another sentence.  Laurel flinched slightly, then stared at her book, perhaps hoping that that would make her invisible.

 

Just for the record, it didn't help.  At all.

 

James's foot tapped faster as his glare intensified.

 

We ignored him.

 

He sighed loudly.

 

We ignored him.

 

He stomped his foot.  "Stop ignoring me!"

 

Wow, he really has got the five-year-old act down.

 

"Guuuuuuuuuuuuuys!"

 

Roxy snickered.

 

I couldn't help it.  I burst out laughing.  Roxy laughed even harder.  After a second, Laurel joined us.  We rolled around on the couch, clutching our sides, absolutely howling with laughter.

 

"What's so funny?"  James demanded like a petulant child, stomping his foot again.

 

I snorted, almost choking on my laughter.  By now, several other people were listening in curiously, wondering what was so funny.  Julian, peering over the back of a nearby chair, had a huge grin on his face as he watched us.  Brandon was watching from across the room, eyebrows raised.

 

James's best friend, Rowan Smith, was coming down the boy's staircase just as James stomped his foot again.  He took in the whole situation within a couple of seconds, rolled his eyes, and started to make his way across the room towards us.

 

Right, act all mature and above this, Smith.  That's not at all hypocritical.  He's always pulling pranks, though he's terrible at getting away in the clear.  One would think he would get turned off of pranking after all of the detentions he's had- I've hear a ton of horror stories from him about the things he's had to do- clean out bedpans in the Hospital Wing, polish trophies without magic, clean the floor of the Great Hall, repair seats in the Quidditch stadium, clean bathrooms, clean dishes in the kitchens, all sorts of stuff.

 

"What's going on here?"  Rowan asked, grinning as he got closer.  James rounded on him for support.

 

"The Quidditch team assaulted me and tied me up and stuck me in a broom closet!" James complained.  "Then they ignored me when I was telling them off, and now they're laughing at me!"

 

Rowan was having trouble holding back his own grin, but somehow he managed to keep James from noticing.

 

"Just out of curiosity, how long had you guys been practicing when they tied you up?"

 

James made a face. "Just a couple hours- maybe two or three."

 

"And how many times have you had practice this week?"

 

"Every day for the past three days, for about three hours each time- not that much!"

 

Rowan looked slightly appalled.  "Mate, you guys usually practice a total of four times a week, two and a half hours long each practice.  The weather's been killer for the past three days.  Nobody else has been outdoors, much less practicing.  You need to lighten up, mate, or you'll be trying to beat the Slytherins with a dead team.  It won't matter how good their muscles are when they're dying of exhaustion in the Hospital Wing."  He paused.  "In fact, I would prefer that they stay out of the hospital wing, because I don't want to have to clean out their bedpans."  He made a face.

 

"But...but..." James protested, struggling to find a response.  "But they tied me up!"

 

"Desperate times call for desperate measures, mate."  Rowan shrugged, shoving his dark brown hair out of his face.

 

James gaped.  "You're siding with them?"

 

Rowan nodded absently, running his hand through his hair.  Clumps of dark chocolate brown hair stuck straight up in the air.

 

"But- but- gah!" James exclaimed. "You're supposed to be my friend, Rowan!"

 

Rowan raised an eyebrow.  "Friends tell friends when they're being unreasonable. Sure, tying you up was a bit over the top, but really, what can you expect from that group of people?"  He shrugged. "Admit it, James.  You've created a monster."

 

I'm going to assume that Rowan is referring to the bunch of crazy personalities we have on our team. Most of us are fun-loving, not above a couple pranks, stubborn, and we come up with unique solutions to our problems.

 

Well, Albus and Brandon don't quite fit that profile all the way, but they are stubborn and don't like obnoxious practices.

 

I doubt anybody really actually likes obnoxious practices.

 

James sighed in defeat, hissed "This isn't over" to the three of us, and swept over to the boys' staircase and out of sight.  Rowan shook his head and followed him.

 

Laurel gasped in another breath, struggling to sit up again.  Her face was red from laughter, her eyes were bright sparkly purple, and her hair was starting to turn purple as well.

 

Purple is Laurel's "amused" color, if you haven't figured that out already.

 

"Laurel- hair!" Roxy hissed, trying not to laugh.  Laurel's face contorted, trying to focus enough to morph back to normal.  Her hair changed to reddish-brown before changing back to her normal dark chocolate color.

