Chapter 5 : Chapter Five: The Prank War, The Slug Club, and My Dad
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By the end of the lesson, I had successfully proved myself to be a genius several times over. I had made Professor Slughorn wipe his brow and mutter “My, word,” five times in total, and the other kids glared either enviously or admirably at me, or spent the lesson gaping at me with their mouths open rather than write down what Slughorn was saying. It was proving difficult not to break into a large, gloating smile. Rowena would be proud.
“Erm, homework, homework, homework,” Slughorn muttered, scattering the large pile of parchment on his table. “Read over your notes. That is all.” He lumbered over to his desk and sat down with a mighty heave and began rummaging around in his desk drawer. “Mars, may I speak to you?” he asked, gazing up to me. “Yes, professor?” I asked as I walked over to his desk hopefully. “I believe your mother sent me a note concerning your familiarity with the potions.” I held back laughter. “And I thought it would be most suitable to put you in a higher level class. A brain like yours must be nurtured.” The prospect of attending N.E.W.T. level potion classes, to any other child, would sound daunting. Like torture. But to me, it sounded like a dream come true. “Oh, and one more thing, Mars, I was wondering if you would consider joining a little club I have with my students, the Slug Club?”
“Er…” Slughorn’s ‘slug club’ was comprised of spoiled, low-performing students with rich daddies. That wasn’t me. I was not spoiled (quite the contrary), always got good grades in the Muggle schools I went to, and I didn’t have a dad period. To make matters worse, the students in his ‘slug club’ (you see, it doesn’t even deserve to be capitalized) were all in their sixth or seventh year. I would be younger by a landslide. Evelyn was in the club for being Head Girl, and Ida got in for winning Gryffindor the Quidditch Cup for a succession of five years straight (which of course, was surprising since this meant Slytherin lost, but would also mean that when Ida goes professional, Slughorn gets free tickets). I shuddered at the idea of being in the Slug Club (when I interviewed Harry Potter, he told me about the Slug Club. I’ve been having nightmares ever since. Nightmares of Voldemort, of course).
My brain began thinking up excuses to avoid the Slug Club. “Well, I’m taking a lot of extra classes and I don’t know if the Slug Club would overtax my schedule, you see…” This only made Slughorn give a hearty chuckle that shook his large stomach jiggle and shake. Ew. “Nonsense, I’ll find a way to fit the Slug Club into your schedule, no matter how busy, don’t you worry.” My brain. Failed!
“Oh, that’s very nice of you professor. Thank you for the offer,” I said weakly. I righted my bag on my shoulder and walked out the door, my knees threatening to buckle. My first day at Hogwarts has gone terribly wrong. The Slug Club! Just the thought makes me groan in desperation.
Megan had been waiting outside the door for me. “Sorry. I can’t find my way by myself,” She said sheepishly. “No worries,” I sighed melodramatically. “What’s up with you?” Megan asked, skipping jubilantly through the halls. “The stupid Slub Club is what’s up,” I grumbled. “The Slug Club? That’s great!” Megan said. “Maybe to you. But not. To. Me” I said, pausing between the words ‘not, ‘to’ and ‘me’ for extra drama. You know. ‘Cause I’m layin’ the drama on thick.
“And why the hippogriff would that be?” Megan asked, raising her eyebrow. Man, that girl does that a lot.
“Because. The Slug Club is for spoiled brats who’s dads are close to minister. For brats. I am not a brat.”
“Really Mars? Cause you’re really acting like one.”
“Oh shut up. I can just leave you here to find class on your own if you want,” I grumbled. “Is that what you’d like?” I asked, faking a smile.
Megan stopped talking about the Slug Club. We continued through various corridors that twisted and turned like a writhing snake. There were so many turns, it made me feel almost dizzy. The air was cold and crisp and smelled slightly mildewed. So in short, being a Slytherin must SUCK.
We were walking through a particularly moldy-smelling hallway when a the noise of a boy singing ludly began bouncing off the walls. “CHICKEN AND POTATOES, CHICKEN AND POTATOES, NOW-I’M-HAVIN’-BACON, NOW-I’M-HAVIN’-BACON, NOW I’M WHIPPING YOUR BUNS WITH MAH BAY-UH-CUN, WHOO!!!“ We rounded the corner only to come face to face with James bloody Potter and Fred frickin Weasley, both singing and dancing like…exotic dancers. They stopped as soon as they saw us, then resumed dancing. It was very immature, very stupid, but also very funny. So I joined in with them.
