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The Fred Weasley Memorial Scholarship by ad astra
Chapter 2 : ii. the initiation [or] five thousand galleons justifies everything
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 27


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“How are we supposed to be sabotaging ourselves?” Scorpius asks, pacing back and forth. “How does this work?”


“A prank war,” I decide. “With the…others.”


The others refer to the loud, obnoxious Gryffindor/Slytherin alliance who we’ve always had something of a rivalry with, because they’re a group of five and they have their token Weasley-Potters (Lucy and Louis) and for some reason we just don’t get along. Most of my cousins tend to clump together according to age – James was at school with Freddie and Dominique, and they were inseparable; Hugo and Lily have been best friends practically since birth; Roxanne and Molly finished last year and despite being polar opposites are now living together. Maybe it’s because there’s four of us, maybe it’s because Albus and I have existed as a pair forever (most of the time I think he’s my brother and Hugo’s my cousin) maybe it’s because Lucy and Louis are unsufferable – whatever way you look at it, there’s a rift. They make sense as the targets for an all-out year-long prank war – and I bet every Galleon in my parents’ vault that they’ll all be going for the scholarship too.


“If we engage the others, we’ll never be safe again,” Scorpius says.


“Five thousand Galleons,” Holly reminds us.


“We’re safe in the common room,” I say bracingly. “As long as we never…go to class. Or go outside. Or go to meals.”


“Our common room is protected by a bronze knocker that accepts the most ridiculous circular reasoning the world has ever seen,” Scorpius says flatly. “We will never be safe again.”


“No true struggle is easy,” Lester proclaims.


Albus gives him a look. “That sounded deeper in your head, didn’t it?”


“Considerably. But more to the point, five thousand Galleons.”


“Five thousand Galleons,” we echo.


“We should get things started on the Hogwarts Express,” Scorpius says decisively. “Maybe something small to start out…?”


“Go big or go home,” Holly counters.


“All right. The others. Are we just going to refer to them as the Others? – It’s a bit – ”


Game of Thrones,” Lester supplies.


“Raine, you have an obsession.”


“The enemy,” Albus says. “What? We’re going full on melodramatic here – ”


“The enemy works,” Scorpius says. “While we’re being all militaristic, can I be general?”


“General Malfoy sounds awful,” I object.


“General Weasley sounds no better.”


“General Holyoake has a ring to it,” Holly points out.


“Holyoake has a ring to it all the time. Except when paired with Holly.”


“Rich, coming from Albus Severus Potter,” Holly shoots back.


That’s another distinction we have – the five worst-named students in Hogwarts history. I’m not too bad (except that my middle name is Nymphadora, but you have to dig deep to find that out) but there’s Albus, and Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy, and Lester Dante Raine, and Holly Helen Holyoake. There’s no way the last one wasn’t deliberate.


“Godawful names aside,” Scorpius interrupts, “We have planning to do. We need the enemy’s weaknesses.” He scrawls The Enemy in big, spidery boy handwriting at the top of the parchment, makes an optimistic row of bullet points, and looks up expectantly.


“Well, there’s five of them,” Lester begins, ticking names off his fingers. “Lucy and Louis Weasley, Emily Huntington, Lucian Rosier and Sean Finnigan. Three Slytherins, two Gryffindors. Does anyone have friends in either of those houses?”


“Nobody in this room has any friends outside this room.”


“So we’re not getting into their common room,” Scorpius concludes. “Unless…”


“What?”


“I’m Head Boy,” he says with wonder.


“Wait, you are?”


“You never told me that,” Albus frowns.


“I forgot,” he says. “Got distracted by this five thousand Galleons.”


“Five thousand Galleons,” we echo. We sound like a cult.


“So yeah,” Scorpius continues. “I get everyone’s passwords. Rosie, Holly, neither of you got a badge?”


“I think I’d remember if I did,” I say pointedly.


“You’re the reason we didn’t,” Holly grumbles. “You can’t have two Head Prefects from the same house.”


“My grandparents were from the same house,” Albus says.


“Times have changed, Potter.”


“Oh no,” I say. “Oh no. What if the Head Girl is one of the enemy? What if it’s Lucy or Emily?”


