Chapter 2 : November Fools'
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That was when everything started to go wrong.
Just as she helped herself to a nice treacle tart for pudding, the doors to the Great Hall crashed open and Percy Weasley ran through the room, screaming like a girl.
“The curse!” he yelled. “The curse is here!”
His face was the same colour as his hair and he was waving his arms about in a poor impression of a windmill. Once all of the students eating dinner had turned their attention to him, he continued speaking, addressing the staff table.
“Professors,” Percy said solemnly. “I’m dreadfully sorry to tell you, but the curse has arrived at Hogwarts.”
He nodded seriously, as if to emphasise his point, but the reaction disappointed him. A resounding silence filled the hall, before the students suddenly broke into laughter, jeering and pointing.
“He’s gone batty!” called Marcus Flint from the Slytherin table. Percy’s face somehow turned even redder, and his brothers, seated with the other Gryffindors, were fervently wishing they could disappear.
“Mr Weasley!” Minerva exclaimed, aghast at the behaviour of one of her own students. Percy Weasley was the last person she’d expect to disrupt dinner with ridiculous declarations, but apparently that was what had happened.
“What on earth is the meaning of all this?” she demanded.
“It’s the curse, Professor!” protested Percy. “I finished dinner early and returned to the common room to finish my Charms essay, and suddenly there was a flash of light and a bang and then the Gryffindor common room armchair set fire! And as I ran back here the statues started singing Irish ballads!”
If the students had found the conversation funny before, now they couldn’t hold back their laughter. The room erupted into a cacophony of cackles and it was clear that the majority of the staff had no idea what poor Percy was talking about.
“Irish ballads? Armchair on fire?” was all Minerva could say, her voice weak. If she hadn’t known better, she’d have been almost certain that this was some sort of April Fools’ prank – despite it being November – but Percy Weasley wasn’t one to joke, and certainly not on this scale.
“Albus?” she asked eventually, turning to face her friend sat beside her. The headmaster was regarding the events with mild amusement – Minerva suspected that he was rather enjoying watching the school exploding into chaos.
“Do you know about this curse that Weasley is talking about?”
Dumbledore turned to face her. She sighed. It was a stupid question, really – Dumbledore seemed to know about everything.
“I have heard a little about it, yes,” he replied serenely. Other teachers were looking about uncertainly, unsure whether they were supposed to be telling their students off for their behaviour. After a minute or so he smiled and added, “I believe we may expect a rather entertaining evening.”
Minerva could not make head nor tail of that statement, but she had long since learnt to accept that Albus only told her what he felt necessary. She sighed quietly and turned to face Percy Weasley, who was wringing his hands and turning around nervously, as if he expected something to attack him at any moment.
Signs of the mysterious curse were already appearing round the room. The giant Rubeus Hagrid was crouched under the staff table – lifting it up with his massive body – squeaking like a mouse that was searching for cheese. Argus Filch, who had crept in after witnessing Percy Weasley running through the corridors, had given Mrs Norris a piggyback and was galloping around the house tables, neighing like a horse. It was utter chaos.
Albus rose to his feet, and before he had said a word a hush fell on the Great Hall. “I wish for all the students to return to their common rooms. The prefects will escort the younger students. Chop, chop!”
Amidst the rumble of pupils getting to their feet, Madam Pomfrey left the staff table and hurried over to Percy, whose face was now paling from a ripe red to a milky white. Bustling him out of the room, Poppy resembled a mother hen leading the way for her chicks.
“I’m going to accompany my students, Albus. I don’t know what exactly is going on, but I intend to make sure that they reach the common room safely.”
Minerva rose from her seat and headed for her pride of lions, who were making more noise than the rest of the school put together. The other Heads of House quickly followed, hurrying out towards their students’ common rooms. None of the staff had heard of the curse before, but it seemed that Dumbledore had, and nobody would argue with the wise headmaster.
The effects of the curse soon became evident as Minerva climbed the stairs towards Gryffindor tower. The statues, which Percy had claimed were singing Irish ballads, seemed to have become animate, and now lined the hallways performing a spectacular River Dance. It was a bizarre sight to encounter heavy stone carvings moving lightly on their feet, and if she hadn’t been preoccupied with the Gryffindors’ welfare, Minerva might have found time to marvel at the magic.
Finally, after ascending countless flights of stairs, all of which had seemed to change direction the moment she stepped on them, Minerva reached the hallway outside the common room. The space was filled with what seemed to be all of the students from her house, who were watching the portrait of the Fat Lady. The painted woman seemed to be mimicking an elephant, and the trumpeting noises she was making could even be heard over the din made by the students.
“Excuse me!” Minerva said, astonished. She pushed her way through the crowd and stood before the portrait. Weaving between the students was more difficult than she had anticipated, since little Lee Jordan had chosen this moment to dance ballet and was pirouetting gracefully amongst his peers. Oliver Wood was lying on his back making snow angels in imaginary snow, whilst simultaneously – to Minerva’s complete horror – declaring that Quidditch was silly.
“What on earth are you doing?” she asked, gathering her wits about her. “Your job is to allow the students into their common room when they arrive. Have they given you the password?”