 

I'm really glad that my features don't change that easily.

 

I've been wondering lately if perhaps I'm not a metamorphagus, and my little colorful outbursts when I was younger were just uncontrolled magic.  Whenever I change my features, it takes a lot more concentration than it does for Laurel.  My eyes and hair don't change color unless I focus.  Those outbursts were whenever I was upset or really happy, which fits the whole regular uncontrolled magic thing.  It would explain a lot- why I could seemingly control my morphing, how I stopped so suddenly, everything.

 

 "So, now that the James amusement is passed, why don't we head up to our room and actually get some work done?"  Laurel asked, drying the ink on her essay with a flick of her wand.  "I don't feel like paging through a dusty old book when we have the Magikcomp."

 

"It builds character," I replied, hiding my grin as I finished my essay with a flourish.  There was a snort from Laurel.

 

"If you count me bashing your head in as building character, sure, it builds character."

 

Laurel sounded tired and slightly ticked off.  James's practices had taken a toll on her, and we had been staying up later than usual to work on our homework.  I jumped up, stuffing my things back in my bag.  "Right, no character building, then!"  I headed towards the staircase.  Laurel followed my, her feet dragging on the carpet.  Roxy grumbled something about "just one more sentence!" before picking up as well.

 

Tired, worn out Laurel who's been doing homework for too long = trouble.  Avoid at all costs.  If situation worsens, get her chocolate and muffins.  If still no improvement, flee the room.

 

I blame James for the current situation.  He shouldn't be such a Quidditch dictator.

 

---

 

"So," I said after dinner was over and we were back up in our room.  "Huffle prank?"

 

Roxy immediately sat up again.  Laurel rolled over and pulled the covers of her bed over her head, groaning.  Apparently food didn't improve her mood much.

 

Our prank plans had really started to get a definite shape.  The common room spells had all been found and recorded, all of the decorations planned out carefully.  Potion recipes had been bookmarked- we used versions of the same things for almost every prank.  Fireworks had been ordered, a couple more ideas added for hallway pranks, and now we had to come up with costumes for the Hufflepuffs.

 

We had asked the house elves if they had any ideas (which they did), but they also told us that we had to follow some guidelines.

 

No slutty outfits.

 

The costumes can't make anyone uncomfortable. So no giving an open-at-the-chest costume to a chubby boy who would feel ashamed of his shape.

 

With the younger kids, it might be a good idea to give them animal costumes, but nothing skintight.

 

No skintight stuff for anyone.  See the "don't make people uncomfortable" rule and the "no slutty stuff" rule.

 

Then they hit us with a barrage of ideas and suggestions as to where we could find more.  We had a huge list of the ideas, as well as a couple possible spells we could use.  The problem would be figuring out how to trigger the spell- what if people exchanged clothing, and a costume that was supposed to be meant for a 120-pound, 5'8 girl ended up on a 160-pound 5'2 girl instead?  If we didn't individually assign costumes, how would we make sure that nobody got a costume they would hate/feel uncomfortable in?  The younger kids- first through third year- were easy enough.  There would be a spell on the door of their dorm so that the first person out would be a Phoenix, the next one a dragon, the next one a hippogriff, the next a unicorn, or a horse, or a cat, or owl, or kelpie, or whatever.

 

The boys could be easy, too, I guess, if we steered away from the ripped-shirted pirates and gangster chains.

 

"Any ideas for the costumes?" I asked, pulling out a roll of paper.  On it was already written Phantom of the Opera, hippie, Muggle-style elf, non-sexy pirate, fairies, bandit, leprechaun, old lady, skateboarder, nerd, cat lady, circus person (ringmaster?), muggle characters?, the devil, angel, prisoner, masquerade ball outfit, mime, clown.

 

I had asked my grandma to search on the Muggle Internet for ideas as well.  She had sent me printed-out pages full of ideas.  Some we had decided to use, others we decided made too little sense or people wouldn't get it or they were too risky.  We had gone to the costume store in Hogsmead for ideas as well, but Laurel had written the ideas we got there down.  I wasn't sure where they were now.

 

 "You've got a lot of ideas down already," Roxy commented, jumping onto my bed to inspect the list.  "I really don't know if I can add anything more to that."

