Chapter 3 : Tricks and Treats, But Mostly Tricks
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Saturday’s Hogsmeade trip eventually arrived, and we lined up in the hall to have our names checked off by Filch. He scowled at all of us as we went by, as he disapproved of all things fun. Meanwhile, Mandy kept getting out of the queue to talk to Charlotte, who was ahead of us, so Mandy and I were last out of the castle.
“Now I’ve lost Russell,” said Mandy.
“That’s not my fault,” I said. “Have fun!” She giddily skipped off to look for Russell, and I looked down the High Street at Scrivenshafts, but it was cold so I decided I’d stop in at the Three Broomsticks first for a butterbeer.
It was warm and crowded inside, and I was glad to be out of the chilly wind. Since all the tables were full, I moved through the crowd and stood leaning against the window, my face pressed against the foggy glass. Few students were outside, and from what I could see of other shops, they looked packed with people. Even if I decided to leave the Three Broomsticks, I wouldn’t be able to get inside anywhere. I turned back around to face the shop, and saw Remus Lupin leaning against the wall a few feet away from me.
“Hi,” I said blandly. I looked over his shoulder for his three best friends – where one went, the other three were never far behind. But Remus seemed to be alone.
“Having a good day?” he asked, and gave me a friendly smile.
I turned to him, surprised that he was bothering to talk to me in a way that didn’t involve either of us growing fangs or jelly-legs, as tended to happen whenever I interacted with one of the Gryffindors. We’d spent the past five years fighting; it was the only way we knew how to act. It was all in good fun, but I couldn’t trust Remus’s motives at the moment. “What are you doing here?” I asked suspiciously. “I’d have thought you’d be with your friends – you four are practically inseparable.”
He laughed. “Well, they’re here, actually,” he admitted, looking back at a table. The other three boys were sitting there with bottles of butterbeer, watching us with various degrees of confusion on their faces. “They, er…”
“What is this, are you about to hex me for their entertainment? There are other Slytherins in the room, you know. How about one of them. What about Calvin Mulciber, over there? He’s a pillock. You’d be doing us all a favour.”
“No, no, it’s nothing like that,” said Remus. “Do I need a reason to be friendly?” When this did nothing to ease my suspicions, he admitted, “The real reason I came up here is because they were trying to get me to ask a girl out.”
“Not interested,” I said. So, maybe it was impolite. I wasn’t a Slytherin for nothing.
But it only made Remus laugh. “Good. I didn’t want to go on a date, really,” he said. “Sirius said he’d give me twenty Chocolate Frogs if I asked someone. But I saw you standing here alone, looking bored, and I figured I may as well make friends, and get some free Chocolate Frog cards out of it. I’ll share the chocolate with you, too, if you want.”
His being honest with me about his motives made me more inclined to trust him, as silly as his motives had been. I laughed. “You know, it’s a good thing you weren’t actually trying to get me to go on a date, because you would definitely have put me off. But I like having friends. We’ve always had a good time jinxing each other anyway. Want to head out?” I added, as I finished my butterbeer.
“Sure,” said Remus. He turned back to look at his friends’ table and waved as we walked towards the door. Sirius hit his forehead with the palm of his hand, and Peter was shaking his head in disbelief that Remus would abandon them to hang around with a Slytherin. This was almost as good as hexing them, I thought.
“So, how about Zonko’s?” I suggested.
“You planning to wreak some havoc around the school?” he asked as we walked outside. “You don’t seem like the mischievous type.”
“That’s because I’m good at hiding it. I don’t get caught.”
“Caught? I’ve never seen you doing anything you could get in trouble for.”
“The point is to not be seen. You have a lot to learn, Lupin. You and the rest of that little group of yours. That’s why you always end up in detention.”
We walked into Zonko’s, where it was crowded as usual. Remus shrugged. “Well, I suppose it is a side effect of ingenious pranks – that sometimes they get noticed,” he said lightly. “So I’ve no need to be jealous.”
“Oh, do you really want to know?” I said, grinning. “Don’t you remember waking up with your beds practically on the ceiling a few weeks ago? And soon after that when the Great Hall’s magic ceiling actually rained on everyone? Or, more recently, the wall that people kept getting stuck to? I believe you were caught there… Certainly you remember all those pranks you didn’t do but kept getting in trouble for them. Courtesy of yours truly.”
Well, there goes our secret, I thought. Thanks to me.
My annoyance with myself was alleviated when I saw Remus’s face. “That was you?” he asked, stunned.
“With some other Slytherins, yes,” I said.
“And to think that all those times I could have taken points away from Slytherin,” said Remus. “I should have done, especially after that horrifying display of green and silver in our common room. I should have known it was you.”