“I hadn’t thought of that.” Scorpius looks stricken.


“They’ve got four prefects between them,” Holly says broodingly. “Lucy and Sean for Gryffindor, Emily and Louis for Slytherin. They’re doing better than us. Damn them to hell.”


“That’s only because they’re not all from the same house,” I point out. “We’d all be prefects if there wasn’t a limit of two per house. And you never know, the Head Girl could be a Puff.”


“Sophie Macmillan,” Scorpius says, nodding. “Honestly, she’s a better candidate than Lucy or Emily. And I can actually stand to be around her. They have to take that into consideration, right? We’ve had open hostility with the oth – the enemy for six years.”


“Stop whingeing or I’ll take the badge off you,” Albus says. “Nobody will even notice.”


“You don’t exactly look like me.”


“We spend enough time together that I’ve had more teachers call me Scorpius than Harry, which is saying something. But, we digress. Again.”


“We’re not getting anywhere,” Lester points out. “Aren’t the best pranks sort of…spontaneous anyway? Let’s wait until we’re on the train.”


“And wing it,” Holly says, nodding. “It doesn’t have to be perfect, right? Pranking is an art like any other. We can only improve as the year progresses.”


“Good idea,” I agree. “Though I might pay a visit to Wheezes before we go back. Just for inspiration.”


“Take Holly,” Albus suggests. “She’s the creative one.”






 

Three days before term starts, Mum takes Hugo and I on our standard Hogwarts shopping trip. Hugo, being fifteen and lanky, has outgrown his school robes again, and as Mum carts him off to Madam Malkin’s I take the opportunity to slip away and have a browse through my uncle’s shop.


“Rosie!” Uncle George booms cheerfully from across the shop. “Fancy seeing you in here!”


“Hi, Uncle George.”


“Looking for a birthday present?” George pauses, looking thoughtful. “Who has a September birthday? Your mum – not that she’d appreciate much here…”


“I’m actually shopping for me,” I say awkwardly, because I’ve never actually set foot in Wheezes with the intention of buying anything for myself and George knows it.


“Hasn’t got anything to do with a certain scholarship I’ve put up, does it?”


I try to look as innocent as possible.


George sighs. “Rosie, you’re a terrible liar even when you’re not talking.”


“Blame Dad. He didn’t raise me properly.”


This is my copout for everything when it comes to aunts and uncles. The Weasleys have a long and proud tradition of ripping on each other, and I’ve learned that throwing Dad under the bus for any of my (admittedly very few) failures works wonders.


“He certainly didn’t,” George says, shaking his head. “Straight Outstandings in your OWLs, too, wasn’t it? For shame.”


“Truly awful.”


“You put some effort into that scholarship,” George says sternly. “You could do very well on five thousand Galleons, and it’ll certainly be a year well spent.”


Out of context his words seem encouraging and responsible – until one considers that blowing up the school probably wouldn’t go amiss. I take my leave of George and wander around the shop, searching for inspiration. I’m about to give up and meet Holly for ice cream and further discussion when an idea seizes me. I try unsuccessfully to hide my maniacal grin from George as I buy the required items, stow them away in my bag and head to Flourish and Blott’s like nothing happened.






 

I don’t get to tell the others about my dastardly plan until after it’s happened, because Scorpius and I have to head for the Prefects Carriage. It’s almost a walk of shame, being a seventh-year without a Head Prefect badge gleaming on your chest, and I can’t help but feel a little (read: very) resentful of Scorpius as he does the Head Boy Strut beside me.


Things start looking up, however, when we arrive and find a sulky-looking Lucy and a sulkier-looking Emily trying to make polite conversation with Sophie Macmillan, who has the Head Girl badge. I greet her cheerfully, offering my congratulations, and she looks relieved that not everyone is going to glare passive-aggressively at her. As far as I’m concerned, I stopped being in the running the moment Scorpius got Head Boy (and he’s been a certainty for it since about fourth year) so it’s not so much that Sophie is better than me, rather that Scorpius is better than any of the other boys whose Heads of House had to give Prefect badges to out of necessity.


