Chapter 4 : First Prank
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“Padfoot needs to get his beauty sleep,” Remus laughed.
“You said it,” I mumbled, rolling out of bed. I put some clothes on, grabbed my book bag, and headed to the Great Hall for breakfast. I met Rose, who was chatting with Lily.
“My parents sent me a letter,” Lily announced happily. It was the first smile I’d seen in a while. Lily was usually so fed up with James that she didn’t look happy very often. James frowned, but quickly shook it off and tried to look happy for Lily. His father was very sick. Rose was smiling. Peter had gotten a letter yesterday, and so had Remus. I never got anything.
“That’s excellent, Lily,” Remus smiled at her. She smiled back at him. I grabbed a couple of scones and started to eat. When breakfast was over, we headed over to Defence Against the Dark Arts, but James and I talked first.
“I have the map,” he whispered as we walked a couple of steps behind Moony, Wormtail and the two girls. “I managed to get seven squirrels. I figured squirrels, you know, because they’re fast and they’re small, so they’d be harder to stun and capture.”
“Good thinking,” I told him quietly.
“Right,” he said. “Wormy’s going to distract Montague. I’ll take three, you take four. We slip out, go to opposite ends of the castle, and release them. Come back to class, hopefully Wormtail’s done his job. If he hasn’t, well, Moony is there.”
“Right,” I said. “Where are the squirrels?” James winked, pulled seven Galleons out of his pocket, and handed four to me. I grinned at him. In my hand, I saw that number two and number seven were missing.
We rejoined the others. I had written a half-done essay yesterday half an hour before my detention. Montague spoke briefly about the difference between non-verbal attacking spells and non-verbal defensive spells, and then we started.
Thirty-five minutes into class, James gave the nod to Peter and he started asking Montague about a complicated spell. James and I slipped out. He put the cloak on, and I put a Disillusionment charm on myself. Soon enough, I had reached the East Wing of the castle. I let a squirrel go. Moving quickly, I released two others on my way back and then one more just as I walked back into class.
Rose raised her eyebrows at me as I walked in, having taken the Disillusionment charm off. I put a finger to my lips. James rejoined me seconds later.
It wasn’t long before we started to hear shrieks. I immediately did my best to look confused and made no further eye contact with any of the Marauders. As soon as Montague disappeared to find out what was going on, I exploded in a fit of laughter.
Frank came over. “What is it?” he asked with a smile.
“Squirrels,” I choked out. James was laughing so hard he couldn’t even speak. “They’re numbered, you see, and they are only seven, but they’re numbered one to nine with two and seven missing. We figure that the teachers are going to spend the rest of the day looking.”
“Brilliant,” Frank said, laughing and a little stunned. Shortly after, McGonagall appeared. By then, we had calmed down a little so I was able to make a straight face as she stared us down.
“Is this your doing?” she asked sharply.
“What is, Professor?” I returned innocently. The other students were turning away so McGonagall didn’t see them laughing.
“Squirrels in the school!” she shouted, frustrated.
“There are squirrels in the school?” James and I exclaimed in unison, faking shock. I heard a snort from somewhere in the class.
“Come with me, you four,” she said sternly. We followed her outside the classroom. “Mr. Potter, as you are captain of the Quidditch team, I cannot give you detention if we want to win. However –”
“Professor, I’m on the team too!” I exclaimed, not wanting James to get away without detention for a second time.
“However,” she continued sharply, giving me a look for interrupting her, “you will not be allowed to visit Hogsmeade this month. As for you, Mr. Black.” Our faces split into wide smiles. “Mr. Lupin and Mr. Pettigrew –”
“Professor, they weren’t involved,” I said quickly, trying to spare Peter and especially Remus from more detentions. “It was just James and I.” Remus had been let into the school even though he was a werewolf, and felt indebted to Dumbledore for this reason. That’s why he didn’t like having too many detentions. She looked at us sternly, studying our faces, and then finally let us go. “Alright. You may go.”
We walked back into the classroom. Class had effectively stopped, since all the teachers had been deployed to look for the squirrels. Everyone had sat down and they were chatting in little groups, but they all cheered when we walked in.
We chatted for a little while with Lily and Rose. “Professor Montague did not even notice you were gone,” she told us. “He was too busy talking to Peter.”
“That was the plan,” I grinned, clapping Peter on the shoulder for a job well done. “We’ve released animals before. This time it’s just a little different.”
“Ready for Quidditch tryouts today, Rosie?” James asked her. She grinned at him. At first, Lily had seemed a little surprise to find those two fast friends, but now she was used to it and didn’t say anything. “Evans, want to try out? I can guarantee you a spot on the team.”
“Quidditch is a waste of time,” she snapped at him. I raised my eyebrows. Usually, although she was adverse to Quidditch, she didn’t mind it.
Before we went to Transfiguration, we looked on the Marauders’ map. We had managed to put the squirrels on it, and found three of them together, unmoving, which meant they had been captured. Still four more to go. We laughed and patted each other on the back for a job well done.
McGonagall wasn’t there for Transfiguration either.
“Way to go, mate,” Frank said, coming up to us. “No class, no homework. Brilliant. And you don’t even get detention, either.”