“Mars Abeden, what the hippogriff are you doing?” Megan asked in a slightly stunned, slightly horrified voice. James began laughing at the look on her face, then gave me a high five. I beamed.
“Oh, God,” Megan said as she shook her head disapprovingly. Fred winked at her, causing her to blush slightly. I held back a laugh, along with James, both of us moving our eyes back and forth between Megan and Fred. Megan, having noticed this, blushed harder and smacked me in the arm. “You wouldn’t happen to know the way to the greenhouses, would you?” James asked. “Well if you keep on going this way then you’re just going to get lost in this labyrinth of a dungeon,” Megan said. “Isn’t a dungeon and a labyrinth the same thing?” I asked. “No, it is not the same thing, now stop trying to prove me wrong or I will sock you in the face,” Megan replied angrily, wiping hair out of her eyes. “Ooohh, someone’s getting spicy!” James laughed. “Hehe, I can imagine it now. A new talk show, Spicy With Megan at six o’clock!” Fred said. He put on a high pitched voice that was probably supposed to be an imitation of Megan. “I’m feelin’ spicy! Someone go get me a habanero!” James and Fred both laughed while a look of frustration crossed Megan’s face.
“You know my name?” Megan asked inquisitively. “Yep. We were at the feast, you know.” Fred nodded and began bopping in a way that was both rhythmic and ADD. “I’m Fred by the way,” he said, extending his hand to her. Megan shook his hand somewhat reluctantly, wiping it on her robes when he wasn’t looking. I was both taken aback and embarrassed when James pretended to kiss my hand and made ‘mwah’ noises. Megan smirked, and I smacked her with a particularly heavy hardcover of mine. She glared at me while rubbing her arm. “Now, about those greenhouses…” James trailed off.
The Transfiguration and Herbology lessons were uneventful. However, we had Flying lessons with Hufflepuff, meaning we would be with Lisa, and the thought made me squirm uncomfortably in my seat. Lisa unsurprisingly ended up skipping rather than walking outside. Always the eccentric. “Alright, everyone find a broom-their own broom, girls. You two, separate!” Madam Hooch demanded authority. She was an old and wizened witch, exhausted from years-make that decades-of teaching ‘one of the most difficult subjects to teach’ as she had put it. She had a rough look to her despite her age, and I was admittedly a little scared of her.
“Now, this is all rather straightforward. Just stand in front of your broom, put one hand over it-not on it, you bozo, above it,” She reprimanded students with every sentence, it seemed. “Now, say ‘up’!” There was a loud chorus of ‘up’s, and Lisa even sang, “You there, broom on the ground, go up, go down, go all around!” and the broom shot into her hands. She grinned proudly. It took a few tries, but eventually my broom zoomed into my hands. One Hufflepuff’s broom was smacking him over the head repeatedly. Lisa leaned in and whispered something to him, and the broom immediately stopped.
After everyone’s broom was in their hands (or at least their control), Madam Hooch instructed us how to hold the broom (one girl was holding the broom backwards). Before long, we were all hovering above the ground. Simply being in the air, it was exhilarating. My moment of tranquility was short-lived, because in the next moment, I was being rammed into by Lisa. Apparently (by apparently, I mean hopefully Lisa didn’t do it on purpose, because I would never forgive her) her broom was “defected”. In seconds, we were both lying sprawled on the ground and a dizzying pain made my ankle pulse. Lisa had landed on top of my foot when we landed, and it was now twisted at an angle that made me feel sick when I looked at it.
Madam Hooch sighed with frustration. “This happens every single year. I don’t know how you children do it,” She muttered. Lisa smiled innocently. I groaned in pain. “Could you please get off of my foot,” I pleaded. Lisa shifted herself off of my ankle, grimacing at it. “Ugh, that’s gross,” she said. “Well it’s your fault!” I yelled angrily, pulling myself into an upward position. “Chang, please escort Abeden to the hospital wing,” Madam Hooch said exasperatedly. Lisa, who was supposed to be helping me walk, skipped through the corridors, grinning and talking a mile a minute while I struggled to limp along.