The Fat Lady nodded, swaying her head and waving her arm, which she had tried to attach to her nose as a trunk.
“Then why on earth haven’t you opened the door for them?” demanded the professor. “I demand that you open at once. Fiddlesticks!”
Her repetition of the password had no effect whatsoever. The Fat Lady only trumpeted, thundered out of the frame and then all the Gryffindors were locked out of Gryffindor tower.
The students went wild. Despite the fact that Minerva had ordered them back to the Great Hall, there were groups darting off in all directions, ready to wreak havoc and disregard the curfew. She had a feeling that the Weasley twins would have been off to the kitchens or the Slytherin common room to cause trouble if she hadn’t grabbed them both before they had the chance to escape her sight. Then, before any of them could leave the tower, the staircases all disappeared.
Minerva had never seen anything like it in all her time in the magical world. She gaped in shock as her students turned to her for answers that she couldn’t provide. As she leaned back against the cold stone castle wall, Minerva McGonagall could only hope that the effects of the curse would wear off sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, Professor Flitwick was having similar trouble. His students had made it into Ravenclaw tower, but the common room had somehow, rather splendidly, transformed into a boat.
The moment that the Ravenclaws had entered, their school robes had become naval uniforms, and they were walking along the deck of a large wooden ship. Flitwick, arriving just after his pupils, wore a captain’s hat that was far too big for him, and the little man kept on having to push it up out of his eyes. The boat rose and fell sharply on the violent waves, and there were already several people looking green in the face.
Roger Davies was leading the rest of the Quidditch team in a warbled sea shanty as they heaved on ropes. Flitwick wasn’t entirely sure what they were doing, but since, despite the captain’s uniform, he wasn’t an experienced sailor, he decided to allow his pupils’ to continue doing whatever it was they were carrying out.
Suddenly the boat lurched violently, tipping forward so that the students rolled down the deck and had to cling tightly onto the sides of the ship. Ravenclaw Tower was filled with girly screams – especially from the male members of the Quidditch team– and the sensible seventh years started diving into the water to avoid going down with the ship. The intelligent first years were scrabbling at a life boat, trying to release it and save themselves. But before they could catch it, the first one slipped out of their grip and landed with a loud splash in the sea.
It was enough to make even the wise Ravenclaws lose their heads. The room was filled with screams that drowned out the crashing waves, and the Quidditch team ran to their Head of House and tried to hide behind him.
And then Flitwick slapped them in the face with a fish and cried, “Calm down! We still have two life rafts left!”
The remonstrance had no effect whatsoever. Whilst the sea calmed and the students managed to clamber back onto the boat, their robes had become an auspicious mixture of black and yellow – the colours of their sometimes friends and more often rivals, the Hufflepuffs. The result was screaming that could be heard throughout the rest of the castle, even down to kitchens and the snake-filled slimy dungeons.
Some of the students had taken to their new colours, however, buzzing around like bumblebees and occasionally hopping in a poor attempt at flying. Professor Flitwick didn’t know what to do, and sat down at the prow of the ship, squeezing his eyes tightly shut and fervently hoping that the world would be restored to order by the time he opened them again.
In the hospital wing, Madam Pomfrey was tending to a hysterical Percy Weasley. She’d never heard anything about the curse before, and her Healer training definitely hadn’t covered how to deal with it. Her job was made even more difficult by the fact that Percy couldn’t seem to stop racing around the room, pretending to be a train – he was even making the noises to match.
“Mr Weasley!” Poppy said exasperatedly, but just as she was about to cast a spell that would freeze him, the door opened to reveal Cedric Diggory unable to prevent himself from performing bunny hops. He bounced and bounced and even pushed his perfectly white and curiously sharp teeth over his blood red bottom lip to imitate a rabbit. His usually coiffed and tousled hair had been styled into two long, floppy ears that flapped up and down as he jumped.
In the surprise of his entrance, Madam Pomfrey hadn’t noticed that Percy had slipped out of the door, choo-chooing loudly. He chugged his way along the corridors, before reaching a quiet and abandoned girls’ bathroom, where he was able to run around in peace, apart from the ghostly operatic choir led by Nearly Headless Nick.
And then Myrtle jumped out of the toilet and grabbed his shoe.
Percy had never encountered the moaning ghost before, but it wasn’t long before she’d dragged him into her toilet, where he sat, still hooting, as Myrtle cooed about his head. The girl seemed to have donned a ghostly afro wig and tutu – although he couldn’t imagine where she’d found the ethereal accessories – and was stroking his face and singing a lullaby.
Just as Myrtle’s bespectacled face, scarily resembling a fly, loomed towards Percy’s lips, the curse lifted. The serious Gryffindor yelped and tried to scramble out of the toilet basin, a feat made almost impossible due to the icy cold ghost fluttering her eyelashes at him.
Finally, soaking wet, he ran as fast as possible to his common room, past all the bewildered students and teachers, eager for a bed where he would be safe from the curse – for now, at the very least.
A/N: So, another instalment of complete ridiculousness. I'm not even sure what happened here, but I managed to use another four prompts for the challenge. I'd love to know what you think, even if it's just to say I'm completely barmy!
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