“Go ahead, prefect, give me a detention. It was well worth it.” I picked up a Fanged Frisbee, and examined it nonchalantly. “But watch out, because we Slytherins just might upstage you and take your title as most ingenious pranksters.”
Remus walked with me through the shop, and we talked about other entertaining ways to make Filch angry, including pranks, loud singing, and chasing his cat Mrs Woodhouse – which Remus informed me was especially entertaining while wearing an Invisibility Cloak. As we paid for our merchandise, Remus said, “We should have a prank competition. Whoever does the best pranks and doesn’t get caught wins.” He had a mischievous glint in his eyes that I had never seen before; usually it was James and Sirius who came up with the terrible ideas. But maybe Remus was the mastermind behind their good ideas.
“Why in Merlin’s name are you a prefect?” I asked. “Oddly enough, I thought prefects were supposed to stop this kind of behaviour. Dumbledore must have been insane to think you’d maintain order in the school.”
“Dumbledore is not insane, Hastings. So are you chickening out?” He grinned.
“No,” I said hesitantly. I had a feeling one group would have the cleverer tricks, and the other would evade capture by Filch. It was hopeless, really. “Okay, we’ll do it. Ooh, you just wait till Dumbledore finds out what the exemplary prefect has been up to…”
He just smiled knowingly, as if he was privy to secret prank information that I didn’t have. “You lot want to go first, then? Tomorrow?”
“Who’s going to be the judge? We need someone neutral.”
“Well, we’d play the pranks on all of Hogwarts, obviously. So whoever’s prank is witnessed by the most people is the winner.”
“It’s a deal.”
Remus and I spent the day wandering through all the shops of Hogsmeade, staying out of the cold wind as much as possible. We were talking about Professor McGonagall’s most recent Transfiguration assignment when I suddenly realised how late it was.
“Not that I dislike your company, but we should be heading back,” I said.
“Right,” he realized, and started to walk back to the castle. “Well this was fun, thanks for joining me.”
“No problem. Hey by the way, you’ll be supporting Slytherin in the Quidditch match on Saturday, right?”
“When hell freezes over,” he supplied with a friendly smile.
“I’d say that’s likely, given how cold it is,” I said. “So here, you’ll need this for Saturday.” I took off my scarf and threw it around his neck.
We reached the castle and went our separate directions. Remus went up the stairs toward Gryffindor Tower; I went down to the Slytherin dungeon. When I opened the door I nearly ran into a couple snogging – it was Mandy and Russell. Awkwardly I tried to sneak around them, but Mandy turned and withdrew herself, her cheeks slightly pink.
“Er, hi,” I said, backing out through the door again. “Sorry. Er, I was just going to leave, anyway. I left my – erm, my scarf outside, I’ll go and get it, see you later—” I closed the door, which turned back into a bare stretch of stone wall. Now what?
I started to walk back out the way I had come, but the door opened again. “Hi,” said Mandy. “I want to talk to you. I was waiting for you to get back.”
“Right, looked like it,” I said sarcastically. “What about Russell? You can’t just—”
“He went upstairs, it’s fine, he doesn’t care. So…”
“Well,” I said, “you… obviously had a great time.”
“Yeah. What about you? How was your solo adventure in Hogsmeade?”
“Well, I met up with Remus Lupin in the Three Broomsticks, and we’re friends now, I think.”
“I see,” she said.
“Oh, and we have to do a prank tomorrow.”
“I’m always up for that,” said Mandy, rubbing her hands together. “Let’s find Charlotte and get started!”
We found Charlotte in the dormitory, playing Exploding Snap with Alanna Travers, another of our roommates. “Char, put that away,” I said, “We have some scheming to do.”
Alanna looked up at our mischievous faces, then to Charlotte, and raised her eyebrows. Charlotte grinned and said, “How wonderful, you can be our new recruit!”
“I don’t know,” she said evasively. “Well actually anything you three are planning, I don’t think I want to be a part of it. You’re going to get in trouble…”
“All right, suit yourself,” said Charlotte. “Oh, by the way, you never heard a word of this.”
“Oh, I won’t tell,” she said. “Be careful, I don’t want Slytherin losing a hundred points because of you.”
“Fear not, my fair friend,” said Mandy with a grin. “We’re experts.”
We all sat on my bed and closed the hangings, and I informed them of our situation. We decided that our prank should be as messy as possible, because that was sure to be noticed. So we formed an excellent plan: in the morning, we would paint a large animated mural on a wall which we would enchant to blow hot air at anyone who walked by. Beforehand, I would set off some Dungbombs on the opposite side of the school to lure Filch out of the way, and then I would meet Charlotte and Mandy to start painting. Then we would all quickly leave the area. It was expertly planned.