“I think flying’s really, really fun, but it’s so unfair that I can’t play. Some first years are better than third years. I mean, I’m just as good, maybe even better than Gan. My mum was great at Quidditch too. She was the seeker for Ravenclaw, and she was really good at it, so she probably passed the Quidditch genes down to me. I still have a lot of really cool genes from my dad, but I got my Quidditch genes from my mum, not my dad. Of course, my dad’s a Muggle, so I didn’t really inherit a lot of magical skills from him. I didn’t get any magical skills from him. But he says my ability to light up a room is magical. I think that still counts,” She rambled on and on, then began snacking on bacon and talking at the same time, so I stayed a distance away to avoid being sprayed by bits of half-chewed bacon.
“The school bacon is awesome. It’s almost as good as my mum’s. My mum makes the best bacon. It’s all greasy and crispy and deliciousy goodness. That’s probably why I love bacon so much. Cause mum makes so much. She just makes a lot of pork in general. Asian dishes just have a lot of pork in them. Wait, is that racist? I can’t really be racist to myself, I guess. But you can insult yourself, so is being racist and insulting someone the same thing?” Eventually I zoned out, nodding and subconsciously agreeing to what she says. She spoke every moment on the way to the hospital wing.
Madam Pomfrey muttered a few incantations and quickly sent us back on our way to Flying, but the lesson was already over by the time we got there. Students were descending from the air and grabbing their bags from where they were lying against the wall. Megan groaned and held her head, muttering to herself. “What’s up with you?” Lisa asked. Megan pointed to a boy holding his head and staggering around looking like he forgot where he was. “Bloody idiot knocked into me so hard I fell off my broomstick. I had to do the Sloth Grip to avoid ending up like you two,” she said, glaring contemptuously at him. Lisa giggled, earning a similar glare from Megan. Lisa, however, didn’t seem to care and smiled to herself as we walked over to our bags.
“What do we have next?” Megan asked, slinging her bag over her shoulder. “Let’s see…” I righted the straps on my shoulder as dug into the bag for my schedule. I pulled out a slightly wrinkled piece of parchment. “Quadruple lunch with the Slytherins, Gryffindors, and Hufflepuffs,”I stated happily. As we walked, we retold the stories from our first day. Lisa laughed when she heard of our run-in with James Potter and Fred Weasley. “Boys are such idiots,” She snickered. “I had double History of Magic with them,”- Here, she had to stop for a moment to let out her giggles, “And they unleashed a pixie in the classroom to see if Binns would notice. Can you believe anyone could be that stupid?” My mind flashed back to the Devil's Dye incident. "It really is incredible. Their lack of common sense." Your amount of common sense is also quite astounding, Lisa...
“Did he?” Megan and I both asked simultaneously. “Not until it bit off part of a kid’s ear,” she said. “WHAT?! And you were laughing at that?” I screeched in disbelief. “He was fine, Madam Pomfrey had this gross kind of clay that she put around the edges of his ear and it-“ she swallowed with a revolted look on her face, then continued, “it-kind of, grew. And then she did this spell that turned it into flesh-“
“STOP! SPARE ME THE DETAILS!” Megan yelled, covering her ears and making a sort of fake retching noise that sounded like she was coughing up a hairball. Lisa and I both laughed, when we suddenly heard a familiar song. “CHICKEN AND BACON, YEAH! CHICKEN AND BACON, YEAH!” Megan pulled her hands off her ears, looking puzzled. Lisa looked slightly annoyed. “Well if it isn’t our favorite two claws and our favorite puff!” It was hard to determine if the voice was sarcastic or not.
“No fair, that means you get to be the griffin!” Lisa pouted. I turned a laugh into a cough when I realized she wasn’t joking. “Well if it upsets you, then I guess we can be the gryffs,” Fred joked. “Then what are the Slytherins?” Lisa asked. “The snakes,” James said in a serious voice. “Bah, I say they be called the rins,” I suggested. “The snakes,” James repeated with his jaw set firmly. “Yeaahh, well. I really don’t care what you say, so…” I said, smirking.