 

We inspected my list together in silence.

 

"What's the difference between a cat lady and an old lady?" Roxy asked, pointing out two of the possible costumes I had listed.

 

I made a face.  "No clue.  I must've written those down without reading what I had written before."  I looked over at the lump that was Laurel.  "Laurel, do you know where the list is that you wrote down in Hogsmeade?"

 

"Don't know.  Summon it." was the wonderfully articulated response I got from the lump.

 

I stuck out my tongue in response- not that she'd see it- and thought Accio Laurel's Halloween costumes list.  A slip of paper yanked itself out from under a pair of Laurel's shoes and landed in my lap.  I smoothed the wrinkled piece of paper out- honestly, it looked like it had been through a war, but in reality it had just been under Laurel's combat boots.

 

She thinks the boots make her look tough.  I think they make her outfits look odd.

 

The lump of Laurel's bed shuffled around a little, trying to get comfortable.  Her pillow jerked a bit as she tried to pull it under the blankets.  I grinned and pointed my wand at it.  Accio Laurel's pillow!

 

There was a shriek as the pillow was yanked out of Laurel's grasp and flew over to me.  Roxy caught it, grinning, then stuck it behind her so Laurel couldn't see it.  Laurel threw off her covers, looking murderous, her curls sticking up all over the place.

 

"Oh no you didn't," she hissed, grabbing for her wand.  "This means war."  With a wild cry, she leaped off her bed and started shooting off random spells.  After exchanging a gleeful look, Roxy and I jumped up, grabbed our wands, and joined her.

 

Colorful spells shot from one side of the room to another.  Bright stripes and dots marked the walls, beds, trunks, and doors.  Flowers sprang out of every imaginable corner.  Shoes danced over the floor, getting in our way as we jumped, twisted, and ducked out of the way of the spells.  The lights flicked off and on, a disco ball appeared on the ceiling, strobe lights flashed, snow fell from the ceiling, winds picked up and blew anything loose around the room, a bed turned into a couch, a swamp started forming near Roxy's bed, and music blared.  Outside, rain pattered against the glass and lighting flashed.  Suddenly, inside and outside mixed as one of Roxy's spells Vanished the window.  Rain blew in, mixing with the snow, just as the lights went out.  I froze, unable to see anything- spells, shoes, beds, the other two, anything.

 

"What happened?"  Roxy's voice, uncertain.

 

Long pause.

 

Then there was the sound of a mischievous giggle.  Laurel.

 

"That's not funny, you maniac!"  Roxy exclaimed, pouncing in the direction of Laurel's voice.  There was a thump and a "Ha, you missed!" from Laurel.  Roxy let out a groan of pain, but she still couldn't hide her laughter.

 

We were still laughing when Molly Weasley, one of Roxy's younger cousins, stuck her head in.

 

"What's going on here?  Why are the lights off?"  We heard a couple muttered spells, and all of a sudden the strobe lights flashed back on.  Molly stood in the doorway, her frizzy hair silhouetted against the light from the stairs.  In the flashes of light, I could see her shocked expression.  Like her father, she was a stick in the mud, though she certainly wasn't as bad as Rose.  Instead of trying to beat everybody else and hating other's successes, Molly strove to meet her personal best.  It made her a much better person, though she still was a pain in her love for rules.

 

Roxy was trying to hold back laughter, and her face was slowly turning red from the effort.

 

Molly turned off the strobe lights with one muttered incantation and turned the regular lights back on with another.  Her face grew even more shocked as the strangeness of the room really sunk in. A couple waves of her wand and the window repaired itself and the music turned off.

 

Pity.  I really liked that song, too.

 

"What were you doing?" Molly demanded, hands on hips.  "You were making a ton of noise.  The room's a mess.  The walls are all sorts of colors, there are flowers and snow all over the place- and what's that swamp doing under the bed?"

 

I bit my tongue, trying not to laugh.  But it was no use- Roxy was rolling around on Laurel's bed, laughing like a maniac. Laurel was sitting on the floor, snickering.  Her bad mood was gone, shaken off by the crazy "fight", just like every other time she got into a funk.

 

Yes, we cheer her up by provoking her into a fight.  And yes, it works.

 

---

 

The Hufflepuff common room looked cool.  Scary, yes; gross, yes; but it was cool.