None of us got much sleep that night. As we saw the horizon growing lighter with pink streaks, Charlotte and Mandy headed for a first floor hallway, while I got a bag of Dungbombs for a diversion and crept off towards the sixth floor. When I reached the end of my corridor, I set off a dozen Dungbombs, then slunk through a tapestry and down to the first floor near a broom closet to join my friends.
Mandy and Charlotte had five buckets of paint out and had started their work. They had painted the outline of a dragon and were working on colouring it in, so I joined them, pointing my wand at a bucket of green paint and watching the jet of paint sail up to the wall. The dragon began to take shape, and as we finished it, it began to flap its wings and move along the wall. Then we began our charms to make it breathe fire at all passersby.
But before we had finished, Filch’s cat Mrs Woodhouse showed up, watching us with suspicious yellow eyes as I painted a nearby gargoyle green just for the fun of it. “Open that door, Mandy,” said Charlotte. “We can’t have Filch show up just yet.”
Mandy opened the door to the broom closet. Charlotte herded Mrs Woodhouse into the closet, and I heard Mandy mutter something as she closed the door again. Then the gargoyle I had been painting decided to spit green paint all over me.
“In case you were thinking about it, don’t paint the gargoyles,” I informed Mandy and Charlotte, and they laughed to see me dripping with green.
Just then, we were interrupted by someone else: Peeves the poltergeist. His sole aim was always to increase chaos, which usually involved making large messes, or drawing large crowds of people – essentially what we were doing at the moment, minus the crowd. At least for the moment.
“Whee!” Peeves hollered. “Messy, messy, all covered in paint, if someone finds you you’ll probably faint!” He concluded his poem by knocking over a stone bust of a Cyclops, which crumbled to the floor, its eye continuing to blink mournfully at us. Then Peeves swooped away, doing somersaults in the air and cackling. I heard some footsteps coming from down the hall – it sounded like Peeves was drawing his usual crowd, or maybe people were just coming up to breakfast now. What great timing.
“Time to go,” I said to my friends. We Vanished our paint buckets and hurried away from the wall, although I was still covered in green paint. When we reached a corner, we stopped so I could quickly clean the paint off myself, and then we doubled back and joined the group of students headed to breakfast, ready to walk by our finished mural looking like innocent bystanders.
The group we were walking with suddenly halted, laughing and pointing at the new addition to Hogwarts’ décor, watching the dragon flying along the wall. A sizeable crowd assembled before the dragon opened its mouth and released a blast of fire: spectacular reds and oranges swept along the wall, and hot air filled the corridor, almost as if a real dragon had breathed real fire upon us; the people closest to the wall got splashed with some orange paint. Several students screamed in delight (and probably some in terror as well). Mandy, Charlotte and I laughed gleefully from our spot in the middle of the crowd. And then, we finally saw Filch arriving, who shrieked at the sight of the animated mural, the fallen stone Cyclops, and a nearby painting the dragon had singed.
Filch glared back at all the students, his eyes popping out of his head. “What have you done, you miscreants?” He pointed his finger at two third-year Hufflepuffs who had just been laughing loudly. They immediately stopped. Filch turned his gaze to other students, examining their faces so he could try to spot the guilty one.
A bleating noise sounded from the closet door, and Filch, baffled, opened it. Out walked a thin gray sheep with lamplike eyes. Filch shrieked again, and a roar of laughter erupted when the Hogwarts students recognized the noisy sheep as Mrs. Woodhouse. Mandy grinned at me.
“Brilliant Transfiguration work,” I whispered to her. “But he’s going to kill us.”
Filch continued to stare around at everyone. His eyes lingered for a while on James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter, whom I was pleased to see laughing hysterically. But then Peeves returned at that moment to sing more songs, and Filch yelled and cursed at him, holding Peeves responsible for all the chaos. We had pulled off an amazing prank, and gotten away with it. It would be a good day.
It wasn’t so great for Filch, though. After the paint had been removed from the walls, and the sheep had easily been returned to its original, repulsive state as Mrs Woodhouse (thanks to Professor McGonagall, who showed up rather unimpressed with the situation and effectively dispersed the crowd), Filch was still in a nasty temper. He tried to punish a first-year for sneezing in the hall. Another student was berated for tripping; Filch said the spilled ink was vandalism of the floor and that the scattered parchment cluttered the hall, which could be dangerous. I purposely avoided Filch as much as possible, lest he discover my guilty conscience.
The rest of the day was not quite as successful; my lack of sleep from prank planning became evident after a few hours, and I even nearly fell asleep in Ancient Runes, which was my favourite class. I was tremendously glad I didn’t have Divination anymore, or I would certainly have fallen asleep in that dark, stuffy room. But somehow I managed to stay awake for all my classes, even if my notes were scrawled and messy, and I got extra homework for being somewhat vacant in class. But I didn’t care today. Today was perfect.
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