“Oooh, you just got fried!” Fred laughed. James’s face went red from embarrassment, soon replaced by a look of silent anger.
James quickly smothered his angry look with his usual smug one. I rolled my eyes at his childish behavior. When I went to Harry Potter’s house to interview him, I didn’t know which room he was in, and accidentally opened the door to James’s room. He was standing in front of his mirror, tousling his hair and rolling it back in different ways. Thinking back on the incident, I mentally laughed at James’s cockiness. He was so different from his father, who squirmed uncomfortably in his seat for most of the interview and dodged touchy questions.
I’m just glad I didn’t walk in on James while he was dressing. That would be-shudder-traumatizing.
“So I’ve been thinking about start-of-term pranks. You know, small ones, just to get warmed up for the pranks to come, but I got nothing,” Fred said. James carelessly ran a hand through his hair and said, “Well I had a few ideas, but nothing really great.”
“Well, me and Megan and Mars came up with some stuff. But it’s probably too beast for you mommies,” Lisa taunted. “I think you mean babies,” Fred corrected. “Nuh-uh. We’re not babies, we’re babes,” James said, finally removing his hand from his hair in order to perfect his cocky look. We all laughed at James, who replied with, “That wasn’t a joke. I was serious.”
We laughed at his joke (I still hope he was joking), still unsure if he was serious or not. “Wait, you guys have pranks?” Fred asked. “Yep. Right Mars?” Lisa asked, giving me the play-along-or-I’ll-hurt-you-look. “You know we do,” I lied, nodding my head. Megan looked confused for a moment, then began nodding maniacally. “Like what?” James asked skeptically. “We’re not telling you. What, are you trying to steal our pranks?” I asked, trying to avoid answering the question.
“Oh, so now it’s some competition?” James questioned. “Only if you make it one,” Lisa answered. “Well then it’s on. Whoever pulls the most awesome, amazing prank by the end of the year, wins…ten galleons,” Fred said. Oh poop. I don’t have ten galleons. “We. Will. Cream you like whipped cream,” James said, grinning. “Mash you like mashed potatoes,” Fred added. They promptly began singing their mashed potato song again.
Lisa rolled her eyes as we entered the great hall, which was buzzing with students laughing and talking. Megan and I took our place at the Ravenclaw table and helped ourselves and heaped our plates with lunch. “Mars, I know this is a touchy subject for you, but do you have any idea who your dad is?” Megan asked. “It’s okay, it’s really not that ‘touchy’,” I said, putting finger quotation marks around ‘touchy’. “But no, I have absolutely no idea,” I answered, wolfing down a muffin. God, I love muffins.
“I was just thinking…it could have something to do with the dream,” Megan speculated, biting her lip in hard thought. “Like what?” I asked, a sickly feeling of dread in my stomach. The muffin suddenly didn’t seem so appealing. “Well, anything about your history that you don’t know could be a clue to the stuff happening,” she replied, still lost in thought. “What? That makes no sense.” I laid down my muffin.
“I know,” she sighed. “It’s hard to explain.” She didn’t talk again. “But, what exactly did you mean before, about it being a clue to what’s going on?” I asked, scared of the answer she might give. “Like…maybe,” Megan had a slightly constipated look on her face. “Oh-Mars, I’m sorry to say this, but what if your dad was a Death Eater or something? What if he was one of those men? If we knew if he had a dark background or not, he could be a suspect,” she answered. A wave of relief washed through me. Megan’s reasoning was insane. “Megan,” I laughed. “That’s crazy,” I said, giggling to myself. “Is it, Mars?” Megan asked, an eyebrow raised.
“Yes, yes it is. The chances of that are one in a million.”
“But there’s still a one in that million. You can never, ever, ever, be a hundred percent sure of something.”
“Then why’s everyone- so sure that there’s a God?” I asked, nibbling once again on my muffin. “You’re not. You just put your trust in God that He’s real. That’s why they call it a faith.” An awkward moment of silence ensued Megan’s sudden burst of deep thinking. “Well, you’ve certainly given me some”- I waggled my muffin in her face, grinning,-“food for thought.”
Megan rolled her eyes and raised a forkful of chicken salad to her mouth.
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