I target Louis. While I’m more or less ambivalent towards Lucy (we have little in common, she’s a bit loud and annoying, I’ve just never had anything to do with her) I hate Louis as much as it’s possible to hate your own blood. He’s rude, obnoxious and – for lack of a better word – a total dudebro. He’s Slytherin’s Quidditch captain, he yells ‘ratings’ between one and ten at girls in the Great Hall, and he thinks gay jokes are funny. He picks on Albus mercilessly, and even though he doesn’t know about him and Scorpius (they keep that very quiet, nobody outside our group knows) he’s still obviously picked up on the fact that it makes Albus uncomfortable. Long story short, he’s scum in Weasley clothing.


I feel like a pickpocket as I spy Louis and give him a massive hug. “Louis, cuz, it’s been ages!” I say, attaching my tiny secret weapon to the inside of his robes pocket and stepping back. “Good to see you.”


“Yeah,” Louis says awkwardly. “You too, Rosie.”


For appearance’s sake I have to do the same to Lucy, and just to antagonise them further I sling my arms over their shoulders. “I’m so proud of Sophie and Scorpius,” I say happily. “It’s nice to know they’re not just picking our family all the time, right? And they just deserve those badges so much.”


“Yeah,” Lucy says noncommittally. “Good on them.”


Louis doesn’t notice anything until the end of the meeting when we all disperse to do “rounds,” and I release the Pygmy Puffs.






 

“Rose,” Lester says thoughtfully, staring out into the corridor of the train, “Why is your cousin the Pied Piper of Pygmy Puffs?”


I lean curiously forward, peering through the glass. The Invisible Pygmy Puffnip hidden in Louis’ pockets has worked beautifully, and what looks like every Pygmy Puff on the train is waddling, bouncing or rolling behind him. I’ve never seen a more beautiful sight in my life, especially when Louis turns around, sees the train of Puffs, and yells, “What the fuck is with these fucking Pygmy Puffs?”


Scorpius is on his feet in a second, striding out of our compartment. “Louis, mate, sorry. But I’m going to have to dock five points from Slytherin for your language.”


“What the fuck, Malfoy? I’m a Prefect!”


“I know,” Scorpius says calmly. “And I’m the Head Boy, and it’s my job to make sure you’re setting a good example for the younger students. Yelling profanity so the whole train can hear you is not setting a good example.”


“Come on, man,” Louis wheedles. “I have Pygmy Puffs coming out of my arse here. Cut me some slack.”


“I’m sorry, but you know the rules.”


“Fucking homo,” Louis mutters, and disappears.


“Make that ten points for hateful language,” Scorpius yells after him. He looks troubled when he sits back down. “He’s never called me that before. You don’t think he knows…?” He looks anxiously at Albus, then me.


“Louis is the biggest dick known to man,” Albus growls.


“It’s his go-to insult for anyone,” I explain. “If he actually knew, he probably wouldn’t say a thing.”


“Well,” Scorpius says decisively, “At least I know to keep an ear out for it. He’s going to lose a hundred points from his house this year unless he learns some more creative ways to shit-talk.”


“My knight in shining badge,” Albus says.


“Wait a minute,” Lester says. “Rose, we have to claim responsibility for this prank. Otherwise they’re not going to retaliate.”


“I’m okay with them not retaliating,” Holly says. “Just my two Knuts.”


“No, Lester’s right.” I sigh. “We need to take the credit for this one. Hold on, I have an idea.”


I slip my wand up my sleeve and leave to find Louis. He’s not too difficult to track down, considering he has a tail of seventy chirruping Pygmy Puffs behind him. Crouching down behind a handy door, I use a Colour-Change Charm and a lot of concentration – this pranking thing is going to do wonders for our practical magic – to spell out “THE ORDER OF THE RAVEN” on the backs of eighteen Puffs. Before he can look up, I flee.


“The fuck is the “Order of the Raven”?” Louis bellows a few moments later.


“Five points from Slytherin,” Scorpius bellows back. I lean back contentedly, basking in a sense of achievement that eclipses anything I’ve gotten from school, and watch the Puffs chase Louis all the way into Hogsmeade Station.


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