 

The normally cheery yellow walls were black as pitch, the fire was a sickly yellow-green, the curtains were now strings of rattling bones.  Cobwebs were all over the corners, fireplace, and doorways.  The furniture had been charmed, transfigured, and cursed into tombstone-backed chairs, jack-o-lantern beanbags, tables made of bone and tombstones and twisted, blackened wood, and- my personal favorite, created by Laurel- a couple couches curling around the outer edge of the room that now looked like a dead, decaying dragon (a small one, of course), bones sticking out of grey, rotting flesh.  It was, of course, all fabric (think of the smell if it wasn't! or don't. it would be really gross), so any Hufflepuffs who dared could sit on it.  It still looked gross, though.

 

"I think we're almost done here," Roxy remarked, flicking her wand so that green slime oozed down the walls and dripped from the ceiling.  Another flick, and the other lights in the common room changed from their usually cheery gold color to the same sick green as the fire.

 

"Almost," I agreed, flicking my wand so that the room temperature dropped.  "Just the Great Hall and the kitchen drop-off left, right?"

 

 Roxy nodded, hiding a giant yawn behind her hand.  "Yeah.  Three bets that Tilly's going to show up at some point to pick up the potions."

 

Tilly was a house elf, one of the ones that most enjoyed helping us out.  She knew our routine- re-decorate a common room, hallway charms, Great Hall charms, then, when we were completely worn out, we would drop potions off in the kitchens to be put in the food the next day.  If she caught wind of a common room being oddly decorated, she would search us out so we wouldn't have to come down to the kitchens.

 

Laurel clattered down the stairs, sticking her wand back in her pocket as she went.  "The costume spells are all done.  Thank Merlin that we decided to go with the doorway spell for everyone, otherwise we'd be here all night."

 

After much debating, we had decided to use the same spell on the older students as we had on the younger ones, just with different costumes.  We had had to revise our lists of possible costumes somewhat, and make sure that anything we designed would look decent on anybody.  We were very, very glad we had spent the time to do that now.  Even though we had taken a nap earlier, I was starting to drag.

 

We stepped out of the door and started down the hallways, casting charms as we exited the narrow hallway.  Like one, we pulled our brooms out from a pocket in our robes- thank you, undetectable extension charm!- and mounted, shooting our separate ways, casting charms left and right.  I consulted my map of the fourth and fifth floors, where I was to cast the charms, and headed upwards.

 

Our pranks were now run like a well-oiled machine.  We lay out maps weeks in advance, marked with where spells should be set up and what types, potions were often brewed months in advance- hair color-changing potions were used in almost all of our pranks, sometimes we would set up charms more than a day early, and we knew exactly what to do and where to go without asking.  Some of the same basic spells were used over and over- color-changing ones primarily, as well as some smaller ones that we used in the Great Hall and hallways.

 

Nobody was out at this hour.  I shot from hallway to hallway, a little flashing dot on the map showing me where I was, just like those Muggle contraptions- GPSs, I think they're called.  My grandma has one, even though she's a pure-blood witch, because she loves gallivanting off to different countries while I'm in school.  She sends me an owl nearly every day, with little stories and new spells she learned and any tips she runs across for improving my magic.  Sometimes there are pictures- which I plaster across my walls- of scenery she's come across.  Some of the pictures are still, others have an eagle circling lazily in the sky while the trees below rustle in the wind, or a bear slapping a fish out of a river.

 

Using our brooms made the hallway charms go much faster.  The charms were really spread out, so it made sense to speed from one to another.  In what was possibly a record time for me, I finished my rounds and headed over to the main staircase area to take my favorite route down to the Great Hall.

 

Peering over the railing, I could see the straight shot down to the first floor.  I rose, over the railing, and shot into a dive.  Frigid air whipped my face as I shot downwards- though it certainly wasn't as cold as our practices outside- to join my friends in finishing the set up of what was sure to be a fantastic prank.

 




A/N I'm so sorry this took forever!  I was trying to edit it, then decided I would do it later....which ended up being put off forever...and then I got a teensy bit irritated with the guy I'm basing the Keeper off of, so I was trying to change that as well.

I'll work on developing the story over the summer!  I graduate from high school on the 1st, but the 30th of May is my last day :)  So hopefully having no homework will inspire me!


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