“It’s because we’re on the Quidditch team,” I explained. “McGonagall wants us to win.” Frank smiled and nodded in understanding. The rest of the classes were like that, as well. We lounged around, having a good time. I finished all my homework. By the fourth period, six of the seven had been caught.
After class, we were called to Dumbledore’s office. All seven squirrels had been caught, but presumably they were still looking for ‘number two’ and ‘number seven.’
“Boys,” Dumbledore said to me and James, “how many squirrels were there actually?” His eyes twinkled like they usually did, but his voice was stern.
We looked at each other, contemplating whether we should tell him the truth. I spoke. “Sir, there were only seven. We labelled them so that you would think there are actually nine.”
“Thank you,” he nodded, and I could tell he was trying not to smile. “I imagine Professor McGonagall has disciplined you?”
James gave a curt nod. “We’ve been banned from Hogsmeade for the month,” he replied.
This time Dumbledore smiled outright. “I am sure that will not stop you,” he said. I couldn’t help it any longer, and broke into a smile.
“Sir,” I started. “I can promise you that something like this will never happen again. Next time, we will be more original.”
He laughed. “I will count on it, Mr. Black. Now, go along, I do suspect that you have Quidditch tryouts soon.”
James and I grinned at each other and raced down to the dormitory to get our brooms. We headed out to the pitch. A small crowd had already assembled.
When everybody was here, we started by going in the air and passing the Quaffle around. Most of last year was returning, but we were missing a Keeper, a Chaser, and coincidently, a Beater position. Then, we went into a mock game. Rose was against me, and sent a Bludger scarily close to my head.
“Hey!” I yelled. “Captain, did you see that? Gryffindor just aimed a Bludger for my head! And I’m on the bloody team!”
“Shove off, Sirius!” he yelled back at me. “Suck it up and be a man!” I smirked and sent one towards her, but she deflected it.
After a couple of hours, it was over. “Alright, we have to wrap this up,” James said, “because Sirius here has detention.” I winked at the people gathered around. A couple of people laughed. “But thanks to everyone who came out, the list will be posted shortly and first practice is Friday.”
I headed up to the castle with Rose and James. “You’re on the team,” he told her, and she grinned.
“Wonderful,” she said. Then we parted ways, because I had to polish trophies with Filch. On the way back from detention, I snuck into his office. I had borrowed James’ Invisibility Cloak, and I put a Gemino curse on piece of parchment, quills, books, and other objects I could find. It was well-known that Filch was a Squib, because of all the times the Marauders had sneaked into his office.
The next day, I was in another bad mood because I hadn’t gotten much sleep. On top of that, we had Potions first thing, with the Slytherins. All our classes had been combined with another house. Herbology we had with the Ravenclaws, Defence Against the Dark Arts was with the Hufflepuffs, Transfiguration was also with the Slytherins. For Potions, we had to write an essay about the differences between the Draught of Living Death and the Drink of Despair.
Then we had Herbology again, and we started to do more complicated stuff. Teachers loved giving us essays, didn’t they? In Herbology, we had to make a write-up on the characteristics of Snargaluff pods and how to tame them with magic.
After lunch, we had a spare period, so I went down to the lake again with Lily, who had a spare today, Rose, James, and the rest of them. Rose was still working feverishly on her homework.
“It is not right, I know it,” she moaned, as she crossed another thing out on her essay. Remus was reading, and Peter was practicing a spell. Lily was also reading, and James was watching her read. I was taking a nap in the sun, until James interrupted me.
“What do you reckon she’d do if I nicked some Amormentia and gave it to her?” he asked me, where Lily could hear. She didn’t even credit that with a look.
“I reckon she’d hate you for the rest of your life when she found out,” I answered casually.
We continued to make conversation and talk about yesterday’s success as the rest of the school watched us relax. Lily made distinct sighs as we talked about breaking the rules. Then we headed to Charms, for which I thanked Merlin. Charms didn’t require concentration like Herbology or Potions did. Flitwick was an easy teacher and we worked on Summoning Charms, which I had been able to do in fourth year. Then we got even more homework.
I was forced again to go to detention, where Filch was even angrier than usual. I hid a smile as he ranted under his breath about the curse I had put on his office. He didn’t know it was me, so I got off at the regular time.
I had a spare the next morning, so I took a look at the Gryffindor Quidditch team which was posted on the board. I grinned as I saw Rose’s name next to mine under Beaters. I managed to join the others for breakfast, because I didn’t want Rose to think that she had to bring breakfast up for me like that every time.
I gave everyone a grin as I slid into my seat. Besides, I could go back to sleep after eating anyway.
“Where’s Rose?" I frowned.
“She went to the Owlery,” Lily answered softly. “She should be back soon.”
“Quidditch is starting today,” James announced happily. Unfortunately, the Slytherins walked by just then.
“Ready to lose, Potter?” sneered my brother Regulus. With him I could see Snivellus, whom I gave a death stare along with my brother.
“In your dreams!” James countered, pulling his wand out just as I did.
“Petrificus Totalus!” one of them yelled.
“Stupefy!” James screamed.
“Sectumsempra!” Snivellus shouted.
“Protego!” a clear, strong voice called out between James and I, causing the spells to rebound. Brushing past James and I was Rosalie Gryffindor, with a scary look on her face.
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